telling applicants that their parents are hurting their chances, parking space war, and more

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

1. How do I explain to applicants that their parents are hurting their chances?

I work on the recruitment team for a large company that staffs festivals, conventions, and sporting events. Our roles are customer service roles on a casual basis, meaning a lot of our applicants are young university graduates or recent high school graduates, ranging from 18-21. My job involves booking people for interviews, helping them with their application, and answering any questions they have about the job.

A consistent problem we have is that our younger candidates will have their parent(s), frequently their mothers, call on their behalf asking why an application is taking so long, why they didn’t get a particular shift, etc. Our team has been dealing with this by advising the parent that we can’t discuss anything about an application with a third party and saying that the applicant should contact us directly. We do allow a third party to speak to us in particular circumstances, such as if an applicant has a disability or communication issue.

My worry is that for a lot of these applicants, this is their first job and they don’t have an understanding of professional norms and this could hurt their chances in future jobs. Do you have a script I could potentially use to help with this?

Yep, and good for you for holding firm with the parents and signaling that what they’re doing is inappropriate. To the candidates themselves, the next time you talk with them, I’d say this: “I’m not sure if you know that we got a call from your mother about your application. We explained to her that we won’t discuss applications with a third party and that you’d need to contact us yourself. I realize this might have happened without your knowledge and so we won’t consider it a mark against you, but I wanted to make sure you know that employers will generally consider this unprofessional and that contact from a parent can hurt your chances with future jobs.”

2. My coworker is angry that I took her usual parking spot

My coworker Veronica comes in earlier than me, but recently I have been arriving earlier than she does. Our parking spaces have a couple of short boulevards of grass that separate portions of the parking spaces. She always parks in the space next to the grass if it is available because this enables her to have only one car parked next to hers.

Now that I’ve been coming earlier, I decided to park there. I too like the idea of having only one car parked next to mine in the parking lot, and the tree gives it a lot of shade, which keeps it cooler.

Yesterday, Veronica approached me in my cubicle and said, “You parked in my spot!” I didn’t think much of it as we have no reserved spaces here. I actually thought she was joking.

Well, the next day, the same thing. I got in earlier than Veronica, so parked under the tree next to the boulevard. She again approached me and told me not to park there anymore because it was her spot! I replied that they were all first come first serve, and she now sends dark glares in my direction.

Am I in the wrong? Should I leave the spot open for her, even though there are no reserved spaces? She is on the same level as me, but she does work for the director, and I don’t. Frankly, maybe it’s petty, but I feel like making sure I’m in earlier just so I can take that spot.

In theory, if the spaces aren’t reserved, then you can park in any of them, and Veronica will have to come to terms with that. She’s in the wrong for attempting to claim a spot and giving you a hard time about it.

That said, if Veronica is a respected employee with a lot of influence (especially with your director), the cost of pissing her off may not be worth it. So you should factor in the internal politics in your organization. (That’s irritating, but it’s also the reality in some workplaces. You can’t always go on the pure principle of something.)

3. I agreed to stay at my job two weeks ago, but am probably about to quit anyway

I recently switched positions from one department to another (I had been in another department for 4.5 years and had a great reputation across the company — I just got bored and wanted to try something new). Unfortunately the fit, in addition to the lack of training, corporate culture on that end of the business, and the fact the company is about to be sold (which was not disclosed at the time I took the role) had me ready to quit about two weeks ago. I gave notice, but my boss seemed surprised and asked if I could be persuaded to stay. I felt guilty and agreed to stay, citing the aspects of the role I did like, but told myself I’d interview elsewhere anyway. I’m already on a second interview next week and think I’ll get an offer. I’m trying to think of what to say if I get the new job so soon after agreeing to stay. Will my reputation be ruined? Will I get a bad reference? I know they are not backfilling positions given the sale.

Nah, you can just say, “As you know, I’d been thinking of leaving, and one of the feelers I’d put out resulted in an offer that I can’t pass up.” Or you could say, “I appreciated your interest in me staying, but after a lot of thought, I’ve decided this is the right move for me.”

If they wanted to be absolutely sure you’d stay, they’d have given you a contract — which U.S. employers generally don’t do (in most fields) because that would bind them too. They didn’t, and so you’re a free agent. And I get that you feel weird about the fact that you just agreed to stay, but circumstances change and a decent employer will understand that you need to make the decision that’s best for you.

4. Same situation, different circumstances

My boss has been at my company for about a year and around three months in, it became very evident to me that he was not suited for the job. He was well meaning but just didn’t have the skills necessary to be a leader of an entire department.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a while but around six months in, I brought my concerns to his boss. The big boss was gracious and heard me out and I let them deal with it while stewing in my own misery of cleaning up his mistakes and getting complaints from our departments staff about him. It was rough and I was put into a pretty awkward position with this but tried to be diplomatic as possible and didn’t let on to the staff that I agreed with them. I decided to start looking for a new job because it didn’t seem like my boss was going anywhere and the big boss was “working on the challenges with him.”

Then things got worse. Our annual company survey came out a month ago, and the employees in our department ripped my boss to shreds, calling him incompetent. The big boss immediately booked a trip to our office to do damage control. When the big boss was here, I laid out for him that I was looking for a job and wouldn’t be around much longer and he asked if he let my boss go would I stay. Two weeks later, my boss gets fired with the intent for my to take over his job. However, I just got offered an amazing opportunity, but I feel guilty for taking it. I feel as though if I hadn’t threatened to quit, then my boss may have not gotten fired. How do I quit as delicately as possible given the situation?

This one is trickier than #3 because your employer took specific action based on your statement that you’d stay. But even here, you get to do what’s right for you — and given that you first raised the problems with your boss nine months ago, it’s not unreasonable that you’ve been job searching, and that that search has now resulted in an offer better than your current situation. And that’s the way I’d frame it: “Because the issues with Bob have been going on for so long, I’d been talking with other places, and one of them has made me an offer that’s too good for me to pass up.” You should add, “I’m committed to doing whatever I can to help with the transition over the next two weeks and would be glad to work with you on a plan for what would be the most helpful.”

They probably won’t be thrilled. You’re a piece of their plan that will now have to be reworked. But you shouldn’t feel like if you hadn’t spoken up, Bob would still have a job. It sounds like firing Bob was the right outcome here regardless of your own plans. Yes, you’re taking away the very easy option of having someone on the spot all ready to step into the role, but they’ll presumably find a replacement somewhere else, which is a very normal way for this to go down.

5. Was my new boss joking that I shouldn’t take sick days?

I’m starting a new job within my company, and my soon-to-be new boss said something that gave me pause. He works remotely, but stopped by the main office last week to meet me in person (up until now, we have only spoken on the phone). Unfortunately, I happened to be out sick that day. When we were following up on the phone today, he teased me about being absent, then stated “You’re in [new department] now. You don’t call out sick.” I brushed it off as a joke in the moment, but now I’m concerned that using my sick days in the future could damage my reputation in the eyes of my new boss. On the other hand, this might just be playful razzing. In either case, how can I address these concerns without potentially jeopardizing my relationship with my new boss?

I’d hope/assume it was just a bad joke — it’s the kind of thing some bosses will joke about without realizing people will worry about whether they should take it seriously. But, since this is an internal move, one thing you could do meanwhile is to discreetly check with people on the team you’re moving into about what your new boss is like as a manager, and whether that sounds like a remark he meant seriously. They’re going to be well-positioned to tell you exactly how to take it.

{ 530 comments… read them below }

  1. Agent J*

    OP#2: Although you technically haven’t done anything wrong by taking the parking spot, is it really worth having Veronica on the war path / retailate against you / plotting your demise? If she could affect your happiness or reputation at work, just let her have the parking spot. It’s silly but that’s office politica for you.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I kind of agree. My inner Petty LaBelle would do as OP is tempted to do. But my more mature side would want to deescalate (unless I gave no Fs about Veronica and didn’t care if she or my other coworkers knew about it).

      1. PharmaCat*

        I disagree- don’t validate your coworkers poor behavior. If she really is foolish enough to believe she has entitlement to this parking spot, and you agree, this could progress in other areas of work as well. You won’t get credit for allowing her to have the nice parking spot, and will open the door to other unnecessary power plays. (yes, this is a worst case scenario, but it’s been a tough week)

        1. Aphrodite*

          So do I. Petty tyrants like this co-worker behave like this because no one challenges them on it. And soon they assume that they alone deserve it. I wouldn’t escalate this but IF you are the first one in you can choose your own parking spot (including that one). If you aren’t and it’s taken, well, then it’s taken. Be gracious in both instances.

          1. Parker*

            I was going to say something similar – be prepared for her to come in even earlier, and possible be smug and say something, but don’t react.

        2. Sun Tzu*

          Fully agree with PharmaCat.
          I’ve realized (albeit too late) that if you let someone take the upper hand over you in the workplace without a good reason, that’ll extend in other areas and only get worse. If instead you fight back (gently and reasonably, but firmly) you’ll 1) feel much better and 2) stop that bullying behavior.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Yeah it sounds like Veronica is trying to intimidate/bully OP. She feels entitled to that spot. I understand this…she has been parking there for a while, but that’s irrelevant…it’s not her spot. She should just expect that it’s not going to be available 100% of the time. It might be open 99% of the time and to this point she managed to snag it before anyone else got there, but that does not make it hers. AFAIK there is no such thing as squatters rights in parking lots.

            1. New Job So Much Better*

              Brings up the image of Sheldon Cooper trying to control his parking spot….

            2. JessaB*

              Seriously if she thinks she’s entitled to the spot, let her go to management and have them label the spot for her. She’s being annoying.

              On the other hand I kind of agree with Alison that this is not a hill to die on. Because if she does start other stuff, you’d have used up all your capital on the parking thing and won’t have anything left for other more important things. As others have said if she’s petty about a parking spot, she’s going to be petty about other way more important things.

              Pretend it’s like Monopoly you start with x amount of play money, once you spend it, you have to have people hit on your properties to get more, and they may not do that. Regaining capital is like that. You spend it and it could take a long time to get it back. Also it will probably make you look like the petty one instead of her.

              I’m snarky so I’d probably tell her “Okay you won the parking war…but only because I bowed out of the battle. It’s not worth it to me,” but that would probably get you in hot water

              1. RabbitRabbit*

                I’d be tempted to park right next to it and right up on the line, but I’m petty.

        3. Holly*

          I don’t think it’s *that* silly – it reminds me of college classes or even meeting seats where folks tend to sit in the same spot every class/every meeting despite seats not being reserved and people generally respect that. If someone suddenly sat in my seat, I’d feel like that was an aggressive power move.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I find it funny in sit coms when the usual characters glower with seething hatred at some folks who have taken over THEIR BOOTH: it’s a nice bit of observational humor. But part of it rests on the booth not being clearly better than all the other seats, just part of the glarer’s routine. With the parking spot, shade and only one neighboring car are clear benefits lots of people would like to have.

            1. Working Mom Having It All*

              On the other hand, the benefits of the spot also make it all the more petty to steal it out from under someone. Like… you can’t let this person have their one nice thing that brightens their day a little bit? You find out about something someone else enjoys and you have to steal it from them immediately? Yikes.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                yeah, this.

                Every time somebody insists that something “isn’t a big deal”, I’m tempted to point out that they are making just as big a deal about it as the person about whom they’re complaining. If they genuinely thought it wasn’t a big deal, they’d let it go and let the other person have/do whatever it is that’s the issue.

          2. Emily K*

            Once, back in the dark ages when I went to college, I had taken a particular seat in the front row of a classroom one fall semester for the first few weeks. For medical reasons I need to be as close to the front and center of a classroom as I can get. A few weeks in, I caught a fall respiratory thing and missed a week of classes. When I came back the next week, someone was sitting in my usual spot, so I just sat in the row behind her as that was the next-most close to the front and central desk. This repeated for a couple of weeks after that – from that point on, she was always already in that desk by the time I got to the classroom, so I would take the seat behind her.

            Well, you know how with respiratory illness, there’s always a cough that hangs on for a long while after the main illness has passed? I had one of those, and one day maybe 2-3 weeks since the week I missed class and “lost my seat” to her because she’d gotten used to sitting in it while I was out, she whirled around and went off on me for always sitting behind her and coughing throughout the class and it was disgusting. I don’t even remember what I said, I was thrown so off-balance, I just remember thinking, for 3 weeks I sat in the front row and wouldn’t be coughing over anybody’s shoulder if she hadn’t moved into my seat during my absence!

          3. boo bot*

            Yeah, it’s one of those things where it’s not reasonable for Veronica to expect that her spot-rights be respected, and she obviously needs to deal with it if someone gets there before her… *but* if someone who knows she always parks there suddenly starts showing up early just to park in that spot, it’s not totally bonkers to feel like that’s a power play, as you say.

            I think the Sheldon Cooper comparison above is the right one: everyone else agrees he’s completely unreasonable about people sitting in “his” seat on the couch – but when Penny actually sits in it *on purpose* everyone else understands that as an aggressive power move.

            So, OP, you are technically correct (the best kind of correct!) but I think Veronica’s attachment to this parking space means that you’re going to come across more aggressively than you want to at work, especially over something so minor.

            1. Emily K*

              This principle is also at the root of nearly every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The basic gist of each story is: “Larry is technically right about something, so he refuses to let it go even though he’s alienating everyone around him.”

              The part where he’s almost always in the right is important. Most people think he’s an ass, but he thinks of himself as a person who cares about fairness and that he’s a good person because he always follows the rules himself. The show repeatedly illustrates situations where being technically right is not the most important or relevant factor.

            2. Ms. Ann Thropy*

              Sheldon is an incredibly obnoxious character, and anyone who acts like he does should be opposed and challenged at every turn.

            3. many bells down*

              Yeah, I have to say, I feel some sympathy for Veronica. If I’d gotten used to parking in a particular spot and then suddenly the same person was parking there every day, I admit I’d be pretty annoyed. Would I say anything? Probably not, because I know it’s not actually “my” space. But I would definitely feel like that person was targeting me somehow.

              1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                The thing is, objectively that spot can be seen as the best spot (shade, less chances of a ding, I am guessing close to the door?). And it is weird to me that you could feel targeted because someone else also wants the best spot. People are always going to want nice things, and no one should have default dibs on the very best thing just because they are gonna be a giant cranky child if someone else uses it.

          4. mcr-red*

            I’m that way with “my” locker at the gym. There’s one I always go to, and when it’s not available, I’m inappropriately mad about it. But I’d never go up to them and be like, “Hey, that’s MY locker, don’t take MY locker.”

            I have a coworker parking story though. We have another department’s assistant to the regional manager that flips if someone parks in THEIR parking space. “Dwight” will literally go through the building and ask who is the person with the make/model/color car that is parked in THEIR parking space. “Michael” the regional manager doesn’t even have a special assigned parking space! So one day, Dwight comes storming in and asks who has the make/model/color car that is parked in THEIR parking space. A former co-worker who hasn’t worked here in years says, “Oh that’s me” and Dwight says you need to move your car now, it’s in MY parking space. Former co-worker is like, “Oh, OK, I was leaving anyway and does.” Dwight basically just yelled at a customer and told them to move their car. We all complained and I haven’t seen Dwight do that since.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              I actually knew someone who had some compulsions around getting the same spot each time. Even she was abashed when she asked if she could have “her” chalkboard, and usually explained that she had OCD and it made it a bad day for her if she had to switch things up in Chinese class.

