rowdy role-playing interview in public, kilts at work, and more

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

1. Rowdy role-playing interview in public

A few years ago, I interviewed for a lower-level management position with an education-based nonprofit. The meeting took place in a crowded Panera. During the interview, my interviewers pretended to be rowdy children, and I was supposed to “manage” them. I do understand the value of these exercises as a demonstration of certain skill sets, but was pretty appalled at having to do them with an entire restaurant staring at me – the people who would be my supervisors were literally running indoors and throwing things at each other. I felt stupid and did pretty poorly, and ultimately didn’t get the position.

Fast forward to now, and I have another interview scheduled with this organization. It is, again, at Panera. I’m more than a little bit concerned that I’ll have a crowd watching me do the same exercise a second time. Is there a way to politely opt out if that happens? And, more generally, do you have advice for how to best prepare for likely role-playing scenarios? Even in a private setting, I feel incredibly awkward doing these sorts of exercises with other adults, but am completely comfortable managing a group of children.

In general, the best way to approach role-playing is to really throw yourself into it — meaning get yourself into the frame of mind you’d be in if the situation were real. That’s easier said than done, I realize. But throwing yourself into it wholeheartedly usually goes a lot better than trying to stay at a remove because of Dignity.

But a rowdy role-play in public? That’s rude to the other people in the restaurant, including the restaurant employees, and it puts you in an even more awkward position than a normal role-play does, because you’re of course concerned about other people. Really, if they want to do this kind of role-play, they need to do it in their own space — and the fact that they’re not doesn’t say anything great about their judgment.

If you definitely want to opt out if they ask you to do it again … well, be aware that you’ll likely be removed from the running for refusing to participate. But if you’re okay with that outcome, then you can be pretty straightforward: “I actually did that a few years ago when I was interviewing for your X position, and I don’t feel right about disrupting other customers when they’re trying to eat lunch. I’m happy to do something similar at your office or give you references who can talk about my ability to manage kids.”

An alternative is to ask about this ahead of time so you can opt out earlier in the process. You could say, “When I interviewed for your X position a few years ago, it was also at Panera and you asked me to do a role-playing exercise showing how I’d manage a group of kids. Should I be ready for something similar this time?”

2. How to politely shut down multi-level marketing people who I need a good relationship with

As part of my job, I have to attend many networking events with local chambers, business groups, etc. Some of these businesses turn out to be multi-level marketing schemes. I usually can tell right away, but recently I agreed to coffee with someone I had met several times, as I was interested in the product line on a personal level, not for work. During the presentation, it became clear what this was (and not a local business, as I for some reason assumed.) Some quick research later proved it to be one with a particularly bad reputation.

I know it seems easy to just say, “Thanks, but no…” but I will have to run into this (very nice) man at many events, as he is very involved in the city we work with. What is the best way to say “No, thank you now or ever” while still preserving the professional and friendly relationship?

The tricky thing about dealing with MLMs is that they train people to push past a polite “no thank you.” So while in theory you should be able to just say, “Oh, it’s not for me” and have that be enough, often with MLMs it won’t be. You can usually get it to stop by being very firm — but the level of firmness required might be one that you feel a little weird about. So, start with “no, thank you, it’s not something I’m interested in.” If the person keeps pushing, go to, “No, it’s really not for me.” And if that doesn’t end it, then you’ve got to move to, “It’s not something that I’m ever going to be interested in buying, so let’s take it off the table.” If it’s someone you want to preserve a relationship with, you can add, “But I’d love to hear about Topic X — how’s that going?”

3. Can I make my job offer acceptance contingent on finding housing?

I’ve been invited to interview for a position in another city. This new city has very low vacancy rates and very (VERY) high rental prices. If I’m offered the position, I would need to move. I’m worried I won’t find an affordable place to live. Have you ever negotiated a contingency for affordable housing into a job acceptance?

I’m thinking something like this: “I am very keen to accept your offer. I’m excited at the possibility of working with with you and your team at [name of organization]. I understand that the rental vacancy rates are approximately 1% and the average price for a one-bedroom apartment is about $2000. I would love to accept your offer with a contingency that I’m able to find affordable housing. If yes, I expect 4-6 weeks is sufficient time to determine if I’ll be able to secure accommodation.” I have a few other standard conditions I request before accepting a new role, so, assuming a version of this request is reasonable, would it be lumped in with the others?

I wouldn’t do it, actually. I get the concern that’s driving it, but you’re basically telling the company, “Maybe I’ll be taking the job and maybe I won’t, and meanwhile you’ll have cut loose all your other candidates.” If I were on the employer’s end of this, I’d get where you were coming from, and I’d also be concerned about whether I had really filled the position or not.

You’re better off accepting the offer (if you otherwise want to) and going all out to find affordable housing. If you can’t, you can raise that with the organization at that point — but I wouldn’t make them fear you’re going to back out of the offer until you find you have real reason to do that.

4. Kilts at work

One of my coworkers wants to wear a kilt to work this weekend. Our appearance standards are … standard in relation to the workplace. Suits and ties for men, jackets and dresses/pants for women. Where does a kilt fall into play in terms of dress code?

It depends on your office, so I can’t really say. But personally, I’d say that if women can wear skirts, men should be able to wear kilts.

5. Company requires you to have a personal smart phone if you want work email

My husband works for a company that is notoriously cheap. They have an incredibly high turnover rate. As a solution to replacing keys every time they lose an employee, they suggested downloading an app to your personal smart phone. Said app would then be integrated to the door locks. That became a problem when they discovered that not all employees had cell phones, some had flip phones, some had ancient cell phones that couldn’t handle the app and some simply weren’t willing to use their personal phone for work. They went back to buying keys.

Fast forward to this week. The corporate email system was hacked, allowing access to the company servers. The hackers used this to access banking information and stole money from the corporate accounts. To solve this, they shut down email and changed everyone’s password. In order to reactivate your email, they are requiring that all email sessions use two factor authentication, accomplished via a different app. You can see where I’m going with this. Furthermore, there is NOT company-wide WiFi access within the facility. Some employees have a password for the WiFi in the whole facility, some have access in some areas and some have no access. That translates to, use your personal cell phone and your personal data to access your company email. If you don’t have a smart phone to use for this, you no longer have company email.

Many of the employees who no longer have access to their email need to use it for their job. It’s hard to request a price list from a prospective supplier if you can’t have them email you the details. Are we crazy to think employees should not have to provide their own cell phone and data plan to access necessary features of their job?

Nope. If the job requires a smart phone, the company should provide them to anyone who doesn’t have one. And yes, they should cover any increased data costs due to work.

That said, at least the first part of this is very much a trend — companies are increasingly expecting employees to have their own smart phones for work. If you want the job, you have to buy one.

But lots of companies reimburse for data usage, and your husband and his coworkers should ask about that. (And really, his coworkers without smart phones should speak up about the problem and ask for them to provided if they’re going to be necessary. I can’t tell if people have raised the issue in any organized fashion or not. If not, they need to do that before getting outraged.)

{ 657 comments… read them below }

  1. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I had a male coworker who wore a kilt to work on occasion, but he worked in event production and it was one of those “utili-kilts” that are helpful for holding all your event production odds and ends. It can be done, but obviously this is a know-your-workplace thing.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Aren’t kilts generally formal? If it meets the same level of formality as a suit and tie, then it seems like fair game to me (I thought kilts are even more formal, sometimes, than suit and tie?). It’s of like wearing a formal sari to a black-tie event.

      With exceptions for legal restrictions, it seems fair to allow folks to undertake cultural expression of it meets the standard/spirit of the underlying dress code.

      1. SantaFeSmith*

        A tartan kilt is kind of like a pair of dark trousers – paired with a t-shirt and hiking shoes its pretty casual, paired with a formal jacket and tie it works instead of a tuxedo and you can do everything in between. A utili-kilt is more like blue jeans. You can dress it up to a degree with a nice shirt, but can only go so far. This is based on my experience drumming in a bagpipe band and parenting a boy who loves kilts.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Definitely agree. I dated a bagpiper for four years and he wore his kilt with a variety of tops/shoes depending on the occasion. There also is variation in kilt quality (both fabric and construction) – if you were attending a royal wedding you probably shouldn’t wear a cheap kilt you bought at a Renn Faire just like you wouldn’t wear a discount suit from Proms-R-Us.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yeah, utili-kilt is more like cargo shorts level of formality. So personally, I’d say it only is allowed if it’s a cargo shorts type of office. If he has a formal kilt, then that’s different.

          1. oneMerlin*

            This is exactly what I came to say. Formal kilts are absolutely fine – I’ve seen more than a few work to weddings, and a formal kilt can be black-tie formal.
            But informal kilts like the Utili-Kilt exist, and they are much more cargo shorts/blue jean equivalent, and would likely not be appropriate given that you describe normal wear as suit & tie.
            Ask the gentleman what kind of kilt it is, and act accordingly.

        3. General Ginger*

          Basically this. Haven’t worn kilts myself, but know people (bagpipers) who do.

        4. Donkey Hotey*

          Exactly. Just as there are slacks and jeans (and… my southern is coming out “dress jeans”), and there are work-appropriate skirts and non-work-appropriate skirts, there are gradations to kilts.

          I’d be careful with the “utili-kilt” name (it’s like Kleenex) because that brand make both heavier work kilts that I’ve worn to work and more formal looking dress kilts (without the literal whole nine yards) that I’ve worn to weddings.

          All this to say, it depends on the dress code and the kilt in question. Not all kilts are dressy and not all utility-kilts are slobby.

      2. Tau*

        This also struck me – I lived in Scotland for a long time and the occasions for which everyone pulled out the kilts were ones like weddings, graduations, and balls. I’d be surprised to see one at work for the same reason I’d be surprised to see someone wearing a tuxedo or ballgown. No idea about utilikilts, though.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’ve also seen them in association with big sportsball events, worn with your favorite team’s shirt.

        2. JSPA*

          An elderly expat Scot in a kilt for St Andrews can be the most proper, put-together and dignified sight your eyes may ever see. The fragrant dude whose kilt is their “I’d have to wash pants at least once a month, I can go two months with this” (literally) everyday wear, isn’t. And everything in between.

          It’s hot in many places now. If the kilt is of the work – quality and work – style variety, I’d say looking askance is more problematic than the kilt itself.

      3. Not Australian*

        No, PCBH, kilts are not generally formal. They can be worn for anything from fixing a car to climbing a mountain. Recently they’ve become a fashionable item for people who aren’t actually entitled to wear them (IIRC, highlanders and members of actual clans) which muddies the water considerably, but an authentic (male) kilt-wearer will do so in all weathers and for all occasions.

        1. Toaster Strudel heiress*

          Right? I’m sure some people will object to the idea but actually either you have YOUR tartan or you shouldn’t be wearing a kilt basically.

          1. Anonomoose*

            So, not to detail further, but the whole “specific tartan for a specific clan” was invented by the victorians, but there would have been some very regional variations in pattern. So not sure this holds true

          2. Random Brit*

            Not true. There are a number of universal tartans which anyone can wear: Black Watch is my personal go-to. Royal Stewart is another example, surprisingly, but I think it looks too much like a picnic blanket.

              1. Akcipitrokulo*

                Wearing the Royal Stewart means you are declaring fealty to the Queen and her descendents :)

            1. Chinookwind*

              There is also a Canadian tartan which can be worn by all Canadians (who wish to pull off something with orange in it) and military tartans that are worn as part of dress uniforms. I take offense at begin required to be Scottish to wear one as it is also a part of Canadian culture.

          3. Eukomos*

            Utilikilts are acceptable wear in a lot of places and you certainly don’t have to be from the exact right part of Scotland to wear them.

          4. Lobsterp0t*

            As someone else said. The tartan thing is kind of “pastede on yey”, so it’s a bit yes and a bit no. There are some universal tartans and also some corporate ones as well. So it really does depends. But… again, I don’t understand why outside of the context of a formal family event anyone would feel it was appropriate. It’s culturally specific and I think the fact that people from the originating countries don’t wear them in this way is a clue.

            And like – can you make an argument about imperialism and cultural erasure – yes. If you’re from that country and wearing it as an act of political resistance. But I don’t think just because someone attended a Highland games/festival or fair and feels an affinity is a good enough reason.

            Then again, I personally definitely have a strong reaction to this and so if someone did this in my workplace, I would have to acknowledge that as personal and not professional.

        2. Marzipan*

          That’s a bit No True Scotsman, isn’t it? Yes, some do wear them all the time but there are lots of people who treat their kilt as more or less a ceremonial item of clothing, break it out for weddings and graduations and so forth and don’t wear it at other times.

          1. Jasnah*

            I think they meant that people who are not actually Scottish, or who don’t have a connection to any particular clan that would have a tartan, are latching onto it as a fashion item, rather than wearing it as cultural dress. Not that only a true Scotsman would wear it all the time.

          2. Anderson/MacLeod*

            I used to be pretty heavily involved in highland dancing, and hated socializing so I spent most of my free time reading the brochures the local friendly tartan-and-dancing-shoes dealer brought with him. I’m technically ‘entitled’ to Anderson, MacLeod, AND Campbell, and actually usually wear Black Watch (have been told it’s an extinct clan and a bit of a scandal several hundred years ago, so their tartan became a free-for-all, including non-Scots like the Greek, Dutch, and Indian ladies also in the club), because the others are all hideous.

        3. Akcipitrokulo*

          There are only a few restricted tartans, but beyond that, there are tartans anyone can wear that are designed to be available to all. You have the clan ones, which are generally worn by people of that clan or one of its septs, then you have geographical ones if you’re from an area, then there are ones which show what football team you support, and then the generic ones like pride of scotland. Anyone who wears the Roysl Stewart is proclaiming themselves as recognising the monarchy as their cheiftains, so I don’t wear that one ;) there are 4 clan tartans my kids and I can officially wear, but they are expensive, so they just got the £30 generic pride of scotland ones for recent family event!

          1. Gerta*

            Yep. I went to school in Scotland and the girl’s uniform included a kilt with a tartan which was designed to order for the school. On formal occasions the boys could wear kilts too but they had free choice of tartan in order to allow them to wear family colours.
            My father and brother both have the full formal kit for special occasions, weddings and the like. Our ancestry of mostly Lowland but fortunately we have a Highland great-great-grandmother who gives us legitimate claim to a clan tartan :-)
            I’m wondering whether this colleague would include a sgian-dubh with his outfit, which could potentially introduce other concerns. Does the workplace allow men to walk around with knives in their socks?

            1. Christmas Carol*

              Remember, when you see the sgian-dubh, you are safe. When a Scot hides his knife, that’s when you should start to worry. By the by, if I see you wearing MY family tartan, and you aren’t part of our (all be it, rather small) clan, word will probably be exchanged.

        4. Daisy*

          ‘an authentic (male) kilt-wearer will do so in all weathers and for all occasions’

          That’s nonsense. Most Scottish men I know only wear kilts for formal occasions. Not that they couldn’t wear it other times, but they don’t, generally.

          1. Weegie*

            Agreed. I’m a Scot (female), living in Scotland, and the tartan kilt is pretty much only worn by men for formal, ceremonial occasions – very occasionally you will find a man who wears a kilt as his standard attire, but it’s rare. It would be considered extremely odd in the workplace, unless you’re in the army and, again, wearing it as a ceremonial uniform. There was a fashion for women wearing kilt-like skirts in the 70s, and 80s but it was mostly (not always) party wear. The modern, non-tartan male kilt is more of a fashion item and a matter of personal choice.

            I’m a bit concerned about the idea some commenter are expressing of ‘entitlement’ to wear a kilt. To quote from just one website on the kilt’s history, ‘What we know now today as kilts and tartan mostly comes from the romantic revival of Highland dress back in the early nineteenth century thanks to the author Sir Walter Scott.’ If you want to wear one, wear one. If you turn up in the office, the pub or at the beach in one I might ask if you’re playing in a ceilidh band at a wedding later on or if you wouldn’t find shorts a bit cooler, but I’m not going to be grilling you on your Scottish ancestry.

            1. Balloola*

              I’m also a Scot and I find this whole people who are not Scottish wearing a kilt thing very strange. Unless the person who wants to wear the kilt is Scottish then it’s very weird indeed.

              And If I’m honest probably would be grilling you on which one of your parents are Scottish too. Especially if your wearing a tartan.

              There are a lot of people who see it as a very special dress to Scottish people and really don’t like it when people who are like “300 years ago my grandfathers wife’s sisters dog was Scottish, so we are too.” (I’m looking at you America.)

              It’s seems a a bit cultural appropriationy to me.

              Would you rock up to work in a kimono for a casual event if you were not Japanese? I’m guessing probably not… so why do it with a kilt?

              1. Femme d'Afrique*

                I kinda hear what you’re saying, but in the US, this kind of argument would very easily turn into a slippery slope. If only people of a certain heritage can wear certain garments, you’d slide into racial/ethnic exclusion territory, which wouldn’t fly.

                1. LPUK*

                  Don’t think Scots or Irish people who emigrated to America can be classed as an oppressive culture, rather the opposite in fact. The kilt was banned by the English after Culloden and many Scottish people were forced off their land and out of Scotland in the Highland Clearances! The Irishwere oppressed by the English since Cromwellian times ( and probably before) and we’re forced out through famine

                2. Burned Out Supervisor*

                  “Don’t think Scots or Irish people who emigrated to America can be classed as an oppressive culture, rather the opposite in fact.”

                  Dahlia was referring to the fact that, statistically, most Scottish people probably identify as white, therefore, part of the oppressive culture.

                3. Mary Connell*

                  “Don’t think Scots or Irish people who emigrated to America can be classed as an oppressive culture, rather the opposite in fact.”

                  They were, in fact, a large percentage of those who owned humans as slaves, so yes, an oppressive culture.

                4. Akcipitrokulo*

                  Given the kilt was made illegal – as was speaking the native language – yeah, it counts for appropriation.

                  So… yeah… nowhere near warbonnet levels, but is there.

                  HOWEVER … you live here and want to be Scottish, you’re scottish :) check out Humza Yousaf’s swearing into parliament for how to wear a kilt :D

                5. Akcipitrokulo*

                  Certainly it does raise spectre of appropriation when politicians or non-royal nobility from England wear it.

              2. RUKiddingMe*

                “…300 years ago my grandfathers wife’s sisters dog was Scottish, so we are too.” (I’m looking at you America.)”

                This is pretty offensive. Americans, who all originated as immigrants, are constantly told that we cant claim this/that heritage. What heritage are we supposed to have even if we don’t have a detailed and precise, ancestor by ancestor chart to reference?

                1. El Profitero*

                  Dunno, like… your own? I mean you already have your own holidays and your own foods and your own sports. Theres a lot of countries that have a ”herotage” that are way less than 250 years old.

                2. I hate coming up with usernames*

                  The world at large outside of America agrees with this sentiment and would see your offense as entitlement. I tend to agree, despite being American. Outside of the US, you don’t say you’re Irish unless you’re from Ireland. For some reason, here I’m expected to say that I’m Irish when really, my ancestors are Irish. I’m American – many generations removed from my Irish heritage.

                3. londonedit*

                  I think this is something that we in the UK just struggle to understand. To me, I have to say, the whole ‘my grandfather’s second cousin’s aunt’s husband was Scottish, so I’m going to call myself Scottish’ thing smacks a little of the ‘OMG isn’t England so cute, it’s just like Harry Potter, look at your cute little houses, you people are so adorable with your little Royal Family and your funny accents’ attitude that some – SOME – Americans have. It feels somehow patronising. And I suppose it does feel like cultural appropriation when someone claims to be Scottish or Irish when in fact they have no close relatives from Scotland or Ireland or wherever. It’s just something we wouldn’t do in the UK – I’m English, all my family tree is English, but if 300 years ago there was a distant relative from Ireland I wouldn’t go calling myself Irish because actual Irish people would think I was being ridiculous. BUT, I do understand that many, many people in the USA are descended from immigrants, and I do understand why someone might want to feel connected to a heritage and to understand their family tree better.

                  I really, really don’t want to offend anyone with this post and I’m very sorry if my choice of words, or if the sentiment I’m expressing, does offend someone. I’m just trying to explain the way this all might come across to someone who doesn’t have experience of what it’s like to be American and have all these heritage issues to contend with.

                4. Ellery*

                  As a genealogist this is something I come across a lot, the people whose family histories don’t have a lot of immigration having difficulty understanding the connection families of the diaspora have, or try to have, to the countries of their ancestors.

                  And it is actually very difficult to explain, because every American (which is a country made almost entirely of people in the diaspora) does feel differently about the countries their ancestors came from. Some hang on to aspects of those cultures because they are important to the family (people don’t check their country’s cultures at the door when they become US citizens) and others do treat it more like an excuse to buy merchandise.

                  For a lot of people, though, it’s about belonging. It’s about finding things in common with other people. “My ancestors came from there, your ancestors came from there too” is a very powerful feeling for a lot of people, something one might not understand if that is “normal” for them.

                5. Clorinda*

                  Replying to Londonedit: Claiming one’s non-generic-American heritage IS one of generic America’s folkways.

                6. Emi.*

                  londonedit, most Irish- or Scottish-Americans have family who are also Irish- or Scottish-American, so it’s not like they’re randomly importing something from Ireland or Scotland — they’re engaging in a practice that’s part of their own *diaspora* culture. Eg my husband, who wore a kilt at our wedding, grew up in the US going to the local Highland Games every year, where his parents played traditional music on traditional instruments. I don’t have close family in China, but I still cook things my mother taught me to cook, celebrate the lunar new year, and wear the traditional dresses passed down from older generations.

                  Also, Americans usually say “I’m Irish” to mean Irish-American. This is just a fact about US language use, and no one here thinks they’re claiming Irish citizenship, but it is confusing to a lot of people outside the US.

                7. RUKiddingMe*

                  @El Profitero
                  This argument would be better if we weren’t always being told that we have no heritage and/or if our American heritage wasn’t predicated on all the traditions those immigrants brought with them.

                8. Reba*

                  Not disputing your point in general — but as a point of precision, not *all* americans are descendants of immigrants. Indigenous people are here.

                9. Risha*

                  @londonedit and El Profitero – I would also submit that it’s also easier to not care about ones genetic ancestry when your family has been in approximately the same spot for the example 250 or 300 years, no matter where they were before that. America didn’t spring into being with everyone already here – instead of in terms of presidents, wars, and expansion, you can just as easily tell our history in terms of one wave of immigration after the next. Sure, the core of my mother’s side of the family came here from Scotland in 175-mumble, but my paternal great-grandparents were from Norway. I can’t honestly say I feel any real connection to Norwegian culture, but my grandfather and great aunt would have. The guy who sits next to me at work was born here but his father is from Iran – are you really going to tell him he’s not Persian, when that’s the food his family cooks at home and the holidays they celebrate and they make regular trips back to visit family? What’s the cut off? After a quick google, Wikipedia claims that 33 million people / 11% of our population are second generation immigrants – equivalent to roughly half the entire population of the UK.

                10. Risha*

                  Also, like Clorinda notes, discussing and/or tracing one’s ancestry is one of the core customs of American culture.

                11. RUKiddingMe*

                  For everyone taking issue with my “all Americans are immigrants” point, anthropologically speaking yes all people living in NA or SA *immigrated from elsewhere at some point.

                  That said, yeah my bad, I didn’t mean it the way it came out. I didn’t think before I spoke/typed. Apologies to anyone I offended.

                  * everyone immigrated/is descended from those that left…willingly or unwillingly… Africa (as far as we know at this point).

                12. Jules the 3rd*

                  1) What Ellery said. It’s one way to feel part of something bigger than one’s self. And if there’s anything that’s true about humans, it’s that we like to be part of tribes. ‘Country’ tribes are a pretty recent development, while ‘Family’ tribes are old as time.

                  Most of the people I know who claim ‘Scottish heritage’ have a Scottish last name within the last 3 generations and can trace well over half their ancestry back to Scotland. It’s not usually just a casual connection, and the interest is usually in a clan and the clan system (and romanticized pre-Culloden Scotland) more than to the existing country.

                  2) Why these ‘Family’ tribes still persist in the US: American immigrants separated into their own enclaves and maintained the traditions of their home countries for a century or more.
                  – The Irish in Boston are… famous? infamous? for their insularity.
                  – Ditto for the Italians in NYC
                  – My mom’s Swiss-German ancestors emigrated around 1800 and had family members who still spoke German through the 1950s (rural)
                  – Scottish emigrants of the 1750s – 1800s moved to the US SE (Virginia, NC, SC) and intermarried / kept the faith / etc. (rural)

                  After 1900, the Caucasian enclaves started to marry people with other European ancestry more, so the various groups started to build formal public methods of celebrating and maintaining their heritage like NC’s Highland Games (1956) or Germans Oktoberfests. Boston’s St Patrick’s Day Parade started in 1901 – I’m not as familiar with that history, but it makes sense that crowded urban areas would start integrating before the rural areas.

                  Americans constantly struggle with / embrace the multiple tribes of their ancestry and their current country. This gets tied into race and ethnicity in complex ways, and is Extremely Irritating to me when new arrivals aren’t given the same grace periods.

                13. Immigrant in the US*

                  I am an immigrant to the US from one of those Eastern European countries that Americans love to claim as their own after a mail-in DNA test. Here is why this is offensive: I have been in the US for 16 years after my parents brought me here at 15. While I hate to compare my experience to those of people detained at the Southern border, as it’s been a lot easier for me, there are many little annoyances that come from being here long enough to call home, but not being a US citizen because of arcane immigration laws. For example, I get taxed just like everyone else, but can’t participate in the democracy. I’m ineligible for certain loans despite an excellent credit history, etc.

