my boss stranded me without a hotel room, my boss believes fake news, and more

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

1. My boss stranded me without a hotel room

I started a new job in April. This past week I was sent to training in the U.S. (I’m Canadian and work in Canada). My finances are very tight right now and couldn’t afford to pay for the trip up-front myself and wait for reimbursement. I made my grandboss aware and coordinated with him to book my flights on his company card. The hotel required him to fill out a form to allow me to pay for the hotel on his company card. I sent him the info he needed to fill out the form.

In the week prior to the trip, I kept checking in to confirm that he’d sent the form. He hadn’t and that he requested the form but hadn’t received it, with a kind of “What do you expect me to do about it?” shrug. I said “Could you please try again? I leave on this week and can’t put it on my own card.” He said we would. I kept checking in all week and he kept saying he hadn’t yet. On the Friday before I left I reminded him again, indicating that I was flying out that weekend and he needed to submit it before I left.

When I arrived at the hotel a couple of days later, they said he hadn’t sent the form and needed it by the end of the day or they couldn’t let me stay. I was scared to be stranded in a foreign country without anywhere to stay. I didn’t have his number, so I called and texted my manager, who called me back right away. He gave me my grandboss’s number, but he was overseas and didn’t pick up. My manager felt awful and offered to fill out the form with his personal credit card and be reimbursed by the company, which I accepted.

This whole situation was embarrassing, scary, and entirely avoidable. Per my manager’s request, I emailed my grand boss to tell him what happened, but he hasn’t responded (although he’s on vacation, so that isn’t necessarily unusual).

My question is how to address this with my grandboss when we both return to work? Should I being it up? Wait for him to say something? If he apologizes, how do I respond? As a Canadian woman, my impulse would be to say “Oh, it’s okay,” but it really wasn’t. Is part of this on me for not trying harder to make him submit the form? I want to respond professionally without downplaying how serious and scary it was.

I don’t think this is on you for not being able to magically make him submit the form. If we could go back in time, I’d tell you to print out the form, walk it into his office, ask him to fill it out while you waited, and then send it in yourself. But regardless, this is on him, not you.

Anyway, it’s tough to be in a position where you need to chastise someone two levels up, but he certainly deserves it. You can’t quite chastise him given the power dynamics, but you can say this: “When I arrived at the hotel, they hadn’t received the form, and so I was stranded with nowhere to stay. I tried to reach you but couldn’t. Eventually I reached Bob, who put the room on his personal credit card, but I don’t know what I would have done. Is there something I could have done differently to avoided this happening?” (That last sentence isn’t really the point, but it’s there because it gives you a way to lay all this out quite starkly.)

If he apologizes (which he should!), don’t say “It’s okay.” Say, “I appreciate that.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My boss believes fake news

I work in financial services and am pretty vocally leftist/progressive, which is a relative rarity in my industry. I am surrounded by and am able to work very effectively with people who have different political views than mine, though occasionally we will get into a (friendly!) debate of ideas.

During a recent conversation involving politics with the head of my division, he shared that in Canada you can get arrested for calling someone the wrong gender pronoun. This is fake news: not just a different political viewpoint on actual facts, but misinformation he was fed at some point.

Is there any diplomatic way to bring this up to him? I am trying to figure out a way to let him know that he should be cautious about the information source that gave him that story, but not make it seem like I’m gloating or trying to rub it in his face that he’s wrong. Is there a good way to do this or should I just keep my mouth shut?

Ideally at the time you would have said, “That’s actually not true; you can look it up and you’ll see that it’s not correct.” But people who spout this kind of thing often get really defensive when told that they’re wrong, so you’d want to be prepared to just wrap up the conversation with something like, “Well, I encourage you to look it up because I know you’re someone who cares about accuracy. Anyway, about that (topic change)…”

Since that moment is passed, though, the only thing I might do now is send him an email with a credible source refuting what he said, with a note like, “I know you care about accuracy, so I wanted to let you that it’s not true that in Canada you can get arrested for calling someone the wrong gender pronoun. We don’t need to get back into it, but I know you wouldn’t want to repeat something that’s not true.” (In fact, if he likes Fox News, as it sounds like he might, here’s a story from them explaining it’s untrue. Otherwise, here’s another.)

But again, a lot of people who spread this kind of misinformation aren’t interested in being corrected (and it might be too much to reopen it at this point anyway). And if that’s the case, don’t get into politics with him again; there’s not much to be gained by arguing with someone who doesn’t care about accuracy, especially when they’re the head of your division.

3. What do I say to a candidate who wants to know why we didn’t reschedule their phone interview after we’d hired someone else?

I just finished a hiring process at my very small nonprofit (I’m full-time and supervise two part-time staff). We had two batches of candidates: some top tiers who we wanted to interview Right Away on the phone and in person, and a handful more who we were interested in talking with if the first batch of candidates didn’t prove to be as high-quality as their resumes appeared. After doing phone interviews with the Right Away group, we moved on to conducting in-person interviews with them, while also trying to set up phone interviews with the Maybes. The first date we picked didn’t work for any of them, and my personnel team is all volunteer so getting the times nailed down for those phone interviews was hard.

One of those Right Away candidates had a great phone interview and a great in-person interview and took the job within 24 hours of offering. But now that I’ve contacted the other Right Aways and the Maybes, a Maybe has come back to say they’re “puzzled” that we didn’t “give [them] a chance to reschedule” their phone interview and is asking what they can do differently in the future.

I’m not sure how to give a kind and honest answer, when the answer is “You weren’t a top candidate, but we were interested, but then one of the top candidates showed themselves to be the Very Top Candidate.”

I might very well have done this whole thing wrong, and shouldn’t have been trying to schedule phone interviews while also doing the first round of in-person interviews; lesson learned there.

You don’t need to explain that they weren’t a top candidate. You can simply say, “I’m sorry we weren’t able to reschedule in time, but we’ve been talking with candidates on a rolling basis and we’ve just filled the role.” Or even just, “We’ve had a very competitive applicant pool, but we really appreciate your interest.”

But there’s nothing wrong with moving groups of candidates through your process in different groups, as you did. Lots of people do that (that’s what “talking with candidates on a rolling basis” means and it’s a normal thing). That said, if your first group was significantly stronger than your second group, it probably did make sense to delay the scheduling with the second group until you saw how things went with group one, simply because there was a good chance that you’d end up hiring from among them.

4. Explaining that I quit without another job lined up because of a move

I was wondering if you had any different language to use or insight into a hiring manager’s mindset if a person has quit without another job lined up because their spouse found a new job in a different city (over two hours away so commuting isn’t feasible)?

I’m asking because the general advice is never, ever quit your job without another lined up, but does this still apply if I follow my husband to a new city for his job? For context, we’re both actively apply and interviewing in our desired new city, but it seems likely that one of us will land a job before the other and I wanted to hear your thoughts on how that will appear to future employers for the still-interviewing spouse who doesn’t have a job (yet)?

Nope, moving is different. The thing about “don’t quit without another job lined up” isn’t that there’s anything inherently wrong with doing that — it’s that it raises questions in hiring managers minds about why you did. They wonder whether you were fired, or if you’re a prima donna who walked off the job because of some minor aggravation, or so forth. But you have a perfectly understandable reason — you moved. So you can simply explain, “My spouse and I moved here recently.” That’s it!

And really, the rule isn’t “never, ever quit your job without another lined up.” There are times when it makes sense to do that even when you’re not moving. It’s more “your job search may take far longer than you think it will, so quitting without another job can be risky” and “you’ll be asked about why you left so you’ll want to have an answer to that.”

5. Printing out Ask a Manager posts and leaving them for the person being discussed

Do you know of any cases where a question and resulting comments are ever shared with the person being discussed? For example, the bad director discussed recently. Is that (or one like it) ever printed out and shared with the person who’s the subject of the post? I mean, I would be sorely tempted if I was right and had proof from your response and readers’ input to share with the disagreeable person.

I’m sure it’s happened, but the only time I know about specifically is when a letter-writer whose coworker was badgering colleague about her weight and diet choices wrote in with an update … and the update was that she’d printed out the post and left it on the person’s chair. The person did then stop the food policing.

That would not have been my advice, and I don’t love that they did it. I’m opposed to anonymous notes for all the reasons described here, and this is an amped-up anonymous note. I try to encourage direct conversation here, most of the time, and I’d rather people take that advice.

That said, there are situations where the power dynamics mean it’s tough to do that, and I could certainly understand someone choosing that tactic in a situation like this or this.

{ 641 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Op#2, I would let it go at this point. I think enough time has passed that it’s almost impossible to correct him without it looking pedantic. But if you feel secure in your standing, a real time fact check next time it happens could be helpful.

    1. Eric*

      Also, if you do bring it up, I’d avoid the phrase “fake news”. It’s a load term and using it won’t help you.

      1. Kanye West*

        Also agree. It’s a sound bite created to undermine journalism as a whole and when used immediately sabotages what comes after.

        1. TootsNY*

          well, the term wasn’t originally created to undermine journalism–it was created to identify deliberately falsified material wrapped up to look like news.

          It was co-opted INCREDIBLY fast, and now it’s not useful for its original purpose.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        At this point, it simultaneously means “news that is fake, possibly made up by Macedonian teenagers with a clicks algorithm” and “news that is true that I don’t like.” Which is sad, but you roll with the world as it is.

        1. Not another squirrel*

          Yes, let’s get rid of “fake news” and bring back ‘Propaganda” !

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I might try the Fox News link because it’s un-dated. But I’d lead in with an extremely short “Hey, look what just came across my news feed!” Alison’s script for “I know you care about accuracy” feels too risky for a manager. I would only consider including the division head on that email if we were already on a social basis….and might not anyway depending on my manager’s previous reactions towards people who correct him in public.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I just re-read it. And yep…the division head is the fake-news junkie, not a third person in between.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I too would take this approach. Like “hey I saw this and thought of the discussion we were having the other day, looks like our Canadian friends don’t have to be worried about jail time for not knowing which pronoun to use. Thank goodness!”

      3. pancakes*

        I’m not following as to why it would be “risky” to say something along the lines of “I know you care about accuracy…” — ?

        I don’t see why your suggested response would be preferable. Pretending to have just stumbled across news that it isn’t recent seems both transparently disingenuous and needlessly coy, and I don’t see why either quality would help the situation. In neither example would the correction have to be public. Both could be done via email.

    3. Black Bellamy*

      Definitely let it go. The OP reveals they are not too savvy with the office ways. This isn’t her direct boss, this is the division head. Not a peer, not someone you should be sending out links to with explanations as to why they are wrong about non-work related matters.

      1. Czhorat*

        I’d not let it go; this is the kind of lie that encourages discrimination against a minority group by making it appear that there is some kind of massive government overreach on their behalf.

        “You’ll get arrested for wrong pronouns!” is right at the edge of “I want to misgender you and you can’t stop me”, which is arguably defense of hate-speech.

        Speak up against it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep. If someone wants to drop it, so be it, but I’m not going to discourage someone from standing up against bigotry (which is what this is), particularly when there appears to be little risk (they apparently engage in friendly debates already).

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Usually I would agree. I’m general, I believe it’s important to be vocal and stand against bigotry.

          In this situation, so much time has passed that: (1) the immediate damage has been done, and (2) it would be hard to bring up naturally. But I like the suggestion of sending a link to FoxNews with a “hey, look what I just came across!” message.

          [I know there’s no “wrong time” to combat bigotry. But I do think the approach and tactics may change based on the circumstances, of which time can be a major factor.]

        3. sfigato*

          Yeah, in general I’d let these things go, but I think it is worth pushing back on misinformation that pushes a bigoted viewpoint or supports bigoted policy. If you have a right-wing news source to do it, all the better.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m probably in the minority here on this, but I think it can be worth pushing back on disinformation even when it doesn’t directly involve bigotry. Allowing someone to persist in believing something that simply isn’t true for the sake of avoiding conflict doesn’t invariably avoid conflict; often it delays it, or foists it upon someone else. Not necessarily productively or intelligently, either. Allowing someone to believe, for example, that views they hold are more common or more widely accepted than they in fact are is nurturing delusion to some extent.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I disagree. You can point out the truth without making it a big thing. I do it all the time with higher ups who occasionally mangle and misrepresent the science upon which our programs are based (out of confusion/misremember rather than malice). “Hey BigBoss, after your last presentation of wrong/our conversation where *headdesk* I came across this article you might be interested in: [link to a source that I know they will understand/trust]”

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        I have coworkers and relatives who would die on the fake news hill to prove a point.

        I have learned if they say Fake News Channel says the sky is really green not blue, I just say a cheery, “Oh?” and move the hell on.

        There is a different between someone who doesn’t know, but doesn’t mind learning, and the Fake News folks.

        Fake News folks will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. Consider these discussions as “sport”, let the person believe whatever crazy nonsense he considers “facts”.

        I’ve already purge a bunch of Fake News relatives since the Presidential campaign has slightly started. Life is too short to entertainment their zillion memes and news links they post.

        1. many bells down*

          My husband got friended on Facebook by an old ex-girlfriend of his. She would post ridiculous stuff all the time (pizza-parlor-child-sex-ring stuff). Once, she posted some fearmongering article about a proposed bill that was quite easily fact-checked with the literal text of the bill. So my husband posted that as a comment.

          She immediately unfriended and blocked him. Never said a word to him. She absolutely didn’t want to hear it. (My ex is the same way, but I don’t friend him on Facebook for my own sanity.)

        2. AKchic*

          Yep. Let them stew in their purposeful ignorance. Because it is purposeful. They actively, willingly, and gleefully choose it every single day. Dunning-Kruger could have no better specimens, really.

        3. pancakes*

          “Move the hell on” in what sense? If you’re keeping these people as acquaintances and simply avoiding certain topics of conversation that isn’t moving on so much as pandering.

    4. Lance*

      And besides, even if you are to correct them… what does it accomplish? Letting them know they were wrong/misinformed this one time, and to do better in the future? Well… not really, because this sort of thing is going to happen again one way or another. Having them not say something factually wrong? Well… again, this sort of thing is going to happen again.

      There’s no meaning in taking this up, so I’d just let these things go unless, perhaps, they’re actively hurting someone.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I disagree. There’s value in speaking up just for the sake of speaking up – you don’t necessarily need to make it A Thing, but even a gentle question or disagreement can be helpful in combatting fake news in general. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t change their behaviour, they might go back and look it up later, or they might be more careful about the news they’re sharing next time – or another person who hears you might do either of these things.

        The goal isn’t immediate behaviour change, but a more general awareness for everyone. Fake news is a big problem, and one of the ways we can fix it is by all of us asking questions and being a bit more discerning about the information we share.

        1. boo bot*

          I agree with this, and also: there’s a difference between misinformation that’s just misinformation (“California just declared itself the People’s Republic of Socialism!”) and misinformation that’s actually targeted at a group of people (“You can get arrested for using the wrong pronoun.”)

          The former, sure, let it go, but letting the latter go is not a value-neutral choice: it *is* actively hurting someone. Different people choose different battles, but I don’t think it’s as simple as, let it go, don’t let it bother you.

          1. pancakes*

            There’s a group of people who live in California, you know. Quite a large group! The idea that spreading disinformation that way is benign is pretty weird. Just because it isn’t directed at a marginalized population doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Yeah. I do this with my parents. The goal isn’t to change their minds (that’s…not likely to happen). But, especially with my father, I think it sometimes has the effect of making him consider his words more — if he gets push back and/or is told something is offensive by me, someone he cares about, he’s more careful with what he says out loud (I’ve even seen it play out occasionally!) The goal isn’t to change his mind — my goal to keep him from thinking it’s okay to say those thing out loud to other people, thereby hurting them.

          1. Eillah*

            Is there a way to make your racist parents care that something is offensive to you? Asking for a friend….

            1. Le Sigh*

              Depends. Do they care about your approval on some level?

              My parents do. Phrased like that, they might not agree — but they do. They love us and we have a good relationship, generally speaking. But the four of us also feel very differently than they do about the world and esp. politics, and we know they want us to visit, love us, want us around.

              So knowing that, I push back. I might gently counter something with a different point of view. I might flat-out say “that’s racist, do not say that” every single time they say that thing, until they just stop doing it around me. I have on occasion lost my cool and went off on them about how pervasive sexual harassment had been for me in the work place, so no, I won’t get over it — and they both went quiet and pouted, but I’m fine with that. Sometimes you get slapped down in life and it’s an important lesson.

              I’ve also told them flat out that provoking me is a great way to keep me from visiting. I told them I deal with it all the time in my job and I need a break, so if they want me around, needling me isn’t the way to do that.

              I don’t think I’m changing hearts and minds that much, but I hope on some level they’ll at least consider what I’m saying. Some people are more open to counter arguments than others — my parents aren’t, really. I *have* successfully gotten them to stop saying certain things out loud because I’ve made clear it’s offensive, hurtful, and rude. I’ve been willing to leave the table or their house. They turn off Fox News when I’m around. On some level, that’s for my own sanity, but it’s also because I don’t want them to go out in the world, think it’s fine to say these things like we’re all just thinking it, and then hurt the people they talk to.

                1. BookishMiss*

                  Works with my family, too, mostly because of their need to be seen as A Perfect Family. I’ve left holiday dinners because of That One Uncle before, which just ruined their family photo, and they had to explain why I wasn’t in it, and…they haven’t given me a reason to leave halfway through a meal again. Odd, isn’t it.
                  On the work front, though, I tend towards choosing my words and battles very carefully because, at the end of the day, I need a pleasant work environment. I still do speak up when needed, just…carefully.

      2. pancakes*

        Ideally it accomplishes letting them know that their views are malformed and deserve more consideration. It doesn’t have to “happen again” as you describe. No one is obliged to say inane and bigoted things about topics they know, on some level, they’ve never bothered to learn basic facts about. Why not discourage them? Their bigotry does actively hurt the people they’re talking about, and it gratuitously makes the world an uglier place for the rest of us.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Agreed. And in the grand scheme of things, why does it matter? If them making the statement doesn’t affect you personally then give it the Elsa treatment.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        But having these lies endlessly circulated damages our whole society in the end. “Oooohhh, if you let the PC police run amok, soon we’ll be THROWN IN JAIL for getting someone’s pronouns wrong! It’s already happening in Canada! Booga booga booga be very afraid!” I get that the power dynamics in this particular case mean OP might not be able to say anything, or only very gently. But it’s not the case that if you’re not trans or Canadian, the lie is harmless to you. Nor would that be a reason not to speak up.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          +1. Exactly what I was trying to say above – I should have scrolled down further!

        1. Liv Jong*

          Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist.

          1. Honoria*

            Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
            Because I was not a Jew.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It definitely matters! I would hope good people would intervene, even if they don’t feel it affects them personally. I just think the timing on this one makes the follow up tricky and may militate toward saying something in the moment next time (as there will absolutely be a next time).

      3. Le Sigh*

        Ehhhh…it might not affect you personally, but what about people in your life who you care about? This kind of stuff — how we talk about things, misinformation — affects culture, which affects what policies and similar things we choose to prioritize in society when electing people, passing legislation, pushing back against discrimination, etc. It might feel small but it’s part of that bigger circle.

        You can’t fight every single battle, but that doesn’t mean you only act if it’s affecting you. If nothing else, seeing others stand up to this stuff can a) give hope to those who can’t speak up — maybe they are gender nonconforming and can’t say anything, for example and b) pushes others around you to also push back.

        It doesn’t affect except that it does.

      4. Zombeyonce*

        It matters because the people making these statements aren’t going to listen to reason from the people the statements do affect because they don’t respect them. They have to hear it from people they do respect for it to have any hope of making them understand why it’s hurtful and wrong and detrimental.

      5. pancakes*

        “This disinformation and bigotry isn’t directed at *me* so I’ll ignore it” is a horridly narcissistic mindset.

    6. MommyMD*

      Agreed. Too late to bring it up. There’s zero upside. I’d also curb the political talk at work. Unless you work in politics most people at work don’t want to hear it. Both sides can drive each other crazy and it’s divisive. As much as OP is bothered by this example, others at work are probably just as bothered by his viewpoint. There’s no winning bringing politics into work if the organization is not political.

      1. Eillah*

        Bigoted people *should* be bothered. Constantly. And then ostracized from society.

      2. Maeve*

        Honestly who cares if people saying terrible things about trans people are “bothered.”

      3. pancakes*

        “There’s zero upside” — Do you honestly not have a single person in your life you care for who’s vulnerable to racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, any sort of bigotry? There’d be a huge upside for them if more white hetero people supported their well-being.

      4. Mellow*

        Ack ! There’s more to politics than the ever-tiresome “both sides” meme – as though bigotry somehow is as rational of an approach as acceptance.

        Meanwhile, OP, good luck.

    7. notevenamerican*

      That one hit me because a former co-worker, who I rarely met in person thankfully, would tell everyone who listened that Hilary Clinton started ISIS. I called her a liar and she stopped talking to me, which I consider a win.

      1. Mellow*

        I often wonder how people who think like that make it across the street in one piece.

      2. Former Employee*

        I was told on good authority that it was Barack Obama.

        Since they did work together, they probably started it together.

        Sarcasm alert.

    8. Introvert*

      The only problem with facts is that current studies show they make people even more entrenched in their opinion, even if the opinion is contradicted by facts.

      When it comes to “fake news,” spouting facts or correcting someone will not likely have the outcome you desire. can be your friend if you really want to dive into and understand current research into this.

      1. BookishMiss*

        It’s a really interesting phenomenon, tbh, and why (at work) my goal is to just get people to stop saying the things rather than to change their minds. I’m just a blank wall of “that’s inappropriate” or “please choose different words.” Nothing to argue on there, and I work around trainees a lot so it helps set the tone for them.

    9. pleaset*

      How about this:

      “In Canada, you can be arrested for using the wrong gender pronoun.”

      “That’s not true, but I sort of wish it was, at least if someone did it intentionally. It would be great to have some support in stopping bigots who insult people like that. Don’t you agree?”

  2. chillininmyofficeyo*

    LW #2, I would let it go unless it came up again and just tell him in the moment!

    I have to disagree with Allison’s assertions that people who spread “this kind” of misinformation typically get defensive about it, particularly if you were in an admittedly friendly debate! If he had known it was untrue, I doubt he would have spread it, so a correction in the conversation at the time is fine! It could come across as a bit petty if you go out of your way to send him sources after the conversation is over though.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve seen several people double down on their fake news beliefs in conversation. I think sometimes people are embarrassed about being called out on it, and other people believe the fake stories because they only receive their information from a limited number of sources and disbelieve anything outside those sources.

      That doesn’t mean that OP’s boss would definitely react badly to being told the thing they believe is untrue, but it’s worth letting the OP know so they can prepare for that as a potential worst case scenario.

      1. chillininmyofficeyo*

        Oh for sure, I think that that is anyone in any side of any political discussion though, not just those with X beliefs, which was what I (may have incorrectly) got from Allison’s comments.

      2. Emily K*

        Psychologists call it the Backfire Effect. When you present someone with evidence that they’re wrong, most people will double down on their original belief with more certainty than before you have them the debunking evidence.

        If only getting people to change their minds was purely an exercise in logic, but sadly it’s not. It’s all wrapped up in ego preservation.

        1. Psyche*

          Yep. And when you add in the embarrassment of being taken in by a facebook hoax, it doesn’t exactly help.

      3. Sharrbe*

        Agree about the double down. I’ve shown evidence that some “fact” they brought up had been grossly mischaracterized or untrue and the other person just moves on to another controversial topic or says something else inflammatory usually starting with “Oh yeah, well what about………” It’s a losing batttle.

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah – I think if someone brings it up without a lot of apparent attachment to it, like, “Hey, this is crazy, I just heard in Canada you can be arrested for failure to paint your dog with maple leaves on national holidays! How is that possible?” Then there’s potential for correction: that’s just someone who ran into disinformation and didn’t recognize it.