            2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              I worked in fitness. There actually are many people who will, in fact, go up to someone and pick a fight because someone is using “their” locker/treadmill/lane in the pool/favorite shower. Sometimes to the point of violence. Staff have to break this up and in some cases, call a meeting on a separate date to talk to them about their behavior and future consequences if they don’t comply.

              I am 100% not kidding.

              1. Liz*

                This doesn’t surprise me. I work with a guy who I suspect has some anxiety and OCD issues. He comes in before anyone, and parks in the same spot every day. Ok fine, no issue. BUT if he happens to go out at lunch, or come in later for some reason, and someone is in that spot, he jokes about it, but i can tell he’s actually kind of serious and annoyed someone had the NERVE to park there. He once asked me, when he had been out for a couple of days, who had parked in ‘his” spot. Um, i don’t know, didn’t look, and don’t care! And once got irritated because someone had the nerve to park in the space next to his, and leave their car overnight! “why couldn’t they just park somewhere else, why did it have to be next to me????”

                I myself have a favorite space i like to park in. which I do if its available when I get here. If not, i park in the next one over. no biggie.

            3. Not the Boss*

              Similar. My Dad had an assigned spot at his job, but when he was out, his assistant would park there. I worked in the same office park, and would frequently carpool with him. One day, we drove my car in. He quickly got pulled into a meeting and didn’t go into his office. When his assistant came in and saw my car (she knew it was mine) in the spot, she had me towed. She came over to my office (i.e. the basement) and dropped the towing place’s business card on my desk with a “you’ll need to call them to get your car back.” I didn’t do anything right away, and a couple hours later a panicking “Karen” came down into the basement and asked if I would mind going with her to the tow lot to get the car, because my father was now in the office and wanted to know why the car he drove in was no longer in his parking space. “Karen” never parked in that spot again.

          5. Not A Morning Person*

            We had something similar when a new organization moved into our shared office building. Their start time is at least one to two hours earlier than most other businesses in the building so they started parking in the coveted spaces with shade and everyone who came in later had to work around them. There was a bit of grumbling, but everyone knows the spaces are not reserved, but it still felt unfair because of years of precedent for where particular people had been parking. Oh well. Just something that took a while to adjust to.

          6. Koala dreams*

            Yes, that’s super weird. Whatever seat you happen to choose on the first day is then the seat you are going to use every day. Especially in something like a class. Why can’t you give other people the chance to sit in the front/back occasionally? I guess habits are really important for some people.

            With this coworker, I guess they use the rule “always sit in the same seat” also for parking their car, and probably nothing you do will make them see it your way, they will just keep thinking you are the rude one. Even if most people accept the idea that the car spaces are first come first serve, it’s unlikely you would convince the coworker.

          7. mmppgh*

            I agree with you, Holly. Veronica behaved badly but LW2 was kinda entitled too. If I knew a colleague always parked in the same exact spot, I would not snag their usual space out of simple courtesy. Seniority or title is irrelevant. I wouldn’t do it to the janitor anymore than I’d do it to the CEO.

        4. NothingIsLittle*

          I mean, yeah, technically it will reinforce bad behavior, but is it really the hill you want to die on? OP2 said her coworker is close to the director, so she might have influence over things like raises or promotions, even if just indirectly through complaining about OP2. Is it worth risking her future at the company for the principle of it?

          For some people, it will be and that’s totally fine. But for me, it seems like there are better things to spend your energy and clout on than a parking spot (unless there’s something OP2 hasn’t mentioned, like that the parking lot has frequent bad parkers or minor bumps that would necessitate more wiggle room to avoid repairs).

        5. Trout 'Waver*

          I concur. If someone is willing to expend political capital or create conflict and dram for a specific parking space when there are ample spots, it puts them firmly in deranged loon territory. I think any reasonable person would think less of Veronica if she tried to smear OP#2 over a parking space.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            But she’s not smearing OP2, she’s just sulking and glaring. Veronica’s far more likely to do mildly annoying things that will make OP the jerk if she complains and/or subconsciously or subtly speak poorer of OP in front of the director and potentially hurt her chances of a raise/promotion/preferred projects. Obviously, it’ll depend on the office, but it’s far more likely that OP’s going to get burned than Veronica.

            I’d also like to point out that Veronica’s clearly not the first person in every day, but the spot is still open when she gets there even though it’s prime real estate. That tells me that office culture lets her have that spot and she’s probably got a greater social currency than OP. I’d be hesitant to bank on Veronica looking like the jerk when it’s not unlikely that OP will be seen as the aggressor.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              I completely disagree. If the office culture is so petty that these things are real issues, it has got to be a completely miserable place from top to bottom. If there are professional consequences for taking a non-reserved parking spot, the manager is incompetent and the office culture is terrible.

            2. Anne Noise*

              If Veronica retaliates with other petty nuisances over the perceived slight of a “stolen” parking space, I don’t see how it would be inappropriate to directly address that with Veronica or her supervisor when that happens. If she’s just generally annoyed about it, she can get over herself and find another space.

          2. Yorick*

            But from some people’s perspective, OP will be the one expending political capital and creating conflict and drama for a specific parking space. If you’ve been there a while and Veronica has been parking there that whole time, and all of a sudden you started getting in earlier and parking there, it will look to some people like you stole her spot even though it’s not technically hers.

        6. Michaela Westen*

          I agree not to validate the bullying behavior. Try answering her politely when she gets petty. No matter how upset she gets, you stay calm and professional. That will make her look like the troublemaker. Which she is.

        7. Imaginary Number*

          I think it’s possible to avoid a war without completely giving in to Veronica’s ridiculous claim:

          When she complains, try: “I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to keep track of everyone’s preferred parking spots when they aren’t assigned.” And maybe take it on some days and not others.

          Which is true. It might be only Veronica who cares about it right now, but if everyone in the workplace started self-assigning their preferred spot, that would be impossible to keep track of. OP can brush it off as “sorry, I’m not tracking everyone’s preferred spot” and avoid making it about Veronica.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            I don’t think this can work since Veronica clearly identified this one spot, that the OP just started parking in, as her preferred spot. It would sound really disingenuous for OP to claim not to remember Veronica talking to her about it.

            I can’t believe there’s only one ‘perfect’ spot, but this is my take:
            If OP continues to get in early just to park there, OP will look really petty.
            If Veronica continues to complain, Veronica will look increasingly unhinged.
            If Veronica starts arriving super-early just to park there, OP should *not* escalate. Don’t weaponize first come, first served. (Also this totally happened at my previous work site but the situation was, if you didn’t arrive increasingly early, you would not get any spot in the close lot and would have a 20+ min walk from the next available lot + the time lost driving around. “Arrive increasingly early” was literally the solution offered by TPTB.)

            1. Imaginary Number*

              I think the point would be not to claim that “I don’t remember you talking to me about it” but rather “I know you have a preferred spot, but so do a lot of people and I don’t keep a diagram in my car.”

              1. Imaginary Number*

                But, as you pointed out, this doesn’t work if OP decides to get there early just of the spot. If they happen to park there once or twice a week it’s easy to claim that they’re just not keeping track of everyone’s preferred spots.

              2. The New Wanderer*

                Ohh, gotcha, and it’s a good point. I was interpreting from the side of Veronica not being reasonable enough to hear it as neutral since she very clearly believes she has a claim on that spot and probably thinks OP is doing it deliberately now.

        8. Jasnah*

          Eh, I don’t want to take on the role of retraining an adult in basic life social skills. Let her have the parking spot and live to fight another day. It sounds like she cares 110% about this and OP cares maybe 40% so I don’t see what there is to gain from picking a fight over the principle of the thing.

      2. valentine*

        If you trust your colleagues not to support any vengeance, park where you want. It’s not as though you’re the first two in and you’re zooming into the spot, throwing gravel on her windshield like an ’80s high school villain. I would try parking at another boulevard (unless there’s only one tree, and why doesn’t she?) sometimes, to see whether others take the spot and she hunts them down.

        1. Mookie*

          Yep. Veronica is your bog-standard unreasonable person, but given the ubiquity of bogs, lots of people are, too, and how the LW decides to proceed should be based on how many other unreasonable people work with or manage her. If it’s disruptive to everyone else AND the disruption appears to stem not from Veronica hollering foul more publicly but by people taking Veronica’s side, I’d die on a bigger hill.

          1. Myrin*

            Agreed on all counts. So far, Veronica’s only reaction to OP’s very reasonable “[the parking spots] were all first come first serve” is to send “dark glares” in her direction. If all she’s doing in sulking and OP can live with her coworker’s glares, well, keep on parking where you are. If by now – since we don’t know how long ago OP sent in this letter – Veronica has escalated her behaviour or others have been involved or similar, proceed with caution and try to suss out what’s ultimately more important to you.

        2. Myrin*

          I’m wondering, generally, about that last part of your last sentence – OP says “[Veronica] always parks in the space next to the grass if it is available”, meaning it sometimes is not available. I wonder if that is something that OP has simply observed by virtue of also being at the car park or if Veronica’s made a fuss about that non-availability before (although I’m guessing she’d have mentioned it if that were the case).

        3. Spottie*

          If OP bows to the regime then OP may end up in someone else’s favourite spot and have the same problem all over again. How much does someone move out of the way to accommodate everyone? Spots are not assigned so it’s whoever is first gets the spot.

      3. Haga*

        Your “more mature” side needs to go into witness protection.

        This is how bullies thrive, by assuming that no one will make a scene.

    2. namelesscommentator*

      I think Veronica going on a war path over this would undermine her reputation, not OPs.

      I’d need to know more about the parking lot to know how relatively desirable the spot is … But I thought it was universally understood that parking lots are first come first serve and the prime spots get taken first.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        I worked at a west coast software company that got a new CEO from a more traditional east coast company. One of the many things that lowered his esteem in our eyes was publicly complaining that he didn’t have a parking spot with his name on it.

        1. MK*

          With his name on it? In my org, even when people have dedicated places (which actually serves a purpose, there aren’t enough spaces for everyone and the heads get them because they are the ones who come in every day), the sign always reads the position, not the name of the person who happens to occupy it.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            I think that’s just a turn of phrase here — like when you say, “There’s a cupcake at home with my name on it!” I imagine SusanIvanova just means that he was upset that there wasn’t a space reserved for him.

            1. Marni*

              In my line of work (TV production) assigned parking spots do indeed have names on them. It’s not a status/ego thing — senior and junior people alike get them, and then there are a couple “guest” spots. It is a thrill to start a new job and see your name on your spot. It also increases efficiency to know where you’re parking. One of my early bosses had a “bad” parking spot, a long way from his office, and I asked if he wanted to have us get him a better one. He reasonably responded that he didn’t care which spot he got, as long as he had one so he didn’t have to spend any energy hunting for a spot or remembering where he’d parked. I thought that made a lot of sense.

              So I feel a bit bad for the CEO mentioned above who was out of sync with the culture where he’d landed, but where he came from having an assigned spot was probably 100% normal.

              (I also once had to ask to switch places in a row of parking spaces because having the end space was so much easier for my bad knees and my elderly dog, and it had initially been assigned to someone who only came in about once a week. I was highly ranked on that gig, and I felt SO AWKWARD using my clout to get the best space, I can still remember overexplaining that I wasn’t asking for the best space for my ego, but for practical reasons.)

        2. wittyrepartee*

          Eastcoaster here- we roll our eyes at these people too. I’ve worked at exactly one place that had a system like this. This is partially because I’ve primarily worked in NYC, where the idea of dedicated parking spaces translates to insane and frivolous luxury. Still though…

          1. MOAS*

            NYC equivalent would be a desired seat on the subway/bus.

            I usually take an express bus to work. It costs more and takes a little more time but the comfort and safety is worth it for me. I get on at the first stop, so I do have a “desired” seat. Once a new person was on the bus and waiting before me so as per the “rules” they got on before me, and sat in my exact desired spot. I was majorly (inappropriately ofc) annoyed but found another seat. NBD.

            OTOH, I think I was sitting in someone’s desired seat b/c when they got on, they sat directly in front of me (the entire bus was empty) and leaned their seat all the way back. It no longer happens but man that was petty AF.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I stand in a certain spot on my morning commute (if I sit I’ll fall asleep).
              Occasionally someone else is standing in it and I feel a little annoyed, but I can manage.
              Unlike Veronica, I’m a grown-up.

        3. Princess PIP*

          I guess that’s one of the highlights of working on SF for me: ZERO parking spaces!

        4. Paquita*

          Our 90 year old company owner just recently got a reserved place in front of the building. And only because his kids insisted.

      2. Life is Good*

        Me, too. The parking spaces are first come, first served unless they have specific people’s names on them. People get possessive about the weirdest things. I hope OP doesn’t try to get there early just to get the coveted spot. If you do, Veronica still wins because now you’re structuring your life around this silly battle.

        1. Emily K*

          Yeah, I think there’s a balance that could maybe be struck if OP happens to get in early and take the space sometimes, but other times comes in later and parks elsewhere. By treating it as no big deal either way – of course I take the shady spot if it’s available but I’m not going to pout about it if it’s not – she’d be modeling mature behavior that would only make Veronica look like even more of a child by comparison.

      3. LQ*

        It doesn’t need to be a war path to sour a professional relationship. Sometimes part of your job is to behave professionally toward coworkers. (Note that doesn’t say, unless they are childish then you can do whatever you want.)

        And the much more likely outcome is not Veronica goes on a war path, but instead Veronica subtly, or even subconsciously does things that make OPs life just a tad bit harder. You can slam your fist on the table and declare that unjust, but then you look absurd.

        Your life at work will always be harder if you are unbending and never ever willing to park in a slightly different spot or say good morning. Go for it if you want. But at the end of the day I’d say don’t park there unless you know Veronica’s out, it’s not worth the battle, save the good will for something that matters.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          I agree, and I’d like to point out that Veronica specifically has the directors ear. If the director is at all involved in raises or promotions, just hearing bad things about OP might be enough to jeopardize them. And that’s if Veronica isn’t specifically sabotaging OP and is just sulking. Unless there is a specific reason that would necessitate OP taking the parking spot, poor parking or frequent minor bumps by others, it seems like in the most likely outcome only OP gets hurt.

          1. JessaB*

            I just thought of something, if that’s the prize spot, and the company is one of those sorts that do things like employee of the month, why not suggest to the nominating committee to label that space for that employee. So that each month a specific employee gets to park there.

            On the other hand if as some people have said there’s an issue with door dents and poor parkers, that’s an entirely different issue and absolutely needs to be addressed up the chain. If people want that space because their car’s been bumped, even if it’s not damaged, management needs to deal with that. Which could mean deciding to lose a couple of spaces and re paint the parking lot with slightly wider slots.

            1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              A lot of companies lease their property, so fiddling with the parking lot is not likely to be doable for many places.

          2. Jasnah*

            Exactly. If I was the director, even if I knew Veronica was being unreasonable, I still wouldn’t approve of OP aggravating her just to be petty and stand up for the principle of the thing.

        2. MOAS*

          This is the problem with situations like this — literally every single point stated here can apply to both OP and Veronica. (IMO FWIW I thnk Veronica is a petty, entitled jerk. It’s one thing to FEEL annoyed, it’s another to actually verbalize it when you’re so so in the wrong.

          1. Human Sloth*

            Yep. Both the OP and Veronica need a dose of Elsa singing “Let It Go.” BUT, the peon in my feels for the OP.

