open thread – July 26-27, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,953 comments… read them below }

  1. Research for days

    In light of last week’s letter regarding the employee who panicked every time the company spent money, I want to hear stories about the extravagance you’ve experienced while working? What crazy thing did your company spend money on? How much money did your boss spend at the super fancy restaurant in Conference City, USA? Stories about cheap bosses are fun, but spending money is so much more fun.

    I’m lucky, my company is very generous when it comes to booking travel and expenses incurred while traveling. At this point I would never be able to work for a company that had strict travel policies and nickel-and-dimed their employees. I just don’t have the energy to deal with that nonsense. I’m 34 years old. I’m not sharing a hotel room, driving a crazy distance, or eating fast food every night while traveling.

    1. Amber Rose

      So, there’s a big festival here once a year. This year my boss rented out a high end bar downtown, the whole bar, invited a ton of “business contacts” (read: friends) and paid for all their drinks and food. I didn’t get the final numbers but my supervisor said it was well over 50K.

      1. Third or Nothing!

        Definitely not as crazy as some of these stories, but my company rents out the biggest suite in our local MLB stadium every year for a family night (employees plus spouses and children). This year there will be about 100 people. Tickets, a buffet, and unlimited alcohol are all provided.

        1. CoffeeOnMyMind

          My company used to rent out an entire NFL stadium for a huge company party twice a year.

        2. TPS Cover Sheet

          Isn’t that mad really. I used to work for a company that rented out a hockey rink for the office christmas parties. They do venue stuff at these, like concerts etc. off-season so it wasn’t that weird, and we had something like 3000 people scattered around town, so trying to find a place we’d all fit was a challenge. Normal catering, you got some drink coupons but it wasn’t a totally free bar. Speeches, corporate bs, a stand-up comedienne and they actually had some company guys that had started a band way back when perform… that was funkadelic… So nothing over the top really.

    2. Agent J

      I worked for a tech start-up who’s CMO was really into the brand and client relationships. I was the marketing manager in charge of “swag” and other branded items used for events. The CMO asked me to order a few hundred pairs of custom Vans shoes in the company colors in every size and half size available. I can’t remember how much it cost but it was super expensive…and our clients didn’t even like them! The CMO wound up creating a company store and selling the shoes to employees at a discount and using them as giveaways for employees and conferences.

      1. Kes

        Oh man, I thought you were going to say they gave the shoes to you (employees) as swag (which would be complicated enough with sizing – I assume that’s why I have just about every item of company swag clothing except shoes). Trying to give shoes to clients as swag seems complicated and weird. Selling the shoes to your employees also seems weird, I like getting free swag but I don’t know if I’d buy it (although technically we do have a site/catalog, but I don’t know anyone who has actually bought any).

        1. Random tech co

          I work at a tech company and have about 12 shirts with our various logos from over the years… plus hats, high end water bottles, sunglasses, backpacks, hoodies, Bluetooth speakers, mouse pads, vinyl stickers, pop sockets, like basically any typical swag you can think of, I have it or have had it. But we still have a brand store in the Silicon Valley headquarters campus that tons of people shop at. You’d be surprised – I have some reusable baggo shopping bags I bought with the logo, and I bought a rainbow logo water bottle when we started carrying pride gear and a friend of mine bought the pride converse sneakers with the logo on it.

      2. Mimi Me

        I worked as a temp for a window company. They gave all the employees (temps included!) New Balance sneakers. We got to select the color and size we wanted and a few days later they arrived. The pair I chose retails for over $100.

    3. Ali G

      At Old Job, the company founders would regularly take private jets from near HQ to our industrial sites. They would land close by, have meetings, give a tour, whatever, and then fly back. They would also jet would-be investors from the airport, etc. I get why they did it – their time is money, literally, and the alternative is a 3+ hour drive each way (with no traffic). But, once the CEO’s EA was out and she told me she left a document on her desk that I needed the CEO to sign. She said I could get it and give it to him if I needed it that day (which I did). I accidentally found an invoice from the private jet company. It was over $40k (US) for ONE TRIP. There are people at that company who don’t make $40k in a year. I was astounded.

      1. AndersonDarling

        I worked for a non-profit that would send the private plane to pick up board members for the board meetings. It was a healthcare facility and the plane was used to move emergent patients, but they would also use it (at $15,000 a pop) to shuffle board members around. It turned my stomach when I found out how expensive it was.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        This sounds like the insurance company I used to work for. I always thought it was cool the CEOs had a plane and personal drivers, lol. They are #goals for real.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          That second sentence was weird – I should have said a private plane with pilot and personal car service with drivers.

      3. Booksalot

        I used to work for a publishing company that was a subsidiary of a larger imprint in NYC, which is three hours away. The owners of my company (husband and wife) regularly hired a limo to commute to the parent company. Even if they wanted to avoid wear and tear on their personal vehicles, which is totally reasonable, you’d think a modest rental would suffice.

      4. Hope Springs

        I worked for a company that owned a plane, with the pilots on staff. They justified it due the company having various locations across the country. The company started going downhill, and the plane was one of the first casualties.

    4. 2 hours to vacation

      Not really extravagant, but something I get some joy out of. I am part of a buddy program at work where every few months I’ll be assigned to a new hire and take them out for coffee and a quick lunch a few times in their first six months. The meals themselves are cheap, usually less than $35 for the two of us, but I tip as much as I think I can get away with. For our coffee trips I usually do a 100% tip, closer to 50% for lunches.

      I don’t know if our accountant has ever noticed, or would even care considering I don’t do any travel or client meals in my role. I’m sure she has bigger fish to fry.

      1. Summer Friday

        We have a similar program. We get $75 and can use it for lunches, coffee, etc. Some people do multiple less expensive things and others do one fancy lunch. I’m in the one fancy lunch camp.

      2. DerJungerLudendorff

        I’m pretty sure fixing it would cost them more due to hours worked and lost morale.

    5. Mbarr

      I’m happy my company had a good laundry policy while travelling… Cause the hotel they booked me at in the Philippines was stupid expensive. $130 for washing something like 9 pieces of clothing.

      I needed it though:
      A) cause it was humid and I was always sweating and
      B) I got food poisoning and there was splash back.

      1. Just Elle

        I know this thread is supposed to be about extravagance and not stinginess, but…

        At my company there was a merger that required many employees to be traveling, flying city to city, for 2-3 weeks straight. A coworker was furious, because the company paid one person’s extra bag fee for all those flights, but refused her $9 reimbursement request for laundry. She literally went to a laundromat and did the laundry herself, and the company still wouldn’t pay for it. Ironically, our company doesn’t even require receipts for expenses under $25, so if she’d reported it as a ‘snack’ on her expense report it would have been paid. I

    6. no, the other Laura

      Holiday parties. Oh boy, the holiday parties. Notoriously Cheap Company got bought by Notoriously Spendthrift Company and the holiday parties went from a small group gathering at a local restaurant to a huge site-wide thing with multiple live bands, a DJ after the bands left, catered fancy hors d’oeuvres and buffet supper. However, very few of the legacy folks from Spendthrift Company were at our Cheap Company party, so we all kinda stood around being awkward geeks. Thereafter, holiday parties at local museums where they rent the whole museum for the event, holiday parties at fancy resorts that cost $300/night, holiday parties where just the cheese-and-crackers display was so artfully done that nobody wanted to touch it to actually eat the food.

      Also, the first time I went out with the Sales crew as a technical representative to take a customer out to dinner was enlightening. $200-300 bottles of wine, 4 bottles for a table of 6 people in addition to cocktails, and just about one of everything on the menu.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Ha! This also sounds like my former employer! They hire A-list musicians/singers to perform at their holiday parties and they rent out a local venue that hosts the city’s opera, symphony, and ballet. They also give away uber expensive door prizes.

      2. Exhausted Trope

        “holiday parties at local museums where they rent the whole museum for the event”
        Literally my dream company holiday party!

    7. NewBoss2016

      At OldJob, five us traveled to an awesome tourist city for a conference for Monday-Tuesday. We were having so much fun exploring the sights at night, that our boss changed our flights and extended our stay for the rest of the week (everyone wanted to do this) and took us to many expensive tours, fancy dinners, etc. for the rest of the week. Easily thousands and thousands of dollars. It was still the coolest trip I’ve ever been on.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu

        Team outing over a long weekend, whole company (20-odd people, tech start-up but owned by a larger group).
        To NYC (from Germany), all expenses paid.
        Only on the plane the CEO decided to rent a conference room at the hotel for a day, just for the optics – everybody had to give an elevator speech what they do. The whole affair lasted 30 minutes or so; then it was strictly no work.
        The following years we decided to do it in European cities (Barcelona, Lisbon, …) – less flying, more drinking.

      1. Zephy

        From where, though? A two-hour train ride or twelve-hour trans-Atlantic flight are both kind of excessive for a one-hour meeting (what even is Skype, amirite??), but one of those is truly outrageous.

        1. Former Usher

          From the midwest in the US. Best part was the meeting was held inside an industry conference that my emplyoyer would not pay for me to attend. I couldn’t get inside to attend my meeting until I was able to borrow another attendee’s conference badge.

          1. Liane

            What a mix of Spendthrift and Cheap! Pay for roundtrip flights to France (a few thousand?) but not a conference (couple hundred?) once you get there, even though that’s where you are supposed to be.

        2. Flyleaf

          I was flown to London, from the US, for a job interview. $10K for a business class seat, which was a nice surprise for me. I thought it would be a long day of interviews, but I ended up just meeting with the COO and the interview lasted a total of 20 minutes. They made me an offer, which I ultimately accepted, but to be honest the fact that they were willing to spend ten grand for a 20 minute interview did give me pause. It turned out to be a good job and my boss was great. He was big on first impressions and apparently I said enough in 20 minutes to convince him I was the right person for the job.

      2. (Former) HR Expat

        I thought mine was bad. My old company sent 12 people from all over Europe to New Jersey for 2 days of software testing…..that we had already done virtually.

      3. SoThere

        My husband flew from the midwest to Hawaii for a one hour meeting (they insisted he had to be in person) and by the time he arrived, the meeting had been cancelled!

        1. BeachMum

          Years ago I flew from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale, rented a car and got a hotel room in Boca Raton for one night. Met with my team and threatened them, in person, that they would all be fired unless they fixed their issues, and then drove back to Ft. Lauderdale and flew home that afternoon. The entire meeting lasted about two hours, but no amount of begging, threatening, etc. was working over the phone, so the big boss decided to send me to do it in person to prove we were serious.

          It was back when internet companies could pull that kind of thing…

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen

        Similarly, spouse was sent from the UK to the US to sign some paperwork that had to be done in person at a particular place by a particular date. Company simply couldn’t find him anything else to do while he was there so he had to take six flights and one brief hotel sleep for the sake of a bit of ink and a photo. Ridiculous.

    8. Overeducated

      Oh man. My employer has very clear and reasonable policies and cost limits, but just going from the early career academic context (“I have a $500 reimbursement limit for this conference with a $300 registration fee, so my granola bars are packed, and who can I split a hotel room with?”) to pretty standard employer payment FEELS extravagant. Now when I travel for work, I get my own room, I can get a $15 cab to the airport before public transit opens instead of waking my spouse up at 4:30 AM for a ride, I get paid per diem for meals…even three years in, it feels luxurious.

      1. Ace in the Hole

        High five on all this! I’m working for local government, so our spending has pretty strict limitations. But I still really enjoy that the few times per year I travel, I can get a hotel room! A whole room, for myself! And per diem for meals! When I travel on my own time I camp at free campsites or couch surf and eat cold sandwiches, so it really feels luxurious.

        Plus we get an annual allowance for purchasing work clothes and boots that is quite generous. It’s not unreasonable – about enough to purchase one pair of high quality work boots and a new wardrobe of work clothes – and in our line of work clothes can’t be expected to last long. However I’m used to buying stuff from the discount pile at the thrift store, so being able to just walk into a regular store and pick any pants I want is thrilling.

      2. Sparkly Librarian

        I hear that. The last conference I went to was $400 for registration and $325 for flights; I got $750 approved by my employer (reimbursement came months later, but that’s another issue). Because it was my dime, I stayed in an Air BnB for $35/night and bussed over to the downtown conference center. I have decided not to apply for any more conferences not on the same coast; I don’t want to pay my own money for a work expense.

    9. Fortitude Jones

      Well, the week after I started with my current company, my team traveled for a conference, and my grandboss took us out to eat almost every night to restaurants that were no less than four stars. Then he proceeded to order damn near everything on the menu for the table to share. He kept the alcohol flowing – all top shelf liquor – and he even encouraged me to take a shot of Louis XIII since he knows I love cognacs. That was all well and good, but a shot of Louis was $225! He was like, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll pay for it.”

      I did not take the shot, lol. And later on in the week, I made some offhanded comment about not wanting to see what his expense report was going to look like. He laughed and clarified that he’d been paying for all the alcohol on his own personal card and wasn’t going to expense it. I almost had a heart attack because he had to have spent a couple grand on drinks alone that week.

    10. Manic Pixie HR Girl

      In another lifetime, as a graduate intern for a lobbying firm, one of the partners used to love to go out to eat at this one particular swanky restaurant, buy expensive bottles of wine, and lots of apps for the table. In his defense, though these dinners were often with some lawmakers, he didn’t do it necessarily to sway them to his clients, but just because he was an extrovert who loved to entertain and eat good food. I rarely got to attend these dinners because they were always mid-week and I often had class in the evening, though one time in particular I recall him trying to find out who from the office had been in attendance (and he was really hoping I was on the list) because they had spent *too much* and the lawmaker was over limit for ethics filing. I think they were able to resolve it, but I always felt bad about that as he was far from the typical political lobbyist and was definitely not doing anything to be underhanded!

      (He passed away a few years ago from cancer, which was incredibly sad. He was a good guy.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Please tell me this is because they sprung for the best ice cream in town? I’m not even mad, I just want to make sure this wasn’t because they bought a company of 50,0000 Blue Bunny treats ;)

          1. SoThere

            Oh, Hon, we had to use our own money to go to Wal Mart to buy ice cream for the staff since the employer won’t! So they got the Great Value brand, but they are probably lucky they got anything. LOL

      2. Yuan Zai

        I also urge you to share the details of this. I JUST hosted an ice cream social in my office that was…uh, less than 1 percent of this cost and we have a LOT of employees. (As someone who has to plan a lot of events on a very low budget, I envy those planners and organizers who get to go big!)

      3. Just Elle

        Gold leaf covered cherries??

        In college, I did a project for a luxury car brand. We happened to visit on the day of their ice cream social, and they drove us over to it in a white-leather-interior convertible. I was so stressed out about spilling ice cream on the leather that I didn’t enjoy it much lol (also, why couldn’t they just let us finish our ice cream before driving back??).
        But I think even with a new leather seat the whole social would have cost less than $100k?

      4. ZuZu

        It definitely wasn’t 100k haha but Old Company used to regularly (2 -3 times a summer) host ice cream socials. A person from the ice cream shop would be dressed as a cow and serve our flavors. I found out after I left that job that it cost something like an extra $50 for the employee to be dressed up as a cow and I will never not find it funny that our CEO specifically paid extra for that.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Our CEO is notoriously all about being as cost effective as possible…however I know he’d totally spring for the cow costume as well. Honestly I’d use the setup as a reason to wear a cow costume myself, so I’d save the employee the suffering but then I’d have to source a cow costume…challenge accepted!

        2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope

          If that was an option, I’d never NOT pay for the employee to be dressed up as a cow. That’s pure comedic gold.

      5. PR Girl

        It was actually slightly more than that, but here’s the story.

        My nonprofit, mind you, employer in a small city was celebrating a major anniversary, and the VP of our department had the idea to host an ice cream social for the community. Not a bad idea, right?

        Well. She insisted on renting 10 ice cream trucks that had to be driven from three states away and covered in a commemorative vinyl wrap design that resulted in all kinds of rush charges from the designer. The ice cream – which was literally a selection of 5 bars – was probably the cheapest expense.

        Ultimately, the event wasn’t that overwhelmingly attended and we ended up with a ton of ice cream overage. And it didn’t move the needle for shit. But it was still hailed as some major success.

        It was a good time.

    11. DCGirl

      At my last job, the CEO insisted on having this very architectural, highly designed, floating staircase between the two floors of our suite, because a regular staircase wouldn’t do. Among other things, she had visions of standing at the bottom and addressing all the employees who would be sitting on the stairs and thought this would make for great pictures. The facilities manager told me that it cost more than his house. This is in the DC suburbs — a house in his neighborhood is at least $500,000. Because the staircase was floating and in an open area, walking down it created a tremendous racket, particularly for women in spike heels (clack, clack, clack, clack, clack). She wouldn’t hear of putting any sound-deadening material on the treads because it would ruin the architectural integrity. As a result, most people exited the suite and took the elevator instead.

        1. DCGirl

          Also so DC….

          She also insisted on having a building right off the Beltway and signage for the company on the building (which also costs $$$) so that the company name would be sign by thousands of commuters every day. My husband and I hiss in that general direction every time we drive by.

      1. Profligate Engineers

        Oh man, I read this and had flashbacks of my old company. Old firm did a 3-story floating stair, in the most expensive per square foot commercial office space in Houston…Ugly as hell but “architectural”… and trapped them in a long-term lease… right before massive salary cuts and layoffs over the next three years due to the recession. Now they have given up most of the floor space in that building, and that ridiculous stair has been partially (totally?) removed. Excellent use of money, there. Same firm paid $75,000 dollars for a front desk for the LA office that looks like cheap Frank Gehry knockoff… that the receptionist can’t even sit behind because no one can see her over it. But no profit sharing, 401k match, or raises that year because the firm is in a bad “cash position” despite record revenue. Glad to have left them behind.

        1. Profligate Engineers, Round 2

          Update: I googled the architect who designed that $75,000 desk, and he uses the following words in the description: “awkwardly-oriented”, “strangely”, “warped”, “involuted” (bonus: not even a real word!) and (my favorite) “inexhaustibility”. Even the guy who designed it thinks it’s terrible. And it is.

          1. Lindsay

            I think you are being harsh to the desk designer. It sounds like you think the primary purpose of a desk should be it’s function and you are judging it from this lens. After reading the description and looking at the images, it seems pretty clear the main purpose of this desk was the visual impact it would have on visitors to the firm.

            Feel free to judge your old firm for choosing form over function though!

        2. Funbud

          This staircase story is very “Mad Men”. Remember, they put one in so they could expand to the next floor. And then the company got bought out.

          1. DCGirl

            In the case of that company, there have been two rounds of layoffs since that staircase was installed. One in February 2018, in which I lost my job, among many others; one this summer, in which many more were laid off. Not saying the staircase was the reason, but that kind of spending on decor sure didn’t help.

          1. Shibbolet

            Wow. This is structurally amazing and not in a good way. Why would you want a reception desk to be like that? But I notice they did their due diligence and put female images. Because of course!

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House

            Is that the reception desk on the Death Star?

            “I’m sorry Mr. Skywalker, Mr. Vader’s meeting ran over, if you take a seat he’ll be with you shortly!”

    12. philosophical_conversation

      Not terribly extravagant compared to others, but my office hosted all of our sales reps for a conference/update meeting last year. We took them out to dinner. Because of the number of people, we were split between three very nice restaurants and was a competition to see which group could have the most expensive bill. The group I was with won, partially because the marketing manager hosting the event refused to buy anything but top-shelf alcohol and ended the night ordering a few bottles of Dom Perignon for the five or so of us left over at the end of the night. He ended up submitting the expense report in one of the bottles and his boss found it hysterical.

    13. Been There

      At OldJob, they would spend absolutely RIDICULOUS amounts on alcohol. They would go to tradeshows and rent out venues for the night, throw ridiculous parties with an open bar (think almost-but-mot-quite black tie events), have open houses with lots of alcohol. At the same time they would book the cheapest flights, double up employees in hotel rooms, complain about any kind of food related expense (including per diem). Frankly, I’m amazed that their nickle-and-dimeing of the employees didn’t drive more people away.

    14. Not So NewReader

      This is vague in some ways, sorry.
      Person had bars of silver under their desk. Several bars of silver. Feeling duty bound, Person reported the bars to the Boss. Boss said, “Put them back under your desk and never mention them again.” As far as I know the bars of silver were still under the desk a decade or so later when Person retired and left the company.
      Big company, well known name.

      When people at or near the bottom see this level of waste, they automatically assume it gets worse up the ladder.

      1. Anonomoose

        I…… assume they had good security going in and out? Because an actual bar of silver lying under your desk is worth enough to make almost anyone think about having a try at their own heist

        *I’d never normally think about taking from an employer, but one wealthy enough to leave actual bullion lying around would make me consider, say, if I could swap the bars with some silver coated lead bricks, and retire extravagantly wealthy

        1. Anonomoose

          Actually, hmm, maybe not…silver retails for about $600 a kilo. There’d have to be like, half a tonne under there for it to be tempting

          1. KoiFeeder

            A bar of silver is like 3kg, so that’s $1800 right there. Selling it wouldn’t be that much, sure, but $1800 isn’t chump change.

            Also, even if it was more like $6 a kilo, I’d half want it just to sleep on it like a dragon.

            1. Anonomoose

              Yeah, but I imagine it’s somewhat hard for average person to sell bullion bars, there’s like proof of ownership things, it’s pretty much what anti money laundering was invented for, etc.

              Gold, on the other hand, would be worth melting down and recasting into something less suspicious, like rings, and isn’t as tough to rework as silver.

              … I might be overthinking this

      2. C

        So…why did they have bars of silver under their desk? Was it a “there’s money in the banana stand” sort of situation? So confused.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, that was the humorous part, why was it there to begin with. Apparently they wanted the Person to see the actual material that would be used in a design. Which still really does not make sense because the silver would not be used in bar form. When the project was over, Person tried returning it. It got forgotten. Years later Person tried again, and was told not to ask and just keep it under the desk. By the time the person left the company the bars had been there for a very long time.
          The story did not make sense from start to finish and the bars of silver were nothing but a waste of money from the get-go. Then the secrecy about this whole mistake was just laughable.

    15. Adlib

      My previous job sent me to Australia for 2 weeks, put me up in an expensive new hotel because it was close to HQ, sent me via Premium Economy on Virgin, and…it was a complete waste of time for that particular project. (SUPER FUN trip though!!)

      1. MissDisplaced

        I don’t think that sounds so unreasonable if it was once.
        I was once sent to Berlin for a trade show and then to our Paris office for a week so I could meet everyone. It was a nice hotel, but not 5 star or anything. Some of the staff did this every year.

    16. SophieChotek

      Well my company is self-publishing a book about itself (the company) and I’ve heard the cost is close to $750,000.

      Then they are taking book and introducing it at prestigous international book fair (an entire continent away). I know booths at fairs can cost $100s per sqm, plus building materials/custom building the booth, bringing all the staff to staff the booth, etc.

      1. SophieChotek

        This is the same company that won’t give me a marketing budget, refuse to pay for media placements (expect it always to to be free), wants employees to share hotel rooms, etc., etc.

        1. Djuna

          Ah, hence the book? Someone had the bright idea that people should pay for the privilege of being advertised at?

      2. smoke tree

        Is that book being printed on scratch-and-sniff gold leaf? How can the production costs possibly be that high?

        1. Shad

          Run of 100k books? That’d amount to $7.50 a pop, which seems fairly in line with hardcovers, allowing room for profit margin on regular books.

    17. anonymoushiker

      at old job (a start up), we had a holiday party in a wing of a large museum in our city. It felt astonishingly luxurious considering how much they paid staff (not enough) and that we were still a startup that hadn’t figured out how to run a business with a profit. (Eventually folded)

    18. Human Sloth

      This happened at my company before my time here, but the president/CEO added his wife as an executive in the company hoping enhance the aesthetics of the building. She proceeded to hire a friend as a designer. Art work was thrown on every wall, but the wall colors were never updated nor in improvement made otherwise. There was something else about trashcans have to match everywhere, I believe, and she monitored what people displayed on desks and such. The rumor was the $$ was in the millions. Raises were frozen for a couple of years after that. That was the start of years of disgruntled employees.

    19. liquid gold shots, maybe

      i used to work at a biglaw firm in nyc, we won a trial, and at the afterparty people were taking shots of liquor that was over $200 per shot… the lead partner paid for everything!

      1. Research for days

        I’m in DC. No one spends money like big law and lobbying firms. It’s really impressive.

          1. Research for days

            Welcome! I’ve been here 12 years and will likely never leave at this point. Hope you love it as much as I do!!

    20. RandomU...

      I think the dumbest thing I saw purchased, was a flashy red bubble light (imagine a police car or fire truck type flashy light).

      There was a running joke between 2 managers about how one was always on his phone or had someone in his office when the other one would come down to talk to him. Apparently the answer to this was to purchase a large red flashy light and have an electrician install it (complete with wall switch) above the other manager’s office door. I think I heard that the total was something in the $800-1000 range. Not the biggest waste of money, I’m sure. But falls under the most stupid.

      When I left that office I think it had been turned on a total of 10 times in 4 years, all on the first day of installation.

    21. Fortitude Jones

      Oh, and two companies ago, I worked in a division where we had monthly events that were paid for by our president – we would do things like go on riverboat cruises, go to sporting events and sit in boxes/suites, go to game rooms like Dave & Busters, etc. They also gave us three gifts every year during our anniversary celebrations. This division would also do things like get customized team jerseys from our local football team with everyone’s last names on them. It’s a shame they didn’t feel the need to give out decent raises, though.

    22. Environmental Compliance

      I have a coworker that will expense a hotel room for themselves when people from our parent company visit us. In the city, of which we work (and where they lives). They also have expensed dinners with said parent company visitors (who visit often, this isn’t a rare occurrence) that have easily totaled over $700 for three people.

      This is irritating mostly because this person seems to rarely show up (physically or mentally, depending on the day) to work, needs to be babysat to get anything done, and we’ve recently gotten pointed emails from Big Bosses to stop spending so much money….but this individual continues to have these type of expenses (whereas I just fought to get a meter required for compliance updated).

    23. sparty07

      Someone I worked with took a job down in Brazil for the company and they flew their 2.5 year old triplets (with their wife) down to Brazil business class per company policy.

      Same company while I was down there flew my wife and I back to the states business class twice for funerals.

      Current company, our executive team visited NY fairly often and when they were booking their $400/night hotels shocked me a little the first time I saw it as I have never spent more than $150 in cash on a hotel in my personal travels.

    24. NGL

      My bosses took the three of us from the office, plus three clients, out for a Christmas lunch at the 4 seasons and managed to spend $1,000 a person after all was said and done. The two bosses split it between their two expense accounts, and still corporate came back and said “…Don’t do that again.”

    25. WomanOfMystery

      My boss laughingly and cheerfully strong-armed the head of investor relations to buy us appetizers one evening during a big company meeting. It was absolutely delicious and made me not afraid to use my expense account while traveling.

    26. used to be in tv

      Like my name says, I used to work in television (as a PA while I was in college). Mostly I worked on one particular show produced by Huge Shipping Company that had an almost comical budget for a television show. It’s not as extreme as some of the other examples, but our caterers used only organic food and farm-fresh eggs (one of the drivers picked them up every morning before we started!) and had a massive array of dishes, we bought out locations for a month of prep work to shoot a single scene, we had probably twice the crew of any other production in town…

      And of course there was the annual overnight trip to Other City, which was ostensibly to shoot a few scenes but which inevitably devolved into partying and absurdity (we had to leave someone behind because they were too hungover to wake up to a zillion phone calls, and the year before I was there one of the ADs got sent home for being too drunk!)

      We never worried about the money, whereas for every other show it was always “cut this, don’t buy that” etc. People working on other shows used to be astonished when we described what we’d been up to. I’m glad I’m out of the business now (it was a VERY unhealthy lifestyle), but it was certainly fun while it lasted!

    27. Kathleen_A

      The organization I work for once spent tens of thousands of dollars a speaker (a retired coach) who was of interest to maaaaaaybe 1/4-1/3 of the intended audience. Surely we could have done better for $20,000-$30,000?

      1. Rat Racer

        My previous employer once hired an actor who was famous for being part of the Brat Pack in the 80’s to give they keynote to the national sales team. This was in 2016 and for a health insurance company. Um…why?

        1. Kathleen_A

          Yes, *exactly*. (Not the Brat Pack part, but the utter futility and foolishness part.)

          In our case, the answer was that our top guy really, really, really admired this coach. Really, really, really. And so he convinced himself and a few fellow enthusiasts that this guy, who has zero involvement in our industry, could nonetheless provide valuable Life Lessons to our membership. I still don’t get why. And the guy wasn’t even a particularly good speaker either, BTW.

    28. No Thanks

      It happened to my husband, not me, but I’m still stunned by this, years later. He worked at a biotech startup and one year they decided the “holiday party” was going to be a “surf and turf” dinner at a fancy restaurant on a Friday night. It was the kind of thing that normally is organized for executives. We’d never heard of regular employees being invited to these things.

      It gets better – employees and their spouses were invited and each (non-executive) person had to pay $150 per person to attend (drinks not included). The company of course was footing the bill for the executives. The regular employees were all trying to figure out how to afford the fee. My husband declined and suddenly found himself subjected to intense pressure to at least attend himself. I don’t know if they were short on funds or the employees were subsidizing the executives or what. Eventually he told them we’re Jewish and they finally backed off.

      1. Kathleen_A

        Merry Christmas! And BTW, in the spirit of the season, you owe us $150, or $300 if you want your spouse to joint in the festivities!


      2. BeachMum

        My husband owns his company. Every year we invite all of the employees and their significant other to a dinner party, usually at The Palm. Surf and turf is always one of the dinner options. We also have an open bar. All in, the party costs about $15k for about 30 people, but I’m pretty sure most of the employees have fun and for some, the treat of lobster is really nice.

        There’s also no pressure to attend, so we’ve never had everyone at the party and that’s just fine. I plan the party and try to ensure that there’s enough for everyone to eat (special menus, etc.) and that the one alcoholic gets served watered-down drinks.

    29. Everdene

      My FIL works in sales for the oil and gas industry. He regularly takes clients to massive, expessive gigs (ie Paul McCartney) sports games (national level) and fancy restaurants. To my third sector self my boss saying to fly into the nearest airport, not the cheapest, feels extravagant!

    30. Anonymous spending

      My company has always been generous with travel expenses including food and alcohol (though we don’t go crazy). A former editor, with a taste for fine wine once ordered a $600 bottle of wine at dinner (I think they had clients with them??). We still call it getting “hislastnamed”. He’s been gone from here for several years.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet

        In my misguided youth I used to work at a 5* hotel that had been bought and downgraded to 4* but still had all the old staff and works… the maitre’d was pissed off there was some $1000 bottle in his budget as it was the end of the recession and nobody was going to buy it and that and a couple more bottles were taking up space from the stuff that actually sold in the expensive-ish categories. So at one year-end inventory he went ”oops I dropped it” and went and opened it and poured everyone a dram… dunno was it corked but it wasn’t anything I’d paid a tenner for…

    31. Hels

      I was based in one of the countries I was responsible for and worked remotely.
      My former manager loved fancy restaurants so every time he visited he insisted we go to a very good restaurant. He never caref about the price and used his company card.
      The last week I was working there quite a few colleagues came for business meetings or to be part of the handover process. For my goodbye dinner I could choose a restaurant. I chose of course a Michelin star restaurant that I really wanted to try. We were 7-8 people. He loved the idea.
      (In this region fancy restaurants are a lot cheaper than in, let’s say, France or the UK but this was still a crazy amount for a dinner.)
      (Then again, this company has paid for 4G internet on the company phone in a 3rd world country to watch porn so…)

    32. Briefly anonymous

      Academia doesn’t really lend itself to extravagance – or at least, not where faculty and ordinary staff can see it, I suppose. Top administrators seem to have wider scope, but most of my university’s eye-roll-inducing spending falls into two categories: hiring expensive external consultants for everything (rather than, say, asking the wide range of experts you already employ as faculty…) and constantly improving the already luxurious athletic facilities. Faculty offices are drywall and cinderblock; assistant coaches get paneling and fancy tech. Same with salaries – the newest assistant sports ball coach makes over 50% more than I do, and I’m a tenured professor. This is always blamed on “what the donors want,” but it does make institutional priorities quite clear.

      1. cactus lady

        Omg, once a department chair bought a $50k table for his office, but we weren’t allowed to order office supplies for our new hire because “there isn’t any money.”

      2. Research for days

        I’m from the south and the money spent at SEC schools for their football programs is insane. Did you see a recent article on the new locker rooms for LSU football players? They’re insanely nice.

      3. JamesTiptree

        I’m also in academia, and our old president had a mild scandal after spending $8,000 on chocolates for his office. Meanwhile, it took me about two months of arguing to be reimbursed $40 for taking a student club to an art museum on an approved trip….

    33. Contiguous US dweller

      I went on a 4-day trip to Alaska for one meeting. Then the meeting got canceled and instead I did a ton of touristy things with my per diem.
      And rode a dogsled.

      And then I went back because the meeting got canceled. It took 30 minutes and then it was tourist time in Alaska for me again!

    34. SuperanonCA

      No crazy stories as I don’t want to expose myself but I’ll just say my employer spends a lot on eating out. I love it because I love any employer that gives me free food and keeps me well fed but I’ve seen some crazy dinner bills doing expense reports.

    35. Bee's Knees

      I’m going this afternoon to pick up the 40 packs of bacon I ordered to feed our people that have to work this weekend. I asked our controller if I could buy a fridge to put stuff like that in, and she said sure. Coming from the newspaper, where I had to justify printer ink, being given a credit card with a huge limit and told to take care of our people (within reason) still feels crazy.

      1. Adminx2

        This is a strange story!! Why not just pay a breakfast caterer to bring whatever you need that morning?

        1. TechWorker

          If we’re talking extravagance not that strange! In an office with a kitchen cooking for small numbers of people is going to be way cheaper than paying caterers…

    36. Hi, I'm Eric.

      Dinner for 6 at a Manhattan restaurant came to a wee bit over $48,000. The majority was 7 bottles of wine at $5K per bottle. For the rest of the meal, it started with appetizers at $250 each. This was considered excessive. Terminations ensued.

      1. Robbenmel

        I understand that wine can be pricey, but I really, really want to know what kind of an appetizer costs $250. Please?

        1. Research for days

          The huge raw bar platters can easily cost that much (crab, lobster, caviar, etc.) We have a few places in DC where you could drop at least that much on raw bar items and still be really hungry.

    37. Liz

      The higher ups in my company have no problem spending when it comes to their travel etc., as well as “sucking up” to our BOD. We are an odd entity, a not for profit, but a member service org. we have a BOD who we suck up to, who in turn, grant us some pretty significant perks. There are BOD meetings throughout the year, and esp during colder months, they’re held in warm places, 5 star resorts etc. And each year at Christmas the BOD gets a fancy, pricy gift. Employees get zippo. Not even a party anymore.

      I think the worst was when we had our 25th anniversary. Our president at the time was well, no well liked. He used to have these “town hall” meetings in our lobby, and as he was kind of short, would stand on a platform to address us “minions”

      So for the 25th they brought in to a fancy schmancy 5 start resort, ALL past BOD members, their SOs etc. and wined and dined and whatnot them for several days. The employees? We got our president, in the lobby, giving a pep talk, and the in our VERY small cafeteria, they had platters of cookies and brownies. They were too cheap to even spring for a couple of sheet cakes from Costco!!! The contrast between what the BOD who really does very little and the employees who do it all was huge!

    38. Rat Racer

      Oh! I have a GREAT one from back in the 90s. Was working for a private healthcare research company. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, they threw a HUGE gala – like fancier than the fanciest wedding I’d ever been to, and for over 500 people. As you walked into the reception area they hired MODELS to escort you, as a string quartet played in the hallway. Since my +1 was my roommate, we were both escorted into the gala by very handsome men that we did not know. So weird…

    39. MountRushmore

      I work in non-profits and the rule here (I don’t live in the US) is you spend your funding or it gets returned to the donor which looks bad because a) they think you can’t budget properly and b) they assume you can cut costs year on year and reduce your funding for the subsequent cycle. So come year end, depending on which non profit I’ve worked at, we’ve all gotten leather office chairs, MacBooks, new iPhone 8s etc. Because these get recorded as asset spend they’re never questioned by donors, but if one of us flew first class we’d be audited until the end of time. Crazy.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet

        Oh, that happens in corporate world too. End-of-year is mad budget spend so you can get the same finding the next year. Otherwise the money goes back and you get that much less for your budget. So projects always get 2-3 months limbo if they actually can continue, and then its the first quarter and you get shit because you have no profit… because corporate is sitting on the budget monies. Which means as a contractor you get suddenly cheesesliced off a project and then when you’re cheesed off eating beans in candlelight they call you back as they now have the money.