          When it’s someone you know is more invested in the politics behind the information, there’s no magic way to explain, that will make them see they are wrong. What I do think is worth doing in the moment, is saying “That’s not true,” or “I don’t believe that,” not because you’re going to convince the peddler of disinformation, but because other people are listening, and if I am, say, a person in the group being not-so-subtly maligned, it’s good to hear that not everyone is silently agreeing.

          Also, the Backfire Effect Emily K is talking about has nothing to do with the particular kind of belief: it’s true of all kinds of politics, conspiracy theories, and beliefs: bring me proof that aliens don’t exist, and I will tell you it’s more likely that there’s somebody out there, than that we’re alone in this infinite universe.

          1. boo bot*

            Oh, and! Because you’re not going to convince the already-convinced, you don’t need to hold back from saying anything until you have ironclad sources at your fingertips. I developed the habit in college of feeling like I can’t say anything unless I’ve got the data to back it up, and generally that’s a good habit – but that doesn’t have to mean “until you can quote source material from memory, keep your mouth shut.”

            If you know something isn’t true, or if you’re virtually certain it’s not true because it sounds so outlandish, it’s OK to say, “I’m pretty certain that isn’t true,” or “That’s not true,” or, “What’s *your* source for that?”

            Again, you’re not going to convince the convinced, but someone on the sidelines who’s about to believe the boss, then hears that his source is www. newsish. ru/ ustroll might think twice. (not a real site, that I know of)

          2. Data Analyst*

            “not because you’re going to convince the peddler of disinformation, but because other people are listening, and if I am, say, a person in the group being not-so-subtly maligned, it’s good to hear that not everyone is silently agreeing.” +10000. There is real value in flagging out loud the fact that you are an ally, and that you will make things slightly uncomfortable when people say spread stuff like that.

      4. Kathleen_A*

        I remember correcting my (now deceased) BIL about a fact that is in fact not a fact. He was disseminating fake news from the liberal side rather than the conservative side, but it was nonetheless totally fake. I don’t want to derail, so rather than give you the real example, think of something along the lines of “This politician is so stupid that he didn’t even know that he was holding this book upside down.” Anyway, my BIL’s answer when I showed him that his evidence is fake was: “Well, it shows *a* truth even though it’s not, strictly speaking, true.”

        What can you do with someone like that? Nothing, that’s what.

          1. EOA*

            True, though in that particular case, Quayle was just wrong because he was trying to spell the singular form of potatoes. A better example on the Left is those that repeat that President George H.W. Bush had never seen a supermarket scanner. As it was, the scanner in question was a new type that hadn’t been seen before, but there are those who still peddle the myth that Bush was so out of touch that he’d never seen a supermarket scanner.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I actually didn’t disagree with my BIL’s basic “truth” – the politician he was talking about (and no, I’m not going to say which one!) really wasn’t the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But if something is true you shouldn’t use lies to prove it.

          1. Liz T*

            Thank you! I HATE it when people on my “side” perpetuate that stuff.

            (A now-former FB friend once posted a video of a politician I loved leaving a political opponent “speechless.” I actually watched the video and he didn’t remotely leave her speechless–the clip just ended as she was opening her mouth to respond!)

      5. Burned Out Supervisor*

        They’re embarrassed because they usually surround themselves with like-minded people who agree with them. When they find themselves in a situation where their world view is challenged, they don’t know how to discuss it in a productive way and they feel threatened. I’ve seen it on both sides, liberal and conservative.

    2. Jasnah*

      I disagree. In my experience, people who discover a(n objectively implausible) belief that confirms their worldview and go around sharing it in a “guess what” way, often get exTREMely defensive when you call them out. This is because you’re not just doubting the news, you’re questioning their worldview (or at least that’s how they see it). This goes for people on every point in the political spectrum; it takes incredible humility and self-awareness to question your own beliefs and admit you were wrong.

      This is why I strongly encourage using Alison’s link from Fox News to show him it’s fake–it gets to the issue of accuracy (“this fact is wrong”) and ignores the subtext (“you are wrong”) in a way that sending an article from doesn’t.

      1. MK*

        I rather agree. “Using the wrong pronouns in Canada is a crime that you get arrested for” is such an implausible statement that I think even a minimally critical viewer would fact-check before repeating. This person hasn’t, so I wouldn’t bet on their ability to gracefully accept correction. If it was less bizarre (like something that is inaccurate as presented, but has some basis in truth), I would be more optimistic.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yes, this isn’t something like “Canadian health care may be publicly funded but there are long wait times” (where the “in some areas/for certain procedures/etc.” is left out.) Being arrested for using the wrong pronouns is such an extreme “fact” that it should put most people’s feelers up that it needs investigation.

          1. Jen*

            Seriously. Honestly, the “fact” reeks of transphobia and a desire for a cis person to make themselves feel like a victim because of social expectations to try to use correct pronouns. As a member of the LGBT community and the close family member of a trans person, I would feel extremely uncomfortable working for this person. Their willingness to believe that fact is extremely concerning, and if they don’t believe it but are just using it as joke fodder it feels threatening. Ick ick ick.

            1. Scarlet*

              Interesting perspective – but I kind of am reminded of Hanlon’s Razor here- “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                If it’s not malice and transphobia, why is going around saying it. Instead of just about anything else he could go around talking about?

              2. Jessen*

                In this case I’m not sure they’re as separate as people would like. Bigotry can take the form of simply refusing to understand the perspective of those different from you. The kind of person who just doesn’t see what the big deal is and doesn’t know why all “those people” are making such a fuss and expecting things from him can still be quite harmful.

              3. merpaderp*

                …I mean, if my boss’ transphobia is harming me, to a certain extent it doesn’t matter if my boss intends to be malicious or if they are ignorant. I get Jen’s comment – this division head’s comment reveals that trans employees should not trust with this person because they’re either repeating hateful rhetoric because they are also hateful, or they haven’t used their brain to think about the obviously incorrect things they’re repeating – neither is a great option and I know if I were trans I wouldn’t risk it.

              4. rando*

                And I am remind of a reformulation of Clark’s law:

                “any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice”

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I mean, Occam’s Razor says entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. In this case, the most likely explanation is transphobia and claiming cis-victimhood. It’s essentially dog-whistle transphobia—using something slightly oblique as an insidious way to suggest that trans people are a threat to everyone (presumed to be cis in the boss’ formulation) else.

            2. Eillah*

              Yeah, and I’d have serious reservations about this person’s judgement if they believed it to be true.

            3. Iris Eyes*

              As a counter point it was only 6 years ago that gay marriage wasn’t recognized at the federal level in the US. People who are supporters of “traditional family values”(TM) are feeling a little beleaguered and like their slippery slope arguments might just have been legit. A decade or so ago they were being told they had to allow people to be gay because it was part of their biology and now they are being told that biology be damned people get to choose their gender. Its a lot to keep up with, especially if you don’t want to. All of their arguments have been met with “-phobic” and “you just hate people” which attacks another part of their self identity as a loving and caring person. They have been told that they have to honor the beliefs of others in the public sphere but their beliefs are only welcome if they don’t make others feel uncomfortable while they feel uncomfortable themselves.

              Now that’s not the story of everyone, some people are jerks. As someone who has undoubtedly faced similar challenges of feeling like your voice is unwelcome and your experience and belief is out of step with the rest of society I invite you to challenge yourself the same way you challenge others. Are you making people feel hated, despised and unwanted? How do you prefer to be treated by those who you know disagree with you?

              1. Sammie*

                A slippery slope to accepting all people as they are, and ensuring they have access to the full plethora of rights and dignities so many others have by default, when they are not doing anything to hurt anyone? Yes, that’s exactly what many of us want.

                1. Iris Eyes*

                  Hurt and harm, human nature, the nature of society, the relationship of individuals to the group and of group to the individual. If you can’t agree on those then you won’t agree on this issue most of the time.

              2. KRM*

                If you disagree with me and that manifests in you thinking groups of people are “less than” or “unworthy of basic rights” or should just shut up about who they are because you think it’s ‘icky’, then yes, I kind of want that person to feel unwanted and/or despised by me. Because I think it’s unworthy of a human being to devalue another human being for just living their life.

              3. Princess PIP*

                They’re being told (reminded) to treat everyone as equal human beings. I’m not sorry for that and I’m not sorry if it’s “a lot” for them to deal with.

              4. smoke tree*

                I mean, I think reading a couple of websites about gender identity is a slightly easier burden than worrying that you have to suppress your identity or risk being abandoned or targeted by a hostile society, but maybe that’s just me.

                1. Le Sigh*

                  For real. Trans people are being murdered in the US and many others. It is not on them to placate anyone’s discomfort.

                2. Iris Eyes*

                  The same exact thing could be argued from the other side. Everyone always wants the other side to do the “easy” work of changing what they believe. ;)

                3. smoke tree*

                  I’m perfectly comfortable believing that no one should be subject to bigotry, discrimination and violence, thanks!

                4. Le Sigh*

                  Sorry, Iris Eyes, no. This isn’t about zoning debates or taxes. This is about human rights. People are dying, being assaulted, and losing their jobs or housing. Some can’t even use a damn bathroom without harassment.

                  That’s already a huge burden to bear; so the burden of changing–and for that matter, making the world better–falls on the rest of us. Sure, people can feel uncomfortable with something and I get that, but that discomfort frankly doesn’t remotely compare. And really, if people feel discomfort, it should be because human beings are being murdered, kicked out of apartments or jobs, or harassed when trying to go to the bathroom.

              5. Delphine*

                It’s no one’s responsibility to accommodate someone else’s cognitive dissonance.

              6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                There might be a bit of a slippery slope from accepting same-sex marriage to wider acceptance of trans people–but that doesn’t and won’t lead to requiring you, or anyone, to marry someone of their own gender. If your values say that women should marry men and have children, go ahead and do that–people in heterosexual marriages didn’t wake up one morning and find themselves divorced.

                I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for people who feel beleaguered just because they can’t require me to live the same way they want to. Heterosexual marriages still outnumber same-sex marriages, and probably always will. I might not take for granted that a married woman has a husband, not a wife–but nobody is likely to tell her that her marriage isn’t real because it’s heterosexual, or deny her visitation rights if her husband is in the hospital.

                1. Princess PIP*

                  “I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for people who feel beleaguered just because they can’t require me to live the same way they want to.”

                  Perfectly put, thank you.

                2. Iris Eyes*

                  That’s not really their point though, so that’s not a valid counter point.

                  The harder to articulate root issue is, they believe, on some level, in societal culpability for the failings of individuals. Most of us do, otherwise things like welfare and war would be unheard of. They see sexual relations outside of marriage, and even more so, outside of heterosexuality to be a wrongness, a counterfeit. For society to legitimize rather than simply turn a blind eye makes THEM responsible and morally culpable. They do perceive harm to themselves and to the “institution of marriage.” And who is anyone to say any different? Its all just a matter of perception and underlying beliefs. Maybe they’re right and this is another mark on all of our souls. I’ll leave that up to the philosophers to debate

        2. Meerkat*

          As I Canadian your boss maybe be a bit confused however there is the well document d Jordan Peterson moment which may shed some light on the issue

        3. saby*

          Not that implausible — the person responsible for the popularity of this myth went on a well-respected public news show to say it (in the wake of gender identity being added to the human rights code as a protected category). Other panelists on the same show refuted it, but still.

          This is a whooooole can of worms in this country…

      2. many bells down*

        A woman once told me the “cooked alive from too much time in the tanning salon” urban legend, word for word, as if it had happened to her friend. She obviously knew it hadn’t happened, so I didn’t bother calling her out. In my experience, she’d have doubled down on the lie.

        1. Scarlet*

          Sorry Construction, but it is a blog that hosts a forum. Per Wikipedia “An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.”

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Well, the reason I say it is because I’m a scientist and only one side listens to science.

        As a thought experiment, imagine a world where only one side had a partisan propaganda network. A media organization reporting the truth would appear to be opposed to the partisan propaganda network. The partisan propaganda network would, of course, claim that the truth-broadcasting media was just as partisan because they’re saying opposite things. However, someone who objectively sought the truth would be able to discern that one was partisan and the other wasn’t.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Yeah, I ‘d let it go too. I’ve found that most people are pretty set in their political affinity and aren’t interested in changing their viewpoint. I wouldn’t spend the capital on correcting this kind of misinformation, especially in a casual remark. Save it for work-related corrections when you really need accuracy.

    4. Construction Safety*

      If I hear one of those, I usually laugh & say “OK, I’m gonna have to call BS on that one. I’m going to need to see your source.”

      Keeping it light the whole time.

    5. fposte*

      He spread it because he knew it *was* true, though. Being told it’s not true isn’t necessarily going to change his conviction of knowledge.

      I’ve spent a lot of time in the urban legend community, and a lot of people get very defensive about debunking, even if it’s not political. This isn’t just something they believe–it’s something they brought in and shared in a moment that had psychological meaning to them. Debunking is undermining the whole experience. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a debunking to go well, but especially with political stuff, they’re sharing something that reflects an important core belief to them and they have even more of an emotional investment in its rightness once it’s shared.

      1. LunaLena*

        Yeah, I agree with fposte that people don’t like being debunked. Does anyone remember the whole Bonsai Kittens thing, about 15 years ago? It was a website that looked like it promoted some really disturbing animal abuse. Many people got outraged about it, wrote in emails saying the site should be shut down and reported to the police, etc etc etc.

        The entire website turned out to be a fake, with faked photos. When people found out, though, they weren’t relieved that no actual kitties were harmed. Instead they doubled down that the site shouldn’t be allowed to exist, that it still perpetuated terrible ideas, etc. They were more outraged that their righteous anger was misplaced than relieved that it was all fake. fposte’s analysis makes sense, but personally I think people just don’t like being told that they’re wrong and having to admit that they were fooled.

        1. Jasnah*

          Oh man I remember that, it seemed ridiculous then and I’m glad it turned out to be a fake. But I definitely buy that people were unhappy to be proven wrong after they’d gotten emotionally invested.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          One of my high school friends sent me that email forward in total sincerity, and I laughed because I’d already read it on Snopes….

      2. Armchair Expert*

        Literally what on earth is the “urban legend community”? I’m so baffled and intrigued!

    6. Unpopular opinion*

      Well, there is an argument, made by a Canadian lawyer, for how one could be jailed for misgendering someone. Has not happened yet, and not likely to happen – as stated in the article (easily googled), but possible (if a trans-activist and no-such-thing-as-gender activist wage an all-out legal battle against each other).

      This makes what he said a political opinion, not a clearly false fact (as would have been if he’d said that people get jailed or have got jailed).

      I would leave it alone at this time. In the moment, perhaps it would have made sense to correct him if you want to continue the political discussion and make it known that you disagree with his views (and so maybe he should be more careful about expressing them). Then you could mention that this story is false, and there are articles explaining why it’s false. Or you could send the same link now, in the hopes of changing his opinion – but don’t include a patronizing warning to be cautious about where he’s getting his information. That’s not likely to put anyone in a receptive mood! (Especially because people don’t usually remember where their info came from.)

      1. Canadian Attorney*

        No, it’s not. That argument makes no sense whatsoever. No one has ever been arrested or jailed for using the wrong pronouns and any understanding of how human rights legislation works will immediately make clear that this is nonsense. JP is a psychologist, not a lawyer; irrespective of what one thinks of his opinions, he was no idea what he is talking about on this subject. This is very much fake news.

        1. Unpopular opinion (another "Canadian attorney", if that matters)*

          The argument was made by Jared Brown, who is a lawyer, and he did say that it’s pretty unlikely that this would ever happen. Even if another lawyer’s interpretation may be that his argument doesn’t make any sense, this makes the assertion an opinion.

          “Fake news”, unless used for clearly demonstrable false statements of fact, is another way of calling someone else an idiot. That’s not likely to help resolve any differences.

          1. Delphine*

            You’re leaving out a lot. Misgendering isn’t what leads to jail time in Brown’s hypothetical–contempt of court is.

            1. Unpopular opinion (another "Canadian attorney", if that matters)*

              I’m not defending the argument. I’m just saying there is an argument, made by someone who supposedly knows what he’s talking about (looking at it from a layman’s perspective and without going into details or whether this is JB’s area of expertise).

              All I’m saying is this can be viewed as a political opinion – depending how it’s phrased. Which means caution should be applied when arguing with the boss.

              Is the goal to change his mind? – the OP is unlikely to achieve that. Is it to help him choose his sources better? – again unlikely. Is it to persuade him not to talk about such things in the office? – that can be achieved, but without specific debunking info. The OP can point out, if such a discussion happens again, that political discussions are best kept out of the office, and leave it there.

              1. Delphine*

                Even if you’re not defending the argument, I take issue with this framing: “Well, there is an argument, made by a Canadian lawyer, for how one could be jailed for misgendering someone.” It’s a mischaracterization, the type that leads to the sort of misinformation we see in OP’s letter. The argument was that a person could be jailed for contempt of court:

                – if a complaint was made
                – if it progressed to a human rights tribunal
                – if the tribunal decided there had been discrimination/harassment
                – and if the offending party refused to comply with whatever remedy the tribunal ordered

                Neither the criminal code nor the Human Rights Act even mentions pronouns or misgendering. The implication that there’s a grain of truth in “you can be arrested for misgendering a person” is wrong. Even in absolute layman’s term, Brown’s hypothetical amounts to, “you can be jailed for not obeying a court order.”

                1. Ra94*

                  Exactly this! And by that token, you “could be jailed” for literally anything, assuming the same hypothetical court order. One of our clients was jailed for not giving away a Lexus (to his wife, as ordered by the judge)! I’m not going around saying, “In America, you could get thrown in jail for not giving away your Lexus.”

      2. Blunt Bunny*

        That isn’t discrimination though and they would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person knew that they were transgender and purposefully called them the wrong pronoun to hurt them. Also unless there is proof of this exchange it is unlikely to be convicted. The only way it could be likely was if you were suing your workplace and their was other and even then it would have to be more than once.

        If we can’t prosecute white supremacists as domestic terrorism and hate crimes then it’s unlikely someone is going to jail for the above.

    7. Malarkey01*

      This is really tough for me because I usually think I fall on the need to correct obvious lies that hurt groups and are setting up a really toxic divisive culture in this country.

      However this is your director and this discussion had nothing to do with work… I’ve yet to experience someone reacting well when pointing out misinformation like this- totally different when a friend/family says “hey this is weird I just heard x” and you can say actually that’s a false rumor or fake news- but someone spouting it as a belief, especially one like this, has never said oh thanks for correcting me, shouldn’t rely on that source I guess.

      Personally after he made a comment like this, I’d take it as a sign that he friendly political debates need to stop too. Talking politics in an office has enormous downsides and very little upside.

    8. smoke tree*

      Part of the issue with this particular example is that it’s not just misinformation, it’s misinformation that supports bigotry. So if the coworker brought it up, I’m guessing that’s because it aligns with his beliefs and he was testing the waters to see if others in the office feel the same way, or would be uncomfortable speaking up.

    9. Louise*

      Friendly debate is for questions like “is a hot dog a sandwich,” not “is this piece of transphobic misinformation true.”

  3. Engineer Girl*

    Op #5. Please follow Alison’s advice. Use your words if possible. Printing out a question and anonymously leaving it for someone is so outrageously 4th grade passive aggressive.
    Pleas be the adult.

    1. DetectiveRosaDiaz*

      I feel her advice is so great, it would be a pity not to use it. Although I do wonder what happens when people stumble upon advice that’s about them without their colleague giving it to them directly

        1. Works in IT*

          I thought of the father dating abusive boss letter myself. Someone showed the father the post, and he texted the OP “um”.

        2. What’s with Today, today?*

          I was thinking of Remus. The coworker/slash boss that read AAM, recognizes the situation, and wrote in to confirm and add to the OP’s letter.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think most people would get their shoulders up around their ears and go straight to “You didn’t even mention the mitigating circumstance in which my behavior was TOTALLY LOGICAL.” Saying “anonymous people on the internet agree with me, when only given my side” is not the killer argument its proponents hope. Even if they are objectively correct according to the little sprite who flies around deciding who is objectively correct about everything, their opponents don’t care.

          1. Lora*

            Oh my god I had forgotten about that. I have people telling me the equivalent right now: “I spoke with High Up Boss, and he assures me that…”

      2. Anoncorporate*

        This is why I don’t tell anyone I read AAM – I might want to complain about them at some point ! (I mean, I already do in the comments.)

        1. Sally*

          I told a friend about AAM, and they read it daily. I like and trust them, but I also like to be able to write whatever I want here, so I won’t be telling them my AAM comments alias.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Delivery is important when it comes to getting and accepting advice.

        Unsolicited, out of nowhere advice, even when it’s good, isn’t usually welcome.

        Also lots of people still disagree with the answers for various reasons, since everyone and every organization is different.

        If it’s a case of unlawful behavior, it’s one thing to use it as some backup for your discussion but just leaving some random advice columnists POV isn’t going to change much if you’re just dealing with some obnoxious Fergus stuff.

      4. vlookup*

        I once recognized a letter from a candidate who had had a bad experience interviewing at my organization. Her frustrations were totally valid. I was deeply, deeply tempted to share it with my then-boss, who had handled the situation pretty poorly.

        Ultimately, that seemed like a unwise choice, so I didn’t do it, but it was a useful opportunity to reflect on some larger issues with my boss’s management style, as well as the choices I was making as I navigated that workplace culture (I was also involved in the interview process and had some complicity in the letter writer’s experience).

    2. Jasnah*

      Also I think it’s kind of mean or gossipy in a way that most people don’t deserve–I would hate to receive a printout of “my coworker reeks, what should I do?”

      And it could even make the situation worse. Of course we choose to believe letter writers because we are trying to help them, but that might vary from how the other parties concerned see the issue, and it could be very hurtful to read that internet strangers think you’re unhinged because a coworker mischaracterized you online. Best to just be an adult and speak to them kindly yourself.

      1. Kate R*

        Agreed. I can sort of understand someone wanting to do this when the question is more about professional norms like the guy who wrote in about his wife cold-contacting people on LinkedIn or every new grad who writes in about the terrible advice from their parents, but for examples like the letter Alison linked to (about the food police), the advice was basically just to say, “Hey, those comments are out of line” and instead she got a printout of internet strangers caller her names and discussing how horrible she is. Not that I disagree with those assessments, but that comes across more as, “Hey, everybody hates you” instead of “This behavior is inappropriate.”

    3. Cameron*

      I’ve moreso wondered if anyone has posted a question here knowing that the perpetrator reads AAM and would see it. For most letters, the details seem to be specific enough that the offending party would recognize themselves.

      On the flip side – what if you really want to avoid the person/workplace knowing its them? Would you change lots of unimportant details?

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      Also it introduces such weird dynamics in the office. I once had the office busy body correctly guess who I was talking about in a comment (I found out later they had been trying for months to find my username and once they found it spent the next couple of months scouring my comments for anything that was about my current employer). Well they found one, printed it and left it both on the chair of the person it was about and our bosses chair. It was asinine. Accomplished nothing.

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          I got talked to about commenting during work hours. I was told – this did not happen and if it did you would be on trouble for not telling me – in response to the bad behavior I was pointing out.

          I changed up my commenter name frequently for 6 months after that.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            Oh and subject was a jerk before continued to be a jerk after, but now people on the team chose sides so it was made an even bigger deal then it needed to be.

    5. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      It sounds like a good strategy for handling the transphobic division head, though.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Not really–the department head will know who it was (LW is the only lefty around), and might think all kinds of ungenerous thoughts.

    6. Anoncorporate*

      It’s an unkind thing to do, though in this situation, I feel like it matches the unkindness of the coworker making the rude comments. I’m pretty sure the reason it was effective was because it gave the coworker a taste of her own medicine – making her feel uncomfortable.