        3. tangerineRose*

          “Your life at work will always be harder if you are unbending and never ever willing to park in a slightly different spot or say good morning” This!

      4. Artemesia*

        ah but she doesn’t need to go on the war path. She could be perfectly as usual but when the boss says ‘I’m thinking of OP for the Frkl account’ she could muse ‘oh, the way she comes across as sort of cold to customers — I’d be worried that might put off Ma Frkl.’ There are so many ways to ‘get back’ at someone without appearing unreasonable.

    3. Washi*

      Yeah, I think the biggest factor here is not actually Veronica but office popular opinion. Veronica is being extremely petty, but so is OP, and “she started it” is not going to fly at the office. The story will likely be “OP and Veronica are childishly feuding about a parking space” rather than “Veronica is being childish about her parking space.”

      If I were going to go the petty route, I would cede the spot and put up an elaborately decorated lawn sign there with “Veronica’s special space.”

      1. last_codon*

        How is OP being extremely petty? She simply parked in a free for all spot she happened to reach first. Veronica, on the other hand, is acting like Sheldon Cooper, but even worse, because the parking spot was never really hers.

        1. Washi*

          I meant that the course OP is tempted to take – get there early and deliberately take that spot each time even if she doesn’t care that much – would be extremely petty.

          Not that Veronica doesn’t deserve it. But work is rarely about people getting what they deserve.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I mean, OP has described their dream approach as petty, and I suspect they wouldn’t actually do it. MommyMD is noting that malicious pettiness will read to others as more immature than the original Veronica pettiness. That’s true, and I think OP knows it.

              1. The Supreme Troll*

                No, Veronica’s pettiness about a parking space that is not hers stands head & shoulders above the OP’s “pettiness” (which is not pettiness at all…just something a normal employee would do).

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  If OP is a woman, she needs to be doubly careful. Her unwillingness to yield to Veronica could get her labeled a bitch, not a team player, etc. and start a chain reaction that could lead to career damage.

              2. last_codon*

                Can’t agree with you there. It is incredibly entitled to treat a free spot as yours, and expect the rest of the world to conform to that. Apart from Sheldon Cooper, it brings to mind high school bullies defending “their” lunch table. It’s something that shouldn’t come up at a professional environment. OP’s hypothetical reaction (she hasn’t actually started coming earlier just to take the spot) is somewhat petty, but for me, it’s understandable.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            “…get there early and deliberately take that spot each time…”

            I think OP was being more or less tongue-in-cheek and not really serious.

          2. Lucette Kensack*

            I think you’re right that the impression in the office will be “OP and Veronica are childishly feuding about a parking space,” even if all the OP does is continue to park in that spot when she happens to get to work earlier than Veronica. Folks who don’t capitulate to Veronicas can get caught up in the bad impression, unfortunately.

          1. Mookie*

            No, she wants to beat her to the punch because the spot is choice (LW likes the shade and both of them like the benefits of the planter). She certainly didn’t say the point of doing so was to needle Veronica, but it does sound like that is how Veronica feels about it and that’s her problem, she owns it, and what it is, too.

            1. Emily K*

              She said, “maybe it’s petty,” and up til now the perks of that spot haven’t been enough to motivate her to get in early every day and take it, which suggests that the reason she is acknowledging the move might be petty is because it’s motivated more by wanting to check Veronica’s entitlement than the benefits of parking there being worth the effort otherwise.

              1. Mookie*

                She said this began because she got to work incidentally early, not that she began to come in early to take the spot.

                1. Jasnah*

                  But she said she would continue it with the purpose of getting the spot. And it would be petty because she would be pushing back on Veronica.

                2. Mookie*

                  Veronica doesn’t own the spot. Wanting the spot says nothing about Veronica and everything about the spot. “Pushing back” on someone’s unreasonable expectations is not petty and it’s not what the LW herself is calling “petty.”

          2. Oaktree*

            I’ve noticed that you almost always take a dim view of the LW, and look for ways to demean their character. Your comments are frequently in bad faith.

            It’s not a good look, and I’m not the only person who’s noticed this.

            1. LCL*

              It’s not a good look? That’s a modern passive aggressive construct that says nothing. If you believe she is being cruel, or disagree with what she said, or believe there are better ways to state her opinion you can say so directly.

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          This. Unless Veronica working for the director would negatively affect OP, I say that OP can park wherever she likes and Veronica can just deal with it.

          We have pretty limited (though more or less adequate) parking. I am the boss. Most people leave the closest spot for me but that’s more about my disabilities than my status (even though I suspect there is some of that as well) but not always. Especially if no one is particularly expecting me to be in office that day. Yanno what? I don’t get all pissy about it if it’s already taken…even on days they know I’m going to be in.

          We are in no way “flat” even though I don’t act all “above” everyone else, and I could reserve/demand a spot be left available at all times, but I’m not petty like that. If I was simply a peer? Oh please Veronica, the world doesn’t owe you convenience.

        3. Antilles*

          I mean, no it’s not reserved and it’s technically a free-for-all, but people tend to fall into habits and preferences…and this is very standard for all walks of life.
          In college classrooms, there’s usually no ‘reserved’ seats, but in most lectures, the seats that people sit in on week 1 are the same seats that they’ll be sitting in at the end of the semester. Same deal with open offices/bullpen style offices – even though all desks are completely identical and not reserved, people tend to fall into a pattern with their seating. Even something as simple as a weekly meeting often ends up with people sort of falling into a pattern and always having the same seat.
          …And in all these cases, people tend to get kind of put-off if you take *their* area. Is it really worth the hassle to argue with someone over it?

          1. Roscoe*

            This is exactly it. I’m guessing OP has a few things like this that are hers that she would be put off if some newbie came in and took those things after seeing that she had them. Its pretty normal in offices to have a certain spot or mug that is yours.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              This is true but that does not make it right. At work I have a particular coffee mug that I use and like because it is wide, easy to clean, and will hold 18 oz of coffee. I did not buy it, it belongs to the office. I am usually the first one in the office and will use it. But on occasion other people have gotten to the office before me and used the mug I like. When that has happened I am annoyed that I was not able to use the mug I like, but I would never get upset at the person for using the mug nor would I say anything.

              Just because we get used to sitting , using something in particular does not give us ownership of said item.

              1. Princess PIP*

                So buy your own mug. People can’t construct their own parking spaces, but sounds like you could alleviate your irritation quite easily.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  You are right I could buy my own mug but I don’t want to since we already have so many, I think we are on the same side. I am annoyed at the situation, but never at the person. Even though I am annoyed (annoyed might be wrong/to strong a word, maybe irked is more accurate) at the situation, I am NOT upset with the person. I would NEVER go up to someone and complain that they are using “my mug.”

                  My point is even though we all have habits Veronica is being unreasonable for thinking she owns the parking space just because she had a habit of parking there.

          2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            But if *their* area is better or more desirable in some way – a better seat, a view of the window, then it is reasonable that other people would want it sometimes too. If these things are first come first serve, people shouldn’t have to leave something that they want that is free to take alone, just because someone else had it a different day.

            1. ChimericalOne*

              Agreed. I’m the kind of person who would always sit in the same seat (as are most of us!) and I would, in general, be annoyed if someone came & took my seat, forcing me to break my habit, but if I scored a seat on Day 1 that happened to have some kind of perk (e.g., right by the A/C in a hot room), I would expect that inertia would not be enough to hold that seat for me if I was late or absent or if someone else happened to be earlier one day.

              Which is to say: In general, you shouldn’t take something that someone else has a claim to (even if that claim is just habit/frequent use) WHEN all things are otherwise equal. BUT if things aren’t otherwise equal, they should expect to have to go out of their way to protect their claim (arrive early, etc.), given that their claim is weak.

              “Hey, that’s my spot!” only works if the spot isn’t a coveted one — otherwise, you can’t really expect people to respect “dibs.” Hopefully, Veronica works this out & lets it drop. (Also, the OP might improve the situation by sometimes arriving early and NOT parking there, which would suggest to Veronica that it’s not a power play / being done out of spite, and that the OP is willing to “share.” (Just arriving later doesn’t communicate the same thing, since Veronica has no way of knowing whether you were later than her on purpose or unavoidably.))

            2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

              This! I think OP should park wherever she wants. If she is first and the spot-veronica-claims-as-her-own is free, why shouldn’t she park there? If it isn’t free, just park somewhere else. What I wouldn’t do if I were OP, is deliberately come in early just for that parking spot. I mean, 5-10 minutes is no biggy, 20 or more… that’s deliberate and, well, very childish.

          3. Bulldog*

            Its not just college classrooms. If you want real entertainment watch long time church members walk in the sanctuary and find someone new sitting in “their” pew. I’ve actually seen church members tell new people that they need to move. Yes, in church.

            1. Bookworm1858*

              I’ve wanted to do that several times! Luckily I’ve bitten my tongue and simply texted friends to complain.

              Unsurprisingly, I am also possessive of “my” parking spot at work so I’m much more sympathetic to Veronica in this letter though I would never tell someone they can’t park there. Again I complain to friends and I hope that the person is out or comes in later the next day.

        4. Working Mom Having It All*

          But OP never even noticed that spot until Veronica told her about it. The right thing to do when someone tells you about a small perk that makes their day a little better is to let them have it if it means so much to them. Not to immediately think to yourself “hmmm, if I come in 5 minutes earlier, I could have that spot instead.”

          1. Roscoe*

            I think you nailed what my problem was. Its like she realized that its a thing that she likes, so now she wants it too. But both people can’t have it.

          2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            Not true. OP filled in some more information in the thread, and she said she didn’t even know Veronica parked there until she confronted her about it. And she didn’t know her reasons until Veronica confronted her for a second time. OP simply was working early for awhile, got to work, saw a nice shaded spot was open and took it. Later on Veronica came up and insisted the spot should have been hers.

    4. Rez123*

      This is propably the grownp thing to do. But I can be petty AF for really random things and this would be a hill for me to die on.

      1. whatthemell?*

        Me too. I can understand OP’s thought process on this and 100% would feel the same way about everything. Eff Veronica and her parking spot bullying!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I, also, can see this being the tiny molehill I mount because, damn it, I want to park in the shade too.

    5. Crystalized*

      Yeah, sorry but OP is being foolish, just park in another spot it’s not worth it.

      1. D'Arcy*

        Unless Veronica has tremendous influence with OP’s company, it absolutely *is* worth it just to put Veronica in her place and teach her that she won’t be rewarded for petty bullying of coworkers.

        1. Ms. Ann Thropy*

          Exactly. Letting things go because they’re “not a hill worth dying on” is what creates and emboldens the Veronicas and the Sheldon Coopers of the world.

          1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

            True. It teaches Veronica that she can do this and “win”. If someone else starts parking there, she will just continue bullying, this time someone else.
            First come, first serve. Jeezs. It is a parking spot.

              1. Jasnah*

                Or you could roll your eyes and choose not to care about something so minor, and let someone win at a game only they are playing.

      2. Mongrel*

        Why foolish?
        It’s much nicer to get into a car that’s closer to the exit and been in the shade on a hot day.
        It’s a prime spot and there are no reserved spaces, it’s ‘first come, first served’. It can suck when you’re used to turning up early enough to pick & choose but, sometimes you don’t and that’s when you have to put on your grown up pants and remember that the other person has just as much right to the best spot as you do.

        1. Holly*

          Sure but is having that particular spot better than the stress that comes with fighting with someone at work and needing to race out of the house to “win” each morning? It seems not worth the emotional toll.

          1. Lance*

            Race out of the house? I’m not getting the impression OP’s coming earlier just for the parking spot, nor that they’d be mad if it ended up getting taken by someone else first.

            1. Grapey*

              OP literally says in their letter “I feel like making sure I’m in earlier just so I can take that spot.”

              1. Jadelyn*

                Have you never said “I feel like doing X” where X is a thing you’d never do in actuality, but you’re acknowledging the petty urge toward doing it? Cause that’s what that sentence read as, to me – acknowledging an impulse to be petty toward someone who’s being unreasonable, without saying “I am going to do this thing”.

            2. JW3*

              Directly from OP’s letter Frankly, maybe it’s petty, but I feel like making sure I’m in earlier just so I can take that spot

              1. doreen*

                That’s what she says- but the vibe I get from that letter is that it’s really

                “I feel like making sure I’m in earlier just so she doesn’t get that spot.” IOW, I don’t get the impression that getting the spot is the motivation – after all, the OP never before decided to get to work to get the spot. I think the OP would be just fine if she came in early and anyone other than Veronica had already snagged the spot because it seems like the motivation is to prevent Veronica from getting the spot. Which is also what makes it seem so petty.

                1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

                  This! It’s pretty easy to read what Doreen says, between OP’s lines.

          2. LCL*

            But it doesn’t have to be a fight. If OP2 wants to keep parking there, she should keep parking there, if she gets there first. But she has to be able to ignore Veronica sending dark glares in her direction, and be mature enough to not gloat about it. And it should go without saying but I will write it anyway-not be aggressive in her driving to be first to the gate or cut anyone off or whatever.

            My attitude may be different from others because my job is a 24/7 operation. It is very evident that during the course of a day, more than one employee will use the same parking space. We don’t have any reserved parking, and so far it has worked well. I have also complained to someone’s manager when one employee used the choice parking, in the shade, during one of our rare heat waves, and managed to take up 3 parking spaces. Said employee is not normally that kind of person, I don’t know what they were thinking.

        2. Emmie*

          I understand the desire to be petty. It is not a good idea to act on it, though. Another approach is to tell Veronica some combination of this – if it OP can ensure the petty doesn’t shine in her tone: What an odd thing to say. We don’t have assigned parking spaces here. Why are you hung up on this? I need you to stop.

          1. NothingIsLittle*

            The first part is a great script if OP is inclined to ask her about it, but she shouldn’t say “I need you to stop.” because that implies that there are no legitimate reasons Veronica would be allocated the spot when there very well could be. She might have an undisclosed medical condition that makes that spot necessary, but for which she has not sought ADA accommodations because people have just ceded the spot to her. Or she may be unofficially granted that spot because of seniority or her closeness to the director. If OP’s not been there early enough to take the spot before, she wouldn’t necessarily know that part of the office politics.

    6. OhGee*

      I feel like OP2 knew this was going to cause drama, and are now seeking to put the blame entirely on Veronica. No, the spots aren’t reserved, but you knew this would happen!

      1. WellRed*

        This. What needs to happen next is a third person comes in even earlier and takes the spot.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              And then a Hellmouth opens underneath the parking spot, and their love is tested as they band together to fight demons! Either the OP or Veronica must choose to sacrifice themselves in order to close the Hellmouth!

              The sequel: the partner left behind bends Heaven and Earth to bring their lover back from the Hell-dimension– but first, they must TRAIN!

        1. fhqwhgads*

          If the spot is as prime as it seems, for multiple reasons, I’m a little surprised it hasn’t yet turned into “the spot that a lot of people want”. Possibly Veronica always used to be earliest to get it, but really if OP wants it to not be an one vs other it might even be good to spread the word. Then it turns into “that’s the spot everyone wants” rather than “that’s the spot Veronica wants”.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I’m not sure why OP would be expected to know that his coworker would be so miffed about this that his coworker would complain! It’s pretty outside the realm of adult behavior. It’s reasonable that Veronica would be a little frustrated that her “usual” spot is unavailable, but most adults would park somewhere else and move on with their days (or get to work even earlier to get the spot!)