                  I apologize for being off-topic, but please work to fix your immigration laws and stop treating us as a second-class citizens before you adopt our heritages because it’s oh so fun and the food is so good.

                14. AKchic*

                  El Profitero – I’ll readily admit that I don’t want to claim my heritage as a coupon-clipper and holiday sale shopper. Nor do I really feel like I want to claim any heritage that requires me to sit around a badly-manicured lawn in front of a grill talking about sportsball and pretending I like my family.

                  I can appreciate my ancestry, I can appreciate where my family came from (one way or another, at one time or another), but yeah, I’m stuck here in the US until I feel the pressure to leave. Preferably off-planet.

                15. Close Bracket*

                  @El Profitero

                  Most of our own holidays, foods, and sports originate from outside North America and were brought here by actual members of the culture where they originated. Lots of other countries that are less than 250 years old also have holidays, etc., that originated outside their borders, and the rest of them have an unbroken heritage that goes back more than 250 years even if their current government is only that old. Telling us to celebrate our own holidays is telling us to celebrate yours.

                16. Burned Out Supervisor*

                  “Dunno, like… your own? I mean you already have your own holidays and your own foods and your own sports. Theres a lot of countries that have a ”herotage” that are way less than 250 years old.”

                  This attitude can be really problematic for African-Americans, who’s ancestors were not only ripped from their country and sold into bondage, but were also stripped of their African names, making it nearly impossible to connect to a history that didn’t rob them of their humanity. People celebrate their heritage for all sorts of reasons and often reject parts of American heritage due to the ways in which they were treated throughout American history.

                17. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                  I think part of the issue is one of nomenclature. For example, I was born in Alaska, but I would never say I was an “Alaska Native” because that’s one of the terms used for the indigenous people who were there long before my parents decided to move there in the 1970s. When I lived there, I could have said I was an “Alaskan” but I couldn’t claim to be from Alaska in the same way someone whose family had a multi-generational link to that area going back hundreds of years, because I am not from that culture and those were not the experiences that shaped my family and upbringing.

                  That leads to instead trying to explain where your family was however many generations ago, which is also weird and awkward as we get further and further away from Stuff That Actually Happened To You, Personally or People You Know Well but has the advantage of not also appropriating the history and culture of the people who used to live where you live now by what you decide to call yourself. In my case, my family settled on “Swedish” for a variety of interesting reasons of various degrees of validity, but we could have settled on “Scottish”, “Norwegian”, or “English” with about equal genetic justification if we’d happened to keep in touch with different branches of the families in question and/or different parents and grandparents had won arguments about who gets to name a given baby with their culture’s names. (My great grandpa came from Sweden and the next generation on from me is still receiving Swedish names at least some of the time, generally to honor specific previous relatives with those names rather than just as a generic “yay! Sweden!” at this point.)

                  However, I think the “kilt” thing, at least for “Utilikilts” and similar, is more that it’s the word for “skirt-type garments worn by men who are not wearing them to dress in women’s clothing” in my local culture rather than anything to do with tartans, though. Most “kilt”-wearers I see are wearing plain black or khaki “kilts” in fabrics that would otherwise be sewn into slacks rather than tartans of any kind. (This is in the PNW, where we wear flannel shirts all the time without assigning any particular meaning to the weave pattern, and that’s the main experience most of us have with plaids.) I mostly see such “kilts” at Renaissance Faires and SF cons, but I wouldn’t be particularly surprised to also see them grocery shopping or just generally out in public.

                18. Jojo*

                  And it’s worth thinking about which cultures/citizens get bossy about who has a right to claim THEIR country as part of their heritage. It seems like something only white Northern Europeans make a fuss about. Hey, sharing is caring.

              3. dealing with dragons*

                I think a lot of it is that English doesn’t have a word for a male skirt and so kilt has someone evolved outside of Scotland to be multi-purpose. In America there’s also still a lot of ingrained homophobia/transphobia, so it’s generally seen as better to wear a kilt instead of what could be actually termed a skirt. One is menswear, the other is cross dressing, regardless of the amount of holes per leg.

                As a note, I’m not saying kilts ARE skirts for men, just noting the lack of vernacular.

                1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                  My housemate bought a utilikilt – plain black, cargo pockets – from their booth at a convention last year. I (female) happened to also be wearing a utilikilt the same day. I sent his mom a picture. She was like WHY IS HE WEARING A SKIRT IN PUBLIC??? Then I sent her a picture of him and me together and said “Actually, we’re wearing the same garment, and technically it’s a men’s garment, so I’m the one cross-dressing here.”

                  Response: “Oh, okay, you guys look great!” Bless.

                2. schnauzerfan*

                  July 1, 2019 at 10:28 am

                  “Not disputing your point in general — but as a point of precision, not *all* americans are descendants of immigrants. Indigenous people are here.”
                  Many indigenous people are also migrants tho. They came from somewhere else and settled “here” for whatever value of here you are using. My dear friend is Lakota by birth but was raised in Guam and Hawaii. She is still Lakota, no matter where she lives. The Cherokee still have their own culture even tho they were forcibly moved from their homelands. My heritage is a very mixed bag. Germans from Russia, Germans from Germany, Wales, Scotland, Ireland. The first of my blood came to the colonies and were here in time to be involved in the Salem witch hysteria. The most recent came through Ellis Island. When it comes to celebrating “our” holidays, I grumble about the 4th of July, because my people were wealthy land owners before those damn revolutionaries overthrew our dear George III (kidding, I think) and the only traditional “American” dress I can really claim are Blue Jeans, which the rest of the world needs to quit wearing because appropriation… :)

              4. Aunt Piddy*

                Part of the reason Americans do this is because for SO LONG the push was to get people to assimilate. Stop speaking languages other than English, stop doing any cultural traditions that were “weird,” change your name to something “normal.” Both of my great-grandparents were German and they would not teach German to any of their kids or grandkids. Being different or acting out traditions from a culture that wasn’t “American” was seen as backwards and shameful.

                But in the last few decades there’s been a push to reconnect with lost heritage. It’s attenuated because there were efforts made to erase any immigrant cultural connections, but we’re latching onto what we can find. I’m sure it looks pretty goofy from across the pond, but the roots are in a desire to find pride in something that was once shameful.

                1. Librarianne*

                  Exactly this, Aunt Piddy. The Polish immigrants on my mother’s side were punished, and sometimes beaten, for speaking Polish when they attended public schools in Chicago. We eat Polish food, keep up Polish holiday traditions, etc. as a way to show we aren’t ashamed of our background. (Unfortunately the language-speaking ability died out with my grandfather, but my mom and I are interested in learning together.)

              5. EOA*

                While I’m not arguing that people should run around wearing kilts if they aren’t Scottish, “cultural appropriation” usually assumes a level of power imbalance, at least here in the States. Usually, that is the dominant, usually white, community stealing customs, ideas, music, clothing, etc. from a non-dominant community without acknowledging the sacredness of that cultural artifact to the non-dominant community.

                Again, here in the States, the Scots aren’t considered an oppressed people or people of color. So wearing a kilt wouldn’t reallyt rise to the level of “cultural appropriation” even if it (perhaps rightly) irritates Scottish people.

                1. Artemesia*

                  As someone pointed out upstream here though, the clan tartan things is fairly recent and somewhat bogus — invented to sell kilts as you might suspect. But the I think ‘cultural appropriation’ is a usually useless concept. Most of human progress has resulted from groups meeting and adopting each other’s good stuff. yeah there can be abuses especially commercial abuses that show disrespect, but adopting things from other cultures is quite literally how civilizations developed and prospered which is why places at the crossroads of cultures tended to be the most dynamic and ultimately advanced.

                2. aurora borealis*

                  EOA, I’m confused. Granted I’m older, so I’m still trying to catch up on the new rules, and I’m trying to understand – but for ‘cultural appropriation’ to be offensive, you must wear/take on the style of oppressed/ people of color only? This does not apply to any other race, meaning white race? I had not heard this rule before and I want to make sure I’m understanding correctly.

                3. All Stitched Up*

                  Out of nesting, replying to aurora borealis: The term cultural appropriation is used in a few different ways, which makes it a little confusing (but also not that different from many other terms); the one I’ve most commonly seen is restricted to a dominant culture taking something (garb, hairstyles, decorations, traditions, etc.) from a culture with less power in a way that reinforces or relies on that power difference. A frequently used example is white people wearing Plains Indian warbonnets—it’s offensive, not only because their use is restricted within the tribes that produce and wear them, but also because of the cultural genocide white settlers in North America enacted on indigenous cultures here (see: residential boarding schools, outlawing religious practices and native languages, and more.) (Note: I think it would also be cultural appropriation for a non-white person who wasn’t granted the right to wear a war bonnet to do so, but I haven’t personally seen that come up ever and I suspect it’s much, much less common.) There are a ton of other examples, but in general what a lot of them have in common is mainstream society punishing or discriminating against individuals from the originating culture for doing something (historically, currently, or both—usually both) while people from the dominant culture are treated neutrally or rewarded with praise or profit for the same thing.

                4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                  @All Stitched Up: If you want to see an interesting and complex example upon which I offer no opinion myself whatsoever beyond “this is completely not my business and I am staying out of it” you can look at the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans.

                5. MsSolo*

                  I think the reason it comes up here, though, is that Scotland was heavily oppressed by the English – ethnic cleansing level of oppressed, and a lot of ongoing issues today in terms of national stereotypes and political oversight – so there is a real issue of cultural appropriation of kilts within the British Isles that bleeds over when you’re looking at other countries as well, especially when the people doing it would not be considered Scots by the Scottish (because claiming Scottish ancestry to justify your actions is also a very English thing to do…). Similar with Ireland; I think a lot of Irish-Americans don’t realise quite how much bad blood they’re generating in Ireland when they behave the same way as the English.

              6. Anonymeece*

                I can see your argument, but people do still have beliefs left over from when they immigrated, even 300 years ago. My grandmother’s family is German; she is entirely German. Her family spoke German exclusively at home, in America. She cooks authentic German food passed down through generations. A line of our family still owns a homestead in Germany named after her family. Her family even faced German exclusionism because she was born during 1941, which was a bad time to be German in American.

                So by that reasoning, me claiming to be German would be cultural appropriation and I should only celebrate… hot dogs and guns?

                I’m Scottish, Irish, German, and a whole host of other things. Those beliefs, traditions, and even their names didn’t end because my ancestors came to America.

                That said, there is a line. My mom’s family is Jewish, but I wasn’t raised in that, so I don’t claim it. We’re also Cherokee, but as I wasn’t raised on a reservation or ever faced discrimination (and actually benefited from a system because I am white), I don’t claim that.

                So I do get that, but to blanket say Americans can only celebrate “American” culture (which is in itself a mishmash of cultures) seems wrong to me.

                1. A day at the zoo*

                  Londonit, all four of my grandparents were born in Ireland. We all shared a multi family house with their brothers and sisters living within four blocks. We are in America because the British, pre-Irish Republic, took our land and deprived us of basic human rights. We are not here by choice but by hunger.

                  We arrived in a country where signs in businesses said “no Irish need apply”. Damn right I celebrate my heritage.

                  Your own Royal family celebrates German traditions because they have strong Germanic roots.

                  Do you consider that inappropriate?

              7. Rebelx*

                On the topic of non-Scots wearing kilts, I remember seeing a fashion TV show some time ago where the designer wanted to popularize kilts (or kilt-like skirts) as an option for men. My takeaway after seeing that show was that kilts were an option for men that challenged the gender standard of “Men can’t wear skirts”, while still being a garment that reads as “masculine”.

              8. Michaela Westen*

                The times I’ve spoken with men who had occasion to wear skirts – for a costume party, a part in a play, or wearing a kilt in a parade – they always said how much more comfortable they were than pants and wished they could wear them more often.
                I think any man should be allowed to wear a kilt for comfort if he wishes. I wear skirts for the same reason. If there are certain patterns that are culturally important, clothing makers could simply avoid those in kilts offered outside of Scotland.

              9. Jasnah*

                Kimono is not casual wear. If a non-Japanese person wants to wear a yukata, or wear a kimono to a formal event, and they do so respectfully (ie tie it correctly and have matching accessories) then go for it. Non Japanese renting kimono is a huge business in Japan. And I wouldn’t tell a 5th generation Japanese person they can’t wear kimono.

                So I think if a non Scottish person can do so respectfully, they should be able to wear a kilt.

                1. Chinookwind*

                  I disagree. Kimono is a style of clothing that, like a kilt, can be both formal and informal depending on context, cut and material. I have both a formal kimono made from silk (and wore at a coming of age ceremony I was invited to, which is one of the reasons people rent them. They are like a prom dress here) and a cotton yukata I wore while participating at Obon festivities (think town festival) because my students suggested I would be more comfortable (and I was). There is also version worn at rural ryokan when going to the onsen.

                  I even had adult students who couldn’t wait for retirement because they would then have time to dress in kimono which, while more comfortable, also took twice as long to put on than a pair of pants and shirt.

            2. Quickbeam*

              Thank you. As a daughter of Scotia, I find the latter day rules and regs funny. More Outlander than true history. My father wore his mother’s clan colors when he pleased. As do I.

            3. Lobsterp0t*

              this is magic, next time I see my dad out in a utili-kilt I might ask him this.

          2. Grey Coder*

            Well, formal occasions and going to the rugby or other sporting event. The rest of the outfit determines the level of formality.

            Also agree that the idea of ‘entitlement’ is dubious at best.

          3. Not Australian*

            I didn’t say they *do* wear them on all occasions, I said they *will* do so, i.e. they will let neither weather nor occasion deter them if the kilt is their garment of choice.

        5. CatMom*

          Does this extend to descendants of those entitled to wear kilts? My father wears one with our (“our”?) tartan because we have a clear and factually-verified lineage within our particular clan even though we’re in the United States and have been for several generations, so I’m just wondering if it “counts.” Do clans have verified membership the way that Native American tribes do?

        6. ArtK*

          Don’t confuse the tartan with the kilt. There are lots of kilts out there which are not in a specific tartan. There’s no “entitled” there.

        7. AnonPiper*

          As a woman bagpiper who wears a kilt very frequently, I challenge the idea of an “authentic (male) kilt wearer.” I get ‘I didn’t know women play the bagpipes’ often enough.

        8. Donkey Hotey*

          I normally don’t comment on such nuanced bits but I do have to insert an eyeroll over the idea of entitlement to wear a kilt. Unbifurcated male garments are common around the world, the last surviving bits from European culture are the kilt and the toga.

      4. babblemouth*

        A friend of mine wears his kilt to hike, so not necessarily formal. It came to be seen as formal because most men who wear them only take them out on special occasions, but they’re as formal as a pair of dark pants really – they fit a lot of different occasions.

      5. Akcipitrokulo*

        They can be… there are “party” (or “beer” ;) ) kilts, but mostly depends on top half… a good 5 or 8 yard one with formal top half is very smart :) with football shirt not so much for work!

      6. Vicky Austin*

        This reminds me of the episode of Glee, when Kurt (openly gay) made himself a kilt to wear to the prom.

      7. Emily K*

        Maybe traditionally, but in modern fashion not necessarily. Utilikilts are popular with the goth community and are often black with chains and clips and other hardware dangling from them.

      8. Emi.*

        Kilts vary in fanciness according to the quality of the wool and the number of pleats. More pleated versions are swirlier and more of a pain in the neck to maintain, and therefor fancier.

      9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Thanks, all, for the education! I had no idea Utilikilts existed :)

        So this does sound analogous to a sari, to me. There’s a spectrum of formality based on quality, design, and use. If he’s wearing an adequately formal kilt (i.e., suit and tie equivalent), then it sounds fine to me from a policy perspective. Of course, it then comes down to the employer’s norms. But assuming it’s not culturally appropriative, there doesn’t seem like there’s a good basis to limit his sartorial choices.

        1. Femme d'Afrique*

          But even if it were “culturally appropriative,” surely there’s no way for an *employer* to regulate that, right? Because then you’d have the awkward situation of policing what people can wear based on ethnic or racial background, it seems to me, which would surely violate several US laws.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            Yes, though I think most HR people with common sense can tell if someone is wearing another culture’s signature garment in a mocking or disrespectful way that would create a hostile work environment for others, versus wearing another culture’s signature garment out of respect or admiration.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            To be fair, employers often limit what people can wear based on ethnic/racial presumptions of professional dress.

            That said, I agree that it wouldn’t be appropriate for an employer to try to regulate whether someone’s attire is “culturally appropriative” in this context. (Conversely, if this were Halloween and someone were wearing another person’s identity or culture as a costume, an employer would be entirely within their rights to forbid that.)

        2. Close Bracket*

          “So this does sound analogous to a sari, to me.”

          Or trousers. Or suits. Or a dress. All garments come on a spectrum of formality.

          1. LilyP*

            Yes, but the specific comparison was also about them being garments not typically seen (at any level of formality) in standard Western business dress

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          Very late commenting here, but as a Scottish person in Scotland I don’t know that there is a kilt that’s equivalent in formality to a business suit-and-tie. Perhaps there’s some sort of American version that fits, but here kilts are essentially pretty highly formal (weddings, graduations, important events – usually worn with a Prince Charlie and waistcoat, or a tweed kilt jacket for slightly less formal events) or very informal (worn to rugby or football matches with the team shirt and hiking boots). Other than that, you would mostly see them worn as a uniform (the military, school uniforms, pipers and highland dancers). There isn’t really any such thing as a kilt equivalent to a standard business suit and tie – again, maybe there is some American kilt-esque garment that is, but the idea of a business kilt is sort of comical.

      10. Kali*

        I came down here to say that. In Scotland, kilts are worn at the most formal of events.

      11. Meg*

        Kilts vary widely in formality. If an office expects men to wear a suit and tie, semi-formal kilts would usually be appropriate as well. Formal kilts are akin to tuxedos, whereas Utili-Kilts would be like wearing cargo pants.

    2. geekmissy*

      Most guys I know who wear kilts wear Utilikilts. I’d equate them with cargo shorts on the formality scale. though it’s hard to picture someone who works in a suit/tie office thinking a casual like like that would be appropriate.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s where I’d put them too – the construction and fabric are more like cargo shorts than a skirt or a pair of slacks, and you can wear them with sports sandals or running shoes. So not appropriate for an office that requires suits (fine in my office, though).

        If he wants to wear a full out kilt, made of wool, with the sporran and those high socks with the tassels on them, and an appropriate jacket to go with it, I’d say let him.

      2. WS*

        +1. At a former workplace we had one male employee who wore a (formal) kilt as part of his business attire, and this was fine. Another employee then wanted to wear a utilikilt which was mostly canvas and leather and this was not allowed except on casual Fridays. “Kilt” then had to be defined in the employee handbook.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Utilikilts come in a variety of materials and configurations (no tartans), and there’s other US companies doing ‘pleated men’s skirts’. Utilikilts have sleeker ones with minimal pockets that are explicitly designed to be alternatives to Dockers (called Mockers), and they’ve got a tuxedo. Most employing companies wouldn’t notice the difference between the styles, they’d focus more on ‘I can see his knees!’. However, an individual who owns one would be aware of the differences in formality, I think.

        I agree, the ‘multi pocketed’ ones do look cargo-shortish to me, but at $200 – $300 each, I suspect it’s hard for an owner to think about it like that.

        Either way, it’s very much a ‘know your company’. But it’s also not OP’s to manage.

      4. lost academic*

        This. A utilikilt is like wearing cargo shorts. The OP described the business attire as standard. Not jeans and definitely not shorts. So a kilt of this style is not on the table. A kilt, sorry Alison, is not analogous to a skirt in this way.

        I think there’s also a chance that wearing a tartan style kilt to work in that sort of business environment isn’t turning a traditional item into costume and thus creating a problem.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          I’d say its still analogous to a skirt. There are many levels of business appropriateness in skirts. A cut off jean skirt would I dare say not be appropriate in any office environment. Most denim skirts wouldn’t be, nor would a taffeta party skirt, nor would a boho maxi skirt (mix of prints/fabrics). Length, style, and material all come into play on whether or not a skirt falls into business casual or formal. Just so with a kilt.

          A slim line all black Utilikilt might work particularly with tall dark socks and appropriate shoes. But it would take a pretty casual office for a camo one to work. Tartan kilts would probably need a solid color crisp shirt to pull off.

        2. Lobsterp0t*

          I mean, it… is? Because skirts do come in levels of formality similar to kilts. And it’s also fine for men to wear skirts.

          I get the gender thing in respect of kilts, even if I politically disagree that it’s useful to assign a gender to clothing. Women’s kilts also exist and the same rules apply about formality and styling although, obviously, in the same gendered way that skirt rules apply.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Look for used ones on ebay. True Utilikilts last *forever*, the owners usually outgrow them before they wear out. (Outgrow because they’re made to fit snugly and people gain weight) The build quality is amazing.

        There are a couple of other ‘pleated men’s skirts’ that have come up in the last 15 years, they are lower build quality.

    3. Piobaireachd Forever!*

      Bagpiper for 30-plus years here. Responding to some points already made . . . as other posters have noted, a wool kilt can be quite a formal garment, but a utilikilt is on a par with cargo shorts. At least in North America, many people who are active in the Scottish community (piping, drumming, dance, athletics, etc.) have some ancestral connection to Scotland, but many, many others do not. The ethic of the community in most places is “Hey, if you like piping or dancing or whatever, nobody cares what your ancestry is!” As a result, although some people will wear a kilt with a tartan linked to their family name, others won’t. Some will wear one of the “general” tartans (like Flower of Scotland) but plenty of people pick one because they like the colors or they got a good deal on a used kilt or something. There are no “tartan police” checking to see if you are “entitled” (ugh) to wear a kilt. Personally, I would never wear a kilt if I wasn’t performing, and I tend to change out of it as quickly as I can when I am done, but that’s just me. I will say, that I’m always confused when people say they like wearing kilts because they are comfortable. In my experience, they aren’t. A real kilt is made of seven or eight yards of wool, and (in formal attire) is worn with heavy, knee-length socks. They aren’t particularly comfortable, and I find them much hotter (temperature-wise) than just wearing pants.

      1. AnonPiper*

        I love that piobaireachd made an appearance somewhere. -signed someone who plays it

    4. Ella Vader*

      Yes, and if the point of the “standard business dress” is to fit in unremarkably, for example if the workplace is a hotel front desk, a tradeshow booth, a car sales floor, a certain kind of fancy restaurant, or a funeral home, the would-be kilted co-worker needs to be aware of that. If he’s doing it in order to skirt the regulation and smirk at the bosses, they will probably figure that out. If he’s doing it with earnest intentions and is accustomed to wearing it in other business-dress/formal-dress contexts like attending weddings, he may still be surprised to see how much he’s pulling focus if it’s not a common sight for the clients.

      I don’t think he should do it if he is client-facing and in North America, unless he talks to the bosses first and they’re okay with it. I think he could try it out on a casual Friday or some other day with no public interaction.

      1. Llama Face!*

        “If he’s doing it in order to skirt the regulation and smirk at the bosses, they will probably figure that out.”

        I see what you did there. ;)

    5. Adminx2*

      My partner tried to wear a kilt to work- he had worn skirts before with no problem and it wasn’t a gendered dress code. And the kilt was black on black as basic as it gets. But the grand boss didn’t like it so no kilt. So sad.

        1. Lobsterp0t*


    6. Lady Russell's Turban*

      Perhaps the man who made the request is speaking of a generic kilt, a wrap-round skirt with a plain front and pleats in the back to allow freedom of movement, not a clothing item connected to his Scottish heritage. I, a woman, had several kilt-type skirts back in the day, none out of the tartan of my ancestry (and in at least a couple of cases, of no one’s ancestry). They were just fashion items. I have seen utili-kilts out of canvas and imagine there are kilts made out of other fabrics. Call it a kilt or call it a skirt; the requester probably finds it more comfortable than trousers, especially in hot weather.

    7. Lobsterp0t*

      Kilts outside of culturally relevant contexts make me so irrationally mad. I can’t explain it. This is not especially constructive but I think it’s this weird … obsession that some Americans have with having Scottish “roots” or whatever. Oh no!!! I don’t think I could take someone seriously if they showed you to a average office job unironically wearing one. I think it is because I have specific personal experiences that totally cloud my ability to ignore this particular sartorial decision.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, could you try to negotiate moving expenses or preliminary housing assistance as part of your compensation package? I realize it may be risky, but I’ve found some success with getting a move covered and sometimes a portion of housing costs during the housing search process (often in the form of a signing bonus or partial housing assistance).

    Alternately, if this is a significant COL increase, can you factor that into salary negotiations? (Don’t tell them you’re asking for a COL adjustment, but keep it in mind when/if you make your case re: baseline compensation).

    Honestly, the hardest part (after the cost of moving) is going to be having to head out in the middle of the day and to move quickly on potential rentals. That may require that you come up with an interim housing plan, anyway. But this is tough/stressful (albeit common), and I’m sorry.

    1. Willis*

      Yes, she could ask about the possibility of the company providing some temporary housing while she looks for a place. Not that that would guarantee she’ll find somewhere affordable, but it would at least give some more time.

      I agree with Alison that from an employer’s standpoint, the OP’s offer to decide after looking for housing for 4-6 weeks would be pretty unappealing. And as the OP, I’d be slightly concerned that while I was looking for housing I would get an email from the company saying they couldn’t wait any long and are giving the job to someone who can start sooner/without contingencies.