  4. Agent J*

    OP#2: While I understand your urge to correct the misinformation as a kindness to the head of your division, I would caution you to weigh the benefits vs. the drawbacks. What is your working relationship like with this person? Are they generally open to feedback? Are they open to feedback from subordinates?

    Because from what you’ve provided, I’m not sure you have much to gain from correcting this person’s misinformation especially if they become defensive about having their viewpoints challenged. But you may have a lot to lose. I would say ignore it for now unless it begins to affect your work or your office culture/environment.

    1. Works in IT*

      True. People who believe in fake news… do not like being corrected. And this person has the ability to seriously harm your career.

      In his head, lies are truth and truth is lies. If you question his worldview…. well, it could turn into something out of a George Orwell novel.

      1. NicoleK*

        Yes, people who believe in fake news will double down and even triple down especially in the face of facts.

  5. lyonite*

    Amusingly, I got the same myth about pronouns from my Canadian mother-in-law, about California, where we live. She didn’t respond well to disagreement; I can only hope you fare better.

    1. lyonite*

      That said, I probably wouldn’t follow up at this point. I have a friend who does that all the time (about other, non-political issues that we were disagreeing about), and it mostly makes her seem like she won’t let go and has to get the last word.

      1. jDC*

        My old boss would do this and it just made him look petty. He’s go home and google something. Even minor stuff. Even when you’d respond to a question with “well I’m not 100% sure but I think…”. Then he’d parade around telling you how wrong you were. Truly made him look rude and why he is my ex boss.

        1. boop the first*

          Oof I hate when people ask you a question and then say “NO that doesn’t sound right, you’re clearly wrong.” Why ask me then??? Grr.

          1. jDC*

            Right. Then don’t ask me! If I didn’t have an answer to something he would ask me repeatedly even after I said I don’t know. Apparently asking me every two seconds means I’ll eventually know. Also not work related questions just anything. I understand expecting me to know work stuff but not so much the weather in Jamaica today.

          2. Rainy*

            In my previous career I had this happen all the time–tangentially acquainted people would ask me a question based on my expertise, and then disagree with me, citing that time they used google. Eventually when people asked for help, I started telling them to pay me up front. That pretty much knocked out that behaviour.

      2. Shad*

        About the only time a late follow up has come across well in my experience is when the person following up later did research, realized they were wrong, and were acknowledging that (not directly political in my case; he had no clue who Ada Lovelace was and refused to believe my explanation of her contributions to computing on a list of important women in history).

        1. A. Lovelace*

          At least he acknowledged he was wrong.
          Hopefully he didn’t know who Charles Babbage was either…

    2. Wendy Darling*

      My cranky spiteful side would want to prove it by calling the MIL the wrong pronouns until she (he I guess in my spite fantasy) admitted that it was clearly not illegal in my area.

      Unfortunately in real life it is generally not a good idea to intentionally provoke your in-laws.

    3. Stitch*

      My FIL was going on and on about some law and as this was in my wheelhouse (I am a lawyer and this was actually a field I had dealt with as a clerk) I tried gently correcting him. He insisted I was wrong. This is my general experience. People like this have axes to grind and don’t care so much about reality.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, some people are genuinely mistaken, and some just want to make their point, no matter if it’s a cheap shot relying on myths and rumors. The second category don’t particularly care if what they are saying is factually true or not.

        But this is all assuming that it’s only worth speaking up if you think you can change someone’s mind, and I’m not sure that I agree with that. Since silence to these kinds of remarks implies that you, on some level, agree, I think there can be value to even mildly signalling you disagree. I have a coworker who likes to spread misinformation about certain groups, and I don’t disagree with her because I think I’m going to change her mind (she’s one of the ones who will double down twice as hard) but because 1) If she heard disagreement from everyone around her, maaaaybe she would change her ways 2) if anyone overheard, I want it to be clear that I do not support what she’s saying.

        It actually took me a while to realize that my coworkers didn’t all agree with her because they never spoke up to the nonsense she would spout.

        1. Agent J*

          I’d like to offer that in the workplace, silence doesn’t and shouldn’t immediately translate into agreement (although it can). Due to a number of reasons (power dynamics, some people wanting to keep their personal and professional lives separate, fear of retaliation, etc.), I can see a lot of reasons why a coworker’s spread of misinformation wouldn’t be counteracted. I don’t think it’s always the right approach but I can understand it.

          1. Washi*

            I can understand it, and did eventually figure out that they do not share her views. But if you’re silent, you have to ask yourself if you’re ok with someone thinking you may be on board. And sometimes the answer may be yes! Sometimes the consequences of speaking up can be too great, especially if it involves your personal safety. But I think the more privilege you have, the more of an obligation there is to say something, anything, to indicate non-agreement. Even a “huh, that’s not been my impression” + subject change.

  6. Agent J*

    OP#5: Oh, how I wish I could print out AAM letters, sneak into my old jobs, and leave them on former coworkers’ desks. Like Batman for Corporate America. Or Santa.

    Alas, only in my dreams.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I rarely laugh out loud at what I’m reading – but this did it. Thank you, my day is complete. And it’s not even 7:30am in my time zone.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      Haha! This has me feeling a tinge of regret about how conscientious I was in turning in all my keys to past jobs… well, one in particular that didn’t think to ask and wouldn’t have noticed if I kept them.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Oh, god, I’m counting up in my head all the letters that various people would leave in my chair! :)

  7. Coverallyourbases*

    OP 1, I’m sorry that happened but you never should have gotten on that plane without 100% certainty that the necessary document had been completed and submitted by your Grandboss. It sounds like you’re young and new to the working world – this is a good time to learn such an important lesson.

    I would have sat and waited in front of his desk as he completed the form and then personally taken the document and scanned and emailed it to whomever it was at the hotel that needed it. Never assume people are going to do what is needed in situations where there is so much riding on the result. If that means hovering or feeling like you’re being a pest, so be it.

    It was a good lesson for sure, and one you won’t let happen again. It’s too bad you had to go through such an unpleasant time.

    OP 3, you can simply tell the wanna-be candidate that you hired someone. They don’t need to know more than that. Some places don’t even give an answer to questions from potential interviewees, so the fact that you’re taking the time to respond should be appreciated. I have such mixed feelings about pushy entitled (almost) candidates. I always go back to when I was younger (I know, I know……it was a different time!) – I didn’t even expect to hear a peep from the company if I was told they hired someone else.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      The other thing that’s really useful is to ask about who to contact and what the process is if things go badly wrong – not just hotels, but visa screwups, theft, losing your passport, etc..

      I will say that I’ve been caught out by hotels before, and I no longer believe that I’ll be able to check in to a room if someone else paid for it and they’re not physically with me at check-in, regardless of what the hotel or person paying tells me. I’ve literally listened in on the phone call where the person booking explained things to the hotel (I was arriving a half-day earlier than my roommate), then shown up at the hotel and not been able to check in.

      1. sacados*

        Yeah it’s so easy for this sort of thing to happen.
        At my last job one of my team members showed up at the hotel to check in, only to find out that when the company booked the room it was only paid for the first night and the rest of his (two weeks!) stay payment was due upon checkin. Despite the fact that every other time when the admins had booked this same hotel via the same travel booking service, the entire booking had been paid up front.
        Fortunately my team member had his credit card on him, but he had been seriously considering not taking it and only decided to at the last minute. If he’d left it at home, he would’ve been screwed!

      2. BRR*

        In my own experience, I’ve had trouble with trying to prepay for hotels if that’s not something the hotel usually does. I think at my last job, I had a 0% success rate at having my hotel prepaid for when it’s something my coworker who books travel was said it’s done (she might have messed up though given her track record).

        1. AVP*

          ugh, this. I book a lot of work travel for myself and other people and find that hotels have, like, a 20% chance of getting it right if you are trying to pay in advance and not present the card onsite upon checkin. It’s not an unusual request but my guess is that it’s just unusual enough that the front desk staff forget the process, or don’t have the paperwork right in front of them, and their default is to need a card upfront so they just go back to it.

          Honestly, the #1 way I get around this is It’s kind of ridiculous to use it for corporate travel but it gets you around this specific problem, and sometimes that’s what you need.

          (Do not even get me started on this as regards rental cars…)

          1. Willis*

            Yes – I use a lot for booking work travel and it’s super easy to make and pay for someone else’s reservation. I’ve never had an issue with them not being able to check in. I think some corporate policies may be against using sites like that but it seems like it should be an option in a case like the OP’s.

      3. Antilles*

        100% on the last point. If someone else is paying for the room, I’m not just accepting “oh, I called them, you should be good”, I’m bringing a hard copy printout in my luggage of the confirmation email sent to Andy, I’m calling the hotel ahead of time and reminding them that this is happening, and I’m making sure I have some way of contacting the person whose name is on the room.
        Most laughably, I’ve actually had a resort check me into the wrong reservation. I show up first and ask to get checked in under my friend’s name. They go ahead and check me in (after some back and forth discussion) and hand me keys…but then when they walk me to the room, it’s “Wait, I’m here before anyone else. How are there already several suitcases here? Um, and why is one of them a child’s Dora the Explorer suitcase?”

        1. Cactus*

          That happened to me once, when I was traveling for my friend’s wedding. Somehow the desk clerk got me confused with some woman from Pennsylvania whose last name was sort-of-but-not-really similar to mine. She gave me this other person’s paperwork with all her information to sign, I corrected it, got my own paperwork, got sent up to my room, where we were greeted by suitcases belonging to…That Woman from Pennsylvania. We were in a rush, so we changed clothes in Pennsylvania Woman’s room, then loaded our stuff into the car again, knowing we would have to lug it up AFTER the wedding, instead of settling into our room before as we had originally planned. (Pennsylvania Woman was possibly confused to see the tags from my dress in her wastebasket.)

      4. Stitch*

        This is one time being a fed is amazing. My spouse travels internationally for his government job and they really offer a ton of support.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          I used to work for the VA and international travel for conferences was a disaster. The first time I did it, they took my personal passport in order to issue an official passport. I had to cancel a personal trip to Canada planned over Memorial Day Weekend, because no one could tell me if my personal passport would be back in time.

          When I finally did get the official passport, I could only book US carriers (the Fly America Act) rather than cheaper international carriers, and the flight route had to be approved by several levels of administrators, which meant a lot of waiting and nail-biting that they would sign off in time. Instead of a direct flight, I had to take a more expensive, longer, multi-layover route to the conference, at taxpayer expense.

          Oh, and on my next personal international vacation, there was a massive headache at check-in because the system had me “flagged” as having two passport numbers. Almost missed my flight to New Zealand, which would have made me REALLY pissed.

          I left government service shortly thereafter, and now work for a private university. I have a corporate card and a generous conference stipend on top of salary, and I can book my own flights/hotels without needing approval from other people. I love it, and I’m never going back to the feds.

      5. jDC*

        I had this happen a long time ago and was stuck on NYC at the age of 18 alone and terrified. It was actually a hotel error as I had provided the document and i had called to verify this but still. I will always ensure require the hotel cost be paid to me upfront now.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yessssss, and it’s not just hotels. My very first business trip, I flew into the client’s city by myself, arriving around 11 p.m. Despite having EVERYTHING prebooked, I went to pick up my rental car (in a city with no public transit and before ridesharing was a thing) and was told that, despite my reservation and confirmation, they couldn’t rent to me because I wasn’t 26 yet – and that was their minimum age.

        I have never been so grateful for a travel service – I called the one my organization used, and they called the rental company (and then the rental company’s home office line) and had me in a car by midnight. It was a TERRIBLE car – economy-class compact with no power steering, but it was transportation and I made it to the client site the next day!

          1. jDC*

            For those who don’t know when i was 18 I was able to put special insurance on my policy for about $5 a month that allowed me to rent at most agencies. Worth looking into if you’re under 25.

      7. many bells down*

        Yeah I took a plane trip, rented a car, and drove to the hotel … only to discover that the bank had frozen the credit card I’d used both for the plane tickets and the rental car at some point during my drive. Apparently it was suspicious that I was using the card in a place I’d traveled to.

        I now make sure to file a travel plan with my bank before I go anywhere.

        1. jDC*

          We had this happen upon checking out on vacation. Now we make sure to alert the CC companies ahead of time. They weren’t concerned for 9 days but on day 10 when rushing to catch a flight they cared.

    2. Artemesia*

      The person is under the impression that they ‘missed their chance’ because the interview couldn’t be re-scheduled rather than they were always on the also ran list. They will be telling their friends that they would have had the job if the company had not been so unfair and rigid about scheduling.

      1. boo bot*

        Yes, I feel like with just a little exaggeration, the other side of this is the letter from someone whose interviewer only gave one choice of time and wouldn’t allow for rescheduling. The OP knows that’s not what happened, but the candidates have no way of seeing what’s going on behind the curtain, so they’re going to fill in the blanks.

    3. government worker*

      Oh, please. Spare the OP a lecture on your staircase wit and what you would have done in her situation. It’s not a realistic solution and it isn’t helpful, especially after the fact.

      Generally, loitering around a senior persons’ desk until you get what you demand is frowned upon, regardless of the request. Your strategy seems more suited to cafeteria sit-ins.

      1. boop the first*

        Re: loitering. I’ve had to do this once after months of getting passed around on a confirmation of vacation time. There were too many managers, and every one of them said “Yes! I will write it down. But… maybe you should check with (other managers)”. It was so ridiculous that the time came up to the schedule, turns out nobody actually wrote in my vacation, and the ultimate manager of scheduling tried to give me his “Okay but let me check with other managers…”
        Yeah no, I said I wasn’t leaving his office until he writes in my vacation. He did it in two seconds with a long sigh, and that was it. It was done. It was very effective. You know what’s frowned upon? Useless freaking management.

        1. Coverallyourbases*

          I’ve had to loiter in the VP’s office more times that I can count.

          If the option is being left without a place to stay at night, you’d better believe I’ll loiter until the cows come home!

        2. Zillah*

          Okay, but useless management sucking doesn’t change the fact that loitering around a senior person’s desk is often frowned upon.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Oh, please. Spare the OP a lecture on your staircase wit and what you would have done in her situation

        Wow, this is SUPER hostile. I’m no fan of shoulda-coulda-wouldas that happen in the comments section here, but this response is pretty unnecessary.

        1. jDC*

          And helps her in the future. Someone mentioned she may be young and newer to the workforce so afraid to step on toes. It’s validating that she can step a bit because it’s that important.

      3. Jadelyn*

        …well that was bizarrely over-the-top. Was there a reason for being that hostile about it, or are you just showing off your own wit?

      4. Coverallyourbases*

        Seriously? “Staircase wit”? Is that what a helpful suggestion is called now? This comment isn’t even worth trying to clarify it’s so odd…..

        Not sure who hurt your feelings or where your hostility comes from. Someone needs a nappie!

        1. boo bot*

          Staircase wit is when you think of a clever response to something after it’s already over – like thinking of a witty remark on your way out (down the stairs).

        2. government worker*

          Remind me of how your suggestion was relevant OP’s question? She asked “how do I talk to my boss about what happened” not “what could I have done differently”, which is what your comment seems to suggest. It wasn’t helpful and there was a whiff of condescension and arrogance, as well. No one likes a scold; I suspect you know this.

          No one hurt my feelings and the tone I was going for was arch and glib. Someone else explained what staircase wit means, so hopefully this clears things up for you.

          1. Jadelyn*

            “Arch” and “glib” are interesting synonyms for “rude” and “unnecessarily hostile”.

      5. Katherine*

        This comment is kind of harsh, but I do agree that “you should never have gotten on a plane without making sure you had the room taken care of” is a) not helpful and b) even less realistic. She’s a young, brand new employee. Was she going to refuse to take the trip, or just get on the plane and hope for the best? I think 99% of us would have opted for the latter in our younger days.

        1. Zillah*

          Agreed. I think that sometimes, it’s tempting to hone in on the response that’s most effective in an ideal scenario, which isn’t necessarily helpful to OPs who are navigating iffier waters (especially when they’re focused on hindsight). I get it, but I think responses that work in a wider range of situations would be more helpful.

          OP, you mentioned your manager telling you to email your grandboss; can you maybe ask him for advice on how to approach this now and how you can ensure something like this doesn’t happen again? He presumably knows his boss better than you do, and might be able to give you some direction and/or address it with his boss himself.

          FWIW, if someone I managed ended up in this position (and less importantly but still significantly I had to put an unexpected hotel charge on my personal credit card), I would not be thrilled and I would absolutely be taking it up with my boss.

    4. Stranded*

      OP1 here. I’m wondering why you felt it was appropriate to comment about my age and work experience, as neither are relevant. Trying to frame a scary situation as a “good learning experience” is unhelpful.

      1. Mags*

        Many times age and working experience have a great deal of relevance. Possibly not in this situation, but it’s not outrageous of Coverallyourbases to assume that someone with more work travel experience would have insisted on the documentation being completed before leaving.
        The fact that it was a scary situation doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from it. As Coverallyourbases said it’s unfortunate you had to deal with such an unpleasant trip, but in the future you at least know not to trust this boss to follow through.

        1. Stranded*

          The remarks about age, experience, and learning a “good lesson” can be removed from the comment without the advice being lost and it sounds a lot less condescending to boot.

          1. Moray*

            Several commenters are being condescending to you, I’m sorry. And your question wasn’t “what should I have done” or “what lesson should I have learned” (because…you’ve probably got that covered, on account of not being an idiot) but how to talk to your grandboss about it, which is a dilemma many people would have.

            If anything, the only relevant age-based assumption in this sitch would be to assume that someone as senior as your grandboss wouldn’t drop the ball so spectacularly.

            I’m in my mid-thirties, I’m not particularly naive or trusting, but in the absence of any other evidence I would have been fairly confident that someone who made it to Director or VP or suchlike might tend to procrastinate but wouldn’t ultimately be such a airheaded dick, and I probably would have ended up in the same position you did.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              In fairness, one of the very last questions is, “Is part of this on me for not trying harder to make him submit the form?”, so I don’t think people are totally out of line by suggesting other avenues that could have been pursued to ensure that all the requisite paperwork was completed (though the comments about OP1’s finances, being out of touch with the unreasonable expectations that employees front business costs, and supposition about her age/experience are).

          2. Samwise*

            Take what you need from the comments and let the rest go. (The commentariat will whack at each other on your behalf, anyway.)

          3. Kathleen_A*

            I don’t think Stranded did a thing wrong. I become somewhat paranoid when I travel, so I would almost certainly have made sure I had a copy of that document in my possession, “just in case.” But that’s because I’m paranoid, which isn’t (in most cases) a good thing to be.

            And paranoid or not, if my boss had said “I’ve got it covered,” I would have been fairly sure that it was covered because what sort of person would strand a subordinate like that? Only (as Moray put it) an “airheaded dick.” We can’t go through life assuming our supervisors are airheaded dicks – until they prove it, of course (which this guy has now done). And we can’t stand outside our supervisor’s offices demanding proof that they’ve done what they’ve promised to do, either.

            1. Librarianne*

              Yup. With managers, I generally presume competence until shown otherwise. This has come back to bite me a few times, but I’ve found that “badgering” my managers generates too much ill will to be worth it. The few that have caused major problems are usually very apologetic and much better about getting things done early the next time around.

              1. Zillah*

                Yeahhh, it’s kind of one of those things where there’s no foolproof approach; being super paranoid and anxious has its own drawbacks. That doesn’t mean that the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t lean in favor of paranoia, but there’s still a cost.

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              I kind of wonder of Executive Grandboss simply didn’t get what a big deal this was. Having closer contact with executives has made me realize that many of them are not detail people and the idea of not whipping out a credit card to pay for the hotel stay is probably foreign to him. (It’s also possible he’s an airhead dick and was miffed that OP wouldn’t front the cost and was being passive-aggressive about it.) I will also admit that, as I have moved up the management chain, I have to rely heavily on a system of calendar reminders and my (fabulous) assistant to handle things like form submission.

              1. emmelemm*

                Yeah, I think a lot of problems like this are because people higher up in the hierarchy, with high salaries, really don’t get that when someone on the lower levels says, “I really can’t afford to pay for this out of pocket”, they *really can’t afford to pay*. Not everybody can just whip out a credit card.

              2. Gazebo Slayer*

                I do suspect he was passive-aggressively, sneakily tricking her into fronting the cost, myself, but I’m a cynic that way.

        2. Anonymous 5*

          I mean… someone with enough professional experience to be responsible for others’ paperwork could also be assumed to be responsible enough to do their job and not drop the ball. And someone with enough experience to know how to “cover one’s own bases” could also be assumed to know how not to be patronizing and rude. OP did nothing wrong, so let’s stop with the condescension.

        3. Observer*

          Well, maybe if Coveryourbases had been a bit less judgy about the matter, it would have helped. Also, asking rather than making assumptions. Last, but not least it was definitely phrased in a way that came off as a “rookie mistake that you should have had the sense not to make.”

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’d actually put marching into your grandboss’s office and demanding that they fill in this form RIGHT NOW and refusing to leave until they did as a rookie mistake most people would have the common sense not to make.

            1. fposte*

              Ditto refusing to go on a booked trip.

              I’ve been in the working world for a while and I can easily see running afoul of something like this. It’s just that I have personal credit cards that can and often do serve as a cushion, so the bureaucratic tangles I encounter don’t loom as large as they would have before that was true.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Yes, exactly. I can cover most ordinary expenses these days – I might resent having to do it, but I could do it and definitely would do it if the alternative were to not have the hotel room I needed. But there have been times in my life when a hotel bill (which would likely be several hundred dollars) would have loomed really large in my checking account. And neither in those days or these days would it have been a great career move to refuse to go on an already scheduled trip!

                1. Chinookwind*

                  DH and I are expert travelers and we have had issues with booking business related lodgings, some booked by us and some booked by others. It is not a rookie mistake to trust your boss to do what she says. But, it is also not easy to cover a hotel on short notice unless your credit card has a big enough limit.

                  We once spent 3 weeks, during a transfer, in a hotel where DH had to pay off his card every couple of nights so that it would be approved for the next couple of days. He couldn’t get his government employer to reimburse him quickly until he threatened to (literally) sleep on the front door of the detachment to prove he couldn’t afford to front the $1,000 this was costing on the half salary trainees got. We had been told during his training that everything would have been taken care of when we arrived but it hadn’t.

                  As for waiting in someone’s office for them to sign something urgent – this is something I do as and admin assistant sparingly because, sometimes, that is the only way you can guarantee it gets done in a timely manner. because I do it sparingly, TPTB know that, if I am doing it, then it is important and I have never been hassled by them.

          2. Dontlikeunfairrules*

            I don’t see any judgy-ness (sp?) and I kind of agree. No one is saying OP#1 is stupid – there’s just a major lesson to be learned here. Old or young or middle aged, don’t trust people to do something that your safety and well-being is dependent on when they’ve shown you they don’t put what you need as a priority. The grand boss already put it off a bunch of times which would’ve made me even less trusting of him to follow through.

            Why is that such a bad thing to say and why are people worried about saying it?

            Maybe my old haggard thick-skinned self needs a re-set, but why is telling OP to be more “in his face” towards the grand boss bad? Am I missing something here?

            1. Risha*

              I think that you’re missing that most people, including very experienced people, find it to be crushingly unrealistic advice. On my part, I’d go so far as to call it irresponsible to give it.

              There are plenty bosses in the world it will work with, including most – MOST – of the ones I’ve had. But there are even more bosses where you’d end up reprimanded, or even fired. (The ‘skip the trip altogether’ advice is even more likely to get someone fired.)

              And even with a semi-OK boss you’re almost certainly burning a big chunk of political capital on that stunt.