        1. gecko*

          Yes, but it’s also not unreasonable for an adult to make a joking-not-really comment about “their” spot to express their annoyance. Also a reasonable adult might respond by saying, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m kind of stealing your spot! I like the shade, but I won’t be coming in early every day,” instead of essentially “too bad, ha ha.” A parking space war takes two to make it a war, is basically the point.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            It is passive-aggressive & entitled to make a “joking-but-not-really” comment that something is yours when it’s really not — AND when it’s in regards to some desirable communal property. So, I would call that unreasonable for the workplace. It sounds like OP laughed it off when Veronica first said, “Hey, you’re in my spot!” — she treated it like an actual joke, which is the only thing it could’ve been, if Veronica was being professional — and the next time it happened, Veronica outright told her not to park there. Without any actual authority to make such a demand. A “reasonable adult” could make (at most) a request. But even that would be pretty awkward, given that the property in question is definitely communal and definitely desirable (it’s not indistinguishable from other spots) and made without any exchange or pull (they’re not friends, and she’s not offering something in its place).

      3. TurquoiseCow*

        Yep. OP knew it was Veronica’s spot, she knew it would annoy Veronica to park there, and she did it anyway. If she didn’t know it was annoying to Veronica, she does now. This is like when you irritate your sibling to the point where they hit you. Yes, they were wrong to hit you, but you instigated. OP is instigating.

        Don’t stoop to her level and get caught up in the drama, OP. Don’t be known as the person in an endless feud with Veronica over a freakin’ parking spot. Be the bigger, more mature person.

        1. Abby*

          OP stated in the comments that she didn’t know it was Veronica’s spot when she first parked there.

    7. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Office parking wars can rise to the same level as office coffee wars. We have free parking downtown in a small lot which is a great benefit in a city where the paid parking is very expensive. Since it’s a small lot, strategic parking is vital, which means taking the first available space and not complaining because it’s not “your” space. Even the director sometimes has to take the worst spot, fortunately, he leads by example and never complains.
      Still, though, is this the hill you want to die on?

    8. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Heh, parking spaces, but imagine going to a ”local pub” and sitting in ”someones seat”… usually you can figure out if there’s a ”seating order”, but sometimes you just manage to get some ”local” give you stinkeyes before you figure it out.

      1. Quake Johnson*

        And then you continue to sit there anyway, because they aren’t entitled to any seats.

    9. LuJessMin*

      OP#2, you park wherever you want. Veronica doesn’t own the damn parking lot. Tell her if she wants the spot, she needs to get there earlier.

    10. gecko*

      There’s no right side in a parking space war and that’s especially clear when advice starts, “you *technically* haven’t done anything wrong…”

      If only Veronica let the parking space go, at the beginning! If only OP hadn’t responded with a “first come first serve,” which is guaranteed to come across quite snottily! If only Veronica hadn’t gotten understandably annoyed at that response! If only OP weren’t considering escalating the parking space war!

      OP–don’t go on the warpath against Veronica. Don’t escalate. I know you don’t like her, but you care about this parking spot exactly as much as she does. You barely have the high ground right now; don’t lose more high ground by continuing this. Please don’t pay attention to the commenters encouraging you to escalate a parking space war.

      Can you go to Veronica and say something like, “Hey, I know I’ve started taking the shady spot since I’ve been coming in early more often. I just really like the shade, but I know you usually park there. I don’t want to start racing for the parking spot. I’ll try to leave it open a few times when I come in early.”

      1. mamma mia*

        Of course, there’s a right side in this “war”, and OP is firmly planted there. Why on earth do you think “first come, first serve” comes across as snottily when that is quite literally the rule of parking (unless spots are reserved, which is obviously not the case here)? And why would you think that Veronica would be understandably annoyed at hearing this inoffensive truth?

        As for your script, why should OP have to bend over backwards to please Veronica, who is being excruciatingly petty, when she hasn’t done anything wrong (technically or otherwise)? That is some spineless stuff. If Veronica wants to park, get there early and do it; this isn’t complicated. If Veronica wants to try and leverage what influence she has to get reserved parking spots approved from the director, then let her. But until then, park where you want and let her look like a moron.

        1. gecko*

          Hm, for some reason spine just doesn’t enter into it for me. Veronica and OP are both being annoying to each other. OP has a chance to stop annoying Veronica. Why not do that? Veronica’s not bullying or harassing OP, and OP isn’t bullying or harassing Veronica; it’s just an annoyance fight, and why not stop it?

        2. noahwynn*

          As my mom says, “you can be right and still not act right.” In this case it makes sense to just deescalate and let it go. You do not want to be known at work for fighting over a parking space. This is just not a battle I see a reason to fight.

        3. NothingIsLittle*

          Actually, we have no idea what office politics play into this parking situation. Letter of the law may be “first come, first serve,” but that doesn’t mean that actually how the people of the office treat it. It’s the difference between social conventions and laws. Sure, it’s legal to erect a statue of a middle finger in the backyard next to your ex’s house, but most functioning adults would find that immature (if amusing). OP not being “wrong” doesn’t make her right.

          And frankly, “first come, first serve,” comes across as demining, largely regardless of intent. It’s like a small child saying “na-na-na-boo-boo” when another kid can’t reach them. Tone plays a part, and maybe some people could get away with saying it, but in most cases, that phrase should not be used as justification. Veronica knows that’s the letter of the parking code, reminding her of it without specifically saying “Is there a reason you need that spot?” is just rubbing in her face that you got there first.

          1. mamma mia*

            I think it’s pretty safe to assume that OP knows the office politics of her place of employment better than you do, so if she says that it is indeed “first come, first serve”, I’m inclined to believe her. I’m unsure as to why you don’t.

            And if “first come, first serve” is the justification, and I happen to think it’s a reasonable and rational justification, I don’t see the problem in saying it to the coworker. OP only reminded her of it because Veronica had the nerve to confront her about it. I also think reading OP’s actions as “rubbing it in her face” is a pretty egregious misreading of the letter. Rubbing it in her face would consist of going up to her at her desk and saying, “Haha you lose.” That’s not what happened.

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        I’m half expecting a 6 month update from the LW stating, “I won the parking spot battle but the lost the job war because I now sit under the AC/sit next to eats smelly food at the desk coworker/other annoying that AAM readers write in about.”

      3. ChimericalOne*

        She doesn’t have to say anything to Veronica. If she just occasionally leaves it open when she gets there early, her actions will speak for themselves. (Showing a willingness to “share,” even though she doesn’t actually have to.)

      4. Quake Johnson*

        This isn’t a war. Parking in the spot isn’t ‘going on the warpath’ or ‘escalating’ with Veronica.

        Veronica is already firmly in the wrong with her childish pettiness, and if she continues to act that way that’s entirely on her. OP doesn’t have to adjust their own behaviour because someone else has a false sense of entitlement.

      5. Robin Sparkles*

        Honestly I would go with this advice right here. Yes OP is in the “technical” right. But when it comes to relationships in the office – it’s best to be the person who cares about other people and tries to work together. The goal isn’t to have the best parking spot, it’s to be known as the person who people like working with. That person is the one who gets the opportunities to succeed and the high profile projects. And if Veronica does insist on the spot anyway, I would conveniently “forget” a few mornings here and there and tell Veronica I forgot oh no so sorry and treat it like what it is- not a big deal.

    11. Booksalot*

      I worked at a small, family-owned business that had only a few long-term non-family employees (there over 20 years). One of them would block in anyone who took “his spot”. During my first week, I came out at the end of the day to find a blue Camaro behind my car, and no way for me to leave. I had no idea what was going on. I went back in and finally found the guy, who snarled at me to never do that again. This was a known thing with him, and the owners did nothing.

      It really set the tone for my time there. Young, new employees were treated like they were disposable, and the long-timers acted like petty tyrants. I should have known better when people expressed surprised that I came back the second day.

      TL;DR: How others react to this nonsense will tell you a lot about an organization.

      1. The other Louis*

        Not new. If you have any friends who are pastors, they’ll tell you that parking space conflicts are among the nastier ones at a church.

        The people I’ve known who believed they own a parking space aren’t necessarily bullies in any other part of their lives. They tend to like ritual, and HATE change. That’s all that it’s about, really. And perhaps wanting one thing they can control.

        I think Alison’s advice is dead-on. Consider the political costs–if she’s a valued employee, and this is a quirk of hers, LW will look like a petty jerk for pushing the issue.

    12. JW3*

      Things like this are why I decided to park in the farthest spot from the entrance. No one parks beside me (unless it’s extremely busy or we have an all-staff meeting with all the employees from all 5 locations) and I don’t have to worry too much about people dinging my car. I get a bit of exercise and my car is safer.

      1. Antilles*

        I do this in retail parking lots all the time.
        I legitimately can’t understand the people at the grocery store who will sit for 2 minutes at the grocery store waiting for someone to load their groceries, take the cart back, get in the car, back out, etc simply to get a close parking spot…when there’s tons of empty spaces like 80 feet further in the row.

        1. Business Socks*

          Oh my THIS. I have been in cars with people who will spend so much time circling the mall parking lot looking for a close spot that they could have walked to and from the farthest spot five times.

          (These are in shape people with perfectly good working legs btw – not being ableist.)

          1. Jadelyn*

            To be fair, having “working legs” doesn’t mean walking further comes without any consequences at all. I have perfectly good working legs, sure – but I also have back problems that limit my total walking/standing time in a given day. Normally it’s not bad enough to justify waiting for a closer parking spot, but if I had a full day of errands planned in places requiring a lot of walking, I might feel differently about it and be willing to wait to get a closer spot, since that buys me extra walking time for actually doing the errands and/or will result in my end-of-day pain being more manageable.

            I mean, you know the actual people involved better than I do, of course – but I’d just gently remind everyone that not all disabilities are absolute (can/can’t do things entirely) but are often a spectrum that flexes over time and depending on circumstances – and to perhaps not make too many assumptions about what people can or can’t do overall based on only one or two data points about their abilities.

      2. TootsNY*

        ooh, my brother and his wife once bought a brand-new car, and they stopped by the grocery store on their way home from the dealer.

        They parked WAY OUT in the emptiest part of the lot to avoid door dings on their new car.

        When they came back, there was a car parked right next to theirs (despite rows and rows of other empty spots), and the person had dinged the door of their brand-new car.

    13. OP Here!*

      Hi, OP here! I’m replying up-thread this time (also replied below) so you guys can see this. I’m finding everyone’s answers quite interesting. More context – I’ve been working here over 35 years, while Veronica is a 5-year or so employee. Not saying my years of service trump hers, just context, people. Furthermore, when I first parked there, I had no idea she considered that her spot. I didn’t even know which car was hers (prior to this she was there before me), but granted, now I’m more cognisant of which vehicles tend to take the same spots. My hours temporarily changed due to workloads, which is why I was coming in earlier than her. And, prior to this incident, I just came in and parked wherever suited me, so was a little taken aback by her confrontation. Totally unexpected, and not too pleasant, to be sure.

      And, as I stated below, I haven’t come in earlier than normal simply to beat her to that spot – but the fact that she was rude and arrogant to me about unassigned parking irked me enough to think about it. I am sure many of you would feel the same, even though you might not act on such an impulse.

      There are a few people here who arrive quite early and have a spot they try to park in consistently, but no one else (as far as I know) has had the temerity to demand others bend to their will. But now I’m back to my normal hours so the issue doesn’t come up anymore.

      1. mamma mia*

        I wouldn’t pay any mind to the commenters here who stated that your (very understandable) impulse to get there early to park before her was petty and that it made them think less of you. My eyes practically rolled out of my head reading some of those comments. Veronica WAS rude and arrogant. You did nothing wrong but I’m glad that the problem seemed to resolve itself. Best of luck.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          OP did nothing wrong because she didn’t act on her impulse. It would have been petty, as she noted, to come in early for the sole purpose of denying Veronica a spot, regardless of how understandable it would have been. She didn’t do that, which is commendable.

      2. Susana*

        I’m totally on your side, OP! Only difference is I would not think it a little petty to get there earlier to take the spot. I’d consider it a teachable moment…

        1. Jadelyn*

          …and who made you Veronica’s teacher? Turning something into a teachable moment based on what the other person did to/around you is one thing. Going out of your way to “assign homework” so that you can create what you want to call a “teachable moment” is just pettiness dressed up to look respectable.

          1. Abby*

            Veronica opened the door for OP to create a teachable moment by being rude and entitled and expecting to be treated differently than everyone else who uses that parking lot.

            1. Jadelyn*

              That’s…really not how that works. Was Veronica in the wrong when she started getting pissy over a parking space? Absolutely. Does that then mean OP is morally okay to then go out of their way to be petty back at her in order to “create a teachable moment”? Nope.

      3. HL Holdings*

        Hi OP! Thanks so much for responding and clearing up some of the MASSIVE mental leaps the commenters were making in order to make Veronica’s behavior okay.

        You did absolutely nothing wrong in parking where you wanted and I completely understand your (unspoken and not acted on) impulse to be petty. We all have that impulse, even though judging by some of the comments today, the readership is never tempted.

        Super glad that this worked out on its own but should it arise again, park freely!!

      4. LCL*

        Oh I’m glad you responded! Honestly I was blown away that anybody could see anything wrong with what you had been doing. My workplace had a Veronica who did the same kind of territorial BS and usually the office caved in because Veronicaoriginal model would throw screaming temper tantrums complete with tears if we wouldn’t let them do things their way. That Veronicaoriginal model retired, but passed on those behavior patterns to Veronicanextgen, who was also indulged and allowed to get away with it. You can’t let the Veronicas/Ronnies win, and this is so not a gender thing they are everywhere. We are all capable of Veronica/Ronnie behavior, it’s part of the monkey brain, but we are supposed to stifle it.

      5. Artemesia*

        I think if you want to confront you just say bemusedly — well everyone knows that is the shadiest spot so of course anyone who gets here when it is free will park in it. I have been doing that for 35 years when it was available.

      6. Mr. Shark*

        I’m glad it all worked out, but I wouldn’t be worried about taking the spot if you ended up having to come in early again. Besides it just being rational that whoever shows up first gets whatever spot they want, seniority does matter to some degree (unless Veronica is much higher up on the food chain than you are).

        I’m wondering since you “broke the ice” if anyone else will jump at Veronica’s spot if they arrive earlier than she does. Her attitude about ownership of that spot shouldn’t be encouraged, so maybe someone else will take her to task on it.

    14. Peter the Bubblehead*

      Even if OP stopped parking in that spot, what’s to stop anyone else who arrives before Veronica from taking it?
      If Veronica wants that spot so bad, and she’s as well connected as the OP seems to believe, then what’s stopping her from having the spot reserved under her own name? Until that happens, it’s first come, first served.

    15. Foolish Optimist*

      Perhaps a compromise, parking in the spot every other day, instead of every day would quiet things down.

    16. Burned Out Supervisor*

      I hate parking spot “callers,” so I would 100% die on this hill and take the spot whenever it’s open (but I’ve been here forever, so YMMV). Years ago I would be treated to daily rants from a coworker about how rude people were for parking in front of her house…on a public street…in a large city. She would just become unhinged about it and even got in a screaming match about it with her neighbor. Nothing I could say would make her think reasonably and now I just have this gut reaction to people who claim public spaces as their own.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, it sounds like you weren’t given anything (except a very mild guilt trip) to stay. Your boss just tried to talk you out of leaving. Based on those assumptions, you don’t owe it to your employer to stay. I suspect your boss knows you may leave, and there’s often turnover whenever there’s a change in ownership, anyway. So your employer should already anticipate that you may leave.