    2. Antilles*

      Alternately, if this is a significant COL increase, can you factor that into salary negotiations?
      I’d actually go stronger than this. If you’re moving somewhere with a significant COL increase (which based on the description of housing, it almost certainly is), you absolutely *need* to factor that into your salary expectations and negotiations.
      Yes, my last job made $50,000 in Dallas, but that doesn’t mean you can offer me $60,000 in San Francisco. Even though the raw salary number is larger, that would actually be taking a sizable pay cut after adjusting for the COL.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I do think that OP needs to factor it into their salary expectations, negotiations and decision to accept the job or not, but they should not cite it as the reason for asking for more money.

        If OP is making $50k as a llama groomer in Dallas. They are offered $60k as a llama groomer in San Francisco and the market rate (or even high end of the range) for a llama groomer in San Francisco IS $60k, the company will not be willing to pay more just because OP would be effectively taking a pay cut due to COL. Many people think it would be great to be overpaid in a position, but this is one of the drawbacks, if you are ever looking to change positions you might not be able to find a position that pays as well.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think COL factors into the salary discussion pretty universally. There is nothing wrong with asking for more because the local COL is high; employers expect to discuss that.

          1. Washi*

            COL yes, but standard of living no. If 60k is considered the market rate for llama grooming in SF, you can’t say “you need to pay me more because in Dallas I could afford to rent my own one-bedroom at 50k, and 60k in San Francisco won’t let me do that.” You can negotiate a higher offer based on your skills and the market, but not based on your expenses.

            1. Deborah*

              And this might just mean, eventually, San Francisco has no llama groomers. Such is the way of capitalism.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Depends on how badly the company wants the OP, they might well be willing to pay what is above-market for local area, in order to match a stellar candidate’s COL-adjusted current salary. I’ve seen that before.

        3. Antilles*

          Why not cite it?
          If you’re trying to make the case for 70k instead of 60k, being able to reference widely-accepted things like “cost of living” and “I would like to at least make the same here that I am in my current job” is going to add a lot of weight to your argument.
          Most employers understand that COL is a thing and also recognize that employees expect lateral moves (or steps upward) to at least match their current pay. It’s certainly possible their budget can’t afford that and you hear back a sympathetic “we understand, but…” and then get a take-it-or-leave-it, but it’s not likely to harm you to bring it up.

    3. kittymommy*

      And depending on the company, they may be able to provide some help/leads for housing in the area.

    4. akiwiinlondon*

      I was thinking this same thing, I’m aware some companies might have some accommodation options, depending on the nature of company they may have options already in place.
      If it’s such a difficult area to find vacant accommodations then they may already have something to suggest for this if it’s likely to have come up with applicants.
      I expect OP will also want to do some research on what short-term options might be available in the area if they do want to request this as a signing bonus.
      Generally I expect this might be easier if OP is single and not also relocating partner/kids/pets as the company might be willing to put them up in some sort of short term accommodation at their expense if it’s just them to house and also how senior they are. I’m pretty sure my brother had some relocation compensation when he did move his whole family across the world but at his experience could obviously negotiate this – but I’d expect a more junior candidate might be able to negotiate some housing support if it’s just themselves.

      Anyway surely it wouldn’t hurt to ask about in negotiations in relation to the tight housing market and then taken into consideration what can be offered instead of making a conditional acceptance.

      As Alison said making a conditional acceptance wouldn’t be a good look but I’d expect to build it into the negotiations and then consideration of the package. Is the package they end up offering worth the accommodation risk, or does the package remove this risk.

      1. OP3*

        Yes! I think you’re right. This will likely be a common concern from all prospective employees who will be relocating (of which I think there will be many given the particular nature of this org). Short-term housing is far from ideal but it might be the best option to avoid committing to a lease I don’t feel comfortable with. I am single, so this definitely uncomplicates a temporary move. At the very least, this approach could help me network my way into an apartment!

    5. OP3*

      Thanks for your advice! Yes, it looks like the new org considers covering some moving expenses, but only in certain circumstances, which I don’t think apply to mine. It’s still a good idea, and I will definitely ask what options are available. And, I think you’re also right about the interim housing option. It’s not ideal, but it might be a good option if I can’t find something in my price range right away.

      1. OP3*

        Sorry…forgot to tag @ Princess Consuela Banana Hammock
        Thanks for your advice! Yes, it looks like the new org considers covering some moving expenses, but only in certain circumstances, which I don’t think apply to mine. It’s still a good idea, and I will definitely ask what options are available. And, I think you’re also right about the interim housing option. It’s not ideal, but it might be a good option if I can’t find something in my price range right away.

      2. Close Bracket*

        I’ve relocated between states more than once. Moving into a hotel for abit isn’t the greatest, but it isn’t the worst, either. Moving companies typically offer storage, or if you are moving yourself, you can find a storage place on your own. You can also go up for a week before you start to try to find a place. I did that for a couple moves, including to Cambridge, which is a high occupancy, HCOL city. For my most recent move, I did move into a long term hotel, fortunately only for a week. I’ve had friends who moved for work who also did that. I rented a PO box before the move (you can do that from a distance) so I had a place to send my mail.

        Even in a high occupancy city, it shouldn’t take 6 weeks to find a place, unless you are super picky. You can probably do it in less than 30 days. One tip I can give you is if you are employed by a well known company, get business cards quickly and hand them out on visits. It seems to lend gravitas and predispose land lord and management companies to like you.

        1. OP3*

          Ooooh! @Close Bracket – “get business cards quickly and hand them out on visits.” This is a fantastic tip and would definitely help make me more competitive in the housing market. Thank you!

          1. Working Mom Having It All*

            Honestly, in a HCOL city, business cards aren’t going to matter. You need to show up with cash in hand. A landlord in a major US city isn’t going to be swayed by “whoa, this guy works for Google, he must be a real big muckety-muck, let’s give the apartment to him!” They’re going to be swayed by you handing them the rent and deposit on the spot (and probably passing a credit check).

            1. quirkypants*

              Agreed, I live in a city with a high cost of apartments and low vacancy rates. In my last position, I worked for a rather impressive organization and had a rather senior sounding title. My partner worked for a well-respected hospital and had a similarly senior title. We both had employment letters and combined we made a VERY GOOD income and we still lost out on rentals.

              We ended up in a beautiful place much better than some of the places we had been rejected by but searching in expensive and low vacancy cities can be tough!

              It will work out in the end for most with a decent income but it will likely take time, a lot of searching and sometimes a bit of luck.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Hi OP#3! If that’s the case, I would focus on transitional housing assistance and baseline salary accounting for the COL difference. Sometimes employers in HCOL areas also have leads or realtors/agents they work with that they can make available to you.

        FWIW, I just moved to a higher COL region (from a more affordable market where housing was becoming quickly unaffordable, thanks to the Bay Area), where I couldn’t get my moving costs covered. But my employer has access to real estate agents/brokers, so I was able to bargain for priority status for employer-owned housing (there’s a waitlist, but housing is crazy subsidized), free use of the employer’s real estate brokers/agents, and a base pay adjustment that exceeded a COL salary match by about $18K with the ability to pursue big step increases in the first 10 years. Housing is still going to be tough, although it’s also a significant decrease in transportation costs. It’s not everything I wanted, but at least I now feel like I can make it work if I get a bit more frugal.

    6. Name (Required)*

      I just applied for a job in San Francisco (I think highest COL in the country!) and used the interview to ask people where they live (this is a very hierarchical structure, so I know I’ll make more than the people I asked) and joke about how they live in the city (to which a few answered truthfully).
      I also talked with the boss about options to work from home, so I can stay in my apartment now (twice the space, half the rent) and just commute the ~1hr in 1-2 days a week.
      Other than that, I was up front with the hiring manager that I need for the position to make sense for me

      They’ve said they’re waiting for one final approval before they can send me an offer, so it seems like none of this left a bad impression or anything. I really think these sorts of fears are normal, and if anything just humanize you and show that you’re good at planning ahead :)

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Just commenting to say that I appreciate your username. :)

      2. Not a cat*

        I live in Los Angeles. I just moved within the city. I had potential landlords asking for a deposit, first and last month. One came out to about 5K to move in. It’s a Landlords Market.

    7. Michaela Westen*

      I know someone who moved to NYC and he found an app to help him look. He entered the areas, rent, and other requirements and it searched listings. When it found one that matched he followed up right away and got the apartment. He’s been living there for several years. :)
      Apologies if you already knew about these apps.

  3. phira*

    It’s actually becoming really common to have two-factor authentication for work email, although I do have to assume there are methods of doing 2FA without a smartphone app. So I don’t think the husband’s employer is nuts for requiring 2FA for work email, it is bogus that they picked a system that not everyone can use, and extremely what the hecking heck that not everyone has WiFi (!!!).

    1. Clementine*

      You can have a 2FA system with a Gemalto token or similar physical key, but obviously the company has chosen not to implement that.

      1. valentine*

        They’re saving by forcing employees to pay costs, so they’re not going to provide or reimburse for phones.

        Are employees ghosting and not returning keys? What kind of workplace requires lock changing?

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup the company is cheap. I’m just an itty bitty LLC over here and I provide smart phones (also laptops, tablets, whatever, etc.) for those who need them…and pay the bills.

          Why? Because the costs of the business are the responsibility of the business. Seriously this whole BYOT thing just so makes me think of miners who are paid in script and forced to shop at the company store.

          ::walks off humming a Tennessee Ernie Ford tune::

          1. RandomU...*

            I’m generally ok with the BYOT/D policies. It would be different if this were 25 years ago when cell phones were still pretty new. But they’ve become so common now that it is assumed that just about everyone has a smart phone. For fun I looked it up. The US workforce was ~160 m people at the end of 2018. There were ~237 m smart phones users estimated in that same time period.

            Of those users:
            96% were 18-29
            92% 30-49
            79% 50-64

            I kind of look at it like this, my company requires me to travel for work. They won’t reimburse for a suitcase, because it’s assumed that you have one or will acquire one if needed.

            It doesn’t sound like they are requiring the cell phone for anything except door locks (and that was reversed) along with the 2f authentication.

            1. Observer*

              No, the cell phone is not like a suitcase – or any other item that is really at your discretion. In theory at least, you could travel without a suitcase, and the type of suitcase you use is TOTALLY up to you. And you never risk someone actually impounding your suitcase itself if your company ever winds up in a lawsuit, nor will / can your company just reach into your house and trash the suitcase in the case of a dispute or something.

              Also, the numbers you cite are meaningless. If someone doesn’t have a smart phone, they don’t have one. Beyond that there are a LOT of smart phones that won’t be able to use these apps. Almost half of Android phones are on versions that won’t work with many of these apps – especially security related ones! And even when the version will work, the phone itself won’t for a number of reasons, such as the fact that the processor, ram and storage space are inadequate.

              The OP has made it clear that this is a company with a significant percentage of people who either don’t have smart phones, or don’t have ones that will work properly. Telling them that that’s actually not the case because “everyone has” smart phones is not useful at best.

              1. Artemesia*

                This once the company has a toe in your phone you privacy is at risk – your records, your phone itself are at risk of confiscation and your phone is at risk of being wiped if you leave the company. I would resist this if at all possible to have a work around.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                Just as a side note, if anyone suggests confiscating one’s phone for company-related litigation, they are woefully ill-versed in modern data collection techniques. For a few hundred dollars, a phone can be imaged for preservation purposes and the actual device returned to the owner. We do this routinely for executives with relevant data only available on their phones (i.e., text or chat messages), and there is no way that those folks would accept losing their phone indefinitely. The hour or so of time to image is usually enough to make people twitchy.

                Now, that still leaves the company with a copy of your phone data, and there is no way to separate your personal texts from your work texts (without extracting and filtering them), so I do not recommend using a personal device for work, even if an organization is using really good MDM protocols and can sandbox your work data in a way that doesn’t subject you to a full remote wipe. But no one should take and keep a personal phone.

                1. Observer*

                  Maybe – but plenty of government agencies fit that description, or they act like it.

              3. Anderson/MacLeod*

                My phone is a Samsung Galaxy 3, which I have because I’m traveling overseas. When I get home, I’ll switch back to my Nokia C500 (brick), which I prefer. The Galaxy does everything I need it to do, but it won’t support a huge number of apps, including Groupme and Snapchat, just to name a couple I’m acutely conscious of people using for work. I don’t have a plan that includes mobile data and never have, because I’m deeply averse to the concept of something that charges me a real monetary penalty for the sin of forgetting to flip a virtual switch.
                Very modern up-to-date apps (which security apps would be, as… they’re pretty new) won’t work on my phone. Just because I have a smartphone at the moment, doesn’t mean that either a) I usually do or b) it will support whatever tom-fool app my boss wants on it or c) I want the app on my personal phone.
                I’m 23, just before you accuse me of being an out-of-touch boomer.

            2. Mr. Tyzik*

              A suitcase is a one-time cost and does not cost continually to use it. A suitcase has no monthly fee. A suitcase is cheaper than a smart phone.

              Your argument does not compute.

              1. Artemesia*

                And they don’t get to dig around and see what is in your suitcase or throw away all its contents when you leave the company.

              2. CanCan*

                Plus, you don’t need a suitcase for travel. You can go with a backpack, a large tote, or to take it to the extreme – with a couple of grocery store bags.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              The suitcase analogy doesn’t work. A suitcase is a one-time purchase and a stand-alone item that can be borrowed from a friend or relative any time. A cell phone and the service required to do what the company wants is a device purchase plus some sort of continued fee (pay-as-you-go data OR a monthly phone plan). Plus the compatibility and version issues that have already been raised – we have an excellent mobile team, and keeping current with all the versions/flavors of Android plus versions of iOS is no small feat.

              So, to unlock the doors and authenticate oneself, someone has to have a smartphone with an OS version that is compatible with the company’s chosen apps and supports the required data service on an ongoing basis. This company is being very cheap and passing their operating costs on to the employees. My organization expects/requires that anyone above a certain level have a phone that is mobile email-capable, but they also provide a yearly stipend to offset that cost.

              And, frankly, from the situation described in the letter, I would not trust those people with my personal phone. They did not have systems in place to prevent hacking, did little to no research about the feasibility of their ideas post-hacking, it does not sound like they have a clear and communicated mobile device management (MDM) plan or sandboxing option, and they have not factored in the variability of personal phones. I’m iffy on phone app door unlocking but strongly in support of two-factor authentication. Our 2FA give the choice of a mobile app or a phone call to your on-file number with a one-time code.

            4. CanCan*

              I have a smartphone but no data. If my employer needed me to have data access, they’d need to reimburse me $1 per day that I would be paying for it, or the difference in cost between a data plan and the $100/year that I normally pay for the phone.

        2. TheCrone*

          (OP) They process food additives. They have multiple divisions but one part processes food and pharmaceutical additives. The FDA has pretty stringent rules about building security. Plus, they are WAY cheap. So, no “do not duplicate” keys, no real checks on potential new employees and very low pay for lower level employees. They have a serious problem with drug addicted employees who either ghost them or get fired and “lost” their keys. I could seriously write a book about the problems there.

          1. Sutemi*

            What about investing in badged doors? A lot of our labs here have badge access, it can be combined with a PIN for extra security and a badge can quickly be deactiviated on an individual basis.

          2. Observer*

            These idiots are asking for trouble. One major run in with the FDA is going to cost them a lot more than decent security systems, as expensive as they are.

          3. TPS Cover Sheet*

            Oh dear, one audit and that place is is in so much trouble… I think door secirity is the smallest problem they have.

          4. Lora*

            I’m a Big Pharma employee and many of the companies I’ve worked for have a division that does excipients and food / bev type ingredients, herbal supplements, vitamins, “superfoods” etc.

            Your company needs to build a bridge and get over it. Providing employees access to their workplace is a basic cost of doing business no matter how thin the profit margin. I am sadly EXTREMELY familiar with how nasty and cheap food processors and food additive manufacturers can be on account of thin margins, and it’s a big reason I do not eat very processed food myself if I can personally help it. I wouldn’t be surprised if your employer never does find a good solution and the real result is that one employee who does have a smartphone gets the app, gets in early, and then sticks a piece of pallet wood in the door the rest of the day so everyone else can come and go. Then pests get in the building and you find all of it out because suddenly there’s brown specks in the product and they turn out to be actual insect legs, because someone left the door open all day in summer, because of this idiotic door key thing. I may have some personal experience with this…

            Be assured that the first question inspectors will ask, after hearing that “employees leave without turning in their keys all the time” is going to be, “why don’t you have exit procedures and a security desk?”, followed by, “why don’t you get a PIN keypad and RFID/NFC badges for employees that you can easily de-activate via computer?” and when the answer to that is “can’t afford it,” the response from the auditors (customers as well as FDA) is going to be, “can’t meet basic requirements, don’t get a contract from us / shut em down.”

      2. Mike C.*

        Yes, this is absolutely bullish!t to require 2FA and not hand out tokens or key cards or whatever.

      3. Emma*

        It’s entirely possible to implement a system that can use either an app token or a hardware token, and then only provide hardware tokens to employees who don’t have a smartphone – one of my jobs does this and it works well.

        1. KarenK*

          This is what we do, too. They really encourage the app, but tokens are available for those who want them.

      4. JessaB*

        This I was going to say the same thing, when I worked at home we had two factor and a little keychain thing that produced a number. We did not need phones for this. The technology is out there and not hideously expensive.

        The company may actually not be aware these things exist probably because higher ups at the level where they make those decisions all have very fancy phones

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. Two-factor authentication isn’t unreasonable, but the way the company’s trying to impose it sucks. I’m also not sure that 2FA would have saved them from the problems OP’s describing. They sound remarkably cheap and subsequently incompetent… :(

      Pay the people, and cover their phones and data/Wi-Fi access!

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      You can google for options for 2 factor authentication without a cell phone. One of those alternatives might work with the company system.

      I was surprised by the question. I had to look at the date of this post as I thought it was from several years ago. More than 70% of the US population owns a smartphone right now so expecting employees to use one does not seem so off base. And my phone is so wrapped into so much of what I do that I find it hard to imagine not having one. I know that not everyone loves them or their cost (spouse and I stick to pretty low end models) but it also does not seem so out of touch for employers to expect employees to have them.

      1. Toaster Strudel heiress*

        Right so according to your stats, one in three people won’t have one.

        1. Friendstastegood*

          I would also assume that if this is a cheap company with high turnover then they aren’t paying their employees well and said employees come from poorer and less educated backgrounds which decreases odds of them owning a smartphone (compared to the overall population).

          1. TheCrone*

            You nailed it – very low pay, lower level employees come from a fairly poor area, little to no education beyond high school, and high turnover.

        2. Cara*

          Exactly. My company is in manufacturing and we have this issue where some employees don’t have smartphones (or computers at home, or email). These kinds of things cluster in certain situations.

          1. TPS Cover Sheet*

            And then they might not be ”in the know” of how to use the aforementioned, it is the kids. And then you might get all kinds of security issues…

            1. Observer*

              Ooooh, good point!

              You REALLY do NOT want your security setup to be tied to your employees’ kids!

          2. Hillary*

            Yes. We have dedicated workstations so our manufacturing employees can access the intranet, and all documents are mailed to peoples’ homes. I haven’t asked how they’re handling 2FA on the hr tool for employees without smartphones, but I’m confident they solved it. I wouldn’t be surprised if a single-digit percent of our employees don’t have cell phones at all.

      2. Artemesia*

        When businesses use your phone all sorts of yuck may occur like having it subpoenaed or having it wiped. This is the toe in the door.

        1. Steggy Saurus*

          My employer decided that to use a mail app on our personal phones we’d have to accept permission levels that would allow the employer to wipe the phone if it were to be lost. I said no thanks. I’m not giving my employer permission to wipe my personal phone. If they want me to use a mail app, they can get me a phone (which they’re not going to do!).

          1. Mr. Tyzik*

            My employer offers a corporate phone or email on your personal phone. They have the permissions set on the apps to wipe the phones as needed, regardless of what phone you have. I opted for the corporate phone for the same reasons as you – I’m not giving my employer permission to wipe my personal phone.

          2. A Non E. Mouse*

            I know I’ve said this here before, but as someone in IT: yes, we can (and have) wiped personal phones.

            I do NOT have email on my personal phone, I only check my email on company-owned devices.

            I’ve literally had to hit that button – I don’t want it done on mine.

            1. Steggy Saurus*

              I always wondered if that ever actually happened. Now I know and am even more confident in my decision not to have the corporate email on my personal phone!

          3. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

            This is why I carry 2 phones – one for work and one for personal use. It’s annoying but worth it.

      3. Mike C.*

        It’s incredibly out of touch when most companies hand out cards with a pin code, much like debit cards.

        Those cards are incredibly cheap in comparison to a smart phone.

        1. TPS Cover Sheet*

          You mean the RSA secure key cards that have a magic number changing? They’re not exactly cheap – I work for a big 200K + company and we switched to having an app…

            1. TPS Cover Sheet*

              Ah, so you have a chip reader on USB? Or one of those chip-reading keyboards? Or how does it work?

              1. Deanna Troi*

                Our ID cards look like a credit card with a chip. There is a slot in the laptop, not the keyboard. We travel a fair amount and don’t take a keyboard with us.

              2. Mike C.*

                Yeah, if you don’t have a laptop with a card reader built in you have a keyboard with one or a USB reader.

              3. TPS Cover Sheet*

                Ah yes. I was involved in one of those Chip ID projects back in the turn of the century. I had one of the first pilot cards, but nowhere to stick it in. Of course being a government project it did what government projects do. So it flopped massively. Exactly due to no chip readers and then the pc’s back then couldn’t handle the encryption software. If we had only had laptops with built-in readers! But we had those big towers hanging from under your desk, I remember some 5 years after that going around removing the knee-sharing rails from below the desks so we could use the space more efficiently as only then everyone had switched to a laptop. But yeah, those were government ID’s and I kind of still had in my mind how expensive the whole excersize was, but now that I think of it the bank cards work on the exact same idea and are cheap as soap. Well bank cards didn’t have a chip in 1999, so I guess back then it was new and expensive technology.

                1. Emma*

                  In fact, bank cards with chips were first introduced in France in 1986 – there were just a lot of late adopters, not least the US which I think still (?!) hasn’t adopted chip & PIN

            2. Deanna Troi*

              Yes, we have a chip in our ID card that we insert into our laptop. Works well, unless you forget your ID. I don’t know how expensive they are, but this seems like a normal business expense to me.

              1. TPS Cover Sheet*

                Yeah that crimps your style pretty bad if you ”forget your face” and not only can’t get into the building but can’t get onto the network either. Its bad enough to have your boss come get you from reception as a visitor…

      4. Spencer Hastings*

        I’m part of the 70% that owns a smartphone, but I super do not want to be using my personal phone for work!

        1. Emma*

          Yup! I don’t mind having a 2FA token on my phone for work, since it’s very limited in what data it can collect. But one of my jobs is in the process of implementing a system where instead of filling out a timesheet, you clock in and out of work via an app on your phone – an app which can also track your movements and collect all sorts of other data, even if the company doesn’t actually use or view it.

          At some point I’m going to have to have a conversation. If it’s with the big boss it’ll probably be a “Oh, sorry, I don’t have space to install this on my phone!” conversation; if it’s with my boss I can probably rely on a Look and the word no (she gets me, it’s great!).

          Unfortunately, it sounds like, if I don’t use the app, my boss will have to manually clock me in and out every day… and we clock out for lunch so that’s 4 separate amendments per day. I don’t want to force her to waste her time doing that, but hey – it’s on Big Boss for choosing a shitty system with shitty alternatives.

          1. Emily K*

            Aside from the privacy issues, I also resent being asked to run an app on the background 24/7 killing my battery.

            I switched auto insurance last year from one that used an OBD port device for their “safe driving” discount to one that wanted to me install an app on my phone that would run in the background 24/7 and detect when I was in the car. You were supposed to press a setting to temporarily disabled logging if you were a passenger or riding transit, but otherwise it kept a permanent notification on my phone and drained my battery all day. I drive maybe 3 times a week so I found it incredibly unreasonable to have this intrusive device tracking all my movements on foot, cycle, transit, etc, everywhere I took my phone and wasting my data and battery life in the process. I don’t need a 5% discount that badly but it’s really annoys me they couldn’t just use the OBD port which makes so much more sense, to track driving behavior only in the car!

            1. TPS Cover Sheet*

              Here in UK they have ”black box insurance”, they basically install the gadget in your car… telematics? is it now. Anyways you have an app to follow your own stuff, but the box itself is wired to the car. Its mainly for young drivers as otherwise the insurance is astrological, or then for those who are over 65 or 70 was it or then if you claim very small mileage on your car. So it’s more than 5% so people begrudgingly have these boxes.

              The insurance rules are sometimes a bit bizzarre, I remember reading of a guy who got done for driving without insurance as he wasn’t covered for commuting… They do have a big stick for uninsured drivers though as your car goes to the compactor.

          2. Nobby Nobbs*

            My job has one of those apps. Want to know how they handle it? They give the crew leaders company phones! A novel idea, but maybe it’ll catch on.

        2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          You said it! I was planning to get one anyway because my beloved old flip phone didn’t have all the features I needed. About that time my jerky boss ORDERED me to get a smart phone because she didn’t like phone calls or even email messages when I called out. Text messages only. Made me not want to get it after all. My view is, if it’s equipment you require me to use for my job, the company should provide it.

          1. Natalie*

            You can text with a flip phone. It’s a little slower, but that’s why everyone used to use text shorthand and skip most punctuation.

            1. TPS Cover Sheet*

              And also you had the character limit, even you could write longer messages in newer phones if you went over you got charged for 2 messages… Telex used to have a similar character limit so you used similar shorthand to avoid exessive row charges.

            2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              I know some people could, but on mine, it was so clunky and difficult that for practical purposes I didn’t have it. Darn it. But my smartphone and I get along OK.