            2. Katherine*

              I think the point is that she *didn’t* trust her boss- she just didn’t feel she had any choice in the matter and was stuck going on the trip and just hoping against hope that he would follow through on his promise to reserve the hotel. It sounds like she bugged him about it as often as she felt comfortable doing- and again, when you’re new to a company, you generally don’t feel great about being a squeaky wheel when addressing a person two levels above you. Her choices were: 1) go on the trip and spend the whole flight praying that he worked out the reservation while she was in the air; 2) dig in her heels, refuse to go on a training trip within three months of hire, draw attention to her own personal finances, and become known as “that girl who wouldn’t go on a mandatory trip.” And here we have Coveryourbases, with decades of hindsight and no personal stake in any of this, acting like this is the World’s Easiest DecisionTM. OBVIOUSLY she wanted it resolved before she left- she asked him 1000 times to take care of it! She did what she could! She didn’t feel she could go to the lengths of refusing to go on a trip when she was a brand new employee!

        4. Mike C.*

          This isn’t useful in the slightest. In fact, it’s complete bullish!t to claim that it’s somehow “useful to learn not to trust the boss” in this fashion.

        5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Shoot, age and experience won’t save you from this type of thing. My coworker and I had the same thing happen once. She has about 35 years work experience and I had about 20. Our work required that all hotels be paid for with the corporate card. We show up in the middle of nowhere NV (ok, not quite nowhere, Tonopah) on a Sunday evening (so no one in office) and lo and behold, our travel person had held the rooms with the corporate card but neglected to send the authorization form. Luckily the hotel let us stay that night, but my coworker ended up having to miss the first half of our first meeting because she had to get on the phone as soon as the office opened to sort it out. 55+ years experience and we got caught in almost the same bind as the LW

          1. LJay*

            And sometimes crap happens.

            My company books travel for work a lot. We have a whole department that does the physical bookings, and another whole department that tells them what to book basically.

            We just sent one employee far out of the country and the whole trip has been a mess for some reason. There was concern that a strike at an airport would leave them stranded halfway through the trip. They got to the rental car counter and the rental car didn’t come up as prebilled for some reason so they had to pay for it there. Then they got to the hotel and the hotel needed payment to check them in because the travel department’s credit card number had become compromised and needed to be cancelled and reissued.

            (And then their cell phone wouldn’t work for some reason even though it’s a line with international calling on it and they are in a country specifically called out on that contract as working).

            We do have all our employees carry a company credit card with a sufficient limit for most expenses. And we have a responsive finance team and credit card company that was able to quickly raise the limit to accommodate the extra expenses. So the employee was not stranded and did not have to front any of their own money.

            But even through our department is very experienced and generally on top of things, there were still issues. And even though my employee traveling is a veteran traveler there wouldn’t have been much that they could have done if they didn’t have the company card with a sufficient limit.

          2. Rainy*

            Not Tonopah! Thank god you didn’t have to stay in the clown motel. Unless it WAS the clown motel!?

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              No thanks be to everything! That dang place scared me and all we did was drive by it

              1. Rainy*

                It was for sale last year and my husband was all “we should buy the clown motel!”

                DO NOT WANT.

      2. Zip Silver*

        People love to do this. I get it quite often because I look young. “oh it must be because you’re young and inexperienced”, thanks, but I’m over 30 and have been working since 16. It’s easy to not look haggard if you moderate the booze, lay off the smokes, exercise and eat healthy.

        1. I Irony*

          It’s pretty impressive to fit a comment that judgmental about other people’s appearances and life choices into a comment complaining about people judging you.

          1. Zip Silver*

            It’s a gift, and it’s meant to be an off putting response to shut down the young and inexperienced line of conversation.

      3. M*

        I also think it would be important to get your finances in order. If you could use your own card you could get points or cash back that would help you. It is on the grandboss but some offices will look down on you if you can’t use your own card or you won’t be accepted for a company card because of your credit. Personally I don’t know if I would send someone a second time (but we have company cards at my office if you can’t use your personal one) if they could not use their company card

        Good luck.

        1. Stranded*

          I’m not open to feedback about my personal finances. Requiring employees to front business expenses is unreasonable, as Alison has pointed out in the past.

          1. Crivens!*

            I commend your calm and polite responses to people being rudely presumptuous here. I admit I would not be able to respond with such grace.

          2. Glory*

            It’s not always unreasonable. Its a norm in some industries and companies. The fact that your manager ended up paying with his personal credit card may indicate that it is considered normal at your company. I think you should ask around about how other people handle paying for business trips and if its possible to get an advance next time.

            1. valentine*

              Many norms are unreasonable.

              Given that he failed OP1, I wouldn’t trust him to reimburse by a reasonable date.

              1. Black cat*

                Yep. I was expected to front all costs for travel as a graduate student. And I couldn’t get reimbursed until after the travel took place. So that would mean floating the cost of airfare for months.
                I regularly booked travel for my friends because I could front a couple of thousand for international travel thanks to a higher earning spouse.
                This was normal for academia but super unreasonable.

                1. Thursday Next*

                  I remember those grad school days as well. When a plane ticket is 5-10% of your annual income, you really feel it.

            2. Acornia*

              Just because its common (and therefore “the norm”) does NOT mean it’s okay. It absolutely is unreasonable for businesses to expect employees to shoulder the costs of travel, even temporarily.

              1. Glory*

                I didn’t say that it should be the norm or that it’s okay. I’m just pointing out that it is the norm. Sometimes we just have to deal with reality, which is why I suggested asking for a travel advance next time. Those are also pretty common.

                1. boo bot*

                  But, the company had a policy in place, the issue was that the grandboss failed to do the paperwork. It seems like an overreaction to say that anyone who can’t come up with the money for a surprise system failure shouldn’t be doing the job.

            3. Anon for Now*

              I tend to agree.

              I keep one personal credit card specifically for business expenses. Because the expectation is that I request reimbursement. My employer is excellent at providing reimbursement in a very timely manner (often within days of submitting expenses). They will make exceptions, but the norm is you pay up front and expense.

              Although I believe that the OP should be taking this up with their manager, and having their manager address this with their grandboss.

          3. CupcakeCounter*

            Absolutely correct – your personal finances shouldn’t impact your company’s business expenses. They decided to send you on a trip so THEY should have given you a company card with which to book that trip.

          4. Stitch*

            I agree, my spouse’s first job did reimbursement and they were often late. One crucial month it was very bad. He had done huge amounts of travel we were screwed. We had to carry a balance on our credit cards and lost unreimbursable funds to interest. Travel can be thousands and thousands. I am glad he left that job. My salary was basically enabling their slow reimbursement practices.

          5. Samwise*

            Stranded, I think you are taking these comments way too personally. It’s a suggestion, it’s not judging you and if it’s not useful to you, just let it go.

            1. JenRN*

              Stranded set a boundary and made a general statement about AAM. What was too personal?

            2. Anonny-non*

              I think Stranded has been responding to comments calmly and reasonably. Nothing indicates they’re taking it overly personally.

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I think most reasonable people would draw the line at discussing their financial decisions with random strangers on the internet. Stranded is being remarkably measured and calm given the condescending comments that are being made.

              Stranded, I think you did all you could in this situation and exactly zero of the blame for what happened lies with you.

              1. Chinookwind*

                Ditto. Stranded, you are responding politely to people who are giving advice that implies you did something wrong. You didn’t. You took a boss at their word. If you can’t trust a boss to do something that is vital for your job and/or finances, then the issue is the boss and not you.

                I want to be impressed by your manager stepping up to help you and the company out, but there should be nothing impressive about a manger helping/protecting an employee from a grand boss’ mistake. I was once told that an effective manager acts like an umbrella to shield their underlings from the stuff that rains down from the top. Your manager was showing how a good manager does that.

                AAM’s advice is spot on. With luck, your grand boss will be suitably embarrassed at having left you in a lurch and, if he isn’t, that will tell you everything you need to know about trusting his word going forward.

            4. emmelemm*

              Stranded’s been pretty graceful in the face of some super rude comments, honestly.

            5. Zillah*

              How on earth is “maybe you should get your personal finances in order” when someone says they can’t afford to float their company money a neutral suggestion???

              There are very few people with stretched finances who have never said “hey, is there a way for me to not have all of this insecurity and anxiety hanging over my head?” People are not in that position because they want to be.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Seriously. It’s like that rage-inducing picture of Paris Hilton in a tank top that says “STOP BEING POOR.”

            6. Katherine*

              Being told to get her personal finances in order, by a person who knows nothing about her personal finances, IS personal.

          6. kittymommy*

            Yup, Stranded, I agree. It is ridiculous to suggest that someone use their own card to front company expenses. While a lot of places do it, the amount of things that could go wrong in the reimbursement is not something an employee should be asked to risk. (And depending upon where you work is actively discouraged, i.e. where I work).

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I don’t have a company credit card, so I do sometimes front company expenses – but not the really expensive stuff, such as airfare and hotel. I get it that this is standard in some industries, but it’s not in most. In any case, the time to tell an employee “You should cover this yourself” is before they’re standing at a hotel desk.

              1. Zip Silver*

                It cuts both ways. I have a company card, but I wish I were allowed to expense more stuff on my personal cards. I could absolutely clean up in travel benefits and points :/

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This is a bit uncalled for. The first line of the letter is “I started a new job in April.”
          The first step in improving finances is to get a job or a better job which I’ll assume OP has done. It’s not relevant why finances are tight.

            1. M*

              I was someone in the LWs shoes when I was younger (I was also homeless for a time among a lot of other crap. I say this because people seem to think I am being too harsh and don’t know what I am talking about). It’s important to try and get your finances in order as soon as you can because they can get away from you. I wasn’t trying to be mean it’s the reality of life.

              I didn’t say they had a company card. I said some companies offer it which I think is a good idea for most companies for situations like this and just in general. Many people can’t pay upfront so having company cards helps the company and the employees. That being said, I have seen people not given a company card because of their credit which causes issues in itself.

              You did the right thing and your manager did a great thing. As other people wrote I would fill out as much of the paperwork as you can and maybe instead of waiting around drop it off whenever and then end with “thanks so much I will pick it up today at 1 PM as I see you are free in your calendar.”

              Again I am sorry if you didn’t want me talking about finances, they are your finances so do as you wish. But as someone who has been there before it’s important to do all you can now so it doesn’t impact you for your life.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                First, I’m not the OP, so I’m not sure why you’re responding to me. Second, you’re doubling down on your point, which has nothing to do with OP’s situation. She didn’t write in to get financial advice (!), she wrote to ask if she made an error by not continuing to follow up with her grandboss about the credit card authorization form. Her personal financial situation, which none of us know, is not pertinent – her grandboss’s mistake is.

              2. Observer*

                What does this have to do with anything? You’re still making a lot of assumptions about what the OP can and can’t do, what they should or should not do IN THEIR SITUATION that you really know nothing about. There is ZERO to indicate that OP is not “getting their finances in order.” Stop doubling down on this and acting as though they are choosing to ignore sterling advice.

              3. londonedit*

                Seriously, I’m 37 and my finances aren’t ‘in order’ to the point where I could drop a couple of hundred pounds on a hotel room at the last minute and not have it seriously affect my budget for the rest of the month.

                1. boo bot*

                  Yeah. Not to mention, you can do everything right, get your finances in order – and for many of us, it only takes one crisis to get knocked back into chaos.

                2. whatthemell?*

                  Yeah, I’m almost 50 and I wouldn’t be Ok paying for any work trip costs myself!

                  But I don’t understand why OP if feeling defensive when they wrote in to ask advice about this. Isn’t the comment section for comments?

                  Sometimes the AAM commentariate is a frighteningly angry group, ready to pounce. Why the assumptions that comments are intended to be scolding in nature? I haven’t read any that appear that way. I don’t get it.

              4. Samwise*

                M, I think you made your points kindly and politely. And they are good suggestions, from your own experience. +1 to you.

              5. Anon Number Five*

                Stop being condescending, just some helpful advice that will help you down the road.

        3. Crivens!*

          You say “getting your finances in order” as if that’s an easy or even achievable task for everyone. Also, the OPs finances are completely irrelevant here. Frankly your commenting on them is dreadfully rude.

          1. fposte*

            And you can have your finances in order and still not be able to handle an unexpected hotel bill in a different country. That’s just a weird take.

            1. Rainy*

              I’ve deleted a response to M like six times, but this is my basic feeling too.

              Not just a weird take, the kind of steaming hot take most people would think twice about before just grunting it out there for the world to see.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          My husband is an executive, and does not have a company card. No one at his company does. They are not distributed like quarters for missing teeth.

          1. M*

            Removed. M, I appreciate that you’re trying to be helpful, but the OP hasn’t asked for advice on her finances (and has specifically asked you to stop) and it’s off-topic. Please leave this here. – Alison

        5. EPLawyer*

          No. I don’t care if I am super rich. If I am traveling for the company, they can pay for it. Companies need to stop the practice of their employees giving interest free loans to the company by putting business expenses on their personal cards.

          However,OP1, you did learn something something super important to you is not necessarily super important to someone else. You do have to follow up a little more. As Alison said, in an ideal world you would have made sure the form was done by personally handing it to him and waiting. But life doesn’t always work that way. Pro Tip: Don’t ask grandboss to do things. Ask his admin. Trust me, she has all the info to put stuff on this company card.

          1. Grapey*

            You say ‘interest free loan’, I (and all of my department) say ‘travel points on my rewards card’. It’s 110% worth it for me to have the reimbursement latency in exchange.

            Your point is taken though and I wish it was the default for companies to have an opt out policy where you can choose to use your own card.

            1. Acornia*

              And would it still be worth it if you were living paycheck to paycheck? The *only* reason you can think of it as “worth it to me” is that you simply have the flexibility to do it.
              Not everyone does, and companies should stop demanding it of employees.
              Business expenses should be paid by the business, and not floated by employees.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Ummm, that’s why Grapey said ‘give employees the option’, not ‘force all employees into one way or the other.’ Because some employees can’t float it (or don’t want to – I prefer low interest rates / simplicity to the points game), but others can / want to.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              But…you can have a company card that has rewards points for travel. I had one of those at my last two companies, and company policy at both places was that any rewards or frequent flyer miles I earned while traveling could be used towards my own personal trips. Hell, the travel center at the insurance company I used to work for booked all of my personal travel for me too now that I think about it (using my personal card of course) – I miss that place. Their travel process was the best I’ve seen so far.

              1. Lora*

                I have this now. It’s pretty sweet. I put my personal hotel / airline numbers into the software that does our travel booking and I can tell it to use either my personal credit card or the company card and I get the company negotiated rates on things, plus points are credited to me however I want to use them. Plus, there are some hotels that if you call, “oh we are full up, so sad…” and if I say, “I’m with BigPharma” all of a sudden they have a room with an upgrade available.

                The downside is, when I am traveling for fun, it’s a pretty rare emergency-type event that I’d end up in a chain hotel. So it’s more of a nice to have, than something I’d use regularly.

            3. I Irony*

              The option option is basically what we do. I don’t know enough about my employees’ financial situations to know what they can/prefer to handle via reimbursement v. the organization needs to pay for. We offer the latter but allow the former, if the employee requests it (usually for points or miles on their own card). Travel can be booked through a service that bills the organization directly and requires no outlay by the employee or they can choose to book/pay for their own and submit for reimbursement. Expense deposits are done once per week, so they’re reimbursed quickly.

        6. Observer*

          So you would penalize someone for not being able (or willing) to float a loan for the business? The OP does NOT HAVE a company card – are you saying that you would keep someone from doing job because someone (or a policy) won’t allow the that person to have a company card.

          Do you have any idea what a few days in a hotel can cost? Are you totally unaware that some people have fairly low credit limits on their credit cards? Or that they have expenses that restrict their cash flow without being irresponsible and unable to manage their finances? Or that sometimes the problem with their finances is that they are not being paid a reasonable wage for the COL in the area? The idea that not being able to lend their employer a significant amount of money – and risk having to pay interest on it, means that someone doesn’t have their finances in order does not come from a place of sound financial literacy.

          Regardless, if you want someone to travel for you, and they’ve made it clear that they can’t pay for the trip, you need to take care of it. You do NOT *claim* that you are taking care of it, and then leave them high and dry. Talk about getting “things in order”.

          1. Grabble*

            I agree with you, but also, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. Even if Letter Writer 1 had spent all their money on hookers and blow, they still should be able to say “I’m not floating a loan to the company” without repercussion.

            LW1 didn’t ask for financial advice, and M needs to drop this whole thing.

          2. Chinookwind*

            Ass to that the exchange rate for a Canadian paying for a US hotel – the price automatically goes about 30%.

            But, if the grand boss brushes off covering the cost as “no big deal,” point that this type of error makes the company look disorganized and will raise questions about what other details were missed.

            DH just went through this on a recent emergency posting. He was told the room was booked & paid for before he arrived but it turned out that the government didn’t have an account with this particular work camp. He was lucky enough to be able to afford covering room & board for a week (even if it will take 3 to 6 months to be reimbursed), but both he and the camp’s owners both came away from the transaction wondering how unorganized the planner was and what else was overlooked. As it turned out there were other details mess up which led to a half day, unpaid, to fill out the paperwork.

        7. Commentor*

          Really? Regardless of my financial situation, I have never, ever offered my employer an interest free loan to complete work they have asked me to do. This is a very unhelpful and frankly unkind in spirit to the OP.

        8. Ella*

          It’s entirely possible to “have your finances in order” and still be unable to -or be negatively impacted by having to- float what could be a $1000+ hotel bill before getting reimbursed. Even quite well off people might have their cash tied up in investments, savings accounts, retirement funds, etc. And a less wealthy person who has budgeted for student loans or family expenses or medical bills or what have you might be perfectly fine financially but not have the liquidity to handle an unexpected business expense without going into debt. And it’s incredibly unfair for a company to push you into maxing out a credit card or tapping an emergency savings fund for the sake of a business expense.

          1. UKDancer*

            Agreed. My company pays me adequately for the work I do. That doesn’t mean I have enough of a credit card limit to drop a significant sum on a hotel booking I was not expecting. When I started my job in the company I was a poorly paid junior llama herder and my credit card limit was very low. Now I’m a mid ranking llama supervisor and so I’ve more money but a deliberately low credit card limit. I’m glad my company books hotels through an agency and pays for them for us.

        9. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          You can not want to put things on your own card for a number of reasons. For example, I have worked at 2 places that were slooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww to reimburse for required work travel as in 6-9 weeks slow because they had these crazy, paper based reimbursement rules. Sometimes I would have months with lots of travel (think $7000-$10,000) and I refused to put anything on my own card at all. Theoretically I could have done the whole bit, but no way am I carrying that kind of expense because my employer still used paper checks to reimburse.

        10. Risha*

          That is a completely thing to say, never mind its rudeness. Plenty of people have perfectly decent financial situations that are fine for normal life but don’t allow for plopping down possibly thousands of dollars for international travel on little notice to be reimbursed god knows when.

          And I’ve only ever worked for one company (my current) that even had company cards for anyone but upper executives. (My bad credit at the time – from an extended period of unemployment – had no effect on my ability to get the company card, by the way. Presumably because of the ‘company’ factor.)

        11. Another worker bee*

          This is a little ridiculous. There is nothing in the post to assume that OP does not have her finances in order. I regularly front for pretty substantial travel expenses for my job without batting an eye, but am in the process of buying a house and getting approved for a mortgage (you know, a thing financially responsible people do – try to keep their credit card balances low while applying for a mortgage) *AND* just got hit with an large unexpected expense. I talked to my boss and told them they would have to pay upfront for the next few months until this period in my life was over and they were completely fine and reasonable about it, because there’s nothing in my job description that says “loan your employer 5k every month”.

      4. Jadelyn*

        …I mean. You, um. Wrote in? To an advice blog? And among other things asked what you could have done differently to make sure stuff was taken care of ahead of time? So I’m really not sure why you’re responding with such hostility to someone who is essentially just suggesting you reframe the experience for yourself as a lesson learned rather than just a crappy experience. That’s…very common advice for people, not only here but everywhere.

      5. Coverallyourbases*

        I guess I assumed you were new in the workforce because of some of your actions. I can’t imagine thinking that I could count on someone to do what I’ve asked them to do repeatedly without seeing results, and knowing that if they don’t follow through it means I won’t have a roof over my head.

        My apologies if you were offended – although I still stand by this being a good lesson. I’m sure you’ll never let it happen again.

      6. jDC*

        I’m not sure why it would upset you. It’s pretty reasonable to assume someone might be less experienced if they didn’t know this. It doesn’t matter but it’s not harmful speculation. We’d kinda hope if you’d been doing this all your life you’d have it down by now. I don’t mean that rude but that’s just the assumption one would make.

        1. Zillah*

          “I don’t mean that to be rude” doesn’t give you a free pass for saying some incredibly rude and condescending things. Is your intention to help the OP or feel superior to them? Because if it’s the former, condescension and belittling them for not “having it down by now” is the opposite of helpful.

          You’re also showing yourself to be incredibly out of touch. Most people haven’t done significant solo domestic travel for work, let alone international travel. Many of those that have have not had to deal with bosses who didn’t follow through. If you’re really that experienced in the work world, I’d have thought you’d be aware of that by now – I don’t mean that to be rude, that’s just the assumption I’d make.

          1. jDC*

            Uh I wasn’t the original writer and I didn’t say anything rude. I said “not to be rude” because she was upset over something I didn’t find a big deal. Calm.

            1. Zillah*

              I’m very calm. I just disagree with you and think that you’re being incredibly rude.

    5. Nye*

      This is pretty harsh to OP #1. Refusing to go on a work trip (for what would look like a very minor thing) when you’re a new employee is a big deal, and would probably give a very bad impression to your new workplace. Clearly the boss should have taken care of the paperwork, but it sounds like OP #1 did everything right that was within their power.

      1. Lady Jay*

        Yes, this.

        Refusing to get on a plane is also scary: Imagine the form is signed at the last minute but OP misses the flight–that ends up being a very expensive decision!

        Also, the blithe and condescending implication that *of course* OP should have sat and waited while grandboss filled out the form is a little much. Would that have been a good thing to do? Sure. But “feeling like a pest” is often the exact opposite of what one is supposed to do, especially with the power differential, and it’s easy to see why OP didn’t.

        1. Antilles*

          Yes, you don’t want to be a pest to the grandboss. However, after hearing him say “the hotel hasn’t sent me the form yet” once (and especially when he made that excuse several other times)*, OP would have been absolutely within her rights to go ahead and call the hotel herself to follow up.
          It’s not OP’s fault that she didn’t this time – he said he’d cover it and he failed to do so. It’s completely understandable that she trusted that he would. But the lesson for next time is that you can’t rely on him to fill out this kind of paperwork (whether because he’s forgetful, busy, or just realize the importance) and so OP needs to take matters more into her own hands.
          *For the record, in my experience, this sort of ‘form’ is usually a standardized blank PDF application that they could literally email you in a couple minutes after getting off the phone or even during the call itself. The grandboss claiming that he kept following up for a week and didn’t get the form? Unlikely. If I was a betting man, I’d lay money that the grandboss kept intending to call the hotel and just never actually got around to it…or at absolute he most called once and never followed up when it slipped the hotel clerk’s mind.

          1. Observer*

            Actually, the GrandBoss DID eventually get the form -he sent it to the OP for them to fill out their part and they sent it back to the GrandBoss to finish and send in.

            Also, the OP (Stranded) has also added a follow up explaining what the original hold up with the form was. This hotel apparently has some fairly odd practices.

    6. Lynn Marie*

      Yes, for what it’s worth, next time, fill out the form yourself as much as possible and/or if the boss has an assistant, ask that person for the info and if the assistant can sign for the boss. And be aware that sometimes even with all the correct info in place, the hotel can screw up and lose the form – it just happened at my workplace a couple of months ago with a new co-worker who didn’t have a company card yet. This is something that happens, don’t beat yourself up about it, and always be ready for an adventure when you travel. Things just go sideways sometimes.