    You are safely in the clear and should feel free to leave when you want to.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      They can offer a retention bonus if they want her to stay and do information transfer.
      Don’t be the last one out. Then you’re competing with everyone else for the leftover jobs.

    2. Mookie*

      The LW says her initial resignation discussion involved “citing the aspects of the role [she] did like,” so the manager may have tweaked the role a bit. But given that this was a voluntary internal transfer that didn’t work out because the LW might have misunderstood how much support she’d get to learn and adapt, on top of the fact that they misled her, the manager should not really have tried to persuade her, I think. When a person tells you they don’t fit the position, you need either to let them go or, as you say, bump up the attractive perks, duties, and benefits and start extra training. It’s odd to me when managers don’t realize there are better, more suitable people out there and that hanging onto someone uninterested and lacking certain skills is a costly endeavor that will only rarely produce dividends. Unhappy people with proven talent and obvious ambition will always eventually leave these situations. Perhaps, given the looming sale, they wanted her to stay long enough to eventually lay her off without having to hire outside.

  3. PETTY, Tom PETTY*

    Re: #2, heck no to letting Veronica have that space! Her attitude would make me more determined than ever to get in early to nab that spot!

    Yes, this is the kind of hill I would die on and the battle I would pick. Fortunately, I’m a good enough employee and the places I’ve worked have been sane enough that it’s never caused me problems in 30+ years of working.

    1. Catalin*

      Depending on Veronica’s personality, status, etc., I’ve be so tempted to talk to other friendly coworkers and arranging them to rotate parking in ‘the space’. Monday, Jim’s there. Tuesday, Sally. Wednesday, Mary. Thursday, LW. Veronica can’t be mad at everyone for only parking ‘occasionally’ in a space.

      **Note, do not do this. It’s salty and unprofessional**

    2. Michaela Westen*

      IME the key to this is to always act professional. No matter how upset Veronica gets, stay calm and professional in your response. Never admit to getting there early just to take the space – it’s coincidence brought about by your workload.
      Assuming management is somewhat reasonable and decent, this will make Veronica look like the troublemaker.
      OTOH, if management is dysfunctional, incompetent or toxic and favors Veronica – or her department, or her boss and colleagues – then OP could still get the worst of it. OP needs to evaluate which scenario is more likely.

    3. Working Mom Having It All*

      I have a similar thing going with a coworker. She has a spot she likes, and without really thinking about it she spilled the beans on why it’s a great spot (similar deal with only having another car on one side, and also it’s incrementally closer to a stairwell in the parking structure that allows for a shortcut to our office). Little does she know, I get in earlier than she does. But I also work closely with this person, need to keep good will there for office politics reasons, and, honestly, who cares? The spot I usually park in is like 10 extra steps to the office. It’s not only not a hill I’m willing to die on, I’d rather be a nice person and not screw someone over intentionally just because I can/it would ever so slightly benefit me.

  4. Kiki*

    LW #2: If you had talked to Veronica about why she parks where she does, it is a little odd that you would start parking there. Veronica doesn’t have claim to it, but I would also be confused if someone knowingly started interfering with a routine of mine. It may be coming across as antagonistic in a way you don’t intend it to. This is one of those situations where you may be completely in the right, but continuing may not be in your best interest.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      That’s a great point. It may feel personal to Veronica even if it isn’t. Do you want her to negatively influence the director because she thinks you have a thing against her?
      Sometimes you need to suck things up to get along.

    2. dealing with dragons*

      I feel like a lot of commenters (and AAM) are missing this context – if I were the other person it would sure feel personal. Sure you can’t “claim” a spot but someone knowingly taking my spot to spite me would come across very poorly.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        True. But when the spot is objectively better than other spots, what kind of loon would decide you only took it to spite them?

        1. dealing with dragons*

          I’m not really talking about the letter, but more the response to it. There are comments above that are way above and beyond a reasonable response. They are talking about war paths etc, which to me is an equally bad response to Veronica being mad someone is parking in her habitual spot.

          Like, if I had parked somewhere for years and someone just up and started parking there after I told them why I liked to, I would find it rude. This is one of those things where technically no one is in the wrong but you can still be the jerk with the “law” on your side.

          1. Quake Johnson*

            See but I think you finding it ‘rude’ makes you the one with the problem and the one in the wrong.

            You LIKE parking there but you aren’t entitled to it. Someone else taking something that is 100% up for grabs isn’t rude. At all.

            1. dealing with dragons*

              I agree with you, but there are comments above that are way overboard. Like yeah, technically it’s 100% up for grabs but there’s always that social element. Humans are creatures of habit, Veronica parks in the same spot, someone upsets her routine, and people above are saying she deserves to be punished for this.

              I don’t think the rude part is anyone else parking in that spot, I think the rude part is one person in general taking it. Not sure if I can get this across in text, but I think there’s a difference in anyone parking in the spot (like there’s a spate of new hires that are morning people) and one person parking in the spot and almost making it a daily goal to specifically take it from Veronica. There’s a fine line.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Like, if I had parked somewhere for years and someone just up and started parking there after I told them why I liked to, I would find it rude.

            Yes, if you took the same spot every day, and you told Jane “I like this spot because it reminds me of my dead grandmother,” and after that, Jane started taking that spot? Yes. That would be rude. But that’s not what is happening here. What’s happening here is that someone is saying “this is a very desirable spot, and I don’t want anyone else to park there, even though many people have good reasons to want it, and it should always be left available to me because I am the one who gets to have the benefits of that very desirable spot.”

            1. Mr. Shark*

              I don’t think we know that Veronica has told LW that is the reason that Veronica likes the spot, it may just that “it is known” that it is a desirable spot, for the obvious reasons.

              Veronica has no more claim to it than any other spot, and if the LW is getting there first, then the LW has the claim to it. That’s all there is to it, really. I don’t believe LW is doing it to annoy Veronica, it’s simply the best spot available. I think others probably have stayed clear of that spot because of Veronica, but there’s nothing that requires that, and no reason that Veronica should get upset over it, since she has no claim to it.

            2. dealing with dragons*

              Your comment is strange to me because I said “if x was the case, y would result” and you’re pointing out that x is not the case? I know this, which is why it’s in subjective phrasing.

              You can still be a jerk but be 100% in the right. Yes, anyone has the right to park there, but Veronica can still be mad about it since she’s used to parking there. OP knows Veronica parks there often and likes to park there, and then decided that they were going to start parking there instead. OP has even stated an intent to spite Veronica. All of those things are rude even if parking is first come, first serve.

              OP might as well start saying “nanner nanner boo boo” for how petty this all is.

          3. LCL*

            In this case if it bothered you and you acted on it, you would be being rude and the jerk. If you just grumbled to yourself and parked elsewhere, as I do when my favorite shade space is taken, it’s OK. The other driver isn’t entitled to the space any more or less than I am.

            1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

              See, this is the propper response. Yes we are all creatures of habbit and like to keep our routines (including favourite spots) for ourselves. But we are not entitled to them. If someone else takes that spot, bummer for me. I’ll grumble about it, but would not be checking and intimidating the person who got there first. That’s bullying.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        But it wasn’t OP#2 taking Veronica’s spot to spite her, it was OP taking the spot because it is a better spot, the tree gives nice shade ( I almost always try to park under a tree if it gives off shade), the boulevard enables you to have room on one side to fully open the door and prevents a car from parking there (I also try to park in spots next to a boulevard), a spot that combines both shade and a boulevard is clearly a prime spot and reason enough to park in it.

        OP did say they were TEMPTED to purposely come in early and keep parking there out of spite not that they were going to do it. Honestly I can’t blame them, I’m tempted to try and follow Veronica around and park in all her favorite parking spots before she can.

        I get it we all like routine and have our set ways (I know I do) but we are adults reasonable adults do not pout and think they can claim ownership over something just because they have use it before, especially if one spot over another has certain benefits.

        1. league.*

          This is off-topic but: I’m fascinated by you & OP using the word “boulevard” here. To me (Midwestern US), that means a wide, multi-lane street. What does it mean to you?

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Technically (I believe), in the U.S., a boulevard is a divided street, with something like a grassy landscaped area (or possibly brick or other non-street hardscape) down the center.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I am also in the Midwest and boulevard has the same definition (multi-lane street with divided center area usually with grass and trees). I just used boulevard since OP used it in the letter to try and maintain continuity.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              There’s a street in my city with a very wide grassy part between the street and sidewalk, and it’s called a boulevard.
              It’s the widest grassy part I’ve ever seen. At least 15 yards. The first time I went to see my acquaintance there I thought I had the address wrong. It looks like a park.

              1. Filosofickle*

                My parents lived in Cleveland for awhile, and there the strip of grass between street and sidewalk is called a “tree lawn”. Interesting! Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve never even heard of it having a name.

          2. BadWolf*

            In my area, we also call the grassy part between the sidewalk and the road a “boulevard” — so basically a grass/tree island.

            1. league.*

              Whereas I would say “median” and when I lived in New Orleans, we’d call it “neutral ground.”

    3. MommyMD*

      I agree that Veronica may think she’s trying to goad her. And now she really might be saying she wants to get there early just to take the spot. Both of them will look petty.

      1. Zillah*

        I don’t think the LW is intending on broadcasting to the office that she’s beating Veronica there to get the spot, so I’m not sure where your “equally petty” thing comes from.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. In case anyone asks, she can just be like: “[shrug] well, I park there if it’s free because it’s a good spot.”

        2. LGC*

          To be fair, LW2 actually mentions that herself in the last sentence:

          Frankly, maybe it’s petty, but I feel like making sure I’m in earlier just so I can take that spot.

          So I can definitely see why MommyMD is reading pettiness into that. (You’re right in that it’s NOT necessarily petty to take the awesome parking spot, though.)

            1. Jasnah*

              “Both of them will look petty” if OP does that. If we’re going to look at the grammar and argue that OP hasn’t done it yet, then let’s look at how MommyMD’s statement is predicated on that hypothetical.

          1. Zillah*

            But that’s in the OP’s head – even if you think it makes them petty, how would people know what’s in the OP’s head?

    4. Mid*

      Right, that’s what gave me pause as well. Why does LW know Veronica’s reasons for parking there? That seems like LW and V had a conversation about parking, and then LW decided to park there. Which isn’t great. However, no one owns a parking space in this lot, so it’s a silly hill to die on. I guess I’m not seeing Veronica or LW in a good light on this—they both seem petty.

      1. Willis*

        I agree. If this becomes a big thing and your co-workers have to hear about it, both of you are probably going to look childish. Also, if there are a couple of these grass boulevards, couldn’t you just park near another one, if it’s that important that your car be near only one other car?

      2. Anonymous 5*

        Veronica had the opportunity to say, “hey, I try to park in xyz spot because my knee is cranky in the mornings [or whatever reason] so would you be willing to leave the space free?” She chose instead to act like a middle school bully. This is on her.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          Yeah, but I have a knee injury that I’m fine with advertising to my closer coworkers, but may be hesitant to mention to someone who I believe has deliberately parked in my spot. (And it seems like Veronica might.) Is it the adult thing to do to just say, “Hey, I have a medical condition that makes that the best spot for me to park, so usually people leave it open for me,” or to just start coming in earlier for the spot? Yes, absolutely, far better solution. But it’s pretty uncharitable to decide that, since she decided not to do that, she’s ceded any right she may have had to the spot. There might be circumstances in which fighting over the spot would be worth it, but based on what OP2’s included in the letter, these aren’t them.

          1. Sam.*

            That’s the thing, though – she has no right to the spot. She might think she does, but unless she arranged with the company for a specific spot and OP is ignoring the fact that it was designated for her, Veronica has no legitimate claim other than preference and habit.

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            If I coworker came to me and said “I have a medical issue and parking in spot #3 really helps me out, would you mind leaving that spot open for me?” I would respond absolutely, I did not know I’m sorry.
            But if the same coworker came to me and said “you parked in my spot don’t park in it again.” My response would be the same as OP’s.

            Veronica could have a medical issue, but Veronica did not say that she did, she said it was “her spot.” I imagine that the parking lot probably does have some reserved parking spaces for people with disabilities.

            Veronica can’t expect people to bend to her will just because she says so.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        Why does LW know Veronica’s reasons for parking there? That seems like LW and V had a conversation about parking, and then LW decided to park there.

        You are jumping to quite a conclusion there. It’s a lot more likely that the LW likes the spot for the same reasons Veronica does. And I’m sure the LW noticed the shade and the lack of a second car the same way Veronica did.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Exactly. I don’t see why the reason Veronica likes the spot isn’t obvious. I don’t know one way or another if Veronica told the LW “I love that spot” and then LW parked there on purpose, in spite of that knowledge. You could say it may seem a little petty if that’s the case, but really…no, it’s not. It’s still not Veronica’s space, no matter how many ways you discuss it.

          Even if the LW is being petty (which I don’t believe she is, I think that given Veronica’s attitude, the LW was thinking about coming early out of spite), what does it matter? It’s a free spot. If she’s there first, it can now be her spot until someone comes in earlier. You don’t get to call dibs and keep the spot forever.

    5. Mookie*

      I don’t think I agree that knowing of both Veronica’s preference and the reason for that preference changes the nature of unassigned parking. For all we know, everyone in the office is aware of Veronica’s habits because she, herself, makes them known. Maybe she’s the only one who’s called unofficial dibs on a specific space, or maybe she’s not. The LW is not antagonistic because she agrees with Veronica and would also like to benefit from the planter’s unique offerings, and I can’t imagine she’s the only one who would have also liked to partake of its bounty; presumably nobody complained to Veronica that she was as hogging it during her own tenure as its sole occupant. There is no obligation to honor this kind of territoriality. Just get there first if you want it.

      1. NothingIsLittle*

        OP2 has only assumed why Veronica wants the spot. There may be a medical reason she needs it that she hasn’t disclosed because she doesn’t feel comfortable doing so. Her reaction was incredibly immature, but the reason for her preference should definitely impact OP2’s assessment of the situation. Sure there’s no obligation to give her the spot, even with a medical necessity, unless it’s a documented ADA accommodation, but who wants to be that *insert expletive* that denied a handicapped person the easier parking?

        1. OP Here!*

          Hi, OP here! More info – Veronica is a physically active marathon runner, no handicaps here that would affect her reasoning to park there. I didn’t relay the entire conversation I’ve had with her, as she approached me the second time and said she parked there so no one would be on one side of her car, to protect it from potential door dings. Purely aesthetic reasons. And – her tone in both conversations when “demanding” I not park there were aggressive.

          Sure, I said I “felt like” making sure I was there in time to take that spot, but I haven’t done that, and actually only have parked there three times period.

          1. BadWolf*

            We have the luxury of having ample parking and still people get into having “their spot” and wanting an parking spot “island” — no one parking near them. We’ve joked about parking all around one grumpy coworker (evenly in actual parking spots — so not parking them in at all). We haven’t done so because I think we’re a little concerned he wouldn’t just take it as a joke.

            I park in the same general area only because I’m a creature of habit and don’t want to have to remember where I parked everyday…but I try not to fall into the mindset of “my spot.”