        3. rubyrose*

          I’m with you!!
          I work at home. The company could not get my company laptop to talk to my printer. This was on them, since they locked down administrator access on the computer, which left it to them to get them connected.
          I had to print something in a spreadsheet. It did not have any sensitive information. I sent it to my personal email, so I could pick it up on my personal laptop and print.
          The legal department read me the riot act, after stringing me along for a month about what they were going to do. Finally, it was if it happened again, they could take more severe action, up to termination.
          Of course, when the company laptop went belly up 4 months later, they wanted me to use my personal laptop until they could get me a new laptop, which would take a week. No way.
          So after that – no way am I letting you use my smartphone!

          1. Mr. Shark*

            That’s awfully annoying, especially since you didn’t have much choice in order to print that spreadsheet. It’s good you said no about using your personal laptop…I would not want to do that at all.

            Luckily we have a company laptop and although it’s our phone technically (purchased at a discount through the company website), the company pays for the service 100%. So it is a company phone, it’s just that if I want the newest, top of the line cell phone, I’ll pay nearly full price, but I could get the bottom of the barrel call phone for 99 cents. And then after I upgrade, I can sell my old phone without any issues.

      5. Observer*

        There is still 30% of the population that does NOT have a smart phone. They are not all unemployed. Then there are the people who have older phones. There are some good reasons why a lot of the better 2FA apps won’t work on those phones. But a LOT of people have those things. Also, some low end phones that are relatively recent won’t handle the app for a number of reasons, such as just not having enough space. And, regardless, generally speaking asking people to use their data plan stinks. Real unlimited data is not common – and it’s EXPENSIVE.

      6. FairPayFullBenefits*

        70% is way lower than I would have expected! Although that probably includes older/retired people – I’d be curious what that figure is for people 18-65.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          I work with retirees. A lot of them are married to their phones. I’m a cheapskate who isn’t much into gadgets. Except my coffee grinder. Funny thing is, more than once I’ve offered to email somebody a document or form and they’re vehemently replied that they don’t own a computer and don’t want one after having to stare at one for decades on the job.

      7. un-pleasing*

        There are still places in the US where having a cell phone in general is not common or not an expectation. For instance, you may hear radio commercials about distributions for lower-cost cell phones that are not smartphones because local incomes and infrastructure don’t support those. If you’ve heard of “Obamaphones,” that’s an example. As well, I know perfectly middle-class people who don’t want and won’t ever buy a smartphone. And frankly why should they?

        Regardless of why someone doesn’t have one, if it is truly expected for the position, it should be provided or paid for by the employer. My suspicion here is that the smartphone thing is symptomatic of other problems at this workplace.

        1. Inefficient Cat Herder*

          We have terrible cell service here in Vermont, so we have Track Phones (pay by the minute) and only this year “upgraded” to smart phones because most of the time we have no service.

          I also have a smart phone from work. Separate. They cannot mix because of security. There is no way I would ever agree to use my personal phone (or computer) for work.

      8. Llellayena*

        I know someone who can’t make smartphones work for him. Literally, his fingers do not activate the touch screen. If his job said “you can only access your email on a smartphone” he’d have to say that isn’t possible.

        And can you imagine trying to read and respond to complicated work emails (with attachments!) on a smartphone screen all day long! That’s a recipe for miscommunication!

        1. Annie Moose*

          My understanding is that they aren’t responding to email on their phone, they’re specifically using their phone for two-factor authentication to log into their email.

        2. Yorick*

          They don’t have to read and respond to emails on the phone. They just need to use an app to get a code to log in to their email on a computer.

          1. Saberise*

            Well if it’s like the two-factor authentication we have you do have to use the touch screen to pull it up and to accept it. But you would think he could use a stylus.

            1. Observer*

              Why on earth would it be reasonable to expect someone to get a smart phone just as a 2FA token? This is TOTALLY the employer’s responsibility.

            2. Yorick*

              I was replying to the part about reading and responding to messages on the phone, which you don’t have to do to use 2FA.

              Of course, requiring a smart phone for this isn’t reasonable anyway!

            3. Llellayena*

              Why would he get a smartphone that he would have to use a stylus on? That’s ridiculous on a multi-hundred dollar piece of equipment. Flip phones work fine. If the employer needs him to have a smartphone and he therefore has to use a stylus, the employer should pay for it, since there’s no way he’d get one himself.

              And thanks for the clarification on 2FA, I wasn’t familiar with that application.

      9. Annie Moose*

        It’s more complicated than that. The most recent numbers I could find are actually at 81% of the US population with a smartphone…

        …but only 53% of people older than 65, only 72% of people who just have a high school diploma (66% of people with no diploma), 71% of people who make under $30,000 a year, and 71% of people who live in rural areas. So if LW’s coworkers are largely low-income, older, holding only a high school diploma, or from rural areas, the odds of them not having smartphones is significantly higher than the general population.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I love numbers people who break things down into words I can understand. Seriously! The numbers make my eyes glaze over … then … the words, beautiful uncomplicated info!!!

        2. TheCrone*

          Let me explain the bottom 50% of the employees: Possibly h.s. diploma, more likely GED; annual earnings in the $28,000-29,000 range; live in a very rural area and commute approx. 90 minutes each way. Pick your demographic – just diploma, low income, rural – all of them have fairly low smart phone use. Even among the older, more educated employees – some live out in the country and don’t bother with the smart phone since coverage is so iffy. Some of them (cough *my husband* cough) are too cheap to buy a new phone so they limp along on an ancient one until it literally dies and some just don’t want to let the company use their phone and their data.

          1. nonegiven*

            People keep texting my husband and he can’t seem to figure out how to read them on his flip phone. He ends up handing it to me. At work, he is the only one that doesn’t have a smart phone and coworkers hassle him about it. I think if he could get a phone that only does calls, he’d pay extra for it.

        3. uh*

          I am not old, low income, I do have a BS degree, am not technically challenged (work in IT) and do not have a smart phone nor am I planning to. I live in a major metro area as well.

      10. RandomU...*

        The percentage is higher than that. I just looked them up. Especially if you bring it down to working age Americans.

        www . pewinternet . org/fact-sheet/mobile/

      11. Phoenix Programmer*

        Most people have PCs or other computing devices too … but we are not asked to use them at work on our dollar.

    4. KayEss*

      The 2FA at a previous workplace of mine (which did not provide smartphones or reimburse data, though they had reliable workplace wireless) had the option of an app or an automated call to a designated phone number (i.e. your desk phone, though I suppose a flip phone would also work). That was a large-scale enterprise product, though, so if the company in question is as cheap as is claimed, they may be using a less-established product with fewer options.

      1. fogharty*

        They switched to 2FA at my workplace about a year ago and I never listed my cell phone or installed an app. Instead it calls my work phone or I use a token (a little thingamabob I carry with me that generates a code which I input to complete my log-in).

      2. T3k*

        Same, I worked with 2 large companies that implemented different 2FA systems but both had options if a smartphone wasn’t available. Also, I have to wonder why the company didn’t just use key fobs/card access instead of keys. Would think a bit of plastic wouldn’t cost that much to replace but maybe they’re that cheap of a company.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I was wondering the same thing. An RSA token for 2FA or even a simple door fob like Datawatch makes.. And having to use your own data? Not everyone has unlimited cell data. What if there’s a cell outage? (Not common, but it does happen.)

        2. TPS Cover Sheet*

          I have the workplace ID card work as the keyfob in the offices (couple of floors in a skyscraper). Needs to be reauthorized every so often, but really no need to ”replace keys” even if it got lost.

        3. Natalie*

          The access cards themselves aren’t terrible expensive compared to keys, but depending on the number of doors, installing card readers can get pricey.

      3. Emily K*

        With my company, the same RSA app I have on my phone is also installed on my computer, so I can enter my PIN to generate my login passcode right there on the same computer I’m logging into email with.

        The version on my phone is so that I can connect to our servers from, say, a computer in a library or hotel lobby, when I don’t have my work computer available.

      4. Sara*

        Yep. We have the option to get a phone call, and several of my coworkers that don’t have smartphones (or didn’t have smartphones at the time that 2FA was implemented) use that option. I have the option set up on my account as well because I forget my phone ~2 days/year. They’re either being cheap or have serious financial problems.

    5. Booksalot*

      I have a basic PAYG dumb phone that’s basically only used if my car is flipped in a ditch. I don’t get cell service at my house (none of the carriers work–I checked), so I need to have a landline. A smartphone just isn’t worth the cost for what I’d get out of it.

      I set up a G00gle voice number for 2FA, and it works well for me. That doesn’t solve the WiFi problem, though.

    6. Lynca*

      The WiFi thing is really just another symptom of their poor IT policies and the culture of their business. At my building there was limited WiFi access for employees, limited access in locations in the building, etc. for nearly a decade. There was no logical reason behind other than it wasn’t a priority for IT or the agency.

      It took a complete culture shift to get that changed. Thankfully that happened on it’s own and not as a result of a serious security incident.

    7. Kimmybear*

      I’m in the middle of implementing 2 factor authentication at work and we get some of the same push back about costs being pushed to the employee. A few thoughts…1. you don’t always need an app. Office 365 can authentication via text message or phone call. 2. Others have mentioned fobs…expensive but consider doing only for those that don’t have phones. 3. Do you really need to turn on multi-factor authentication for everyone or just the high risk groups like finance, HR, etc?

      1. Alton*

        Yeah, I have 2FA at work and didn’t want to install an app kn my personal phone, so I get text messages. Phone calls are also an option, and if someone didn’t have a call phone but did have landlines available in the locations where they use email, that may work. Options definitely exist, and the company should look into that.

        1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

          I have the chip and pin two factor authentication for all but one of the programs I use at work. One program uses a three factor authentication, so my chip and pin and it texts me a random code. That’s as close to anything on my personal phone that my company allows (and the code it texts me goes invalid in five minutes).

    8. working in software*

      So, I happen to work for a software company that does 2FA as part of our products…the RSA tokens that folks have mentioned are extremely expensive and probably not an option for this company as they seem to be cheap anyway. It’s not just the token costs, but the servers that have to be placed on-premises that are major costs, plus maintenance, etc. However, there are plenty of options that would work without using an app on a smartphone: SMS codes, security questions (but these should really be used sparingly because they’re not very secure), email codes (probably not an option here, since they’re trying to access email). SMS is likely the best option for this scenario, as it would work with non-smartphones. Then, the employer should reimburse for increased text/data costs.

      1. Observer*

        SMS is not a good replacement for proper 2FA – the people who hacked the servers can just as easily to a SIM swap.

        Some 2FA set ups can be expensive, but not all of them are. Of course, “extremely expensive” is a relative term. But for many types of keys, you do NOT need a dedicated server – for instance most of the Yubikey series works with your existing AD. Now, the newer, better keys are about $45 apiece, but that’s hardly “extremely expensive”, in my book. Even with a fairly high turnover. And Yubico is far from the only game in town. Some of these tokens are much less expensive. And then there are card options.

        My point is that trying to excuse the company because it’s soooo expensive to do this right really, really doesn’t fly.

        1. working in software*

          Oh, I don’t disagree. SMS is not great security-wise, but if the company doesn’t want to pay for something like a Yubikey, then we’re back to square one. Of course, Yubikey recently had a security issue as well and older tokens must be replaced. So, I was talking specifically about the RSA tokens because that tends to be a lot of people’s reference point for 2FA and to the end user, they seem cheap, but they really aren’t.

          And to be clear, I’m not trying to excuse the company at all. Every company should have 2FA in some capacity. How that’s implemented depends on the use case and resources available to said company.

    9. TootsNYC*

      we have a 2FA that uses either a smartphone app or a separate browser window to a different website.

    10. Adele*

      I do my two-factor authentication on my work extension. I generally don’t work away from my desk. I can choose to authenticate from my smart phone, which I have had to do twice when I was elsewhere on our campus and using a laptop.

    11. Samwise*

      Yes, before I upgraded my phone I had a physical “key” that I used to authenticate for email and other programs needed for work. One end of it connected to a USB port, if I remember correctly.

    12. Not A Morning Person*

      I’m a little confused about how the 2FA requires access to the cell phone other than a confirmation call. My organization uses 2FA and all that happens is that I log into a computer that’s not on the network and the network makes a call to my cell phone. I answer the call and punch a confirmation key and I’m in. I don’t have any kind of app on my phone for that. I use it at home and at client organizations when I need to access email and a few other applications. And even if I have the app for remote access to all the network drives, it’s the same thing. The company doesn’t have access to my cell phone other than to call and confirm it’s me when I log into another computer that’s not on the network. Perhaps this is an app of a different kind than I’m familiar with????

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I basically decided this was my own personal Hill To Die On at work last year. Note: I both work in a unionized environment AND have a boss who is fully aware of what a total pain in the ass it would be to replace me. (I also have a hefty savings account.) I took note of all three of these things before deciding that this was my own particular hill, so YMMV.

      I basically announced that my only phone number was a pay-as-you-go flip phone where each phone call or text cost me money, and my job was x% remote by union contract, so were they buying me a work cell phone/RSA thingy, were they reimbursing me for each call/text, or were they not making me deal with this? (Our IT-provided “solution” at the time did phone calls, but those also cost me money at that exact moment – I was in the process of moving at the time and have since established less by the minute call/text service but have chosen not to share that information formally with work IT.) While both my union rep and main IP chose to play chicken and see if I’d magically fix it myself on 2 Factor is Required Day (I was prepared to spend 40 hours per week on-site while pursing a union grievance and refusing to check email at home if playing chicken failed), my group’s office manager was not willing to dump this on me, wanted me to continue checking email regularly, and found an elderly work-purchased iPad in a closet that would run the required app. I now use this for all required authentication since it’s work’s iPad and I’m completely fine with them having total control over it since they bought it and it belongs to them. I use it 90% for authentication and 10% for other work-related stuff that can be done from an older iPad, and I’m fine with hauling an extra tech thing around if that’s their solution.

      I would not suggest this level of intransigence if you are not also in a unionized environment, have the appreciation of your immediate superiors and/or people like the office manager in a position to actually fix your problem, and/or have a healthy savings account and are willing to just walk away, because I don’t know that this level of “nope, what else you got?” works in all situations (although I feel it should). I can merely report that it worked for me. (Also, please treat your office manager like the superhero they probably are. It can pay so may dividends in your work life.)

  4. Lilith*

    I was at a wedding where the groom & all the groomsmen word kilts. This, of course, isn’t the same thing as work, but it was very cool. Plus the groom’s last name was O’Something or MacSomething.
    I think if the women in the office wear pants, men can wear kilts, but, yes, it’s definitely a know your business type of situation.

    1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      If men are required to wear suits and ties, and somebody wears a real kilt with a blazer and tie, it sounds work appropriate to me.

      1. Gerta*

        There is a lot of overlap between Irish and Scottish culture. Kilts are not exclusive to Scotland.

    2. Clementine*

      Although this man may have a technical argument for having a kilt, I don’t think it will go down well in 90%+ of workplaces that have a business dress code like this one. So make all the historical and cultural and fairness arguments you want, this man will be marking himself. It may be he doesn’t care, but it does have some significant risk involved.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Agreed, it depends upon whether or not his boss is flexible and the people are, too. Also hopefully he doesn’t wear the kilt…er…you know, commando. I’ve read in books that was tradition, but that won’t fly in workplaces today. Possibly the books were wrong, I don’t know.

        1. Zephy*

          How would anyone know if someone wearing a kilt in a business setting (so, presumably, indoors where there’s no wind, standing or seated at a desk) is wearing underwear? Are there offices that do underwear checks? Are there offices where people are routinely crawling around on the floor? I could see maybe if the floor is highly polished and reflective, or if there’s an upper mezzanine or staircase with a see-through floor…but at that point, you’d still have to be looking pretty hard to catch a glimpse of anything you oughtn’t in a modern office.

          1. Perpal*

            Just saying, things happen, and flashing anyone in a business setting wouldn’t be professional, even if rumor has it it’s proper attire:p

    3. Gerta*

      The kilt has always been a man’s garment, so I don’t like the idea that ‘if women can wear trousers…’. Not the same thing! It would be more appropriate to ask whether everyone else in the office can wear traditional clothing not normally seen in the office. If others are coming to work in lederhosen or kimonos, I say go for it.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Alison said “if women can wear skirts,” which to me is saying “if women’s skirts are safe for the work being done and provide appropriate leg coverage, then the same is true of kilts and they should be allowed.” It’s not about the wearer’s gender really, more about matching the office’s rules even if the clothes are not traditional workwear. I believe some lederhosen are shorts, and to me it makes more sense to say “no lederhosen because shorts aren’t allowed” than “kimonos are allowed so lederhosen must be too, even though we don’t allow shorts.”

        1. Gerta*

          That argument I have more sympathy for. It’s not what was said in the comment I was replying to though.

      2. AnonPiper*

        “The kilt has always been a man’s garment” Ahem. Tell that to women bagpipers. Signed, a woman bagpiper who wears kilts when I’m bagpiping professionally.

      3. Autistic Farm Girl*

        Women wear kilts too, and quite a lot. Anyone playing in a pipe band (not just pipers btw…) wears a kilt, and there’s loads of women there.
        Technically you could argue that highland dancers wear kilts too (they don’t, but it’s a different point) and they’re mostly female.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t know about that. I feel like the attitude toward women wearing pants is similar (thought not entirely) to the attitude about kilts being appropriate. I can definitely see a company pushing back on the kilt on the grounds of inappropriateness, even if it’s only because the traditional way of wearing them involves no underpants, and how would you check?!

        Disclaimer: I think kilts are fine; I’m just thinking about the conservative attitudes where I live.

      5. Lobsterp0t*

        Yes the gender thing is weird to me.

        Kilts have a specific cultural context and it’s frankly weird to wear one to work. I have never seen anyone from a country where they are culturally appropriate do that and I assume this person is going to an average office job and not a wedding or graduation ceremony where they are a guest or participant

  5. CouldntPickAUsername*

    with all these company aps there’s also the question of security and privacy too….

    1. NotAMadScientist*

      I had the same thought. I can’t get work email on personal smartphone because I would have add to give IT app the permission to wipe my phone and access it. Hell no!

      1. cmcinnyc*

        We are warned that if we use personal phones for work, our personal phones are open for FOI requests and COIB investigations. No thank you!

  6. mark132*

    #4, i suspect many (most?) corporate dress codes are trending gender neutral. With my employer the dress code does not mention gender. So it’s possible the employer has a gender neutral dress code already. So from a ‘legal’ point of view a kilt may be fine, of course from a ‘practical’ point of view it may not work.

    1. Mary*

      If dresses work from a practical point of view then kilts will work too. As long as it is not paired with t-shirt and has the shirt tie combo I can’t see it being unacceptable. Most men who wear kilts formally have Scottish backgrounds so be prepared for questions on that.

    2. TPS Report Coversheet*

      Well, past few years there’s been a few ”rebellions against dress code” in hot weather when the dresscode does not allow shorts for men. Schoolboys in UK and was it bus drivers in Sweden then donned a skirt. There has been a few rewritten dress codes since.

      As for formal wear, we hired a programmer in 2008 and we were a conservative mainframe department. Office party where you dress up in a suit & tie he did dress up formally – in a full length goth male velvet skirt. Let’s put it this way – a few of the senior staff needed a few strong drinks. But times change.

      I’m actually thinking of getting an utilikilt, but I live in Brighton where you see men in tutus so an utilikilt is conservative wear.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The Sweden story — Back in 2013 they were having a heat wave and the train drivers have uniforms. There is a ban on short pants, but skirts are allowed. So men started wearing the skirts. BBC link in the followup comment because it’ll go to moderation.

  7. namelesscommentator*

    OP3, you might be able to negotiate some temp housing once the offer is settled. If you live far enough away that it’s obvious you’ll need to move (& haven’t previously sold yourself as relocating already) having 2 weeks-2 months of temp housing is very normal. I’ve seen it more often when the employee is specifically recruited or relocated, but also not unheard of as part of relocation packages in general. This could buy you more time to search for an apartment on the ground.

    You might also look at this from the budget perspective. I’ve lived in VHCOL areas with very low vacancy rates and never had a problem finding market rate rooms within my (small) budget, understanding there would be crappy things about the set up. So I wouldn’t be scared from a supply/demand perspective. But if you’d need to find the black swan housing situation it probably won’t happen even in six weeks. There are about 3 crazy good apartments that bounce around my friend group because we get first dibs when others move out or travel for a few months. You don’t get in on those deals without being there and having a network.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      It depends a lot on whether they offer relocation or not. If they do, then temp housing is a reasonable request. If they don’t, then it’s going to come across as very out of touch.

      I think a lot depends on how realistic the OP’s requirements for housing are. If it’s mostly a matter of low vacancy rates meaning it takes a long time to find a place, then one option is to go for short term options (like a room in a shared place, or summer sublet from a student), to buy time to find something reasonable. If, as you say, they need a black-swan situation (nice apartment at significantly below market rates with a decent commute and no roommates), then it’s probably better to not take the job at all.

      I’ve definitely seen people need to adjust expectations when moving to a high COL area, or one that has very different housing standards (particularly regarding commuting time and space). They start out with a list of requirements, realize that they aren’t going to get all of them, and figure out what they’re going to compromise on.

      1. Zip Silver*

        > nice apartment at significantly below market rates with a decent commute and no roommates
        It’s easier to find this if you’re willing to replace ‘nice’ with ‘shabby’. Sucks in the short term, but works out in the long term. I lived in a dump my first 4 years out of school and used all the savings from the low quality housing to buy a house

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I would be cool with this as long as there are good locks on the place. I once lived in a squat hotel that did not, and one day came home to find someone sitting on my bed eating my food. Another time, someone got in and stole my rent money WHILE I WAS SLEEPING RIGHT THERE.

          Someone who is moving very far will likely ditch a lot of stuff, so they’re not going to have a whole crap ton of expensive items. That’s also worth considering, OP—you’ll likely be downsizing, so for example, maybe you can live without a TV for a while and watch shows on your laptop, which you can carry with you instead of leaving at home. The less you take with you, the cheaper the move itself will be. If you’re planning to stay there permanently, you can buy new stuff when you settle somewhere better.

          (This will be me if I manage to get very far away from here–everything but what I can fit in the car will be in storage for a little while, and there won’t be much of that, even.)

        2. Name (Required)*

          Yup this! My apartment is a true 1 bedroom with a yard in a high COL area for $1600/mo. I saw nice studios closer to city center for that. I however have ugly tile floors and a shower in my kitchen. But twice the space and a yard for my doggo = worth the compromise for the money I’m willing to pay.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Finding market rate rooms within my (small) budget, understanding there would be crappy things about the set up.

      I think this is key–OP should be looking for a salary on which she can afford to live in the HCOL area in a typical market rate apartment. If “affordable housing” means a great apartment at way below market rate, she should stay where she is.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, the OP needs to be realistic about what she will be able to afford, and not hold out for the like 3 rent controlled apartments that might become vacant. A lump relocation benefit will help with a deposit, but won’t help long term if she can’t afford the kind of places where she’d be willing to live.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, a lot of times housing depends on how picky you are and what your priorities are. When I first moved to DC, I had no money (but a job) and shared a 1930s craftsman bungalow near public transit with three other people. I thought it was charming and the location was right, but my now-spouse was horrified by it (sharing a bathroom! old house! so expensive! living with strangers!) because he lived in the outer ‘burbs and didn’t have to commute into the city.

      And, it probably sounds callous, but receiving an email like the one OP #3 proposes sending would probably make me rescind the offer, unless they had some purple unicorn skillset. Alison hit the nail on the head – I’m not letting all my other candidates go, if the acceptance is not a “yes” but a “maybe, if I can work things out the way I want”, but I’m also not leaving all my other candidates hanging for 4-6 weeks waiting for OP to find a place to live. I’m actually kind of curious as to what other pre-conditions they would submit with this one. (This is not to say that we don’t negotiate with candidates – people have vacations booked or a signing bonus or re-lo may be appropriate. We just don’t need two months to figure that out.)

    4. remizidae*

      Another problem with the wording OP proposes is that “affordable” is very much in the eye of the beholder. If average rent is $2000, are you willing to pay that? Are you hoping for something slightly below market, like $1500-1800? Or are you expecting way below market, like $1000? Do you have special housing needs, like a large dog? Are you willing to live with a roommate? Two or three roommates?

      The answers to all those questions will make a big difference in how easy it is for you to find a place to live, and your employer doesn’t know any of them. Whereas if you ask for a signon bonus, the employer can tell in advance what to expect.

      1. Washi*

        Yes to all of this. Even “average rent” doesn’t necessarily mean much. I just looked up the average rent for one beds in DC, which is 2.1k but I’ve always lived in nice neighborhoods near transit and have never paid more than 1.6k.

        That said, in cities like DC, it’s near-universal that if you’re a young single professional, you will almost certainly have at least one roommate when you start out. I didn’t know a single person in DC renting their own apartment when I first graduated from college. It would have come across as a little naive to be horrified by this, and would have come off even worse to ask a company to give you 4-6 weeks to find housing.

        Do you know anyone who actually lives in this city? They may be able to tell you what you can realistically expect with your salary offer.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Pretty much all the people I know who had a one-bedroom were being heavily subsidized by their parents. (One of my colleague’s parents had rented her a less expensive one-bedroom all the way at the end of one of the Virginia metro lines, not realizing that 15 miles was still an hour commute, even on the train. She moved in with a roommate closer in as soon as that lease was up.)

          As an introvert, I’d have *loved* my own place, but, as an introvert, living with other (normal, thankfully) people really expanded my social group and got me out of the house in a city where I didn’t really know anyone. I did not, however, have pets or any special considerations that made finding a house-share more complicated.