      1. puppies*

        Totally agree! I would also suggest making it as easy for grandboss as possible to do what you need them to do. You can’t expect a senior level person to be proactive about completing an annoying administrative task. Also, I’m an experienced EA who has booked a lot of travel for others and I echo what others are saying about hotels constantly screwing up the payment authorization process.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          A senior-level person who blows off a task essential to keeping a subordinate from being stranded because it’s “boring” is someone who shouldn’t be a senior-level person!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Most people can’t say “Boss, I refuse to get on this plane. I want you to make Grandboss fill out more forms.” Not unless they have decided this is the hill on which they will die and being fired is worth it.

    8. kittymommy*

      Hotels!! Credit card authorization forms are my living nightmare! I am currently fighting with two hotels over three reservations because there is ALWAYS a problem. It generally takes me 3-4 requests before I get a CCA form in my hands. I will also call the hotel at least twice (including day of check in) to make sure there isn’t an issue and am always assured there isn’t. There always is. I have a friend in a completely different industry who is constantly having this issue as well.

      1. ClashRunner*

        They are the bane of my existence trying to get them sorted out, but when they work it’s a life-saver.

        1. Kelly L.*

          +1. So annoying, and I’ve had hotels screw up and not apply them even when I sent them and had to scramble to fix it. I started telling travelers to call my cell if the hotel gave them any grief.

    9. CM*

      It’s sad to see how many people are saying, “OMG, I’d never trust someone to do what they promised to do, especially if they were my boss!”

      I wouldn’t either, but shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t it be the expectation that people will keep their promises? Shouldn’t we all be shocked that the OP’s boss broke his word rather than that the OP assumed he would keep it? Shouldn’t it be the norm to do what you say you’re going to do, ESPECIALLY when one of your subordinates is counting on you?

      We don’t seem to have a very high standard for bosses if we take for granted that they don’t really care about what’s happening and that we can’t count on them when it’s important.

  8. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #1 – Alison is right – you didn’t err here, your grandboss did. There was nothing more you could have done. I was just in this situation recently as well (started a new job in May, company only issues corporate travel cards to C-level and C-level adjacents), and I was scheduled to attend a one week work conference with the group my second week in. Well, I too didn’t have the funds to put a hotel and other incidentals on my personal card and wait for reimbursement after the trip (our flights are automatically charged to the company’s corporate travel account), so grandboss agreed to put my hotel on his card because he was making my travel arrangements anyway prior to my official start date (so I wouldn’t have been able to access the corporate travel center account). Then I found out that he was flying in hours after me, so I asked him to check with the hotel to see if he could pre-pay so I didn’t have to wait in the lobby for him for hours.

    The hotel told grandboss they’d send him a credit card authorization form that we both needed to complete, but apparently their system went down, so they had a delay in getting the form emailed over to him. I waited a day or two, and when I didn’t hear back from grandboss, I called the hotel and asked if they had received anything from my grandboss (I figured he completed my info for me) – they hadn’t. Their system still was down, but they assured me they’d send him the form right away.

    They did and as soon as grandboss got it, he sent it to me to fill in my personal info, then I assumed he sent it back to the hotel. Note – grandboss never copied me on the email to the hotel or circled back to let me know he’d sent it off. I almost panicked, but remembered that my manager said she would be happy to put my room on her personal card as well if I needed her as backup. Anyway, it all ended up fine once I arrived at the hotel, and I just (gently) asked grandboss to forward those types of emails to me if he can in the future so I’m not freaking out for no reason. He genuinely apologized because he thought he did, but with everything he had going on before leaving for this trip, he must have forgotten.

    So OP, I’d bring it up to your grandboss not in a scolding type of way, but maybe something like, “I understand that you had a lot going on before you left for vacation, so it probably slipped your mind, but I almost didn’t have a place to stay because the hotel never received your credit card pre-auth form. If Brian hadn’t been in the office, I would have been stranded in a place I’m not familiar with. Going forward, is there any way for me to get my own corporate card? And if not, can we make sure that the pre-authorization requests are sent a week before my scheduled travel with me copied on the email? That way, no one will have to try to contact you when you’re unavailable and I can start my work trip off on the right foot? I’d appreciate it.”

    And yeah – I really hate no longer having a corporate travel card of my own. I had them at my last two companies, and it made everyone’s lives so much easier, especially our A/P people.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Well there really was something the OP#1 could have done, get the form, fill it out, wait while grandboss signs it, and send it back.

      That is what we do. Our employer prefers that we use the supervisors work credit card for hotels. When I travel, I ask the hotel to email me the form, I fill it out, have the supervisor sign it, and I email or fax it back to the hotel.

      OP did not know that but they do know now. Close the loop with the grandboss and let them know you will get the form and their signature next time unless grandboss wants it handled differently.

      1. Mary*

        I don’t understand why companies won’t give staff company cards to travel with when travel is part of their jobs. Do they forget that people do not have spare $K for air travel, hotels, car hire, food etc.

        You should never have been put in this position, and I don’t think your manager did enough to ensure you were looked after when you were travelling.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yeah, the manager came through in the end, but if this was my report and it was their first time travelling I would also be chasing grandboss. It’s a bit unclear whether OP looped their manager in earlier but if they did then that could have been another useful thing.

        2. doreen*

          I’m guessing part of it is because travel isn’t necessarily a big part of their jobs. I have a corporate card because 1) I used to travel a lot and 2) Some people in my title still travel a lot but the reality is that I currently travel overnight once a year at most. ( I do travel more within “day trip” distance). If my employer decided that it was too much of a hassle to give hundreds of employees cards they never use, I couldn’t really argue.

        3. Antilles*

          It depends on how often they travel. If you’re regularly traveling then sure, it makes sense. If it’s like a once a year thing? No, it’s not really reasonable to have a corporate card for someone who uses it so infrequently.
          That said, if someone doesn’t have a corporate card, it’s on the company to figure out a way to address it such that you’re not expecting employees to float large sums of money for several weeks. Maybe that means the company arranges for all major expenses, maybe that means the company hands you a department credit card for the week, maybe that means they advance you a sum of money that roughly covers expected costs and you settle up the exact amounts afterwards…but something.

        4. JC*

          Where I work everyone who travels has a company card, but you can’t get the card until you’ve been working there for 6 months. An auditor recommended this policy as a fraud prevention mechanism. In practice, this means that some of the people without cards are the ones who are brand new to working and don’t have the money to front travel. We do try to centrally bill as much as possible for people in these situations (e.g., charge flights and anything that can be paid for in advance to their manager’s card), but we don’t make the effort to authorize outside payment at a hotel unless the employee requests it.

          It doesn’t sound like that’s the case at the OP’s organization, but my point is that there can be exceptions even among companies that do try to look out for employees by giving them company cards.

        5. M. Albertine*

          I know in our company, it’s because the company literally doesn’t have the credit to do it, either. The “company card” is personally guaranteed by the CEO/linked to his SSN, etc. We reimburse on a weekly basis, though.

        6. Anon for Now*

          Corporate credit cards are only issued to C-Suite staff where I work. The rest of us who travel (and I travel monthly) generally put our expenses on a personal card and request reimbursement. I don’t generally mind as I like to accumulate the credit card points on my personal card.

          However, I have always thought it is odd, that often the very people who can afford it least are either have to request reimbursement or have to group through half a dozen hoops to get a trip pre-paid, and the employees who can afford the travel the most generally have company credit cards.

        7. Not a cat*

          I used to work with (peer) a VP of Sales who would refuse to sign-off on advances for his team. He said, “They need to have an extra 3-5K in their account to use for work travel.”

          PLUS our expense process requires six signoffs so it took four to eight weeks for reimbursements.

          1. Jadelyn*

            That…is just appalling. So basically, he refuses to let poor people work for him.

        8. Jadelyn*

          I think they literally do forget, yes. Or at least, that’s the only explanation I’ve ever been able to come up with for why so many people at middle-to-upper management levels have these expectations for the financial situations of lower level staff. I work at a nonprofit that is explicitly about financial services for low-income populations and STILL some of our upper management seems to forget that not all of our CSRs can just accept a low salary for the sake of the mission and will need to go elsewhere that they can make a living wage.

          And I’ve flat out told my manager that if they take my corporate card (there’s been rumblings about cutting down on the number of corporate cards) I’m not going to travel for work anymore. Even if they let me book airfare and hotels on the company’s general travel card, I’m not paying for several days worth of restaurant prices, even at cheap restaurants, so that I can eat while I’m traveling, and then waiting on reimbursement later. My finances can *probably* handle it, but it’s far from certain, and it’s a moral stance on top of that. If you want me to travel, you pay for it – all of it – without expecting me to loan you the money for it upfront.

      2. Crystalized*

        This is exactly what I have to do for every conference I attend. Then I call the hotel a day or two before I leave to quadruple check.

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Depends on the experience in your workplace. A new employee might not have the ‘political’ standing to do so with their grandboss, and in fact might be at a minimum admonished for being presumptuous.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Probably good practise to ask to be copied in on any confirmatory emails between company and hotel if you’re not the one directly sending authorisation forms back. This also serves as back-up for you when you arrive at the hotel with supporting paperwork.
      (Example, I was denied a booking at a hotel that I had made – for leisure, not business in my case (I don’t travel for work routinely, so the one time I have the company arranged it all) – when I produced the confirmatory email, and acknowledgement email, and the hotel were suddenly able to “find” my booking! Amazing!)

      1. Becky*

        I’ve never actually had a booking lost or anything, but I am utterly paranoid about making sure I have all the pertinent information for any trip printed out–plane tickets, hotel, activities etc. You never know when you might not have connectivity to pull it up on your phone or if you’re out of power at an inconvenient time.

        1. Jasnah*

          Same, this is what I do. Save digital copies of all confirmation numbers, address, payment amount, is it paid already or do you pay now and in what currency, tickets, itinerary. Then print it out–just in case!

    3. WS*

      Because OP’s manager was also involved in this, they might be a good person to discuss this with. If they’re stuck sorting out employee crises because of Grandboss’s casual attitude, they might be happy to have a better procedure in place for travel, and have more power to make it happen.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This is also true. The travel plans definitely need to be revised because if OP’s manager had also been out of the office and unreachable, she would have been screwed. That’s a horrible predicament to put a new hire in.

      2. Samwise*

        Agreed. Is this something that grandboss has to handle personally or is it something that an admin or grandboss’s EA might handle? Every place I have worked, making travel arrangements or taking care of travel paperwork was not my manager’s responsibility except for signing off on approvals that had been written up/filled out by me or by a secretary or admin or travel office (and certainly not something that my boss’s boss would have been tasked with). OP, your boss is the one to broach this although if you have some ideas about how it might be handled you could suggest them to your boss.

      3. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, involving the Manager earlier seemed like the only additional thing that could have been reasonably done to avert the crisis. They are more likely to have the leverage to ensure this was handled. And definitely they need to help handle it in the future.

  9. SS Express*

    #2, one way you can bring it up after the fact is to say “I was really surprised to learn that you can be arrested for using the wrong pronouns, so I looked it up but turns out it’s not true, here’s a link explaining that the report was made up/taken out of context/whatever. Thank goodness for that! Respecting pronouns is important but at least we won’t go to jail if we accidentally make a mistake!”.

    It makes it sound like you’re both on the same side: non-bigots who were temporarily worried about something they heard and are now relived to learn it’s not an issue. It doesn’t come across like an argument, or even really like a correction, and they won’t lose face or get mad at you…unless they admit their true motivation was to spread hateful ideas about a group they dislike and they’re mad that you’ve made that harder.

    I may or may not use this fairly often with relatives on Facebook.

    1. Jasnah*

      I like this a lot. I posted above about how sometimes these kinds of things can go sideways because people confuse “this info you found is wrong” with “you were wrong, and also your ideas and values are wrong.” This is a good way to circumvent that and even reaffirm values everyone should (at least outwardly pretend to) share!

    2. Shiara*

      Yes! This is my go-to strategy too, and i have even heard one relative pass on the correction to another.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, when I used to respond to a certain colleague’s dire emailed urban legends, I always responded with “You’ll be glad to know this isn’t true!” and a relevant link. I stopped that when she replied “I knew you’d straighten me out if it wasn’t true,” because she could check Snopes as easily as I can, so I just never read any more of her messages.

    4. Kelly L.*

      I’ve been known to do this when Snopesing people. “Good news! Turns out xyz isn’t true/is outdated/whatever!”

  10. Librarian of SHIELD*

    OP 1, please don’t beat yourself up. You told him you needed him to send in the form over and over again. He knew he needed to send in the form. He didn’t do a part of his job that he knew he was supposed to do. If he sends you on another business trip, then I’d recommend doing what Alison suggested and handing him the printed form and waiting for him to fill it out so you can send it yourself. In fact, if there’s any part of the form you can fill in on his behalf, do that and hand him the paper for his signature. But for this particular trip? This is 100% his mistake.

  11. EnfysNest*

    Regarding #5 – There was one update where the coworker discussed in the original AAM post saw the title on the Letter Writer’s screen and then addressed the issue (an affair she was having with a coworker) directly with the LW and HR, but that was an accident – the LW hadn’t intended to share the post. That’s always been a memorable update for me:

    1. Indisch blau*

      I’d love an update to the update on Alex’s affair with Anna (link in EnfysNest’s post above).

  12. Clementine*

    For OP#1, I’m not sure there’s much point in bringing it up to the grandboss if you don’t have another trip scheduled. What will you achieve by pointing this out to him? I’d be annoyed, but let it go, and make sure subsequent trips are handled properly before leaving. Of course I am thinking that the grandboss could have it in for you if you express your displeasure. For me, that feels like a huge risk. I get that other people feel fine about it, so do what feels right for you.

    1. Clementine*

      Maybe your manager could bring it up to his boss (the grandboss). If your manager doesn’t want to do so, there may be a good reason.

      1. Mary*

        Yeah, given the manager in the middle was also inconvenienced by this, and has been at the organisation longer, I would absolutely ask them to have a “how do we make sure this doesn’t happen again” conversation.

      2. smoke tree*

        Since the manager seemed much more helpful than the grandboss, and presumably has more experience working with him, it might be helpful to get the manager’s advice on the best way to handle the conversation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not expressing displeasure though; it’s closing the loop with him on a conversation they’d already been having, letting him know what happened, and asking if there’s something she can do differently in the future.

      1. Clementine*

        Based on the letter, the grandboss has an email about what happened, which he may or may not read. If he does read it, there’s a good chance he will never mention it to the OP anyway. I guess I am cynical, because I think the odds that he will spontaneously apologize, and the OP will get to use the perfect response, are very low. If he doesn’t bring it up to the OP, which I expect he won’t, I don’t see any advantage in her doing so herself.

        1. Crystalized*

          Grandboss doesn’t care, the issue is “solved” I wouldn’t say anything.

      2. Samwise*

        I’d disagree — at this point it would be more appropriate for OP’s immediate manager (the one who fronted the money) to follow up. Both because it helps the OP and because it can lead to a better procedure. Clearly it created a problem for OP’s manager, as well, one that I’m sure he would like to prevent in the future. Grandboss is the clog in the plumbing, so can requests like this take a different route and be tasked to someone whose job it is to be organized and on the ball with admin tasks?

    3. Kiki*

      I think it’s a good thing to point out when someone’s actions/ inaction negatively affected you so they are aware. It can’t change what happened, but it can reduce the possibility this will happen again to you or anyone else. And maybe grandboss will make systematic changes– asking the traveler to obtain and fill out their own form and just have him sign. A good boss would want to know

      1. Malarkey01*

        I’m in the camp that this shouldn’t have happened and it’s on the grand boss that it did, but I don’t think there’s anything to gain by bringing it up again unless there’s another trip.

        Grandboss knew it was an issue with the repeat reminders before the trip, she got emails and calls while on vacation, and there’s an email where they sum up that the manager paid. Grandboss isn’t unaware of the situation, their silence is telling you what they think. Bringing it up again probably isn’t going to result in a cathartic apology or process change but could result in the grandboss thinking this new employee is a constant headache (and THATS NOT RIGHT, but on AAM there’s always the acknowledgement that things may not be right but that’s what they are and you should be careful with how you are perceived and your professional reputation can be affected even if you are in the right). So I’d defer to this being a window in how this new company operates and don’t pursue it further.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          This is also true. OP’s manager should probably step in at this point and ask about changing the process going forward so something doesn’t happen like this to another new hire.

      2. Dontlikeunfairrules*

        Yeah I’d want to kick his ass. With that not really an option, he needs to know how effed up his lack of attention was and how negatively it effected Op#1.

        I can’t see leaving this alone.

  13. Sally*

    Alison, thank you so much for giving me a response for when someone apologizes, and I don’t want to say, “it’s OK”!

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      “It’s okay” is such a preconditioned response. No, it’s not okay, because okay suggests you can go ahead and do whatever it was you did again and I don’t have the grounds to be annoyed because it’s “okay”! Grrrrr
      I second that thank you Alison – alternative wording is much appreciated!

    2. Washi*

      Yes! Every once in a while I’ll be in a situation where someone is clearly fishing for an “it’s ok” from me when it absolutely wasn’t, but I don’t want to start a rehashing of the problem.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        Yes! It really bothers me when someone is fishing for absolution when all they’re going to get is forgiveness.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yes, I love “I appreciate that.”

      I’m in the Midwest now and the default response to “I’m sorry” seems to be an enthusiastic, “No, you’re fine!”

    4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      When I was a freshman in college, I had a professor give a presentation on the most important life lesson she learned. And that was when someone asked her why women said “it’s okay” instead of “thank you” when someone apologized. She then thought about it and made a concerted effort to say “thank you” instead.

      It was like a light bulb went off for me. Ever since then, I have tried my best to not say “it’s okay”.

  14. Lissa*

    I appreciate the first two questions today involved Canada, and we just had Canada Day too!

    Anyway, re #2, yeah, definitely not true, but it’s a weird one that some people are very insistent about. Even here in Canada where they should really know it isn’t true. “Why haven’t they arrested [controversial political figure redacted] yet” typically doesn’t convince them. People REALLLY want to believe this one is true. But yeah, hard to go back to argue about it, though I do like the above technique of “I was surprised, so I looked it up, and it seems it isn’t true.” But it might not be worth it in this case – sounds like there’ll probably be other opportunities to correct this misinformed person.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      But you can get arrested in Canada for using imitation maple syrup, right? /s

      1. smoke tree*

        We did have a very well publicized maple syrup heist a couple years back, so this is not so far-fetched as you may think. We take our syrup very seriously! In some corner stores, it’s the only thing that’s locked up.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          I remember that! When I told my friends about it, they were amazed. #onlyincanada

    2. JenRN*

      I had a relative go on about how Ivy League schools are policing language (pronouns a specific example) and a student can fail! FAIL! If they don’t get on board and freedom of speech and amendments and shaking fists at clouds yadda yadda yadda. The reference they were upset about? OWL Purdue APA style guide. I responded (I’m a SUCKER!) about how it’s a style guide not a doctrine, that it provides consistency but not rigidity, that I use/teach it daily in my work, gave an example of how one might use general or specific pronouns in different situations not always they, how others have style guides too here’s a link to Associated Press and to Vancouver guides (this relative is in Vancouver and interestingly gay who said queers were all on the same page?! No one ever) …. Anyways. Giant Nope from them. They, having read a single online screed about OWL Purdue guides and having never been past HS & technical certifications told my PhD student self a thing or two about how the world worked! Subject dropped relative profiles on social media blocked. Who needs that?!

      1. JenRN*

        *should’ve edited for paragraphs and commas —they are both interestingly queer and interestingly, queer wrt this story
        *I too am one of the queers so not being pejorative—stating a relatively well-known fact about the community

  15. Auntie Social*

    OP#1—I would so want to say “you didn’t care what happened to me” to grandboss. I wouldn’t, but that’s how I’d feel about the guy from here on out. I’d just tell him that I don’t know what I would have done without manager’s help and support, and how scary it was to be a woman in a foreign country with very little cash and no place to stay.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Saying grand boss “didn’t care what happened” to her is making it personal and I see no evidence of that in the letter. Did he screw up? Yes. But he didn’t deliberately ignore her with the intention of leaving her in a foreign country with no place to stay. If OP brings this up with grand boss, making it a personal is not the way to go.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I agree that this probably wasn’t personal. Grandboss is likely at a point where they can put things like this on their personal card if needed (or they have a company card) and not have it make much of an impact. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has (or wants) that luxury.

  16. Alianora*

    #5 – One of my former managers read AAM regularly. I happened to get a letter about my coworker answered, so I think she probably saw it. Alison and the commenters had validated my assessment of the situation, but I still would have been embarrassed if she (or any coworkers) asked me if I had written it. Not because I did anything wrong, but when you’re writing a letter to an advice column there’s a certain level of vulnerability.

    I really doubt that saying, “Look, people on the internet agree with me!” would actually be a convincing argument to most people. If someone showed me a post from a blog I was unfamiliar with as evidence I was wrong, I think my knee-jerk reaction would be that this person isn’t capable of making their own arguments. Even if the blogger made good points, anonymously printing it out just seems like a really unprofessional, passive-aggressive way to deal with whatever the issue is.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      Agreed. Even if I left with the sense that I was wrong, I probably wouldn’t leave feeling impressed with someone who would use that sort of tactic. It’s hard to not imagine it damaging a relationship.

      (Assuming, of course, that the blog printout was their first real tactic, and not part of an ongoing discussion.)

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      One of the things about this blog is the surprising number of “OP, are you me?!!” style comments, at least covering most of the common situations (duck clubs, hellmouths, actual court cases, etc making for rather more unique and memorable letters – I don’t think I’ve seen any comments completely identifying with the OP’s letter in those cases) that I would hope that a general request for advice (“What do I do when my employee refuses to accept feedback?”) is still anonymous enough that the *only* way to specifically say “Look Jason, this letter is about you!” would be to print it off.
      (I’m not saying I agree at all with doing it – just that most advice is, or appears to be, general enough to apply in lots of situations)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Oh, you think there’s only one person out there who wants an innocent letter writer to intervene in the years’ long vendetta between him and a squirrel that keeps attacking his truck… but I bet more than one person nodded along saying “Yup, I know that squirrel.”

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Exactly. No matter how weird you think your situation is, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of people in almost the same situation. I sometimes change the gender of one person in a story when commenting/submitting, just to maintain plausible deniability, so there’s also the fact that the story you read may purposefully not exactly match what really happened anyway.

    3. Armchair Expert*

      “If someone showed me a post from a blog I was unfamiliar with as evidence I was wrong, I think my knee-jerk reaction would be that this person isn’t capable of making their own arguments”.

      Yes, and probably I would also think ‘well, sure they agree with you: they’ve only heard one side, and a biased one at that’.

      The exception is where the LW is the one castigated in the comments, but nobody’s leaving a print out on a chair for those.

      (They are the best ones, though)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ha! “I wrote to an online blog about the situation, and the hosts and commenters convinced me that I was totally wrong. In exculpation, I am leaving a printout of the entire comment thread on every chair in the office.”

  17. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Since the chances of LW2 convincing the person they’re wrong are practically zero, I think the best thing to do is one-up them in an outlandish fashion: “Not only that, but the punishment for this crime is a year of hard labor in the maple syrup mines.” Most people like this (e.g., some of my relatives) don’t listen to reason or facts, so you might as well have fun with them.

    1. Remedial Chaos Theory (formerly Gen. Ginger)*

      I wouldn’t do this with a boss. A relative, sure, but not a boss.

  18. nêhiyaw ayahkwêw*

    For LW#2, I think I would be worried more about my coworkers thoughts/treatment of trans or noncomforming coworkers. They can believe all the silly things they like, as long as no one is being mistreated. From my experience being trans in canada, people who are up in arms over the rumour that misgendering someone could land you in prison are the same people who tend to be less than kind to us transgender people. Your coworker certainly may not have those kinds of hateful views, but it may be worth it to keep an eye out.