    40. AdAgencyChick

      I once had a client who claimed to have a fancy wine cellar at home, with lots of high three- and low four-figure bottles. He said that because if he were at home, he’d be drinking expensive wine, that he was entitled to order super-pricey bottles on work trips. He would do it and make the agency foot the bill for the dinner. The agency always bills the client’s employer back for the meals, but it’s really hard to justify a $1500 bottle of wine.

      I won’t say what type of advertising we do, but pretend he was employed by a nonprofit children’s charity. It’s really not a good look to do that.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        Ten dollars says he had one $100 bottle of wine under the bed and that was it.

    41. Lumen

      How about companies where the CEO makes 80 times what average employees make and over 125 times what lowest-paid employees make? I’m gonna go ahead and call that absurd extravagance.

      1. Ursula

        The average in 2018 for CEOs of large companies is 287 times what their average employee made. The company with the highest ratio made 3,566 times what their average employee did.

        I only say this as our regular reminder of how messed up the US’s economy is.

    42. Autumnheart

      The company has tightened the purse strings on stuff like this in the last several years, but when I was relatively new, there was an annual company party where they flew in the regional managers to corporate, and then had an all-day picnic in the parking lot. This would be topped off in the early evening by a concert. The act that year was Lenny Kravitz. In our parking lot. The prior year, it was Counting Crows. (I wasn’t as excited about that because I’ve reached my lifetime maximum for “Doooowwwnnn heeeeerre”.)

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        Wow. How much do you think it costs to get Lenny Kravitz to play a private concert in a parking lot? (I’m picturing the lot of like, a Dunder Mifflin-esque bland office park, which makes it funnier in my mind).

        1. Autumnheart

          I had to google “Dunder Mifflin exterior” to get the visual, and while our office complex is a little nicer than that, yes, that’s exactly the kind of parking lot it was. (I mean, they put up a real stage and all. They didn’t make Lenny play right on the asphalt.) Plus, there are about 4000 people working here, which makes it a little more “moderate sized venue” as opposed to “intimate club performance”.

    43. Birch

      As a grad student, my department was starting up a collaboration with a uni in another country. I had my own collaboration project with them at the same time, so I got lumped in on a trip with some Important People and ended up at a party at the Embassy. The department put us up in a ritzy hotel in the business district. I had my OWN ROOM with a futuristic toilet that played music, had a bidet and blew warm air, a stone-effect tile bathroom with a huge tub, a gigantic memory foam bed, a CHAISE LOUNGE and a bowl of fresh fruit that got replenished daily, along with the obligatory slippers and super fluffy bath robe and view over the city. I felt like a queen!

      1. Manders

        Hah, that’s amazing!

        When my husband was a grad student, he ended up on a research trip funded by the federal government that calculated its daily food budget based on how much it would take to wine and dine diplomats. He ate very, very well on that trip.

        1. Gumby

          They certainly were not using the GSA per diem rates because the official rates for where I live don’t even cover a Denny’s breakfast + drink + tip. And by drink I mean soda. (I used to order off of the $4 / $6 / $8 menu but that was not in evidence on my last visit.)

          Clarification: the amount of the per diem meant to cover breakfast would not cover a breakfast meal at Denny’s. The full-day’s per diem would have.

    44. Nope, not today

      I worked for a place that was maybe 80 employees, but we were merging with a small company with only two employees in the US. I took on most of their accounting and integrated them into our finances, so worked closely with them. First Christmas the merger wasn’t final, so they decided to host their own Christmas party, and invited me. So just the three of us plus our spouses. Fancy steakhouse, loads of alcohol – one dinner was nearly $3,000. I was so glad I was the one to process that expense report, I’d been super curious what it had cost in total lol

    45. Manders

      I worked for a law firm that was pretty bad about nickle and diming employees, with a very low pay scale and a terrible performance review system, but they went all out on the company Christmas party. There was a white elephant gift exchange and some of the prizes the company contributed included wide-screen TVs, cruises, and other really big ticket items. I actually still have the TV I won from them, along with some other high end items like NFL swag I could never have afforded on my salary.

      I only worked there through two holiday seasons, but there definitely was an attitude that people were hanging on through the Christmas party and planning to aggressively job search in the new year.

    46. MissDisplaced

      A very large meeting and retreat for sales and marketing at a posh hotel for a week.
      –This when share price was falling.

      At a startup:
      Almost immediately upon gaining some investor funding, the owner and his girlfriend (who also worked there) bought themselves brand new BMW’s.

      From other friends:
      The law firm that went under, but had 1M+ in beautiful paintings and sculptures because the owner was an art fanatic.

    47. Orion

      No super extravagant, but I had a boss who was going through personal bankruptcy. I didn’t understand how until I started traveling with them and saw how absolutely awful they were with money. Screwing over client relations by blowing through their guidelines just wasn’t a concern — they’d go to the bar and try to charge a tab of 5 or 10 hard drinks (I’m pretty sure they were an alcoholic) to their per diem, or bill a luxury hotel room that they’d gotten (spouse would stay in it too, and they’d fly in the weekend before) instead of staying at the hotel where everyone else was staying. It wasn’t even subtle. On top of that they’d try to get everything charged to the corporate credit card so it’d be harder to get back the money from them when it inevitably wasn’t covered by the client’s budget. I felt bad, but since I was the one who had to help consolidate the project budgets, book the luxury hotel room, get dragged into the bar and pressured into drinking (though the nice thing about drunk people is that they have a harder time recognizing when you’re not drinking), and deal with the temper tantrums… also super pissed. Company never punished them, just tried to find more ways to hide the card. Never been more happy to leave a company.

    48. Damn it, Hardison!

      I worked in a small academic library that had a copy machine used by faculty, staff and students. Every year the director would take the copy machine money and take the staff out to a swanky lunch. One year it was dinner, complete with significant others, at a very highly regarded restaurant. It was a small staff so not that extravagant, but since we otherwise were very much a shoestring operation, it was a really nice treat.

    49. PNWRN

      Not that crazy in comparison to others but my old job was a medical non-profit; as employees we consistently heard how we needed to tighten the belt, raised were ~1%, etc. Pretty normal, but they rented out a huge (expensive) event center to roll out new budget changes to middle managers & above- to keep costs down they only serves peanuts & water, but hired someone to come in and in real time “illustrate the companies values” which were then promptly printed into posters that hung EVERYWHERE. It was so tone deaf. And meanwhile the CEO was still receiving multimillion dollar bonuses and a sports park was purchased. People started to realize there was money, just not for us plebs

    50. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Um, I got a new trowel once. Definitely unusual in this line of work.

      1. Briefly anonymous

        Ooh, look at you and your fancy trowel! :-) My college decided to save money by making faculty purchase our own toner cartridges for our (university-supplied) office printers. If we were issued trowels, they’d probably expect us to repoint the brickwork.

    51. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I worked at a nonprofit that had a very tight budget, and my boss kept using that as an excuse to veto basic operating expense requests. They were basic things we were legally required to have to keep our facility open and compliant with local laws: she didn’t approve the request, we were in violation. So it was a big deal that she was saying no.

      Anyway, we had two staff offices that had floor to ceiling windows looking out over a sunny atrium, and she had one of them. She developed this bizarre fixation on people “looking into her office”, and hired a glass company to come frost the lower windows in both offices. Then, it wasn’t frosted dark enough to suit her, so she had them come back and apply a second layer of frost film.

      In order to put apply the frost film, they had to move all the furniture. You couldn’t actually see in the bottom windows, because *there was furniture up against it.* And on top of that, you can buy frosty Contact paper in a home supply store for maybe $20? But no, she had to pay the glass company. Twice.

    52. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      During OldCompany’s Halcyon Days, our supervisor would look for any excuse to take us out to lunch. A birthday, a work anniversary, a person came to work on time the whole week (this one is an exaggeration, but not by much). And he would take us to world class restaurants. Ahhh, those were the days. LOL

    53. Decima Dewey

      A museum my mother worked at had custom typewriter ribbons made in brown. The stationery they used had no letterhead, but was supposed to have the museum’s logo as the watermark on the paper. Someone held a sheet up to the light. Three guesses what wasn’t on the sheet of paper.

      Eventually someone sane took over purchasing and the brown typewriter ribbons were replaced by standard black ones, and an actual letterhead was designed. A visible one, that is.

    54. irene adler

      This was years ago:
      The company my Dad worked for rented Disneyland for an evening for all the employees to attend.

      All of Disneyland.

      There were little to no lines to wait in.

      We ran from ride to ride all evening. In fact, we did the Pirates of the Caribbean four or five times, just exiting and going right back on. No wait whatsoever.

      Never experienced anything else as fun as that evening.

    55. SighWeSpendSoMuchMoney

      Customer event held on an aircraft carrier in a very expensive city with a very famous band (think Rotating Rocks). Was kind of a big deal.

      1. JeanB in NC

        I was going to comment that Rotating Rocks couldn’t be that famous because I’ve never heard of them, but then I realized what you meant, and wow!

    56. Antilles

      My last company would have company-wide conferences for everybody in the same division – the Chocolate Teapot Designers had one, the Teapot Repair Division another, etc. Every one of the 30-ish branches flew out half the staff, which included not just execs but plenty of junior staff. So when I went as a ten-month employee, I was surprised when I went out to seafood dinner the first night with a couple senior people and a few others and I glimpsed the bill into the four digits for our 6-person group. I later asked my boss about it and he said the budget was about $250,000. For an internal conference. For *each* of the divisions. Annually.
      Mind you, this was in 2010 in the heart of the Great Recession. I still haven’t decided about whether this was mere “extravagance” or straight up “dumb use of company funds”, but the company still exists so I guess they’re doing something right.

    57. emmelemm

      Late to the party, but this is a doozy – FROM THE 90s!

      Way back in the day, I was an administrative assistant at Lehman Brothers in NYC – you know, company that imploded in on itself eventually? My boss, who was a decent big-wig but not the biggest wig, and another mid-wig dude he was buddies with, would do this thing where they’d schedule a meeting in London and then a meeting in NYC with a timeframe such that the only *possible* way that they could make both meetings was to take the Concorde. Because they liked taking the Concorde! It was fun! And fast! And really, REALLY expensive.

      (This was before video conferencing and all that, so people actually flew to meetings like, weekly.)

      Eventually, before I left, word from on high told them to cut it out, because it was way too expensive even for Lehman Brothers!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen

        My favourite story about Concorde (as told to me by someone in the industry) is that after a year or two BA were reviewing their pricing, and asked those people flying Concorde what they’d paid for their flights and what they would consider paying. Turns out they were all so senior they didn’t have anything to do with travel bookings, didn’t have the first clue what it cost, and guessed vastly higher than the real prices.

        So BA changed their pricing to meet customer expectations …

    58. Anecdata

      I worked in international development, and we would take taxis to remote project sites, rather than have company cars available. This was both cheaper overall, and in NGO-world particularly it can be /really hard/ to get funding you’re allowed to spend on vehicles, but taxis were often very old, ill-maintained, 2-wheel drive – and we often broke down, got stuck in mud, etc.

      One day, the axle on the taxi I was in cracked. We skidded to a halt in the middle of the road, blocked off the road as much as possible (unfortunately we were in a pretty dangerously fast section of road), called for help, and waited in 100deg+ heat for a couple hours for help dragging the car off to the side of the road to come.

      I took some pictures – of our makeshift flares, of the back of the car sitting on the asphalt still smoking, of our attempts to lever up the back of the car to get it into the ditch…and sent them to the team chat looking just for commiseration. Our fundraising director was totally horrified, and quickly asked everyone for their best stuck-because-of-bad-transit photos, pulled them out when funding organizations started fussing about overhead, and within a few months we had funding for a new, mechanically sound, 4WD (miracle of miracles!)


    59. noahwynn

      A former company rented out Six Flags for 8 hours in the afternoon/evening for 80 employees. It was a blast to be able to go on every ride with zero waiting, but I cannot imagine how much money they spent on that event.

    60. Inefficient Cat Herder


      Fed here.

      They think they are being generous supplying toilet paper (the lowest-grade, sandpaper like stuff) in the bathrooms.

      Pens with ink are apparently too extravagant, so we all just buy our own.

    61. Not Me

      I dated a man who was the head of capital markets at a boutique firm. I would routinely join him on client dinners. One dinner I got a look at the check, it was $1600 for 4 of us. These were weekly events. I can’t imagine how much the firm would spend in a year simply on food and drinks for clients (and me).

    62. Alas alack

      A Seattle tech startup I worked for, flew the entire Sales department to Hawaii for a week, as a “team reward”.

      Except they hadn’t sold a damn thing since the company started! And I had even sent Sales two SOLID leads who were eager to buy our tech!

      Guess how many months later the layoffs happened? Yeah. 1. (Three months later, the company folded) I still hate them all for that. And the management that ok’d the trip.

      1. emmelemm

        I hope this was during the first dot-com boom, and not recently. But lessons are never learned, are they?

        1. Alas alack

          Oh yes, back in the heady still-shiny-new dot com era. I still see coworkers from there, and it takes very little to get us going about that place! LOL

    63. Urdnot Bakara

      My boss used to have a massage chair in her office. Like, one of those really fancy ones that I happen to know cost at least $7K because they sometimes exhibit at our events. She let everyone use it. To be fair, I have no idea if the company paid for it or if she personally bought it, but still. Imagine dropping that much money on a chair.

      1. Exhausted Trope

        Uh huh. My oldboss had two of them in the dining room adjacent to his office. Yes, TWO. And didn’t allow anyone to use them besides him and his wife. I only found out about them when we had a team breakfast and got to use the kitchen attached to the dining room because our break room had only microwaves.

    64. Not In NYC Any More

      Back in the early 90s, my husband was head of the Americas for a telecommunications company trying to break into the US market. He was spending millions of dollars on TV advertising and product placement in movies. Around the holidays, we were inundated with all kinds of swag from TV networks, ad agencies and Hollywood studios that wanted his business. Most of it was in the realm of tickets and lodging at major sporting events or foodstuffs, but one year, a trailer truck pulled up to the house and delivered a high-end, very expensive speed boat. My husband had been talking to the the sales rep from the studio about wanting to buy a boat before summer, and the sales rep decided to send him one. He, of course, had to refuse it, but I always wondered what this sales rep’s gift budget was.

    65. PretzelGirl

      I worked at a place that was notorious for under paying its employees. I was hired at the tail end of the recession and was coming off a lay off. So I was happy to have a job.

      They developed an “advisory council” where basically people would give their grievances to one person in the their dept and the company would “pretend” to listen to the idea. The only thing that came of this was that the CEO thought it would be fun if each department took a month and developed into a “theme”. The entire dept was to plan and host events once a week for employees (for a month and then move on to the next). He then got the bright idea to decorate the front door, with a custom cling each month featuring that departments employees (pictures that everyone else saw on their way in) and their theme. This cost $1000 each month. Someone brought up that he could save the $1000 and give everyone a raise instead, but he refused.

      To be fair most of the events involved some sort of food. I am always down for free food. But it got to be a little much after a while. People starting running out of ideas, really fast. Especially when everyone didn’t want to decorate their cubs for 10th time that year.

    66. woahnelly

      Not exactly “extravagant” per se. But at annual sales conference (where spouses were invited), my Dad got in a bad accident. My worked for the company and my Dad was there as a guest. My Dad was riding his bike, didn’t see train tracks, and flew off his bike. He fractured his pelvis and collar bone. He was very lucky (wear your helmets friends!!). He had to have several surgeries and couldn’t fly home for about 10 days. My mom’s company ended up footing the bill for them to stay in the hotel, while my Dad recovered. They even reimbursed meals. Pretty cool of them!!

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        That is really nice of them!

        My MIL’s company was really helpful when their house flooded (in a major storm that got national attention). They found a local charity and gave money to them designated to help with their repairs and completely paid for new landscaping for their yard… re-sodding, new bushes/plants, fencing for the yard, the works.

        It was probably expensive, but it shows how they really try to take care of their employees.

    67. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope

      This wasn’t super expensive, but it was dumb.

      Our sales team had me order a customized football, with our logo, our broker’s logo and the potential client’s logo all printed on it, with the plan of “passing the ball around” during their meetings together.

      The client thought it was SUPER awkward, and we didn’t end up getting the business, so now there’s a $150 customized football floating around the office somewhere.

    68. Tenebrae

      Worked at a dinosaur museum. My boss paid for everyone’s Jurassic Park tickets. :)

      1. JeanB in NC

        And then you all got together after the movie to talk about how many mistakes were made, right? (Like a bunch of geology students did where I used to work with The Core.)

        1. Tenebrae

          Honeslty, I mostly remember the person in charge of the collection complimenting the mosasaur’s teeth. By everyone, I mean *everyone,* including all the support staff who didn’t know much about dinosaurs (awesome boss. Learned a ton from him).

      1. KayEss

        Ooh, ooh! I was hired at a higher ed institution that was in the midst of a logo redesign… don’t know what it cost, but it was with a very fancy agency and underwent massive revisions, so I feel safe in assuming it was beaucoup $$$. Meanwhile, my boss in the marketing department couldn’t authorize a $15 keyboard and mouse wrist rest to alleviate my carpal tunnel syndrome because the budget was so tight–I waited several weeks in increasing pain before it came out that we couldn’t order one and she was too embarrassed to admit it, and then I bought my own.

        Naturally, the university administration circled around on logo designs for so long they wound up all the way back at a logo almost identical to the original one. We apologized profusely and with great embarrassment to our contacts at the agency for the hassle of dealing with our leadership and the lukewarm result, but I assume they just laughed all the way to the bank… as well they should have, and I don’t begrudge them that. Six months later the entire marketing department was laid off.

        1. Anonomoose

          This is why my response to university rebranding drives is to always try to be the last department to apply the style guide to our sites. It’s amazing how long you can put something off with person specific out of office replies, requests for assistance, clarification, crucial feature redevelopment to support things (read, fixing the bug I’ve always hated), and, as a last resort, requests for site performance testing metrics.

          By the time you’re doing it, a new design team has been brought in, declared the previous team to be idiots, and you don’t have to fix it until they’ve finished. (This is why all our web tools, unlike other departments, a) look like they were designed five years ago, and b) work

    69. Donkey Hotey

      It’s nowhere near the most extravagant, but I will always remember traveling to NYC with Boss dude.
      We both flew from (West Coast City) to JFK (different flights, which arrived approximately an hour from each other.)
      Boss dude took a towncar to Manhattan ($70). I channeled Duke Ellington and took the A train ($7).
      We both arrived at the hotel at the same time.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Your boss probably didn’t know the public transit system in the city well enough to feel comfortable going by train.

    70. Bea W.

      Former employer put live orchids in the bathrooms where there were no windows or natural light. The orchids would die and get replaced. There were at least 58 bathrooms in my building alone. Yet management took away all the plates, utensils, and napkins from the 12 kitchens cuz too much money.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet

        Different accounting ledger. Besides, a client (in a secure building with no access) just might go to visit a bathroom. Only the expense units abuse the kitchens.

    71. restingbutchface

      Private dancers from strippers get really expensive. Although I did get an AMAZING lasagna recipe from a very sweet woman called Diamond.

      1. restingbutchface

        … and I should probably explain this was some years ago and my boss tried to exclude me from the “boys outing” with the client. Nope, I’m coming, I’m tipping heavily and yes, you will be buying private dances for me so the women can take a break, sit down and talk to someone who isn’t going to paw at them.

        Funnily enough, those boys trips stopped fairly quickly.

          1. restingbutchface

            Ha, thank you, I certainly wasn’t “the boys” favourite person for a while but they were just jealous because Diamond liked me best :)

    72. NYCBanker

      My company has an expense policy around private jets which I think is cool. Really hoping to do that one time.

    73. M

      Worked for a seriously-cash-strapped small charity. They were rolling grant funds from the next year forward to pay for the last year’s expenses, holding up invoices until grants came due, and generally barely making ends meet. Despite that, each and every single year, they paid for all ~dozen office staff to fly to a peak-season holiday destination of the founder’s choice for a week-long company retreat, at which little to nothing of any consequence was done – but a *lot* of money was spent on fancy team dinners and booze.

      Sadly, the founder was a nightmare, so while it was an insane extravagance, it was also wildly unenjoyable.

    74. Cat Meowmy Admin

      I worked as an Admin for a prestigious construction company (general contracting, heavy construction) here in the NYC metro area. The home office was further upstate. Whenever the CEO visited our numerous construction sites, he traveled in the company-owned helicopter! Emblazoned with company logo and everything. Pretty cool! It was actually a reasonable expense considering he could check up on multiple project sites in a day.
      Every summer, he hosted a huge party for employees at his home ‘upstate’, where he also had a ranch on his property- and he raised *miniature horses*. (His own money though) These beautiful, happy mini horses were lovingly cared for by the CEO himself (and staff while he worked). Talk about a hobby!

    75. KayEss

      I worked at a small company where the owner was an insecure, desperate narcissist who threw weird, self-serving gifts at all the employees in attempts to make us BFFs. Example: she thought it would be good team-building(???) to buy all of us high-quality (i.e. expensive) bright red rubber rain boots. YEAH, I don’t know. When it turned out the boots were literally not made in a size that fit my freakish feet, she instead gave me a gift certificate to an extended-sizes shoe retailer for the equivalent. Each of those pairs of boots cost around $100, as I recall. Literally no one wore them a single time after the group photo on the day they arrived. (I, however, used my gift certificate to purchase a pair of practical black ankle boots that fit great and I wore for years after. So I definitely came out ahead in that scenario.)

      She was also a total disaster around actual business expenses. While I was there, the company logo got redone and she got it into her head that it would be TOTALLY AWESOME to have a wood-burning stamp in the shape of the new logo. Why? I have no idea. But I spent a bunch of time researching and pricing out options for this incredibly stupid piece of equipment, and actually managed to find a way to get one for a reasonable price from overseas, which she proceeded to buy. Meanwhile, we also bought a bunch of other stuff with the new company logo on it while preparing to launch the rebranding. Naturally, once all of this stuff had been received and we were ready to release it out into the world, it abruptly came out that she had not gotten around to actually registering the logo’s trademark… so all the stuff with the new logo, which included a ®, could not yet be used. SO YEAH.

      Rumor had it she also once bought a grand piano for her house with business funds. I’m willing to believe it–she was definitely that much of a hot mess. Anyway, I eventually got laid off because finances were tight and there weren’t enough billable hours to go around, which was not a surprise as I had been filling my time doing things like researching custom wood-burning stamps.

        1. KayEss

          There were definitely jokes to that effect, at the time. The place was a stew of toxic gallows humor and backstabbing.

          I didn’t mention in the initial reply because it wasn’t really an egregious expense, but another thing this woman did at one point was order us all custom faux sports jerseys with the company logo and our names on them. She later got actually angry that some of us kept them in our desks to pull on as necessary, rather than wearing them “around town” in our private lives. Because we should love her and her company that much, that wearing the logo was like a bonus. (And free advertising for her.)

    76. it's all good

      I once worked for a large company where the President had to sign off on EVERY PO, even if it was for $10. Because of this, something was not fixed (maybe $500) and an employee was injured. She went out on Worker’s Comp and before she left she said she was going to sue the company. YET because Halloween was his favorite holiday he catered a fancy lunch for 250 employees. No expense spared. And went out for other holidays too, like Easter Baskets with Beanie Bears for all. Priorities were messed up.

    77. Goldendoodle

      My husband’s Very Large Company flew everyone in his practice group (about 35 people) to Miami for a “team building” seminar. Not local for anyone, they’re all spread out throughout the US. The conference room the company booked for this event was too small, so many people, including my husband, had to skype in from an overflow room.

    78. TPS Cover Sheet

      Theres a good documentary called ”Riot On” you can find on youtube of a company in the 2000’s ”IT Bubble” in Finland about Riot-E Ltd. Nice job perks, while it lasted.

    79. Lexi Kate

      At my husbands last company they were very generous to spouses. Any company trip as a spouse I was allowed air fare and a trip stipend in cash to spend. They also paid for 2 company cars for employees with legal spouses, with the caveat that we were getting one Sporty car and one SUV and when the situation called for it my husband(the employee) would get to drive in the one needed. The thing was my husband worked from home 600 miles from the closest office. As well as company policy was that travel over 100 miles or 2 hours needed to be by air, so there was no way we were ever going to use the car(s) for company use.

    80. Construction Safety

      Ha, remembered this over the weekend.

      Circa 2014, CEO of a major Germany-based conglomerate was retiring. As a part of the hand over, old CEO & new CEO took a worldwide junket to all their facilities. We were building a new plant next to an older plant in Texas. There was about 6 months notice of the impending visit so that all the facilities could spruce everything up. The plant next to us spent a rumored $750,000 on tune up & much needed clean up. As an active construction site, we put fresh gravel down on the ring road (a little bigger than a football field).

      Big day arrives, two helos descend & land on the field next to the parking lot. VIP’s climb onto 2 waiting mini buses, make one lap around our ring road and one lap through the existing, gussied up plant, back to the helos & are gone.

      Total elapsed time: ~45 minutes.

  2. ThatGirl

    Any other creative copywriters out there? What do you use for inspiration? any recommended blogs, for instance?

    1. Rachel

      Do you get Ann Handley’s blog? She’s really great! I also go to the library and get one book from every genre and read as much as I can about once a month; inspiration comes from surprising places!

      Good luck and have a great weekend!

      1. ThatGirl

        I hadn’t heard of her, thanks!

        I read a lot in general but I want to find a few new sources of marketing inspiration, basically.

    2. Youth

      I read articles by Joel Golby and Oobah Butler on VICE UK to remind myself that I can write interestingly about mundane things.

    3. Donkey Hotey

      Sorry, no links to provide. My main form of inspiration is the crappy stuff I encounter IRL. I have friends who send me terrible copy-writing, knowing that I will rage-edit (and if it’s particularly bad, send editor’s notes to the businesses’ marketing departments.)

  3. Bee's Knees

    Whew. Two doozies for you today. The Hellmouth has moved, I think.

    Our QA Manager, Speedy, is a hurricane. If I thought switching him to decaf would help, I would. He’s been having some health issues, and is a chronic oversharer. They don’t know exactly what’s wrong with him, and they’re running all sorts of tests. His office is right across from mine, and he often comes in to “check in” and tell me all about what’s going on. I don’t mind because frankly, I often don’t listen, and am responding to emails while repeating “hmm” and “wow” at regular intervals. So he tells me they know it isn’t TB, because they had him and his wife tested. (!) Then I zoned out, answered some emails, etc.

    Well. Friends, if you’re ever in need of a couple of words that will make someone pay attention REAL FAST, I’ve got the combo for you. CDC watchlist. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you hear someone start talking about a CDC watchlist, and how they might be put on it,(!!!) you are focused. He is not, apparently, currently on the CDC’s most wanted, but I’m still planning on putting him in a bubble. And is it rude to just go ahead and spray lysol directly into someone’s mouth?

    We had a cookout this week, and to do that, we fed all three shifts. One at 3 a.m., one at noon, and the last at 7 p.m. I came in to work at 2 a.m., after working a full day on Tuesday, and stayed straight through. So I was pretty tired by the time the afternoon rolled around. We’re having trouble with one of our departments, and the new spout maker they’re installing, so one of the VPs is freaking out and suggesting things that on the surface seem helpful, but are actually very impractical and unusable for various safety reasons. Anyway, he emails in a panic, and despite the fact that he name checked me twice in the email, he did not include me on it. I’m in charge of snacks. I was also, in the email, offered an intern to help with snack runs. I talked some big talk about how I could go to the store by myself, and if I couldn’t, what was I doing with this job. I mentioned it to the intern’s manager, and he said I couldn’t have one of his interns. I repeated, several times, that I didn’t need an intern.Well. I had to go to Food City anyway, because of the cookout, so I decided to go ahead and get snacks. I asked the managers that have to work over the weekend if there was anything specific they wanted, and two of them gave me the names of energy drinks. By this time, I had been awake for 16 hours, and working on 4 hours of sleep, so I was getting a little fuzzy around the edges. That’s how I found myself in the energy drink isle of Food City, talking to myself. Out loud. Trying to figure out which drink was which flavor. It was not my finest moment. Shortly after that, I conscripted the manager, because my buggy was full, and made him help me. But yes. Talking to myself in the Food City. Not my finest moment.

      1. Michelle

        I agree. I keep a can of Lysol and Clorox wipes on my desk because I don’t want to be getting something that, apparently, no one knows what it is or how to fix it.

        1. Bee's Knees

          Every time he leaves his office for more than a few minutes, I sneak in and spray down his surfaces.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          I know, right? I went and looked — the CDC watch list has things from ebola and measles to salmonella being spread by recalled dog treats. He didn’t give any clue huh?

    1. Cog in the Machine

      I once had a coworker (also an over-sharer) come back from a doctor’s appointment and complain about the rash the doctor told him to just taky benadryl for. Then he showed us the rash! The two of us in the office looked at him and almost simultaneously said that it looked like chicken pox. He was all, “no, that’s impossible,” and I said it was chicken pox, shingles, or measles, and that he should probably go get a second opinion. He did, and it was totally chicken pox.
      I think the entire office was sprayed down for a week straight, with my boss doing as much WFH as he could manage so that he didn’t inadvertently infect his kids.

      1. OtterB

        Argh. Some years ago my husband was on an extended overseas trip in a somewhat remote location with a few technicians reporting to him. One of them got sick – high fever, felt awful, no obvious cause – and my husband made the decision to send him home. He was home before he broke out into the chicken pox rash. He was sick enough from it that he missed several weeks of work, so it was good that he’d gone home, but on the other hand he inadvertently exposed two plane loads of international travelers. Oops.

    2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth

      How were you still standing upright?! Why on earth would they have you drive at that point!?

      1. Bee's Knees

        Oh, I was at work for another… five hours after that? Other than my filter being broken, I was more or less ok. Just really really tired. It was worse the last time I did an overnight like that, because I had to go to the Dr. in the middle, and they gave me a strong steroid shot. So by the time I got home, I was exhausted, but had to wait a couple of extra hours for the shot to wear off before I could sleep.

    3. Ramanon

      Measles, or E. coli? Those are the two most recent on the watchlist right now, right? Unless he’s gone international or is working with parrots.

        1. Ramanon

          So, they don’t know what it is… Do they at least have any idea of transmission? Or whether or not it’s transmissible? Because if they don’t, I’m with you on the bubble-and-lysol method here.

          1. I'm A Little Teapot

            Nope. Not bubble and lysol, full on quarantine. Send the guy home until he’s healthy and/or cleared.

        2. Jaydee

          So…it’s something that involves lymph nodes, may have symptoms that overlap with TB (or TB may have been mentioned for other reasons), the phrase “CDC watchlist” was used, but dude is healthy enough to be at work?

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device

      I just googled “CDC watchlist,” and the list at that it gave me includes measles and rubella (there’s a vaccine for those) as well as scary things like ebola and dengue fever. That’s a worldwide list, and not all of it applies where you are (no matter where you are– there’s a “hajj in Saudi Arabia” link, and the rubella one specifies Japan.

      On the other hand, if this guy had measles they’d probably have figured it out by now.

      1. Bee's Knees

        They think it’s something with his lymph nodes? Again, wasn’t listening up till the CDC part. They’ve done all sorts of imaging tests though, so who knows? I don’t want to ask because I don’t want to hear about it for the next half hour.

    5. LKW

      Talking to yourself is not a problem. Arguing with yourself is a bad sign. Losing the argument is a very bad sign. Giving yourself the silent treatment because you lost the fight… that’s when you’re in trouble.

    6. anonforthis

      Uhhh I work at CDC and can guarantee for you that there is no “watchlist.” I don’t know if your colleague is incredibly misinformed by his healthcare providers or is making things up for a good story, but that isn’t a thing. He might be referring to National Notifiable Conditions, but that isn’t a “watchlist” and he would need to be diagnosed for his condition to be reported. It is reported primarily for surveillance reasons and there’s nothing inherently scary about it (for example, gonorrhea is on the list). He also might be referring to a local health department deciding to quarantine him, which is happening some places for measles, but again, they don’t do that without a diagnosis and he would also be quarantined right now lol. TB is both notifiable and people are often quarantined for it, so that’s where he might have gotten that idea if doctors discussed TB with him, but… again, no one would’ve reported his condition without a diagnosis and it sounds to me like he is being unnecessarily dramatic.

      A watch list might also refer to increased surveillance due to an event/outbreak or mass gathering (but it wouldn’t really be called a watch list) but no individuals are “put” on the list and they instead use syndromic surveillance from hospitals and it also 100% does not sound like this is what he is talking about.

      Writing this because I don’t want you to be that concerned about him and I’m pretty sure you don’t need to go overboard on the lysol lol.

      1. Needs More Cookies

        Maybe it’s just that one of his possible diagnoses is something reportable to the CDC, like Lyme disease?

        1. anonforthis

          I’m assuming that’s the case but it’s still weird to me because the physician wouldn’t really bring that up until the actual diagnosis because it’s usually a conversation about how they’re still following HIPAA, but they do have to report this to databases. When I worked in the clinic it usually only would come up prior for STI tests, but that’s just because of how we did the tests and the nature of that clinic. So like it could’ve come up during the TB test consent process (“if you have this, we will keep all your info private, but we do report the results to the state/national govt), but it’s just weird and either this guy is looking for some excitement in his life or his doctor phrased the consent very poorly lol

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House

          That was my guess a tick or mosquito borne illness that is not communicable from casual contact, like West Nile.

    7. hamburke

      I’ve been on the CDC watchlist before – I contracted whooping cough in 2006 from one of my 4th grade students! Anyway, I wasn’t a big deal since they knew what I had so I just had to have a few phone calls with the health departments (I worked in one county and lived in another so 2 people) plus the but I couldn’t return to work and my kids couldn’t return to daycare for quite some time. My husband never showed signs of illness.

  4. Rosie The Rager

    How should I interpret this interview?

    AAM Community, I am actively job searching and have been applying to positions in PR, marketing and communications. This Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a phone interview with the second in command of a top- three PR firm in the metropolitan area where I live.

    I spent about two hours over three days preparing for the interview, which included reviewing the job description line by line, checking my interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, going over all pages of the website, reviewing the last six months of social media posts on all platforms and creating questions for the interviewer.

    The interview itself was 15 minutes from its late start to its awkward final syllable. What really concerned me is that the interviewer asked me a total of two questions. The first was about my current job for a super small single-owner firm and the second was a follow-up from an application questions.

    The latter question was about my experience with earned media. I wrote on the application that I had worked with a contact to receive a 500-word placement in a statewide publication. On the basis of this response, I received approval for a phone interview.

    However, when I reiterated the experience to the interviewer, she said “Well, that doesn’t count.”

    I must admit to being completely taken aback by her rude comment and wonder if I somehow misinterpreted something or caught her at a bad moment. Really, what was the point of interviewing me if my response was inadequate?

    Please share with me your perspectives and the most professional take away from this experience. I am at a bit of a loss.


    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Some people are awful at interviewing, which sounds like it may be the case here. It’s also most likely that in the end, even if you had been a good fit, she’s probably not easy to work with or in general just that all too familiar personality conflict. That’s not your fault, lots of people are like this and it’s them, not you, seriously.

    2. PR Girl

      There are few things that can be at play here. The most likely explanation is the person screening and setting up interviews (probably a lower-ranking HR employee) doesn’t fully understand the nature of the job and what she saw as earned media experience may not have been as much earned media experience as necessary. It’s also possible the interviewer was doing screening themselves, which would be a waste of time, but possible.

      It’s also possible what you listed on your resume suggested you had more robust experience here. It’s also possible that the job you applied for is a little different than the one they’re trying to fill – which can change at agencies frequently because the accounts come and go and you need to augment teams with different strengths.

      As for her response to you, that was incredibly rude. Everyone starts somewhere and it absolutely counts. Leveraging relationships to get a placement – anywhere – counts.