          It also occurred to me that our HR has helped people find housing in DC, too. I think shares are a lot easier with craigslist and social media than they used to be, but HR also has connections with housing-finder services and a tip sheet/primer on housing rights for those new to the area.

          1. OP3*

            Wow! Thanks for all the comments in this thread. For context, I am a mature professional (like a few ticks over 40) a couple years into a new career. I have very realistic expectations for housing. I’ve never had a disposable income, so I’m looking for the basics: safety, privacy (I definitely won’t share), and with any luck, convenience. I don’t have pets or any other special housing needs. My current salary is ~65k in another high COL city, but I have a smokin’ deal on my apartment (1000k per month). The starting salary range for the new role is about 35k more, and I’d be satisfied if the income/expense ratio to stay approx. the same, but I’d prefer to be able to save a few more pennies than I am now. The other standard conditions I negotiate into every job offer are for an adaptive work station and hours between 9-5 (not 8-4). Also, I request a convo with HR to determine out what my net salary will be after employment expenses such as taxes, extended health care, pension, union dues, etc.). This approach gives me accurate data about net salary, which should give me a good idea of how much I can reasonable afford to spend on rent.

            1. remizidae*

              You’ve “never had a disposable income”? Disposable income actually means all your income after taxes. You might be thinking of “discretionary income”–i.e. money you have to spend on non-necessities. Almost everyone has some discretionary income, and at 65k, you probably do too.

              Anyway, if average rent is $2000, I would shoot for $1500 (which will give you about the same percentage you have now). That said, you may have to settle for $1800. Consider a studio instead of a one-bedroom, too.

              1. OP3*

                @remizidae – thanks for the calculation! That’s what I was estimating would be reasonable. As a single person, studio living is definitely appealing, so I’m totally open to that option. I am using a slightly more liberal definition of disposable income, since housing is a necessary expense.

  8. Grand Mouse*

    #2- Don’t feel bad about this. They are the ones abusing the professional contact. How much is a contact worth that pressures you into an MLM (and has bought into it themselves?) anyway? They are also lying to you and leaning on you to get their sale. I’d continue to be professional and not put the heavy lifting on yourself to perserve a bait and switch. I don’t know, I’m just upset on your behalf that they’re acting in bad faith here and YOU’RE the one worried about keeping the contact.

    1. Toaster Strudel heiress*

      Also. There’s this myth that if someone ignores you saying no, your response needs to somehow escalate and include a stronger or more detailed explanation each time. It doesn’t. If anything, that will keep escalating the situation as the other person thinks they’re getting somewhere.

      Use the ‘broken record technique’. Say no in the same way every time. Don’t vary your refusal just because they’re not getting it.

      1. Artemesia*

        And it helps to have a categorical ‘I never participate’ sentence that you repeat. For me it is participating in sales parties etc. ‘Oh, I never do shopping parties.’ There is no toehold to push on this and if someone does, I just repeat it. NO reasons. No arguments. No softening.

        1. Agent J*

          Agreed. I sometimes use “It’s not in budget” or “I can’t afford it”. I know giving a specific reason may invite more pushback but since it involves money (or the folks around me aren’t super pushy about it), they let it go.

        2. MommyMD*

          This is also my tactic. I really want to say I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than come to your Sensie/Tupperware/PotsandPans party but that’s not nice. I’m also the mom who buys all the wrapping paper from my kid so no one has to sell it. Or buy it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL this was one of our arguments for eating all the chocolate we had to sell — “But everybody’s selling it; nobody wanted any!”

      2. Tan*

        +1 I used to be a sucker for things like MLM. Until a colleague gave me a “no is a complete sentence talk”. Some people have (incorrectly) pointed out to me that that no on its own seems rude. It’s not. It only seems rude because it’s final there’s no “in” for your saleperson to work on. Unfortunately you say you do not want to risk burning this contact because inevitably you will asked “but why” in which case your response should just get back to business and try to avoid any explanation e.g. “I’m sorry, I’m here as a representative of *teapot company* and we agreed to meet to discuss *teapot advertising* and you appear to be trying to sell tupperware, I’m confused as to what this meeting is?”

    2. Pickaduck*

      OP #2 here… I really do appreciate these comments. I mean I inherently know this, and I should not be the one worrying about looking like a jerk! As it turns out, with more research, I discovered that the founder of this company has political views that… lets say are in direct opposition to my own. So there’s no way I’d be putting money into this company regardless! I also talked with my boss about it, as he serves on many boards with this guy. He could not be in more agreement with me, and apparently got this spiel himself. So I’m feeling pretty good about repeating “no” as many times as needed. Thanks, Allyson and everyone!

      1. Gerta*

        This is a bit of a different context, but I have an acquaintance who is a terrible gossip and is very insistent about probing into my relationship status every time I see her. It’s just not a topic I would ever give her any material on, so it can get awkward, but I finally managed to shut her down last time by getting very firm, and just saying “Look, I really have nothing to say on this, so I promise you this conversation is going nowhere. Could we please talk about something else? What’s your news?” I then got to here all about her rediscovered lost love and we parted as friends!
        Hopefully a similar approach with this guy would work out well for you. Agree with others who have told you not to try and justify it – you don’t owe him a reason and it only risks giving him a new opening.

    3. Pickaduck*

      Grand Mouse…you really hit it on the head. Why am I the one who feels awkward? UGH! THANK YOU!

      1. boo bot*

        You feel awkward because it’s literally part of the sales technique to make you feel that way: they ask, you say no thanks, and the interaction should be over, especially in a social environment (which is why MLMs cultivate the veneer of a social environment, like having coffee outside of the networking events).

        When someone pushes past the “no thanks,” and keeps insisting, it’s uncomfortable because they’re behaving badly, but in a way that puts the social burden of wrapping up the interaction on you. It’s a little like having a guest over, and when you say “Well, it was lovely to have you over, but I’ve got to be going to bed,” they say. “Oh, nonsense, we’re having fun! Just make some coffee!”

        For one thing, it’s jarring, because they’ve failed to pick up on a pretty clear signal that the evening is over, and for another, it puts you in the position of having to be blunt enough that it feels rude: “Actually, I meant, I need you to leave.”

        We’ve all been the person who misses a cue once in a while, and needed someone to spell it out, and when it’s something like the guest scenario, I think it’s much kinder to tell my friend what I mean, than to silently be annoyed with them (it’s certainly my preference when I’m the clueless guest). I try to think of it the same way when it’s the MLM scenario: they didn’t understand me, and they need me to give them clarity.

        Of course, in the MLM scenario, they DID understand me, and they’re deliberately trying to back me into a corner, but imagining they’re just misguided makes it easier for me to explain that yes, I really did mean “No.” (Note that I don’t mean “explain WHY I said no,” just, “No is my final answer.”)

    4. hbc*

      To be fair, a lot of the people who are successful MLMers can be in influential positions in more traditional areas. They can bring the same charisma, networking, and hustle that lets them win at a pyramid scheme/rigged game and use that to be an influencer on boards, city councils, and other places where those skills have a lot of payoff.

      Don’t get me wrong–they’re either knowingly exploiting a bad set up or indefensibly ignorant of the problems, but those flaws don’t necessarily outweigh the benefits of staying on good terms, if one can do so without buying their oil or knives or what have you.

    5. Mike C.*

      Yes, if they actually cared about you they wouldn’t try to entangle you in this scammy crap.

    6. some dude*

      I also think it is so gross that, beyond the fact 99% of MLM participants don’t make any money, they encourage participants to abuse social relationship and burn up social capital in order to con people into being part of their pyramid scheme. It’s so gross and should be illegal.

      1. Pickaduck*

        I agree that it should be illegal. I’m so glad I read all of these comments, it’s all stuff I already knew I don’t know why I let myself get so worked up about it! Just needed to hear it.

    7. TardyTardis*

      I would be so tempted to say, “Let me tell you about Melaleuca…” (still miss the tub cleaner they used to have that worked like a dream).

  9. Heidi*

    I’m kind of surprised that Panera hasn’t put a stop to this. Can you imagine working there (Panera, that is) and having this happen every time this company has an interview? I’m not sure I would want to work for a company that uses such tactics with such little consideration for all the people who just want to eat their bread bowls in peace.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Sounds like it might be time to be professional and go ask Panera what they think of it.

      After all, you don’t want to risk being there with people who have been banned over their behavior.

    2. O Sole Mio*

      Panera’s minimum wage employees probably could not care less, and the store manager is glad for the extra revenue.

        1. un-pleasing*

          At Panera you order at the counter, and you have the option to add a tip to your total at the time of purchase, but tipping in the manner of other sit-down places is not typical. As well, our Panera may not pay super well, but it doesn’t hire slacker types who give bad service. They have people who work there for years. It’s a good job if you need a service position. I can’t see them overlooking this or the potential problems created by people misbehaving like this.

      1. MsM*

        Oh, I suspect they care, but maybe they’ve resigned themselves to it by storing up the stories for parties. (“Hey, did I tell you those weirdos had another interview last week?”)

        1. SophieChotek*

          This. I’ve worked at Panera and coffee shops for years and never banned a customer or even asked a customer to leave (or even behave). [Like the couple who had a daughter that had an “accident” we had to clean up every.Sunday.morning, or the Mom who let her kids run wild and disturbed other customers, etc.] We just resigned ourselves and waited for them to leave so we could clean. All corporate cared about was the numbers/revenue/customer feedback.

      2. Antilles*

        Panera’s minimum wage employees probably could not care less
        Frankly, even if they do care, it’s not a given that management would even allow them to do something about it. There’s a lot of managers out there who simply do not allow the staff to kick out a paying customer, no matter how bad the customer is being.

      3. Observer*

        I’d be surprised. In fact, the reverse. When you’re working a minimum wage job, the LAST thing you want is someone making your job harder. And, running around screaming, throwing food (!) etc. are all things that make a waiter or cleanr’s job MUCH harder.

        As for the manager, most managers have enough sense to realize that that kind of behavior is going to drive away customers. So, NO, they are NOT going to “appreciate the extra revenue.”

        1. Observer*

          Of course, both the managers and Corporate have to have some sense.

          At least those guys get paid a bit better. But the low paid staff? That’s just nasty.

      4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This seems unnecessarily hostile to the people who are working those minimum wage jobs. I have worked in places where I certainly did care, but asking a disruptive customer to leave was asking to be fired. They don’t say the customer is always right for nothing.

    3. Linguist*

      Seriously. And I thought me having to roleplay teaching German to my interviewers who were, er, Germans was bad enough. This is so much worse in every way!

    4. un-pleasing*

      I live in a pretty small town with a Panera that is one of the community hotspots. Lots of groups meet there for conversation, from the old men’s liars club to church groups. We saw the university athletic director on an interview with a potential coach there, among other job interviews. It is also one of the most multicultural and multilinguistic spots in town. Our Muslim population frequents Panera because they can find things to eat and speak not-English and gather in a group and be left alone. The Panera also lets homeless folks spend the day inside during winter so they can charge their devices and nap and gives them coffee, etc.

      I say all this to set a particular scene – it’s a pretty tolerant spot, and so my husband and I patronize it and Paneras in other places pretty frequently. The tolerance works because we’ve all got a good thing going here and we all behave. What the LW describes is completely antithetical to the overall vibe of a Panera in my experience. If I were in LW’s spot, I would definitely check to see if there is going to be more of the same interview experience. And then I would honestly be tempted to call the restaurant and ask the manager how they feel about it. This is just so far out of the realm of normal behavior.

          1. EPLawyer*

            The old retired guys who get together every day and swap stories. That may or may not be based on actual factual events.

            LW if I had any other reasonable option, I would not interview with this place again if they still do this. I would tell them why too. If they are still doing this years later, I cannot believe they are getting quality employees. Take this as a big RED FLAG of what it would be like to actually work there.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              In my tiny hometown, the gathering place for this club is the doughnut shop.

    5. Clorinda*

      If you actually do the role play, it goes like this: “Everyone settle down and quit fussing with each other, or we won’t be able to stay here.” (Boss grabs soup spoon from co-worker and bops her on the forehead.) “Okay, folks, let’s pack up our lunches and head on out. Maybe next time we’ll be able to stay.”

        1. Clorinda*

          Well, that’s how I dealt with ACTUAL rowdy kids. I abandoned one shopping cart of groceries and walked out of two restaurants, and they’ve been lovely ever since.

          1. Linguist*

            I… can’t tell if you’re serious, (I steer clear of children) but if you are and that’s “””all””” it takes, that’s…. REALLY AMAZING to know.

            1. Clorinda*

              100% serious. As a new high school teacher, I’ve been reactivating my toddler management techniques for use with nearly-adult teens, and the most effective is a clear limit quickly enforced.

              1. Linguist*

                I repeat: AMAZING. Also, what is the excuse of those parents who don’t do this? :D

                1. Lucy*

                  That would have worked for two of my children but not the third. There is no magic bullet for every single child: and it can take YEARS of trial and error before you fix on the right method for each child you have responsibility for.

                2. Jules the 3rd*

                  Works on some boundary crossing grownups too: “Well, I asked you not to say stuff like that, so I’m going to have to get off the phone now! Talk to you next week!”

                  Make misbehaving boring, and behaving interesting.

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  Lots of reasons:
                  They may not know
                  It may not work on *that* kid, as Lucy said
                  There may be external requirements that limit their ability to leave (eg, “I work 2 jobs and if I don’t get groceries at this exact time, we won’t eat”)

                  Basically, trust that parents are doing the best they can. Toddlers are hard.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  @Jules the 3rd–I just had to do this recently. “I’ll talk to you when you stop yelling at me.” *CLICK*
                  Then I get a call back immediately: “I’m sorry,” etc.

                  It’s like pushing a reset button.

            2. schnauzerfan*

              It does work. Especially if you were planning a stop for Ice Cream if you behave here! If OP actually wants to work with these loons, I’d set expectations from the get go. “Last time we tried this it didn’t work well. So I’m letting you know that if you don’t behave yourselves, I’m gonna walk out and leave you to find your own way back to the office. And no ice cream for any of you.”

            3. Phoenix Programmer*

              Really depends on the kid!

              Please don’t judge parents. You have no idea. I had a traumatized autistic toddler live with me a few months. Yes she was poorly behaved in public. Yes I was trying my best. No your judgmental death glares were not helping.

              1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                I do my best to ignore public tantrums by toddlers, because I try and remember that I was there at one point with my own kids. The only time I will not ignore is if it is right by me and I need to be on alert for sudden movements.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Me too, and I don’t even have any. Even the sweetest kids can have an off-day.

              2. Arts Akimbo*

                OMG yes. The death glares I got from people from just him existing in public and not being silent were enough that I started to be afraid to leave the house. Just what you need for your mental health as the parent of an autistic toddler– isolation! :-P Eventually had to get therapy for it.

      1. irene adler*

        Those interviewers should hope their interviewees do not believe in spanking as a way to ‘manage’ unruly children.

        (NOT advocating spanking-esp. on children! )

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          This would never happen, because most people going into a childcare or teaching role know you cannot touch the children you’ll be caring for unless they are bleeding and you’re applying compression.

      2. Marmaduke*

        For that matter, avoiding taking a group to an area where they behaved inappropriately in the past is part of responsibly managing children. I’m sure this would remove you from the running in the kind of organization that considers this a good idea, but I’d be very interested to see how they’d respond to an applicant who said, “Actually, based on previous experience I don’t think this is a good place for the group. I think we’d better take this part of the interview to [kid friendly area] instead.”

    6. Jedi Squirrel*

      Most retail places are so desperate for customers they’ll let you do anything short of setting something on fire, especially in these social-media-karma-hounding days. Which is why I don’t go into a lot of retail places these days.

      That said, if I were a customer trying to enjoy my meal while these “managers” were having their shenanigans, I would probably grab them by their ears and drag them back to their and tell them off.

    7. PVR*

      I would be really annoyed, confused, and wondering what was really going on. I would also leave. How disrespectful of Panera and all the customers trying to enjoy a meal.

      1. On Fire*

        +1. I would absolutely get up, tell them to withdraw my name from consideration, and walk out. What a horrible interview technique *in that location.* If they have so little respect for the staff at Panera, I would hardly expect them to treat their own employees well.

  10. kjones*

    OP3: I’m in the middle of a cross-country move (as in, I’m here, but my stuff isn’t yet). I negotiated relocation assistance as part of my offer and a start date three months after I accepted so I had time to deal with logistics and wrap-up a big project at my former employer. I also have three weeks between leaving my former city and starting my new job so that’s three weeks to get settled. I was in a good position to negotiate so I wasn’t shy about asking for exactly what I needed to make the transition.

    1. MK*

      Good for you, but the OP isn’t worried about moving, they worry about not being able to find a place to live in their new location.

      1. OP3*

        @kjones – that sounds like my ideal timeline to navigate a big transition like this one. I’m not sure I have as much leverage as you do, but I really like your attitude about not being shy to ask for what you needed. The potential new org is a public institution, so relocation packages are not as flexible as in the private sector. But, it looks like they are considered in particular circumstances, so I’ll definitely ask if that’s an option. Best of luck with the rest of the move and with your new role!

  11. J*

    As someone who has dabbled in MLM (never again), as well as purchased an embarrassing amount of mlm products to support my friends “businesses”, I can tell you that many of them truly believe that “no” means “not right now” or “not yet”. They train sellers that EVERYONE needs their products.
    It is very hard to shut them down without ruining the relationship.

    1. Toaster Strudel heiress*

      So when someone else throws the social rules out the window, you can too.

      1. Toaster Strudel heiress*

        Sorry, hit send too soon. What I mean is: it’s fine to just stop listening / walk out.

        1. J*

          You’re absolutely right. “No” is a complete sentence, but some people just can’t get it. So you need to make sure they get it however you can, unfortunately.

        2. Natalie*

          Sure, but you don’t get to logic trap the other person into not being annoyed/offended/upset, and thus avoid damaging the relationship, which is what the OP’s entire concern is. Believe it or not, irrational people who have fallen for a scam still get to have their own feelings and are going to be just as susceptible as anyone else to having those feelings rationalized away. That is, not very.

      1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

        It is! I used to wonder how MLM-ers could stand to be so pushy and to abuse the concept of friendship, but I finally realized that many of them are suggestible and don’t mind things being pushed on them.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, there’s this whole ‘You don’t want people in your life who will stand in the way of YOUR SUCCESS’ thing with the MLM training. People are encouraged to ‘cut any negativity’ out of their lives – basically, don’t listen to anyone who might try to warn you that it’s a scam, or who doesn’t want to buy from you, because that’s negativity that you don’t need, they’re deliberately trying to stand in your way, you’re an empowered woman who needs to stand up to that negative bulls**t, etc etc. Obviously the real aim as far as the MLM is concerned is to keep rinsing vulnerable people of their money, so of course they don’t want their victims to listen to any voices of reason that might come along. MLMs frequently prey on people (a lot of the time, on women in particular) with low self-esteem, so the constant ‘You are an empowered woman making your own way in life and owning your own business, don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise’ stuff can be very compelling.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I had a coworker who fell into an MLM. She was a single mom, with several chronic health conditions, and a child who had special needs, who had been homeless several times. The MLM was promising her stability, the ability to buy a home, the ability to afford a vacation, the ability to afford retirement. And because it was a health-and-supplements based MLM, it was promising her and her child a recipe for better health: take our supplements, and you and your child will be healthy again!

            MLMs give false hope to the desperate, which is why they are particularly exploitative.

            1. Marmaduke*

              I used to do in-home care for kids with disabilities, a lot of it government subsidized, and that story is heartbreakingly familiar. A couple of parents ultimately pulled their kids out of the long-hard-slog treatment that is behavioral therapy, because they were going to put their child on whatever supplement or oils the MLM had promised miracles from. Some of them would contact me later asking me to buy. It was hard to say no, knowing how predatory those companies are and how much the parents needed the money, but I was barely making ends meet myself.

            2. Dana B.S.*

              Ugh, I’ve seen this too! I “won a drawing” in 2012 from David’s Bridal when I went there to try on a dress when I was visiting my mom (4 hours away from my home at the time). The prize was a spa party from some skincare brand for me and my bridesmaids/other friends. My 3 bridesmaids were scattered all over the country and I had very few female friends at that time (and my male friends are not into that stuff). So basically the party would have been for me and the consultant would have had to drive 8 hours round trip to do it. She started explaining that it would be a little complicated with scheduling a nurse for her son and I immediately turned down the prize.

    2. Coffee and Cake*

      I agree with this I love the a mlm night cream, and a mlm meal replacement shake but just buying it was never enough. It was always a hassle to add more products or to become a brand seller. I now say no to all mlm products and buy them from amazon, or eBay from mlmers that don’t make it and are selling off their products.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to love Avon. I remember an Avon lady that came to our house with a turquoise vinyl-covered tote box, who gave us girls tiny lipstick samples (yes, I’m old). Now it’s catalogs in the break room, but lordy, there are so MANY of them and they come so thick and fast. A catalog a week, or two. Even if I had the money to buy products that often, there is no way I could possibly use them all.

        I wish Avon would ditch direct selling altogether and just sell through their website; their products are actually not bad at all. Tupperware, too. Damn it, just open a storefront and employ people that way.

        I see why the sellers look slightly desperate and end up bailing on it so often. No one can keep up that pace for long.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          One of my relatives did Avon for years, but it never seemed like the to-do that a lot of modern MLMs have. Most of my relative’s business was friends and neighbors who called to place orders or find out if there was a new catalog out – I don’t think she did parties or much of anything like that and still had a stock room in her house for all the orders. I helped sort and package sometimes.

          I like a number of Avon products as well as Mary Kays, but I do buy most of them from eBay or the one woman who does low-key Avon to get a discount on what she likes to buy.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          My mother sold Avon for a few years in the 1980s. At that time, they seemed to try to be a source of income rather than a total scam – each rep had a specific exclusive geographic territory and so on. I think she at least broke even, but I don’t think she made much on the whole endeavor. She did get several “Mrs. Albee” dolls and such for making sales goals, and I was allowed to wear makeup and perfume in elementary school, which I have not bothered to do since and as such may or may not have been a win in a larger perspective. (My “signature scent” was Pavielle! I have no idea if they still make that.) Also, their shipping boxes were high quality and we still have quite a few that we use for assorted storage needs decades later. If I could buy THOSE without exposing myself to aggressively enthusiastic makeup salespeople I would.

          She had the ridiculous situation of not really being a “makeup person” trying to hold a job outside of the home before it was completely normalized for moms of her particular social class and situation to do so since they “didn’t have to.” She made several long-term friends from the women she met who were similarly-situated as stay-at-home women who gave up “careers” desperate for contact with the “outside world” and willing to fake an interest in door-to-door makeup sales (and even willing to purchase such from the demos!) if it meant that someone capable of intelligent conversation would come visit them regularly while they were home during the day. 20+ years later, my mom is still good friends with at least one of the women she met as an Avon saleslady in the 80s. I don’t think either of them ever wear makeup now…

    3. So so Anon*

      My Mary Kay salesperson is like this. When I met her a few years ago, I was upfront. I told her precisely that I don’t really wear makeup much, that I like their skincare products, but I am good for about 2-3 things of moisturizer and maybe some foundation a year and that’s it. She said she was fine with that.

      What does she do? Every time I turn around, she’s texting me, inviting me to parties, trying to get me to watch videos and leave my personal contact info in them, telling me she’s got giveaways. I have said no so many times and she just keeps coming at me.

      I don’t think it’s malice. It’s just how they’re trained.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I once had the dubious pleasure of attending a filk (science fiction folk music) convention at the same hotel as a Mary Kay event. It was delightfully hilarious watching filkers in the elevator trying to recruit the Mary Kay people to attend the filk events. (I love my filkers, and they are my people, but they definitely think that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, and strangers you have met at least once at a filk event should be invited to stay with you indefinitely if they’re ever in your town. Imagine Labrador Retrievers with banjos and you won’t be far off…on the bright side, the vast majority of them are not trying to sell anything and are doing this out of sheer enthusiasm.)

  12. Agent J*

    I understand the response to #5 since the new requirement is a big jump from what the employees are currently used to.

    I will say OldJob and NewJob have both required two-factor authentication via my smartphone and I didn’t think until now that the requirement might be burdensome or incur an expense my company should contribute to. Both places have reliable wi-fi. But when OldJob moved to a new phone system that was completely internet-based (via laptops and smartphones), they mandated everyone download the app on their phones. One coworker refused to do so since the company wasn’t offering to pay for our cellphone bills. They weren’t reprimanded for it (I don’t think) so it seemed like a non-issue overall. I had two download two 2FA apps for new job: one for internal logins and one for client logins.

    All this to say that this might be what a lot of companies are moving towards. OP5’s company should offer to help with the transition but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      2FA is one thing (even I wouldn’t balk at having to use an authentication app with miniscule data use) but needing to use your own device and data for company email is too much.

  13. Manager in Scotland*

    I work in the Armed Forces Community in Scotland, and this past Saturday was Armed Forces Day. One of my team will use any such excuse to wear his kilt and medals- which members of the public love, asking for selfies etc. If he did this everyday it would be disruptive and we would need to address it. However for occassional wear it is not a problem, and even a bonus.

    I imagine these extremes would be intensified outside if Scotland so it’s know your work place thing.

    1. Gerta*

      Out of curiosity – do locals also ask him for selfies, or are you talking about tourists? I’m in Edinburgh and can certainly see what you mean if he’s doing this in an area with lots of tourists, but would surprise me if many Scots were that interested. (Though perhaps it’s a bit different if he’s in uniform/wearing medals.)