          2. NothingIsLittle*

            I’m glad that’s the case then! Sounds like there’s no reason to feel bad about having denied her the spot. I just get worried, as someone with a disability, that people sometimes don’t consider that as a factor. Wow, she’s a jerk! Read your response up-thread and I’m glad you don’t need to deal with it anymore.

          3. Burned Out Supervisor*

            Ugh, unless you drive a Bentley, who cares about your car…(not that I would say this to Veronica, mind you). I would just reply mildly and non-noncommittally. “Oh, I hate when someone dings my car too, isn’t that rude?”

          4. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, that’s how I read the letter. I’m glad it’s resolved, but I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty or bad about at all. Veronica is the one being unreasonable, and if you are ever in early, you should definitely feel confident to take the spot if you want it.

          5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Is the parking lot packed AF on the regular?!

            This is why I park in the middle of BFE and hoof it in most parking lots because then people don’t park by me. If it’s packed lot, oh well, too sad, you have to expect that your car may get dinged up. And I drive a beat up old car and it’s less dings and more just jerks who can’t park and block me in.

            When I had a sciatica flare up awhile back, I had some …person… park so close that I couldn’t shimmy into my drivers side door. So I had to climb through from my passenger side. So yeah, I hate parking next to people but there was no other options, so whomp whomp whomp life.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Yes there may be a medical reason that a person could like a certain parking spot, but without disclosing it no one is obligated to accommodate them. I am not saying that Veronica would need to give OP their entire medical file, but saying “OP I have a medical issue and parking in spot #3 really helps me out, would you mind leaving that space open for me.” What Veronica said was “You parked in my spot, don’t do it again.” OP should not feel compelled to follow Veronica’s orders just because there could be a medical reason for it, if Veronica has not stated it.

    6. hbc*

      I might find out why someone thinks a spot is “theirs” in a free parking situation, and yield if it’s something like an injury that makes a close spot desirable or a car door that really needs an empty area next to it to open. But if her reasons for “her” spot are the reasons *everybody* considers a parking spot good (distance, shade, ease of pulling in and out, chances of getting dings), then I’m allowed to use the same reasoning for choosing my space. That’s not petty.

      If you want a routine that’s not messed with, park in the very worst spot in the lot.

      1. FarrahKaya*

        Though Veronica goes about it in a very abrasive way, I wonder if there’s a reason she wants the space next to her car (besides the shade). I recently had knee surgery and if I don’t have enough space next to my car, I can’t get out without a huge amount of difficulty. Whenever I drive into the office, I get in super early in part to get the spot next to one of those grassy shoulders so I know I can get in and out of my car without trouble. I certainly wouldn’t hunt someone down for parking in the available shoulders, but if this has been her routine for ages perhaps she took it for granted?

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Right, but then Veronica could have said “hey, can I have that spot cos my knee’s messed up,” not gone all Gollum “it’s miiiiiiine”

        2. Bulldog*

          If Veronica has a disability (even if it is only temporary, like recovering from surgery), she could apply for a disability placard and park in one of the designated spots closest to the entry. I suspect she wants the spot for the same reason as OP — only one car parked nearby and the shade provided by the tree.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            At least in my state, it can take a long time to get a disability placard, even a temporary one. So I would never assume someone doesn’t have a temporary disability just because they’re not displaying a placard.

            However, I would not jump to the conclusion that Veronica has any kind of disability. We don’t actually even know that this spot is closer to the building – the OP only says it’s on the end of a row. It’s desirable for other reasons.

      2. lnelson in Tysons*

        That would do the trick, hbc.
        I won’t deny that I have done some of the habits that others have mentioned. Tend to park in the same spot (although at home, I actually have an assigned spot) when I drove to the office. Tend to use the same locker at the gym. Park in the same general area when going to the grocery store.
        At the office I brought in my own mug, so I would be miffed if someone used it and didn’t return it.
        But, while annoyed that someone might be using “my spot” I can get over it.
        If Veronica has a legitimate reason for needing that spot, then she should address it vs. “I like it therefore it’s mine”
        But office politics aren’t always logical.

    7. Mockingjay*

      I am in the hot and steamy South and we ALL want Veronica’s spot. Except when summer afternoon thunderstorms are forecast – the spots closest to the office door become prime.

      We all have routines and preferred spots, but unless parking spaces are assigned, first come, first serve.

    8. akiwiinlondon*

      This is one I was also interested if there was more context, such as I wonder if other people in the office feel like they have ‘their spot’ if there are enough parks and people can keep a routine without fighting over limited spaces.
      It could be part of the general culture and how others react to the LW if they did decide this was a battle they wanted to take.
      If people in the office also feel like they have ‘their spot’ they’d likely be very sympathetic to Veronica, despite how the initial claiming on the spots came about people may feel it falls into an unspoken allocation. Especially if other people would love that spot but they pass it up because of an unspoken ‘rule’ they may feel especially against the LW if they decided to take the spot. However if Veronica being early is the only reason she nabs this spot people might side with the LW on the ‘rules’ of the office parking lot.

      1. Holly*

        Yes, I agree… it reminds me of people having their usual seats in a conference room or college class lecture hall. If that’s part of the culture, sitting in someone’s seat, or in this case parking in someone’s spot, is aggressive.

        1. Anonymous 5*

          But in a case like that, the person whose seat was taken can just move…which deflates the “aggressor” in the case of it being a power move. And in case it’s not a power move, eh, no harm no foul. When seats aren’t actually assigned, they’re fair game.

          1. Holly*

            Here Veronica can also move, so I don’t see the distinction. My point is that sure, seats or parking spots that are not reserved are “fair game” but if it’s the culture or convention for everyone to have their usual spot or usual seat and someone takes a different spot or seat, that’s going to be seen as extremely abrasive and aggressive in a way that’s not conducive to that person’s reputation.

      2. Roscoe*

        Yep. I have a feeling a lot of people have their “normal” spots they park in, so they would probably side with Veronica. Because now, Veronica either takes OPs old spot, or another co-workers, which casuses a domino effect

        1. Susana*

          But it’s not just a function of people taking “their” spots among equal spots. This one is a preferred spot, and it makes sense that the first person there who wants it, gets it. Veronica’s a self-centered whiner, and while it’s easiest in some ways to give in to her, it just enables her to bully and demand on things far more important.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, this. The spots belong to no one, so if the LW wants the spot, she should take the spot.

    9. Patty Mayonnaise*

      It’s unclear to me whether the LW had a conversation with Veronica about it or whether LW is making an assumption about Veronica’s reasoning. Either seems possible. My neighbor consistently takes up two parking spots in front of my apartment so it’s easier to get out, but I’ve never asked her why she does that (or to stop doing it, for that matter – it’s not a big deal to find another spot!). But I do explain her “reasoning” when I complain about it to my husband. I do agree that Veronica is probably seeing this as a personal slight though.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      I see something like this:

      V: “I’m so annoyed that someone took the blueberry bagel from the pastry tray.”
      O: *teasingly* “You really like that blueberry bagel.”
      V: “I do!” (lengthy explanation about why blueberry bagels are the best bagels)

      Thus convincing O to give the blueberry bagel a try the next time they notice it still on the pastry tray and, hey, it really is great! (I feel like this about the almond croissant at Peet’s–it seems my local shop gets exactly 1 in the daily pastry delivery. If the person just in front of me in line ordered it, I would be irrationally irritated.)

      1. Kiki*

        Yes! This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking. You mention why you like something, which convinces other people why they should try it, but it’s in limited quantities so you have created your own competition.

        It’s not wrong for anyone to take the only blueberry bagel, but it would be a bit annoying to be the OG blueberry bagel lover.

  5. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – They were too slow in fixing the situation. They waited until it got really bad and you were ready to leave before they did anything. At that point, most employees leave.
    If you did stay, they’d probably be just as slow in supporting you.
    Don’t feel any guilt at leaving.

    1. BRR*

      Yup. I consider this a repercussion for being slow to act. It sounds like it’s very possible that big boss was just hoping to take the easy way out.

    2. pentamom*

      This. Yes, you dealt with it, but your slowness in acting meant that OP4 was already on the way out when it finally got fixed.

    3. Light37*

      Yes, I think at this point the well was pretty poisoned where this job is concerned. Would you trust them to back you up as a manager in a timely fashion? I wouldn’t.

    4. Weyrwoman*

      Comments that apply to my last relationship for 400, Alex.
      But seriously. Any job or person who is only willing to change bad/unwanted/toxic things when there is a very real chance that you will leave, IMHO isn’t actually willing to change at all. They’re only doing it because the thought of not having you around makes them panic. Don’t let that guilt trip you into staying – once you stay, things very often don’t change at all.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I’m curious about #4, because I think it changes the advice. Did Grandboss ask OP#4 if they would stay if Boss were fired? Or did they ask if OP#4 would stay conditional on boss being fired and OP being promoted into their FiredBoss’ job?

    If it’s option 1, I agree with Alison, with the caveat that there may be some bruised feelings on Grandboss’ part. But if it’s #2, I think it’s much trickier to leave, soon, without burning a bridge.

    1. Sally*

      I was confused about this, too. It wasn’t really clear to me whether the OP agreed to stay or not.

      1. Cogsworth4*

        OP4 here, I left things pretty ambiguous with my big boss and told him regardless of whether I leave or not I think he’s making the right call by letting Bob go. If I left and Bob stayed then my poor team would continue to be subjected to bad leadership without me as a buffer anymore and he would essentially be ignoring their comments in the survey. I didn’t have a better offer then so I didn’t want to completely slam the door and if I didn’t get this offer at this exact time then I probably would have stopped looking and accepted Bobs job. So just poor timing all around but maybe if they had done something sooner they could have prevented it?

        1. Washi*

          It sounds like you’re 100% in the clear then!

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding how things were phrased, but offering to fire someone is a weird retention strategy. If Bob’s performance merits firing, then fire him! If they just wanted you to hang in a little longer because Bob was about to be fired, I feel like there are other ways they could have said that.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Agreed. I think if it was their intention to fire Bob and move OP into his place, and they didn’t bother to communicate this to OP in some way, and get her agreement, then too bad for them for not thinking it through/managing better. Also, nine months…three quarters of a year…that’s just a ridiculously long amount of time to have a resolution to an (any) issue IMO.

          2. Cogsworth4*

            I think the main notion I was getting from him is that if I quit then he couldn’t fire Bob because there would be no leadership in the office. Even though I made no promises, I feel like they’re going to be very upset with me and wish they kept Bob even for a temporary transition period until they found someone better. Again not my problem, but I can help but think I expedited the issue and I feel bad doing this to a company that I used to love and has treated me pretty well.

            1. ..Kat..*

              So big boss was not going to do anything about craptastic Bob if you were leaving because a really bad boss is better than none? Wow. You did the right thing. And your ex-grandboss is a crappy manager.

            2. Flash Bristow*

              Are you able to offer to stay a bit longer to help with the handover / give them more time to find someone? Might that make it easier and alleviate your conscience somewhat?

            3. Foreign Octopus*

              To be honest, that’s Big Boss’s problem, not yours.

              It looks like he’s trying to avoid the issues of hiring by simply passing the buck onto you. Let them be upset with you and, if I were in your position, I would explain to them exactly why you’re accepting a job offer. They simply waited too long to make any proper changes that would help you do your job and so you did what any sensible person with options would do in your place, you found another job without these issues.

              I get that you feel maybe a little responsible for the situation but try not to. They’ve had plenty of time to think of something to do, and it was only recently that they implemented. They might have treated you well at one point, but they haven’t been treating you well recently.

              Go to your new job without the worry of your old one.

            4. MsM*

              From the sound of it, pretty much everyone in the department is making or on the verge of making the same calculation you did. If that’s not enough to convince them that Bob needs to be gone yesterday for the sake of overall morale, then you cannot be hinging your career on this place and its (in)ability to make wise leadership decisions.

            5. Observer*

              I think you actually did them a favor by forcing the issue, even though that wasn’t your intention. Because there is nothing so long as “a little while”. Now, hiring a replacement is going to HAVE to be priority one.

            6. boo bot*

              It sounds like you didn’t agree to take the job, and actually said “you should do this whether I stay or go,” which is a pretty clear sign that you’re not 100% committed to staying.

              I think we judge our actions partly based on other people’s reactions, which is only sometimes useful: if I tell my friend, “You should definitely go to Expensive Concert, whether or not I can go!” that’s not a request to buy me a ticket.

              I think you’ve got a similar situation: you communicated clearly that (a) they should fire your boss, and (b) you weren’t necessarily going to take over his job, and they’re acting like you said, “I’d love to take over his job!” Just because they’ve decided to conveniently misunderstand, doesn’t mean you have to play along.

            7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I think you’re in the clear. I’m irritated at your GrandBoss for implying he couldn’t fire a known problem unless you stayed. The reason there’s no other leadership in the department is his fault, not yours, and he’s consistently picked the least effective strategies because he doesn’t want to deal/manage.

              Grandboss may be upset, but this sounds like a problem entirely of his own making. I vote for leaving graciously using Alison’s script (knowing Grandboss may still get unreasonably in his feelings about it all).

              1. Autumnheart*

                I would also venture that being promoted into Boss’s place would make OP even *more* subject to Grandboss’s incompetence, not less subject to it. Either way you slice it, staying means OP has a terrible manager who refuses to do his job. I would definitely take the new job.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          My only advice would be to step back and look at your choices, making sure that leaving really is a better opportunity for you than staying and being promoted, because the new opportunity may seem like the better choice because of the situation you’ve been dealing with currently. I know you can never truly now how great a new job can be, but the grass isn’t always greener. And if you are still going to leave, you owe the current job nothing. Big boss drug his feet on doing something to fix the issue with boss. The only person who will look out for your best interests is you.

          1. Cogsworth4*

            I can say with certainty that it is the better opportunity. Better company, better pay, better benefits. The only thing that’s giving me pause is leaving my great team high and dry and pissing a couple people off, I guess I’m relieved for them that they don’t have to deal with Bob anymore but the timing of all of this is rough going into our busy season.

            1. Autumnheart*

              That’s what they get when they prioritize keeping bad managers over good employees. Tell your team that you’d be happy to act as a reference and help them jump ship, if they decide to do that.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I think it’s important to remember that you’re not leaving them high and dry—your Grandboss is. He’s the one who’s created these circumstances. In a functional organization, your leaving would not be crippling or havoc-creating, etc. I suspect the department will suck it up and soldier on, but your Grandboss is essentially failing to manage and then letting you feel guilty for the repercussions of his incompetence.

              Take the job! Better opportunity, company, pay, and benefits is huge. Meanwhile, it sounds like Current Job is going to always have these problems so long as Grandboss is in place. I mean, you had to threaten leaving for him to even address the issue. How much harder will it be to get him to do things when he’s your direct boss and you start to feel responsible for the effects of his incompetence on the team?

  7. Anon just in case*

    Had a similar parking situation at my office. We have a weird parking structure with spaces long enough for two cars, so it’s SOP that if you pull into an empty space, you pull all the way up so someone can park behind you, and it’s OK to interrupt meetings even with the C-levels to have someone move their car if you need to leave. The people who make mail runs mid-day routinely don’t pull forward because they don’t like having to track down other folks to move cars, meaning that several spaces are blocked from use by other employees.