      It’s hard to know what they were looking for specifically and what the issue was, but all you can do is keep trying and keep working to develop the skills that will be necessary for your next role. If that goal includes media relations, keep trying to find opportunities at your current company to get placements and develop pitches. You can also start building relationships with reporters in your market. It will all add up.

      Sorry this was so frustrating!

      1. Rosie The Rager

        PR Girl, thank you for your kind and thorough response to my query.

        I really appreciate your insider’s perspective on this and fully intend to follow your advice to continue working on expanding my skill set and moving forward in PR.

        In particular, your comment on the job description not matching the need rings true. When I asked what success would look like in this role, the interviewer informed me that the team was reconsidering tasks and goals for the position.

        Thanks again, PR Girl!

        1. Aquawoman

          They’re “reconsidering” the role AS they’re interviewing for it? Between that and the rude response, I think you may have dodged a bullet here.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Yup. I would not want to move forward with this company after something like this.

          2. RagingADHD

            They could be reconsidering the role based on the applicant pool.

            If the person being replaced “grew into” a pretty complex role and is now moving up, they may have set hiring expectations based on that person’s current skills & responsibilities, rather than what’s reasonable to expect from a new applicant.

            It could involve redistributing some of the current responsibilities in order to cover the workload while a new person is trained up, or revamping the role entirely based on what skills the applicants are coming in with.

            It’s not necessarily a sign of massive dysfunction that the employer is having a hard time finding a good fit. Better to rethink their expectations and revamp the job description, than make a bad fit out of desperation and subject a new hire to unrealistic expectations.

      2. Circe

        Seconding PR Girl’s thoughts.

        One media placement unfortunately doesn’t equal a plethora of earned media experience. The only reason I would think your story ‘doesn’t count’ is if it was some sort of pay-to-play opportunity and not really earned media. But still, that doesn’t give the interviewer leeway to be so rude.

        Good luck and keep trekking with the job search. Don’t let one rude lady stop you.

      3. MissDisplaced

        So many things could be at play. But she was rude.
        I think all you can do is put this behind you and move forward. Some places are bad that way, and honestly, you probably don’t want to work there.

    3. Psyche

      It sounds like whoever did the screening (most likely not the interviewer) did not understand either the job requirements or your experience. This job probably wasn’t actually a good fit for you. The interviewer was rude though.

      1. Mama Bear

        This was my thought. At a previous company we had the need for some very specific skillsets and the recruiter/HR person kept sending unqualified resumes or setting up interviews where the person was just not going to be a good fit. Management did some tweaking of the job postings to try to get people to weed themselves out, but it was frustrating on both sides.

        That said, I do think the interviewer was a bit rude here. She must be “fun” to work with. Good luck with your search.

    4. Layoff Laments

      In my opinion, one of the hardest things about interviewing is trying to gauge what the hiring manager’s or team’s preconceived thoughts are about the role, and your experience here is a perfect example of that. Seems like everyone had a different idea of what earned media would be acceptable for this role, and the interviewer’s rather rude response is a reflection of that. That’s not to say the recruiter, the interviewer, or your interpretations are wrong, just that they were different. The interviewer should have found a better way of responding. Job seekers shouldn’t be expected to know exactly what’s on a job description the same way the hiring team does.

      You seemed really prepared for the interview and the interviewer seemed like they were not. Of course, we don’t really know what was going on in their end, so if this were me, I’d chalk it up to someone who was not in the mindset for interviewing that day (being late, shortened interview time, rude remarks). It still stinks because the cost is of this is much greater to you, the job seeker.

    5. 867-5309

      As a public relations professional with nearly 20 years experience, including time as an SVP at the largest global, independent firm, I would be looking for more than just an article placement in a statewide publication. It’s actually easier to place a contributor piece (especially in a smaller, regional publication) than earned media that is covered by a reporter. While the interviewer’s response was definitely rude, it’s fair that she would question if you had other earned media experience.

      Even 20 years ago, I had fairly decent earned media experience when graduating university due to four internships. I can see why they expected more, even if you’re a young professional.

      I’d be happy to take a look at your resume, if that would be helpful? And we can talk about different markets – I’ve worked in PR in small markets like Kansas City through New York, and currently live and work doing similar stuff in Norway. On LinkedIn I’m /jpbrown – just let me know who you are when sending the invite.

    6. RagingADHD

      Do you mind sharing what part of the country you’re in? I’ve lived in different regions, and the standards of “rude” vary widely by industry and region. In New York, in my experiences of fast-moving industries, that comment would seem brusque but pretty well par for the course. It would only be really rude if she said it in an obviously mocking tone of voice, rather than a merely abrupt tone. So if you’re applying for jobs in a “thick skin” culture, it might be helpful to roleplay ways to respond constructively to a brusque remark.

      One useful way to respond might be, “Oh? What level of experience are you looking for?”

      In other areas that are more scrupulously polite and slow-paced, that remark would certainly come across as very rude. So it’s harder to interpret without that context.

      Overall, it certainly sounds like there was a significant mismatch between the interviewer’s expectations and your general level of experience, and she was frustrated/impatient about that. Where that mismatch came from is harder to tell.

      PR Girl’s ideas about possible reasons are very sound. Do you have any IRL connections in the industry (or a related industry) who could look over your resume and the job description, and see whether there are any industry-specific nuances you may be missing? Like, is there a generally-accepted distinction between “familiar with” vs “experience with”? Or if there is a general skill profile that would be useful in roles similar to the one you applied to, that could make you more competitive if roles are in flux?

      Perhaps you could broaden your skill set outside of your current job, with online training or doing a campaign for a nonprofit you love.

  5. Nebula

    Is this a great opportunity or a sign to run?

    I’m a lawyer working for a medium-sized firm with offices in a number of states. I am in the teapot law department. For most states, including mine, there is only one teapot attorney. I have been in my current job for almost three years. Until February, I was the only person in the teapot department (attorney or otherwise) in the Wakanda office. Since that time, five staff members have started here. I didn’t really have much to do with them. Their manager, Natasha, is in the firm’s main office in Knowhere. Although there’s been some non-attorney staff turnover, I was under the impression things were fine (or at least okay).

    Earlier this year, Tony, the “chief strategy officer,” started in the Wakanda office. I had little interaction with him. About three weeks ago, he came to my office and shut the door. He told me that the teapot department was in bad shape, and the COO had made him responsible for coming up with a plan to turn it around. Apparently we have a huge backlog of work, clients are pissed, turnover is high, and staff morale is low. This all came as a big surprise to me. Tony asked for my help with the spout division of the teapot department. I was surprised and concerned, so I agreed and said I would help however I could.

    The following two weeks were a very stressful period for me. I had very little idea of how the non-attorney part of the teapot law business was done, and I was expected to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I have been struggling to learn the operations aspects of the job and assist and manage the spout staff while also doing my full-time job as the Wakanda teapot attorney. We’re so far behind, and our clients are so demanding, that I have been doing some of the spout staff’s work myself. I have been working a lot of extra hours, and my stress level is through the roof. I’ve been working with Tony as well as my boss, Steve (the managing teapot partner), and the teapot operations manager, Natasha, who are in in the Knowhere office. I’ve come up with and shared ideas for how to do things better, but right now we are just desperately trying to get the work done. I told both Tony and Steve that this was not sustainable, and that I was rapidly burning out.

    On Monday, Tony informed me that Steve was being let go. This came as a huge shock. Thor, a partner in another department, is now running the teapot department. Bucky, who is also a partner and teapot attorney and was Steve’s #2, is also managing the teapot attorneys.

    Since Steve was fired, I have been more stressed than ever. I’ve been busy with my own work and haven’t been able to give the spout staff as much of my time and attention as they need. I have repeatedly told Tony that this is not working, but somehow he has been able to talk me down. Tony is very friendly and really seems concerned with how I’m doing, but I don’t know him well enough to know what his end game is. He got one of the few experienced spout people to take on some of what I’ve been doing, but she already had a full load, and I’m still doing a lot. I’m worried about the department and my job (if the department can’t be turned around, or turned around fast enough, what then?), and my anxiety is telling me to bail.

    Both Tony and Bucky have told me that they have been bragging about me to the higher ups, that I’m being noticed, and that there is a great opportunity for me here if I just stick it out. However, no one has been able to tell me exactly what they see my role as, other than “person roped in to fix the giant mess” (which is how I see it). Talk is cheap, and I don’t want to continue in this nightmare for the same pay and title I’ve already had for doing just my old job. (Frankly, I’m not sure I want to continue in this nightmare no matter what title or money they’re willing to give me.) Everyone is saying that this is just temporary while we catch up, hire more people, and get the new people we have trained, but I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I’m looking for other jobs.

    What should I do? Should I try to stick it out? Or should I focus on getting the hell out?

    1. Mazzy

      Well you’re in the role legal usually is. Fortunately, legal is usually seen as a (large) necessary expense, so if they’re going through their backlog of work, that should create stability for you. Since you didn’t know how bad things were, my guess is that the problems don’t have to do with your job. I’d be more concerned if I were in a customer facing or operations role and had been neglecting stuff or in charge of unhappy customers.

    2. Shuri

      As someone who has been asked to interim lead things in a crisis, could you make a formal request for a salary bump during this time of increased responsibility? I was successful with that once. But if more money won’t help, you could also say you’d like a formal conversation about the trajectory and possibilities for you moving forward, then take notes, email them to Tony and ask if they reflect the conversation accurately as he remembers it. Then you’ve got something in writing.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Love the name – Shuri’s my favorite character in the MCU and fave Disney princess.

    3. Data Nerd

      Can you go to either Tony or the COO of Stark Industries and get a timeline? My theory of life is that you can do just about anything as long as you know how long you’ll be doing it.

      1. Mama Bear

        You need to get an end date. Not “this year” but “November”. Then you can also negotiate what you need to handle it until then – more money, flexible hours, more PTO, etc. If they can’t put it in writing, then IMO you have your answer about leaving. If Tony has talked you down repeatedly, he knows you are worried. Bragging doesn’t go far if you’re burned out.

        I would also be concerned about the overall health of the company. I once had to fill in for someone and still do my job. I turned down taking the other job permanently in part because I could see that the company was losing key contracts and I did not want to be the last rat on that ship. I stayed only as long as it took to find a new job.

    4. Reba

      First observation, it sounds like you don’t have trust in your management to sort things out and end the chaos. Second observation, “he has been able to talk me down” (realizing this is an expression) gives a sense that your convos about this have an emotional tenor but not a practical one. Finally, I’m not so sure it’s “anxiety” making you want to run so much as good sense!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I would tell them that you need some kind of action plan in place first, it can’t just be shooting from the hip and the “talk” about how it’s going to get you in good with the Higher Ups. It needs to be something that has a clear plan and a clear time line. Now sticking to it isn’t always something that you can do of course, since it’s a moving part of the business and dealing with variables but there needs to be constructive management of the massive overhaul.

      So I’d do this. And then make no promises to actually stay of course, just reel it in. So that it becomes more manageable and also that way you will always feel like you tried and didn’t just cut and run when things were funky.

    6. Been There

      This was me at OldJob, and, as you stated, Talk is Cheap.
      You already know what you need to do. Get out. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better (IF it gets better).

    7. Auntie Social

      Do you need a litigator, someone to go to court, or would a couple of paralegals help you get caught up faster? In other words, you wouldn’t do all the work, you’d direct them to do some of it. Good paralegals are worth their weight in gold.

    8. Coverage Associate

      I gather I practice a very different type of law, but a couple of things stand out to me. First, your increased responsibilities don’t include more client contact and management. I am not sure they’re really helpful to your career. It’s like no one gets promoted for planning great office baby showers. Very few lawyers make partner by managing the typing pool.

      That said, though often poorly managed, I do feel that my firm is good at following through on the “you’re being noticed” in a good way talk, namely by smoothing the path to partnership. And I gather you’re managing people with like science training, not typical law firm support staff.

    9. Not So NewReader

      Do the best you can and work on getting yourself out of there.

      I will admit I am having a hard time following this because of the teapot analogy thing. So you are in a department but there is usually only enough work for one attorney, but you have a department of people. And the department of people cannot keep up?
      This sounds like either a work flow problem or a letting the clients walk all over the employees problem.
      I can’t tell which. Maybe both?

      Tony has told you to fix this, but you are not sure what you are fixing? And it sounds like you are doing the crews’ work instead of your own. So you are trying to fix this problem that you do not know what the problem actually is and you are fixing it with no additional resources brought in to assist? Your only apparent solution seems to be to do the work yourself. This is not a solution, of course, because it just gives you more of the same work to do.

      Then someone gets fired. It seems like you have no idea why this person was fired and the firing came from out of the blue. Ya know, I worked one place where I met one of my life time favorite bosses. They fired my favorite boss. Since I considered him to be a better employee than I was [for clear reasons], I realized that I had no chance in this place. So I left. What did you think of your boss who was fired? Don’t answer here, just use that information to help you along.

      You know your company. Sometimes companies hit bumps in the road. Does what you are going through now fit with everything else you have seen during your time at this place? Or is this a one-off, something so unusual that you never imagined such a mess could happen at your place?

      1. Fortitude Jones

        This sounds like either a work flow problem or a letting the clients walk all over the employees problem.

        Both of these things were the issue at the law firm I worked at that had firm-wide, off-and-on (mostly on), mandatory OT for the entire 3 years I was there, and I suspect these issues are plaguing OP’s firm as well. Plus, you perfectly articulated my concerns about the question as well. How in the world is OP supposed to fix a problem she didn’t know existed and without resources?

        Yeah, it’s time to job search. This sounds a hot ass mess.

    10. Holly

      Can you clarify – you’re the attorney in the department, but you’re being asked to do non-attorney work at a law firm to help out the client? I’m confused about how you could be asked to work in operations/product level by your firm unless you’re not at a law firm.

      1. Nebula

        I’m an attorney in the teapot department at a law firm. I am being asked to do non-attorney work in the teapot department at the firm where I work to help the firm’s clients.

        1. Another JD

          I’m more concerned that a department that 5 months ago had 1 employee and now has 6 went to crisis-level so quickly. It sounds like Steve really screwed something up. 3 weeks of high stress workload is unpleasant but not burnout level for most attorneys. Were there problems before this? Can they give you a relative end-date? A pass on your regular work while you put out the fires?

          I’m also really curious what area of law you’re in.

          1. Nebula

            The teapot staff members in the Wakanda office don’t only do work for Wakanda. They do work for all the states we practice in. Also, they were brought on to replace staff in other states who left. The main office is in Knowhere and staff has previously been hired to work there, but management was having trouble finding people in the area with teapot experience. So it’s not as though the additional teapot staff in Wakanda has decreased my workload.

            You make a good point about the stress not being unusual for a lawyer. I’ve had similar stressful periods where I was deep in a case, and while those were very unpleasant, this is somehow different. When I’m dealing with a stressful part of practicing law, at least I generally know what I’m doing. I feel like I have very little idea of what I’m doing when it comes to the operations side. That lack of knowledge plus the feeling that I am responsible for getting the spout division on track makes for a whole new type of stress.

        2. Holly

          That is *extremely* unusual unless you’re at a startup where it’s pretty open that everyone helps and its more loose. I can’t imagine another firm doing this where you’re not doing in house legal work for a client (it’s way more common say to work at a firm representing client A, and the client borrows you to do in house LEGAL work.)

          1. Fortitude Jones

            It is unusual, but not unheard of to me. I used to work at a law firm that was on mandatory OT for most of my nearly three year tenure (and they were still on it long after I left and had been on it before I started), and some of our attorneys stepped in to assist our paralegals on things like title reviews, drafting affidavits, and sending out service documentation when those departments were majorly backlogged.

    11. it happens

      What I see from your story is that your company is trusting you to be a utility player- not unusual for lawyers because most people think ‘lawyers are smart, they can do anything.’ And you are succeeding. These are both good. You should talk to chief strategy guy to better understand the game plan ands time line (advice given above is good.) Before that, you should think about what you want long-term (short-term you want clarity and less stress, obvs.) Do you want to be a teapot lawyer for your whole career? Do you want to be a lawyer your whole career with experience in multiple areas? Do you want to remain in-house (specialized or general) counsel? Do you like this company enough to relocate to other offices for them? Do you like the utility team management work you’ve been roped into enough to explore other management/operations jobs if offered?
      Consider this great and stressful experience that’s made you stretch yourself- stress aside, do you like this work and would you like the opportunity to do more of it- in this company or another now that you can put it on your resume, cuz you already have a couple awesome accomplishment bullet points if you want ‘em.

    12. Public Sector Manager


      This sounds a lot like the last firm I was in before I got out of private practice and went into the public sector. The issue with non-attorney labor could be poor management or could be a sign of bigger financial struggles. In the private firm I was at, we did a lot of administrative law. We had 4 paralegals who would help the partner process claims that all occurred before the administrative hearing. If they weren’t successful at the pre-hearing stage, then the other associate and I would take the case through the administrative hearing and potentially the trial court and appellate courts.

      At my level, everything always ran smooth. However, at the paralegal level, things were always a hot mess. The partner wasn’t a good manager, the partner didn’t pay the paralegals enough for the work they were doing, the partner was notorious for slacking off every Friday, including missing client meetings, and the clients were ready to revolt.

      For a while, the money was still coming in. My office was right next to the accountant’s office, so I had an idea of what the office receivables were. But when the accountant started showing up at odd times, when client checks in the mail would generate a lot of buzz, I figured something was up financially with the firm. So I started looking. Then we went from direct deposit to paper checks for payroll. If I remember, for direct deposit with the bank the firm had at the time, money needed to be in the bank about 2-3 business days before the direct deposit date. When that happened, I knew the firm was on thin ice financially. The firm imploded about two years after I left. And it was messy.

      First, I think you have to ask yourself whether you enjoy the teapot work, notwithstanding the chaos. If you don’t, and since you’ve been at it for 3 years, feel free to move on. Law is stressful enjoy even in an area of law you really enjoy!

      Second, if this office folded, are you willing to relocate to one of the other offices? If not, then I’d start looking. Because if the rest of the firm is doing well financially but only your office is losing money, they will eventually just shut it down.

      And if you are willing to relocate, and if you like the teapot work, I’d stay on for the short term. I agree with comments above that your firm needs to step up and give you a timeline. Even if you don’t get more pay right now, you’re earning a lot of good will that should, if you work for a relatively normal firm, generate a nice bonus or a promotion. But if those things don’t materialize, or more help isn’t on the way soon, you will have to reassess.

      Best of luck to you! I’ve been there, and it’s not fun.

  6. Booksalot

    I’m looking for some insight from recruiters, or from people who work frequently with them. I’m a bit confused and annoyed by my interaction with a STEM recruiter this week.

    This guy messaged me on LinkedIn on Monday, asking me to apply for a tech job in NYC, which is about 3 hours’ drive for me. I thanked him, explained that I was not willing to make that commute, and asked him to keep me in mind for opportunities close to MyCity or fully remote. We chatted back and forth about my skill set, made a connection on LI, and finalized the conversation on Wednesday morning.

    On Thursday, I got a notification that he had started a new position as a recruiter for a company that specializes in luxury retailers.

    I highly doubt he quit one job and started another within the middle of the same week, so he must have already been gone from the first job when we spoke. Was he planning to hand me off to someone at his old job? Is this sort of thing common? I feel like he intentionally wasted my time.

    1. A Simple Narwhal

      Honestly in my experience I have found most interactions with recruiters on LinkedIn to be a waste of time. Though you actually interacted with him after the initial outreach which already is more than I’ve typically gotten.

      I’m betting that if things panned out he would definitely would have transitioned you to someone else. It does seem weird to try and start placing a new person when you’re three days away from leaving but maybe the company required it and it would be considered burning a bridge to not keep working full steam until you walk out. Or maybe he was about to put in his two weeks notice Wednesday but they told him to leave that day and he bumped up the new job to start immediately? Or it’s a new part-time gig? But yea it does feel weird from your side of things.

      1. Exhausted Trope

        100% agree. No interaction I’ve ever had with recruiters on LinkedIn has ever amounted to anything.

    2. Samwise

      I don’t know anything about recruiters, but more generally it sounds like: he was working at (recruiting) job A when he interacted with you and was doing his job = recruiting, developing contacts, etc. Like anyone ought to do — keep doing your job as long as they are paying you. I don’t see why it matters that he was leaving — he hadn’t *left* yet and he needed to do his job.
      Now he’s at job B. Presumably whoever takes over his role at job A will have access to his notes/files/contacts. I doubt work in progress just goes back to step one when someone leaves. So I don’t see how he wasted your time.

    3. Blossom

      Is it possible that he might also be recruiting for tech roles at his new job? Luxury retail companies presumably have IT departments and so on.

  7. Bloated, Not Pregnant

    I have been dealing with a currently undiagnosed condition (getting tested at the end of next month) but whatever it is has been causing extreme bloating. Like look like I am 6 months pregnant level bloating. I have been wearing leggings to work the last two weeks because I literally cannot fit into any of my clothes right now. Luckily we are a reasonably casual office, but I still feel a little uncomfortable (I wear long sweaters and “butt-covering” tops). No one has said anything to me, but should I mention to my boss why I am wearing comfier clothes than normal?

    1. Zip Silver

      You can pick up some cheapo Goodwill office clothes to get you through while figuring this out. I did that when losing weight and saved a bundle, then spent money on quality new clothes when I hit where I wanted to be.

    2. Research for days

      I don’t have advice on whether or not you should speak with your boss, but could you pick up a few inexpensive swing dresses from Old Navy? They’re super forgiving and a touch dressier than leggings.

      1. DAMitsDevon

        I second the swing dresses. They were definitely my go after a medical emergency that required me to take a very high dose of steroids in the hospital caused me to gain about 20 pounds of water weight in less than a week . I didn’t start shedding the weight until I was able to start tapering off the steroids I was prescribed after I left the hospital, and of course, the weight loss was only a tad slower than the initial weight gain, so it was very helpful to have some dresses that fit me at both points.

    3. Celeste

      I wouldn’t. I’d just go buy some larger clothes for work (just a week’s worth) and hope that it’s something that is easily fixable by your doctor. Wishing you all the luck!

    4. Mbarr

      It might be worth bringing up with your manager, just in case someone else complains. Maybe something to the effect of, “I’m dealing with a medical issue that makes my normal business attire difficult to wear. I’m wearing X as a result. I wanted to let you know in case you have concerns about why I’m not in my usual attire.”

      It explains, but doesn’t ask for permission.

    5. A Person

      I think it depends on your office – in mine, people dress more casually in the summer anyway, so it wouldn’t be a big deal. People probably wouldn’t even blink at the sweaters here due to the air conditioning being set on freezing.

    6. Samwise

      No. If it’s a casual office and leggings + long tops/sweaters are acceptable, you don’t need to say a thing, unless you *want* to be discussing your medical condition now with your boss.

      I hope you are able to find out what is wrong, and that it all goes well! Please let us know!

    7. Dasein9

      Ugh, even mild edema is hard; I can only imagine how bad you must be feeling and don’t blame you for wearing what’s comfortable.

      Is anyone likely to have noticed your wardrobe change? If not, I’d go with not saying anything. If so, maybe just a quick, not-very-detailed mention to the supervisor wouldn’t hurt. I would avoid mentioning pregnancy at all, since people will often focus on the p-word and forget that you also said “not.”

    8. A tester, not a developer

      I have IBD, so my waist measurement can vary by 6-8″ through the day. Leggings and trapeze dresses are my go to outfit most of the time, and my office hasn’t batted an eye.

    9. AnotherLibrarian

      You may just give your boss a heads up. Something like, “I know my clothing has been extra casual right now. I’m dealing with a medical thing and one of the annoying side effects is it is causing this extreme weight fluctuation and bloating. I’m working on getting it sorted out, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that I haven’t converted into wearing nothing but leggings. That’s just all that seems to fit on any given day.”

      I would feel more comfortable saying this if my boss was a woman than if they were a man, but either was I think a generic- it’s medical and I am working on it- might help.

    10. Bloated, Not Pregnant

      So I was tested for Celiac’s, IBS, viruses and I am going in next month to get tested for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. I am hoping that will be the end of the tests honestly. No one in the office has said anything. There are only seven of us. The other women in the office know what is going on, but not the guys (which includes my boss). The only thing is one of my coworkers jokingly said “ah casual Wednesday?” and that was it. I have been wearing swing dresses too, but by and large I have just been wearing leggings. Just hoping this gets figured out and I don’t look like a whale.

      1. Bloated, Not Pregnant

        And I am not a huge fan of swing dresses… Unfortunately I am quite “gifted” in the chest area so I look even bigger in swing dresses since they go straight down from my chest. I have a couple that I will wear, but they are not my favorite

      2. DataGirl

        I have had varying gut issues over the years and it sucks. I hope you get answers. For me- my weight can vary about 10 lbs any given week depending on bloating and if my gut is letting me eat or not. I have pants in about 4 different sizes so I can try to fit correctly, although it’s not always possible. It took me a couple years to accumulate that though. I would go with what others have said, if it’s nbd in your office, keep wearing what you are wearing. Otherwise a Thrift store, Ebay, or one of those other online used clothing places like Poshmark or ThreadUp might be a good place to get some extras.

      3. MissDisplaced

        I’d maybe buy a pair or two of inexpensive dress slacks until you find out. That is, if your office trends to more dressy and you feel you need to dress up. Or loose skirts. Thus, you could have 1-2 other pieces to rotate in with the leggings.

      4. Mama Bear

        What about a wrap dress with a camisole? You an adjust it as your comfort changes over the day and they are often flattering on many body types. I have several from Old Navy. Depending on your diagnosis, they may also still fit when your size stabilizes.

    11. Schnoodle HR

      I had this issue, it is related to my hormones. I already had a child and saved my maternity clothes, so on the days it was taht bad (I totally understand the 6 month pregnant look) I literally wore maternity clothes. But I didn’t care what others thought really. My family and friends know I have this bloat issue.

      A lot of maternity clothes are cute and can work with or without bloat. Just as an FYI :)

      But I wouldn’t mention it to anyone if you don’t feel comfortable. It’s none of their business…plus if you went from normal size to straight to 6 month pregnant look…doubt anyone actually thinks you’re pregnant, belly doesn’t grow that dramatically.

    12. Cats and dogs

      You could get a cheap black blazer that’s a size bigger and wear it every day over the leggings with more casual shirts over. These can be in cheap stores and maternity stores (although the latter sometimes are more expensive)

  8. mixbag

    It’s been a huge mixed bag this week, work wise… my partner got offered their dream job (I know that’s not real but colloquially it fits) which was basically a once every 5 years opportunity (it’s not coming again any time soon), it will allow them to actually advance in the field, learn new things, network, be promoted, and have rock solid job security, none of which they have right now. Their company is in shambles and probably be around at this time next year. The issue is that they had to take a $6k paycut to get the job – they pushed really really hard on salary (and please trust me when I say the new job is lowballing them, and is not in line with market averages) but the job just wouldn’t budge. But because of all the other amazing aspects, they took it, which I think was the right decision, but neither of us make very much to begin with, so it’s a bit of a blow. I’m trying to focus on the positive, and so is my partner, and we are both happy, but bleh – like I said, a mixed bag!

    1. CustServGirl

      I guess as far as advice goes, I can just recommend what might already be obvious- sit down with your partner and rework your budget(s) to prepare for the pay cut/shift in income. Good luck!

      1. mixbag

        Thank you!! We’re trying to move in together which would reduce both our rents by several hundred dollars, but we have conflicting lease situations.

        1. Mama Bear

          I’d talk to the landlords and find out what circumstances would permit you to leave earlier. For example, what if one of you found replacement tenants? Can they just take over the end of the lease? While losing $6K is not ideal, neither is being in a bad situation where they could get laid off at any time. Other things to consider include shopping around all utilities and services (car insurance, phone plan…) and seeing if anyone will cut you a deal to swap or stay. When I got married, we challenged our car insurance companies to give us a quote for a combined house and chose the one that gave us the best offer.

    2. A Simple Narwhal

      I totally get the bummed-ness about the salary cut, but I’m sure working for a company that is in shambles and opportunity-less is super stressful, and I bet the happiness they (and you!) will get from not being at the old company is totally worth way more than $6k. And not that six grand is chump change, but it breaks down to only a couple hundred bucks a month difference after taxes, which isn’t tooooo horrible. (Though I don’t want to be dismissive of your circumstances, I recognize that a few hundred dollars a month could make or break it for some people – but hopefully it sounds like that’s not the case.)

      Plus, if they have a kickass year they can always ask for a raise more in line with market value in the future!

      Oh and congrats!

      1. mixbag

        Thank you!! The job did promise a raise in January/February so hopefully that shakes out for the better.

    3. [A Cool Name Here]

      I took a $15k pay cut for my “dream job” and while the finances took a while to adjust, the joy, sense of fulfillment and sheer happiness at work is worth it.

    4. Not So NewReader

      My husband and I made jumps like this one. One step backward but in the long run two or more steps forward.
      You guys will make it, it will be okay. Keep working together as a team on watching the finances. Make sure you both get proper rest, don’t let the money stuff keep you awake at night. It is what it is and it will get better in the future.
      It’s amazing what us humans can get through, especially when we know it will be better later.

      I am often inspired by a quote I read. Someone interviewed an elderly man in a nursing home. The man said, “I wish I had taken more chances.” I don’t want to be that person yet I am not a big risk taker. I became a fan of calculated risks, know the reasons why you are doing something and know that you are going toward a better future.
      Stay sharp and it will be okay.

      1. Mama Bear

        Agreed. Many people will, for example, take a pay cut to get into state or federal service, knowing that they have a likely trajectory once they are “in”.

      2. Kiwiii

        I did this a couple years ago, too, and it really worked out! I took a job that paid $1k less than my already meager salary with double the commute and no benefits because my then current job was a Nightmare nightmare and I knew the new job would afford me much better opportunities in the long run. A little under a year later I made a transition (almost entirely afforded to the paycut position) to a job that paid almost $8k more and had wonderful benefits, and now I’m in the process of making another transition (due, again, almost entirely to the last two positions) with an $9k raise, more interesting work, and nearly as wonderful benefits.

        Make the transitions that make sense for you! Just make sure you figure out the logistics and things, too, and maybe research cheaper alternatives to some of your current staples, if you find you need to ^.^

    5. Anono-me

      You might find some savings in unexpected places. Remember, people tend to spend more money on convenience when they’re tired and stressed. (For example: This week has been a complete disaster. I’m picking up take out. )

  9. Jan Levinson

    I work in a customer service role for a janitorial supply company. My primary job is to input orders in our system for “regular” items. I also have a colleague, Dwight, who does the same job as I do. Additionally, we “parts/service guy”, Jim who inputs all orders for nonstock parts, and subsequently orders said parts from our vendor. This has been the setup for many years now.

    Yesterday, I got an email from one of our sales people, Andy, to please enter an order for parts x, y, and z, and have the vendor overnight the order. I forwarded the email to our designated parts guy, Jim to please take care of Andy’s request. I CC’ed Andy in the email. Soon after sending the email, I was on the phone with a customer taking an order when I heard Andy say loudly from inside the office “so you can’t put the f***ing order in yourself?” He then stomped through the office to Dwight’s desk and said to Dwight, “I guess Jan is unwilling to enter this order, she’s trying to pass it along to Jim. I need this done ASAP and Jim isn’t at his desk. Can you enter this since Jan apparently can’t do it?” I was FUMING while on the phone with the customer overhearing this conversation. I had simply forwarded on an email to the correct personnel (btw, Andy is notorious for requesting information from the wrong person in our office. The interoffice staff is constantly passing along his emails to one another when he gives his requests to the wrong person.”

    By the time I was off the phone, Andy had already left the office. I sent him an email along the lines of “Andy, I want to clarify that I am always happy to enter orders for regular items. Since this was a parts order and Jim is the individual who orders parts, I passed the email along to him. Please do not be misunderstood that I was unwilling (or am ever unwilling) to assist when need be.”

    A few hours later when Andy returned to the office, he came to my desk and said, “no worries about the request earlier. I just needed it done ASAP and it seemed like you weren’t available to help.” No worries!? I should have been the one accepting an apology from him, not the other way around. He walked away quickly so I didn’t have time to respond.

    For some background, being helpful is my MO in the office. I respond to requests quickly and effectively, and have gotten excellent reviews in my time here (5 years). I was flabbergasted that Andy was seemingly attacking my work ethic.

    By the way, Dwight ended up passing Andy’s request along to Jim, the same thing that I had done.
    Anyway, bottom line is that it was timely seeing the update yesterday from the reader who couldn’t get over a brusque email from a colleague telling her she should check her work more carefully before sending emails. I read the original letter and loved Alison’s take that said colleague’s email response said more about their character than her own!

      1. valentine

        What if everyone stops forwarding (especially the women, if you’re a woman, Jan) and replies to Andy with the correct person he should address?

    1. Spool of Lies

      I work with an Andy so I feel your pain. He’s incapable of tempering his emotional reactions and always flies off the handles, then comes back acting so sweet and sincere like it’s no big deal that he just threw a temper tantrum and somehow I’m the one who should feel bad. He is the epitome of the missing stair.

    2. Sue Ellen Mischkey

      I would report to Andy’s supervisor. Especially if he used that language.

      Since he is under the impression that ANYONE can order ANY parts (since he needs it ASAP) then why doesn’t HE just order the parts? (sarcasm) Oh, that’s not within his scope? Exactly…..

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Yeah, this is something I’d be bringing up to a supervisor. It’s not acceptable behavior in the slightest.

        1. Anonymous spending

          I’d bring it up too. If he really needed you to do this, there are better ways to handle it. I surmise this is the tip of the Andy iceberg.

      2. Jan Levinson

        I can definitely report it, but unfortunately I know it will make absolutely no difference. Andy (to my surprise) is our top sales rep, and has always brought in a ton of money. He’s been here for 15 years and is very comfortable in his position. His manager, Kevin, OTOH, is newish (1.5 years) and is quite the pushover. Andy has gotten a “talking to” from him before, and later I’ve heard him in our open office saying things along the lines of, “Ha, Kevin thinks he’s so big and bad. Give me a break.” (aka, I’m untouchable so don’t test me.)

        1. Qwerty

          Can you report it to your own boss? Since a customer overheard the exchange (foul language and disparaging comments about you), that affects your reputation and your department’s reputation. At the very least it gives you documentation if this become a pattern that eventually needs to be escalated.

          1. Jan Levinson

            Well, I don’t think the customer heard. I was on the phone with the customer about 25 feet away from Andy (not that that makes his behavior any better!) My company (while I enjoy my job) has a habit of dismissing behavior like this. I believe if I reported it to my boss she would sympathize somewhat (i.e. “he can be so rude sometimes,” “unfortunately, that’s Andy for you”, “well, there’s nothing we can do about it since corporate knows how much money he brings in.”), but that would be the end of it.

    3. Anono-me

      When I get a ‘You were wrong, but I forgive you apology’ or an ‘The world is wrong and I’m a victim of it apology’; I like to sweetly and graciously thank the person for their apology and express gladness that they have learned X is correct in our situation or is how the world works. If I am feeling really POed, I might express concern that thre are other things that the obnoxious apologier doesn’t know, but should (Sun rises in the East ect.).

      I see thanking someone for an apology as being somewhat different than accepting the apology, but still avoiding starting another round.

    4. Staja

      I am pretty sure that I used to work at the same Jan-San company… I feel your pain with the Andys (and Ryans and Stanleys) of the world.

      1. Jan Levinson

        Haha, it’s very possible that you did! It’s a small office, but a large company. There are many branches nationwide.

    5. theletter

      “Andy, I would just like to clarify that swearing at people who are actively working to help you is not appropriate in an office setting. I was on the phone with a client. Thank God they didn’t hear you shouting.” You can stand up to this guy. He’s in sales, he’s used to people being direct with him.

  10. LionelRichiesClayHead

    How stylized is your resume? Not talking about those templates that have your picture on them because that is odd (outside of specific areas) or ones that are clearly done for an artistic type of job, but is your formatting pretty plain or do you have a fancy name header or anything like that? While they are certainly aesthetically pleasing, when I look at the majority of templates available they seem a little more frou frou than I was expecting with some design elements especially around the name header. Is this normal now or is the fairly plain resume still the professionally accepted version?