      1. Manager in Scotland*

        Mainly tourists, but not exclusively. Sometimes press/PR photographers will target him too as encapsulating the situation. You’re right though that most Scots don’t really care. Especially in Edinburgh in summer you turn the corner and there is another piper in another kilt!

    2. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Hasn’t the kilt seen a bit of renaissance recently? I mean it used to be ”old codgers in a village” wearing a kilt, but these days it seems to be a bit more ”in fashion” … or maybe its just the footie fans.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d say yes. I was seeing modern denim & khaki versions in New York City when I worked there in the early 90s, albeit near NYU not on Wall Street. I’ve seen them more recently in New Haven CT.
        And a google search for “kilts on the red carpet” will turn up many a heart-fluttering photo of stars with Scottish ancestry doing it right.

        1. TPS Cover Sheet*

          Yeah, doing a Walter Mitty especially if you work in the forces community is so much on the no-no level.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m hoping for an update with more details — is he wearing a full woolen Scottish kilt? A denim utilikilt? A crossover where the tartan peeks out behind black? A rainbow-pleated pride kilt? (Just learned about these this month and they’re beautiful.)
      I have no need for the info but … curious minds are curious.
      If I were running the zoo, my decision would be as with the Swedish railway company mentioned earlier. If it’s allowed as a skirt for women, it should be allowed on the men as well. For example it’s probably logical to rule against wraparound (non-fitted) kilts for people working with heavy equipment, allow the sporran but not the dirk, and specify no “going regimental”as general policy. Especially for people who might encounter wind or be seated without a desk & privacy screen between them & others.

  14. Sam Foster*

    As far as I’ll go to support a company’s TFA activities is to install Google Authenticator, or equivalent, on my phone. If the company wants anything more than that they need to provide me with a dedicated phone they pay for.

    Also, activating TFA isn’t going to stop hacking.

    Quick internet search for “does TFA stop hacking?” is very revealing.

    1. Observer*

      2FA actually happens to be extremely effective at stopping a lot of hacking. It’s not a magic wand – nothing is – but don’t blow it of.

    2. Angelinha*

      I think that’s exactly what the question was about. The company required them to install an authenticator on their phones.

    3. working in software*

      It won’t stop hacking altogether, as nothing really will, but 2FA absolutely does prevent unauthorized credential usage, which is the #1 way that hacks happen these days. It’s a key part of security strategy for any business that wants to stay modern.

  15. MommyMD*

    My personal phone is my token at work. I like it bc I end up losing those little tokens. But I see the point.

  16. Kella*

    For OP#1, if they insisted on the exercise even after communicating my discomfort, I’d be tempted to go the stony mom route and basically not react at all, let them do their thing watching you for reactions for a minute, and then say, “If the two of you are unable to act your age, then it’s time to leave. I’ll be waiting for you in the car,” and then WALK OUT. Because really, it’s super immature to act like badly behaved children while pretending your “exercise” doesn’t impact the people around you when it clearly does. That’s not role-playing. That *is* bad behavior.

    1. Observer*

      If you’re willing to not get the job, I think this is a good idea. I just can’t believe that reasonable adults think that this is acceptable. How on earth do they expect kids to behave, when they don’t have the basics down themselves?

    2. boo bot*

      LOL, yeah, I think this is the only path forward. I wouldn’t even give them a minute, I’d do the mom walk-out immediately (mom-out?)

      When I was young I did a lot of street theater; I have also worked in Panera-like establishments. I can say from both professional experiences, this role-play interview is a TERRIBLE thing to do to everyone involved.

      For anyone who thinks the low-paid Panera employees don’t care – trust me, they care. They have to hear all the complaints; they have to pick up whatever the interviewers were throwing (!?); they have to LISTEN to this charade; they have to decide whether to intervene (they should intervene).

      If work advice is like dating advice, this is the workplace version of, “don’t force non-consenting bystanders to be a part of your kink.”

      Question: is this interview at the SAME Panera? How are they able to do this more than once at the same place without getting banned for life? I have so many theories, including the non-workplace version of “don’t force non-consenting bystanders to be a part of your kink.”

      1. Vicky Austin*

        You mean like that woman who wanted everyone to call her boyfriend her “master?”

        1. boo bot*

          I mean exactly like that woman who wanted everyone to call her boyfriend her “master.”

          1. boo bot*

            To clarify: I realize this isn’t a thing where sex is implied! What I mean is, they’re taking over a public space and acting out their workplace shenanigans in a way that drags everyone around them into it.

            Whereas they could just do this in their own office, and it would be fine.

      2. General Ginger*

        Yep, all of this. I’ve worked in libraries in addition to a Panera-like establishment, and though it’s been years, I still remember (extremely unfondly) some patrons from both.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, I’m just here for a sandwich and a cherry scone – not your weird workplace improv roleplay.

      4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I mean…I’ve taught improv acting. To teenagers, no less! I would not be cool with trying to teach them in middle of a Panera, or with trying to complete my own improv audition in the middle of a Panera, let alone participating in some wacky roleplay where theoretically they are all playing the part of “jerk who deserves to get kicked out of Panera” and yet I am supposed to be me rather than “character who is willing to get into this mess in a Panera to start with and roll with it from there in some way that can accept this stupid scenario.”

    3. prismo*

      I also don’t know how I’d be able to respect bosses after seeing them pretend to act like children. I cringed so much reading that! It seems utterly bizarre to me and actually I’m kind of surprised that other people here don’t seem to be as weirded out by the whole thing as I am (even without taking into consideration the way it affects other customers/staff at the restaurant).

    4. KRM*

      Also I would find it super super awkward to be having grown adults role play as badly behaved kids like that. Because they’re NOT kids. They’re adults pretending. I don’t particularly think role-playing gets you anywhere except into weird feelings. If you want to see how I do with kids, then give me a 30-60′ trial period in the actual setting, or talk to me about challenges I’ve faced. Because trying to manage grown adults who are acting like badly behaved children in a public place, with others around, is just going to leave me feeling really really weird about the expectations put on me, and says almost nothing about my ability to handle actual children who are behaving badly.

      1. Yorick*

        Right?! What are they going to do, decide the interviewee has done a good job and settle down? It’s not a realistic test of someone’s ability to work with children.

        1. Youth Services Librarian*

          If they are actually sending out a single person with a group of rowdy, misbehaving kids for whom they do not have information on their needs/issues or clear parameters of what they have the authority to do with them, then they are A probably one of the most-hated groups in the city, B probably going to be shut down for illegal childcare practices and C an awful place to work.
          If they don’t actually do this and it’s just some weird interviewing practice, then they’re just C an awful place to work.
          I get the closest to this as a public librarian – I will have groups come in unexpectedly, I don’t know the kids’ needs or triggers, and I need to be able to take control of a situation quickly. BUT I have policies and guidelines to back me up, I know what authority I have and how I can deal with obstreperous teens or indifferent caregivers.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        So I’ve worked in a field where role-play is a key part of our training, and role playing is HUGELY different than non-role playing. Because the “correct” choice lives in the head of the actor, who can change it at will, and the person engaging in the role-playing exercise is constantly left trying to guess not only what the scenario is, but what scenario the facilitator intends for it to be. Many people are bad actors, and will punish participants for guessing incorrectly, or deliberately giving trick questions that fail the reasonable guess test, ex: in a first aid scenario, the actor screams they have chest pain and passes out, so the person being tested responds as if it is a heart attack- only to get scolded by the facilitator for not recognizing an asthma attack.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      I think I’d pre-empt it with a followup to the ‘Are you going to do the role-play thing?’ question. If yes, “Can we do it at your office? I am uncomfortable disrupting the Panera patrons and making their employee’s jobs harder.”

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Because if the answer to that folo is anything but ‘Sure! We can do that”, then it’s a big red flag about their professional judgement and empathy and I’d nope out of there.

    6. MoopySwarpet*

      Maybe pre-emptively say, “I want you to all be on your best behavior or we will be leaving.” (or similar thing you might say to manage bad behavior before it starts) at whatever point in the interview prior to the role playing makes sense. Of course, if they’ve dropped that from their interview, you might have to explain. lol

  17. Ellen N.*

    Original Poster #3

    I live in Los Angeles, CA where rent is high.

    Rent isn’t the only thing that’s expensive here. Gasoline, food, insurance (renters and auto) to name a few are also more expensive than many places in the US. Have you considered the overall affordability of the city where you are considering moving?

    1. Ross*

      yeah, the very (VERY) means it has to be NY, San Fran or L.A., right? OP, you just have to do what every one does when moving to these cities, which is have a sh*t ton of money to make deposits, stay in an air bnb or get your work to pay for corporate housing.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There are others. Washington DC, Honolulu, and Seattle, WA come to mind. (Seattle you say? Seattle! payscale dot com says housing is “94% higher than the national average”.)

        1. Liza*

          Actually Payscale says Seattle’s COL is 49% higher than the national average. Same digits, opposite order. :)

      2. Michelenyc*

        I have lived in NYC for 15+ years and it is not hard to find a place to live quickly. As long as you have all of your information together (deposits, brokers fee if needed, tax information, pay stubs or letter from employer, and guarantor if needed) you can be in a place within a couple of weeks. 4 at the very most.

        1. Michelenyc*

          I forgot to add if it is a share situation you may be able to get into a place sooner. I would however wait till you move there or have a friend go look at the space to make sure it is legit. There are so many scams out there.

    2. Clementine*

      It can’t be San Francisco, because there aren’t any 1-BR for $2K per month properties on the market.

      1. Just Jess*

        Yeah, I was thinking DC, Boston, Seattle, etc. I don’t think $2K for a non-rent controlled one bedroom exists in San Fran or NYC.

        Anyway, perhaps OP#3 could ask for a signing bonus of $2,000 for help with relocation expenses given the going rates for deposit and first month’s rent? That’s a good chunk for a long-term Airbnb and probably more than enough to get set up in a “meh” housing situation while you search for something that’s going to work long-term. This is exactly what I did when negotiating an offer in a HCOL city that’s known for competitive group housing slots.

        1. Name (Required)*

          I’m always confused about how people use the phrase “rent controlled.” My building has 2 units and we are in one of the most tenant-friendly rent controlled areas ever, and rent control only benefits people currently living there. Eg I move in at $X, every January I get a letter from the city telling me what my landlords can charge this year, usually $X+4ish%. The other unit was vacated, they charged X+$250 and found a new tenant in less than a week. Their rent can’t be increased now that they are there, but rent control did not help them start at a lower rate.

          So that leads me to believe that people are actually referring to below-market-rate housing. Which based on other comments, I think OP is going to be ineligible for.

      2. DCR*

        I don’t think it can be a VVHVOL city if you can find a one bedroom for 2k. I’m in DC, which most people agree is a VHCOL City, and it is near impossible to find a one bedroom for 2k in a safe neighborhood that is public transportation accessible for that amount

        1. Washi*

          ???? I live in DC and have always stayed below the 2k mark in one-bedrooms, even when I lived only a 25 min bus ride from the mall.

          But, this brings up the issue when you start talking about housing prices, which is that people have really different standards for where they are willing to live and you have to be realistic. If you only want to live in a fancy neighborhood near the city center, then do your research and be aware that you may have to turn down the offer if it won’t be sustainable long term.

            1. DCR*

              Yes, because we are talking about living in the city, not the cost of living in suburbs. And frankly, I don’t know what it costs to live in all the suburbs, cause the only friends I have who live in them live in Arlington, which is pretty comparable to DC prices

              1. gwal*

                Given that parameter, yes. It’s a disingenuous argument though to state that, in order to work in DC, one must live within the District. Access to public transportation for DC jobs is pretty good out in Maryland and Virginia, and 2k/1br is much more than one would have to pay in parts of, for example, Rockville, Alexandria/Annandale, and Silver Spring (presumably places such as Cheverley and Oxon Hill as well, I’m just not familiar with those areas). And vast segments of the workers in DC live in those places. In case anyone reading this feels disheartened–it’s not THAT expensive in DC-Metro.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            I think it was intended to be Very Very High Cost of Living but the C got swapped with a V (since they are right next to each other on the keyboard).

    3. jDC*

      Uh I live in LA and my renters and car are half the price of when I lived in sleepy Midwest town. No snow means lower rates.

      1. Ellen N.*

        Auto insurance rates in Los Angeles are among the highest in the US. Also, unlike many cities in the US; in Los Angeles you need a car.

        However, notwithstanding that your transportation expenses have reduced upon moving to Los Angeles; my point was that the original poster should consider the overall cost of the location, not just rent, before deciding if he/she should accept the job offer.

    4. Sunflower*

      I’d mostly caution the OP against this because at the end of the day, what the OP is really saying is that his salary needs to be in line with the COL in the city. If salary hasn’t been discussed, it needs to be ASAP. I’m also not sure how familiar with the city the OP is but I live in NYC and have heard a lot of scary stats about housing thrown out here. There are apartments, I’ve never heard of someone not finding one- they just move really really really fast and they are expensive. I wouldn’t move to a new HCOL city like this with the expectation/hope you will find a golden ticket apartment and hedge a job offer on this- in the case you do get lucky and find one, you have no idea how long it will last. Too many factors in rentals(esp in HCOL). If the average 1 bdrm is 2k and you want a 1 bdrm, then you need to budget 2k.

      I’d recommend the OP first do their research to make sure the new salary is in line with the new COL. If it is and the job works out, I’d recommend renting a room on Airbnb for the first few weeks/month or looking for sublet and then finding a permanent place once they get there.

    5. PrgrmMgr*

      Ehh, expensive cities often have amenities that can bring down your costs outside of housing (ie, less need for reliable personal transportation). Groceries seem to differ based on what your shopping options are and what you’re comparing it to, but rural areas with limited grocery stores often have much higher food costs. Expensive cities are also often located in states that do not tax essentials like food – paying sales tax on groceries always shocked my mother when she’d visit me in Virginia, as she’s spent all her adult life in the Boston area.

      Ultimately, depending on the city and the letter writer’s lifestyle, urban living could ultimately be more or less expensive.

      1. OP3*

        Thanks for all the thoughtful perspectives on this thread. I’m loving all the speculation about location. I’m actually located in Canada, where the COL in a few cities are nearly comparable with higher COL cities in the US. @Sunflower – I love this advice: “If the average 1 bdrm is 2k and you want a 1 bdrm, then you need to budget 2k.” You’re absolutely right and this is the kind of objectivity I haven’t been able to achieve on my own. Thanks so much!

    6. Working Mom Having It All*

      Yeah, not to be super harsh but I did wonder if the person in question had thought through relocating to an expensive major city before they applied for this job. Assuming it’s not an internal transfer that they didn’t request, or something? Which would more likely come with a relocation package that included short term housing.

      Because, yeah, if you apply a job in a major city, they are going to assume that you’ve given some thought to how you would relocate.

  18. nnn*

    For #1, the devil on my shoulder suggests turning it into a lecture of how unprofessional and inconsiderate of the other Panera patrons they’re being.

    1. Anne (with an “e”)*

      If I were a Panera customer (or a customer in any restaurant where this happened) I would wonder if there was a prank of some sort going on, or possibly a hidden camera somewhere. I would half expect John Quinones to walk out and talk about “What Would You Do?” if you saw adults acting like unruly children in public. I would definitely be highly irritated by these shenanigans. If I managed the restaurant, I would ask these people to leave.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Wouldn’t it be cool to give the Panera manager a heads up that morning, so when the rowdiness started he could come over and throw them all out??

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I’ll add that I worked with an education-based nonprofit as well, and the role play in my interview was a set of props I had to use to create a spontaneous lesson with my interviewers behaving as students. It was a far better assessment of my skills as an educator than the ridiculous, public embarrassment the interviewers propose. Why don’t they just give you a scenario in an interview question and ask how you would handle it? I would have little respect for an organization–in education no less!–that thought this kind of public spectacle was appropriate for hiring.

    2. MommyMD*

      Your devil is right.

      Now kids. These people are trying to eat their lunch in peace. For some it’s the only calm hour they will have of their work day. Running around and being loud is very rude to them and the workers here. It’s also an embarrassment to yourselves. How would you like your meal ruined?

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I’d go with giving one warning, then marching them out of the store, informing that they’re not going to be taken out to restaurants until they learn to behave. Then confiscate their cell phones as punishment.

    4. Peachkins*

      OMG, yes. I would have absolutely no issue telling the employer how unprofessional the entire situation is and making it clear that I wouldn’t want to work for a company with this kind of interview process. Sure, I’d be throwing my job opportunity out the window, but seriously- I wouldn’t want to work for a company or office that would do this.

    5. Bilateralrope*

      If you want to really hit them where it hurts, ask “is this really the image that {nonprofit} wants to present to the world ?

      Or some other way that sounds like you’re asking the interviewers a question, but is really a way to make sure that anyone watching or filming knows who they work for.

      Then see how quickly the nonprofit ejects them to protect its reputation.

  19. Ross*

    #1, that is wild but I feel like you are at an advantage since you know where this is going. Maybe if they start to get up say something like “now kids you know being rowdy in a restaurant is rude and we’re not going to do that so I expect you to stay seated here at the table.”

    1. EPLawyer*

      oooh I like that. good one. Cuts it off at the pass while still doing the role playing.

  20. Nell*

    OP#2: I have a trick that works very well with MLM people and any pushy salesperson: pretend a family member sells the same thing. “Oh, my sister sells Pyramid Oils too…”. They can’t expect you to buy from them instead of your beloved family member! Of course the right thing to do is to be assertive and to refuse, but this trick has helped me in awkward situations.

    1. MsM*

      Of course, that comes with a risk they’ll want to try and convince said sister to join their downline or participate in another MLM they’ve got going on the side.

    2. Anono-me*

      My SIL does sell for an MLM. (She has a booth and has never ever even asked to show me a catalog. ) But telling people that “Actually my SIL sells __, also,” really does does stop almost all of the sales pitches. (One person kept pitching so I said “That does sound interesting, I’ll have to ask SIL about it.” Pushy person realized that even if she convinced me to buy the magic MLM beans, I still wouldn’t buy them from her and stopped. )

    3. My name really is Karen*

      I work for a MLM (in order to get the products at a discount, not in an effort to make any significant profit) and we are not allowed to try to poach customers. Once someone says “I already have a [name] representative,” my company-approved response is “That’s great! I’m glad you have found someone to provide what you need.” Then the conversation either ends or goes in a direction unrelated to the product I sell.

  21. TM*

    OP #5, if the 2FA is an app that generates a code for you, there’s no data or wifi needed except to download the app the first time. The codes don’t come from the internet; instead, the application is initialized once with a shared secret key, and the codes generated are purely based on the current time and date. Since the employer also knows the secret key that they gave to you, they can compare your code with their own calculated code.

    The only thing your phone needs is the clock to be accurate (although most systems will allow previous / next codes to work, just in case your phone clock is a bit off from the server clock, or if the code changes as you’re typing).

    1. MommyMD*

      That’s what I have. I like it. Generates a number that lasts for 30 seconds. It’s on my personal phone. Personally I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Plus most smartphones are constantly syncing there clocks with the cell towers by default.

      Though this is assuming a competent 2fa app. The company might have decided that Google Authenticator was too expensive and gone for a cheaper one. One that does require the internet and probably has major problems.

    3. Observer*

      Well, it depends on the type of 2FA. There can be a “push” type where the system sends your phone a message that pops up a notification that you then accept.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Or you can have one that does both, like Okta – either a push notification or a code generator.

        It doesn’t solve the requirement of owning and maintaining a smartphone in the first place, however.

        1. Observer*

          I agree with that. I was just making the point that there can be more than one way that the 2FA can work, and there does need to be some communication.

          But, there is no reason that this should be the responsibility of staff.

    4. SarahKay*

      But at that point it depends on the app. In my experience far too many apps want more of my personal data (eg location) than I’m willing to give. There are apps that I personally would like but won’t use for this reason; I’m blowed if I’m going to accept it for a work app.
      Not only that, but while I have a smartphone it’s four years old and I run them until they die – there are apps out there that won’t run on my phone because it’s too old.
      If work wants me to run an app outside the above conditions then work needs to provide me with a phone.

  22. MommyMD*

    Yes to Kilt. (As long as it not like hot pants lol).

    Oh how I wish the idiotic roll playing company would have been kicked out of the restaurant.

    1. TPS Report Coversheet*

      Yeah I am visualising that Irish preacher that has a saffron miniskirt he calls a kilt… Horan was it.

  23. Observer*

    #5 – Your husband’s employers are idiots. They should most definitely be offering an alternative token for email access.

    Having said that, if someone actually has a smart phone that can run the app, the cost to do so is minimal. You (ie the person accessing email) only needs to use the phone for initial log in and then that’s it. It’s a really small amount of data. You could even shut the phone off if you wanted to, because the phone (and your data) is no longer being used. My advice is log in once in the morning, and then don’t log out all day. This way you are literally only using a few bits of data.

    1. Mongrel*

      But it’s that slow encroachment and blurring the line between MY stuff and WORK stuff, that gets my goat.

      If work requires X then they should find a way to do it that doesn’t require anything they’re not paying for and (cynically) opens the door for the next app they want you to install “because it’s just a little extra functionality…”

      1. Observer*

        What is the “but” all about? The first line in my post addresses the fact that the employer should find a way.

        See: Your husband’s employers are idiots. They should most definitely be offering an alternative token for email access

    2. Liane*

      Also, *as has been pointed out multiple times* in the comments, this doesn’t solve the “a lot of employees DON’T have/want/can’t afford smartphones.” No matter how little space and data it uses, the app cannot be installed on a flip phone or, likely, a smartphone without the latest OS.

      1. Observer*

        I’m not sure what your argument is.

        I think I was pretty explicit that the employer is the one that is responsible for getting people the 2FA that they require. And I OBVIOUSLY was not addressing the issue of people who don’t have smart phones at all. I was *specifically* and *explicitly* addressing the concern about data cost ONLY.

        1. Mongrel*

          Thanks for making that clear – It reads as “Employee should provide tokens, BUT if they have smartphones then there shouldn’t be data charges involved so, that’s not so bad…” because ‘having said that’ is a synonym for ‘but’.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Oh, man, I was about 11 the last time my mom dragged me out of somewhere by the ear. I swear I can still feel her thumb and forefinger on my left earlobe.

  24. Introvert girl*

    2. Answer: “Sounds interesting, but unfortunately I’m allergic to (insert couple of ingredients)”.

    1. J*

      Depending on the product, this works. Essential oils shillers like to insist that people can’t be allergic to all natural ingredients.

      Like lavender, poison ivy, or arsenec. All natural, can’t hurt!

      1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Come to think, poison ivy IS an essential oil. Or the itchy part is.

      2. PVR*

        I have seen this exact argument and was stunned into silence. Like, that’s not how it works at all.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        My go-to reply to “But it’s all-natural!” is, “So is cobra venom, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for me!”

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      The MLM-er might move on to selling some other product that wouldn’t trigger allergies, such as fabric totes or kitchen supplies. You may need to make it clear to new acquaintances upfront that you’re not going to buy things from them.
      Also, be prepared for, “Oh, I don’t like those parties either, I just joined MLM du jour as a distributor so I can buy at discount. Do you want to use my discount? You like makeup /jewelry/whatever, right?”
      Not when they’re pushed on me, nope.

    3. General Ginger*

      Unfortunately, then you run the risk of “here are all the hypoallergenic snake oil versions I have!” or “you can’t be allergic to this snake oil, it’s organic and all natural!”

    4. PrgrmMgr*

      I haven’t found people pushing sketchy products to have the common sense to accept that response. I told an acquaintance that I thought giving toddlers popsicles made of her MLM clense drink was probably unwise and her response was that her brand is regulated just like pre-natal vitamins and I had no trouble taking those (though my vitamins came from a reputable brand and met guidelines laid out by my doctor, but that’s too sensible).

      1. My name really is Karen*

        “Regulated the same way as prenatal vitamins” doesn’t mean much; vitamins and other dietary supplements are regulated like food and are generally recognized as safe unless someone brings up a problem; they are, however, used in a method similar to drugs, which are subject to many more regulations regarding safety, potency, and efficacy before they can be released.

  25. Bilateralrope*

    #1 how will it look when a video of their behavior gets onto the internet with the name of the nonprofit attached ?

    Do the higher ups even know about the interview behavior ?

  26. Saielna*

    Re OP5 – I work for a company similar to this (in fact, for a few sentences I was convinced your husband and I are coworkers!). I’m in charge of IT luckily, and I was able to suggest fairly inexpensive android tablets (about $30 each) that had just enough power to run email and essential apps.

    It’s ridiculous that the company wants people to use their own phones, especially given how many people don’t have ones that would work, but if they’re insistent on this and balk at data usage reimbursement, maybe the suggestion of cheap tablets can be made? Issued by the company, employees are responsible for loss or damage, internet access could be locked in via WiFi and password hidden (IT stuff could also do by MAC address so only tablets would be allowed).

    Just a suggestion, because I know how cheap companies are. But to reiterate – yeah, it’s nonsense they expect this and aren’t willing to help at all it seems.

    1. Observer*

      Why tablets? Why not just use keys? Those tend to be even cheaper than tablets.

      1. Saielna*

        Keys works for physical access, but not the 2FA thing that’s come up recently as well. And if the company is committed to going digital with this stuff, cheap tablets are a good solution.

        All of that said … yeah. Just give out regular keys and make people responsible for them.

          1. Saielna*

            Ahhh, I misunderstood. Sorry about that!

            I was assuming (re OP) due to limited WiFi connectivity for some that not everyone has a desktop/laptop they could use with such a device. That was the issue at my workplace, and part of why I used the cheap tablets.