    After I asked their boss to talk to them about leaving enough room for the rest of us to park, things got better for about a week and then they started parking back in the spaces again. I decided if I didn’t care enough to get there early and park in front of them, I didn’t care enough to make this my hill to die on. But it still pisses me off a bit.

    1. Mid*

      That sounds like a terrible parking arrangement honestly. Not that it’s any fault of yours. But what if someone gets ill/needs to leave in a rush/is terminated from their position and then has to spend twenty minutes wandering around trying to get someone to move their car so you can actually leave?

      1. Bagpuss*

        I may be the least worst option. Whe I work, we have very limited space for parking and the most efficiaent way to use it includes having some vehicles parked in front of others.

        In our case, the numbers are low enough that eveyone knbows whose car is whose, so unless someone has a new car or a courtesy car, you know at a glance who you need to find. (and if you know when you arrive that you are likely to be leaving early then you can park in a space which is unlikely to be blocked in.

        The alternative would mean that only around 2/3 of those who want to, would be able to park.

      2. Anon just in case*

        It’s not that big an office, fortunately, and we all know each others’ cars by sight. We have regular, single spots that people can use if they know they will or might be leaving hurriedly, and in general people have a good attitude about moving when needed.

    2. MommyMD*

      You handled it wisely and yours is a completely legitimate complaint. This one really isn’t because other parking is available.

    3. SusanIvanova*

      If the parking lot is big enough to support it, your company might consider having a valet service to manage the car swapping. I’ve worked at a couple of places that did that when construction delays meant there were more people than parking spaces and they had to double-park us. When it gets to the point of interrupting meetings with the C-levels, it might well be cheaper.

    4. snowglobe*

      I may be missing something, but to me it makes perfect sense that someone who isn’t going to be there long, like someone making a delivery, shouldn’t have to park where they’ll get blocked in. It’s a bad system all around, but it makes sense that there would be an exception for delivery people.

      1. pentamom*

        It sounds like these are people whose main job is to be in the office all day, but at some point during the day they know they will have to leave for a routine work related reason. I agree that it actually makes sense for these people to leave their cars where they are always accessible, since unlike most other employees, they know they will have to leave within a few hours. Whatever the solution is to this problem, I don’t think it should be that people whose job involves leaving during the day should have to track down other people to move their cars, every single day. If parking is so tight that there aren’t a few extra spaces to permit this practice, that’s an issue that’s going to have to be addressed anyway, because it’s not sustainable for parking capacity to be so close to actual current need.

      2. Jasnah*

        Agreed. Why not assign parking spots so that the people who usually work all day pull forward, and the people who usually leave midway park behind them? It’s a puzzle but solvable.

    5. Cog in the Machine*

      I’ve seen parking lots like that, and I’ve seen people manage to wedge a large SUV diagonally out from the front space throught the bace of the space next to it. Nope! I’d probably end up either being the first in/last out person, or constantly terrified that I’d hit another vehicle or that someone would hit me.
      Here’s hoping your situation improves.

  8. MommyMD*

    Your boss was not joking about the sick days. Everyone needs to call off. I would make it the rare occasion and not be afraid to use my sick time benefit. If you are line with the rest of the staff regarding call offs, I don’t think you have to worry. Whether or not he likes it. I think he made it a point to note you were not there.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      But the boss said “You *don’t* call out sick”, which sounds like the LW did call out and the boss didn’t like it.

        1. Zillah*

          The certainty with which you’re stating that is weird to me, given that there’s really no way for you to know.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I honestly think no one interpretation of his words is more likely than another in this case.
            It’s reasonable for OP to wonder about this – because why would he have brought this up to begin with if it weren’t on his mind in some way? – but I don’t think there’s anything certain about this at all. Especially since OP herself said that he sounded “teasing”, I can easily see this being a strange joke – for all OP knows, there might be some kind of in-joke in that department about sick leave because the former boss was really strict about that stuff and everyone thought there were ridiculous or something along those lines.
            Important to find out more, but no need to fear the worst just yet.

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup. He was laying out an expectation that OP is not to use her sick leave…ever.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Or he was joking. It could be either, and there’s no way anyone of us here can be certain which it was.

            Frankly, it’s more likely that he was joking but, again, we can’t know. Absolute certainty like this is unhelpful to the OP.

    2. Mephyle*

      For bosses like #5, what do you do when you’re actually sick or severely injured? Move your hospital bed into the office? (Or for lesser conditions, maybe a foam mattress under the desk.) Keep a vomit receptacle next to your desk? Wear an air filter helmet so you don’t spread your germs to the rest of the office? Get Reception staff to carry you and your leg cast up to your office?

      1. Zephy*

        If you work for some of the bosses that have been written about here, you don’t have to do anything – your terrible boss will just show up to your chemo appointments and start talking shop.

    3. LGC*

      …I wouldn’t be so sure. I can see myself making this sort of bad joke.

      From what LW5 said in their letter, I’d guess that the boss is a joker (he teased them before dropping that line), and LW5 took it literally because they don’t know the boss. In that case, it’s DEFINITELY good to get clarification – and to flag to the boss that they were genuinely confused by it.

      (Also, to speculate a bit, are you in the medical field? I’m getting the feeling that THAT’S where you might be coming from – from what I understand, a lot of doctors and nurses are discouraged from calling out sick, right?)

      1. LQ*

        I might make a joke like this (I made one kind of like it recently) but usually I’m able to pick up on OH SHIT I SHOULDN’T HAVE SAID THAT pretty quickly and backtrack. But I don’t know the jokes that I’m making that I’m missing that I should be backtracking. I recognize that I likely need to cut back on all jokes that aren’t entirely unhilarious personal in jokes now that I’m in management but it’s hard.

        (I recently told someone we are going to need to work really hard to get all the stuff done, she took it to mean no vacation, NOOO! I just meant buckle down and focus when at work because she has a tendency to veer off for quite a long block of time.)

    4. hbc*

      I think he might have intended it as a joke, but I also think you don’t make that joke unless there’s a kernel of truth to it. At minimum, I’m guessing he was annoyed at having made the special trip and finding OP not there, plus some irrationality of “she’s been sick 100% of the days I’ve visited” being registered even when the sample size is one day.

      So while I wouldn’t consider this an official edict on sick day usage, I would look at it as some irritation leaking out in a passive aggressive way.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I disagree. Without more context, and especially tone of voice, we have no idea if the boss was joking or not. It’s totally possible that it could go either way.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        It’s the kind of joke people make when their opinion about something is not socially acceptable. Could just be tone-deaf ignorance, but ‘really means it but knows he can’t say it seriously or he’ll get in trouble’ is more likely.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, there are also bosses who joke about firing people without there being any shred of truth to it, because they’re tone deaf and haven’t processed the power dynamics. This could easily just be that.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yep. Like the umptillion people lut there who’ll say something really offensive and then say “but it was a JOKE, why are you mad about it, you have no sense of humor!” Goes well with other disingenuous tr0lling tactics.

    6. mcr-red*

      Yeah, I didn’t think he was joking either. It sounded like my old boss who used to grill you if you called in sick – he came in to work even if he was sick, so we should too!

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I think you just take it as a joke, and then if you have to call in sick next time, and he complains, you say, “I thought you were joking…aren’t sick days exactly for this purpose?” It will make him either say clearly that he expect you to never take sick days off (which is crazy) or he’ll back off, which is what he should do.

  9. staceyizme*

    I don’t think it’s necessary for either employee that wrote in about staying to feel even a twinge of guilt over leaving. In one case, the company is seemingly unstable financially. In the other case, the OP and other employees were subjected to poor leadership that went without corrective action for nine months. The loss of competent, skilled professionals is a natural consequence in either scenario. The companies both lack any reasonable basis for objecting to their affected employees making other (hopefully more prosperous) arrangements for their respective careers.

    1. MK*

      It really isn’t about feeling guilt. I think when similar letters come in, some commenters tend to go “you are not doing anything wrong, you don’t owe them anything, they would cut you loose without a second thought, etc”, which is not particularly helpful or realistic. If you say you will do X, even if it is not a contract or a binding promise, it’s going to be “off” if you decide to not do it shortly afterwards. Of course both OPs can and should do what is best for them and their careers, but it’s also best to be diplomatic about it, not go into the conversation with their bosses with this attitude.

      1. staceyizme*

        The energy that is brought to the process matters. It’s not “off” to move on to a better opportunity. “Off” would be acting awkwardly or guiltily without reason. The focus of the issue is corporate management (or mismanagememt) in both cases.

        1. MK*

          Exactly what I said, attitude matters; and a cavalier one is equally inappropriate with a guilty one. What a person says as a professional should also matter, unless you don’t mind having a reputation for inconsistancy.

  10. MommyMD*

    I would not go on with this parking lot pissing match with Veronica. No it’s not “her” spot but she works for the director and has been parking there how long? Years? Is it worth all this drama to park in that one space ? People may start to see you as the instigator, whether right or wrong. And you are saying you want to get there early now just to annoy her. It’s not right but is it worth it?

    1. Mockingjay*

      Where does the director park? Presumably in a spot that works for them, which may not be the same each day.

      A reasonable manager should not call out an employee over using an unassigned parking slot. Should the director boot a client who parks there as well?

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I honestly don’t think it matters that Veronica works for the director. It’s not worth starting any kind of parking war over this. If I knew someone parked in the same spot every day, I would park somewhere else as a common courtesy unless I knew they were out that day. Yes Veronica was a jerk to tell OP she took her spot (when they’re not assigned), but now OP is parking there deliberately to be petty (and has said she’s thought about coming in early on purpose for the sole purpose of taking the spot so Veronica can’t park there). Somebody has to be the bigger person here.

    3. Oaktree*

      Since it’s established upthread that the LW has worked for the company 35 years and Veronica only 5, I think the LW wins- if you really want to get into petty seniority arguments.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s not about seniority of being at the company but the seniority of parking there. It could be seen as aggressive by some that you’d take someone’s spot that they always get. I’ve seen this play out at a friend’s place of business, it’s bizarre AF to me but yeah, you never know.

        I’ve seen older employees pushed out and bullied because they cozy up to the director/big wig. So that’s never really a given.

      2. Gilmore67*

        Then why wasn’t the OP parking in that ” great” spot to start with? She wasn’t so the there is no seniority issue at all.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Because her previous schedule had her starting later in the day, at which point the spot wasn’t available. It was only when her work changed and started requiring her to be there earlier that she arrived early enough for the spot to be open upon her arrival. OP’s schedule change precipitated the whole thing.

  11. ShanShan*

    I’m so glad the discussion of OP #1 includes the possibility that these parents might be making those calls without the employee’s knowledge or permission.

    It’s been my experience that parents who are that pushy with employers also don’t listen to their kids when they ask them not to interfere with their work.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I was going to say this. It’s very possible that these people actually don’t know that their parents are intruding like this.

      My parents who did so many things wrong did this particular thing right. Even if they didn’t like whatever days/shift I was working they told me and let me do what I could to deal with it. Part of that was just their lazy do as little parenting as possible SOP, but also I think they were of a generation where parents simply *didn’t talk to their kids’ boss…it was just something that wasn’t really done.

      Also not done was calling and complaining that Child didn’t get all As on a report card and demanding the teacher change it, calling university professors to arrange re-taking a test…etc., etc., etc.

      I’m basically gen-x so I’m of the generation of a lot of these kinds of parents who interfere like this…but I can’t imagine for one second calling my child’s boss to complain about their schedule, or …(omg really?!)… demanding to know why they weren’t hired or what’s taking so long to hire them! So much nope.

      *Unless maybe the kid worked for their parent(‘s) friend or something. Even then though…still not really right to do.

      1. TPS Cover Sheet*

        Well, you read of these ”helicopter parents” all the time interfering with school. I suppose they don’t know when to stop… Nevermnd in the olden days when blatant nepotism and ”knowing the right people” was the way to get your kids a job.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I don’t think either the helicoptering or the nepotism hires belong to any one generation.

          1. Bulldog*

            This. One of my early jobs involved hiring many high school and college age staff and trust me, helicoptering was definitely a “thing” long before the term was coined.

          2. AKchic*

            Yeah, definitely not just one generation. We just see it more now because there are more of us, and it was encouraged in newer generations.

      2. blackcat*

        Whenever I think of that college bribery scandal, I think of the poor kid who showed up at a college and everyone was like “Oh, how do you like the crew team?” (I think it was crew, maybe another sport). And he was like “Uh, I’ve never done that in my life.” And that’s how the kid figured out his parents bribed his way into college.
        Some parents do really awful things without telling their kids…

    2. Mary*

      I would say, ““I’m not sure if you know that we got a call from someone claiming to be your mother about your application.” Part of the point of data protection is that you actually don’t know whether the person phoning up is who they claim to be!

    3. Reality.Bites*

      I’m not sure of the wisdom of saying “This could damage you with many employers but I won’t take it into account” – most people who interview don’t end up getting hired and if they tell the interfering parent what happened, it’s a pretty good bet the parent won’t take the lesson and my try to escalate things.

      I would definitely tell anyone in that position who I did end up hiring that there must be no more calls from parents.

      1. Susana*

        Yes – but also, the person who needs to be told is the parent. As in, “I can’t discuss this with a third party,” and finally, “I’m getting of the phone now.”

    4. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Oh, this happened to me.

      Back in the day out of college I was unemployed in the great recession so I applied for anything, even a job on a cruise ship. And they then said OK, but they have interviews in the UK. Well I was on the dole in Helsinki, getting a bus pass to town was a challenge enough so I said I need to take a rain check, but I said as you guys are building a ship in the harbour, if there is a chance of an interview when you guys come sail it off… Which I thought was a bit cheeky.

      Several months go, I get a job in a hotel as a night manager, move out from home due to the unsociable hours, and one night doing the ledgers the phone rings and an American voice asks for me. And I am like wtf… so they ask if I am still interested on the Cruise ship job and I am hell yeah (if nothing else I want to see the ship)…

      Long story short, they had called the number I gave at home some six months before, and as my parent’s don’t speak anything but Finnish, they had found someone on staff to call. And my mom had told basically for her to piss off ”as he has a job, a decent proper job”… now as it was another Finnish woman and they don’t take a no for an answer, they made mom spill the beans on which hotel I was working, and deduced if I was the night manager, to call at an unsociable hour…

      And my mom was very smug of herself… until I told her I got the job and going to sea.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s hilarious!

        I had the opposite happen, where I’d applied for one job, took another one in the interim, and when they called my house to interview for job #1, my mom decided (correctly) that job #1 was better, so instead of telling them I’d just started a job and was no longer interested, she told them I’d definitely call them back.

        (I mean, this was a long time ago, before cell phones, and I still lived at home, so it’s not as weird as it might seem today…)

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Hahahaha, I love the idea of a helicopter mom getting foiled by her own scheme backfiring!

      3. AKchic*

        My current MIL would put in applications for her sons with highly suspect details for jobs in her area so they could work close to where she lived (at the time, we all lived in the same city, however, our city is quite spread out, so we don’t see each other often – by design). Note that her sons were not looking for work at the times she was putting in these applications for them, and the only work available in her area was minimum wage cashiering positions or gas attendant positions and two of the three sons have families, one is a degreed specialist working a very good job (he was in college at the time). In one son’s case, he would have taken a $20/hr pay cut if he’d accepted any of the jobs she’d been trying to get for him (and note that he wasn’t looking in the first place!). For us it would have meant spending the entire salary on fuel or moving closer to the job (and then spending all the salary on fuel getting me to work in the opposite direction) plus a pay cut for him.