    1. antipepsi

      For my last job search, I used a plain, safely formatted resume for submitting online. In-person, I would use a stylized resume. I received a lot of compliments on it but I guess it also depends on your industry and what kind of company culture you’re trying to attract.

      1. LionelRichiesClayHead

        Oh interested perspective to use one for the online submission and a jazzier version for the in-person!

    2. JobHunter

      Mine is very plain. My name is 18-point Arial with my contact info below it in 11-point Arial. This is centered at the top of the page and separated from the rest if the document by a 1-point solid line. I use Arial bold for the headings and TNR for the body text. My titles and dates are italicized TNR. My KSA section at the end is divided into two columns, so I can fit more on the page. I also use page numbers centered at the bottom.

      1. LionelRichiesClayHead

        Mine is similar. I feel like this is still normal but when I see the stylized versions I question it. But then I also remember that the people selling the resume templates are going to want to advertise with something that is interesting to look at for marketing reasons. Doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go. Unless of course you’re in a more creative sector.

        1. Fortitude Jones

          I’m in a (kind of) creative field now where I spend 90% of my time writing, teaching others to write, and editing proposal submissions, and my resume is still plain. I use Georgia as my font type, and that’s as fancy as it gets, lol. The only people I know who have really beautiful resumes are graphic designers who work in marketing or marketing-adjacent fields.

      2. EddieSherbert

        Mine is also similar; I prefer the clean and easy to read look. However, my contact information prominently includes the link to my online portfolio (very relevant for marketing/video haha) which is a very stylized page!

    3. new kid

      I think it for sure depends on the job/industry. I get a lot of compliments on my stylized resume, but I specifically am trying to come across as someone who creates professional, aesthetically pleasing documents because that’s typically a core function of the roles I’m applying to. If it’s not relevant to the role, at best it’s potentially helping you stand out in a sea of times new roman, but that’s assuming a) you even get the resume in front of real human eyes and b) your qualifications wouldn’t already do that on their own.

      So bottom line, if it’s not your thing I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. LionelRichiesClayHead

        I can definitely see how your role would call for a more stylized resume. And yes, I’m with you on the standing out part-I think I’m trying to figure out if I should branch out in the sea of TNR with maybe a jazzier name header or if my standard corporate type job should stick with the basics.

        1. new kid

          If you’re comfortable creating that type of resume (or don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for a template from Etsy or similar) I don’t think it can hurt, honestly. I would just caution not to give up real estate to a fancy header that doesn’t have useful info in it, which I sometimes see in those kind of templates. If reformatting your resume to look ‘cooler’ means you lose even a single bullet point under your achievements, it’s not worth it.

          1. LionelRichiesClayHead

            I think this is a really good call-out. If there is room for some style, great, but don’t favor it over including job-related information.

            I think i’m going to play around with my resume format this weekend and see if I can strike a balance between standard professional and slightly more modern. Thank you!

      2. Booksalot

        This is where I fall. It benefits my brand to show that I’m capable of a creative-yet-clean design. I have a PDF resume (created in Indesign and Illustrator) that uses graphics and a more complicated layout, and a simpler Word resume for when applications require that file format.

    4. AnotherLibrarian

      Mine is laid out neatly. I use bold, italics and verious font sizes to indicate headings and such. My only indulgence is that it is in my favorite font with is Garmond. Nothing too strange and unless you know fonts, it just looks like a slightly more spaced Time New Roman.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Garamond is so pretty. I used to use it in every paper I submitted in high school until all of my teachers explicitly banned any font other than Times New Roman or Arial.

    5. TL -

      I took one of the templates and simplified it a lot – my name is in blue and a different font and there’s a thick blue line on the left of the header and a slightly darker blue line to the left of the rest of the resume (that matches my name).

      Everything else is pretty standard – times New Roman, bullet points, ect… It adds a bit of pop by giving a nice framing, which is good because some of the jobs I’m applying to have a bit of a visual component. But the actual resume part is very standard.

    6. wingmaster

      I would consider my resume to be simple but with some style elements – pop of color here and there with a border at the edges. I used to make my resumes with Ai, but now I have switched to Canva. I think with the industry I am in (fashion and apparel), having a stylized resume is acceptable.

    7. Layoff Laments

      Thanks for this question, as I have been wondering the same! I opt to use a plain resume that is neatly organized. The roles I apply for require a small amount of graphic design, so I’m always going back and forth on whether my resume should be splashier. Can’t say for certain if a plain resume has hurt me or if a splashy resume would help me…

    8. MissGirl

      Mine is more stylized. It’s my own template. I have gotten a lot of good feedback on it. I upload it as a PDF. It usually requires some cut and paste on the application side of things but most hiring managers download the pdf. The online stuff is more for the recruiters to filter you.

      If they get 100 resumes for the job, I want mine to be distinct. I don’t do infographics or anything crazy.

    9. Just stoppin' by to chat

      I use a somewhat stylized resume template I purchased for $15 (USD) on I HIGHLY recommend this approach if you can afford it. I used it for my current job I got 2 years ago, and my boss still comments on my great-looking resume. In my case, the $15 also included the resume template for both Windows and Mac, and a multi-page resume writing guide (including a very helpful list of action words for my resume) Note that this was not an infographics resume template. But it does have my name in a larger font on the top, and some sections along the left-hand side of the page. I still recommend this approach though. Good luck!

    10. IL JimP

      as someone who reads a lot of resumes, the style really doesn’t matter just please make sure it’s easy to read especially with font size and styles

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Mine is super plain. The only “fancy” elements are a line under my name & contact details in the header, and bold/italic fonts. I had a version that was kind of fancy, with bullet points and underlined headings etc. in a dark teal color, by my other half thought it looked weird so I dropped it.

      I love the look of some of the fancier templates but it seems like all the examples I’ve ever seen have a far more concise work history! I struggle to get mine to have all the pertinent information without being ridiculously terse.

    12. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      Because of the dramas involved with the automated HR systems, I always recommend that folks avoid anything graphic in an ordinary resume being submitted electronically. I do not recommend pdfs. Just a nice MS Word format with minimal sass.

      Templates drive me nuts. Especially the ones that put your name in 48 pt type with unicorns racing down the sides. Does your name carry so much weight that they need to see it so exaggerated? And if so, then you probably didn’t need the embellishments.

      Provide the info they need in the places they were expecting it. Makes everyone’s life easier.

      1. post it

        See, and I have always heard PDF recommended over Word documents because then you don’t have to worry about the formatting going wonky when the person on the other end opens it.

    13. Quinalla

      My resume when I last used it was plain and easy to read font & font size and used bullet points under each job, etc. I’m a mechanical engineer though, so literally no one cares about anything but the content :) One of our principals actually has commented that he doesn’t care about the “ribbons and bows” our marketing folks add to various reports and presentations we do for clients and potential clients, he only cares about the technical content, so some kind of fancy/stylized resume might even been seen as a negative in my line of work.

  11. macademia

    Hi guys, I’m working my first office job and had some question about emails:

    – Do you guys email people who are on the same floor as you? Do you email people who sit right next to you? Is this a sign that a coworker dislikes you?
    – I have some coworkers who CC my boss every time they send an email even if it’s just a thank you. Should I be concerned by this behavior?

    1. mixbag

      i can only speak to 1, but yes!! i find it a lot easier to do this than to interrupt someone who’s working, or be interrupted. i don’t take it as a sign of dislike at all – rather that they know you’re busy and you’ll answer when you can, and they aren’t demanding your time immediately :)

      1. Jules the 3rd

        This. It’s normal to use email to line up requests for your coworkers. That’s actually the default in many offices.

        The fun part is figuring out when it’s right to instant message, call, or talk to them in person (which I see as increasing levels of urgency, though some people IMs / calls are the other way around).

        1. Decima Dewey

          In my city, city workers have been advised not to use informal messaging channels to conduct official city business. Examples of what we’re not supposed to use include text messaging, WhatsApp, Slack, LINE, Telegram, Skype, Facebook Messenger and Direct Messaging on Instagram and Twitter, etc..

          1. EinJungerLudendorff

            Maybe that’s a security issue?
            Still weird if it’s applied that broadly though.

            1. HesterMae

              Security, and in United States, government entities are subject Requests for Information- like FOIA (freedom of information act) but for other governmental levels.
              Also, retention schedules are affected (when to keep information and for how long).

    2. Bloated, Not Pregnant

      1. Yes I do. I like to have things in writing plus it is good if I am focused on something at my desk and don’t want to get up (that usually means having a bunch of people stopping me to chat)
      2. It could just be that you are new, I wouldn’t read too much into it at this point. Maybe the boss asked people to cc her/him on emails to you so he can track what you are doing better. Plus having her/him cc’d on thank yous is always nice so your boss knows you are doing well.

    3. Bubbleon

      I absolutely email people who sit right next to me, it’s not a sign of how I feel about anyone but just that I want to make sure we have things documented in case questions come up in future.
      Ask your boss about them being CCd. Maybe because you’re new they’ve asked other people to copy them, or it’s standard practice in your office to copy a person’s manager for visibility. I frequently copy managers when I’m emailing someone because their manager has asked to be kept in the loop when someone reaches out to their team with questions, again it’s nothing personal and mostly comes down to management styles and tenure.

      1. Triumphant Fox

        I think you know you’ve hit a nerve if you’re going along in an email chain just between you two, then they suddenly loop in their manager or your manager (often with passive aggressive language). Sometimes that’s just a clarifying thing, but sometimes that’s more hostile. just blanket copying managers isn’t that weird depending on the role.

    4. LionelRichiesClayHead

      I definitely email people who are in close proximity unless there is an emergency situation where I need an immediate answer. This really just has to do with me being respectful of each individual’s way of managing their workload and trying not to distract someone with an in-person message who might be trying to concentrate on other work.

      I have definitely seen this before and find it very odd. I think some people either have, or have had, micromanaging bosses who wanted to be included on everything. Or they think they need to do this for transparency or have been “burned” in the past by people throwing them under the bus. I don’t think this is normal and I would never do this unless my boss specifically requested it. But if a boss actually requested that I would also be looking for a different job. I’m not saying I never include my boss on emails but it’s the exception not the rule.

    5. Adminx2

      If I want to track a to do item, it goes in an email. Period.
      If it’s just an FYI or not priority, I instant message.

      I wouldn’t say their CCing everytime is a sign, but bring it up at your next 1:1 with your boss and ask about the office norms (it’s their job as your first boss and meetings you should be having regularly).

    6. Kimmybear

      I am a big proponent of walking over and chatting but I regularly email people that sit 2 cubes over. Here are a few reasons why:
      – Paper trail so I made sure that I remembered to tell them something and that they can reference the notes
      – because they may need to forward it to someone else or I need to copy 2-3 other people
      – because I don’t want to interrupt them or they are in a meeting and I need to get it off my plate and onto their’s
      – because some days I’m just tired and can’t get up out of my chair
      – because sometimes I’m stuck in an awful meeting/conference call and I can email them even if I can’t get up and talk to them.

      As for the cc, it can really vary by office culture and personality. My company copies everyone and their mother on everything and it drives me bonkers.

    7. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

      I will email people nearby for any number of reasons, including:
      (1) I am asking a question that is better answered in writing than verbally (such as, can you send me the link to XYZ).
      (2) I’m providing information that would be useful for them to have in written form (e.g. so they can file it somewhere).
      (3) I am asking a question that is not urgent enough to bother the person with immediately when they are in the middle of something else; sending it by email lets them get to it when it’s convenient to them.
      (4) I’ve been by their office and they are away from their desk, but rather than remember to check later I send the email while I am thinking about whatever the issue is.
      (5) I want someone else to know that I’ve communicated with the person, so I need an email to cc them on.
      I’m sure there are other reasons as well, none of which are “I dislike the person.”

      cc’ing your boss on a “thank you” is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a way of letting your boss know that they think you did something helpful. But more generally, if you are new, it may be that your boss has asked to be included on your correspondence while you ramp up. Or, it may just be a thing that some people do, on the assumption that your boss likes to know what you’re up to. If it worries you, consider checking with your boss about it directly: “Hey, I’ve noticed people cc’ing you on their correspondence with me; is that something you generally want?”

      Good luck! Email etiquette is an easy thing to overthink, but more often than not any motivations you read into people’s email style are likely as not imaginary.

      1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

        Oh, poo – this was supposed to be a response to someone else’s comment. Rats. I’ll try again.

        1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

          Hahah nevermind it was exactly where it was supposed to be. I’ll just go get some coffee.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale

      Email is really important for record-keeping, which is one big reason why yes, I’ll use it even if someone sits right next to me. I like to have a record. Also, writing something helps me organize my thoughts better.

      The cc’ing your boss is likely a culture thing; in some offices, the boss gets cc’d so she can stay in the loop. Also, in some cases, people will cc your boss as kind of a, “macademia did this for me and it was great and I wanted you to know.”

    9. Mbarr

      1. I email everyone, no matter where they sit. The only time I don’t email is if it’s an urgent question (and even then, I usually send an IM). Reason for it include: Paper trail, not wanting to interrupt other people’s work, etc.
      2. The CC’ing the boss thing is weird. I wouldn’t be concerned, but I’d ask your boss if they want that to happen. Maybe there’s a reason, but most likely the boss is like, “Stop spamming me!”

      For #2, if your boss doesn’t want to be included on emails, start BCC’ing them off of the email, but highlight that you’re removing them.

      A. Click reply.
      B. Move boss’ email to BCC line.
      C. In the body of the email, type, “Removing X by BCC”
      D. Continue with email.

      My old manager looooooved how I’d remove them from email threads that grew out of control or no longer relevant.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        I wish this would become an office standard, but people just don’t seem to want to take the time to do it.

      2. min

        I’m confused, how would moving the boss’s email to the bcc line remove them from the email chain? Bcc is blind carbon copy on every email I’ve ever used.

        1. HesterMae

          After the first, bcc email, the boss gets left off the remainder of the email thread, but everyone is aware.

    10. Catsaber

      1. Yes, I will email people on my same floor/sitting right next to me, because it serves as a good written record, like a request or question that I need a recorded response to. If it’s something more casual, I will send them a message in chat, because that allows them to respond on their own time and not get disrupted (we are database developers). Definitely not a sign your coworker dislikes you, unless it’s combined with a bunch of other weird behavior (like they refuse to speak to you in person about anything).

      2. I CC my boss on a lot of stuff, but it’s usually those things that we need records of, and to keep him informed. I’m part of a data warehouse team, and so he needs to be in the loop about stuff. But definitely not for everything, especially not stuff like thank yous. I don’t know if you need to be concerned, but you could ask your boss what their preference is.

    11. Sara

      I do email my coworkers who sit in my area…and wish that they would do the same more often. Not all the time, of course, but I tend to find it the most efficient way to communicate non-urgent information without interrupting anyone’s workflow. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if it’s really pressing and/or a longer conversation is needed, but for quick stuff that doesn’t have to be addressed immediately it’s my preference.

    12. OperaArt

      It’s common at my job to email closely located colleagues, usually to keep a “paper” trail or to act as a record of ideas.

    13. Samwise

      Do you guys email people who are on the same floor as you? YES, all the time

      Do you email people who sit right next to you? YES, if we need a record of the correspondence or if the other person is busy and I’m busy and if I don’t email it, it’s gonna get forgotten. Something super quick and simple: gchat. Otherwise, email.

      Is this a sign that a coworker dislikes you? NO. (unless you’re getting other signals about dislike)

      I have some coworkers who CC my boss every time they send an email even if it’s just a thank you. Should I be concerned by this behavior? NO, but your coworkers are probably driving your boss bonkers. Just check with your boss at your next check in: Boss, I noticed some folks cc you emails I’m receiving; should I be cc’ing you when I’m emailing others in the office?

    14. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

      1. Yes, I do. It makes life so much easier to have things in writing, especially if I am tracking the status of something or am looking for information from the person. It’s easy to flag it for follow up if needed, too. Plus, like someone above said, if the other person is in the middle of something or on the phone, I’m not interrupting.

      2. It could be standard procedure in your office/department, or a preference from your boss to be looped in on everything. I’ve definitely worked for people like that.

    15. Saraphina

      I work for the federal government and we have strict record-keeping policies, so better safe than sorry to put it in an email.

    16. shep

      Unless I have a particularly complicated discussion item or a list of quick, pertinent-to-my-workflow-immediately things that would probably be easier to run through in person, I put pretty much everything in email so (1) it’s documented on my end and (2) the person can get to it when they have time.

      I try to limit the amount of people I CC on emails, but I’ve come to realize that CCing behavior is really specific to workplace culture. It’s different even among departments in my workplace. I think the best thing to do is just ask your supervisor if and when you should be CCing. I definitely CC my supervisor when I’m embarking on a new and/or quarterly interdepartmental project or something similar so she’s aware. I’m still not great at it and tend to overthink whether or not she (and often others) needs to be CCd, so I find myself pulling back every once in a while so I’m not inundating her with EVERYTHING going on in my workflow.

      But again, I think it’s largely specific to your office’s culture and your supervisor’s preference.

    17. EddieSherbert

      1) yes, yes, no. I like email because it lets me track important stuff easily, it lets me get back to something later, and doesn’t interrupt whatever I’m currently working on.

      2) That is weird in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s a sign you should be concerned though, unless their emails are correcting/arguing with/reprimanding you.

    18. Nicki Name

      1) Not in my workplace… because we prefer to IM people who sit right next to us. Either way, it’s a way of distinguishing “Could you answer this when you have time” from “I need your attention ASAP” (which is where we attempt physical talking).

      2) As other comments have pointed out, it depends. But personally I wouldn’t be concerned if people wanted to let my boss know every time they thanked me. :-)

    19. so many resumes, so little time

      I email people on my floor/right next to me all the time and did even before we switched to an open office. I like having a written record.

      I have one colleague who, instead of emailing his replies, will come to my office to answer my questions. I always make him stop while I open a file or start a new email and write everything down, so there’s no confusion later about what was said. Not because my colleague is trying to cause trouble but because it’s easy to forget or mis-remember things that are spoken.

      Some bosses like to be copied on everything, especially with new employees. Hopefully that won’t last long for you.

    20. House Tyrell

      My office is big on emailing people, even if they are literally right next to you and you share a cubicle wall. It leaves a paper trail, but also allows the person to answer you later if they are busy at the moment.

      I would personally find CCing the boss really annoying if it was on everything, but if you’re still new, it might be so they can be able to see what you’re up to and see the good things you’re doing- like when you get thank yous. I wouldn’t be concerned unless it was mostly negative or seemed passive aggressive.

    21. Asta

      I totally email people who sit nearby, or message on Slack. Otherwise I would constantly disturb them from working, make them lose their train of thought etc. It’s just polite.

      Not sure about the cc thing though!

    22. cat socks

      1. Yes, I will email people on the same floor or next to me. It helps to have documentation of the issue. And a lot of times people are on conference calls so I can’t just walk over to them and ask my question. I’ll email them so I don’t forget to ask later. Sometimes we’ll end up chatting later about the question in the email or they will also respond back via email.

      2. I think it’s overboard to CC the boss on every email. My boss gets a ridiculous amount of email already I couldn’t imagine copying him on everything I sent.

    23. AnonEMoose

      Not only do I routinely email people on the same floor and/or sit near me, I’ve actually asked my boss to instruct co-workers to email me rather than stopping by my desk at particularly busy times.

      It’s nothing personal. But at the time I was on a hard deadline, and doing complex work that required sustained attention. An interruption, even for “just a quick question” could cost me 30 minutes or more. And it was time I didn’t have.

      Plus, for the coworkers, it was “one quick question.” For me, it was 10 people interrupting me. Even if they each only asked me one question a day…at 30 minutes per interruption, that adds up fast. But if they emailed me, I could answer them between tasks, and so it was maybe 5-10 minutes instead of having to take my attention away from what I was doing, pull up the relevant records and figure out the answer, and then have to go back to what I was doing and try to determine where I’d left off.

      I also got my boss’s permission to send calls directly to voicemail during that time. And to implement a few “make asking me the less easy option” strategies. Maybe extreme, but what I needed to do to get through the work in the time available.

    24. Beancounter Eric

      Email people close by – of course you should – “If it isn’t written down, it never happened.”

      CC’ing the Boss – I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

    25. Virginia Girl

      1. Yep! I work in a office where we are all on the same floor. I use email all the time.
      2. No clue.

    26. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      1. I absolutely email people who sit on the same floor as me and people who sit right next to me. As others have said, I like to have things in writing and I don’t want to run the risk of interrupting someone.
      2. I don’t subscribe to cc’ing the world on my emails. I send to (and cc) only relevant parties. I will cc the higher ups if things have escalated to a critical point.

    27. ACDC

      I frequently email the person who sits next to me because my works requires a lot of things to be in writing. She knows I’m not doing it to avoid speaking with her, but it 1) allows her to respond on her own terms and timeline, and 2) keeps everything in writing to document steps, processes, etc.

    28. Mama Bear

      1. Sometimes, yes. We may need the paper trail or if it’s a task vs a question, they may need to revisit it later. I don’t think it’s always a sign that they don’t like you. Do they ever talk to you? Or do they actively avoid you? Is it just you or everyone? I used to work in an open office (meh) and some of the folks were chatty and some really kept to themselves.

      2. It’s a little weird to CC the boss on a thank you except if the boss was cc’d earlier or they think the boss needs to see that a particular issue was resolved. Bosses need to be kept in the loop and this may be the coworker’s way of doing so. Or the boss may have asked them to do that either all the time or for that project.

      Is the coworker who doesn’t talk to you also the same one that cc’s the boss on everything? That may say more about them than you.

    29. C

      tl;dr: Yes. Yes. No. Probably not.

      My use of email vs. face-to-face depends a lot on what it is we’re talking about. I often pop my head over the cube wall if I need something from my neighbor, but not always, particularly if there are other people who need the info he provides. My floor is large, so I usually only go physically to someone’s desk if i have something that’s really time-sensitive or would just take too long to get into over email. Most of the time they’re not at their desk, anyway, so it would be a waste of time to do on the regular.

      As for ccing the boss, that’s not a thing that would usually happen at my company, but that is super company and team (and boss) culture dependent. I only cc someone’s boss on stuff if it’s time sensitive and the person I’m emailing might be out of the office, or if I know it’s something their boss would want to be aware of. In your case it, especially since your new, it could be a way to make sure your boss is aware of all the things you are doing, so not a tattle-tale thing, but as a “macademia is doing good work” thing. Or it could be that their boss likes to be cc’d on everything so they automatically cc other people’s bosses on everything. Hard to say.

    30. Urdnot Bakara

      To your first question, I sit right next to three coworkers with whom I work directly and yes, we email each other. If it’s a quick request or a question, sometimes we lean over and ask, but sometimes it’s clear the coworker is busy so I email. I definitely have colleagues on the same floor who will walk over and talk to me when they need something, but I’m lazy so I just email! My boss’s desk is also close to me but he rarely comes over and talks to me–usually just emails or calls. TL;DR walking over and talking to someone is fine, but emailing is also perfectly fine no matter how close someone sits, and not a sign of dislike!

    31. Kate H

      I think both of these depend partly on office culture.

      1. In my office, it’s perfectly normal to email people who sit right next to you. I do it ALL the time. It’s partially so there’s a paper trail of conversations–it’s not uncommon for me or my boss to go digging through our emails to find something someone sent us months ago. It also means we’re not constantly breaking each others’ concentration to talk about something that can easily be discussed by email.
      2. My office encourages liberal use of “reply all.” About 90% of my emails include CCs to my boss, and another 50% include our department head as well. In theory, this is so everyone’s on the same page if upper management wants to know how a project is going, or if someone needs to weigh in. In practice, it’s often micro-managing. You can certainly ask if this is common practice in your office and how your boss wants you to handle emails.

    32. hamburke

      OldJob required that I cc my boss on every email – I found it annoying but did it. At CurrentJob, I cc my boss when I need her input, send reports to clients or do work above and beyond the contract (so she knows to bill them for project work). I email her directly when I need to pass some work to her, remind her of something or when she’s busy/on the phone and I need her input so I can set that aside and move on to something else. I like my boss and respect her workflow – definitely not a sign that I dislike her, more a sign that I can’t multitask very well b/c I’ll forget my question once I set it aside. I will interrupt with important things or items that need immediate attention plus, both of us like to have a paper trail to check back to.

  12. LGC

    So, to update the saga of the office pooper from last week: my coworker and I both suggested that we stock the bathrooms with deodorizers to one of the VPs. And she said she’d look into it! (Which is something, because I’ve been summarily shot down before about facilities stuff since we’re a non-profit.)

    Also, I’ve (re-)introduced my coworker to the “Girls Don’t Poop” ad and it was a hit.

  13. AlexandrinaVictoria

    Once again, a manager who has been reported to HR and Ethics multiple times, has caused almost 100% turnover in their department because they are a noxious, toxic mess, and who is just….a bad person, has gotten a hefty promotion. Why does this happen? When do the honest, kind, hard-working non-airbags get their share?

    1. Data Nerd

      Wouldn’t know–I’ve just had my own promotion sabotaged by my department head because if I’m promoted to the same level as his little princess, I’ll make her look bad. Why yes, I am working on my resume.

    2. HR Disney Princess

      Ugh – I’m sorry, I worked for an HR Director previously who was so mean she had made multiple people cry from personal insults that she hurled at them. I ended up quitting as it was my first HR job but I knew that it couldn’t be normal, and another person left the department as well. It was well known that she was terrible to anyone
      “below” her and didn’t care to help anyone… She is now the VP of HR at her company.

      Sometimes bad people suck up to the decision makers and they don’t see all the bad stuff. :(

    3. Michael Valentine

      This is so hard to deal with! It reminds me of when the girl who bullied me in school won an award for being a good Christian at the end of the year.

      Many times, the offenders are really good at making others look like the problem. “Everyone who couldn’t deal with our department’s high standards left.” Or there’s the boss who’s “great” at managing the budget, but they do it at the expense of everyone’s efficiency–I had a director who got her position from being this way, and it meant that we never had pens (or anything else we needed) and she said we should order from the $1 menu at McDonald’s when on the road (we traveled usually for a whole week at a time). I once got a $20 annual raise. We looked like money wasters if we said anything, so she kept getting accolades for her penny pinching!

      1. Mellow

        “It reminds me of when the girl who bullied me in school won an award for being a good Christian at the end of the year.”

        The things that make me want to just positively scream…

      2. Windchime

        ‘Many times, the offenders are really good at making others look like the problem. “Everyone who couldn’t deal with our department’s high standards left.” ‘

        Yes, this! I had a bully manager who was this way. She was so destructive, but she had a calm, rational way of eviscerating her employees. Her peers all knew she was terrible and toxic, but people above her just saw her calm, ‘rational’ approach and loved her. She fired 1/3 of the department and was working on firing others; her punishment was being promoted to Director over the objections of her peers and HR. All the time, she kept saying that she had high standards for the department and this kind of work “isn’t for everybody”. Finally, the department banded together and someone in a very high position took notice and, after an investigation, she was fired. But not before she completely destroyed the reputation of the department and drove countless people to quit or get fired.

    4. No name

      It can happen. My workplace’s C-suite not too long ago fired the head of my department and his underling, who caused insane amounts of turnover in the department and tanked morale. Since then, the search is still in-process for their replacements and the very higher-ups are assisting with handling the day-to-day operations in the meantime. My division was notified of job title restructuring that resulted in me getting a nearly 15% raise, and that still doesn’t account for the annual salary increase that will be coming.

      Sometimes, dreams come true. I’m just sad the fired people got to wreak havoc for a few years first.

    5. KnittyGritty

      I’m firmly convinced that people like that get promoted “up out of the way”. The company knows they are awful and don’t do any work, so the promotion is just to get them out of the way of the people actually doing the work.

    6. Dr Dimple Pooper

      I believe that there is a book entitled “The Peter Principle”, which said you get promoted up to the level of your incompetence.

      I didn’t read the book, but it really makes sense.

      1. buttrue???

        I knew a guy who this held for and then some. I was a coop with my work station in a different area then my boss. One on the guys in this section was given little to no work and couldn’t find the simplest things in the file cabinet.

      2. TPS Cover Sheet

        It though doesn’t cover malevolence and promoting the pointy-haired bosses ”out of the way” because they are incompetent in what they are now. The ”peter principle” is that you are good in what you do now, but then you get promoted and are out of your league.
        There however is the ”dilbert principle” by Scott Adams, which states that companies tend to systematically promote incompetent employees to management to get them out of the workflow. Which I think applies here.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD

      In the case of my toxic former manager, who was also reported to HR and her higher ups on multiple occasions, it was because she was so utterly charming to the people she didn’t abuse that no one believed us. Never mind that there were ~40 people in the organization who had to be transferred to different departments because of her bullying, she’s just so much fun at the manager meetings and she schmoozes so well with donors and volunteers! How bad can she really be? *headdesk*

    8. Mama Bear

      Or there’s someone protecting that person. I know someone who has caused nearly 100% turnover in the area they oversee (some jobs more than one person has left) but the big bosses won’t budge. They would rather have a revolving door than replace the bad manager. My guess is that there’s an EEO complaint somewhere or they have friends in high places.

  14. Audiophile

    I got a job!

    I’m so excited to start. I’ll be moving away from the nonprofit sector and joining a small digital agency. Really excited for this new chapter. Really glad it moved pretty quickly.

    1. Mbarr

      Welcome to the capitalist side of things! You need a magnet like mine, “Proudly serving my corporate masters.”

  15. Lucette Kensack

    How do you include a promotion on your LinkedIn when it is really just a delayed acknowledgment of your appropriate title?

    I got a new title and salary as of July 1, but my work isn’t changing. (The new title reflects the work that I have been doing for the past several years; I’ve had to do battle with my organization to be given an accurate title.) I want to celebrate it, get congratulations from my network, etc…. but aside from the title itself, there are no new or different bullet points.

    On my resume, it’s pretty straightforward. I do something like this:

    New Title (July 2019 – )
    Old Title (September 2017 – June 2019)
    – Accomplishments

    But LinkedIn doesn’t let you combine titles in the same way (unless I’ve just missed that functionality, in which case yay).

    Any ideas?

    1. Jimming

      I’d add a short sentence about the promotion under the new title. Something like “Promoted to Job Title due to taking on more responsibilities over the past 2 years” Something of that nature to summarize what you said here. Congrats!

    2. Five after Midnight

      Congratulations! For LinkedIn, I’d recommend one of two options:
      1. Convert current job listing to use New Title but leave the starting date alone. (September 2017 – ). Then in the job description the first line would be Old Title (September 2017 – June 2019) and then your accomplishments starting on the second line. – This is how I handle(d) all my promotions.
      2. Create a new position with New Title and new starting date (July 2019 – ) and move all accomplishments to this new job. Then change the original Old Title section to have a closing date (September 2017 – June 2019) and leave job description blank. Over time you may be able to add more bullets/accomplishments to the New Title listing and move some of the older ones to Old Title section.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger

      From an employment verification standpoint, just list your new title as starting on July and your previous position as ending in June. You should probably move your accomplishments with the old title, unless/until they pay off when you’re in the new title (i.e. you started a project that finished when you officially have your new title.

      That may help show “progressively greater responsibilities” as a bonus.

  16. Eillah

    I’m covering for a coworker this morning and feel way too guilty about farting in her chair.

    1. Dr Dimple Pooper

      But will the coworkers next to you pay the price from your recent deviled egg and beer bash?

    2. Fortitude Jones

      LMAO! I’m so glad I work from home now – the only person who’ll be farting in my chair is me.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      The one who will really care is the person downwind of your fan right now.

  17. General Chaos Wrangler

    I just got an offer to go full-time at the job I’ve been working part time since December. The offer is about 20% more than I’m making now, and about 10% more than I would have asked for. Other benefits are comparable.

    I’m excited because it would mean escaping the slightly to very toxic workplace (I’ve said Allison could write her whole next book on this place) that I’ve been at for the last 4 ½ years. My boss has been very good to me over the years: regular raises, appreciation gift cards, and we’ve talked about me advancing in the company. It’s a small, boy’s club kind of place, so that is huge. On the flip side, this is a very exclusive arrangement, where he as a C-Suite is going above and beyond for a direct report. This is not the company culture, even senior managers have to ask for raises after, 3-5 years.

    Anyway, as much as I want to leave, the idea of leaving is terrifying. Of course there’s guilt about leaving a boss who’s been good to me, and “better the devil you know,” right? How have all of you dealt with resignation guilt, and silenced your doubts?

    1. Lily Rowan

      It sounds like your boss is a good person who wants you to succeed, so the odds are that they will be very happy for you!

      And the thing about “the devil you know” is that not all jobs are hell! Which is sometimes hard to remember.

      Congrats, and good luck!

    2. Minocho

      I try to take emotion out of it by making lists of pros and cons. The lists can include emotion (job satisfaction or cool coworkers are totally pros, for example!), but then the decision is about seeing it all laid out and deciding relative value of the listed pros and cons.

      Another tool I use is the advice of people I trust. I have a much easier time sorting through emotional things with emotional intelligence when I am not personally involved, so if I have people I truly trust, I ask for their perspective. They will also value my emotional needs, but have a clearer perspective. I don’t take anyone’s advice without my own examination of it, but it can give me a much better outside perspective to help me balance my current emotional state.

    3. new kid

      I’ve always struggled with the “better the devil you know” mindset because I’ve had situations where I’ve moved from bad to worse, and that seems especially easy to do when you’re desperate to get out of a bad situation. But besides trying to look at the new role as objectively as possible and making sure you ask the right questions up front so you know what you’re getting into, I think a big part of it really can be attitude. When I find myself overthinking on worst case scenarios, now I try to force myself to think ‘what’s the *best* thing that could happen?’ and be in that mindset instead. It’s hard, but I think it’s really making a difference.

    4. Clementine

      I have made some bold job switches. Here are a few things that may help.

      * Acknowledge it’s possible the move is a mistake due to some unknown factors. If so, what will be your backup plan? This may seem counter-intuitive, but I find it really helpful to know that I have thought through worst-case scenarios. It’s human and expected that you do not have perfect knowledge, and you are doing the best with the knowledge you do have.
      * Acknowledge you will miss some features of your old workplace. That is totally okay.
      * Think about the situation if you were the boss. Would you want an employee to stay in a sub-optimal situation if she had something better on offer? A fair and reasonable person, which of course many are not, wants their employees to flourish, even if it’s outside their team.
      * Think about all the horrors you are leaving behind. As soon as you leave, you will feel a huge weight lifted, I am sure. I know that bad jobs can leave their psychic mark, but mostly I quit worrying and fretting about impossible situations as soon as I am out of them.

    5. Kiwiii

      With someone who has been supportive of you, while they may be disappointed to see you go, it’s pretty likely that they’ll continue to be supportive as you leave. Money reasons are good reasons to leave, as is being there for 4+ years. You can tell him how much you’ve appreciated him while in the position.

  18. Adminx2

    What I wish I could psychically blast to the world:

    It’s hot and humid in much of the northern hemisphere and will likely become more so for another month. Please use half the scents you normally would.

    Also still convinced outdoor picnic to grill for 150 people in late August afternoon is a bad idea.

    1. Mbarr

      Why?! Why do people still insist on wearing scents to work?! I can’t figure out if they’re just oblivious or obnoxious.

      1. Moray

        It baffles me too. It’s probably the same motivation that makes them wear perfume/cologne on public transportation.

        1. Tib

          People usually put fragrance on before they leave the house. They’re not doing it at you.

          1. nekosan

            Actually – sometime, yes, people do use perfume in a 100% intentional offensive manner, The few times I’ve told someone that their scent is probably lovely but unfortunately gives me a migraine, they have decided to “test” this out by spraying their perfume directly outside my cubicle (causing me to go home for a few days with a migraine).

        2. Peacock

          What is so baffling about people wanting to smell nice? Like Tib says, no one wears fragrance *at* someone and there’s no malicious intent behind it. I highly doubt anyone wears fragrance with the purpose of pissing off the small percentage of people with scent sensitivity.

      2. Liz

        Better yet the POOL. I was doing laps in my complex pool last night after work, and there was a group of teenage/early 20s girls right on the other side of the lane, just hanging out chatting. Which is fine but every time I swam past them, i got a whiff of nasty, cheap perfume.

    2. London Calling

      It’s preferable to the wafts of BO from the people straphanging on the underground. Wash your pits, people, and DEODORANT.