            It’s frustrating to work for a company that seems to want to go high tech, without actually wanting to invest in decent hardware.

  27. Green great dragon*

    #4 – it seems easiest to treat it like any other national dress. Our dress code is jacket and tie for men, or any equivalent traditional dress (can’t remember how it’s phrased but you know what I mean), so we’d be fine with a kilt and shirt (but not kilt and T-shirt).

    If he’s not Scottish it seems odder, but since you’re not going to be DNA testing him I don’t think you can have that as a condition.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think you need a DNA test to object to someone wearing a random traditional dress in a business setting.

      1. Lucy*

        I don’t believe a DNA test can actually tell you if someone is Scottish, come to that, whatever the advertisements may claim!

        1. Grace*

          Yeah, DNA tests are highly dubious. I’m a historian, I can point to hundreds of thousands of examples of large-scale migration in past centuries, and as a result I genuinely don’t think DNA tests can be precise as to countries. Norsemen lived in the Mediterranian, Arab traders made it to Scandinavia, there were fairly substantial African communities in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century London.

          My DNA would probably indicate that I’m part-Scandinavian – but that’s because my maternal line has lived in Yorkshire for centuries, so we probably have some relics of the Danelaw hanging around. Over a thousand years ago. I have no claim to that heritage. My paternal line is Scottish, most of my dad’s relatives live in Aberdeenshire and our surname is a fishing village nearby (I guess both sides are homebodies) but I can guarantee that my ancestry on that side is far from 100% Scottish. I think one of my dad’s grandparents was English, there’s probably some Irish in there…

          Besides. Nationality isn’t about DNA. The descendant of a 1890s Italian immigrant to Glasgow (there were a lot of them) is far more Scottish than someone whose great-great-grandparents left Scotland over a hundred years ago, and while most people wouldn’t tell the latter that he couldn’t wear a kilt, they will likely be more than a little dubious if he protests that he’s more entitled to wear a kilt on the basis of his DNA than someone born and raised in Scotland whose ancestry is mostly continental European.

          1. Knitting librarian (with cats)*

            A few years ago, one of the main proponents of Scottish independence was a Sikh who wore a kilt and a turban ~ a sure sign of how Scotland has changed since my grandparents left in the 1920s-era diaspora. The area of Leith they grew up in is now heavily Polish and Punjabi-speaking ;-)

            Adding to the chorus of people saying that kilts come in different levels of formality, so a wearer match match the kilt chosen to the office dress culture.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Oh, yes! Scotland has a healthy Indian population. My undergrad advisor was of Indian parentage, born in Scotland, identified very strongly as a Scot. He would wear kilt with his academic gown and regalia whenever the faculty did formal processions. It looked pretty awesome!

        2. Gyratory Circus*

          Lucy – It can be better than you might think. Ancestry was able to nail down my Scottish ancestry to within 5 miles of where my great-grandmother was born outside of Edinburgh, and also pinpointed my Irish DNA to the county where my 2x great-grandfather was from.

        3. PrgrmMgr*

          I’ve had people question my Indian heritage (my maternal grandfather is Indian, my other three grandparents are Irish or Scottish, I’m on the darker end of passing for white with dark brown hair). While I’ve never had any interest in wearing a sari to work, I have worn tunics that bridge cultures and I’d be pretty offended if I was told I shouldn’t be wearing one for reasons such as cultural appropriation.

        4. nonegiven*

          Actually, out of curiosity, I looked up DH’s grandmother’s maiden name, to see if there was a family tartan. I didn’t find that but people with that particular name are DNA testing to determine which ancestor they are descended from. You need a family tree showing your descent from someone with that name, I think.

      2. Manon*

        It sounds like Green great dragon’s workplace has their policy in place to combat the attitude that Western formal wear – a suit and tie – is the only acceptable work attire and to accommodate other cultures’ clothing like kilts, changshan, dashiki, or anything else. Traditional dress isn’t a costume.

  28. Suzy Creamcheese*

    That’s beyond ridiculous. I’m an elementary school teacher whose school is near a Panera. There are other schools nearby as well. On a teacher workday (a day where teachers have prof development or work on planning/grading), you will find it packed with teachers. I can only imagine our reaction upon seeing some role-playing nonsense where adults are pretending to be out of control children.
    The lack of judgment and inability to provide its own space for a basic interview are huge red flags.

    1. MsM*

      Now I’m imagining a whole mass of teachers encircling the interviewers for the mother of all “what do you think you’re doing?” lectures. Delightful.

  29. fre-zem*

    #1 Oh memories: ten years ago I worked in a diner. We had a group in suits and dresses show up and started to behave like they were small children. When they started harassing other customers (throwing foot, pushing them, screaming) my manager tries to throw them out. They would not leave, he called the cops. Turned out this was a manager training where a consultant ordered his trainees to do this (I do not know why). Two persons were arrested (mostly for resisting the officers), the others were escorted out. A customer announced that he would file criminal changes (got hit by a ketchup bottle, don’t know if he actually did it) All persons were banned for live from the diner. My manager personally called the consultant’s company and the company of the trainees to make sure everybody understood that they are not welcome here anymore and that the cops were involved. There was also a newspaper article about this, naming the trainees’ company and the name of the arrested person, together with nice mugshots. After threatening with a lawsuit the company agreed to pay for cleaning, loss of business… (manager claims 4 figures, not sure about that)

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Wow! I wonder if it is the same company and they moved on to Panera.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      How awful! I’ve had to do some really odd and awkward exercises in corporate trainings, but at least none of mine ever ended in anyone being arrested.

      For the love of dog, these manager trainees are supposed to be leaders and provide direction to people like me. And they did not even have the common sense to push back on this inane exercise and say “Uh, no, we are not throwing ketchup at customers”? How good are they at their jobs exactly?

      Your comment does not say about whether the consultant suffered any consequences, hopefully the answer is yes. It would be beyond wrong if the consultant just collected the $$$ and moved on to do this again at the next company.

    3. WellRed*

      This is so bizarre! What aspect of management were they being trained on, I wonder? Also, I can’t believe they didn’t knock it off when asked, or at least when the cops showed up.

      1. fre-zem*

        I don’t really know how this happened. Perhaps they were so caught up in it that they did not know how to stop. We had other adults misbehaving occasionally. Some came back later to profoundly (and I think honestly) apologize.

        The first officers were there within a minute or two after the call. Most of our guests stopped misbehaving at this point. I’m not sure but I think the two who refused to go and started to argue were just shocked and perhaps humiliated that someone actually called the police. The others were just removed from the premise and let go on the street with a warning not to come back. They looked pretty shocked. I think they just then realized that they had gone too far. I don’t know what happened to to them later.

    4. Reba*

      OMG you have seen this practice in the wild!

      I wonder if it is the same people as the OP’s potential employer… I would hate to think that there are lots of people out there doing this.

    5. Vicky Austin*

      That is absolutely horrific. The OP’s story was bad enough, but attacking other customers???????? That’s got to be a misdemeanor if not an outright crime.

  30. Lucy*

    I’m not sure I would interview twice with anyone who thought that shenanigans constituted appropriate assessment practice. I would be put off the entire organisation.

    I can’t see what kind of professional relationship I would want to maintain with someone who is in full-on MLM cult mode. That’s not a link I need.

    Of course you can make your job acceptance contingent on finding housing, but don’t expect them to keep the position open while you do so, and do expect to burn bridges if they think you’re unreliable.

    A kilt isn’t intangible cultural heritage in the same way that say a kimono is (on its way to being), though full tartan or sulu might be. Companies which insist on full trousers for men at all times but permit women to have bare legs under skirts should consider catching up with the times and bringing their dress codes into the 21st century.

    If you are required to have any specific equipment for your work as an employee, your employer should provide or at least subsidise it, whether that’s a smartphone or a laptop or knee pads or a ladder.

    1. Mizu*

      Can we all drop it with the kimono comparison?

      I’m half Japanese and have spent considerable time with the full Japanese side.

      Some kimonos should only be worn be certain people (e.g., clan kimonos with Kamon on them) or religious ones or ones linked solely to the imperial family. But the garment itself (not the fabric pattern), is perfectly fine for non-Japanese to wear so long as you learn the proper way.

      The biggest complaint Japanese have about it isn’t cultural appropriation. It’s women wearing any Japanese garment with the right over the left. That’s for the dead. THAT is offensive. NOT wearing a kimono or any of the other garments with similar structures.

      Also – if you are not a young, eligible woman, you shouldn’t wear the sleeves with the long fabric bits hanging off.

      1. Lucy*

        The kimono reference was intended to be topical. I didn’t mean to cause any offence.

  31. Mary*

    #1: DO NOT WORK FOR THIS COMPANY. If you think having to pretend to control “rowdy children” in a real restaurant is bad, imagine how much worse it would be if you got the job, and next thing you know, you have to pretend to be a rowdy child in a real restaurant. I cannot imagine anything more horrifying. You would have to quit on the spot.

    1. fogharty*

      That is a very good, and horrifying, point.

      Of course, you could play the goody two shoes kid that’s always tattling on the others.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Surely this company has offices somewhere? Even if it is a coworking space? These “crowd-control” scenarios could (and should) be enacted in a conference room.

  32. Alice*

    #5 – I feel you! My mother didn’t have a smartphone until recently, so when her employer first implemented 2FA she got a gadget that generates her access token. Might be something to look into, it’s relatively cheap especially if a company places a bulk order, although not as cheap as asking employees to use their personal phones.

    As an aside, just this morning my manager told me again that the audio quality on my (personal) phone is terrible. I’m just waiting for the day she flat out tells me I ought to buy a better phone for work, so I can politely tell her to sod off. It’s my personal phone and my personal plan, they can very well pay for a company phone if they don’t think mine is up to scratch.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I feel you, too, OP5.

      If the company is smallish, they might go with what Alice is suggesting. My company is owned by a huge conglomerate that has forced two-factor authentication on all of us, and I think it would take HUNDREDS of people pushing back to get them to consider key fobs as a solution.

      Since there are multiple employees affected by this, maybe your husband and the others can push back as a group? “We don’t have smart phones, so that’s going to make it much more difficult to do our jobs. Buying a smartphone would be a significant expense that we haven’t budgeted for. How would you like us to handle this?”

  33. Cynthia*

    OP#1 – pull a Kobayashi Maru and alert the Panera staff beforehand that a group of troublemakers are coming in, then let them deal with it. That would be the best way to really address the problem children.

    1. Kimmybear*

      I love this! Seriously, the only thing this evaluates is your ability to wrangle adults behaving like children in a Panera. My three year old is a handful to wrangle and no adult could ever pretend to be as good as him. Also, is part of this job taking kids out to restaurants? I would be more concerned with handling food allergies in that environment.

  34. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I was reading quickly and thought the title of the question was “kites at work” and for a second really had no idea why/how/whether a kite at work was a good or bad idea.

  35. Oska*

    I’m entirely pro kilts-as-business-wear, but I wonder if the colours might be used as a counter-argument. You can get suits in bright pastel colours and flower patterns and probably, like, “all the starships models in Star Trek” pattern, but I’m pretty sure that if you wore that, you’d be told to go home and change in a lot of work places where suits are required. (Where I work, you’d be the most popular person in the office if you strode in wearing any of those, but we have no dress code as we rarely have clients in the office.) Tartan-patterned kilts (as opposed to utili-kilts and the like) usually stray from the more drab formal colour standards of black/white/grey/beige/tan for suits.

    I still say go for it, though. Rebel! Change the standards! :D

    1. Green great dragon*

      I dunno, something like the Black Watch isn’t so bright. So I’m now thinking of a very detailed dress code (Black Watch OK, Ferguson right out… several more pages… no knives in socks except on casual fridays, playing of bagpipes in any tartan grounds for immediate dismissal…)

    2. SarahKay*

      Hunting Tartans are usually much more subtle colour palettes, since they’re designed to blend into woodland. Given that, I would think it’d be easy enough to find kilts in suitably formal (drab) colours to match business dress standards.
      And on a side note, this thread has led me to the discovery of utilikilts which are basically affordable skirts with pockets – YAY!

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Except for my clan’s hunting tartan, which is completely pastel! I always wondered where it was we were supposed to be hunting if that was our camo!

    3. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Theres a load of ”regional tartans” as well as ”fashion tartans” these days, some like ”black rock” are quite dark.

    4. Knitting librarian (with cats)*

      I’m picturing Don Cherry’s Hockey Night in Canada suits from your second sentence.
      If you haven’t seen them, a quick Google image search will introduce you to the wonders of the possible range of suit fabrics ;-)

  36. Mannheim Steamroller*


    I have never seen “Method acting” listed as a skill in any job listing or anyone’s resume. Am I out of touch with a new trend?

    1. Close Bracket*

      It’s not that I don’t agree with the sentiment, but we are talking about work wear. Three piece vintage suits are hot, too, and not just on men, but that’s not a good way to talk about what your coworkers wear.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Does it have to be about hotness? Can’t we just appreciate kilts or vintage suits because they’re awesome?

        1. Close Bracket*

          The wording sure sounded like an appreciation of the wearer, not the garment.

  37. Random Brit*

    #4 — remember a kilt is traditionally worn without underwear. I don’t know whether you want to factor that into your decision …

    1. JM in England*

      Not strictly true.

      If you own the kilt, then yes no underwear is worn. However, if the kilt is hired for an occasion underwear is worn for hygiene reasons.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      My husband is a bagpiper, and he said that it is actually VERY important to wear underwear with a closed fly under a kilt in the US. Because an alarming number of people think it is acceptable to say, “Ooh aren’t you supposed to be commando under a kilt?” and then proceed to lift the kilt to check! Especially if it’s an event with an open bar.

    3. Lucy*

      And if you mean underpants, then so traditionally are dresses but I’m wearing modern underwear today!

  38. Malarkey01*

    The bring your own devise thing is a super frustrating trend, but I’m surprised at the commenters saying to just ignore it or refuse to participate. Both my husband and my jobs (separate companies) went to BYOD that were needed for a few apps and for calls/emails/texts when out of the office for meetings. In both our workplaces there were people who pushed back either for not having a smartphone (apps) or because they weren’t using their phones unless the company paid for their plans… they were all let go. I was shocked- these aren’t easily replaceable high turnover jobs, but it seems in our area at least the trend is really towards forcing this transition and viewing it as insubordination for refusing.

    1. Even Steven*

      Same experience here – I am in accounting/finance, and our team does a lot of wire transfers. Most banks have phased out the hardware tokens they used to send to us to generate the 15-second codes, and instead text us the codes. I could not do that part of my work without that code, and so my smartphone is essential. Colleagues who pushed back on this have been demoted or let go, allegedly for other reasons, but we know the truth.

      I don’t care one way or the other about using my phone, and the wires are such a small part of what I do it seems fine. It just seems to be the way that the world is going now. Fighting it just doesn’t seem worth it.

      1. SarahKay*

        Are they literally sending you a text, via normal text messaging? Because I’d have far less objection to that, since even my very basic first ever mobile phone that I bought 15-odd years ago could receive texts. At that point the 2FA isn’t using my data and doesn’t require an app to be installed, it’s just using functionality that pretty much every cell phone has.

      2. EPLawyer*

        But MY phone. I don’t want the company to have anyting on it. because then it becomes COMPANY phone.

        It’s not the amount of data used. It’s not the space the app takes. It’s the company telling me how to use MY PERSONAL property. They can tell me I can’t park my car in the lot. Fine not essential to the job. But now they want me to use MY personal property to do my job. No. If they want me to use my car to go to meetings, client sites, etc., then I want my mileage reimbursed by the company or they provide a car. Same thing.

        The company is not going to use the token thingies or get cheap tablets. They wanted to go to phone app as door keys because of high turnover. They won’t want to be handing things out for the same reason. They want apps to make it easier and cheaper for THEM. This company has other problems than the current issue of 2FA.

        1. RandomU...*

          Honestly you use your personal property every day at your job. I know I do, as do many people.

          1. Alton*

            I know I don’t use anything that I consider highly valuable or personal. I don’t use anything of my own at work that isn’t disposable or easily replaceable, and I definitely don’t use anything that has personal data or files on it.

        2. Katrinka*

          When I got my newest phone, I went to link it to my work email, as I had before. I didn’t like it, but it was convenient. A disclaimer screen popped up saying that by installing the email app, I was giving IT permission to access my data and images, etc. I did not end up installing the work email app on my phone. I’ll check on my laptop, which is their laptop, but they don’t get my phone.

    2. Observer*

      Well, in California I’m pretty sure what they did was illegal.

      It’s also stupid. But that’s another whole thread.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        How is it illegal in California?

        One location in my company just basically recalled all the company phones, and said you had to use your own. They have message apps that the manager uses nearly on a daily basis to ask people to show up in offices or for meetings, all on personal cell phones. It’s ridiculous.

      2. Observer*

        In California you are legally required to reimburse people for the use of their personal phones.

    3. Booksalot*

      BYOD is an infosec disaster, and it works until it doesn’t. Someone gets deposed and all their personal shit gets sifted through by opposing counsel, someone’s phone gets bricked and they lose family phone numbers, someone misplaces their phone and suddenly corporate espionage is on the table.

      An isolated policy like this might not be my breaking point, but any company that operates this way likely has a whole slew of related problems.

      1. Observer*

        That’s a good point. I work for a non-profit, and we stretch every penny. But this is one of the main reasons why our fiscal people don’t give me a hard time about giving phones to people who actually need them.

  39. Sleepless*

    I’m going to be a smartass and point out that having adults pretend to be rowdy kids isn’t even going to create a realistic role-play. Real, live rowdy kids are…just being kids. Adults are doing it deliberately and probably won’t respond the way real kids would.

    1. Luisa*

      I came here to say the exact same thing! Managing actual, real children, even when they’re pushing boundaries, is completely different from how adults act when they’re pretending to be rowdy children.

      The fact that this role-play even exists strongly suggests to me that the leadership at this organization has little to no experience working directly with children, and this should be hugely concerning for the OP.

      1. Observer*

        I think this is true. OP, this is supposed to be an organization involved in youth education. Why is hiring being done by people who know nothing about kids?

    2. hbc*

      That’s the part that gets me about the roleplaying. I once had referee certification where my brother thought it’d be funny if, during the part where I reffed a fake game situation, he and another kid pretended to fight. Not at all realistic, given that a real fight would probably involve their friends intervening quickly, or one of them getting knocked down and having a natural chance for separation.

      I just ran up to them blowing the hell out of my whistle until they stopped because their ears hurt. They deserved it.

    3. Not Me*

      I imagine it’s not how the “kids” react that matters, it’s how the candidate responds to their actions. The test is probably not “can Candidate calm down these adult actors?” it’s “does Candidate react to the adult actors in the best way”. It’s like acting out a behavioral question I assume.

      1. Observer*

        Except that it actually doesn’t show that either. It’s just stupid and disrespectful.

        1. ClumsyCharisma*

          Exactly. I will offer a child a lot more grace than I would an adult even if I know they are pretending to be a child.

  40. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #5 – I don’t get how it’s becoming acceptable that companies are moving towards employees being required to own a smart phone for their job (without any type of reimbursement or compensation). This is no different than an employee needing a laptop, and I’m pretty sure most people aren’t expected to buy their own laptops for work. If you need a piece of equipment to do your job, your company should provide it.

    1. Malarkey01*

      I responded above how at my husband and my job people were let go for not bringing their own device. Someone did bring up the equipment argument and my husband’s company’s official response was “we require you to dress in suits and ties 4 days a week and if you told us you’d only wear a suit if we paid for it, we’d let you go too”.

      It does suck, but in some areas/industries it’s the new norm, and there are a lot of technical/skills jobs where providing your own tools has always been the practice (my uncles worked in machine shops and getting their tools and industrial toolbox was always a big deal when they left one shop for another.)

  41. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    This rarely happens to me on this board, but I have real-life advice that has worked for one of my sons, for #3. This is assuming that OP is moving by themselves. If she has to move a family of five people and seven pets, what my son did probably won’t work. After college, he got a job on the opposite end of the country where the living situation was close to what you described. 1BR apartments typically started at $2000. My son is extremely frugal and did not want to overpay for an apartment. He tried finding one online, we even had a very helpful local who was willing to go to apartments and talk to the landlords. But then he started running into situations where a landlord would say “OK, send me the deposit” and then call back an hour later saying “hope you haven’t sent the deposit yet, a couple just walked into my office with cash and I gave the apartment to them!” After this happened twice in one week, my son loaded his car, drove to New City, checked into a longterm-stay hotel for a week, and spent every day physically going to available apartments with cash in hand. By the end of that week, he had a 1BR apartment with a parking spot in a garage, relatively close to his work, for $1600. He had negotiated a delayed start date and a sign-on bonus with his job, which helped greatly. (To be honest, I think they offered him both before he even knew to ask, because they knew what the living situation was in their area.) That was in 2014, but hopefully can still work now. Good luck!

    1. Just Jess*

      Thank you for sharing. I’ll certainly keep this approach in mind if I or someone I know is looking. #gumption

      1. Banana Pickle*

        I own a duplex in a ski town where it’s really, really difficult for the workers of the county to find housing. To fill my downstairs unit, I posted an ad online on Tuesday, interviewed four excellent candidates on Wednesday, and my chosen tenant moved in on Thursday. He showed up as early as possible on interview day and offered me an extra $500 (which I didn’t take)… so…. that’s how tight housing is here.

        I strongly, strongly recommend following the advice above by “I Wrote This in the Bathroom.” Personally, I wouldn’t even bother speaking to a potential tenant on the phone unless that person could show up within 24 hours, with payment and everything else sorted and ready. That’s because: (1) I want an in-person interview to gauge the person’s maturity, reliability, et al. A chat on the phone won’t do. (2) I’m more likely to be scammed by someone remote. This is even more of a problem for people seeking housing… scammers falsely list properties owned by others as available for rent. (3) Why bother with the delays and hassles of someone remote or slow when I have great candidates on my doorstep with cash in hand?

        In tight markets, landlords value an easy tenant. So if you can make yourself an easy tenant by being 100% ready to go when you look at a place, you’ll likely find housing much easier.

      2. Close Bracket*

        That’s not gumption, that’s just how you move. I’ve moved cities and states multiple times, and I always did something like this.

    2. Applesauced*

      Cool story bro, but that is EXTREMELY specific and not very helpful.
      OP, seriously consider if you can afford this job in this VHCOL city. It sounds like you need to either politely decline, or adjust your expectations.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        How is this not helpful? It’s obviously not the only way to do it, but it’s a story of someone who moved cross country to a HCOL area for a job and found acceptable housing within a week. That’s…exactly what the OP asked. It’s GOOD that it’s specific, because it tells the OP one way that this has actually worked for someone in the past – backed up by a supporting comment from a landlord in a similar area.

        1. smoke tree*

          It probably varies, but I live in a city where the rental situation sounds pretty similar, and yeah–you pretty much have to find a way to camp out here while apartment hunting. The best way to stand a chance is just to be the first one through the door.

      2. Washi*

        This is a very helpful comment! DC isn’t quite this competitive, but I had a really hard time finding my first apartment from a distance. There was enough competition that no one wanted to rent to someone whom they could only meet over skype. I was moving down with a friend and ended up lucking out with a woman who was renting her basement out. It was a lot less competitive because…there wasn’t a kitchen. It was fine for us since we had low standards of living post-college and only needed to sign a 6 month lease.

        But in a competitive market, being there in person and showing up as early as possible on the day the open house is posted is 100% a good strategy.

      3. Applesauced*

        Finding some kind of temp housing while looking for something long term, and being super aggressive to find it – that part is helpful.
        The magical “found exactly what he wanted, close to work, and under budget” part is going to lead to false hope.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Uh, that magical “found exactly what he wanted, close to work, and under budget” part is not going to lead to false hope, because it does not exist. I saw the apartment when we visited him. It was a crappy cheap-looking apartment. Not very soundproof. I guess it was clean, so there’s that? The common areas, like the laundry room, not so much. The garage spot was a really narrow spot under a roof. But again, better than nothing. Most places did not offer anything. “Relatively close to work” meant he only had to sit in traffic for 30 minutes instead of an hour or two. It really was under budget though. He had very low expectations and that helped. It was an okay apartment that he happily lived in for a year. Definitely not a penthouse for the young upper-class professionals like one sees in the ads. It was in the Bay Area btw. Oh there was also a taco truck on the corner every day. Can confirm. Good tacos.

      4. Working Mom Having It All*

        This is actually quite specific and helpful. If you want to move to NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, DC, and probably a couple of other major cities with tough housing markets (Chicago? Atlanta?) the way to do it is to show up and find a place to lay your head while you go in person to look at apartments. The end. Full story. This is how people move there.

      5. Sarah N*

        Actually I think this is great advice, having lived in a couple of HCOL cities with tight rental markets. It’s not that specific, it’s often how rentals work in these places.

      6. cmcinnyc*

        I think it’s very helpful. I bought an apartment in NYC–bought, not rented–very much the same way (though not in cash! I have no where near that much cash!). We saw it, made an offer, lined up a lawyer and got the mortgage process started in one day. That’s how fast real estate moves here. Really. For everyone, rich, middle class, and poor. You show up ready to do business or someone gets your place.

      7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Your dismissive and unpleasant comment aside, this is perfectly reasonable advice. I even had to do this when moving to a small, fairly inexpensive city 20 years ago. I tried to find a place remotely and had no luck until I just drove down there and spent an intense and stressful few days looking at places, making offers and getting them rejected, and generally freaking out until I got a place that was acceptable.

    3. K.A.*

      We’ve had our family stay in an extended stay hotel for a month while looking for a place. Stuff can either be left back home until you can take a long weekend to get it (which we negotiated with the job) or put your stuff in storage except for some clothes, toiletries, laptop, etc.