    Either way I hope they find better news sources! Best of luck

    1. WS*

      +1. Pushing back on this kind of nonsense, even mildly and politely, is not just about the person who said the ridiculous statement. It’s also indicating to people around you that you are an ally and will support them against (in this case) transphobia. You don’t need to have a full-blown argument, something like, “Oh, that sounds strange, do you have a source for that?” is enough.

      1. Remedial Chaos Theory (formerly Gen. Ginger)*

        While I really hope OP is in the position to do this, for the reasons you say — I would understand if they didn’t feel comfortable pushing back on a boss’s fake news.

      2. Fact & Fiction*

        Yes! It’s why, even though I have a general policy to never comment publicly on online book reviews for my books, I DID make a point to recently call out a review I got on a recent book that accused me of promoting “the gay agenda” and being “obsessed with gays.” Just for including happy, well-adjusted LGBTQ+ characters in my book right along all the other characters and for having an otherworldly society that is much more open and accepting than our own.

        I am a white straight cisgender woman but you better believe I’m calling that kind of nonsense out. Both for the community that harmful language hurts and for society as a whole/myself. If my writing offends you, you’re better off moving on to other authors because I’m not changing what I write because it upset a bigot…

        1. boo bot*

          In fairness, I’m pretty sure including happy, well-adjusted LGBTQ characters in your book is the definition of “promoting the gay agenda.”

          We’ve got a pretty positive agenda, really.

    2. JenRN*

      I’m with you on this. Sadly, most of these types of conversations I’ve had (socially) have been with older gay and lesbian people. Such privilege and entitlement. It’s sickening.

      Luckily, with my deeply personal trans stuff so far I’m very choosy with whom I’ll share it. Professionally, my research is queer health which can rattle tea cups in some circles and in others no one bats an eye. Undergrad students are a crap shoot.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Ah, the “pulling up the ladder behind you” phenomenon, also so frequently seen among people who rant that when THEIR parents came to this country they were the GOOD kind of immigrants, not That Other Kind we have today….

    3. Dasein9*

      Yes indeed. Spreading falsehoods that paint people as a threat where no threat exists is not benign behavior.

  19. Mary*

    #2, on occasion, when someone has loudly claimed something that I know to be untrue, I have deliberately misunderstood and said something like, “Right, that’s the scary thing, isn’t it! There are people who genuinely believe totally bananas stuff like that! I kind of agree with you, it’s maybe legit that people are worried about that when they’ve been fed such awful scare stories, but how do we talk about that when it’s completely untrue?”

    1. MuseumChick*

      This is a great strategy. Another one I like to use is a combination of deadpan/bored voice: “That’s factually incorrect. (insert facts).” I used this just the other day with someone who was saying “Why do GAY people get a month of celebration but our veteran’s/soldiers don’t?”, I responded “That’s factually incorrect. May in military appreciation month and November is Military Family Month.” Keep your voice totally deadpan is the key to this.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        This is my favourite trick when someone complains about International Women’s Day activities.

        “Well, when is International MEN’S Day??”

        “November 19. Are you planning anything interesting for the day? I’m curious to hear what they’ll pick for the theme this year!”

        1. Whoop*

          Richard Herring does amazing work on every single International Women’s Day and it’s always so funny to watch.

    2. Shiara*

      I’ve had some success with “oh, yes, I heard that too and found it really worrying and so I looked into it more and found out that actually blah blah blah. You can see for yourself by doing y” but usually with someone who doesn’t yet realise that they are arguing with me.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP4 – that’s one of the best reasons to be able to give! It’s reasonable, eople understand it and there’s no bad feelings. “I really enjoyed lastJob but we have moved…” is perfect.

    I’ve used it myself both when I relocated and when the company did, and the commute increased – I always got the response of “that’s fine… next question…” at interview.

  21. cncx*

    re OP1, if companies really want people to travel, then they need to have a company credit card or the department does. I had a trip to NYC for a training where my hotel alone would have been 10K and it isn’t really fair to ask people to front that in this economy.

    1. Glory*

      In my industry, its actually common and expected for employees to pay for their own travel up front with their personal credit card. I don’t know any colleagues who consider it unfair. A lot of people actually like being able to earn extra rewards.

      I wonder this is the norm in OP’s industry/company and she’s just unfamiliar with it. Her boss may have just assumed that she would be able to cover to cost herself which is why he didn’t prioritize filling out the form.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        But why would grandboss assume this when OP specifically told him she couldn’t afford to float the room? That was the entire point of him filling out the credit card authorization form in the first place.

        1. Washi*

          Right, it may be a norm, but the OP specifically said she couldn’t do it and the grandboss indicated that he understood what was needed him and just…didn’t do it. That was the real problem; if for some reason he wasn’t able to fill out the form, the very least he could have done is said so before the OP was standing at the hotel trying to check in!

      2. Alfonzo Mango*

        I’m certain the boss expected OP to be able to do it -even if she said she couldn’t. He probably heard she ‘didn’t want to’ or considered it a preference and not a hard stop. He probably assumed as an adult she had ways to make payments (debit and credit cards, etc)

        1. Antilles*

          He probably assumed as an adult she had ways to make payments (debit and credit cards, etc)
          First off, that’s a heck of an assumption for a full week of business travel. We’re not talking about a few bucks for gas or a meal or something, we’re probably talking at least $800 if not $1000+ when you consider the full week of a hotel plus all the incidental costs. Oh, and by the way, plenty of companies just roll reimbursements into the normal “every two weeks” paycheck, so it can easily get a situation where the credit card bill is due before the reimbursement actually hits depending on timing.
          Secondly, if he thought it wasn’t a big deal, then how come he agreed to fill out the form and cover the hotel expenses in the first place? If he’d told her that “well, no, I don’t really want to do that, in our industry, it’s standard to pay your own way and get reimbursed”, then OP could have made other arrangements – borrow some money from family, loop in her manager to cover this, talk to her credit card company and request a limit increase, etc. But instead, the boss told OP repeatedly that he had requested the form and was trying to get it handled.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            +1 for recognizing that companies will reimburse you after the bill is due. I have $1800 of travel expenses waiting to be repaid. It’s been 5 weeks, so 2 full pay periods. I’ve already paid off the balance on my credit card because I have the cash, but if I didn’t? Y I K E S.

            1. Auntie Social*

              Not the same priority for the employer it is for you. But for many folks, two trips on their cards can max them out, which also means you can’t use it when your hot water heater goes.

          2. smoke tree*

            I’m guessing that he’s wealthy enough that he just can’t appreciate the urgency that comes with genuinely having no way to pay for something. I’m sure he didn’t intend to strand the LW, but probably somewhere in the back of his mind was the conviction that she’d find a way to pay for it somehow, because that’s how his world works. So he didn’t make it a priority.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          I’m guessing he was oblivious. He probably has the ability to cover something like this with a credit card easily, and he may just not have a lot of empathy and understanding for what finances and cash flow are like for people in other circumstances. He probably understood it would be a hardship or inconvenience for OP to front the money, but it may not have really registered that she would literally not have the means to check in to the hotel without the form.

          I’ve had a credit card with a credit limit and available balance that would allow me to cover the first night of a hotel stay since I was maybe 16, even if I didn’t have the cash to pay it off right away. Certainly by college my parents made sure I had access to enough credit for emergencies – a train ticket home, a night in a hotel, a tow truck. I recognize that makes me incredibly privileged by many people’s standards, both that my parents were able to set me up with an initial card and that I’ve never had to carry a balance on it, but I think most of the professionals at my level in the places I’ve worked have had enough credit to handle a situation like this.

          I like to think I would have been much more responsible than this boss – you don’t mess around with employee expenses. But I can kind of understand why it maybe didn’t strike him as the critically urgent thing it was, even if it should have.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            He probably has the ability to cover something like this with a credit card easily, and he may just not have a lot of empathy and understanding for what finances and cash flow are like for people in other circumstances.

            This disconnect is being amply demonstrated in the thread. (“I can’t put this on a card.” “You should! For the points! Everyone has tons of unused credit with gallons of points!”)

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            For additional context, the work expense from my life that stands out is when my spouse had to buy a last-minute first-class plane ticket to Europe after the company travel office closed for the day. Luckily our credit card company was happy to increase our credit limit, because that $12,000 ticket was way more than we’d ever needed to put on a credit card at one time. And fortunately the company processed reimbursements quickly. There was probably a way to get it on a company card somehow, but it was kind of a crazy day so it ended up on ours.

            Don’t hotels usually put a hold on a card up front and charge it at the end of the stay? (I rarely stay more than two nights in a hotel and don’t pay much attention to which date the charge hits). I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss thought he could deal with the paperwork during the week, even.

            1. lawyer*

              It totally varies in terms of hotel charges. Some rates require full prepayment. Some hotels charge the first night of stay at check-in. Others just put a hold on the card but don’t process the charge until check-out.

            2. LJay*

              Most of the Mariotts I stay in for personal travel authorize the whole stay (plus like 2o% for incidentals) at the beginning of the stay, but don’t actually charge until check out.) But you still need to produce a card that has available credit on it even though it isn’t charged.

          3. Kiki*

            I was explaining this to a professional acquaintance recently. A younger person in our industry was tactfully critiquing a local start-up for not paying contractors on time and asking how he should handle that in the future. The professional acquaintance was quick to defend the start-up founder and tell the younger person that he should just ignore late payments from start-ups and think about the future payoff of working for a successful start-up.

            It was an annoying statement for many reasons, one of which being that contractors don’t usually get equity, so the the future payoff of working for a successful start-ups is essentially just bragging rights. I had to explain that while older acquaintance has always been in a position where he’s fine without his payday, most people are not. Bills come at the same time each month, no matter how ~hip~ the office you work at is.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              That’s definitely annoying.

              My job has an equity component – looking out for whether we’re doing a good job serving low-income people and that sort of thing – so I am used to thinking about how people in all different situations might experience our policies. But it’s definitely true that having a financial cushion and some degree of financial flexibility gives you a totally different day-to-day relationship with money than living paycheck to paycheck, and I can see how people become kind of oblivious about it if they’ve always had that security or have had it for a long time.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              What did he think about the future payoff of working for an unsuccessful startup, which is statistically more likely?

              1. Antilles*

                And if the startup is unsuccessful, then those late invoices are never getting paid and the contractor worked for X weeks for free.

              2. Kiki*

                Hah, I would have loved to hear his response to that too. That was also on my mind, but I was most struck that the best-case scenario didn’t even have any major financial upside.

            3. twig*

              “Dear Power Company,

              I don’t have money to pay you this month, but I AM working for SUPER COOL START UP! I’m told that should be sufficient.

              Please let me know if you need further payment.


              1. Gazebo Slayer*


                – speaking as someone who is, among other things, a startup contractor

        3. lawyer*

          I’m a law firm partner who makes in the mid-six figures. I regularly have business trips from the US to Asia that cost $10,000 or more. Do I have a “way to make payments”? Yes. Can I technically afford to put that on my personal credit card? Yes. Is it appropriate for my firm to ask me to front $10,000 of business expenses? No, and they don’t.

          1. Alfonzo Mango*

            I’m not defending it, just explaining where I think he might be coming from.

        4. BananaPants*

          “As an adult”? I’m pretty sure I’m an adult, one with a six figure salary to boot, and I’d still be hard-pressed to foot the bill for a weeklong international business trip on my personal debit and/or credit cards.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Exactly. The condescension in some of these posts today is highly annoying.

          2. Alfonzo Mango*

            More like, ‘As an adult’, you have problem solving skills to get yourself out of this situation (which she did). I’m not defending him or claiming it’s correct, just offering perspective as to why he may not have prioritized it.

            1. boo bot*

              Well, as an adult, she used her problem-solving skills to seek out someone who could advise her (grandboss) and he told her he would take care of it.

              So, as an adult, she probably believed she could trust this other adult, who she works for, to follow through.

        5. Jadelyn*

          “As an adult”…you do realize that not all adults have the same financial resources, right? And that it’s not a mark of, idek what you’re implying here, immaturity? To not be able to float a few hundred bucks for something your company should be paying for?

          My mother is 60. Has raised 2 children. Got divorced and saddled with a house that was underwater on its mortgage during the recession in 2008. Got foreclosed on, like many people during that time, and laid off at the same time. Had to declare bankruptcy because the foreclosure also threw her taxes haywire and the IRS wanted about $20k from her. She is getting by now, but has very little savings, is living paycheck to paycheck, and doesn’t have a credit card because her credit was ruined. Are you really saying she’s less of an adult because she’s struggled financially??

          I’m another example. I’m 33, steady job, own a home, all that fun stuff. However, my partner has spent a lot of time laid off these last couple years and as a result I have no savings, am living paycheck to paycheck, and until very recently my credit card was all of $150 from its limit, so depending on when a trip happened (toward the end of a pay period when I’m down to a hundred or so in my account) I very much would NOT have been able to just toss down a credit or debit card for a hotel room. Do I not count as an adult because my finances wouldn’t allow me to pay hundreds of dollars for an unexpected, unplanned-for business expense?

          If I’ve misunderstood you, then I apologize – but if your definition of “adult” includes “has money”, as it very much sounds like it does, you need a reality check.

          1. Zillah*

            This this this.

            In general, “you’re an adult, you should be able to do X” is not a great statement.

      3. Kiki*

        Norms like that deserve to be broken, though. I understand that in fields where it’s the norm, generally the payscale is on the higher end. But the practice tends to perpetuate a cycle of employing mostly people from wealthy backgrounds, especially for people early in their careers.

        I do like being able to earn rewards for personal travel by putting work trips on my personal card, but not having feasible options for those who can’t, or judging people who elect to use those options, makes your workplace hostile to people from less-wealthy backgrounds or with large financial obligations.

        1. Commentor*

          EXACTLY! An interest free loan given to an employer should not be a norm. Just because your employer does things that way, does not make it right. In fact, the one time I did this, I ended up paying interest on my credit card and was out that money because payment took so long. At this point, I have made it very clear I do not have credit cards and will not pay upfront for travel. Honestly, it is a practice that needs to end.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I agree with breaking the norm as a philosophical point, but the new junior person in one small office probably doesn’t have the capital to upend the industry norm.

          1. Kiki*

            Right, but I was responding to Glory’s comment. It’s not advice to the LW, it’s advice to other commenters who are in a position to make the changes in our offices. It’s easy for the people making these policies to forget that even if they pay employees well, it’s not possible for every employee to front expenses like this, especially not at the beginning of their tenure with the company.

      4. Jaybeetee*

        But… so many Americans are apparently less than one paycheck away from disaster. How many people have credit cards with thousands of dollars spare on them to cover travel like cncx describes?

        I want to say it might be an “American” thing, but OP is Canadian and is dealing with the same. I’m an adult woman in my 30s and all the credit to my name is a $2000 credit card. I literally can’t front “thousands of dollars” on a credit card. And I know people with less credit than that.

      5. a1*

        The last place I worked, some folks had the option of a company cards (the ones that traveled frequently) and some didn’t. Shortly after I started a survey went out about using company cards vs personal (and getting reimbursement) since so many people opted to use their own card even if they could get or already had a company card. It was overwhelmingly voted to do away with company cards (like 90%). Everyone wanted to use their own and get the air miles or cash. And this was a fairly large company with offices in San Diego, Minneapolis, and Delaware. Because of this they actually did away with the company card all together. That said, I do think they had way to accomodate someone if they didn’t want to or couldn’t use their own card, especially if they didn’t travel for work often.

        1. lawyer*

          My old law firm didn’t have corporate cards but if you applied for a personal card that you pledged to use only for business expenses, the firm would pay the annual fee up to a certain amount. They had a right to audit to verify that you were using it only for business charges.

          We have corporate cards at my current firm and you can elect to pay a fee (I think it’s $60/year) to earn points. I do it because I travel a ton for work and the value of the points outweighs the $60.

      6. Remedial Chaos Theory (formerly Gen. Ginger)*

        I assume folks in your industry are well-compensated and generally can afford this, but what about, say, a newcomer to your industry? Everyone is expected to be in the financial position to float travel expenses?

        1. Glory*

          In my industry, entry level positions require at least a masters degree and a few years of experience so even those positions are well compensated. Also, travel advances have been an option everywhere I’ve ever worked.

          Someone above accused my company of being “hostile” to people who are not financially stable, but I think its more accurate to say that my company is “hostile” to people who don’t meet the minimum requirements for the job (which is true of all jobs, right?). The people who do meet the requirements of the job are generally financially stable to begin with so that’s not really an issue.

          1. Kiki*

            Travel advances are a feasible option for those who cannot float the cost of travel, so as long as they are a well-publicized option and people who elect to take them aren’t judged or penalized for doing so, I would not consider your company hostile to those without disposable income. I apologize if I came across as adversarial– many businesses have this policy and it doesn’t mean they are bad employers. I just believe it’s easy for those of us with privileges to realize the roadblocks we are creating for those who do not have those same privileges.

            I would like to push back against the idea that having a masters degree and years of experience means you have the disposable income to float travel expenses. You know your industry best, but I know a lot of people with masters degrees and a lot of debt to pay. Also, well-paid people fall on hard times, whether that be to illness, supporting family, or any sort of unexpected tragedy. I recommend reading what Stacey Abrams has written about her experiences with debt as a person who makes a substantial amount of money.

            1. Glory*

              I don’t feel the need to read about someone else’s experience with debt. I was $120,000 in debt when I finished my masters and I used the travel advance option until I got a decent rewards card. I’m not some out of touch one-percenter…

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            An industry that requires a masters for entry level positions is not a standard industry in the US or Canada, and is not a likely basis for comparison with a random other person’s industry. You should assume that the norms for your industry are the opposite of the norms for random other person, unless you know for sure they are in your industry.

            I’m not knocking your industry, just saying it’s not the norm.

            1. Filosofickle*

              Further, if they require a master’s for entry level then that person is likely to have student loan debt. Still not kind or helpful to require them to take on business expenses out of pocket.

          3. Jadelyn*

            So “has thousands of dollars available to loan the company for business expenses like travel” is a minimum requirement for the job? I hope you’re upfront about that in your job postings.

          4. Zillah*

            Just saying, graduate degrees are by no means a guarantee of financial stability.

    2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      I had to front about $1000 for a hotel room for a training when I was brand new in my first job. Now, looking back, if I had asked they would have paid, but I was too new and afraid to ask! It was really hard for me at the time straight out of grad school. I’m glad the LW asked and sort of got it taken care of (not really through no fault of their own).

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      And if they have a job that is good in several other ways but doesn’t offer company cards, they should…. force the Great Great Grandboss to institute the new policy? Using the power of their rightness?

      As an abstract of business practices I agree with company cards; as practical advice for regular people whose higher ups don’t offer company cards, it’s not at all helpful.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I think my current company doesn’t offer them widely because there are just too
        many people who travel (plus, we have several foreign offices, so doing the exchange rates and stuff is probably a nightmare). I do appreciate that my last expense report was approved four days after I submitted it and my last reimbursement came within two weeks of the end of my week-long trip. They try very hard to get people their money back quickly.

    4. Auntie Social*

      Especially when you may not be reimbursed before your credit card bills roll in. My ex’s last employer was notoriously slow about reimbursements–I swear he enjoyed watching the sales staff sweat!! It’s grossly unfair to do that to a family’s budget.

  22. Linguist*

    OP#3: As a job seeker, I would far, FAR rather hear this:
    “I’m sorry we weren’t able to reschedule in time, but we’ve been talking with candidates on a rolling basis and we’ve just filled the role.”

    Than this: “We’ve had a very competitive applicant pool, but we really appreciate your interest.”

    The first to me has some informational content that the second much more bland and generic version does not.

    1. londonedit*

      I agree, though I wonder whether the first option might leave an opening for them to double down on their ‘But that’s not faaaaair, you didn’t even give me a chance’ viewpoint?

      From an employer’s point of view, it often doesn’t make sense to keep interviewing people for the sake of it when they’ve found someone who they believe would be perfect for the job, and really it’s a waste of everyone’s time to keep bringing people in for interviews when you already know who you want to hire. Also, the employer risks their top candidate accepting another job if they have to leave them hanging for a week while they interview other people. However, from an applicant’s point of view, I can sympathise, because going from ‘We’d like to offer you a phone interview’ to ‘Sorry, you couldn’t make the date we offered and now we’ve hired someone else’ doesn’t feel entirely fair. I’d probably be annoyed if it happened to me – and I probably would feel like I wasn’t given a fair chance. But I guess these things don’t operate on a basis of being fair to everyone, they operate on the company wanting to find the best person for the job, and if they believe they’ve done that then they’re absolutely within their rights to stop the interview process right away.

      1. boop the first*

        Eh, I missed out on an interview because I couldn’t call back within four hours and they’d already filled their slots. Yeah, it feels a little unfair, but it’s not like you can DO anything about it. You don’t have to answer every email. Harassing email threads and other worst case scenarios don’t really happen that often.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I agree, but the biggest issue here is that many people take job rejection too personally. Yes, it’s based on your personal abilities and attributes, so it is kind of personal, but there are so many factors at play when you’re trying to fill a role that sometimes the bottom line is that you just weren’t right for that particular job in that particular company. There isn’t always going to be a definitive “this is why” answer, and people need to accept that. I liken it to a break up. You’re most likely not going to get a real “why” answer because the other person is trying to soften the blow and not completely crush you.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      I do think the crux of the following-up-applicant’s question (in this case) seems to have been the “what could I have done differently” part, so iff the OP wants to respond at all, it’s worthwhile to answer in a way that indicates there was nothing the applicant could’ve done differently, because the lack of rescheduling is not about them. I know there’s a common concern about just not getting into it with a rejected applicant who follows up because often they go down the rabbit hole and won’t let it go or accept reasonable answers. So that’s a reason to not bother responding if one were especially concerned about that.

      On the other hand, if OP (or OP’s dept) were getting back to the people who hadn’t been scheduled yet/didn’t accept the initial times they’d been offered, I’m wondering what they were told to begin with? Clearly this applicant knows they don’t get to reschedule, and I would think they’d have been given the context for that at the time? Like there were outstanding emails saying “sorry the 30th won’t work how about the 5th?” but then on the 1st they hired someone. So when they told the “maybe” pool “nevermind about the 5th” did that not involve saying “the position has been filled”? If not, that might avoid this particular follow-up anyway because the cancelled candidates already know it has nothing to do with them but the search has ended. It’s not about not giving them a chance to reschedule when they couldn’t make the original date. It’s about “there is no longer a job available”.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        On the other other hand, if when “no more scheduling” message went out the applicants were told the position had been filled, then the one person who followed-up does seem likely to be one trying to argue their way in since they were already given a logical reason why they’re not moving forward.

    4. Triplestep*

      #3, you asked if you could have done this differently, and I’d like to weigh in and say , yes you could have and you should in the future. It simply not necessary to contact so many people about phone screens.

      Put yourself in the “B list job searcher’s position – their hopes are up and they may have even started to prep for the call. If they are employed, they may be trying to find a time they can squeeze in a call with you and have a handy excuse to get away and find a private space at the exact time. Factor in that they have to go long stretches before hearing from your organization due to the volunteers with whom they are e-mailing, and you’ve created a situation where they’ve felt like a candidate for a while before you pull out the rug from under them.

      How often to you move on to your “B” list during the hiring process? When you have, has it been hard to schedule appointments with them? Probably no harder than when you contact them too early. I suggest that you not stop trying to schedule calls with people on your “B” list until you’ve exhausted your “A” list. It’s just not a nice way to treat people your own convenience, honestly.

  23. Kipper*

    LW#2: I work for a guy who believes everything he reads on Facebook, including blatantly false stories. We are on complete opposite sides of the political spectrum. DO NOT ENGAGE. It’s just not worth the stress and often it makes people double down on their beliefs. I just refuse to discuss politics at work even when I have to hear some pretty awful things because they just assume I agree.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Some people spout idiotic, illogical things on all sorts of topics, but if you politely point out the logical fallacy, you’re the bad guy.
      Kipling’s poem “If” comes to mind.