      1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

        In an ideal world, everyone would be familiar with the concept of bathing properly and using unscented products. I can be clean and fresh without having to smell like flowers or woods!

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!

      For me it’s not perfume/cologne so much as its scented laundry detergents & fabric softener. Horrible things and I really wish that they would go away. I was at a public garden on Tuesday and a family of about 5 passed me. The smell was so strong my eyes watered and my sinus’ started to swell – if we had been in an enclosed room I would have started to have breathing issues.
      It’s weird, I know a lot of people that have stopped using perfume/cologne because so many people have scent related issues – but never even thought about detergents!

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, there is a particular brand of laundry soap I can smell from a mile away. And I can literally tell when my neighbor is doing laundry because of the perfume-y dryer sheets she uses.

        There is a lady who gets to work before me. Once in awhile we have arrived at the same time, so I know who she is. Anyway, I can tell when she is already at work because the elevator smells so strongly of her perfume that I can barely breathe. I feel sorry for her co-workers.

      2. Liz

        HATE LOATHE AND DESPISE any and all scented laundry stuff. i just can’t stand it. I have the same reaction you do. along with a headache. it drives me batty

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I was working on something the other day where I had to stop into the leasing office at a bunch of different apartment complexes. I walk into one, and it has this sickly-fruity-musky smell, like a musky Love Spell from Victoria’s Secret. I was in there for 15 seconds and I was like, I can’t take this.

      I sucked it up long enough to have my brief meeting, but yikes. It was awful! My hair reeked for a good hour or two after. I have no idea how anyone who lives in the building or works in that office functions.

    5. Say no to perfume

      I have a rant that I like to perform about how perfume is entirely unnecessary now. It was invented during a period of history when we did not have things like washing machines or deodorant or regular bathing, so people used perfume to cover the BO. And now that we have those things, there is far less need of perfume, and my fellow asthmatics and I would dearly love it if perfume would just go away already.

      That’s the short version.

    6. Quinalla

      I’ve noticed a sharp decrease in the amount of people wearing perfumes, etc. and how strong, but still, every once in awhile I walk past someone and about fall over. I am very sensitive to odors, so unless I am having a physical reaction or it is somewhere I have to be for a long stretch and/or often (work, home, etc.) then I try to let folks be about it and if I am having a physical reaction, I try to be kind in a request to tone it done or just don’t burn that candle here please or whatever and assume good faith.

      1. Washed Out Data Analyst

        I feel vindicated in how much less popular perfume is nowadays. Growing up, my parents always wore really strong perfume that gave me headaches and made me nauseous. When I complained about it, my mom told me to shut up and it was all just psychological, and that I was too sensitive. I’m glad to see that it’s definitley not just me!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood

      This week I finally worked up the nerve to ask someone NOT to wear so much.
      I was at my desk and the air was fine. He walked past and WOW.
      I went right over. “I’m sorry, I have to ask you to not wear so much cologne. It triggers my migraines.”
      “Oh okay” he said. And he hasn’t reeked since.
      Next up… third attempt at getting the new contract facilities team to NOT refresh the air freshener gel packs in the bathroom near me. This was agreed on months ago with the HR rep who they report to, but every time staff changes, they forget to include the exception and I have to hold my breath to use the toilet.

      1. Bagpuss

        Could you ask for the holder to be removed in that bathroom, or if that isn’t possible, for a notice to be put on it or for it to be sealed in some way? That way, even if the staff are not told there is an exception, either they can’t because there is nowhere to put the gel pack, or there is a reminder at the point they are doing it.

  19. A Nonnus Mousicus

    Dear AAM Hivemind – I have run into something of a quandary. I started my current job less than a year ago. At the point that I accepted the offer, I was very enthusiastic about the position and the company – feeling that it was going to be a good change for me to have something much more regimented and stable. As the months have gone on, however, I’ve found myself starting to burn out. The company itself is excellent and financially solid, I love the people that I work with, but the work/life balance just doesn’t exist. My time is counted down to the second, every moment gone over with a fine toothed comb. This is, in part, due to the type of company that it is and the work that we do. Not to mention the fact that my department seems to be simultaneously neglected and micromanaged. Even if I were to bring up these concerns with my manager, I’d be very surprised if anything ever actually changed. I have a young child at home and know that the fact that I have no flexibility and no chance of ever getting it is already taking a huge toll on my mental health. I have a possible opportunity to jump ship to a company where my friend works (at which they are thriving). My dilemma is this, although I am completely worn down to the bone and know that to continue would be disastrous for me, I still feel a great deal of guilt at possibly leaving this job. When I started I was in something of a difficult situation and they took care of me. As well, I know that I am an essential part of a lot of different projects in a department that is already spread pretty thin. If I were to leave, it would cause a lot of problems. On top of all of this, it’s been less than a year and that may reflect poorly on my resume (though I have been at most of my previous jobs for 2 years or more). I feel that the answer is probably staring me right in the face, but I would welcome feedback from you all, faithful Ask a Manager readers.

    1. MissBliss

      I am of the opinion that ultimately, you need to take care of yourself. It might put them in a tough spot, but even if you waited until next year, or five years from now, to leave, they’re probably going to be in a tough spot. It’s better for all involved for you to leave before you get too burnt out.

    2. L.S. Cooper

      Get out. Get ouuuuuuut. *rattles chains like Jacob Marley*
      They’re taking such a toll on you because of how short-staffed they are. And as for the short stay, if it’s just one, and you have a clear explanation, I have to imagine that’d be okay.
      And if you feel guilty about doing it for yourself: do it for kiddo. I will be very surprised if kiddo hasn’t noticed that you’re stressed– these things bleed out, and kids are clever buggers. Teaching your child that it’s okay to put your health first is a really important lesson.

      1. A Nonnus Mousicus

        Not gonna lie, this made me get a bit misty. My kid is still just a peanut, but I am very sure that he sees how stressed I am.

        1. Mimi

          One of the lessons my mom taught me is to get out of a job when you need to.

          She did this by staying in a bad job too long, which is not the way I recommend to teach that lesson.

          (It was complicated, the job had paid for my college and way paying for my brother’s… but she needed to leave, and things worked out okay after she did.)

        2. Fortitude Jones

          Another reason you need to get out is that if the job is taking a serious toll on your mental health, you won’t be in the best position to interview well, which is going to greatly impact the types of jobs you’ll be able to get. You need to be (relatively) well-rested and clearheaded during a job search to ensure you’re not missing red flags that will have you ending up in a situation that’s just as bad (or worse) than the one you’re trying to escape. Good luck.

    3. LionelRichiesClayHead

      I’m not trying to be insensitive or say that you aren’t an important part of the company, but anytime anyone leaves there are challenges that have to be dealt with in terms of important projects and workloads. It’s a normal part of business to have to make those adjustments. They will be fine.

      Take care of yourself, be gracious, give the standard notice, make as much effort as you can to wrap up and transition your work, and move on to the opportunity where it is more likely you will thrive. I’m thrilled you have found something that will fit your life better. It’s so important!

    4. Four lights

      I would say don’t be afraid to leave. if this is what’s best for you and your life in your career, then you should do it. If something happened to that business and it was it was best for them to let you go they would do it. I think it’s been set here before that having a job less than a year on your resume isn’t the biggest deal, it’s more of a pattern that the problem.

    5. Anonymous Poster

      You have a reasonable reason for leaving – you liked the work and what you were doing, but you simply needed a workplace that lets you better accommodate your changing life and family circumstances.

      That’s reasonable, and if it’s not a pattern, no one will really blame you for that one. Go forth and feel no guilt.

    6. Overeducated

      Make sure you’d be jumping into a better situation in terms of flexibility and culture, but don’t feel guilty about leaving a situation that isn’t working for you, as workers we can all be replaced. I think the answer staring you right in the face is that you can and should try to get out of a job that really isn’t working for you.

    7. Samwise

      Same as what every one else is saying, plus this: it sounds like the department is understaffed and underresourced (spread thin, neglected) as well as poorly managed / micromanaged. That’s on *them* — they are not providing the resources needed.

      Also, they did not hire you just to be nice — they hired you because they judged that you would be a good worker. Not matter how nice they are, they would not have hired you only to help you out. Especially not into an underresourced department…

    8. Minocho

      Yes, as others have said, you have to take care of yourself. I have a hard time doing this too – and I totally get feeling grateful for an opportunity and terrible for “leaving so soon”. But you have a little person depending on you, so it’s doubly important you take care of yourself so you have the spoons to take care of them too (for me, I must have energy left to serve my feline masters when I get home. Furry eternal toddlers…). What you can do is begin the search. Who know how long it will take, but find something that meets your needs. When you have it, you show your gratitude to your current company by giving them notice and giving them your time and effort until the end of your notice period.

      Good luck!

    9. LadyByTheLake

      The answer IS staring you right in the face. Leave. A year is plenty of time, you owe them nothing. Get out.

    10. Zephy

      If the business thought it made sense to let you go, you’d have been gone yesterday. Leaving one job after less than a year (or any arbitrary amount of time) isn’t a problem; it’s when you’ve only spent 8 months at all of your jobs that a hiring manager will look askance at you for that.

      Would taking the opportunity at the other company give you what you need to take care of yourself and your kid? Then go for it. What challenges your current company will face after you leave are none of your concern.

    11. Rusty Shackelford

      So take care of these people who you believe took care of you. Give them sufficient notice, tie up all the loose ends you can, document everything. But don’t force yourself to stay in an untenable situation.

    12. Spool of Lies

      I was in a very similar situation two years ago. I felt so guilty about leaving (especially because I had only been there for 5 months) but I was so overworked and the job had changed significantly from what I signed up for.

      I have never once regretted leaving. Get outta there!

    13. Bend & Snap


      however it was when you started, they’re not taking care of you now, and your well being comes first.

      It’s business. They’ll manage.

    14. Sara without an H

      They didn’t hire you to “take care” of you. They hired you because they thought you would be an asset to their badly-run business. Repeat this until you believe it.

      So read all the AAM archives about job-searching and interviewing, and go find a job that works for you.

    15. QCI

      “They helped me when I was in need” is rarely a reason to stay somewhere you aren’t happy with, because that’s not why they hired you. They didn’t bring you in out of the goodness of their hearts or as a charity case.

    16. MissDisplaced

      If the job is not the right fit leave.
      Life is too short. A one year stint won’t kill you.

    17. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      Pursue this other opportunity–send your resume, interview, etc. If you get through all of that and you still think it’s a good fit, GO FOR IT. Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that your current company will be in dire straits if you left. Yes, they will need to make adjustments, etc. But they WILL do it –because they’ll have to. It’s a normal part of business. It’s called Succession Planning. As for your resume, don’t stress. There are plenty of articles right here on AAM that talk about how to deal when you’ve left a job after less than a year.

    18. Batgirl

      If it helps with the guilt, leaving is probably the best thing you can do for them. The best way to redress a dysfunctional system from the bottom is to stop propping it up. When their best staff, the sensible self-care people, all leave that’s the only time the top tiers really start to make changes. Or it folds; which is best for everyone if it’s a sooner rather than later situation.
      That aside GET OUT. You’re not serving your career well, or yourself, or your home life. The one year thing, one time, does not a pattern make, so go forth and prosper elsewhere… Good luck!

  20. Mimmy

    Well, my leap of faith in posting to a professional listserv last week has potentially paid off – I have an opportunity to do an internship! I am spending a few hours at the office of a university disability services office on Tuesday. You guys, I am so nervous!! Not about whether I’ll be able to do it but whether this is too good to be true. The woman invited me and she is absolutely fine with the fact that I’m not a current student anywhere (though I may enroll in a program to start in the spring).

    I also met with another disability services provider the other day (I posted about that in last week’s Open Thread), but that didn’t go nearly as well. It was my fault though. I wrote him later that day and apologized. He works for the same university but a different unit from where I’m going Tuesday. I am paranoid, however, because I mentioned Tuesday’s meeting, so I’m hoping he doesn’t try to thwart this opportunity.

    Please send up positive vibes that all goes well next week!!!

      1. Mimmy

        Will do!

        Forgot to mention that is actually an unpaid internship and is only 10-15 hours a week, so I would still have my current part-time job. However, if this pans out, it would provide valuable experience and possible future opportunities.

    1. Kiwiii

      Congrats on the opportunity!! I hope it goes really well.

      As for a lead if it doesn’t (and I apologize if you’ve ruled this out already): I found my way into social services work through a temp agency. Disability-related services might not necessarily use 50%-100% contract and/or LTE staff, but it’s pretty likely that someone in whatever your state’s health services/welfare services departments do and hiring for those positions is a lot less rigorous than other state work. Looking directly on your (and neighboring) county’s websites might also find some related (or general proximity) clerical work that can get you moving in the right direction.

  21. MissBliss

    When I was offered my job, they couldn’t meet my salary request due to internal policies but I was told that I would receive a salary increase upon completion of my graduate degree (I was halfway through when I was hired). Come to find out later, the form to get pre-approval for that salary increase was supposed to be filled out *at time of hire*– but I wouldn’t know that, since I wasn’t an employee, and my department is tiny, so they hadn’t experienced this before.

    Word just came back from HR that it will not be a problem (even though I’ve been here a while) and my pre-approval has been submitted, though the policy has changed and it is no longer a salary increase but a flat sum. I’m just happy I know the answer now!

      1. Justme, The OG

        Yes. I got a lump sum payout of a percentage of my salary when I got my Masters. It is possible to have a percentage increase depending on your job classification (but my job classification pays more and has better benefits).

      2. MissBliss

        Neither I nor my supervisor currently know if it will be a one time payment, or the flat amount added to my annual salary. But the organization recently changed from having percentage increases to having flat dollar amount increases (it’s an equity thing), so I wouldn’t rule out having the few thousand dollars just added to my current annual salary.

        1. MissBliss

          Well I just confirmed and it is an increase on my base salary, which is very exciting! It comes out to about twice what it would have been had it been the percentage increase.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Congrats! And kudos to your HR department for acting in good faith and giving you the increase even though your manager didn’t put in the correct documentation at the right time. I’ve known places that would have told you you were just out of luck.

  22. blaise zamboni

    Happy Friday to all! When I got to work today, the first thing I saw was an email about bees. There are literally bees in the office. I hope that’s not a sign.

    Also, this is officially the end of my 4th week in my new job, and I was able to find a room that a newer person needed. So I guess I’m not new anymore! I’m loving my team and my company. It’s such a huge change from my last job, which was full of metaphorical bees. I know a lot of people here have started new jobs recently – sending out good vibes that you’re all enjoying them too.

    1. Amber Rose

      Yes but are they evil bees? Usually you can tell by the blackish purple smoke coming off them, at least if video games are to be believed.

      1. blaise zamboni

        Ha! I didn’t see them so I’m not sure, but I knew they were nearby because I couldn’t fast-travel from that part of the building…huge inconvenience.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      Recently we had ants in our office…and tracked them back to an anthill *IN THE CARPET*…so I am convinced the He’ll mouth is on the move. And I am hoping it has now spawned baby hellmouthlets.

      1. Bee's Knees

        It 100% has. Our corporate overlords will be here next week, and our portion of the evil energy is probably going to go up.

      2. Llama Face!

        Well we recently had someone say “The devil is coming!” to our front counter staff (as what I assume was their version of goodbye). So a hellmouthlet may have migrated north…

    3. Fortitude Jones

      Thank you, blaise zambonie. I’m ending my 11th week with my new company, and I do love it – working from home full-time is definitely living up to the dream I always had of it in my head. I’m so much more relaxed, and some of the health issues I had when I was working outside of the home have now either disappeared completely or have significantly lessened. I’m glad you’re also loving your new job :) It’s a nice feeling.

      1. blaise zamboni

        That’s awesome! WFH is a dream of mine too, it’s nice to hear it lives up to the hype. I feel the same way, my health issues are markedly improved and I have so much more energy to pursue my hobbies outside of work because I’m not stressed and miserable. I’m really glad you’re having such good results! Congratulations and keep it up :)

  23. SNS

    What do you think about blocking/soft blocking your boss on social media? (Hopefully my vagueness doesn’t make this hard to understand)

    Basically there’s been some unnecessary drama in my office around social media. A coworker said something vague about another coworker, someone shared it during a work happy hour and it blew up. I foolishly got myself caught in the middle by replying to the coworker’s tweet in sympathy and revealing more about the situation making it a little more obvious who it was about.

    Both tweets have been deleted and I’m hoping it will all blow over soon, but in the meantime, I blocked the coworkers who were discussing and sharing the post. But during the drama, my one boss followed me, I assume because she heard what was going on. I have a “professional” account associated with my company, but the account my offending tweet was on has no affiliation with my company and doesn’t even have my last name on it. I ended up “soft blocking” my boss (blocking, then blocking her so she was no longer following me), but I’m feeling guilty. I’m not trying to hide anything, and I’m really not tweeting anything I wouldn’t be comfortable with my boss seeing, I just want to keep my account separate from work and not have to worry about monitoring what I say on it. Is that a mistake?

    1. Four lights

      I don’t problem with this. I think it’s always a good idea to block bosses and sometimes coworkers from social media just to keep work and personal life separate.

    2. MPA

      I think it’s a good idea. I ended up regretting allowing coworkers to follow me on social media (My IG is protected, and my Twitter was not, but didn’t have my real name associated with it but I felt close to a coworker and told them and then really ended up regretting it later.

      I just think you never know what will happen and it’s a good idea to keep those things as separate as possible.

    3. Turtlewings

      On the contrary, I think the mistake would be intertwining your personal and professional lives on social media! Discreetly keeping your boss the heck off your twitter/facebook/etc. is the best possible thing to do. (It’s always smart not to trash your job on social media regardless, though.)

    4. KR

      I preemptively blocked my grandboss on Facebook after FB pulled my info from LinkedIn and suggested him as a friend to me (?!). Not a bad thing at all. We also had a work video a coworker uploaded to his personal YouTube. I preemptively blocked him too so he wouldn’t stumble upon my YT acct. Nothing to hide but LinkedIn is for my professional social media contact and nothing else. I have TWO extremely close coworkers I am friends with on Snapchat because I trust them and that’s it. Not wierd. Block them all on personal.

    5. Asta

      Is your account public or locked?

      If it’s public they can log out and still read it, just FYI.

      1. SNS

        yeah it’s public, but I’m fairly positive she isn’t going to be taking the time to go looking for my account again, vs. it showing up on her feed from following me

        1. LSC

          I think it’s fine (and even advisable) to block her, but if I were in your shoes, I would also make the personal account private. Maybe she’d never notice or try to look it up while logged out of twitter, but it’s still a possibility.

    6. Tea Earl Grey. Hot.

      I have work people I only follow on LinkedIn, but even then it’s annoying and limiting (I’d SO love to go off on a rant about how job sites don’t let you properly filter regions, but they don’t know I’m in the market). Any other social media I’d die inside if anyone from work tried to follow me. Block block block!!

    7. Bortus

      I use a pseudonym on social media for a reason. :) My friends know how/where to find me. The rest? eh.

      If a coirker finds me and friend requests, I usually just ignore. I dont tweet or snap so that makes it easier. On IG, its strictly for my sidehustle so I dont really care if anyone follows me there.

      1. Auntie Social

        Yep. Mine’s under the dog’s name. If you know me well enough to know Molly’s name, you can find me.

    8. Lemon Zinger

      I block all higher-ups on social media– Facebook proactively, and elsewhere if I see them show up. I too have been burned by management seeing something I posted, so I don’t take any chances. I also block any coworker I don’t trust 100%.

    9. Close Bracket

      the account my offending tweet was on has no affiliation with my company and doesn’t even have my last name on it.

      Remember the racist guy from earlier this week where the OP tracked him down even though his name wasn’t on his account? I’m not accusing you of racist tweets, just pointing out that twitter accounts can be found and people can be held accountable even if it’s not under their real name.

      So maybe your boss won’t go to the trouble of reading your feed while you are not logged in, but I think you should still make your account private.

    10. Mellow

      I don’t understand why any boss would *want* to follow her employees on social media.

      I mean, good grief, how did social media become the end all, be all monolith to things? Bosses like that may as well be spying on your phone calls from – forgive this – inside the house!

      Seriously, though, I don’t have anything but a LinkedIn account, and even that is hidden from public view.

      Block all you want, I say.

  24. Justin

    Updating my misplaced comment (since it was about school) from Saturday, but, I remain a little disappointed that many of my classmates repeatedly ask for extensions etc and spend our group text chain fretting about the syllabus because I expected a more propulsive professional learning community in my doctoral program. I know this makes me something of a humorless scold and I can come off that way (though I keep my frustration to myself), but, aside from emergencies, which happen to all, I feel like we should be able to hand our stuff in on time in regular classes (ie not original research). I wouldn’t care nearly as much except they’ve spoken on my behalf before to request extra time for everyone and I didn’t appreciate that.

    We’re mostly not expecting or planning to go into academia professionally, but still, I want to be pushed in my praxis or else it’s just reading and writing. I’m getting straight A’s yet I’m not working that hard (even in this past winter’s semester when I had a new puppy).

    BUT, out of the blue, I apparently have been nominated for a research fellowship. It’s not a ton of money (a couple grand), but one or several of my professors seems to have recognized my work thus far (nominators are secret, I’m told). I was getting to where I was going to lose motivation (I don’t care that much about grades, though nice they’re going well), but apparently being hypereager and doing things early (using my anxiety for a benefit, I guess) is something the program noticed. So, even though my job remains dull (and I’m trying to find a better one), I’m much more motivated going forward at school. So that’s nice.

    Unrelated, but my coworkers have been having a whispered conversation behind me for an hour and I hate it. But I will come off as humorless if I tell them to just speak out loud or move so youtube/pandora and headphones it is.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.

      I hear you. I’ve been doing an online diploma course where we have to work on writing and research assignments in small groups (kill me now), and there’s always somebody in our cohort who has Reasons why they need a deadline extension. Ugh. We’re all post-undergrad adults, we all have jobs/families/lives, we know the assignment and deadline 10-20 days in advance — plan your life with an extra day or so to do your part in the assignment and turn in your damn work. So frustrating!

      1. Justin

        I mean, like, you’re in the hospital, you lost your job, whatever whatever, things do happen. You plan ahead so that if things happen you’re still afloat.

        The thing that makes it worse is when they all asked for a group extension, it was right after spring break, during which they’d all been on vacation. Like, fine, you’re entitled to do that, but don’t say you don’t have time after that. It was on the syllabus 3 months earlier.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.

          What makes it worse for me is that we’ve had generally the same cohort for this course for the past year, and you know it’s always the same 2-3 people who suddenly need an extension just before the due date.

          But otherwise, yeah, totally, sh-t happens and we’re reasonable people.

          1. Justin

            It is indeed the same 2-3 people. There are 2 of us who don’t, and a few in the middle who just accept the prevailing attitude because it makes things easier. Small sample sizes with huge swings I suppose.

        2. Pippa

          from the perspective of a professor – thank you *waves weakly*
          Frankly, it’s exhausting to try to design a syllabus that will minimize the “I can’t take the scheduled exam because I ‘accidentally’ bought plane tickets to go home for break three days early” and “there was a big basketball game last night so I’m going to need an extension on this paper that was assigned three weeks ago.”
          Emergencies are a totally different issue, and I also don’t mind giving extensions to people who are working on their stuff and need a bit more time. But a lot of extension/makeup exam/etc requests are just shifting the scheduling consequences of the student’s social priorities onto the professor. Go away for break, go on a weekend bender, I don’t care, but I have three days to mark these papers, and if I have to do it the following week instead, you’ve derailed other work on my schedule. Sigh.

          1. ket

            Sympathy from another prof :) I ended up instituting a policy that went like this: I’ll take things a day late, but if your (student’s) lateness is going to mess up my grading schedule, I will put the assignment into this special drawer in my desk and ignore it until the end of the semester. At the end of the semester, if you’re on the cusp between two grades, I’ll take your work into account — and if you’re solidly in the middle of a grade band, I will recycle it without reading it.

    2. Reba

      Humorless scolds unite! Congrats on your nomination, and it’s great that your work is being noticed. Do you think it would be worth speaking to your cohort about not lumping you in to their requests in future — or did you do that already? Thinking that if you want references from profs in the future, good not to be associated with that.

      1. Justin

        Well, I immediately emailed the professors in the class in question to say “they do not speak for me,” but considering they were asking for an extension at the last minute and I had handed in the assignment already, I think they knew.

        If they try to pull that mess again I’m going to say so though. We have a hardcore professor who is not going to play that game this fall, so I expect some whining.

        1. Reba

          Yeah, I was also around some people in graduate school who liked to spin their hamster wheels of anxiety together whenever they were in the office or like, anywhere. No shenanigans about deadlines, but just ramping up each other’s stress levels with venting and fretting about Professor Hardass. I mostly chalked it up to their being younger than me and tuned that stuff out.

          1. Justin

            It’s true, they’re younger, though only by a year or three, but “younger” isn’t always about literal age after all.

    3. lemon

      I think asking for/getting extensions in grad school is kinda common and maybe even almost expected in some disciplines. I expressed my guilt over asking for extensions to my advisor once, and he looked at me like I was crazy and told me that he knew I was smart and could be trusted to manage my own workflow and priorities, so it was totally fine. I think that’s the attitude most of the time in grad school– you managed to make it into the program, so they know you’re qualified, so they trust you to do what you need to do [again, can vary by discipline].

      I think that actually prepares you better for professional life. I know some jobs have a lot of hard and fast deadlines, but in most of the jobs I’ve had, deadlines aren’t really black and white. Most of the time, I’m not explicitly given a due date for a project. I’m just given the relevant context and have to use my professional judgment to determine what parts need to be completed on what timelines.

      1. Justin

        This is probably fair and I’m, like I said, weird and rigid. I suppose I see things differently from most and that makes me come off the way that I do, but I HATE it when it’s already been written down months ahead of time.

        1. ket

          To me there are differences between “I’m doing original research and I’ve hit a heretofore unknown snag” and “I am writing a paper for a class and I’m blowing through the deadline”. The second is indeed poor planning, as most classes are not requiring deep original research for these types of assignments. The first is where I trust people to act as professionals etc.

    4. Spool of Lies

      “…or else it’s just reading and writing.”

      Ouch — as someone who got a graduate degree but is financially unable to pursue academia, I still like to think it all counted for more than “just reading and writing.”

      1. Justin

        I’m sorry, I phrased that poorly. I think academia is extremely valuable. I suspect you were challenged in your praxis while getting your degree, though; if it made you considerably better at what you do/did (and I have no reason to believe otherwise, even if you aren’t in academia), then it’s not just reading and writing. And my concern was that it might not do so (push my praxis forward, that is) without more of a challenge. Obviously reading and writing are valuable on their own, just that one doesn’t need a doctorate (or any graduate degree) to read studies and write about them.

        1. Justin

          (Oh boy I wish I had an edit function. My now-poorly-expressed point is that degrees ought to really push us forward – as professionals, as people, as whatever the degree is – because otherwise we can do much of the work on our own.)

          1. Spool of Lies

            Thanks for clarifying — I totally see what you mean now and I agree it’s important that graduate degrees should challenge and push us forward with our thinking and reading and writing. I was probably being overly sensitive anyway, so my apologies for that. Grad school really does a number on the psyche — as does giving up the academic dream — and I’m only starting to get over all of the weird after effects now.

            Congrats on the research fellowship! That’s awesome!

    5. My Brain Is Exploding

      Ooh, group projects in school…at any grade level… Hated them. Once I got permission to do a group project (form your own groups of 4-5 people) with my best friend (just the two of us). So much better! I read a thread… somewhere…about group projects and college instructors who decide the group composition themselves. Instead of trying to balance out the groups (each group with one high-performer, one low-performer, and a few others), they put all the high performers together, etc. (I am still struggling with the word “performer” here but I can’t for the life of me think of the word I would prefer). Then the instructors could see how folks in the low-performing group stepped it up when there was no one that would carry the load for them.

      1. Justin

        I hate the word too (and what is “high” etc etc) but I also don’t know what else to use, so I get your point.

        I wonder about that, too. We had a group project this summer, too, and it was very open-ended, which mostly meant no one responded to my emails so I just did my own part. On the other hand, if it’s too micromanaged it’s overbearing. That balance is really tricky.

      2. buttrue???

        Daughter is in graduate school. Had the same guy in group projects in a class in each semester. Doesn’t do the work, doesn’t seem to even know the obvious things (like the nickname for his college alma mater) Those outside of her groups have promised to take him so she doesn’t have to work with him again this coming year.

      3. Alexandra Lynch

        I don’t know why they balance the groups like that, but every single group project I have ever had to deal with in my life they have put me with two to three mouthbreathing empty-heads. What I have learned to do is to do the entire project myself, or at least enough that it’s clear that I did my part, and the other people’s lack of ability and motivation is clearly on them.

    6. Birch

      Congrats on the fellowship!

      Couple of things that might help you reframe your thinking here, because you seem a bit caught up in worrying about other people and it seems to be negatively impacting you.

      1. How far along in your program are you? Apologies if it’s not accurate, but this sounds a bit like the program has started slower than you expected. You say you’re not planning to go into academia professionally, which I think lowers some of the stakes for you and might contribute to the lack of competitiveness that you observe. You might want to remind yourself what you want to get out of it and try to focus on that. This also works the other way around, for people who feel insecure about others’ accomplishments.

      2. As far as asking for extensions and workload, I think you’re being a little judgmental. I can totally understand your frustration when you feel like you’re meeting expectations and there are no consequences for those who don’t. But no one is starting from the same point–yes, we all have our life stuff, but you can’t assume that everyone else also feels the same way you do about the work–that they’re also not working that hard, etc. From the instructor’s side, I can tell you that your professors know who is applying themselves to the work, so you could try to trust them. Clearly your work is getting recognized! In the meantime, give yourself the gift of not worrying about other people. They all have their own goals which may be different than yours.

      3. You can (and should) ask your classmates not to speak on your behalf! I think approaching them first might come across as friendlier than emailing the professor, though.

      1. Justin

        1. Yes, my therapist and parents told me the same thing, so I’m mostly just venting here. I fully agree with you! I need to Just Not Care about how they approach things. Frankly I want to close our text chain thread but it’s right there on my phone. It’s muted but I can’t delete it because I started it.
        2. The recognition this week has helped me reframe the whole thing. It’s true that I am a bit judgmental, and it was entirely because I got mad after they spoke for me. It was just a little annoying before (because I expected our text chain to be about something other than assignment anxiety, and that’s probably my own false assumption).
        3. It was absolutely unfriendly to email the professor, but many years of being ostracized socially (and you’re probably seeing why…) makes me a bit wary of being direct about my needs so I just tend to be annoyed and hope people still like me. It doesn’t work though! :)

    7. Oh So Anon

      Congrats on the research fellowship!

      My grad school situation was somewhat similar to yours and one of the things that helped was getting closer to the people who were more interested in developing a community of practice. Our cohort’s (we started out with 20) big group WhatsApp was dominated by a lot of fretting as well (so much complaining about APA) and to be honest, the most dominant voices were people who found adjusting to graduate-level academic work difficult. In the spirit of collegiality, there’s no way to talk about how you find this stuff easy without alienating colleagues who don’t find grad school to be a cakewalk, so of course the group discussions will cater to giving them support.

      I suspect that it’s particularly true of professional programs that it’s far more frowned upon to openly be a “star student”. This cuts down on nasty competition, sure, but it also makes it more challenging for the people who are well-positioned to get more out of the program to find each other. Group work was a really good way of finding like-minded colleagues, as was paying attention to who was active on professional social media. That said, you need to approach all of this with a lack of judgement towards your colleagues.

      Also, what’s the deal with your cohort asking for extensions as a group? Maybe it’s a departmental culture thing, but in my program, it’s something people handled discreetly and individually with professors. I’m pretty sure that everyone in my program, regardless of academic performance, asked for an assignment due date extension at some point, but it wasn’t something that was openly discussed. This benefits everyone – life happens, as does poor time management, and no one needs to deal with their colleagues’ judgement over that.
      Your program chair could really help improve your program’s vibe by making extension request procedures discreet.

  25. Mbarr

    Suggestions for resources on the fundamentals of how to create a software test plan? (Like, “Software Testing for dummies” stuff.)

    I’ve checked Lynda/LinkedIn courses, but most of them are about QA testing, software for testing, testing kanban boards, etc. We’re developing a new suite of products that need comprehensive testing, and I’m new to working with software developers and have no background in software development.

    1. ArtK

      Wow! That’s a broad enough subject to cover days of posts! First off, you need to hire someone with serious experience. Testing is critical and you need an expert. I’m not sure why you’re dismissing “QA testing” in your comment, though. What kind of testing are you thinking of?

      Here’s the absolute bottom line about testing: Bugs are cheaper the earlier you find them. The more testing you delay to the end, the more expensive fixing things will be. Bring users/customers/stakeholders into the process as early as you can to test and give feedback. For me, the most frightening words I can hear are “… now that I see it in action …”

      What kind of development process are you doing? Waterfall? Scrum? Those can make a big difference in when testing is done. Will you be adopting any Agile practices. Test Driven Development is a great way to make sure stuff is tested early. Pair Programming can help a lot too.

      1. Mbarr

        Thanks! Everyone else on the team is strong, including the team lead – it’s just me who’s trying to swim in the deep end of the pool. (I’m a combo Product Owner, Analyst, PM, whatever else they want.)

        The TL mentioned we’ll need a testing plan. I don’t think he expects me to build it on my own, I’m just trying to learn what I can before we begin, so that I can actually contribute. We’re doing Scrum and Agile, and our customers are all internal. I’ve never participated in testing, nor been involved, nothing. Nada. Zilch.

        Your comments are already super helpful. :)

        1. ArtK

          I would suggest that you take some Scrum training. Lots of companies attempt it, but end up doing what we call Scrumbut. “We do Scrum but…”. The Scrum Alliance is one organization that does scrum training. Since you’re acting as the product owner, you absolutely should have CSPO training. There’s a lot of responsibility there. (As an aside, the PO shouldn’t be the one developing the testing plan — in a true Scrum team, the team should be putting that together.)

          One book I like is “Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban” by Stellman and Greene. Not specifically about testing, but it’s a good overview.

          1. Qwerty

            I found “Scrum and XP from the Trenches” to be a quick read and really useful when I first encountered Agile. The writing style was easy to understand and the PDF of the book is online for free. It is presented as a “this what we tried” and explains what went well / didn’t go well for them, so that you can tailor Agile/scrum to best fit your team.

          2. Analysis Paralysis

            Since you are using Scrum, another resource is scrum(dot)org. There’s a wealth of info there. I second ArtK’s recommendation about getting certified as a Product Owner. Scrum(dot)org calls their certification Professional Scrum Product Owner. Research the differences between scrum alliance & scrum(dot)org & decide which seems to align better with how your company is doing Scrum, or ask someone in your company which version of scrum you are more closely following.

            In terms of test plan: there is a difference between a Test Plan (TP) and Test Cases (TCs). TCs are specific tests. TP is overall, how are you going to go about executing all the TCs. TP is often written at two levels— a high-level ‘wrapper’ (Testing Approach/Strategy) & should define the scope of the testing, resources needed, timeline, etc. Then for each sprint, update the TP for how the User Stories (see below for more on User Stories) in said Sprint will be tested. This is hard to explain without examples, but your high level Approach/Strategy should cover things like test bed conditioning (such as, the need set up 150 customer accounts in test environment), resource planning, are test cycles needed & if so, how will those be managed & communicated. Test cycles are like, if you’re a bank testing credit card functionality & you need to test when condition abc exists & the monthly statement period ends, the system should do xyz to the customer account… you don’t want to wait a whole month to see what happens— so you cycle the system (force the system to do a “monthly” cycle) 3 times in a 5 day period. This allows testing of 3 month-ends in 5 days … but you have to plan out which TCs need to run in each cycle especially if there are dependencies (like, customer goes delinquent in cycle 1, becomes current in cycle 2 & goes delinquent again in cycle 3, therefore system should do blah blah blah).

            In terms of TCs, look at your User Stories — these should have Acceptance Criteria. Acceptance Criteria are “conditions that a software product must satisfy to be accepted by a user, customer or stakeholder.” Each Acceptance Criterion should be independently testable. If the Acceptance Criteria (AC) do not appear to tell you what to test, then they’re not written appropriately. To fix that, Google ‘Writing Acceptance Criteria” to dig deeper.