    4. Close Bracket*

      For senior enough positions, house hunting trips are part of the stand relo package. “Senior enough” isn’t even that senior, either. A senior individual contributor at a large enough (ie, well enough funded) company would get one. Other relo packages will have short term housing reimbursement included so you can stay in a hotel until you find a place. My most recent relocation was self funded, but I still went through the same process, ie, move into a long term stay hotel and visit apartments in person.

    5. Working Mom Having It All*

      Yeah, this is really the only way to move across the country. You just go and figure it out. If you don’t want to, then you shouldn’t have applied to jobs in that city.

      I’ve now done this twice, and it’s been fine, if stressful both times. The ideal situation is to have a local friend you can stay with, but even if you can’t there are usually plenty of hotels, airbnbs, hostels, summer sublets, etc. in cities like this.

      Because in major cities with tight housing markets, the person who shows up with cash in hand is the one who’s going to get the apartment.

      1. OP3*

        Solid advice on this thread – thanks y’all! I think @I Wrote This in the Bathroom’s strategy is legit. As a mature business professional, I wouldn’t feel comfortable signing a lease for an apartment sight unseen. This might work for emerging professionals right out of uni, but I don’t have a very high risk tolerance for something as important as Home (yes, home with a capital ). Also, as a homeowner, I would never rent my apartment to someone I haven’t met in person. The other strategy I’ve been considering is to contact property management companies with multiple listings rather than responding to ads with a single rental unit. That way, the company can vet me and then I’ll be able to consider several apartments, rather than just one.

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          This may or may not be a thing, depending on the market you’re relocating to.

          Having lived in NYC and L.A., nobody cares. Nobody is going to be like “ohhh, poor guy, relocating across the country. Let’s do him a solid and put together a packet of different properties to choose from.” Maybe in, like, Houston or Phoenix or something, that’s a thing? Most management companies do not know you, do not want to know you, and do not care whether you opt to pay $2000 to rent Unit 4B in Building X, or $2200 to rent Unit 2C in Building Y. At best, they might keep your credit check on file so you don’t have to pay for that multiple times.

          That said, if you have money to throw at the problem, you could probably hire a rental broker to do this for you. (Building management company wouldn’t play into this at all, they would show you options in your price range throughout the city just like a realtor would if you were buying a place). Most major cities with tight markets have rental brokers. There’s usually a fee or commission involved, but it sounds like you have the money to make that happen and the willingness to pay that for the right place.

    6. nonegiven*

      When my son relocated, it wasn’t a HCOL city but he did get a sign on bonus plus they paid for the moving company. He flew in for a few days and went around looking at apartments with a realtor the company suggested. He signed up for the apartment he wanted, set a move in date and paid. When he went back to start work he stayed a few days in a hotel, waiting for his furniture to catch up.

  42. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Based on all the comments on #1 I’m seeing above, is it possible that the company saw the error of its ways and it is now a normal business interview at a Panera? Agree with Alison’s recommendation that OP ask them first.

    If it’s the kiddie roleplay again, then I’d remove myself from the interview process, to be honest; again for all the reasons listed above.

  43. Coffee and Cake*

    #4 we had to have a company wide email go out after several occurrences of kilt wearers not wearing underwear and not understanding keeping your legs together while sitting in a meeting or sitting above the crowd During a company wide pod cast.

    On a side note the it is much easier to negotiate a raise and other priorities with a boss that 6 months later is still the topic of all jokes.

    1. Close Bracket*

      I don’t want to see underwear, either! You can really see how men and women are socialized differently when you put each in a skirt. People who were AFAB get raised their whole lives to “sit like a lady.” AMAB, not so much.

  44. Argh!*

    We set up duo authentication with an assumption that cell phones would be used, and I almost never brought mine to work at the time. Even if I did, we had spotty reception. My solution was to set it up to call the landline on my desk. As it turns out, with our system you can use multiple phones, so I set it up for that one, my cell, and the landline at another desk that I sometimes use. They just always assume people would prefer a cell phone because the people who invent these things are techno addicts!

  45. Phony Genius*

    So on #1, if the manager quickly throws the group out of the restaurant, does that mean the OP won’t get the job?

  46. Laura*

    Re: #5 – a smartphone isn’t necessary for 2FA. Assuming all employees have a computer, they can use a password manager like 1Password to generate 2FA tokens. If they have an IT dept, they can help set this up.

    1. MarsJenkar*

      It may not work in this case. The OP (TheCrone) posted that the 2FA program used here is proprietary. It may not be compatible with password managers.

  47. Not Me*

    Is it possible that the role playing is purposely at Panera to see how the variables of strangers and being in public are handled by the interviewee? I’m not familiar with education hiring, I could see that being part of the scenario though.

    1. boo bot*

      I think it probably is? But that just makes it weirder: “How does the candidate react to being instructed to publicly participate in socially unacceptable behavior?”

      If they’re looking for someone to go along with it, this strikes me as being kind of a sinister question, actually. OP, any chance that this is a bizarre twist on the infamous Milgram experiment?

    2. Observer*

      Even if you are right about this, it’s still incredibly stupid.

      For one thing, it’s utterly disrespectful to everyone in the Panera. Also, because it’s such a bizarre scenario and does not reflect a real world type of scenario it doesn’t really tell you anything about how the interviewee would react in any sort of real world situation. After all, if the person who starts screaming and acting like a nut is an ACTUAL stranger, you really have to react differently from a situation where you do know who these people are, and these people hold the key to your job. Especially when they claim that they are actually impersonating KIDS who you would be in charge of.

      It a REAL stranger started this and tried to rope me in, I’d be calling security and / or the police or be under the table.

    3. BethDH*

      This was my guess too. It doesn’t make the situation any more appropriate, but might affect how OP handles suggesting alternatives. They presumably want this job enough to put up with a company that does this since they’ve come back for more after that first interview, so the clever comebacks aren’t ideal. I’d do something like “can we move somewhere more appropriate for the role playing portion?” And if they need the “how do you deal with public embarrassment?” part, which is a real part of childcare, OP could suggest a park or something a little easier for random members of the public to avoid. It still seems horrible, but better than in a cafe!

  48. Esme*

    #2 – I’ve started saying “I have a personal rule to not purchase from ‘network marketing’ brands.” and reply to follow ups with “No thanks, I don’t do that. How about that topic change though.” I find it most effective not to give particular reasons if you’re trying to disengage from the topic.

    If it is someone I am quite close to, I may go into more detail about the debt traps and downsides of MLMs, because at that point they are asking me for information that I want them to have, but I am not expecting to change their minds if they are in full grip of the MLM’s persuasion. There’s a risk to the relationship to do this at all.

  49. Kaaaaaren*

    OP #1 — I understand what the company is attempting to do with the role playing exercise, but it really is flawed for at least 2 big reasons and the company should strongly reconsider this as a test for job applications.

    First, the CRINGE of watching a bunch of adults behave like unruly kids in public is extremely distracting and embarrassing and I think a lot of people — even people who are amazing with kids — would feel too frozen by the embarrassment to respond to the scenario. And, it doesn’t necessarily follow that someone who is overcome with embarrassment about a group of adults running around would be embarrassed and unable to wrangle a bunch of kids behaving the same way. To an extent, society expects kids to misbehave and be annoying sometimes. No one expects to go to Panera and watch a bunch of grown ups run around screaming.

    Second, it’s a completely contrived scenario and the participants are acting. In the same situation with actual kids, those kids would have real needs/desires/moods driving the behavior and the skill in calming everyone down would be in recognizing that and responding to it appropriately. What is the OP supposed to do here? Pretend to be responding to the pretend mood another adult is pretending to have and the other adult can either choose to be satisfied with the OP’s approach or not and calm down or not? It’s dumb.


    1. Observer*

      These reasons are so compelling that I really wonder if this organization is a t all competent to accomplish its mission.

      1. Kaaaaaren*

        Me too. It’s such a stupid interview exercise — and clearly either no one has thought this out OR it was the big idea of some higher up that no one wants to question it, despite knowing it’s stupid — that is also makes me wonder what it would be like to work at this place.

      2. smoke tree*

        Yep. Although it may just be a poorly thought-out hiring exercise, and perhaps (hopefully) the people in charge of hiring don’t work in an education role themselves. What I can’t get over is the implication that the interviewers are willing to do this semi-regularly in the same place. Seems incredibly embarrassing for them, and I can’t imagine it gives them any really useful information.

    2. Luisa*

      YES. By the time I take students out of the school setting and into public spaces (I’m a teacher, so that means the occasional field trip), I know that the kids understand behavioral expectations, and I also know them well enough to anticipate behavioral challenges we may face – and I’m prepared to deal with those challenges. The notion that this exercise in any way reflects the reality of the job is ridiculous – and if it does reflect the reality of the job, the OP should not take it, because that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  50. TheCrone*

    OP#5 here. A few clarification points:
    There has been no organized response to any of this because (a) it’s so new and (b) the company is growing so fast that it’s taking a bit of time to determine who has a problem with this, who doesn’t have a problem, and who is going to be the designated “bad guy” who brings it up to someone high enough in the food chain to address it.

    The app in question is a custom made app. The CEO’s kid has a degree in computer engineering and software development from a university known for those degrees. The kid had offers from several big players. Instead, he opened up his own company developing apps for companies. His dad forced him to quit and work for him. The app requires access to pretty much everything – location, SMS, contacts, photos, etc. It would be used not only for 2 factor authentication but also: company wide chat, company calendar, facilities calendar, announcements, PTO requests and anything else the CEO decides to add in. Since we have a family plan with both of us, our adult kid and my mother, I’m more than a little concerned about tying my account to a company that plays fast and loose with rules and regulations. When they get sued over something (and the list of possibilities is very long), I don’t want a device on an account in my name being part of the lawsuit. I’m also concerned that there is something in the app that will allow them to wipe the phone of everything and not just company information. In fact, his direct supervisor has advised him NOT to load the app.

    Finally – to answer the question I know someone is thinking – the reason he hasn’t left yet is he’s waiting for a local start up to get off the ground. The current company used to be a better place to work. When it started to go downhill, he was offered a part time position working for a new company. It will probably take another 18 months to get to the point where they can offer a full time position. It would be so incredibly personally fulfilling, not to mention lucrative, that he wants to wait for it.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Wow. So many red flags.

      There is no way I’d be installing that on my personal phone. At worst, I’d be getting a cheap second phone for it on a prepay plan.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      So, the company is using an app from the CEO’s kid–who may very well be disgruntled because his dad ‘forced’ him to shut down his startup and come work in-house?

      What a disaster in the making. Good luck with your husband’s job search!

    3. Observer*

      Yeah, definitely WHEN they get sued.

      And if the app is any good at all, it WILL have the capacity to wipe the entire phone. On the other hand, even if it’s good, they are asking for trouble. Think about this. Companies like Google and Microsoft, etc. spend MILLIONS – and even billions of dollars on their security products. And even than, stuff falls through the cracks. What on earth does your idiot CEO think is going to enable his son, a solo practitioner essentially on a shoestring budget, to do better than some of the best teams in the industry with pretty much blank checks?

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        This. Using a home-grown security program would be risky if you had a large team of experts dedicated to developing and patches security holes in that program.

        Your company has one junior software developer. A developer who may not even have any degrees or experience in software security, and who probably isn’t even motivated or dedicated to doing a good job.

        That thing is guaranteed to have more holes than swiss cheese. And with how much access it demands (on top of the potential legal and data destruction problems), I would not put that on my phone if I could avoid it at all.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Um. One of the first rules of cybersecurity is leave it to the experts. One of the next rules is, if you’re sure you’re an expert and can do this…you aren’t and you shouldn’t.

      I wouldn’t want this app on my phone because I wouldn’t trust it not to screw up lots of things, but also, the company is exposing themselves to a lot of risk here. If anything that could go wrong does (and there’s a pretty big list of things that seem possible and/or probable to me), that will cost them more than getting a reasonable app/tool for the job (or apps/tools for the jobs).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Oh HAIL no. This is terrible. I wouldn’t want that on my phone. Access to everything? Hard pass. I hope the other place gets going really soon so he can bail, because DAMN.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      OMG WTAF. I think the solution here is to buy a burner phone. I don’t know how cheap they are in the US but you can get fairly inexpensive pay as you go plans here and that’s definitely what I’d do in this situation. Is Trac phone still a thing? I had one years ago that I used for a long term temporary phone and it wasn’t too bad. You can get decent enough used phones on eBay if you can get a SIM only plan. And use only that phone for work.

  51. JulieD*

    OP #2: One trick I use for this sort of thing is to politely say, “Sorry, my final answer is no.” If I want to soften it a little, I’ll cheerfully say it like a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant: “Sorry, no. Final answer!” Pretty much everyone gets the reference, and it’s a way to be lighthearted and firm at the same time. The “final” signals that the discussion is over and that continuing to push would cross a boundary.

  52. Professor Ronny*

    #4. At my past university, there was a male professor who always wore a kilt. It was a big deal when he first started but people soon adjusted and no one seemed to care or even notice.

    #5. I teach at one of the 50 largest state schools in the nation and they do this using a Google company called Duo. I could write paragraphs about why it’s a pain but it’s required. I not only have to use it for email but for accessing my online courses, student records, my own records, and more. I end up using it 4-5 times a day.

    That said, our IT department will provide employees without a phone a dongle they can use. Not sure how it works exactly but no phone is required.

  53. Rusty Shackelford*

    So, these 2FA comments are making me wonder… we use 2FA to login from anywhere other than our office desktop (i.e., if I’m at home and want to check mail on my laptop) but it only means I get an access code sent to my phone as a text message. Is my phone still open to being subpoenaed?

    1. DCR*

      No, at least not for civil stuff. I doubt for criminal, but I don’t practice in that area

  54. Anono-me*

    I have all sorts of concerns about the using personal cell phones for business issue.

    But there is one thing that I don’t understand. We have a family plan. If I, my kid, and my spouse all downloaded our separate employers’ master control apps that apply to everyone on the plan or if my kid who has two employers, downloads both on the same phone; what happens then? These apps have snoop functions and could access the other business’s information via the employee phone.

    Also my spouse and I are one of the ‘We are not really fussy about who has what phone.’ couples.

    1. Observer*

      If the app is any good, it’s tied to a single phone / number and doesn’t know or see who else is on the plan. In fact, I’d bet that even if it’s a dumpster fire, it’s still not going to know what else is on the same plan.

  55. mf*

    #3: How about asking this employer to allow you to work remotely for up to X number of months (maybe 6 months) from your start date while you search for affordable housing?

    I’m sure they know that in a very challenging housing market, having extra time to search is a huge advantage when you’re apartment/house hunting.

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      The thing is that OP still needs to be in the area to find housing. I’ve lived in a few major US cities with serious housing shortages. For the most part (unless you are very wealthy and can do something like show up and buy a condo on the spot), you need to actually be in that city to pound the pavement, look at apartments, figure out where you want to be, snap up that available apartment in your price range, etc. Working remote won’t help unless OP wants to parlay this into a permanent remote position and just skip the whole “find an expensive apartment in a high-demand major city” part of the equation.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        If you have a trusted friend or relative in the area that is willing and able to do the legwork for you, it can be much, much easier to find housing even before you arrive. But that’s a pretty big “if”–I had the fortune of having a relative in the area I moved to, but a lot of people won’t have that luxury. Working Mom’s points will be valid for the vast majority of people looking to move.

    2. OP3*

      @mf – Thanks for this idea. Unfortunately, the type of work I do isn’t suited to a remote set up. Hope this advice helps another reader, tho!

  56. Working Mom Having It All*

    For #3, this is why I always tell people that trying to apply for a job in a different city by leaving your address info off your resume, getting a google voice number in your desired area, etc. is a bad idea. Because if you get the job, you have to actually make the move happen and probably can’t count on much help from your employer. If you didn’t want to move to HCOL City, you shouldn’t have applied for a job there. HCOL City has plenty of local workers who most likely have the same qualifications you do, and who wouldn’t need to ask for this sort of thing in order to start work.

    Now obviously it’s possible that you applied to a huge corporation with offices in various places, and the place that happen to work out was HCOL City. Or that this is an internal move to the HCOL City Office. So it’s not really the same thing as fudging that you already live there. But in that case, my guess is that the relocation package they are offering is the best they’re willing to do.

    Most likely if it’s the former (they hired what they thought was a local who turned out to be someone who is “planning” a move to the area), they expect you to turn up on the day and don’t really care that it can be hard to find an apartment there, rents are higher than what you’re used to, etc.

    1. Close Bracket*

      There are lots of steps in between putting a google number on your resume and getting a job offer. At the very least, your actual location will come out when it’s time to schedule an in person interview, although it probably comes out before that point. If somebody can manage to conceal the fact that they are in a different state right up to the point of receiving an offer, kudos to them, man. That’s some serious logistical long game there.

      > HCOL City has plenty of local workers who most likely have the same qualifications you do, and who wouldn’t need to ask for this sort of thing in order to start work.

      What’s that got to do with OP? It’s not OP’s job, or anyone’s, really, to make sure employers have local candidates so they don’t have to wait for a candidate to relocate. Besides, there often aren’t locals who have the same qualifications that the out-of-towners do.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think your last point really depends on the job. I’m running into that now. For an admin position, yeah, there is going to be a local pool, especially in a bigger city. No one seems to be having so much trouble finding suitable candidates that they’re willing to call me.

        For a specialized role, or a manager, director, or higher position, I expect the company would be more willing to consider candidates who are not local. I’ve been trying to convince someone of this, but they haven’t job hunted in ages, did so with a higher-level degree/training, and don’t understand that.

    2. OP3*

      @Working Mom Having It All – you’ve posted at least three comments today that express some version of the idea “if you didn’t want to move to HCOL City, you shouldn’t have applied for a job there.” I think life-changing decisions about financial security and moving to a new city deserve careful consideration. I turned to Alison and this community for some expert advice and thoughtful perspectives.

      The employer paid all my travel and accommodation expenses for the in-person interview, so they’re well aware that I’d be relocating if I’m offered the job. I work in quite a niche field, so they likely don’t have many (if any) local candidates with the depth of experience I have.

      For context, I put a lot of time and effort into researching the organization and possibility of relocating. The recruitment range for this position is ~100k, which means the average rental price is in reach, in theory at least. With this salary, I recognize I’m in a position of privilege, but a “just go and figure it out” approach is definitely too imprudent for my style. Before I give up my current role (lower salary in a not-quite-so-high COL city), I want to know what conditions I can negotiate into a job offer. Thanks to some thoughtful commenters, I also have a few top tips and concrete strategies to go “all out to find affordable housing” in a new city.

  57. Donkey Hotey*

    At my old job, I’d wear a pocketed heavy-cotton utility-kilt on occasion.

    Made mention of this at my new place and a co-worker asked me if I’d ever wear it here. My immediate reply was, “Heavens no! They have pressurized air on the shop floor here!”

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      Ha! For some reason my mind goes to a big burly man in a kilt doing the marilyn monroe pose.

  58. Elizabeth West*

    #4–You mean if women can wear PANTS to work, then men should be able to wear kilts. We had to fight to get the pants approved.

    The only caveat I can think of would be to please wear undergarments beneath the kilt, the way I would wear them under a skirt in case of a sudden breeze (the pressure of doors opening simultaneously, stepping out into the parking lot in windy weather, etc.).

    #5–That would be a hard no for me. I don’t want my personal phone wiped because my company is too cheap to give me even a flip phone.

    1. BethDH*

      No, it makes sense the first way! Basically it’s saying that if a garment is work appropriate, the gender is not very relevant.

  59. IT bad guy*

    I love how employees don’t want to use their personal devices for work – and I get that so we don’t have any kind of requirements like that – BUT want access to our wi-fi (how dare you NOT let me!) for their personal devices that they aren’t using for anything to do with work. We are rural and our only internet option is microwave mesh – and our bandwidth is extremely limited. We have enough to manage our business and have decided not to manage all our employees personal devices too. New employees asking for the wi-fi password get quite indignant when told it isn’t available to them. Someday we will have more options where we are and I will gladly open it up then – but for now I really can’t.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think these are very different issues, though, and, as you acknowledged, your internet situation in a rural area is very different than what most other people have to work with. Given the ubiquity of wi-fi (and at no cost), the expectation of it at a business is understandable, though people should back off once they’re aware of the limitations.

      There are two primary issues with the situation described in this post: cost to the employee and personal data security. The employer in this situation knows that their employees don’t possess the required technology and are asking them to purchase a device and data plan (or units). Even worse, this is a change to their employment agreement – at least if you have to buy a uniform or something, that’s typically covered up front and potentially deductible as a business expense (how do you quantify what portion of your data plan is personal v. work in a shared situation?). I absolutely do not trust an employer with security of my data, either, particularly if we will reach a point that our interests diverge. I advise nearly everyone I know not to use their personal device for work because I have collected enough employees’ phones to know how poorly it makes people feel (“violated” is a term that gets used a lot). Also, places with poor MDM (which it sounds like these people have) require that you give the employer remote-wipe permission so that if you lose your device, they wipe the whole thing (rather than sandboxing, which isolates company data for removal). No thanks.

  60. anon4this*

    OP#1…seriously, you have grown adults pretending to be rowdy children in a Panera? I’d pull out my phone and record them and “shame” the “kids” into “behaving” and maybe post the video online, so the Employees engaging in this nonsense are shamed.
    OP#4…what kind of work is this? I don’t see a problem with kilts. and the whole “cultural appropriation” thing is nonsense, every human on the planet is related about 8 generations apart max (and even then, we all descended from a small pool of people), not sure why something nobody can help or influence (who our ancestors were and where they grew up) makes some people so angry or prideful.

  61. Jedi Squirrel*

    I was in Cleveland for a conference a few years ago. We were having breakfast in a little cafe down an arcade (lots of great food in Cleveland) and a dog walks in to the cafe. Apparently, he’s done this before, because all the regulars knew him. A minute later, his owner comes in after him, wearing a kilt.

    After breakfast, we’re walking to the other end of the arcade and it turns out that the guy in the kilt actually owns a kilt store. A kilt store! I was tempted to buy one on the spot. I definitely will if I ever end up working in a kilt-friendly environment.

  62. cheeky*

    “But personally, I’d say that if women can wear skirts, men should be able to wear kilts.”

    Personally, I disagree. Men, please wear pants. Even in Scotland, kilts are worn for formal or cultural occasions, not every day in the office.

  63. Kix*

    The “rowdy behavior in public” interview scenario made me think of my late mother, who never tolerated disobedient behavior in public. So, I’d probably say to the team in a sharp tone, “Get in the car! We’re leaving right now!”

    And then, if they offered me a job, I’d run, quickly, because who wants to work with such a group of wacakdoodles?

  64. Too Old For This Nonsense*

    OP#2: The phrase, “I’m not in a position to… [whatever]” is extremely useful! You can add an “I’m sorry, I’m… or an “Oh, dear, I’m” or a “Gosh, I’m” if you like, to soften it, but – honestly – it would be massively rude for someone to persist after that!

  65. bluephone*

    Oh wow, Letter 1 is straight out of The Nanny Diaries except that:
    1. it was fiction
    2. the “interview” happened at the potential job site instead of like, a Manhattan McDonald’s
    2b. It went about as well as the OP’s experience did anyway

    Companies that this stupid about hiring/interviewing shouldn’t be allowed to be in business, quite frankly.

  66. Bubsybkat*

    5. First time poster, two factor authentication is becoming standard in IT. This is not about using smart phone technology, but rather about making sure that neither the employee or company’s data is hacked (which sounds like was already an issue). I know a lot of employees outside IT don’t understand the necessity, but it really is a requirement for full security these days.

    I would request that you reach out to the IT support at your employer and determine if there is an alternative multifactor authentication that can be used. It is possible in many systems, but also depends on what the security requirements are for your industry. Anything that deals with finance, credit card processing, or government contracts typically has a higher security requirement across the board.

    1. Observer*

      You don’t seem to have even read the letter, much less the comments.

      Of course 2FA is a good idea. The problem is that the company is requiring that staff HAVE (not everyone does) and use a personal smart phone. THAT is the core of the problem. No halfway decent 2FA system requires the use of a smart phone authenticator app. ALL of them have alternatives. And if a company chooses to not implement them, they can provide the smart phones. Which is to say that the best case explanation is that the company is choosing to cheap out on authentication by requiring staff to use their own personal equipment.

      To make it worse, the OP (TheCrone) has indicated in the comments that this app is actually a homegrown Frankenstein which also has a half a dozen other functions. That’s trash programming right there.

      Anything that deals with finance, credit card processing, or government contracts typically has a higher security requirement across the board.

      This makes the whole thing even worse. When you need higher levels of security you do NOT depend on homegrown moonshine. Nor do you depend on the personal devices of staff that could easily be running insecure versions of the OS and ridden with malware.

  67. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

    OP4, that seems awfully formal. Just how dressy *is* your office that a kilt would be appropriate?

  68. CM*

    #1 — It actually wasn’t clear to me from the question that the OP’s potential job involves direct interaction with children. Does it?

  69. Alf*

    I’m the parent of a kilt wearing teenage boy (14) who would gladly wear his kilt to school (in Australia) if the school would let him. He was even happy to wear the same tartan (Erskine) that the girls skirts are made from. School thought he was joking.But on a more serious side, kilts can be as formal or as casual as you want. My son wore a purple one to his year 6 formal and will probably wear one again to his year 12 formal. In this day and age of multiculturalism, there is nothing wrong with a bloke in a kilt, just check out Kilted Yoga on Youtube or Kilted Yogis on Facebook.

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