  24. Stranded*

    OP1 here. Thanks for the response, Alison, and the advice from the commenters.

    Just to clear up a point that’s been mentioned by a few people, had I been able to, I absolutely would have filled out the form for him and waited while he signed it. Unfortunately, the hotel required the cardholder to call to request the form (which they customize for the particular credit card), which had to be sent to and returned from the cardholder’s email, so there wasn’t really an opportunity for me to involve myself in this process to hurry it along.

    1. Also Amazing*

      Ugh, that’s so annoying! Understandable, but annoying.

      I’m so happy things worked out for you, though, of course, I wish you could have skipped the entire adventure!

      1. valentine*

        Is he the sort who would (passive-)aggressively do this on purpose to teach you a lesson or in hopes you would guess he wanted you to magic money or to otherwise figure out a way that didn’t involve him?

    2. Lynn Marie*

      Ahh, usually it’s just a form that’s emailed back and forth without such particularity. It won’t hurt for him to be reminded that junior employees might not be able to carry expenses on their personal cards. I can see why you were frustrated. Not fun.

    3. Alfonzo Mango*

      I’m sorry that happened! I think this is a huge point to bring up if and when they schedule you for more travel. Hopefully they can get you a company card or learn to include this step in their travel process.

    4. Reba*

      Stranded, I’m sure that was terrifying and in so glad you were able to work it out with your boss.

      On one very long distance trip, my workplace gave me an advance of estimated costs of travel, deposited in my account. I was then able to do stuff with my debit card or cash, and they didn’t have to issue me a travel card or have somebody with a card do everything for me. It still didn’t work perfectly, but it was simple, and great for me to have the resources on hand.

      Maybe that’s an option you could present to your boss for future?

    5. Observer*

      That’s ridiculous.

      I was wondering why the system being down was causing so much trouble, but that explains it.

    6. Sara without an H*

      Hi, Stranded,
      Thanks for following up and adding detail. I’m wondering about your own manager’s role in this. If one of my direct reports was left stranded in a foreign country with no place to stay, I’d be livid.

      My own suggestion would be to make your manager carry the ball on this one. It was great of him to bail you out, but your experience shows that your firm’s travel procedures don’t work, at least for international travel. He’s in a better position than you are to follow up with your disorganized grandboss.

      Oh, and those commenters who came down on you about your finances? Ignore them. Anybody who wants to lecture other people about money had better be prepared to show their own bank statements.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to all of this, except: I wouldn’t want to see their bank statements, I’d just expect them to stay out of an irrelevant topic.

        I definitely second the ‘ask your manager if there’s any folo you want’

    7. kittymommy*

      Ugh, that’s annoying. I have to do pre-paid travel quite a bit for the people I work for (I’m the only one in our particular office with a company card but I’m not the one traveling) and every single hotel handles it differently and I don’t think any of them have gotten it right yet! I also wonder if it being in the US and y’all being in Canada made it even more difficult. Hopefully this is either the last travel you’ll have to do or they’ll get you a card, if possible! Thanks for chiming in.

      1. Arctic*

        I worked in the hotel industry a very long time ago when I was in college. And we used a similar process as the OP describes (and I’m shocked hotels are still doing this and not something more high tech!). But we tended to be a little more flexible in this situation acknowledging that high-level execs don’t have time for paperwork. We’d allow it to be sent via an admin with only the signature required from the exec. I guess there is a slightly greater chance of fraud then. But, still, not overly so. As it is still someone in the company. And that admin would be risking their job to get a co-worker a hotel room fraudulently? Seemed unlikely.

        I don’t think the hotel procedure did anyone any favors either. But that’s beside the point.

        1. kittymommy*

          I’m am always amazed that most of my CCA’s are via fax!! Or they want a front and back copy of the card as well as the form being filled out. Of course I recently did one for a international company that took everything by phone. Easy-peasy but scary.

    8. Arctic*

      Honestly, even if that wasn’t the case it’s an incredibly awkward position to put you in. The company needs a better system. I know there isn’t much you can do about that but I’m sorry you had to go through this stress.

    9. Holly*

      Does this person have an assistant that would have been able to do this? That’s all I can think of.

  25. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP 1…

    That was clearly intentional by the Grand Boss. Please reconsider whether you want to keep working for a company that does such a thing.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        The fact that the Grandboss repeatedly failed to obtain and complete a simple form (AND failed to delegate it or otherwise make sure it got done) tells me that his inaction was intentional.

        1. Asenath*

          I’ve encountered too many busy people for whom other people’s paperwork is at the bottom of their very long list of priorities to assume that not filling out paperwork is an intentional slight – even if it happens many times. The paperwork – everyone’s paperwork – something that is of less importance to the Grandboss than all the other things he’s doing. And I suspect he lacked the knowledge or imagination to realize what it would be like to be stranded in a foreign country unable to pay for a hotel.

          1. Auntie Social*

            Yes, but Manager needs to make G’boss understand that his inaction left tbeir employee stranded in a foreign country without a place to stay.

        2. MarsJenkar*

          This is not sufficient proof of malice to satisfy Hanlon’s Razor. All it proves is that the grandboss was, at best, negligent (which is bad enough), but there’s no real evidence of intent here.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Seriously?!? Major overreaction here. Yes he messed up, but it wasn’t personal. My grand boss is so busy that I have to schedule appointments with him just to have a conversation. Grand boss should have delegated to OP’s manager to handle this if he didn’t have the time, but it was not intentional.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I am trying to craft the Leverage episode in which the Grandboss messes with subordinates in this way for kicks and… it’s really not coming together.

      He made a mistake. It mattered more to OP than to him; he possibly had a failure of imagination and subliminal “as a young person any time I really needed money my parents could help out;” there is really no need to read a malicious plot into ball dropping.

    3. Arctic*

      I doubt that. I just think people who have money and credit don’t realize/remember what it’s like for folks who don’t. That does NOT make this remotely acceptable, of course. But I don’t think he was trying to hurt her.

      1. Kelly L.*

        That, plus a lot a lot a LOT of people don’t really understand about hotel reservations vs. actual hotel charges. They’re used to reserving a room for themselves on their own card, then they show up and it’s charged to their same card, no problem. So they don’t realize that it’s actually two different steps, and that you can reserve a room for anyone on earth with your credit card, but there’s an extra step if you want to also pay for it and you’re not going to be there.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, there’s nothing indicating it was intentional and that’s the least likely scenario here. It does the OP a disservice to encourage her to think that.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      I don’t think it was intentional, but it is a concern. If your job regularly requires input / work from Grand Boss, you may struggle to be successful.

      Part of the conversation with your manager might be, ‘Does Grand Boss gateway projects regularly?’

  26. EinJungerLudendorff*

    It’s a specifically feminine word though. It does get used for men, but most of the time it’s still used to refer to women.
    And by using words like that as a catch-all term we subtly reinforce the idea that only women can be demanding, vain, etc.
    It also reinforces bad stereotypes about women in general.

    So I think we should use different, non-gendered words to express the same idea, like “high-maintenance” or “self-important”.

    1. doreen*

      I don’t know that I agree with those being non-gendered- I’ve never heard anyone other than myself call a man “high-maintenance” * and I’ve never heard a woman called “self-important”.

      * To the point where I have a acquaintance who believes “high-maintenance” refers to a woman who cares about how she looks. Since he’s only heard it about women, he thinks it refers to hair and makeup etc.

  27. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Removed, as this appears to be someone using a regular commenter’s handle without being her (based on the IP address, and the fact that they also tried to submit it using other regulars’ handles) to spread misinformation. – Alison

    1. neeko*

      It’s not an interesting counterpoint. The headline is misleading and the actual complaint and subsequent arrest was about targeted harassment and posting private information. Not about using the wrong pronoun.

    2. Dasein9*

      Thank you, Alison. That post seemed off to me too. I’m relieved it wasn’t the real Princess C!

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      oh wow, that ain’t right.

      I think I’m going to start putting my Email in to verify – I’ve been too lazy to put it in all the time.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      OMG! I had no idea someone was pretending to be me. That’s incredibly creepy, and I’m glad I didn’t read the original post.

  28. Roscoe*

    i slightly disagree with Alison here. I think you DID handle this badly. Unless, I’m reading this wrong, you told people you wanted to interview them, gave them 1 day as an option (which no one could do, so it probably wasn’t a great day to choose anyway), then just said “thanks but no thanks”. That is a really bad way to go about a hiring process. A place like yours would definitely be getting a bad Glassdoor review from me. From the outside it really looks like you were one of those incredibly inflexible hiring managers who wanted it their way with no flexibility whatsoever . Even if that wasn’t your intention, you still kind of got peoples hopes up for no reason. And you weren’t really interviewing on a rolling basis. You just had 2 groups. You really should’ve at least waited until you knew none of the “A list” would work out. There isn’t a kind and honest answer because, you weren’t kind and honest in your process

  29. WellRed*

    LW 1, companies that expect you to front Any expenses make me livid. I do agree with others about taking a more proactive approach in the future. However, I wonder at your immediate manager here. Couldn’t he have advocated for you, ensured your arrangements were all set, and even said something to the big boss after it went sideways. It’s a big deal to strand an employee, especially in a foreign company.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      That’s what I was wondering — your manager was the one left holding the bag — let that person bring it up with Grandboss.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It’s possible that OP told manager that grand boss was handling it, manager told OP if she needed to put it on their card that was an option, and then OP didn’t involve manager again until she was stranded at the hotel. Being new, maybe OP didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. A lot of maybes that only OP can answer, but assuming her manager dropped the ball here isn’t really justified based on the letter.

  30. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

    For #2…

    …Your boss might brush off your opinion as just “liberal whining,” and may think of you as a “liberal whiner,” or as a spoiled brat who’s punching above their position and being “entitled.” I say this because many in the fake-news demographic are also classists who think that the opinions of those on top of any given hierarchy are the only ones that actually matter. Especially in your case, since you’re junior to him, and of a political persuasion that doesn’t conform with the rest of your workplace.

    I would also be *really* careful if your boss has any anger issues. Explosive, violent anger seems comorbid with fake news consumption.

    1. Business Socks*

      + 1

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss wrote the OPs attempt at fact checking as naive, immature whining, but then in the same breath talk about how supporting trans-rights is an “elitist” position and how all of the mean liberal bullies are trying to force him to think a certain way. There will be know acknowledgement of the contradiction.

      For the fake news crowd spreading this information isn’t about believing it’s true or not, it’s about signifying their membership on their “team”. Showing someone like this evidence that their claims are false would be no more effective than trying to logically convince a Red Sox fan to become a Yankees fan.

  31. Amethystmoon*

    I absolutely would not argue with a manager about politics. Sometimes, you just have to ignore the dumb stuff at work. Plus, what if that manager decides someday not to promote you because you disagree with him/her? Yeah, that’s not cool, but it does happen.

  32. Delta Delta*

    I’d be curious to read an update on #1, if she doesn’t mind sharing sometime later. Because part of me wonders if the grandboss understood the reason for the form and the consequences for not filling it out – especially if the standard practice in this company/industry is to front expenses and fill out forms afterward. Not making excuses for the guy, but he might have misunderstood, and coupled with trying to go on vacation (which is it’s own separate hell at work sometimes), the reason for the request really may not have clicked.

    That said, I also think if he apologizes – and I hope he does – accept the apology, and that’s it. If OP feels herself starting to say “it’s ok,” figure out a thing to do to physically stop from saying that. Maybe pinch your leg or press your fingers together or something else physical to cut yourself off. Because it is entirely ok to accept the apology, but what happened really wasn’t ok.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      There’s a comment above that I think hits it – people with credit at their disposal may not realize/remember what it’s like to *not*. That is, Grandboss may have heard “financial hardship”, but not actually grokked that OP *literally could not pay for the hotel herself*. Did not have a credit card she could put it on, did not have enough space on the card she has, whatever. He might have figured it might be an inconvenience or a hardship for her, but not that she actually couldn’t do it. If he was framing her “financial hardship” in that way, suddenly filling out the form is just another one of those tasks that he has to get to “later.”

      I live within walking distance of literally 8 payday loan stores, plus several pawn shops. There are many, many people who can’t suddenly front several hundred dollars worth of expenses, credit or otherwise. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but it’s a reality a lot of other people are oblivious to.

      1. Kiki*

        Yes! And sometimes people who have been financially comfortable/ wealthy for a long time don’t realize/ remember that it takes 6 months to a year of a higher-paying job to stabilize financially. If I have zero dollars in the bank but start a job that pays $100k, unless I have a signing bonus, I can’t comfortably float a bill for $2k in the first couple of months of working. And that’s not even taking debt, supporting family, etc, into account.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          There are programs where I live that literally provide people with money to buy work-appropriate clothing – it’s the kind of thing so many don’t think about, but I remember getting fired from my first office job because I didn’t have appropriate attire for their dress code – three days into working there (I was 23). Every job I’d had prior either had a uniform or allowed jeans. I didn’t have money to go out and buy a bunch of dress clothes and was trying to make do with what I had.

          One time between jobs, I checked out a local employment centre. By that point I was in better shape and wound up not really needing them, but the workers there literally asked me if I needed bus tickets to get home (I have a car), if I had access to a phone. Like, *that’s* how bad it can get for people. You can’t just book a flight and a hotel a week after finally starting a new job.

          1. Ella*

            I also think people also forget that, until you’ve had wealth for quite a while, many people are constantly torn between paying off bills vs. having emergency funds. A person with student loans might have to chose between paying things off as early as possible and avoiding extra interest charges or keeping an emergency fund around in case an expense (like a business trip the company is making you float the money for…) pops up. In cases like that, deciding to have the cash handy to cover an unexpected hotel bill could literally cost a person hundreds if not thousands of dollars in increased loan interest.

          2. Auntie Social*

            We did that for a new employee who kept coming to work in very casual clothes. When my boss mentioned it to her she burst into tears, because she’d been wearing her best non-holey pieces. I took her to Nordstrom and explained the situation, and they were brilliant. For $600 (this was 10 years ago) they put together grown-up Garanimals—everything went with everything else. The firm paid for it, of course. I think we got her a grown up haircut too.

            1. Agent J*

              Wow, I wish many more workplaces were as kind as yours.

              During one of my internships post-college, I worked for a department that did a lot of traveling. When it finally was my turn to go on a trip, I was so excited…until my manager asked me to book the 3-day hotel stay on my credit card. I was a part-time intern making barely enough to pay my rent and buy groceries. I stumbled to explain that I couldn’t afford to but I was so embarrassed about it. My manager could see it on my face and immediately offered to book it on her credit card instead. I”ve never forgotten that kindness.

      2. Old Admin*

        That’s me – I desperately wanted to go to a certain conference for the company, but was not able to front the travel expenses and tickets. By the time I was able to create enough space on my credit card to do so, the conference was sold out. :-(

    2. Policy Wonk*

      It is also possible that grandboss, being used to having things done for him, is not accustomed to having to fill out forms and submit them himself. I have seen this happen. People used to having others do things for them seem to forget how and are stymied when they have to do for themselves. I have seen senior people standing at the copier completely unable to figure out how to work it, or seemingly amazed that I could print two-sided or change the font in a document.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        + a gazillion. This is what seems most likely from the executives I’ve worked with.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Having known some real jackholes, I have this gut wrenching question if the boss just didn’t care about the consequences. Given how much the OP was checking in with him about the form, he knew darn well it was critical to her being able to have a place to stay. I don’t have much charity in my mind for him.

      If she hadn’t checked in regularly and had just tossed him the paperwork and it got forgotten about, that’s excusable and makes sense. But yeah, the whole “Yeah haven’t done it yet, yeah I’ll do it, sure I’ll do it.” then jetting off to vacation without completing it is difficult to reconcile in my head.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’d have a softer outlook on the egregious oversight on his part if he didn’t respond to her follow up with a “what do you expect me to do about it, shrug.”

          This smacks of he didn’t find it important so it got shuffled under everything else and left to rot in his to-do-if-I-ever-get-around-to-it pile.

          I’ve seen people who haven’t been pinched for money in so long [or simply ever, depending on their social standing] shrug at the “unfortunate” folks who live paycheck to paycheck without any credit at their disposal and assume it’s just an “inconvenience” and not actually something that could leave someone sleeping on a bus bench.

  33. Heidi*

    Hi OP2. Sometimes I will not challenge directly, but ask for more details. For instance, in this particular example, I might ask, “How do they enforce this law?” “If you haven’t met someone, how are you supposed to know the correct pronouns?” “How long has this law been in place?” “How many people have been arrested for breaking this law?” This actually moves the conversation forward and uncovers the extent of this person’s knowledge on the subject, which might be single news article rather than in-depth research. It also sometimes gets them to start questioning the validity of the news on their own without me having to come out and say they’re flat-out wrong.

    1. Remedial Chaos Theory (formerly Gen. Ginger)*

      Hah. Most folks I know who are into the fake news would take great offense at this line of questioning. “You’re just trying to trip me up/show me up, because you probably think it’s a great law”, etc.

    2. Bostonian*

      Ooooh you made me realize I kinda do this with family. If I catch one of them rehashing some media line, I’ll focus on one loaded phrase and ask, “what do you mean by [phrase]?” OR follow up with, “why do you think that?” and continue to ask clarifying questions. I actually genuinely want to get to the base of this person’s reasoning for saying what they’re saying (and tone is key here), so it comes off as wanting to understand, but sometimes it’s interesting to hear them fail to explain or come up with any real reasoning other than “that’s what I heard from [dubious news source].”

    3. sunny-dee*

      Well, in Canada it’s a civil thing, not a criminal one. It would have been enforced through the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which can fine you and put injunctions on behavior but no arrest you (I guess unless you refused to pay the fines or something). The pronoun provision ended up not being passed in their parliament, but I believe it’s been proposed a couple of times.

      To be arrested for using the wrong pronoun, you have to go to the UK, where it’s happened several times, particularly with feminists who refuse to acknowledge MtF transgenders as “she.”

      1. JenRN*

        …and who go on targeted harassment campaigns (the trans exclusionary “feminists” and right wingers). It’s not a one off “he, oh excuse me, she” type thing. It’s incessant campaigning —> trolling behaviour. Not necessarily towards people who are activists. Just people trying to live their life and use social media like everyone else.

      2. neeko*

        That isn’t the case AT ALL. No one has been arrested for not using just for not using someone’s preferred pronoun. People HAVE been arrested for harassment and posting private information and then claim that it’s just because of not using someone’s pronoun to get people angry on the internet.

      3. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

        Just googling what you’re saying here, all I can find are police investigations that have to do with specifically targeted people, such as a tutor misgendering a (trans boy) student and a journalist misgendering a public figure’s trans daughter under the standards for harassment and “malicious communications.” So also please drop the implication that trans women and girls are kind of abnormal, dangerous cabal. If there’s something I’m missing that involves an actual conviction for just misgendering, let me know.

  34. Ada*

    OP#1 – Just wanted to let you know I can totally commiserate with you. Something similar just happened to me recently. It was my first ever business trip. I was traveling hours away to an unfamiliar city completely by myself. Funds are tight for me right now, so I *thought* I had things arranged so the company had prepaid for the hotel.

    I checked in several times the week before and they said something along the lines of “you’re all good,” which I had (naively) taken to mean they had paid it already. Anyway, I get to the hotel and, surprise! It hadn’t been paid for. Didn’t have the contact info for the person who was supposed to handle it and it was after office hours by that point, so I had to put it on my card, which I hated doing.

    Called the next morning to find out what happened. Their response? “Oh… I forgot who asked me to do that!”

    They told me they’d take care of it and get any charges reversed. After about a week of watching my credit card account and not seeing any corrections go through, I reach out again (because of course this person couldn’t be bothered to give me an update proactively), and they tell me the hotel isn’t letting them correct the charges and I should submit for reimbursement instead. Awesome. I assume I can’t get reimbursed for any interest charged, though, yeah?

    Anyway, I don’t have any advice or anything, but thought you might like to know at least you’re not alone.

    1. WellRed*

      My worst nightmare! I don’t even have a card I can put an expense like that on. I guess you’ve learned though, not to trust that particular person to do their job, they dropped the ball several ways.

    2. Errol*

      yeah something similar happened to me!

      I was coming off a 6 month unemployment run, and money was TIGHT. I got a new job that involved going out of town for a week for training. I was pretty open about the fact that I had zero dollars with the ladies on sight and my boss. They we’re “all good, we’ve got everything covered. We’ll take you out for meals to get to know you, there’s a grocery store near by we can do a run at” all fine and dandy, right? Well I get there, and the ‘grocery store near by’ is a 40 minute walk through the industrial area of an unknown city in winter (so dark and cold) and they decided last minute to not get me a car. It was also a hotel in the middle of no where, there was a gas station and a pub within a 20 minute walk of this place, the rest was all warehouses.

      The ladies on site took me out for dinner for the Monday night (my first night there), and then left me to fend for myself for the rest of the week. I got a ride to and from work from strangers from the building (not even the company I worked for, the other ones we shared a floor with) and then was left completely alone for the rest of it. I had zero dollars. I had to call my mom to send me money so I could walk and get some food.

      I was so so mad and just utterly humiliated by that whole experience. The next time we sent someone for training out there I argued with my boss to give them a per diem when they said they too were tight on money, either cash or give them a company card for food and transport. My boss was absolutely horrified when he realized what they had done to me so gave the go ahead to give them a cash per diem. He also okay-ed accounting to reimburse me for the expense of food that had been previously denied by accounting as “everything was included in your trip”.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This is horrifying and has made me appreciate my grandboss (and my direct manager, who herself just recently put my hotel stay during another week of travel on her own card) even more. Why in the world are people doing stuff like this to new hires?

        1. Errol*

          People will always be self absorbed. It’s not that it’s malicious, it just doesn’t occur to them that people’s situations differ.

          Staying in a hotel in the middle of no where looks good on paper because it’s cheap, but they weren’t thinking about the fact that I wasn’t going home to a fridge full of food like they were so they didn’t make sure there was at least an included breakfast. It’s also super easy to think “oh, it’s a little inconvenient but it’ll be fine” when it’s not you having to live it.

          Also some people think “tight on money” = “I have a savings account” without realizing that’s not often the case especially when someone’s been unemployed for a stretch. Then there’s the power balance of not being able to walk up to your boss and ask ‘what the actual eff’, so they live in their unbroken bubble of “my life is like this, obviously everyone else’s is too”. I honestly don’t believe it’s malicious, it’s just people get comfortable in their own life and forget everyone’s lives are different.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            True – lord knows I’ve been thoughtless about other people’s circumstances in the past without meaning to be. It just sucks for the new person who doesn’t yet have enough information about the company/boss to know whether or not this was just an oversight or SOP.

          2. twig*

            Ugh, that thoughtlessness — I don’t know how many times people have responded to my
            “I can’t afford that” with something along the lines of “You should Splurge! you deserve a treat!” as if that would make the money magically materialize in my bank account.

      2. Ada*

        That’s horrible! I’m glad you were in a position to stick up for the next person that would have been in your shoes!

        1. Errol*

          From how horrified my boss (the president of the company who worked in the third location) was, I felt kinda silly I didn’t push back at the start. He was so genuinely apologetic I realized that’s now how business is supposed to go and that you should speak up earlier.

          I was lucky my mom was able to float me until I got a pay check, but what if she couldn’t? I just don’t feel right about putting someone in a similar situation and hoping they too can make it work.

  35. BRR*

    #1 if you need to travel again in the future would asking for an advance work for you?

    1. Glory*

      Yes, OP should ask about this. Everywhere that I’ve worked where I’ve been expected to pay the cost of travel upfront has given me the option of getting an advance. A lot of commenters are insisting that the employer should hand out company cards to everyone who travels, but company cards can be really hard to manage for a large group of people.