            Once you have an idea of what needs to be tested (TCs) in each sprint, then you can better figure out how you’re going to test (TP) for that Sprint.

            Testing is a HUGE topic, as well as an entire profession— I cannot possibly do it justice with my generalizations here. Do you have Testers (like real ones, not just users who have been tapped to do some testing)? If so, meet with them & get their input. If they haven’t written a Test Plan before, they’ve at least read & followed one. They can help you. Also, they’ll be thrilled that you asked for their input.

            Testing terminology to learn (Google ‘types of software testing’), which will make it easier to understand what your developers & testers are talking about:
            Black box testing
            White box testing
            Unit testing
            System testing
            QA testing
            Integration testing
            User acceptance testing
            Performance / load testing
            Smoke testing
            Interface testing
            Regression testing

            Good luck!

            1. Engineer Girl

              And don’t forget to tie delivery’s into the risk plan. A late delivery of a product or test can create a chain reaction.

              I once was screamed at for not finishing testing when the software hadn’t even been released to me yet. The developer couldn’t have hidden that if the delivery had been tracked by the risk system.

        2. cat socks

          Will you be working with end users of the software to do the testing? One part of testing will be to identify the scenarios you want to test. I just take a spreadsheet and start documenting each scenario.

          If you’re new to the systems/processes, the users may be able to provide feedback on what specific parts of they want to verify.

          I work in telecom, so a lot of our testing involves install, change and disconnect scenarios:

          Scenario 1 – Build circuit at Location A with bandwidth of 100MB
          Scenario 2 – Build circuit at Location Z with bandwidth of 1GB
          Scenario 3 – Take circuit from Scenario 1 and increase bandwidth to 10GB
          Scenario 4 – Disconnect circuit previously installed in Scenario 2

    2. Interplanet Janet

      At a high level, there’s “black box” testing (essentially the tester can’t see the inner workings of the code) and “white box” testing (usually the tester is testing some smaller unit of functionality that isn’t accessible to outside users).

      Good white box testing starts with unit tests — these validate the smallest possible bits of code and can be re-run dozens of time during development to make sure internal functionality is self-consistent. Depending on the complexity of the feature or product, there might be a bunch of layers of these tests, each layer testing more and more code, tree-style. If you’re not a developer, you probably won’t be super involved in this kind of testing.

      A black box test plan is usually about coming up with the right set of use case scenarios (common, unusual, edge case) and either automating the testing of them or manually walking through them.

      So for what you’re describing, if you want to get a jump on thinking about a test plan, you can start by making a list of ways that users will interact with your product. I find it useful to start with the phrase, “most of the time, the user will …” and fill in that blank, then move on to “sometimes, the user might … ” and fill in that blank until you can’t think of any other scenarios. After that you can go with “once in a great while, a user COULD conceivably …” and really be creative. You would not BELIEVE the ways users find to interact with your product.

      IMO, your developers will do a reasonable job of testing the “most of the time” scenarios. They will catch some of the “sometimes” scenarios, and they will rarely have even thought to come up with the “once in a great while” scenarios. The great QA folks are the ones who do a really thorough job of coming up with the use cases AND THEN know where to draw the line and not expect every one of them to be perfect. There’s a point at which “fail gracefully” might be the standard if it’s an unlikely scenario.

      Good luck!

    3. Nicki Name

      Software developer here. Welcome to the deep end! If your team is made of mostly reasonable people they should be happy to help. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything you don’t understand during meetings. (If you’re afraid of derailing the meeting, make a note and ask someone later.)

      A good place to start is with the list of things the software needs to do. For every “this needs to do X”, check that it does X. Not just if the user is behaving as expected, but if you put in deliberately wrong input, if you mash the keyboard randomly, if you try to go through the workflow in the wrong order, if you reload/reboot in the middle of things, if the network connection drops suddenly, etc. Developers tend to get very focused on use cases where the user does the obvious and sane (to us, anyway) thing, so unexpected conditions or input can be a very fruitful area for bugs.

      Another thing to do early is create a procedure for bringing problems that aren’t discovered in testing a particular specification to the developers. The random error message where you don’t know where it’s coming from, the thing where after having the software open for 5 hours it suddenly starts doing weird things, stuff like that. It can even be “this message makes no sense” or “it’s hard to find this button the way it’s laid out”.

      1. Dancing Otter

        Yes! If there is any possible user error, someone will make that error sooner or later.
        We once found a malfunction that only occurred when you set the loan maturity earlier than the inception. “Oh, no one would do that! Just move along.” Guess what happened a week after converting all our historical data?

    4. Super Duper Anon

      Not a resource recommendation, but think about adding people with roles outside of testing into your testing plan. I am a technical writer, and I call myself an unofficial tester. When I am working with a software product to document it, I find SO much stuff that needs to be fixed. Everything from UI text errors, software bugs, edge cases no one thought about, workflows that engineers thought made sense but didn’t to me, etc. It helps to have someone like me who is a level removed from the development work but still has to go painstakingly through the whole program to both understand how it works and to document all its features.

    5. Someone

      This falls under the QA umbrella. There are a lot of QA jobs. Some are ‘Hey click on this and see what it does’, and others are ‘Write an entire testing framework that automatically tests our software to make sure it works’. (QA engineer/Software engineer in test) You probably want to hire someone with experience in the latter. It is a huge area.

      As a software developer myself, I can say that your engineers should be writing some tests:

      1. Unit tests – software developers should be writing units tests for their code when they develop new features. Unit tests cover small parts of code. Like, does this function perform addition correctly? If 1 + 1 = 3, then the function is broken. Unit tests should be executed automatically at certain times in your workflow, like when a developer checks in new code, ALL unit tests should execute (just one option – depends on the size of your project & team preferences). Code coverage and automated testing is important because some parts of your application that worked previously may break when seemingly unrelated new code is introduced. Unless you want to manually check over the entire app, or wait for a client to report a bug to you, you should have automated tests. It’s important for leadership and product to create a culture where developers are encouraged/required to write tests. Product needs to understand that writing tests adds significant time to how long it takes to complete a feature, but pays off in the long run by catchings bugs early. Developers often skip writing tests when they feel time pressure to move on to the next feature.

      2. Acceptance tests – Where unit tests test small parts of code, acceptance tests test larger features. For example “I can fill out and submit this form and get the expected result”. These are more complicated and depending on your framework may be written by software engineers, a QA person, or may have to be done manually.

      Sorry I don’t know much more about the QA side of things, except that QA is very important and you need a QA person. A high level QA person would be able to help you develop and implement a plan. Or ask your team for help, I’m your your devs would want input on this.

      1. Kiki

        Yes, I’d also look for resources that mention Test Driven Development (TDD). Even if you decide TDD isn’t the approach you want the team to take, there’s a lot of valuable information in resources that discuss that approach.

    6. Gumby

      Different people use the term test plan in different ways.

      One way is a high level logistics-based plan like:
      Code will be pushed to this server on this schedule. These automated tests will be run. Then these testers will test it using tools/test cases/whatever. Bugs will be reported in such-and-such way. Whosiwatchi will assign the bugs to the correct owners. Fixes will be deployed on days x, y, and z. Developers who break the build will bring in cupcakes for the whole team. (Wait, no, we only *told* Fergus that was the required penalty, it wasn’t actually enshrined in any document anywhere nor was it a tradition before that point…)

      Another is down to the nitty gritty (what other people might call test cases):
      1. Go to screen A. Click button 2. Expected result = blah (screen should show x, database should indicate y, coffee ice-cream should be delivered to testing team)
      2. Go to screen A. Click button 3. Expected result = blahblah
      3. Log out. Go to screen A. No buttons should be there.
      These might be 5-10 pages worth of text descriptions for how to test one web page. They might make use of matrices to catch all possible use cases. They might take longer to write than to do the stupid testing. They may have been, at one point, the bane of my existence and yet! important documents to make sure everything gets tested thoroughly.

      So first is to figure what kind of test plan you need to be creating.

    7. Engineer Girl

      You’re not going to like my answer. You really need one of your most experienced people to write it. You are not qualified. This requires an experienced technical person.

      I’ve worked on all parts of the life cycle. It’s been my experience that developers aren’t the best testers. Their brains are focused on getting things to work instead of how to break things. They don’t do so well at negative testing.

      I’ll tell you some pitfalls though.

      • Incomplete requirements and ICDs. You need something to test against
      • Incomplete test environments. The test equipment in the lab WILL be different than the equipment at the deployment site. The tools will be different requiring different tests. Simulators will be in some labs but not others. You need a senior person to suss our all the different users and sites
      • Incomplete stakeholder list. See above. Don’t forget integration, operations, etc.
      • failure to coordinate the ability to transfer data from lab to lab or tool to tool.
      • failure to dedicate enough storage space for test data
      • failure to allocate enough spares to save a few bucks. One board breaks and your entire test team is sitting on their butts for a week. $$$$ to save $ on an extra board.
      • failure to synchronize timing between simulators and other test equipment
      • Cheaping out on simulators. Especially real time simulators. Clueless people think simulators should be cheaper than the product. But think about it. The product is one bit, the simulator is the rest of the universe. The simulator will be more expensive. Good news, a good simulator will provide value for years, even decades.

      Types of testing: Unit, functional, hardware, non real time integration, real time integration, operations, post delivery analysis.

      The sooner you catch the bug the cheaper it is to fix it. Escapes can sink a product.

  26. MOAS

    It’s been a rough few weeks and need some good vibes sent my way please. I’m not doing as well as I thought I was at work. Yesterday, I was a few minutes late to a meeting and my boss was super frustrated with me and we had a talk–not saying to minimize me, it was 1 of a list of things. We had an impromptu informal convo a month ago and it was in the same vein, That I am not focused. I don’t know why I am not focused.

    My boss’s boss is weird and is always saying things like I lack comprehension skills and can’t do the job even though it was ultimately their decision to promote me and my teams numbers are great. Grandboss is extremely tricky to deal with. In one meeting I nodded along and agreed with everything and they later said I wasn’t engaged. Yet at meetings when I do ask questions, someone rolls their eyes/makes a face and/or relays to others that I don’t know shit.

    One of the VPs of another department doesn’t like me. Word through grapevine is she thinks I don’t know anything. (I’ve barely ever spoken to her, when she joined early on I tried to say hello and would be friendly, but she would literally looked away and ignore me) so I stopped going out of my way. Our work has never intersected so she has never seen my work quality. I have a feeling that when I first started, I asked a lot of questions, and someone relayed it to her that I don’t know shit.

    What’s stopping me from leaving here? Comfort of the known. My personal life is shit right now tbh and I am not emotionally or mentally strong enough to make such a monumental (to me) change yet. There’s career stuff too but it’s mostly the mental part. (And the health insurance, and that I really love working with/for my boss. We’re on good terms and he’s helped me a lot. I hate when he gets upset bc I know it puts him in a bad position w grandboss.)

    Anyway, I’m not focused and he’s right. I have always had focus/concentration issues and I am desperate to take add or adhd medicine ritalin, anything, something to help focus. I’ve “suffered” from this, lack of focus, low energy, distracted easily, can’t concentrate etc. since high school, but figured I was an airhead or a dumbass, too weak to fix myself naturally.

    I’m seeing my dr for my anxiety but I am going to bring up all of this and hope I can get some help.

    1. Jules the 3rd

      Good luck! It is hard to get work done when your brain is not cooperating. If your dr you’re seeing for anxiety is a general practitioner (GP), make sure you get a referral to a psychologist / psychiatrist for adhd assessment.

      I know some people who’ve gotten adhd diagnoses as adults, and it’s been a life-changer. Even before you get to that appt, some time this weekend on-line hunting for ‘adhd coping skills’ may help.

    2. canary

      I rarely comment but I felt like I had to here. You said, ” I’ve “suffered” from this, lack of focus, low energy, distracted easily, can’t concentrate etc. since high school, but figured I was an airhead or a dumbass, too weak to fix myself naturally.” I know EXACTLY how you feel. Please talk to your doctor. I have struggled like this for *years* and have only recently been diagnosed with ADD. (I also have anxiety, the two often go hand-in-hand.) I’m still trying to figure out which medication works for me, but just knowing that it’s not all down to a personal failing/laziness has been a weight off my mind.

      I’m rooting for you!

      1. MOAS

        YES ANXIETY. I have anxiety. I was taking Xanax for personal issues every so often but I ran out about a month or so ago. I was going to talk about this in more detail in tomorrow’s thread.

        1. Interplanet Janet

          This was me, too, until I started the ADHD meds, and now I find I don’t need it anymore. My provider described it like this: Part of the ADHD brain deficit is the ability to filter out what you don’t need at any given moment in favor of what you need to focus on. That inability to filter can really easily result in you feeling bombarded by the outside world’s input. Turns out being bombarded all day every day can MAKE A PERSON ANXIOUS.

    3. Interplanet Janet

      +1 to talking to someone about ADHD. I have struggled with focus my whole life and I have always beat myself up for it. After my daughter got diagnosed, I started looking at my own stuff and realized that a lot of what got better for her when she started taking meds was the same stuff I’ve struggled with. I got a diagnosis and started on meds and ZOMG, so much better! ADHD folks struggle with focus, but it affects a lot of things. My daughter’s social skills improved, my chronic low-level anxiety is almost gone, and I’m even sleeping better.

      Best of luck! It’s really hard to know where brain chemistry ends and personal responsibility kicks in. I hope you can get some answers.

      1. MOAS

        ” It’s really hard to know where brain chemistry ends and personal responsibility kicks in.”

        OMG THIS !!! Honestly I beat myself up for being so scatterbrained, forgetting random things, dropping (literally and figuratively). I read up on ADD/ADHD a while ago and they said one of the key symptoms was having trouble in grade school, which I didn’t (until 7th grade onwards) or acting out etc. I am a big proponent of personal responsibility, I don’t beat others up for it, but I beat myself up for it.

        1. LSC

          Just so you know, those symptoms you mention (trouble in school from an early age and acting out) are a lot more in common in boys than girls. I don’t know your gender, but there have been studies in the past few years on how ADD/ADHD is very underdiagnosed in girls and women because of this (one of them was published in The Atlantic, “ADHD is different for women”).

          The inattention-related symptoms tend to be more prevalent in women – and this tracks with my experience as a woman who got her diagnosis in her 30s. I can’t say that medication has been completely life-changing, but it has helped, along with other organization/tracking mechanisms. So I definitely think looking into this with a mental health professional is a good idea. Good luck!

          1. MOAS

            I’m a woman. What you mentioned is familiar to me. Inattention, scatterbrain etc. Different symptoms in women. etc

        2. Not So NewReader

          That beating yourself up is adding to your load.
          I suggest work on changing your self-talk. Learn to talk nicer to you.
          My rule of thumb is “If it’s rude to say to a friend or family, then it’s rude to say it to myself.”

          When you say a nasty thing to you, stop, correct what you just said and then move forward.
          It can look like this:
          Initial thought: “Oh I am such a dip, look at this mistake I made. What an idiot I am.”
          Correction: “No, I am not a dip or an idiot. I actually DID find the mistake, LUCKY ME. And I KNOW how to fix this mistake, BONUS. I will fix it now.”

          Initial thought: “Damn. I forgot x. AGAIN. I can’t retain anything. I am not worth what they pay me.”
          Correction: “I forgot x but I will do it now. I will prove to them that I am worth what they pay me.”

          Buried in these corrections are the simple act of vowing to follow up in a responsible manner. See, it’s not the mistake that is a real problem most of the time. A boss gets most concern when the subordinate does not follow up on what they forgot or messed up. Those employees are the most concerning employees. Start telling yourself, “I caught this, I will take care of it now/today.”

          And also buried in these affirmations is forgiveness. Forgive you. Yes, it’s important. Until I started working I never realized how important. Forgiveness allows us to move forward. Beating ourselves up holds us stuck in a moment that has passed. We can’t unring a bell. We CAN, however, allow each moment to teach us something about what we need to be successful at our jobs. Decide to let problems teach you what you need to do your work.

    4. Helpful

      One thing to consider: it’s much easier to get a job when you have a job. So you might want to dig deep and get something new before you’re fired. I am reading the writing on the wall and it’s possible you’re being slowly considered for being let go.

    5. working in software

      Wow, there must be something in the water this month…I’m going to be bringing up my symptoms that I strongly suspect are ADHD to my psychiatrist early next week. Moved up the appointment with him a week or so because I’ve realized after getting a new job that requires a MASSIVE amount of focus and prioritizing and basically a lot of things that I’ve struggled with since I was a kid, well, I need to at least bring it up with a dr. Things like, I’m thinking keeping a pile of 5-10 books at the bottom of my bed when I was younger, all started and in different places, but most never finished because I’d get bored and want to jump to the next thing…probably not a “normal” brain function lol. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to manage until now because I’m bright and once I actually sit down to do something, it gets done quickly, but man, getting to the actually sitting down part is hard. There are so many other shiny things I can look at or do!!

      Solidarity and here’s to hoping we find some answers soon!

    6. Gidget

      Sending you positive vibes. I hope everything gets worked out. Also, I have a coworker exactly like yours– I say hello and they ignore me, turn away. It is super frustrating and doesn’t create a positive environment for anyone.

    7. M

      Good luck! Do you have any paid time off so you can take a break? What about talking to a therapist? I would also start looking in case you are out on a PIP or let go. Also maybe go to your Doctor and tell them about these symptoms and maybe they can see if there is something they can do for you whether it be medication or seeing a specialist.

      I have anxiety but not at work, with flying (and I used to fly all the time with a previous job and was fine). It started in the last year and now I need to travel more for work, so it is impacting my work. I went to my doctor and found out I had a hormone imbalance issue so hopefully that will help otherwise I will go on other medication. Take care of yourself. We are rooting for you!

    8. Alexandra Lynch

      I didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until my son who is just like me was diagnosed. In retrospect, of course, throughout my life the symptoms were quite obvious.

      Routines and lists help me a lot, and what also helped was knowing that it doesn’t matter what other people can do, I have to go with what I can do. Sure, other people can stuff their keys in their pockets randomly and set them down and still find them, but that’s something I can’t do. My keys are on a carabiner and the second they come out of the ignition/the door, they hook back onto my purse. My purse always goes in the same place at home or at my mother’s house when I visit. I do things in a certain order and that is the order I do them in, and if Boyfriend wants to talk to me he can wait til I’m done. I make up meal plans, and part of the night before routine (fill the coffee pot, fill the tea kettle, feed the cats, etc.) is to see what meat needs to go from freezer to fridge. It will be ready for me to cook when the alarm on my phone goes off.

      I found that medication (and my dose is small, but I am sensitive to meds) was the keystone that made all the techniques for managing this work. I am CALM inside when it kicks in. I can think one thought all the way through without noise. I can carry two thoughts in my head at a time. I’m more patient, I have less stress. I had to sit down and grieve the life I could have had if the ADHD had been treated when I was young, though.

  27. Bubbleon

    If you’ve got any spare happy thoughts this week could you just send a few my way? I’m desperately looking to get out of my current job at what seems to be a sinking ship and found one recently that I REALLY REALLY REALLY want and honestly think I’m an amazing fit for. It’s an industry change and a super long shot, so I could use all the extra good wishes I can get.

    1. The Blue Marble

      Good luck! Even if you don’t get this one, Don’t Give Up! Another opportunity will be around the corner and ultimately everything will work out in the best way for you.

    2. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

      Hang in there!! I’m in the same boat – my formerly AMAZING job went to absolute shit thanks to a regime change (bunch of clueless out-of-town management thinks 1/8 of the staff can do 5x the work). So I’ve been looking and looking. I keep getting told I’m “impressive” but it’s been close to a year and I’m still not out of there. Hoping better for you, Bubbleon!

    3. Mellow

      I am thinking good thoughts and best wishes for you, Bubbleon! Let us know how it works out.

  28. HeightsHeifer

    I started a new job about three weeks ago! It’s been a great transition and I really enjoy the work… but I’m managing a much larger team than I have before. I have about 15 folks working on the team, many of them with 15+ years of tenure here.

    In addition to being the first true manager they’ve had ever, I’m trying to navigate establishing real policies and procedures for the first time. Some of these changes have been well received and others I get a lot of pushback, mostly about how it will increase their workload (temporarily).

    What’s the best approach? I’ve tried explaining that this will help the team be more efficient in the long run, but I think I have some people that just believe in the mantra “This is how we’ve always done it.”

    1. Falling Diphthong

      I’d focus in on the bit where they have welcomed or tolerated some changes–the ones that get push back are the ones requiring extra work. Is the improved efficiency going to directly benefit them, or benefit other people? Just how much extra time is this taking, and for how long? If you want buy-in, the pay-off should be evident within a reasonable time-frame and scale.

      1. HeightsHeifer

        The improved efficiency is going to help them! And I’m not expecting them to do more with less because I’m allocating resources around. They just deal with a lot of unexpected interruptions from our employee base (part of the job) and I think they feel that I’m going to judge them harshly on not meeting customer service metrics because they have to do some other changes. Which I’m not expecting. I think it’s just a matter of trusting me.

        1. Another JD

          I think they feel that I’m going to judge them harshly on not meeting customer service metrics because they have to do some other changes. Which I’m not expecting. I think it’s just a matter of trusting me.

          Have you explicitly told them this?

          1. HeightsHeifer

            Yes! I’ve had one-on-one meetings with everyone and laid out their goals and objectives, inclusive of the temporary extra duties. I think they may be jaded by past managers and I’m struggling to gain their trust.

    2. Kathenus

      Having been in this situation, here are some things that helped me navigate these types if issues. First – pick your battles, especially related to timing. If you have 10 things that you know should be/must be transitioned to new processes, prioritize those that have hard external deadlines that you must do now and/or ones that have less pushback – i.e. low hanging fruit. Then as you build up trust with the team, it’s easier to tackle the thornier ones later. There are literally things that I wanted to change that were more discretional that I waited a couple of years for and ended up with a much better result than if I had pushed them through initially.

      Second, engage them in the conversation. Set the goal – for example ‘we need to have a written training checklist for x task to document approvals’, but then let them be a part of figuring out how to meet that goal. Having dealt with these as both a line employee and manager, it’s such an easy trap to fall into to try to promote both the goal and process when rolling it out (trying to be thorough, show a solution, etc.) that it’s easy for this to feel to the employees like they have no voice and that their ideas on how to most efficiently reach the goal aren’t included or respected. And you can never go wrong with being open and honest with your team – let them know that part of your job is to do these things, and get their feedback on ways to do it within the culture as much as possible.

      Third, I’m a firm believer that if there’s an increased workload – temporary or otherwise – that it’s management’s responsibility to either change expectations or add capacity. There is no ‘do more with less’ or ‘do more with the same’. The only way that doing more can be achieved, in my opinion, is to either reduce workload or deadlines during the transition, to add help, or to increase efficiencies if it is thought that the staff could be achieving more. I try to tell my team that if they ever feel that I’m giving more work without adjusting staffing or expectations, to let me know, because I need to be aware and fix that.

      Maybe some of these strategies will help in your situation – good luck!

      1. HeightsHeifer

        I love this! Thank you.

        It is difficult sometimes picking those battles, that’s the one out of those three things you mentioned that I struggle with. Even though I know I’m not knowledgeable enough about a lot of the processes at new job, there are several glaring gaps that I feel need to get addressed. So I try to jump onto those. I think I need to re-evaluate and better prioritize some things on the plate.

        1. Kathenus

          I get this feeling totally. I had to change one of my definitions of success here. There were things I thought were very high priority for certain reasons, but when looked at through the lens that one aspect of success was team buy-in, it helped evaluate the change options through that lens along with others. So the decision tree might look at staff buy-in, upper management requirements/deadlines, impact of the change, etc.

          It also took me a while to realize that although we also have had some glaring gaps in processes, they’ve been that way for years to decades and no one’s died yet (being a bit facetious here). So if there’s an immediate safety/welfare/compliance concern they may need to be fast-tracked, but if they just really (really) should be changed, I felt a little less pressure that it all had to be done NOW. I had to do a lot of mental re-framing in my current job due to coming into a team that viewed me initially with a lot of suspicion. It’s taken years, but the evolution versus revolution approach when possible (and transparency when it’s not) has done wonders to get here. It was so hard being patient though, I couldn’t see why people didn’t want to do some of these things when they (to me) seemed so obviously more efficient.

          But I tried to put myself in their shoes, and also think of times in my past when a new manager came in and changed a bunch of stuff. And I realized that it’s hard to not see those changes as saying you’ve been doing things wrong for years, so acknowledging the benefit of the changes was – in a way – saying that you’ve been failing in some way. That’s a bitter pill for all of us, but that perspective helped me pull back to try to get to where they came to some of the conclusions with me as to change being positive, versus it all being driven by me. And I had to be open to the fact that I might be (and sometimes was) wrong, and that there way was better in some cases.

          Keep working at it, just the fact you’re looking at how to make all this go smoother says a lot, I have no doubt you’ll find ways to make all of this a success in the long run.

      2. tea

        Your 3rd objective is so on point. I appreciate your commitment to the well being of staff capacity. My last ‘relationship’ showed no compassion in this matter.

    3. A tester, not a developer

      If you have timelines for these changes making things better, share that with the team. Knowing that Annoying Process is going to be revisited in 90 days (or six months) can help make the pain of the new process tolerable.
      And if you have no idea how long it’s going to take for the process to reduce their workload, it may be worth taking another look at it.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Trust them to know their jobs like they know how to breathe.
      Then ask them their ideas on streamlining and implementing consistencies.

      Do a take with one hand, give with the other hand type of thing. Use their ideas where it makes sense. Modify a good idea if need be in order to get something that is good for the group. So while you are setting rules, you are also listening for their ideas that will be effective in helping them with their jobs. Tap the collective genius of the group.

      Make sure they know WHY you are doing something. Explain, explain, explain. Explain until you are ready to fall over because you spend so much time explaining. This is an investment on your part. You will not have to keep explaining. You are showing them your management style, how you like to handle things. They will pick up speed.

      I have gone as far as telling subordinates, “When you have x type of problem, come tell me. That is my job to handle that type of problem.” I usually said this after finding out x has been going on for a while and no one could figure out what to do. Here what is important to know is that they may not even realize WHEN to come get you for something. There are times where managers need to jump in and handle things because the subordinate does not have the authority/resources/whatever to bring it to a resolve.

      Also go through and check to see if they have the supplies and equipment they need to do their jobs. If machines are not working correctly, get them fixed or try to get new or something newer but perhaps used. If this is not applicable, then ask them what they think would be good things to add to your department. Perhaps they want an additional printer or maybe the coffee pot in the break room is kaput- be prepared to hear anything.

      I found that by keeping one thought at the forefront of my thinking helped guide me through the day-to-day stuff. And that thought was: I am here to serve them. Service is a very broad term. Sometimes service can be explaining to someone that x is against the rules and if TPTB see that x then dismissal is certain. Sometimes service can be just knowing that the best you can do for someone is give them time off to deal with at-home stuff. Service means a lot of different things.

  29. Anon Camper

    I’ve been at new job 3 months now in an HR/Finance role. HR Manager (who I do not report to) started one week after me. Our offices are side by side and the walls between are very thin. A few weeks ago I ended up overhearing a conversation bt her and the state unemployment office regarding a claim she had filed against her last employer. It turns out they laid her off after a merger, but she has hidden this fact from our new employer. I had decided not to say anything (she doesn’t know I heard), but now the state has sent our employer a questionnaire about her claim. I have answered it truthfully and sent back to the state office. My question is, what sort of obligation do I have to notify the HR Manager, her manager(COO), or my manager (CFO) about this?

    1. Crimeandwine

      We’re you asked to by someone to complete the questionnaire about her claim? If so, then depending on who it was, it’s safe to assume that your employer is aware of the fact that she made a claim. If you took it upon yourself to complete the questionnaire, then you need to immediately inform your manager about what you’ve done, her claim against her last employer is not something she needed to disclose. You also don’t know what she has discussed with her manager, so you really should just forget what you’ve heard but let your manager know about the form if they weren’t already aware or directed you to complete it.

      1. Anon Camper

        It is part of my role to to respond to claims inquiries, so I am the first and so far only one to see it come through. She only had a 3 week gap between jobs, and had been offered the job here before her last day at the old job. She is filed the claim after she’d been working here for an entire month… I know she doesn’t need to disclose the nature of her departure from her last employer, but it all just comes off so weird. Almost everyone I know has been laid off from a job in their lives, why would she be hiding it?

        1. ChachkisGalore

          Is it possible that she wasn’t given any (or given very little) notice of the layoff? Basically it is it possible that she was working at company A, started searching for a new role, was offered role at company B (your company), and then was laid off. If so, there just might not have been an appropriate time to bring it, especially if a start date had already been agreed upon.

          I sort of had that happen once – I was miserable in my job, was out interviewing, then boss at miserable company asked me point blank if I was looking. I said yes (I was young and naive). Boss said ok, well today’s your last day then. A couple of days later I was offered a job at one of the company’s I interviewed with, but it came up when I blurted out that I’d be available to start sooner than two weeks.

          Personally – I’d probably disclose the claim inquiry to someone, but I would not mention what was overheard through the wall. You only heard half of the conversation and who knows what the full situation is.

          1. KayEss

            Yeah, every time I’ve been laid off (which admittedly is not a huge number, but I’m young yet) it’s been a day-of, security-is-here-to-walk-you-out thing. I wasn’t surprised by it, because in all instances it was clear the company/department had been doing poorly, morale was low, and duties had been shifted away from me (leaving me bored, frustrated, and job-searching), but I didn’t know when it would happen until it happened.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House

          Three week gap between jobs = she’s entitled to unemployment for that time. She may need it. I don’t see anything suspicious about this.

          1. Anon Camper

            Thats fair, and I am not disputing if she would be eligible. I was hoping for some input on if/what I should say about it to my manager, since a questionnaire came to us and this would probably come as a surpriise to them.

            1. Liane

              Handle it the way your employer requires you to handle every other UI questionaire. In other words, if the procedure is that you inform your boss of every UI claim form you fill out and who it was for–you tell the boss. If telling the boss isn’t part of the company UI Forms SOP–you don’t.

        3. Overeducated

          If she was offered the job at your employer before actually leaving her old job, I don’t see why it would be relevant to disclose it. That employment technically ended AFTER she received the offer, so the only reason for her to bring it up would be to say “hey just FYI, in case you want to revoke your job offer or something, I just got laid off” – and I just don’t see why she’d do that.

        4. JeanB in NC

          Why are you even worrying about this? It doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t affect her job – what’s the big deal? Why would you even want to talk to any managers about this?

    2. WellRed

      If she has a role that may require sensitive conversations, I think you should give her a heads up about the sound issue, separate from all this.

    3. Double A

      I’m really confused by this. 1) How did you know she didn’t disclose it to someone during the hiring process and 2) why is it at all relevant to your current company? It’s not like she hid being fired for embezzling or something. Lay offs are not something that reflects poorly on someone. It sounds like she’s entitled to unemployment for those three weeks, so you should fill out whatever’s relevant for you to fill out and alert anyone who protocol tells you should be in the loop.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Ditto, I am confused here.
        I don’t get why not mentioning a lay off to a new employer is a big deal.
        In my younger years I did plenty of seasonal work to supplement my income. I got laid off OFTEN because of seasons.
        I did not feel the need to tell every employer about that.

        Plus, maybe she really liked that job and it’s hard to talk about being separated from the place the way she was pushed out. I had one job like that, it was the job of my life. I will never have a job that like that again where I cared so much about the job. I did. not. talk. about. this with ANYONE about that job. It was too painful. Eventually I recognized my mistake and I vowed not to become so attached to a job again. That attachment worked against me, not for me.

  30. Amber Rose

    Maybe next Friday I’ll write this from jail, since if my coworker keeps singing under her breath I’m going to strangle her with a phone cord.

    I can’t say anything to her. I had to write her up this week for failure to follow rules I had repeatedly warned her about, but she acted all shocked like she’d never heard such a thing and now she’s pissy at me and also doing the malicious rule following thing, where she does exactly as told in the most inconvenient way possible.

    I got blessings from my boss to hold a meeting making the rules clear to everyone (they needed to be revised for clarity anyway, clearly) and then after that hopefully I’ll have more standing to shut this down, but I know with the singing thing, if I say anything it will result in more singing.

    1. Invisible Fish

      Whatever she’s singing, join in, also under your breath. When/if she changes songs, you can stay the same or change. If called on it, you smile brightly and reply, “Oh, gosh! I was singing, wasn’t I? I must have heard _____ somewhere today, and now it’s stuck in my head.”

      1. Amber Rose

        But her singing is so atrocious I have no idea what song it’s supposed to be. It’s like listening to mangled, off tune Enya, just high pitched nonsense.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          And? I’m sure you can do your own imitation of a drowning cat singing Orinoco Flow, no?

      2. EinJungerLudendorff

        As amusing as that would be, it’s probably a bad idea to get into a passive-aggression competition with your underperforming employee.

        Maybe you can try the usual solutions (headphones etc)?

  31. Falling Diphthong

    I’m watching Fargo Season 2, based on a true series of murders from 1979, and it is a fascinating embodiment of the AAM principle “Ain’t no crazy like small, family-run business crazy.” So much of the story is driven by the inherent problems in having your local crime syndicate be a small family-run shop, where all the reasons they would fire a normal employee (e.g. picking a fight with heavily armed opponents) get waved off because this psychopathic employee happens to be a relative.

  32. SophieChotek

    Job Applicant – Reply to Rejection Email?
    In this day of so often not hearing once an application is submitted, would you/should you respond to an email “thanks for applying, but we’re going with someone else” type?
    I would not be asking for feedback or pushing back, more just thanking them for taking the time to tell me.
    Or just leave it go and move on?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Eh, I’m a thanker, because I like to close the loop. In this case, part of me also wants to encourage employers to do this and not leave applicants hanging, so I’d be inclined to say something like, “Thank you for letting me know.”

      1. The New Wanderer

        For a rejection after just an application? No.

        For a rejection after an interview? Yes, I usually respond with “Thanks for letting me know, best of luck.”
        (These have typically been written by the person I interviewed with or mainly communicated with rather than a form letter from a group mail address. For a generic rejection, no response needed.)

        For a rejection after an interview where I was one of the final candidates and/or got feedback that they really wish they could hire me too? I will add something like “Please do keep me in mind for future opportunities where I might be a good fit.”

    2. irene adler

      Sometimes it can be worth it to say something like “Please keep me in mind should you have a future opening for [this] position.” And also indicate how you would very much like to work there someday.

    3. DAMitsDevon

      If it was the kind of rejection letter that doesn’t seem like a form letter and the person says something along the line that indicates they want to keep you in mind for future openings and you’d want to work there (but making it seem personal to you, not just “we’ll keep your resume on file for the next year”), I’d say maybe. If it’s obviously a form letter, you can just leave it.

    4. Interplanet Janet

      I do, because I want them to get positive feedback for actually responding, which I do appreciate, and I know is becoming increasingly rare. I send something like the following:

      “Thanks so much for letting me know.

      Not for nothing, but I really appreciate that you take the time. It’s so much nicer to receive a response, even if it’s a rejection, than to wonder if my resume somehow went straight to the bitbucket without even passing Go!”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I respond because I want to encourage that behavior of letting people know where they stand.
        It’s not an easy thing to send to someone (well, some people are harder to say no to than others) and I do appreciate the extra effort on their part.

    5. (Former) HR Expat

      A lot of these emails are automated and sent from an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Replying with a thank you is a nice thought, but it likely won’t go anywhere if it’s and ATS auto email.

    6. SC

      When I was job searching a couple of years ago, I interviewed twice with a company and was ultimately rejected because they hired a candidate with specific experience. One of the owners, who I had interviewed with, wrote me a nice, non-form rejection email (well, as nice as possible under the circumstances). I replied with something along the lines of “Thanks for letting me know. Good luck.”

      I’m glad I did. I do niche work in a small market. It turns out that I work with this company sometimes and see them and their employees around a lot. I’m happy with my current job, but I may want to work for them one day. I respect them for being polite and taking the time to send a rejection email, and I’m glad I closed the loop in a polite way.

    7. Analytical Tree Hugger

      I don’t see any drawbacks and there’s a miniscule chance it could help in the future, so may as well say “thank you.”