      1. Asenath*

        That’s how it’s handled at my workplace. They give out a very limited number of company credit cards – I have certainly never qualified for one – but will do travel advances. The advance might not cover small daily purchases, but you can usually get enough to cover the airline ticket and hotel.

        It’s necessary to speak up about these things – people who can easily put things on a credit card often don’t even think that some co-workers might not be able to do so. The same thing happens if you don’t drive – they assume that of course you’ll have (or rent) a car, and therefore have easy access to groceries or cheap restaurants.

      2. Errol*

        Mine had an ‘office’ card where the name was the office not a person on it, there was 6 of us who used the same card.

        I’ve also worked places where they hand you an envelope of cash and expect you to account for every penny you spend.

      3. Observer*

        No one said that companies should hand out cards to everyone who travels. What they ARE saying is that companies need to find a way to manage travel expenses that does not require the traveler to float a loan to their employer.

        Give them a card, prepay the expenses, give them an advance. It doesn’t matter which you choose. Just doe SOMETHING that takes care of the problem.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        They’re not hard to manage at all, it’s part of doing business and can easily be accommodated. The credit card companies have programs and ways to set these up so they can only be used for approved purchases as well if they are worried about that. Though you shouldn’t trust someone to be the face of your business and travel for you if you can’t trust them with a lousy card with a few thousand dollar limit on it.

        /Angry accountant mode.

        Advances are far more complex and easy to screw up than reconciling hundreds of company cards. You also get the safety aspects of using a credit card.

  36. Samwise*

    OP #1, Alison, I don’t understand why the OP needs to have this discussion with the grandboss — I think it’s more appropriate (and probably more effective) for OP’s manager to do it.

    1. Liz*

      100% agree. Also, in the future I would advise OP #1 to talk to their boss in general before they are stuck in a hotel in a foreign country with no way to pay for it. Going to their boss and saying “grandboss hasn’t confirmed this, I do not want to continue nagging my boss’ boss, how should I handle from here?” probably would have solved these issues to start. It is typically not an employee’s job to nag their boss’ boss beyond a couple polite follow ups.

    2. Bostonian*

      I agree. The OP’s manager was the one who had to correct the issue for OP, and seemed to be horrified by the issue. OP’s boss is also in better standing to raise this issue with their manager.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That was actually the answer I’d written originally! But if the boss is generally reasonable, it’s fine for the OP to handle it herself. If she doesn’t want to, the direct manager is a good alternative.

  37. Sherri*

    Can we please not make the assumption that people who have spread inaccurate information don’t want to receive correct info? Given the massive amounts of news (accurate and otherwise) we all receive, is there really any of us that can say with certainty we’ve never repeated anything inaccurate? Lots of people do get defensive when confronted publicly, so the suggestion to send a friendly email is excellent. You may not be a response, but you can’t be sure the information won’t be well received.

    1. Temperance*

      Eh. I know plenty of people who believe every fake article that someone else shares on FB or every meme that they see. They aren’t interested in correct information, they’re interested in having a specific worldview.

      1. Sherri*

        I heartily agree those people exist. Making assumptions about whether someone will be interested or not in valid information is my issue here.

        1. Jasnah*

          My assumptions and generalizations are based on knowing metric butt tons of people like Temperance says, and maybe 4 people who would be chill about being corrected.

          Especially about something so implausible, with such an obvious subtext as this issue. I would love to hang out with the kinds of people you do!

  38. Justme, The OG*

    Hi OP#1. I do travel for my group of employees, and under no circumstances do they need to hound me to fill out a credit card authorization form. Your boss was in the wrong here, you should have had to ask maybe once and then it’s on them as the person who wants you to travel to do it.

  39. Daisy*

    OP1 – The other thing you may want to ask your boss/grandboss is whether there is someone else you should work with in future scenarios where you’re traveling. That may get you to a person who is more reliable and whom you can work with to understand what the process is to make sure you’re copied on things and that the darn forms get filled out.
    Even if the grandboss doesn’t have an assistant they may always work with one person on travel who knows the magic words/tricks to get the basics done so you’re not stranded.

  40. LW #4*

    LW #4 here…follow up question for the audience – Would it be a ‘red flag’ if I quit my job in advance of either my spouse or I officially accepting a job in our new city? My thought process is that it would allow me more time to interview for new positions, pack up our current house, mentally unwind, and look for housing in our new city so once we do have jobs lined up, I will be mentally ready to jump in and hit the ground running. We have savings so money isn’t the main obstacle

    1. Jerk Store*

      I don’t think it’s an issue. If you get asked in an interview about the resume gap, I would just say that you resigned to be able to coordinate your move. The hiring manager doesn’t need to know exactly when you moved.

    2. Willis*

      I don’t think quitting a job without another lined up is a red flag if you have a reason. Moving cities (and the related, very time-consuming stuff that that entails, like packing, looking for a house, looking for a job, etc.) is a really understandable reason. I wouldn’t consider this a red flag if I were doing the hiring.

    3. Reba*

      Nah, lots of people take a little time off between gigs if they can. Something like, “we were planning to move and so I took the opportunity to tackle some personal projects.” I doubt that a new job interviewer is going to go over your calendar with a fine tooth comb, “she CLAIMS to have quit to move… But she quit 4 weeks and 3 days before coming here! AHA!”

      Good luck coordinating everything.

    4. Jellyfish*

      I think you’ll be fine. I’m about to move 1000 miles away for a job that begins the first of August, and my spouse and I are both quitting our current jobs at the end of next week. Several people from various different fields have been surprised we’re working that long.
      Even when we moved within the same city a few years ago, we both took time off work, and nobody questioned it.

      Moving is huge – people understand that and they likely won’t judge you for it. I agree with Jerk Store too; nobody needs to know specifically what date you moved or when your spouse started their new job.

      1. Chinookwind*

        Wait – people are surprised you are “only” taking 3 weeks to between jobs for the move? Man, I am doing it wrong because we usually have only enough time to pack, physically drive to new place and then move in (maybe a week – if we arrive before our stuff, we hotel it). Then again, we usually use professional movers (who take only a day to pack before the move) and it is coordinated by DH’s employers but we still work to as close as possible to the move and just take time off to take care of paperwork. And, when I moved myself, I still just packed in the evenings while working up until the last work day before I leave. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t keep busy before leaving.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah…all my moves have taken a couple of days tops. So if I pack everything at night and on the weekends, I missed one day to just meet the movers the last time I moved because I sprung for the professional option [omg the only way to live now that I’ve experienced it, well worth the cost.]

          Granted I then unpack everything gradually and tend to take my time setting up.

        2. Jellyfish*

          Yup! I thought we were being pretty luxurious about it, but a lot of people seem surprised we didn’t take six weeks off. I mean, that’d be nice, but finances are going to be tight enough as is it. We are doing the entire move by ourselves though – packing, loading, transport, unpacking – so I think we’ll need the time. I’d prefer not to be completely exhausted when I start at the new place too.

        3. Sally*

          Wow, this would send me into a panic of not having enough time to be ready for moving day! I’ve always been on a tight budget when moving, so I pack my own stuff, which takes a while. Plus, I really don’t like moving stuff that I should get rid of, so I need time to sort things out and then get to Goodwill or another thrift store to drop it off. I would have no problem being busy right up until moving day. It’s funny how we can be so different from each other about certain things.

    5. schnauzerfan*

      Not a problem at all. We have lots of military families and often see gaps of several months from our applicants. Moving is a time consuming process and it’s quite believable that a trailing spouse might need time to get the family moved and settled . Just don’t do what someone from our last round of interviews did. His resume’ included a dozen jobs over the last 10 years or so. Everyone of them ended because “moved” sometimes after only a few months stay and sometimes the new job was only a few blocks from the old. And “no don’t contact this supervisor, or that supervisor”

      This was not believable at all.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The advice to “never quit without a job lined up” is advice you give people because it’s to safe guard you from having a long job hunt and running out of money.

      Since you have a spouse and will be most likely living off their salary, that advice isn’t really for you, unless your spouse of course doesn’t make enough to support your household for the months of your unemployment!

      Its’ not advice given because the hiring managers care and look unfavorably about it. Lots of people leave their jobs for a million personal reasons. Maybe you just wanted to be a stay at home parent or house-spouse, it’s fine! Of course the longer you’re out of the job market, that does start getting you questions about what’s up with the gap but they’re not asking about the fact you just left your job without another one lined up.

    7. Chinookwind*

      As someone who has been there, done that numerous times, the short answer is no. “We moved” can account for a long gap of up to a year and most people don’t think much of it.

      That being said, if you are applying for jobs in the new place before you move, be prepared to explain in your cover letter when you will be in the new town. This way, they can look at you as a local and not an out of town candidate.

    8. Close Bracket*

      I wouldn’t quit your job in advance of accepting a new job in case the offer didn’t come through! Get that offer letter in hand, accept it, negotiate a start date for as much time in the future as you need, *then* give your two weeks notice!

      Btw, I left my last job (almost 7 years ago to the day!) 3 weeks before I moved so I could pack. In retrospect, staying at my job for those 3 weeks would have allowed me to hire packers, so figure that into your calculations.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      It wouldn’t be a red flag, but what if your spouse doesn’t get a job in the new city? I’d wait until at least an offer letter.

    10. Clementine*

      I know many people do manage to take time off with no problems at all.

      However, the way I look at it is how much is this time off costing me? Say it is $10K. Would you spend $10K straight up? Be sure to consider everything you are losing, like 401K and IRA contributions and health benefits and so on. As mentioned, your salary can be used to buy help with the move, which you can then factor in to the equation also.

  41. Jerk Store*

    The other issue with printing out an AAM (or any advice) column and anonymously leaving it on someone’s desk is that the subject could incorrectly assume someone else did it and treat them accordingly, and that’s not fair to that person. Example, on The Office when Pam thought Angela complained about her planning her wedding in the office.

  42. saby*

    OP2, this myth was popularized by a certain right-wing figure who unfortunately was given time on a well-respected news show on a public broadcaster to air his views. It has caused a huge amount of kerfuffle in the past few years, in particular with a TA who showed the clip to her first-year university students, was reprimanded by her supervisor, and recorded the reprimand and released it to the media, resulting in a firestorm of media coverage and opposing campus protests about trans rights vs. free speech. The alt-right had a field day and made death threats left right and centre to different people on campus. The university formally apologized to the TA and didn’t rehire her supervisor (an adjunct who basically can never work in Canadian academia again after this) but I think she’s still suing them. (Although I don’t think they’ve apologized to their trans students??)

    Your boss is probably not that extreme, and of course it is a ridiculous lie, but just be cautious if you do say anything and you think your boss might be involved in any of this alt-right online stuff, since this particular bit of fake news is particularly explosive in that community.

    1. Lobsterman*

      Yes. Caution is called for here. These people are mean and sometimes very dangerous.

    2. Eillah*

      I’m not at all familiar with this story, does anyone have links? My google-fu sucks today.

      1. saby*

        Link in moderation but to aid your Google-fu the university involved is Wilfrid Laurier University. Apparently they, the supervisor, and others are being sued by both the TA and J***** P****son now.

      2. JenRN*

        I also linked you forgot about moderation. The Wikipedia page is good. No one in this story is interested in apologizing (or acknowledging) the trans students btw.

        1. saby*

          Disappointed but not surprised. I know a lot of people who work at Laurier who are great (I’m also in academia in ON) but the way senior admin has handled this has been terrible from start to finish, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone apply there anymore.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      If you suspect your boss is involved in the “alt-right” community, I would carefully, quietly, and as anonymously as possible start doing some detective work around his online activity and affiliations. There are a lot of truly horrible people out there, none of them should be in positions of power, and some in fact have been fired when their vile views came to light. For example, there was a Campbell’s executive who was spreading racist conspiracy theories about the “migrant caravan” – and soon afterward he got, if you’ll pardon the pun, canned.

  43. boop the first*

    It’s not really about who the word is directed AT. “Prima donna”, I guess, is a feminine word, and it’s the fact that it’s feminine that makes it “offensive”, because the worst thing you can call a man is a woman. And people use feminine insults toward women anyway, because we’re incidentally also trained to be ashamed to be women, hence why so many of us as kids felt weirdly proud about being “tom boys” and “one of the guys” while disowning dolls and the colour pink.

  44. Sharikacat*

    When I resigned my job of two years to move across the state, I didn’t have anything lined up, but I was confident in the expansion within my industry that I’d be able to find something within a reasonable amount of time. I had ties to the community as one of several reasons for the move, so that made explaining things way easy.

  45. Rez123*

    #5 there was one of those “5 signs” article on the newspaper and this specific one was “5 signs you have a terrible manager”. Employees shared the list with each other and snickered since it could have been written about our work place. One of my colleagues left the office after our manager was not giving in on a reasonable request. On her last day she printed the list and put it anonymously into our office suggestion box.

    Managers read it and didn’t comment anything and put grandboss managed to turn it into learning experience on how every one of us can use it as a tool on not what to do since we are all managers since we manage our selves. It was glorious.

  46. Bad Director Letter Writer*

    I wrote the letter referenced in #5 and I can assure it was not printed out and shared with the subject, although it is tempting to do so if I ever find a new job :)

    1. Bad Director Letter Writer*

      And, while it was vindicating to hear from Allison and everyone in the comments that my director sucks, my eyes were opened to how little I could do about it. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how his abrasive personality and my belief that I had to somehow protect others affected me, and realized that it’s probably the #1 reason I’ve been feeling symptoms of burn out for the past year or so. Putting the letter on his desk wouldn’t accomplish anything (he’s the least self-aware person I’ve ever met). The real impact of the letter was realizing he’s affecting me more than I thought and I kicked my job search into high gear.

      1. Observer*

        That’s a good outcome. Not the one most people would WANT, because really, your boss should stop being a jerk. But that’s just not realistic. So, getting some clarity and taking steps to get out of a bad situation is the best you can get.

        Lots of luck!

      2. Marissa*

        Good for you! Burnout can really sneak up on you. I didn’t truly realize how bad mine was until I got a new job. A few months in I realized I was no longer stressed and raging on my commute. I didn’t dread going to work, so all those other little things like traffic stopped freaking me out because I had the bandwidth to handle little things again. Please update when you find something new and best of luck!

    2. Close Bracket*

      So what you do is, you enclose it in a Christmas card and send it to the North Pole, where they cancel it and send it to its ultimate destination. Don’t forget to sign it “Santa.” :)

      1. Pink Hair Don't Care*

        Once at OLD JOB my manager wanted to start a weight loss challenge for all of the staff. I explained that I’m not comfortable discussing my weight at work. I then forwarded all of Alison’s advice on why this is not a good idea in the work place to my manager. We did not have weight loss challenge. It was a win but I was very direct about everything with her.

  47. Minnow*

    OP#1 – Wondering if your grandboss has an executive assistant who might be able to assist you with getting the paperwork completed if this situation comes up again in the future? The EA’s at my office are a great help in scenarios like this where we need to track down someone senior for a signature since they are aware of the person’s schedule and can sneak in at opportune moments to get quick tasks completed.

    And you have my sympathies for how stressful that experience must have been. I travel for work regularly but on one of my first trips, when I arrived in the new city late at night, I had a moment of sheer panic when I got to the hotel and was told that the colleague who had booked me had booked me in for the wrong night. Thankfully the hotel had an extra room available, but in the brief time before they were able to sort it out I was panicking envisioning myself schlepping around a strange city by myself in the dark trying to find somewhere to sleep.

    1. UKDancer*

      I have had something similar. I was sent to a meeting in another country in a city I knew reasonably well. I had booked the hotel through our agent. I got there to find the hotel had no record of the booking. I showed them the confirmation, then rang the booking agent who confirmed they’d booked the room. The hotel still said they had no record. It was about 8pm on a Sunday evening and it was pouring with rain. I stood there and wouldn’t move until they found a room for me because despite knowing the city, I didn’t want to have to try to find another hotel there.

      My booking agent kept emailing them the booking and confirmation and the next day the hotel still maintained there was no record of a booking and tried to charge me. I have never stayed in that hotel since.

      Now I always email hotels directly to check they have a booking for me.

  48. Ella Vader*

    OP1/Stranded, that is indeed scary and embarrassing.

    I think if I wanted to have a conversation with grandboss afterwards about this situation, I might take the angle of “Who should I be talking to about this next time?” (subtext: since you didn’t take it seriously enough to follow up). If there is a senior administrative person at all (in a small company, look for the person who arranges the expense reimbursements after the fact, or the person who makes the grandboss’s own hotel reservations), I’m guessing that person might be better at getting the grandboss to follow up and might even have access to the GB’s credit card and signature to do it themself. And if you can get that person to engage as your ally, they might have other ways of problem-solving this or might be able to talk to the GB about possible policy changes.

    You can also check in with your boss who might also now be thinking of workarounds for future trips. I’m also an easily-embarrassed Canadian woman so I’d be starting that conversation by apologizing for the inconvenience I caused the boss (which really wasn’t me as much as it was the GB and the policy, of course). Again, you can approach the conversation like “how can we avoid this happening again?” and talk about what changes might be needed in the company’s customs. Your boss might think some of the ideas are more feasible than others, and might have more clout than you do about getting them to happen.

    I’ve been in a variety of awkward situations too. One where I was a grad student chasing my thesis advisor around a fancy hotel that I didn’t have enough money to check out of. One where I was on a pre-paid interview trip with an overnight flight delay and no money for food. I’ve also observed co-workers who had to “come clean” about not having personal credit to cover a hotel or a rental car. And this surprised the bosses, who hadn’t encountered this situation before – but the office staff researched the workarounds, and got pretty good at figuring out who would take prepayment and how the traveller could prove that the prepayment was done. It wasn’t urgent to the bosses, but the office staff could easily imagine being in that situation and were motivated to solve it. If you’re able to disclose matter-of-factly to the admin/support staff, they probably won’t think it nearly as embarrassing as you do, and can probably help figure things out.

  49. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’m starting to tear up with #1, this man seriously has competency issues to just send a person to a foreign country [or anywhere to be honest] and not have their accommodations set up.

    If you’re traveling for the company, they need to get you a corporate card to avoid this nonsense. I wouldn’t trust him ever again, thank God that your manager could help you out here. They should have just given you a frigging “loan” of the funds and then had you submit a receipt afterwards if it was really that much of an issue. You shouldn’t have been sent anywhere without accommodations though, that’s absurdity.

  50. NothingIsLittle*

    Look, OP2, my dad is one of those people. He’s an incredibly intelligent man, but he just has massive blinders on when it comes to being lied to by the media. Sometimes, if he doesn’t have other “facts” that he believes back up ridiculous claims, he can be convinced by verifiable facts that are repeated by a number of sources he trusts. But by and large that doesn’t happen and it’s just not worth it to engage him because he feels patronized. It has taken years of fighting to learn how to talk politics with him without it devolving and even then I avoid it like the plague.

    This is your boss, he’s likely going to shut down even if you bring it up kindly because you’re questioning his judgment and undermining a deeply held trust in whatever source he’s getting his news from. Maybe, maybe, if you know there’s a news source he trusts that has disproved the fact you can bring it up, but in most circumstances, I would urge you to ignore it.

    The only exception would be if the misinformation directly impacts your work, and even then you might want to filter it through someone higher up the ladder who knows him better. And please, I know Alison said to frame this as “I know you care about accuracy,” but please don’t do that. Having lived with someone like this, I know he would view it as patronizing and I’d bet good money that most people who think this way would be the same. To men like my father “I know you care about accuracy,” implies they should have known better and questions their judgment that they believed the fake news in the first place, so they dig in their heels and double down on their unfounded belief. I would recommend something closer to “I’m not sure if you heard,” which makes it seem more like it’s understandable they’ve missed it and you’re just bringing it to their attention so they can make their own judgments. They won’t always agree with whatever source you bring up, but at least it won’t become adversarial.

    Best of luck!

    1. Pippa*

      Poor beleaguered Fox News. Scrappy little organisation just trying to spread vicious misinformation as best it can. Cease your accurate descriptions, people! It’s just so *sniff* hurtful.

  51. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney*

    I wonder about the response for #4. As a young woman, I’ve always gone extremely cautious in identifying the fact that I have a partner at all–I feel like it gets too close to someone going “Oh, hm, she’s hitched/engaged/partnered, I wonder if they’re trying for babies…” Is that not a concern here, or is it becoming less an issue these days?

    1. Close Bracket*

      Perhaps for this particular letter writer, it’s a less urgent concern than trying to explain why she left a job without lining up a new one. Sometimes you have to balance concerns, and the resulting approach might be less than perfect but the best you can do under the circumstances.

    2. Observer*

      The people who react that way are going to be either thinking that anyway or thinking “Hm, I wonder if she’s going stick around once she finds someone.”

      In other words, idiots like this are going to be a problem for anyone who has the temerity to be a woman.

      1. LW#4*

        LW #4 again…I honestly didn’t even consider that angle when interviewing, but now I’m realizing it might wise to stay mum about that side of my life. Makes me mentally kick myself for not playing it down up till now in my job search, but I guess I can only change that going forward

  52. XtinaLyn*

    #5–I was THRILLED when I asked for an opinion from AAM regarding a scent-free policy at work, and the response was in total support of my contention. I immediately shared the response with my entire team, and although I didn’t hear back from anyone, I know the message was received loud and clear.

  53. Jay*

    O.P. #2, do NOT send and e-mail to your director over this.
    It will help nothing.
    If he believes this, then he is beyond help.
    Anything you say or do will be labeled as ‘being triggered’, which means, in their parliance, that YOU attacked HIM, without provocation and for no reason.
    What you DO need to do is keep an ear to the ground, maybe do some discrete online searches about this person and others at the upper echelons of your company.
    Because this is beyond standard self absorbed and stupid.
    This is “I invested the entire pension fund in stocks recommended to me personally by Alex Jones, so you know they’re good!” levels of dangerously out of touch.

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      Frankly, you’re coming off as out of touch yourself here. “Being triggered” is used almost exclusively by the left in my part of the country, unless it’s being viciously mocked. The danger is that OP2’s boss will feel patronized, which isn’t entirely unfounded given that this is the type of response people often have. OP2 is in finance and has not at all indicated that these political beliefs are reflected in his business practices.

      I certainly agree that it may warrant further investigation if there is an indication that it’s impacting the business or OP2’s financial security, but it’s definitely not, ““I invested the entire pension fund in stocks recommended to me personally by Alex Jones, so you know they’re good!” levels of dangerously out of touch,” unless there’s something OP2 hasn’t told us.

      1. Kelly L.*

        You may be somewhat out of touch yourself. It’s in fashion right now for the right to make jokes about being “triggered” in response to even a calm, polite critique from the left. Maybe that’s the vicious mocking you’re referring to?

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          That is, indeed, what I meant. Jay seemed to be implying that it was meant seriously instead of mocking. Perhaps I was misreading the comment though.

  54. SufjanFan*

    A follow-up question in line with LW4: When should you mention your move? In the interview process? In a cover letter? Asking because I’m looking to move from Small City A to Larger City B (both on the same coast, 2 hours apart), where my family is from, in 2020. I’m concerned that if a hiring manager looks at my resume and sees just Small City A, I’ll be passed over as an applicant.

    1. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney*

      I’ve always heard in the cover letter. So they’re not wondering why you’re casting the net all the way over there when they look at where you are from.

    2. Deb Morgan*

      We’re hiring right now, and I wish people had mentioned their move (or upcoming move) in their cover letter.

  55. Brooklyn Nine-Niner*

    I remember in one update, the poster’s co-worker also read this site and saw the article.

  56. StephaniePC*

    Am I the only one annoyed by the term “grandboss”? We use n+1, n+2 and it gets the same point across. Maybe because we are in a science/technical industry?

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