  33. Dr Useless

    Thanks to the people who gave me advice and encouragement last week. Unfortunately I did get that rejection after the second interview in the end. I’ve revised my CV and sent out a few more applications in the last week. This comment isn’t really to ask for advice, it’s really mostly to rant.

    I finally gave in and signed up at the unemployment office. I was told “I don’t know what to do with you”, “ok, but what does one do with a degree in [X]” and we had the lovely exchange: “ok but did you work the last two years” – “of course, I was doing my phd” “ok but did you work” “yes?? as I said, I did my phd, I was paid during that time, I didn’t just do it for fun, I was employed by the university”

    So frustrating.
    I hate this.
    The amount of paperwork and bureaucracy is appalling, I really can’t believe people object to the idea of a basic income, it would certainly be more cost efficient than the current (separate) systems that deal with unemployment, benefits and disability.

    1. new kid

      To be fair, I think most people outside of academia would not understand that getting a phd equates to a paid position. Academia tends to be it’s own little world. (but + 1,000 on overhauling the unemployment systems currently in place, good lord)

      Sending all the positive vibes your way on the job hunt – the right position is en route!!

      1. Deanna Troi

        I agree. I’m currently working on a PhD and I am not employed by nor am I employed by the university. I would think it was weird if someone assumed I was. Some of the people in my program are teaching freshman level classes, but at least half are not working.

          1. Dr Useless

            Fair, but if you ask “did you work during the last two years” and they answer “yes, I was doing my phd” you wouldn’t presume they *hadn’t* been employed and repeat the same question unchanged, right?

            1. Deanna Troi

              Yes, you’re right. I would have responded by asking what kind of work they were doing – teaching, paid non-PhD research, lab work, etc. I think I was put off by the “of course, I was doing my PhD,” as though everyone should automatically know that if you’re working on you’re PhD, that means you have paid employment. That’s simply not true – many people at my university are only doing their PhD research and not working otherwise. I’m at one of the three largest state universities in the country, with many thousands of graduate students.

    2. Invisible Fish

      Don’t feel bad (or too bad, I guess) – when I went in to apply for unemployment while working on my masters degree in English (focused on content Irish women’s literature, thank you), I was told about positions in day care establishments … I mean, all you can do with an English degree is teach, right? And working with toddlers is like teaching, right? See, perfect fit! :/

      1. Dr Useless

        Hahaha, the same thing happened to me, the person entered “linguist” into the job database and it just listed teaching jobs, from language teachers to school teachers and daycare. My degree is in historical linguistics and unsurprisingly I’m not looking to work in my field.

        1. Deanna Troi

          I took some courses in historical linguistics when I got my master’s degree in anthropology. So interesting! I hope you eventually find a job in that field! Or at least a job that you find to be fulfilling.

    3. Gidget

      As I just found out after being in grad school for many years… if you are in a training program (Masters/PhD) and are a full time student any of the work you did does not count towards Social Security because it is considered part of your training (even though you are a University Employee)– this can unfortunately mean it doesn’t count as “real” work when eligibility forms come into play. I hope that doesn’t end up being the case. Good luck.

      1. Dr Useless

        Yikes, no, thankfully I was a regular employee from a legal point of view. It would have been different if I had had a stipend, those work differently, but I had a grant, which paid a (low) salary. It’s infuriating how higher education can screw you over, my husband is from a different country than the one we live in now and his time as a post doc did not count towards his time for applying for citizenship, because he was still considered to be “in training”.

    4. KayEss

      Oooh, unemployment benefits and higher ed are awful. Every time I’ve had to apply, it’s gotten flagged for review because I worked as staff at a couple universities… and it’ll presumably keep happening if I ever have to apply again (hopefully not), at least until those jobs fade away into irrelevance in my work history.

      I’m pretty sure it’s to keep adjuncts from applying for benefits they “aren’t eligible for” during semesters they aren’t teaching (i.e. are unemployed), which is a WHOLE OTHER SET OF PROBLEMS, holy shit academia is awful.

      1. Dr Useless

        Academia is the worst, which is why I’m trying to jump ship now. People interviewing me for jobs keep asking me why I don’t want to continue in my current career and it takes so much restraint to not just start crying and laughing simultaneously or say “because I value what’s left of my mental health”.
        I had one interview recently where both interviewers had PhDs as well and I could at least be fairly straightforward and say “I don’t think that’s a realistic choice, there’s no long term perspective in academia” and they laughed and said “that’s the right answer, yes”. (Of course then they went on to mention the internship I was interviewing for pays about half as much as I’d need to cover my expenses, so turns out that’s not a realistic choice either).

  34. Friday

    High performers: in a job where you’re no longer as invested and are looking for the right opportunity to leave (and it’s taking time because you’re being very careful and selective about where you apply next), do you continue to try to be a high performer until the very end or do you give in to doing the minimum? Struggling with this right now. Due to a toxic workplace, I just try to keep my head down, but there’s still that guilt – that I should still be trying to do my best until the very end.

    Curious to hear about people’s experiences.

    1. rageismycaffeine

      I’ve never been able to turn off the high performer switch when leaving a job. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to run the risk of burning bridges. I’m not going to say it’s always worked out in my favor – nobody ever really seemed to appreciate the level of work I put in to the bitter end – but I can’t shut it off. The same guilt you’re experiencing, I think.

      1. Minocho

        I once was leaving a job with a really toxic management team. But there was a big project, and I thought I could get it done before my time was up. As there were no other software developers at the company (I did all the things! gah!), it either needed to be completed or not started until my replacement arrived. I put in a few extra hours during my last two weeks, nothing really overboard but a little extra effort. The manager of the team whose project I completed before leaving gave me a gift card for a local restaurant change as a “Thank you” for getting it done. That little gift card meant a TON to me, simply because it meant my effort had been noticed. I would have done it anyway, because it made me feel good about myself. But if it would have required 60 hour weeks or some other huge sacrifice, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

        If you’re done with it all where you’re, and you need the energy for what comes next, it’s not wrong to step back. But if it makes you guilty and miserable, try to find the right balance, because that’s not cool either.

    2. Ali G

      Been there, done that, have the T-shirt. In the end I gave up. Do what is best for you. I mean, don’t sabotage your reputation or anything, but don’t go out of your way.
      Side note: I still remember when I was negotiating my offer when I was leaving my first job for my last one. I knew I was going to be gone in a matter of weeks. The CEO of that job (who was a big part of why I was leaving), tried to get me to start a new project. I deflected with an excuse that I think the Board would want to weigh in before I got too far, so why don’t I just outline the project and present to them at the next Board meeting? CEO thought that was a great idea.
      The Board meeting was 2 weeks after my last day. I never did the outline. Surprisingly now I have a great professional relationship with that CEO (I’m in a niche non-profit field).

    3. Agent J

      I’ve been there. I think the key is to find the balance between going above and beyond and doing the bare minimum to keep things running. That way, you cut back on some of the energy you’ve been dedicating to being a high performer but you’re still giving a quality of work that meets the needs of the company. Sometimes good enough is good enough, especially when you’re good enough as a high performer is likely more than enough.

    4. Shuri

      I’m with you! I’m having a hard time giving my all to a job I am so ready to say goodbye to. I don’t have any advice except to say it SEEMS important to keep trying at a good level so nobody notices your work slipping, and so you will have recent examples of good work to bring up in interviews.

    5. ArtK

      I went through this for the last couple of years. It can be very hard to keep producing at a high level. I certainly had times where I just gave the minimum, but still pushed through for some key issues and projects. It’s just part of who I am.

    6. (Former) HR Expat

      I wasn’t able to turn it off when I left. My company was going through a major transition and I fighting with the payroll team on my last day, trying to make sure they had gotten certain details correct so they wouldn’t impact the next few months of payroll (even though I wouldn’t be impacted). I think it’s tough to turn it off.

    7. MissDisplaced

      I continue to perform my work, but don’t go ‘above and beyond’ unless it’s to the team or people I like.
      But yeah, basically try to stay ‘outta the shit and politics.

    8. !

      This is me to a T. I’ve actually been able to start caring little less about the stuff “only I” cared about and got me nowhere to report them. These are things that unless you were looking for them, would not “see” them and so I would fix them but I’m letting things slide as these aren’t things that are my job per se, but something my detail-oriented personality naturally does. These things will eventually bubble to the surface once I leave (I am sticking it out for another few years due to my pension needing more padding).

      I’m also taking Fridays off in the months there are no holidays, or adding an extra vacation day here and there to just “not be here”.

    9. QCI

      When I had a customer service type job I always did my best regardless of how I felt about the company or management at the time, since my work problems weren’t the customers fault, so they shouldn’t get short changed for it.

    10. ACDC

      I’m trying to dial down my high performer-ness right now and I’m still the highest performer on the team *face palm*

    11. Anonymous Educator

      High performer to the end, even when I was in a toxic workplace. As long as I have to be there, might as well do a good job.

    12. Overeducated

      I think this may be not quite the right binary. I have learned over time to “turn off” driving myself crazy over work, stressing about it, and working unpaid and unauthorized overtime – but I still do the best I can in the standard hours I work without being overly emotionally invested or promising to do more than I can handle, I’m one of the most productive people in my office, and my last couple supervisors have evaluated me as a high performer and gotten me promotions. When you say “high performance,” do you really mean putting in your best effort at work, or do you mean how you relate to the work in terms of time and mental load? I don’t see why you’d stop doing the first, but you can certainly change the second to make it healthier.

    13. Joielle

      Personally, I did the minimum. Actually, it sort of went the other way – it was because I was doing the minimum that led to me looking for a new job in the first place. Not that anyone else noticed, but I started to do less and less and shortly realized that I was just so over the whole toxic job and agency and had to get out.

    14. Kate H

      I’m on the verge of job hunting from my highly toxic workplace. I don’t think I could move on to just getting by. I always feel like I should do my best, and I love our department head enough that I would feel like I’m letting him down if I didn’t. If he left, though, I wouldn’t have a problem with keeping my head down, doing satisfactory work, and getting through the day.

    15. Not So NewReader

      I have to do my best because I have to live with ME.
      If you do not have a new job in line, keep doing your best. You don’t want to be known as the one who faded out towards the end of their employment. Think of it as creating more material for your resume and keep being you.

      I recently saw an instance of a superstar employee who tanked towards the end of their time with the company. This was an epic tank that included their disappearance and missing/dislocated items. Hard to know exactly what happened there, but the end result was there was not a person at the company who would give Superstar a good reference. It’s too bad that went that way because this was a very talented person and a very bright mind. (Actually, this was very upsetting for me.)

      For myself, years ago I had thought about this idea of doing less. I came to the conclusion that part of my identity is doing the best I can each day. If I do less than my best, then I am allowing people/circumstances around me to dictate how I should act and in turn I am allowing them to dictate parts of my identity. No one gets to dictate my identity.
      To balance this out, I checked individual tasks to figure out if I should be doing those tasks. It was easy to find stuff that was beyond my job description, or just plain not in my area of focus. I do have that part of me who takes on too much. I ditched the stuff that was over the top.
      You can do your best and still maintain boundaries.

  35. Piano Girl

    My husband is extremely interested in working with a specific theatre company in our area (we recently moved). We know the artistic directors and my husband was hoping to audition this past year but wasn’t able due to a sudden illness. We will definitely become patrons and are looking forward to attending the upcoming productions. My question is this – is there any downside to volunteering with this organization? Is it possible, if the occasion arises to move from volunteering to employment?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.

      Volunteering can be an excellent way to get a leg up on other applicants for a job. Having a personal connection to an organization and proven track record of work (because volunteering is work) can make an applicant stand out among a pool of other, equally qualified candidates.

    2. cmcinnyc

      If it’s a community theater, sure, volunteer. Professional theaters won’t be picking actors from the volunteer pool, however, and thinking volunteering gives you an in on casting will be seen as pretty amateur. But if it is amateurs? Sure! Get involved! That’s what community theater is about.

      1. Lilysparrow

        I would put in a caveat to this, that if you have a specialized/valuable skill set that could be hard to find other volunteers for, or if you have a pretty close personal relationship with the artistic director and they ask for specific help when you offer, then volunteering could help grow that networking relationship.

        But generally, just showing up to usher or work the ticket booth isn’t going to be an “in.”

    3. OhGee

      By employment, do you mean acting in a production, or some other role? If he wants to act with the company, I doubt doing some other story of volunteer work for them will be helpful, and it could be detrimental, because they might come to see him as a volunteer doing X, rather than an actor. In my experience, it is very, very unlikely that a volunteer gig at a theater will ever turn in to a paid job.

      1. valentine

        There was a letter like this, only it wasn’t a theater. One of the things that came up is that, if you’re a good volunteer, they’re going to want to keep you as one.

  36. Akcipitrokulo

    Plain. And, imo, aestetically pleasing!

    Actually not completely plain. when I have indented bullet points I make one of them the pretty arrows.

    I have a couple of paragraphs intro, then bullet points of the technical skills and acheivements (like set up X from scratch), then a (borderless) table that has dates, company & title, achievements. I use one style of bulets for my top acheivment for each role, then another for the rest.

    From a distance it looks clean and unfussy, and close up you can see the relevant stuff quickly.

    1. Close Bracket

      when I have indented bullet points I make one of them the pretty arrows.

      So, like the first bullet in the list is a pretty arrow and the rest are dots or something? That sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll play around with something like that.

  37. Relatively new hire

    I’m now 4-5months into a role and it has become increasingly clear it’s not a good fit- mainly my boss, but also the org is a hot mess. I’m really bummed because I really wanted to work at this place and had hoped to grow in this position and on paper it had everything I was looking for- including higher salary. The reality is my boss refuses to let me do anything I was hired for (I was hired to help her manage a certain part of the work of the dept so she has time for other things) and micromanages even the most minor tasks, yet won’t set up one on one meetings with me bc she’s too busy, what used to be a full team is now just me bc of my boss so I’ve been stuck with all of the work, and I even had a conversation with upper management about my boss where they admitted they are trying to do something but essentially are waiting for her to leave on her own. I haven’t started looking with purpose yet, but a former colleague knows my situation and has been trying hard to get me to work with her- she says their org has a really wonderful team and lead and she’s new to her job as well but she really loves it. Someone doing similar work to me at a lower level at that org just put in their notice to go to grad school, and I have a conversation with the lead next week where I hope to learn more- things are bad enough that even if they can’t raise the salary at all or the title I might just take it because I don’t care anymore as long as I can pay my bills and I just want to work on a healthy team, and it sounds like there’s room to make more of the position.

    My question is- if this works out, or even if it doesn’t but I find something else, and I give notice to my boss after 5-6 months, for a lower level position at a smaller org, how do I frame it? Can I just say “I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me”? My boss is very ambitious and assumes I am the same- she keeps referencing me wanting her job or to work at a bigger org, and she’s not letting me hire for a position we need bc the only qualified candidate “doesn’t come from a [more respected org]”. Coincidentally this is the position that I manage, aka one of the reasons I took the position, and it’s not like the candidate comes from somewhere with a bad reputation, just that it doesn’t have name recognition and that would “look bad for our hiring if anyone found out”.

    I’m sure my boss will come up with her own story but I’m really trying to search for a diplomatic way to frame my bowing out of a job after a really short period of time. Most of the people in the dept know my boss is a nightmare so I’m sure it would be obvious which to me is even more reason I should have at least a plausible excuse. The commute will be like 30-20 mins shorter? A lot of people have left since I started but I don’t think there’s been anyone with as short of a tenure as me (assuming I get out in the next month or so).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Oh, she sounds great, your boss. That reluctance to hire someone because of the company they worked for, not their skills… that’s a nightmare for a lot of good candidates, and it’s silly to boot.

      I think you’re ok with, “This hasn’t been a great fit and it’s just not for me.” Your boss doesn’t need to know where you’re going or at what level. You can also say that an opportunity came up that you just couldn’t turn down.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      Since she’s not letting you do what you were hired to do, this sounds like a good case of “the job turned out to be very different from what I was told it would be.”

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yep. That is what I would go with, because that is what I would say on interviews. So my reasoning would match if the two parties ever checked with each other. “The job was not what I was told and expected it to be.”

    3. sacados

      I think if you’re wondering about how to frame it to talk to your current boss, I would just go with the “good fit” angle and then just be politely vague after that.
      And there’s no rule that says you have to tell your boss which org you’ll be moving to and/or what position it will be. You can easily get away with not mentioning that the role is “lower level” if you’re worried Current Boss will be judgy or lecture you about it.

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I’m sure we had a letter earlier this week about a boss not “letting” someone quit. I don’t think you need an excuse, just say that it isn’t as good a fit as you thought it would be and your last day will be X.

      Also, not wanting to hire someone because they don’t work at a prestigious enough organisation? Who is going to “find out” or care? What a snob.

  38. Fiona

    Some red-flag questions for the AAM crew.

    Backstory: my husband has had a long, solid career in sales for technology companies but a few years ago, he started his own business in an unrelated field. It’s been going well enough but it’s also been inconsistent and not quite enough business is coming in to pay the bills. He’s accumulated some debt, so he’s back on the full-time job hunt.

    After a 6+ month job hunt that hasn’t yielded any firm offers, he got an offer yesterday for a sales job. The pay is good but the company (which is primarily located overseas but positions itself as a global company, with an American presence and well-known clients) gave him some red flags, including the following:

    – After a phone interview, he went in for an in-person interview, at which point they offered him the job on the spot. No references were asked for.
    – The job is specifically for a full-time employee but offers zero benefits (health, etc)
    – My husband wrote a warm and enthusiastic email upon receiving the offer letter, inquiring if there was wiggle room in the salary, since benefits weren’t being offered. The hiring manager responded in a weird and hostile tone, seemingly offended that my husband tried to negotiate (??) and saying that they had already met his “demand” despite it not being in their budget.
    – In that same email, my husband had inquired about vacation days and was told he was entitled to all U.S. federal holidays. So seemingly no PTO at all.

    If he was not in debt, there is almost no chance that he would take this job. Based on who is hiring, a lot of this may be cultural/language issues at play, but even so, they should know that benefits, vacation days, and salary negotiations are extremely common in American hiring, so it gives me pause as to what ELSE they will do that is atypical down the road.

    So my questions are the following:

    1. If you were in his shoes, would you consider the job or is it just too many flags?
    2. They pay monthly as opposed to biweekly. Is that a flag? We weren’t sure.
    3. Have you ever heard of a full-time job in the United States that doesn’t offer any vacation days at all?

    Thanks, all!

    1. Ali G

      For me, too many red flags. I would not take that job.
      The only way I would consider it would be if it paid enough to pay off the debt in a very short amount of time (6 months max) and I would be looking the whole time I was working to move on once the debt is paid (or before if something better came along I could see myself in full time).

    2. ArtK

      Run away! Far too many red flags. The hostile response to a negotiation request would have done it for me.

    3. BeansieBoo

      There are enough red flags that I would not accept unless it was really my only option financially. The hostile reaction to what is a normal question in hiring, in particular, stood out to me. If it is classified as an exempt/salary position rather than nonexempt/hourly I do think the complete lack of vacation days is a red flag, even in the US where we have comparably few days.

      Paying monthly rather than biweekly isn’t necessarily a big red flag and can be common in some fields/positions – though it can require more careful budgeting. For Anecdata examples, 1) when I was an instructor at the University of State they paid on the last day of the month, 2) my best friend works for Local City Government and gets paid monthly (we had the same payday for a while and would celebrate together), and 3) and my brother just switched sub-companies at Big Media Entity (think moving from the print media wing to video/digital media development) and went from being paid on the 15th and last day of the month to just the last day of the month.

    4. The New Wanderer

      I’ve been paid monthly before, that’s not necessarily a flag.
      Offered the job on the spot? Not necessarily a flag (it’s happened to me twice) unless it comes with intense pressure to accept on the spot.
      No benefits AND no PTO? Enough of a red flag to decline. That’s highly unusual for US full time jobs, IME.
      Added to that, the hostile response to negotiation? If they won’t budge on salary, there are plenty of polite neutral ways of communicating that. Run away.

    5. no, the other Laura

      Run. These are not legitimate, upstanding people.

      I have been offered a job without people asking for references, but it was because they already knew me by reputation and there were plenty of people in the company I’d worked with in the past who had referred me for the interview in the first place. This is literally the only situation in which I can see not asking for references being okay.

      Monthly pay is annoying, but not a red flag per se. I’ve been paid monthly by real companies, it was somewhat crummy for the first month or so until my paychecks caught up with my bills, but the checks all cleared. And I’ve had jobs that didn’t negotiate at all on salary.

      The big red flags are really no vacation days and no benefits and being rude instead of professional about negotiating. Even the places I’ve worked that didn’t negotiate weren’t offended when I tried to, they just said, “sorry, this is our last best final offer, take some time to think about it and let us know.”

    6. pcake

      I would consider these red flags.

      Paying the same salary with no benefits? No, thanks!

      My husband and I pay $750 per month for our health insurance – his company pays an additional $1,000 per month. For my husband to take a job without benefits would cost us an additional $1,750 per month every month. A job with no benefits would have to offer him $21,000 above and beyond wages just to make up for that.

      I have heard of full time jobs here that don’t offer vacation days. Unsurprisingly they’re mostly entry level, horrible jobs. And consider this – if your husband gets 2 paid weeks of vacation per year and he makes $48,000 per year, not having those 2 paid weeks means he’d be giving up another $1,846 worth of perks each year. If he makes more per year or gets more weeks, he could lose easily double that or more.

      That the hiring manager is hostile about negotiation isn’t a good thing. That they don’t want to make up for what he’d be having to pay out of his own pocket in order to work for them on his own means they’re either cheap, unreasonable, broke or some of all three. Oh, or clueless. None of these are a good thing.

      I would consider taking this job only if we needed it in order to pay for immediate housing and food, and I would keep looking for a job after accepting. If I had enough money to make it for a while, I wouldn’t consider that job. Is there some freelance work he can do?

        1. Booksalot

          It’s not in his field, but some retail/CS jobs offer benefits to part-timers. Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Costco are a few.

      1. Foreign Octopus

        I beg your pardon, but British person here.

        Your health insurance is a total of $1750 A MONTH!?! That is insane. That’s more money than I make in a month. How do you people survive???

        1. Midwest writer

          Short answer? It’s a mess.
          But at my last job, I paid about that much monthly for health and dental for our family of 5. It just ended up lowering my income so much that I got it all back on a tax return in a lump sum every March. (insert shrugging emoji here)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood

          Many people just plain do not have health insurance. Many people go into bankruptcy because of that. All it takes is “an always healthy person” dropping health insurance and then getting into an accident or having an appendix rupture or….
          It’s awful.

        3. Fortitude Jones

          Yeah, that’s insane. Mine is only $99/month and, before that, it was about $170/month – I will never complain again. Damn.

        4. Jane

          That’s likely for a family, but yes.

          I’m a single person and my health insurance costs a total of about $700 per month, and my employer pays about $500 of it.

          It sucks. It keeps people from being able to retire, start businesses, stay home with their kids. People go bankrupt from health care costs more than any other reason. People lose their homes because of health care costs. People die from trying to ration their medication or not see a doctor when they need to. Our health system is a cancer on our society. Unfunny pun intended.

        5. Crabby Patty

          In the US, health insurance is tied to employment.

          And that’s just Level One of our collective stupidity.

    7. Dr Dimple Pooper

      Vacation and health benefits are part of what good companies offer to retain good employees and it appears to be a nightmare job in the making. It boils down to how desperately he needs a job. He can always take it and continue to look for a new one.
      I had a job where I got paid once a month. It was tough to manage my bills getting a big lump at the beginning of the month, so I had to be more diligent with planning for the whole month.

      1. PharmaCat

        It sounds like he would be a contractor, not employee. Ask is the company intends to withhold taxes and pay their share of social security.

    8. GladIdidntfallforit

      Is this a hard sales job? I ask bc I naively interviewed for several when I was fresh out of school. Hired on the spot, no benefits, hard selling, promises of tons of money paid to me. I ran for the hills. I stupidly interviewed for a few of these. Thankfully I didn’t end up in them. They have incredibly high turnover and often involve cold calling and even going door to door. One bad sales month and you are out.q

    9. E

      Too many red flags. No PTO and no benefits + hostility from hiring manager make it sound like this will be a horrendous place to work.

    10. Justme, The OG

      Red flags abound.

      I’m paid monthly, I work in higher education. It’s not so weird.

      I sadly know of some positions that offer no benefits and no vacation or sick time. I won’t work for those places.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Well…I mean what’s he got to lose by accepting the job and then quitting within a couple of weeks if they’re truly awful?

      These are red flags though and if he doesn’t want to proceed with the idea that he’ll bounce as soon as the next good thing comes along, then it’s no biggie, in my opinion there.

      Lots of places pay monthly, not a flag.

      Lots of full time jobs have no vacation and no benefit, none of those are good jobs with solid companies though, that’s for sure! [Seriously, I think a lot of us are just used to being in positions that these benefits are available but millions people don’t even get paid holidays or vacation time.

    12. ANOTHER friday anon

      If they’re an overseas company paying monthly may be the norm in their country of origin. I am in Europe and monthly is pretty much the norm over here. Most of my colleagues who have never gotten into contact with American culture would be really weirded out by biweekly pay.

    13. SC

      Another red flag– the company flat-out said the salary is not within their budget. So, in addition to there being no PTO and no benefits, it’s not clear that the company is able to make payroll. And your husband won’t find that out for at least a month. Even if they can make payroll, they already sound hostile and resentful about the offer. I say RUN.

    14. Fortitude Jones

      I would definitely pass. A full-time job with no benefits at all?! No leave time, low salary, and they hired him on the spot? Nah, this place has problems. I’ve known places that pay monthly, so that part isn’t a red flag, but I’d worry about their ability to make payroll and that’s why they have monthly pay.

    15. Not So NewReader

      Your hubby can get a better position than this. Debt combined with This Job is stuff nightmares are made of.
      Don’t start down this road.

      1) No way in hell.
      3) Yes, they are called crappy jobs.

    16. justathought

      Use of the word “demand” definitely a language/cultural thing.
      1. Too many flags.
      2. No.
      3. Yes.
      Could he reach out on LinkedIn to someone at the company just for general information?
      Did you guys research Glassdoor, Yelp and Better Business Bureau for any unfavorable reviews?
      Good luck with it, keep us posted!

    17. CDM

      Monthly pay is illegal in some states (Google suggests about half), so that’s certainly a flag. My partner had an employer (headquartered overseas) who switched staff to monthly pay, only to have to change back because, oops, it was illegal in that state. I would check your state’s pay frequency law.

  39. [A Cool Name Here]

    Can I point out to a co-manager that her co-manager’s management style is really dragging down the team morale?

    1. Jules the 3rd

      Depends on your standing, the relationship between the managers, how specific you can get, etc. Your position will be stronger if you can get others on the team to join you in pointing it out.

      I was a co-manager in a retail position many years ago. I had someone come to me with some very specific concerns, I had the same concerns. I talked it over with my co-manager, but it came down to a basic philosophical difference (I thought ‘higher position = higher responsibility / if there’s a someone missing in a shift it’s on us’, co-m thought ‘higher position = more delegation’). I took it to my bosses. Co-m left the store.

      Factors that mattered:
      I had a good working relationship with the team.
      The 2 (out of 8) employees who mentioned it were very valuable, relatively long experience
      There was more than 1 person mentioning it to me
      It was very specific: “there was no one at the register while Co-m was in the office” not “Co-m is mean”

      1. [A Cool Name Here]

        I am subordinate to Boss (who has been in her position for over 7 years) and we get on very well on a day-to-day level. But her management style is demoralizing – showing frustration with us when we’re not meeting her unspoken expectations, never telling us her expectations even when asked, never acknowledging that we’ve kicked butt to accomplish what we have, and taking out her stress on us when she’s under pressure. Above all, never ever taking responsibility for her mistakes (although she doesn’t make them often). She can flip-flop between being positive and being negative, but she’s more negative in her attitude and not sympathetic to our frustrations.

        Boss is a co-manager to Manager (<6 mos employee), who is upbeat, positive, a direct communicator who tells you her expectations, listens to our frustrations, validates our feelings of over-the-top stress and actively and openly problem solves to resolve issues. I'd like to let Manager in on how Boss' negative attitude towards us is demoralizing because we're in a rough spot now with limited resolutions. I don't want this to come back and bite me in the butt.

        Honestly, Manager could tell me in the kindest manner that I'm fired and I'd thank her for being awesome while being ushered out the door. I hope for the future is that Manager manages the team and Boss manages Manager and her boss.

        1. Alianora

          I think you can definitely bring up the part about unspoken expectations. The rest is important too, but I would focus on that because it’s clearly an issue even if you’re taking all emotions out of it. And I would recommend stating that this is demoralizing, but focusing mainly on the effect it has on work.

          If you want to go the ultra cautious route, you could talk about the “procedure” for communicating expectations, rather than the person. But the manager sounds reasonable enough that I would speak more frankly.

  40. Catherine de Medici

    I need some support and reassurances that it is ok to be super picky about a job and that you don’t have to take any offer that comes your way. I’ve been applying for a higher grade federal position but I’m happy enough in my current job (currently a fed). I mostly just want more money since I’ve hit the limit of the automatic career ladder on grade increases. I had a bunch of interviews recently and I think I stand a decent chance of getting at least one offer but some of them don’t have quite as flexible a telework policy as my current job. That seems like it’s too picky of a reason to turn down an offer and I just need reminders that interviewing is a two-way street and I don’t have to take an offer I don’t love when it isn’t necessary.

    1. rageismycaffeine

      You get to determine what’s important to you. If the flexible telework policy is important to you, then you get to make that a dealbreaker! There have been plenty of times in the past that I’ve convinced myself to overlook something that was actually important to me when taking a job (the worst was telling myself I was okay with an hourlong commute each way, oof). You’re completely justified.

      1. Catherine de Medici

        These positions are all still at my own agency, just not my current office and there’s talk of moving our agency to a location that would double my commute to over 2 hrs, which is why the telework situation is so vital. I have a dog and my commute cannot be over an hour long. If I get an offer and take one of these jobs, I’ll be sticking with the agency through the move, so I better be allowed to telework 3 or 4 days a week.

    2. CupcakeCounter

      I’m on the same boat – have it pretty good at current job but there are a few things that would make my life better so I’m out looking but now the employer has to tick ALL of the boxes for me to leave.

      1. Catherine de Medici

        My friends keep pushing me to do something different because they personally hate the kind of work I do and it’s frustrating (I’m an acceptance tester for economic systems, applications and backend database type stuff). If I could do my absolute dream vocation and not worry about money, is this what I would do? No, but it pays the bills and it’s interesting enough for me. Plus, my coworkers and supervisor are great, which is hard to find in a job. My friends don’t get why I don’t want to constantly be bouncing around and doing new, exciting things. I just want more money but my pay is already decent as a fed. I’m certainly not struggling.

        1. justathought

          Could you do a side gig for that extra cash you are looking for? Or re-work the budget, or change your withholding to ”find” extra money? Consolidate any debt for a lower payment? This way you could maintain the status quo for a bit.

    3. Overeducated

      You don’t have to, you’re in a pretty ideal position to choose what you want and not just take what you’re given.

      That said, consider that your current job’s telework policy may change, some federal agencies are making it more restrictive – don’t give up a good thing because of something that might never happen, but just also think about how you’d feel if you turned down the job and new restrictions came down right after. (I just had the opposite happen – didn’t get a job, but a couple weeks later a new policy was introduced that would have made the position telework ineligible – definitely made the rejection pill easier to swallow!)

      1. Catherine de Medici

        These are all positions within my agency, just not my particular office, so the official telework policy is the same regardless but some supervisors still have a butts in seats attitude that I find ridiculous in 2019. I’m not worried about the official policy changing since our department has pushed for more flexibility in terms of core hours and such in the last few years and our union reps are on top of stuff like that.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame

      It’s your career! Deciding what to do with it is a big deal. And the telecommuting part is clearly important to you. Feel free to be picky.

  41. Its5oclocksomewhere

    I just started a new job a few weeks ago and I was sitting at my desk working. My coworker, “Mary”, was walking back to her desk and said to me, “I’m happy that you’re here- even though it may not seem like it.”

    I was surprised because it seemed to come out of nowhere. Mary was busy and we didn’t even see each other until that moment. I never said anything to anyone about her not liking me or thought otherwise. I like her- she’s very knowledgeable and funny.

    It caught me off guard, so I just thanked her, but what do you say to something like that? Again, I never had anyone say that; I never told anyone, “Mary doesn’t like me.” I’m still pretty new, so I don’t know what to think at this point. Any ideas?

    1. MPA

      It’s possible she felt bad about something she said or someone mentioned something to her without mentioning it t o you.

      These situations are always hard because if you (in this case Mary) suspect the person heard you say something or they interpreted incorrectly, you want to smooth things over.

      I once had a coworker apologize for something I didn’t even hear and it made me feel bad when otherwise I would have been fine. But by apologizing they made sure I heard it, lol.

      1. Interplanet Janet

        This is my read, too. It’s a sort-of apology for not having had/made time to be as welcoming as she’d like.

        1. KR

          Yes!! she may have Resting B!tch Face and be saying “hey we haven’t had a chance to talk but I’m so glad you’re here!!”

    2. A Simple Narwhal

      Meh I wouldn’t worry too much about that, she might normally be super outgoing and enthusiastic so her busy demeanor might have come across as unhappy to someone who knows her but is perfectly fine to you without that context.

      It can also be that she’s been told that she hasn’t been super welcoming to you and is trying to address that or she’s dealt with people before that found her to be hard to read and she’s trying to preempt that, all while you just happen to not be taking it that way.

      I was once pulled aside at a past job when I started and told “hey don’t worry, [department head] is just super dry and intense, you’ll be fine” and I was like “??????? What? He’s hilarious!” Apparently some coworkers in different departments had found him intimidating so they wanted to give me the heads up, but it wasn’t necessary in my case.

      I think you’re fine!

    3. Rusty Shackelford

      Oh, gosh, this sounds like something I’d say, when I’m trying to apologize for not being open and friendly and available.

    4. New Normal

      I need to vent a bit – I work for a non-profit and about half the time we have volunteers who are assigned to me ostentatiously to help me and take a few tasks off my overflowing desk. Thing is … they don’t. I really just need someone to sit at the front desk and greet the occasional person who comes in, answer basic questions, and answer the phone when it rings. Bonus points if they’re willing to dust a bit. If they do that then they’re really super helpful and I can get so much more done!

      Unfortunately the vast majority of volunteers we’ve had feel the need to do more and either stop volunteering (had a couple walk out mid-shift, even) or come to me every five minutes complaining that they’re bored and asking for something to do, no matter how much I tell them that just BEING here is what I need. So to keep them from leaving or coming in to chat I have lists of busywork that they can do. All of it’s pretty basic stuff – put stickers on these bags like this example bag, cut ribbon to this length (give example ribbon and give them a yard stick with cutting marks on it), cut these promotional handouts, etc.

      Except then I inevitably need to babysit them. I lost a whole printout of promotional handouts because the volunteer decided to cut them in random places instead of on the clearly-marked cutting lines. And even without the lines it should have been SO OBVIOUS where to cut! Another time I asked my volunteer to trim some cardstock for a poster and told her that she could use any scissors except the ribbon scissors. The scissors with “RIBBON SCISSORS, DO NOT USE” written all over them. Don’t use those. I told her that three times. Guess which scissors will no longer cut our ribbon without snags, thanks to being used?

      At this point I’m tired of trying to out-think all the ways a super-simple task can go wrong. I’m tired of having to interrupt my own work every five minutes to show my volunteer how to do simple tasks, knowing that there’s a better-than-even odds that it’ll still be done wrong. I’m tired of hiding my frustration when interrupted, tired of smiling and trying to find a kind way to correct them when I just want to scream.

      Unfortunately the volunteers are a non-negotiable for this job and every so often we do get that one that’s really helpful and is willing to come in regularly. I love those volunteers. So it’s not all bad. But this past week has been especially frustrating with a couple volunteers who really just want to sit around and chat with me or do ALL THE THINGS even when they can’t handle the most basic tasks.

      I’m working on my resume and devising an exit strategy so hopefully this will be a thing of the past soon. I just needed to rant, though. And it’s making me both a bad manager to our one paid employee and a bad partner to my husband. Our one paid part-time employee, who I manage, isn’t a rock star but she can cut on lines more often than not and I have a hard time holding her to the standards I should because I’m just so flippin’ excited that I only have to sort-of micromanage her. And at home I’m getting increasingly short with my poor husband because I have zero patience after 8 hours of trying to out-think others. So obviously this needs to change.

      1. New Normal

        Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, this should NOT have nested here! I’m not even sure how that happened. Sorry!

      2. Asta

        “or come to me every five minutes complaining that they’re bored and asking for something to do, no matter how much I tell them that just BEING here is what I need.“

        But it’s not what they need. The thing about volunteers is that they want to have a good experience, and I think this isn’t the right way to manage them. Sorry!

        1. Lily in NYC

          I used to manage volunteers and it’s a nightmare. If they aren’t willing to perform the work that is actually needed, then they should volunteer elsewhere. I managed volunteers at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and quite a few of them assumed they were going to be in the trenches doing detective work and saving victimized children themselves. We had highly trained professionals for that. I needed someone to stuff envelopes.

          1. Asta

            Sorry but when you’re having people help out for free, you do need to be a bit more thoughtful than this.

            1. Joielle

              And what, let them do work they’re not qualified for? Let them interrupt employees? I think when you want to help out somewhere for free, you need to internalize the idea that you’re there to help with what they need and you don’t necessarily get to do the most fun, exciting thing.You’re contributing to the organization’s success no matter what your specific role is. If you can’t understand that, then you’re not a good volunteer because babysitting you is more trouble than it’s worth.

              (Can you tell that I, too, have managed unruly volunteers. Ha!)

            2. post it

              I mean, DO you? You don’t owe someone a fulfilling volunteer opportunity at your org just because they want one. Be honest and upfront with them about what you need and your expectations and let them self-select out.

          2. AAMreader10

            Usually this issue boils down to one of two things:

            1. Failure to manage expectations by the organization. Going on @Lily’s example and my own experience in public safety (both paid and volunteer) it is something like:

            Title: Incident Tactical Response Officer
            Requirements: 21+, fingerprint investigation and polygraph
            Duties: stuffing envelopes and tying ribbons on trees

            Then when the volunteers (rightfully) complain about why such an invasive process was needed for their duties they are essentially told to sit down and shut up.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Managing volunteers is not the same as managing paid workers. There’s entire books written on this subject.

          However, I think that is super important to tell the volunteer what the job is before they start. “Bring a book or some needlework, as this job requires you to sit by the phone for the time you are here.”

          There is nothing wrong with saying clearly and upfront, “What I need the most is not to be interrupted.” But you can give with the other hand by checking on them every couple hours. “How’s it going here?”

          But yeah, what works with paid employees may not work with volunteers.

          Scissors. When a place uses volunteers stuff gets abused or even broken. It’s part of the cost of having volunteers. If I find myself worried about scissors I tend to think I have a bigger issue than just scissors going on.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

      I imagine that if she weren’t so busy she would have made an effort to more formally welcome you to the office — take you out to lunch or something — and just in case you had been expecting that and were wondering, she was trying to reassure you that you are welcome…but she did it in a very awkward way. I wouldn’t read too much more into it.

    6. Wishing You Well

      Maybe it’s weird joke that landed flat. You could ask her what she meant – using a neutral, inquisitive tone.

    7. Not So NewReader

      @5oclock, you are reading way too much into the comment. It was an awkward comment by a harried person who felt they owed you some type of modest apology or olive branch because they had not been very welcoming.

      You can just say thanks and if you think of it you can add, “no problem” so that she knows you had no concerns. Then just let it go. She was trying to be kind.

  42. Injured

    I posted last week about adaptable clothing for shoulder surgery and I have another question! I’m still waitlisted for a surgery date and the pain has been really bad. I’m working with my doc on a pain med routine until I have surgery, but I’m stuck with what to do at work. If I take the pain med I’ve been prescribed (norco), I can’t function well because it makes me fuzzy headed. But if I don’t, the pain makes me feel nauseous and unable to concentrate well. Does anyone have any tips on how to get through this part? I would love to be able to go out on medical leave early, but I have to save it for postop recovery.

    Many thanks!

    1. CheeryO

      That’s tough, so sorry you’re going through that! I think you should take your medication and just do your best at work, assuming your fuzzy-headedness isn’t going to be jeopardizing anyone else’s safety or anything like that.

      It may be a good idea to give people a heads-up about what you’re going through, maybe on an as-needed basis, if they don’t already know at this point. I can only speak for myself, but I appreciate when coworkers let me know that they aren’t at their best. That way, I can be a little extra proactive when it comes to asking them for updates, reviewing their work, etc. Luckily, this is a short-term thing, so it’s not like you’re asking people to make accommodations for you forever.

      1. Injured

        Thanks so much for your perspective! I’m in a sling most of the time so it’s pretty obvious that something is going on :) I guess it’s better to be a little fuzzy and not miserable, than miserable and unable to concentrate.

    2. Not All

      I’m sure you thought of the obvious…but did you ask your doctor about different options for pain medications? I know for me, there are only one or two that work for me. The others are either “make me so dopey I literally cannot be unsupervised” or “might as well have taken a sugar pill”. (It doesn’t help that I flat refuse to take any opioids due to some family history.)

      1. Anonysand

        This was going to be my suggestion as well. About 5 years ago I blew out my knee, and I was in a similar situation while waiting for surgery. I had to try a couple of different pain pills before I found the right one that worked well enough to deal with the pain while also not making me feel completely drunk. That being said, I only took about 7 days worth of the 30 day Vicodin supply they prescribed me after the surgery and switched to extra-strength Tylenol every 6 hours. It didn’t work AS well (although still enough to be functional) but I felt more comfortable knowing that I was clear-headed enough to do my job and be able to drive myself home.

      2. TooTiredToThink

        Yep; this. Maybe also checking with the doctor about taking a half dose – enough to take the edge of the pain, but not enough to make you too fuzzy headed if this is the only thing you can take – but your doctor should be the one guiding you on this.

        1. Pills

          This. My husband was prescribed Norco for a eye injury. He didn’t like the effects so started cutting them in half and that worked perfectly for him. Side note he also discovered that they help his migraines if he comes home, takes half a pill, and then a 30 minute nap. Not ideal but due to his job he cannot take any other migraine medicine.
          He get a migraine about every 4-5 weeks so no worries about addiction and he talked with his primary GP about it and she is (mostly) ok with it.

          1. valentine

            Cutting a pill doesn’t result in proportion the dosage, so, just be wary because you won’t know how much you’re taking.

    3. KoiFeeder

      Can you take less Norco, or request something else from your doc? If no pain means you can’t function, and all the pain also means you can’t function, you don’t have to pick between the two. Just getting it down to the point where you can function is perfectly reasonable.

    4. Sara

      Ugh, so sorry you’re dealing with this. I know the feeling, unfortunately.

      Even though your doc prescribed narcotics for pain, can you take Tylenol/Ibuprophen on an alternating schedule during the days? If you talk to your doc, they might tell you what you can take and how much. It probably won’t kill the pain at all but it might take the top edge off so you don’t feel like you’re about to vomit from how much it hurts all the time. Also, any options for acupuncture in your area? I’ve used it with some mild success and again, it might just take some of of the edge off the pain so you can work. Hopefully you can explain to your boss about what’s happening so they can understand if you’re a bit less productive than usual. Depending on the state you’re in, CBD oils (or similar) might also help with taking some of the pain down to a more manageable level. Best of luck in your surgery and recovery!

  43. May Queen Summer

    Based on a letter this week I was wondering if anyone has any advice on what to do if the bad communication habits are coming from inside the management circle?

    I switched to a new team at work and there are 3 people who I report to/are above me, and none of them can answer a question in a clear and easy to understand manner! They are all constantly either over explaining on simple yes/no questions OR ignore previous emails. I can’t count the number of times this week alone that people have replied to emails where I’ve said things like “Our Llama budget approved a new grooming campaign!” with “But does the budget approve this campaign??” Their messages are also rife with typos/leaps in logic that make it really, really hard for me to parse things right away. The worst part is that we’re remote, and all 3 managers are in different timezones so calling for clarification isn’t always an option. It’s driving me truly bonkers and combined with other red flags is really making me regret this move.

    1. New Normal

      I don’t have advice but lots of sympathy. That would have me banging my head against hard surfaces daily.

    2. Minocho

      If I had a dollar for every time I received a “Yes.” answer to a question in the form “Should we do A, or B? With A and B being mutually exclusive,” I would have a new TV.

    3. Kate H

      I wish I had advice but I only have commiseration. A few months ago, I got bitched out by upper management for not doing a project the way they wanted it. When our department head asked for clarification on a few points so that I could redo it, he never received a response. It’s exhausting.

  44. Zephy

    Big oof time: we just got word that the state of California has passed a law making CA residents enrolled in 100% online degree programs through non-CA-based universities ineligible for federal student aid. I’m still not sure how this is legal, some kind of loophole from what I understand. But the college I work for does have a handful of students that will be affected by this. I dunno whose responsibility it’ll be to make those phone calls–probably not mine, thank goodness–but my heart goes out to those fifty or so people.

    1. De Minimis

      I did some reading on this because my spouse is considering online programs and we live in CA. It’s not a California law, it’s a federal regulation that is taking effect [after much delay] that California hasn’t complied with. It’s something to do with the state not having a complaint process in place for online students, or else work out an agreement with another state who does have such a process. A court may provide some type of relief, but it’s a bad situation for the students until it does get resolved.

      1. blaise zamboni

        Oh man – I’ve been waffling about finishing my degree online at an out-of-state school for a few months, and FAFSA eligiblity was my biggest concern. This is really disappointing to hear :( I do take some small comfort knowing CA isn’t just trying to screw over students, but still.

    2. Little Beans

      Just to clarify, I think it is an Education Department rule that is affecting students (not a CA law).

    3. OperaArt

      Not that it helps your students, but California did not pass such a law. Rather this is due to a judge’s ruling in a dispute with the federal Department of Education involving students having a way to make complaints.
      Here’s hoping the legal dispute gets resolved so the students aren’t trapped in the middle.

    4. Zephy

      Replying to myself to sort of reply to all of you – thanks for the clarification. It seemed weird to me that a state could make a law like that so I’m glad that’s not the case. Still though, what a crappy situation all around.

  45. Argh so frustrated right now

    So I made a mistake when choosing how to prepare for the next steps in my career (and life).

    I moved abroad in June and started a summer school to learn the local language and it was not at all up to my expectations. It feels like a waste of money and I am incredibly frustrated. We barely worked on communication skills, only on grammar (I love grammar but you cannot buy a loaf of bread or ask for directions just because you can correctly identify the subject and the object in a long sentence).

    In short, the course did not deliver what it promised (communication and grammar). I cannot understand when someone addresses me in the local language (which sounds like mumbling compared to the overenunciated way the teacher speaks), even if it is something I know how to write and say in theory. And this is the case for all of us in class. I have learnt languages before and I know that at this level we should be able to understand and say more than what we are capable of now.

    I typed out a long list of complaints about the course and the motivation of my classmates but just having everything written made me feel so much better that I decided to not share my ramblings with you.

    I know I will eventually learn the language but the summer school was expensive, and I got to learn in the meantime that the course offered by language school I originally wanted is much better. It would have cost the same. Should have gone for it.

    I would love to hear how you have coped with something similar in your professional life.

    1. sacados

      Not so much about setbacks, but language learning tips in general.
      Watch lots of movies/TV, it can be a really big help with getting used to normal natural speech patterns. For example, watch an episode with English subtitles, then go back and watch it again without subtitles, then maybe again with CC type subtitles in the local language.
      That sort of thing can really help get your ears acclimated to true daily-life conversations.

      And for speaking practice, it can really help to take an article/book/whatever — something written in the local language– and just read it out loud. That also helps you get used to physically voicing and shaping the words.
      Those are two things that have really helped me.

    2. Minocho

      Oh man, that’s rough. I learned a language in a classroom, and when I moved to the country in question, the area where I was placed was out in the country with a very strong dialect. Strong enough that the entire rhythm of the language changed, and it took me 6 months to regain my ability to communicate without asking for them to slow down and speak the capital city dialect.

      Then the coworkers who would overpronounce things to the point that there was barely a resemblance between the word spoken normally versus “can’t language well foreigner” mode. Ugh. Surprisingly non-helpful.

      Good luck! Get out there – face to face learning is super helpful, as body language makes up for a surprising amount of language difficulty. Except when it doesn’t. I also found having a drink, when safe and appropriate, loosened up my self-consciousness enough to allow me to stop self-sabotaging my efforts to learn and improve.

    3. Foreign Octopus

      Hi, ESL teacher here.

      I’ve taught at these types of language schools that you’re talking about, and I tend to advise people to steer clear of them for just the reasons that you’ve mentioned. As a teacher, your hands are tied with what you can offer your students and then there’s the problem of mixed-level classes that should burn in the pits of hell because they are so fiendishly complex and completely useless.

      However, please do check out iTalki for teachers in your language. It’s one-on-one via Skype or FaceTime, and you tell the teacher exactly what you want. It’s great for conversational practice. I teach English there but I also learn Spanish on it too. You might find that a better option.

  46. CustServGirl

    Good News: I GOT A RAISE!

    I’m hourly, and it was very unexpected, but I received a decent raise that has actually put me within the pay range that’s appropriate for my role (I was underpaid for a long time). I’m so happy my effort and work are being noticed and appreciated.

  47. rageismycaffeine

    I recently became the supervisor of a longtime employee here (Betty) whose previous managers have not done much in the way of enforcing expectations and discipline. Her job is data entry to keep up information on alumni and donors in our fundraising CRM. Our lead fundraiser brought her a magazine put out by one of the colleges in our university, pointed out the “alumni notes” section, and asked her to update the records of the alumni based on what they reported. Betty apparently essentially said that this was not her job, whereupon the lead fundraiser agreed to bring it to me and ask what should be done with it.

    I, of course, brought it back to Betty and asked her again to make the updates. Betty responded with “Can you add it to my job description?” and proceeded to insist that her job is only to make updates from *mailings,* and doesn’t say anything about magazines.

    So now I have a copy of her job description in front of me, so I can show her that it says absolutely nothing about what data source she updates from. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t have that classic phrase “other duties as assigned.”

    You know what it does say? Plenty of things that she’s *not* doing.

    We’ll be having a nice conversation in a couple of weeks about what her job actually is. And I will be updating this to include “other duties as assigned” so I’m ready the next time she tries to tell me something isn’t in her job description.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh, how frustrating! I’m dealing with something similar, though unfortunately I’m not the supervisor, just a superior, and the amount of pushback I’ve gotten for things that are pretty simple (and for which I’ve given very generous timelines) is unreal. And it happens because it’s been allowed to happen for decades.

      Tell her she’s being pedantic and that her job is much broader than she thinks it is, and that in no universe does a single job description outline every task one is expected to do, no more, no less. Her job is to update alumni information, whatever that means. It means that if an alum calls and says, “Oh, I changed my address,” then it is HER JOB to enter that into the database.

      I wish you much fortitude. If she cries or yells (you don’t indicate that she will do either, but the people in my situation would), then deep breaths until she stops.

      1. rageismycaffeine

        Yeah, it’s the same thing for me – it’s happening because it’s been allowed to happen! None of her supervisors has ever pushed back on her before. I get the sense that they’ve been so confrontation-averse that it was easier for them to just do whatever they were asking her to do themselves than to argue with her about it.

        I fully agree that it’s her job, and now I have it in writing. If she’s going to talk about what is or is not in her job description, I’m going to happily wield it in any discussions in the future.

        Thanks for the well-wishes. She’s not likely to cry or yell, just dig in her heels. Which is its own kind of “fun.”

    2. Little Beans

      Wow. I don’t know how Betty’s attitude is normally but it seems awfully insubordinate to insist that you don’t have to do something your boss has asked you to do because it is not literally typed out in your job description. It would be one thing to say that you’re swamped with other tasks, or want to discuss priorities, but it doesn’t sound like that is the case here.

      1. rageismycaffeine

        You’re right, that wasn’t the case at all – it was her straight-up saying it wasn’t in her job description. Apparently this sort of “not in my job description” argument has happened in the past with her previous supervisor.

        When I told my husband about this he was livid, and also used the word “insubordinate.” I don’t disagree, but I’m trying to ease in to Betty’s having to deal with me being a boss who won’t let her get away with everything like her previous bosses did.

        As an example of this, Betty would routinely tell her previous boss “I’ll be off on Friday” in team meetings on Monday, and that would be the first he was hearing of time off. She never asked for time off, just announced it, and she is in a role for which we need to make sure that there’s coverage if she’s out. Her previous boss just let it happen and never pushed back. This is one of many bad habits of Betty’s I’m going to have to break.

        1. WellRed

          Based on this and her “it’s not my job” comment, I think it’s time to start a Betty documentation file because I don’t think she’s going to like the new, perfectly reasonable, environment. I assume she’s a lifer, coasting along until retirement.

          1. rageismycaffeine

            I think you’re right – goodness knows that’s not unusual for state university employees.

            She may decide retirement is in the cards once she realizes I’m not going to let her wear the pants in this relationship.

    3. Spool of Lies

      The gall! Stories like this always shock me because it has literally never occurred to me to outright refuse to do things my direct managers/supervisors ask me to do.

  48. VictorianCowgirl

    Hi all, I’d like to post a question: how do you know when to fire a client whose business is not performing well? I am a non-profit accountant and one of my clients is just hemorrhaging cash, needing infusions from the director several times a month (this also creates a conflict of interest). This client is my “tax” income so I save their fee in advance of filing taxes. I don’t want to lose 10% of my income however this client is also far more high maintenance than any of my larger accounts.

    How do you know when to draw the line?

    Many thanks in advance! Happy Friday.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.

      When a client of mine starts driving me bananas, I try to really get it down on paper: how much work am I doing for them (including how much space they’re taking up in my head) versus how much they are paying me. Then I have two choices. One, I can try charging more to make it worth the bananas (“dear client, the firm’s rates will be rising to $xxx/hour on Date, two months from now”), which is a win-win: maybe they’ll pay me the higher rate, or maybe they’ll fire me. The second choice for me is just to fire them. I have a couple of go-to scripts for firing a client, but they boil down to “sorry, after Date I will be unable to continue working on your file, here’s a couple of referrals, let me know where I should deliver your paperwork.”

      The take-away for me is that I don’t have to give the client a reason. It is business — but my reasons are none of their business, if that makes sense. You don’t have to soft-pedal “My rates are going up” or “I’m no longer working for you,” though of course you should inform them with professional language and according to whatever rules your licensure authority has in place. You have made the decision based on what you need for your business, and they don’t actually have any standing to give you input or influence the decision, so don’t give them an opportunity to give it.

      Good luck!

      1. VictorianCowgirl

        Ok, thanks for that advice; I do track my hours but never check them. So on this client today I’ve discovered that I only make 1/3 of the $ I do per hour of work with my other clients. So that answers things. I will up the price and let them go if they don’t agree. Not being a great sales person, that can be scary, but hopefully I can find an even better client in their wake. Thanks for giving me another way to look at it!

        1. Glomarization, Esq.

          You’re welcome! Some clients, if you give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile. One of the biggest challenges when you’re working for yourself is to stay on top of how much you’re working for every dollar you earn — you’re not on a flat salary and you don’t have a supervisor prioritizing your tasks, it’s just you. But the good news is that it’s 100% quantifiable and it’s 100% reasonable to ditch a client who’s essentially, as you’ve seen, paying you only 1/3 what your other clients are paying.

  49. Pam Beesly

    How can I handle a coworker asking when my husband and I are going to have kids when it’s a sore spot?

    After almost a year of trying, my husband and I finally got pregnant last month. Sadly, I miscarried shortly after finding out. Now, a month later (to our surprise), I’m pregnant again. However, after some blood draws earlier this week, I’m being told this might not be a viable pregnancy AGAIN based on my levels.

    Fortunately, this coworker has been traveling for work for a while, so I haven’t had to see her for a couple of months. However, I know the question will inevitably come when she’s back in the office (she’s here about 3-4x/month, and has asked me every single time she’s been here for the past 5-6 months).

    This was a hard question for me to answer when we had been trying for months with no success. I’d try to cheerily say, “oh, we’re just enjoying traveling and freedom right now!” (we’re only 25 and 26 years old!) Now that I’ve miscarried and might miscarry again though, I feel like this will be even more difficult when she brings it up (I tend to be an emotional person). Even if I say, “Please don’t ask me again”, she won’t stop – it’s not in her personality. Knowing her, she’ll only continue to pry and say, “why are you being secretive about it? Are you pregnant? You’re pregnant!”

    I’m dreading her coming into the office again. I know Alison has said time and time again what an inappropriate question this is. I hate that I (and so many others) have to deal with this.

    1. Four lights

      Don’t be afraid to turn into a broken record if you have to. {quotation mark} I’ve told you repeatedly that I’m not going to answer that question {quotation mark} remember that you’re not being rude or weird she’s the one that’s being rude and weird by repeatedly asking you about it after you told her not to.

    2. TheOtherLiz

      I’m sorry, how rude and thoughtless of her. How firm have you been in the past? Have you ever looked her in the eye and said, “Jane, I need you to stop asking me constantly about something so private and personal. It’s not something I would discuss outside my marriage and I would rather talk about something else.” You could also stare at her, say, “are you REALLY asking such a personal question again?” and then write her an email laying out that you dread each time she asks you about this and that you won’t be talking about your fertility with her. In case it’s easier to say over email. The sage advice I’ve seen on AAM about having a reasonable reaction of shock/surprise when someone says something completely inappropriate, rather than taking on the burden of making it less awkward when the awkward is ALL their fault.

    3. Anona

      Ugh. I also had fertility issues, and would also dread this question. After my miscarriage, I’d just lie and say no if asked if I was pregnant, even when I was.
      For the “are you having kids” question I considered telling people, “wow, that’s a really personal question! You shouldn’t ask people that”. I have told friends who I’ve heard ask other friends about whether or not if they were having kids that they should never ever ask that question.
      But I hear you on the people who won’t take a hint and keep doubling down. I would just say there’s probably not a perfect thing to say. But it’s ok to not respond. If it’s awkward, it’s because she’s making it awkward because she’s asking an awkward ass question. If you really don’t want to talk about this, you could tell her once that it’s a really personal question, and you don’t want to discuss it at work. If she keeps asking, you could say something like “like I said, it’s personal, and not something I want to discuss at work. Why are you so focused on this?”. And consider saying something to her manager/hr (“this is really uncomfortable for me to bring up, but helen keeps asking if I’m planning to have kids. I’ve told her it’s a personal question that I don’t want to talk about, but she keeps asking. Can you get her to stop?”

      I know you are in such a tender place and probably don’t want to make a stink. Whatever you decide to do is ok. My thoughts are with you!

      1. Ann Perkins

        I agree that saying something to her manager or HR would be appropriate if she doesn’t stop.

      2. VictorianCowgirl

        Absolutely, this is gendered harassment and HR could definitely be notified if she doesn’t stop after a clear “will not discuss” conversation.

        OP I’m so sorry she’s putting you through this and adding this stress to an otherwise really hard time. My best wishes for you.

    4. Ann Perkins

      I’m so sorry for your losses and that you’re having to deal with this. A few routes you could go, depending on your comfort level and personality –
      1 – avoiding her. Keeping door shut, ear buds in, whatever you need to do. If you have a sympathetic manager, give them a heads up.
      2 – vagueness. It sounds like this might not be as effective with her but hopefully after time it will. “Wow, what a personal question. How was travel to X?”
      3 – telling her at least indirectly what’s going. “This is a painful topic for me due to medical issues and I need you to stop asking about it.”

    5. Glomarization, Esq.

      After repeatedly saying “please don’t ask me again” and getting the question over and over, frankly I’d yell, “Stop asking me! I’ve told you to quit asking me, but you keep doing it. Stop it!”

      1. The New Wanderer

        I could see myself doing this. Though I might go one further. Since you know she’s going to ask next time she sees you, as soon as you see her pull her aside and say something like “Please don’t ask if I’m pregnant. You always ask and I don’t want to discuss it. When I have news to share I will let you know. Until then, I’m not going to discuss it.” Optional: “My uterus is not your business.”

        I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s so unbearably rude and she needs to be snapped out of this mindset that she’s entitled to this conversation with you.

      2. Michelle

        Agreed. After you asked repeatedly and they just keep doing it, I don’t feel the need to be “nice” anymore.

      3. ket

        I agree. Some folks see it as polite = can be ignored. If you can’t get out the whole sentence, you could move on to a slightly-louder-than-normal “STOP!”

        …as if you’re disciplining a puppy who keeps getting at the toilet paper roll. Maybe with a hand signal and a glare. That’s enough to communicate extreme displeasure and an unwillingness to discuss it further.

    6. Interplanet Janet

      First of all, I’m so sorry for your miscarriage and for the stressful situation you’re in right now. Fingers crossed that things go well!

      I tend to be pretty forthright about this stuff, while keeping it kind. What about something like this:

      “You do know, right, that pregnancy isn’t just this magical thing that people can make happen any time they like? And that even when they do get pregnant, it doesn’t automatically mean a live baby for everyone? I’m not really up for going in to details, but suffice it to say that while I’m sure you’re not being hurtful on purpose, every time you bring this up, it’s painful for me.”

      or even: “Not so far … but [with sarcasm] thanks so much for bringing it up at work.”

    7. WellRed

      I’m sorry. I don’t think you need to be nice about this. You could be much more upfront (Mind your own biz), you could make it awkward (You keep asking me about my sex life. Why?). You could also escalate because I feel like this is gender-based harassment (though to many it’s a perfectly innocuous question (though it’s really, really not)0.

    8. New Normal

      I’m so sorry!

      For me, what’s worked best is a fast deflection. When asked when I’ll say something like “Not at the moment but last night boy-cat did the CUTEST thing!” Then describe it. In excruciating detail if necessary. Before cats I’d talk about our plants. Annoying people got shown pictures. I have an album with over 70 pictures of boy-cat sleeping in silly positions. I will happily to through EVERY SINGLE ONE if the person hasn’t yet excused themselves. It was a bit harder to show plant pictures but no one made it through the first three so that’s all you really need. It also helped when I acted like the kid question was really not very interesting or important to me but OMG look at these little shoots of spring mix! In a few weeks we’ll have salad!

      I don’t know if that helps – I wasn’t dealing with devastating news so it was easy for me to deflect without a bunch of emotions coming into play. It’s so invasive for her to ask at all and I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

      1. Wishing You Well

        Showing plant photos until people cry “Uncle”?! You deserve a gold medal for Ninja-level deflection!!

      2. VictorianCowgirl

        Lol I would totally look at all your plant and boy-cat pictures, then I’d show you mine (I have 53 plants indoors alone).
        This coworker sounds like a boor and a bit of a bully to boot. Who acts like that?

    9. Shiny Swampert

      Quite honestly, if she doesn’t stop, I’d tell her the truth. But then all my work already knew I was pregnant before my miscarriage (at 17 weeks) and honestly it wasn’t the worst thing in the world (because, duh, losing the baby was that) because I didn’t have to worry about people speculating about what was going on (I was off sick for three months, and that was not long enough).

      I’m so very sorry.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD

        I agree with this. If you try to ask her to stop with the scripts everyone else has offered, and you feel like you could make it through without losing it, the truth might be the only thing that can make her stop. “I’ve asked you to stop talking to me about when I’m going to have a baby because I’ve had multiple miscarriages and talking about getting pregnant is really painful for me. I’m going to ask you one last time to never bring this subject up again. If you do, I’ll have to involve (boss/HR/whatever entity in your office you’d report other forms of harassment to).”

        1. Anona

          Ehhh, I personally wouldn’t have been comfortable with this. Post miscarriage, my work was a nice break. Since no one knew what I was going through, I didn’t have to have them ask me about how things were going. But it’s very personal! Some people do well with this approach.

          1. Shiny Swampert

            It’s not a nice break when you’re constantly fielding questions about your reproductive status, though. I would tell her to get her off my frickin’ back, to help make it back into somewhere I didn’t have to think about it.

            1. Anona

              Oh I totally support shutting her down! I just don’t know that this tactic would actually do that.

              1. Shiny Swampert

                Oh, I understand. I guess it depends if she is a nice but misguided person or just a boundary stomper. Like I say, everyone knew about my miscarriage but I basically got sympathy cards from people I wouldn’t expect, no cards from people I would, and no one I wasn’t close to anyway actually talked to me about it. Obviously YMMV

    10. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Ugh, I think I would have to get nasty at this point. “Nosy Nettie. I have asked you repeatedly to stop asking me about pregnancy. It’s rude, it’s upsetting, and it’s none of your G-D business. Do not ever ask me about this topic again, do not accuse me of being secretive. Shut up and keep your nose out of my personal life.” And then walk away, preferably straight to your boss or HR.

      I don’t have kids and never particularly wanted them but man these stories piss me right off. Your fertility is none of her dang business.

      1. Crabby Patty

        I like this. Cuts right through the arrogance and utter density.

        But I am so sorry for your miscarriage, Pam. It must be tough enough without having to manage Nannying Busybody. Thinking warm thoughts and well wishes for your current pregnancy.

    11. Double A

      Any chance you can just burst into years when she asks you and return awkward to sender?

      I’ve realized that I do ask people about kids, but I’ve phrased it, “Do you think you want kids?” Which to me is more about your feelings about having kids. And I only ask once. And only if it came up organically. I hope that’s not hurtful.

      It’s just so bizarre to me that people would even ask if you’re planning to, because it’s really not something you can control.

    12. Hillary

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I’m at that age where people often ask if I have plans for kids, and they won’t accept no for an answer. I reply “eh, we’ll see what happens” on repeat, and deflect to talk about how awesome it is to be an aunt and give them back if that might work.

    13. Analytical Tree Hugger

      Disclaimer: I’m not biologically female, nor am I female gendered.

      This sounds like a good opportunity for a flat , “My uterus is not up for discussion at work. Now, about [work-related thing]” once or twice.

      If your coworier persists, a serious/frigid, “I’ve told you my uterus is not up for discussion at work. This is now crossing into gendered harassment and I will talking to our manager about this.”

      Then TALK TO YOUR MANAGER. Do NOT let coworker talk you down. Take the nuclear option. Tell your manager, “My uterus and reproductive plans are not topics I am willing to have questioned at work. I told Coworker this and they continued to ask. I need you to make sure they stop, as this is becoming gendered harassment.” Escalate to HR, if needed.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger

        Adding: I recommend NOT sharing why this topic is not up for discussion.

        1) It’s none of their business.
        2) It’s not your job to manage their feelings (curiosity/nosiness is a feeling)
        3) Don’t provide fuel for more questions.

    14. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express

      Next time she asks, ask her “why are you asking?”. You owe her no answer.

    15. Pippa

      My tormenting coworker did not stop asking “are you pregnant yet” despite my telling her how painful a subject it was, how much trouble we were having, asking then directly telling her to stop asking me about it. She only stopped when she asked, again, in front of about six others and my reply was a raw snarl “No! I am just getting fat!”
      That morning I had started my period, another failed fertility round. She never asked again.
      Shut her down in a way that works best for you and share only as much as you want to share of your private details.
      Send her an email if that works best for you. She’s being weird. You professionally set your boundaries. Or snarl at her in front of colleagues…

    16. justathought

      I’m sorry for your loss.
      Be firm and frank. Simply say something to the effect of “I’m not comfortable discussing personal matters. Please stop asking me that.”
      I once had a co-worker frustratedly tell me to stop asking/commenting about her lunch. She didn’t say it in a pleasant manner and it kind of stung. I didn’t even realize I was annoying her, just trying to make conversation in the lunchroom. I never did it again afterwards, that’s for sure. It didn’t really affect our working relationship. Best wishes.

  50. anon for this

    Am looking for perspective. I inherited management of a small department (4 ppl) of remote workers who are located in an impoverished country where English is not the primary language, but these employees are expected to perform job duties in English. One of my responsibilities since becoming their manager is to try to help them improve their communication skills (spelling, grammar, etiquette).

    Three of them have consistently performed poorly over the last few months despite my attempts to review their work regularly and provide concrete, specific, actionable coaching. After talking my supervisors down from firing them right now (I am too overloaded to run the hiring cycle to replace them), I was given permission to draw up PIPs, with a rubric for me to track/score their work and a 60-day improvement deadline.

    My problem: my direct supervisor has told me to put all 4 workers on the PIP, whereas I think this is unnecessary–the 4th employee has made some minor mistakes but is consistently miles ahead of the others, and more importantly, has responded very well to correction–she never makes the same mistake twice, whereas the other 3 have a pattern of inattention to detail and consistently repeat the same errors.

    He thinks it would make things weird between the 4 of them if only 1 was not on a PIP. I think that the one trainable worker should not be punished along with the 3 underperforming ones. What would you do in my shoes?

    1. rageismycaffeine

      It’s literally a “performance improvement plan,” and one of the four doesn’t need improvement, right? (Or at least, not the kind of improvement that the structure of a PIP is meant for.) Your supervisor is wrong on this one.

    2. Little Beans

      Well I’m a little confused about how supervising PIPs for 3 employees is LESS work than hiring to replace them, but I certainly agree that the one good employee shouldn’t be on a PIP if she doesn’t deserve to be!

      1. anon for this

        The PIPs are actually the same work I’m doing now between other tasks, just with much stricter tracking. Hiring would require me to dedicate larger chunks of time that take away from my other projects, whereas I’ve been fitting in supervisory stuff around that.

    3. Anne (with an “e”)

      I agree with you. The three employees who need improvement should be put on an improvement plan. The one employee who consistently performs well, never makes the same mistake twice, and responds well to correction does NOT need a plan. Putting them all on a plan would be analogous to giving them all D’s on a test when, in fact, one one of them has earned a B+/A. It’s not right to do that and if I were the employee who didn’t deserve the PIP, I would be demoralized.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        Demoralized, and I’d quit to let OP deal with the other three who actually deserves the PIPs on her own.

    4. Anono-me

      If three people need a pip and you put all four on it, that’s going to create an unhealthy dynamic in the office also.

      The three people will feel guilty that the fourth one is on a pip unnecessarily. The fourth person will be rightfully livid at the three co-workers and you.

      Putting all four co-workers on a pip, when three of them need it, but the fourth one does not; will also create a situation where the pipnot be taken seriously or be assumed to be such a high standard that there’s no point to try.

    5. Not All

      Your direct supervisor is incredibly wrong about this. Makes me wonder if he is opposed to the whole idea of having these remote workers & is trying to show his higher-ups that “see, it isn’t possible to get a single person from here to meet our requirements”.

      Putting all 4 on PIPs tells the good employee that there is no point in being a good employee…they will not be treated any differently than poor employees. If you DO end up needing to replace 3 of the 4, it is quite possible that that reputation for unfairness and treating your best employees the same as your worst employees is going to get around & no one you hire is going to bother putting in their best effort.

      1. anon for this

        Thank you, this is what I’ve been trying to articulate about why we can’t put all 4 on a PIP!!

    6. Anecdata

      Is it possible that what your higher-ups want is /the rubric/ for everyone (ie, a clear way everyone’s performance is being evaluated relative to the requirements of the job). This could actually be a good thing for your strong employee, if you can use it to justify retaining her, raises, promotion, increased responsibility, etc.

      Heck, even if your higher-ups don’t intend it, maybe you could structure it that way anyway.

      1. anon for this

        This is great–I’m going to try to structure it this way! But upper management has made it clear that their goal is to fire at least 2 of the remote workers and that a third is on thin ice.

    7. willow19

      No PIP for the good worker. PIP for all is exactly the opposite of trophies for everyone!

  51. Christina

    Curious about people’s opinions on something I remembered from my old job.

    The managers/directors all had a holiday lunch at a local restaurant during lunchtime, paid for by the director. We also had an all-staff holiday potluck-ish thing. I (the dept admin) thought it would be fun to do a lunch outing for the staff-level folks (we paid for it ourselves, most staff were hourly and were back by the time their break was over). A few days later, my boss (the director) told me one of the managers heard about it and complained (I wasn’t hiding anything, it was on my and other staff member’s calendars) and I shouldn’t plan any other staff outings without management.

    That place was nutty in general, but looking back, I’m now wondering if that would have been on the line of NLRA/not allowing staff to socialize on their own time.

    1. Michelle

      Sound like the manager that complained was nosy and upset that the “worker bees” had the audacity to do something without asking. What did they