        She didn’t quit for over a year before every employer in her area realized what was going on and stopped accepting applications from her / for the family last name. Some parents just don’t get that they can’t control their adult children and can’t manipulate them into doing whatever you, the parent, want them to do just because it benefits you.

    5. Doctor Schmoctor*

      My parents are like this. My older brother and sister were always allowed to do their own thing, but they still think I will break or something. So they still try to do things for me. When I had to get my wisdom teeth removed a few years ago, my mother absolutely insisted that I have it done in city where they live. When I needed an eye operation two years ago, I didn’t even tell them until after it was done.

      Parents don’t realise the damage they’re causing with this crap.

      ( I had some serious health issues when I was little. Spent 3 weeks in a coma. So I can forgive them for being a bit paranoid, but hell, that was in 1981)

    6. shinychariot*

      OP#1 here. That is definitely the case for a lot of our applicants, but we also get a lot who try to have their parents call on their behalf because they’re nervous or don’t quite understand what to do. Some parents will also call round multiple members of the recruitment team hoping someone will slip up and give them the info they want, in those cases we’ll try to hit up the whole team via IM/ Email to say “The mother of John Warblesworth is attempting to call regarding her son’s application, don’t give out any info” but this isn’t always foolproof.

      A few things we’re trialling are:
      – Requesting the unique application reference number they receive, generally this isn’t easily accessible via snooping on email, so that at least narrows down if the parent is calling without their kid’s permission or not. We always request name, date of birth, address but this is kind of redundant if a parent is calling.
      – Citing an example of “If you were in a difficult home situation, telling your parent(s) where you work could put you at risk and we care about our employee’s welfare”
      – Quoting GDPR regulations about data breaches.

      It’s definitely frustrating because we hire an average of 50-100 people a week and we’re getting at least 5-10 parent(s)/ applicants pulling this crap a week.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Honestly, you don’t need to do those last two on your list. You don’t need to “convince” the callers that you’re entitled to refuse to talk to parents, and I think you’re sending the wrong message by doing that.. You should just decline to talk with them and be done with it.

      2. AKchic*

        “We didn’t hire you and you aren’t the applicant. We only discuss hiring and personnel matters with the applicant or employee for privacy reasons.”

        That’s it. In fact, when you are dealing with underage applicants, be frank about it “occasionally, we get parents/guardians calling about application statuses, schedules, interviews, etc. and I just want you to be aware that we never share any information because it is private between applicant and employer. That is how all companies should be, and we want you to be assured that your privacy will be protected just as much as anyone else’s.” It might help a few of them shut their parents down and limit some calls.

    7. RoadsLady*

      I know a woman (friend of the family) who did and does this sort of thing all the time. Worse, she couldn’t figure out why my parents wouldn’t. In her head, it’s how the system works. Never mind her kids have indeed suffered consequences over it.

  12. CouldntPickAUsername*

    RE: Parking, yeah you’re gonna have to decide if you want to do this or not but if you do decide to keep using the spot then I think you need to just act like it doesn’t matter.
    she confronts you about parking in the spot just shrug and go back to work. Act like it’s completely unimportant. If she starts getting up super early to get the spot before you just shrug it off. If she then brags to you on those days just say “ok” and go back to whatever. Basically don’t let her anger infect you too, it’s so easy to get it in your head and not be healthy, just make it a “I’ll use this spot if available” and move on.

    1. WS*

      +1. Some people get really heated about what “belongs” to them. At my workplace there’s plenty of parking spots but only two of them get shade in summer. Generally a co-worker and I are the first two there so we take those two spots. One day someone from another business in the same building was there first (I took the other spot), and made a point of seeking out my co-worker to mockingly tell her that she took her parking spot and there was nothing co-worker could do about it. Co-worker was mildly puzzled and didn’t really react, and yet on the few occasions since when that person has been here first, she’s made a big song and dance about it. It’s obviously a very big deal to her!

      1. jDC*

        There was only one shady spot in front of my old office (two employees and the other was rarely there) and if i left for lunch some random person would be parked there eating in their car. Drove me nuts. Also because he just looked into our office the whole time. So uncomfortable. I’ve seen people park on. The back of a lot or something to eat in private but to just basically stare into someone’s office.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Could you have pointedly closed the blinds, or taken a phone call or something while staring out at the eater yourself?

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      +1 OP, you’ve *already* let her get in your head. It’s not helpful to your work, which is what you’re there for.

      I am both stunned and disappointed by the number of people who would be petty about this. It’s *work*, not kindergarten. You’re there to work, not play games.

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      Agreed. Personally I think you should take this approach anyway, because unless there’s a good reason to kowtow to Veronica, buying into her “ownership” of the parking spot one way or another (deliberately taking it or NOT taking it) will just keep you ensnared in the petty BS cycle of resentment. Because you’re there already and the only way to get out is to stop caring. It’s just a parking spot. You take the best one available in the moment and move on, like in any other parking lot. Like everyone does. Make it a point to be warm and friendly to Veronica too; it’ll highlight her ridiculous attitude even more.

  13. Rose*

    #2. Veronica has been parking there for awhile. You know why she parks there. Presumably the whole lot is empty or close to it when you arrive. Stop being a child and park in another spot. Why make an enemy by being petty? It’s very strategically stupid.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Oh, c’mon. I’m all for more kindness in the world and in the comments, but there sure are a lot of snippy little directives among commenters today about whether their comments are nice enough.

        Saying that someone’s strategy is stupid is more abrasive language than I’d choose, personally, and not especially descriptive, but it is not the same as “calling the OP stupid.”

      2. Crystal*

        The OP isn’t stupid, but the phrase you catch more flies with honey than vinegar exists for a reason.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Not to mention telling OP they’re “being a child” for…refusing to acquiesce to someone’s self-important tantrum-throwing? How is that being a child, exactly?

    1. Sun Tzu*

      > Veronica has been parking there for awhile. You know why she parks there.
      Because the parking place is in the shade, and Veronica used to arrive before the OP. Now sometimes the OP arrives to work before Veronica, so she takes the place in the shade. There’s nothing wrong or strange about it. If Veronica wants to park there, she only needs to arrive to work earlier than OP. As simple as that.

      By leaving the place to Veronica, OP is not behaving nice or superior, she’s behaving weak.

      > Why make an enemy by being petty?
      This reasoning is exactly what makes bullies exist.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        By leaving the place to Veronica, OP is not behaving nice or superior, she’s behaving weak.

        I guess this is the bit where I disagree. If the OP had just left the parking space to Veronica from the outset, regardless of who arrives earlier, it would just have been nice and extra-polite. Not weak. Not everything is a competition, and not every position deserves to be jockeyed over.

        Now the OP has no obligation, of course, to be nice and extra-polite. And Veronica, by glowering and demanding that the parking space is to be regarded as hers, is demonstrating that she isn’t willing to be nice about the repercussions of a shifted arrival order on her parking options. So no, I wouldn’t criticize the OP for going by first-come first-served when the opportunity arose.

        But what I really think of the OP’s course of action, as a co-worker, say, depends on how fast the OP is able to establish a new status quo. Because there are ways for this to escalate, and if after a few weeks there is STILL an atmosphere of dark looks and deep sighs, and recriminations, and maybe Veronica now going out of her way to snag the OP’s favorite mug from the shared kitchen supplies before someone else can use it etc. pp. tralala… then I’ll be annoyed at BOTH the OP and Veronica for taking up my attention with childish feuds.

        In real life, there are many reasons why co-workers might refrain from snagging a coveted parking spot from Veronica from the moment changed arrival times would have warranted it. Maybe Veronica has a role of a respected elder / mentor in the office; maybe people know she has foibles, but also qualities that make up for them; or maybe they kowtow before Veronica’s borrowed borrowed status as the director’s assistant. (FWIW, I would be inclined to do 1, maybe 2, , but the third only if the place is dysfunctional.) So people would leave her the spot for a while, until she goes on vacation or is otherwise out for 2 weeks… and when she’s back, the parking spot is now reassigned to whoever is appropriate in the order of arrivals. At which point Victoria would normally accept the inevitable.

        1. pleaset*

          If the spaces are all the same (convenience, shade, etc), let Veronica have it. It’s no big deal.

          If Veronica literally *needs* that space more – due to a disability or other reason, let her have it. That’s being helpful.

          If she doesn’t need it and the spaces are not the same, the OP really shouldn’t just let her have it. This sets a bad precedent. Veronica should not have something better than everyone else in the future just because she has in the past.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Actually, OP2 is only assuming that’s why Veronica parks there. She could very well have an injury that she’s not comfortable sharing that she hasn’t bothered to get an ADA accommodation for that would necessitate that spot. I have a knee injury, I have more trouble than an average person getting into cars when they’re parked close together.

        Frankly, your assessment of bullies is frightfully off. Being petty has nothing to do with bullying in the slightest. “Why make an enemy by being petty?” is not “I’m going to allow this bully to do whatever they want.” it’s “I’m not going to engage in behavior that I know will escalate the situation and will, instead, seek alternate resolutions depending on my priorities.” Choosing your battles isn’t a weakness, and it’s childish to react to every slight rather than being strategic about where you spend your social influence.

        And, more importantly, bullying has nothing to do with sulking once and a while or applying minor social pressure when someone takes what you perceive to be your parking spot. If Veronica started targetting OP with repeated and particularly grievous attacks, perhaps you could make this claim, but you’re being incredibly uncharitable when OP has given no indication that Veronica has been otherwise combative.

        1. neeko*

          Or she could just want the spot. I get frustrated at how quickly some commenters an ADA accommodation. She could just want the spot because she wants it and for all of the reasons that the OP likes it. You are adding a narrative that isn’t there and armchair diagnosing based on nothing. The sulking and pressure aren’t once in a while. “she now sends dark glares in my direction.” The phrasing of “now sends” suggests that this is continued behavior from Veronica.

      3. Rose*

        “By leaving the place to Veronica, OP is not behaving nice or superior, she’s behaving weak.” disagree strongly. It’s not a war.

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        Also why isn’t OP entitled to park in the shade just as much as Veronica is just because Veronica does’t like to share?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I must admit my first reaction would be “I was told that there is no reserved parking. Has that changed?”
      I suspect the response would be “I’ve always parked there!” to which I’d reply “I’ve never been asked to come in so early before. Do we need to discuss this with $Manager?”

      1. LQ*

        I would strongly disagree that you should take this to a manager. I think any manager would want to know why on earth they were spending their time mediating a parking dispute and both people should go back to work immediately. No one looks good walking into that manager’s office to complain about a parking spot.

        1. Bulldog*

          Absolutely this. Two employees coming to me over a parking dispute would find both of them with assigned parking in the two most undesirable spots in the lot.

        2. NW Mossy*

          Which is why the petty part of me would respond to Veronica, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was a first-come, first-serve situation since the spaces aren’t marked as reserved. You might consider talking to Director about this to get yours labeled so that others don’t make the same mistake I did.”

          Veronica’s likely sharp enough to think that through for a second and realize that she may need to dial back her own attachment to this parking space. That said, it can be a powerful learning experience for those that don’t spot the trap and take the suggestion.

  14. cncx*

    Re OP2- i won’t go into the details because it would identify me and the employer, but i pushed back on something equally as petty and made it my hill to die on with a former job’s veronica, again someone who worked for the director.

    I lost a lot of points in internal politics despite being right on principle and making that my hill to die on caused a domino effect of events that made me leave that job like three months later. had i had a do-over i wouldn’t have tried to out-petty her. Sometimes you just have to take a L gracefully was the lesson i learned. I’m now really careful about my hills to die on.

    1. Sun Tzu*

      @cncx, sorry to hear that you had to leave your job, but perhaps you should be glad not to be working anymore in such a toxic workplace.

      1. Marthooh*

        Having a difficult coworker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a toxic workplace.

        I think OP should let Veronica have the very special parking spot, since it sounds like she has more political pull. If the office is toxic, start looking for another job.

  15. Flash Bristow*

    OP#5: I’d have replied to the “no sick days” comment by smiling firmly and saying “Tell you what, I’ll do my very best not to get unwell! How’s that?”

    That way, assuming it was lighthearted, he can smile back with you – but if he actually meant it, he can say “no, seriously…” and you take the conversation from there.

  16. Emmy*

    OP#2 – This may not apply to your situation but is something to consider. Are you newer at the job, at least compared to most of the staff? This may be a norm in your office’s culture, especially if it’s a smaller/shared lot, where each employee more or less picks a spot and it’s “theirs.” If that’s the case you may come off as really insensitive or out of touch once your coworker starts complaining to others (which it sounds like she will, this situation has drama written all over it). I’d keep an eye out and see if other coworkers have unofficial spots, and factor that into how you proceed. Again, may not apply but it’s still worth keeping in mind!

    1. jcarnall*


      I’m generally on OP’s side – if it’s first come first served, then the earliest employees get the best parking spots, and that’s just how it is.

      If there’s a company culture that everyone parks in “their” parking spot, and only a visitor or a newcomer would park in someone else’s spot, then OP may indeed be regarded as infringing on someone else’s parking place.

      But if there is no such company culture, then Veronica is certainly going to look petty if she demands sole access to “her” parking spot.

      Might be worth discreetly asking around to make sure.

    2. akiwiinlondon*

      this was my thoughts exactly (and posted in another comment thread before spotting this one).

      The ‘capital’ they may spend on this battle could be influenced by how the office perceives parking spaces regardless of any formal rules – especially if other people would like the premium space but don’t because it’s ‘Veronica’s Spot’, they’d look very out of touch just taking the spot themselves.

  17. Bagpuss*

    OP#1 Given the demographic of the people you are primarily employing and the fact that this happens alot, would it be worth having some form of general information / FAQ sheet that you could make available as part iof the application pack (either sent out iwth the applciation forms or downloadable rom the webbsite, depending on how your application process is structured.

    You coul then include things such as “We will not discuss your application, or issues with your employment such as shift allocation with anyone other than you (Unless a specific arrangement has been made in order to accommodate a disability) ”

    You coul alos perhaps include it (or suggest it is included ) as part of the induction process when new employees start, to outline who they ned to speak to and mention as part of that that they shouln’t allow others to call on their behlf as it will be both unproductive and unprofessional.

    1. Myrin*

      I really like that idea – it gives both OP and unwilling children of overbearing parents something concrete to point at!

      1. Anony*

        It’s also worth considering as a learning excercise. I teach an extra curricular class for high school students on getting (and keeping) their first job. It’s not intuitive, somebody has to explain the process to you about applying, interviewing, etc. I think sometimes parents need the class too. Parenting today has so much involvement- calling to make play dates, organizing car pools, why doesn’t my kid get more playing time, you’re homework assignments are too hard… I really think they don’t realize they are hurting their kids chance of getting a job by doing it. That said, I would address this to the kids – just an FYI, you don’t want your parents calling, that can negatively impact your job app. Their children’s disapproval will be a bigger deterrent than your saying something to the parent on the phone.

    2. Mary*

      I really like this too! I was literally just having a conversation with colleagues about employers who complain about graduates not understanding workplace norms without making workplace norms clear, so this is a really good approach.

    3. shinychariot*

      OP#1 here! I actually have an FAQ on our induction pack so I will definitely include this. I’ve adopted a similar approach before, a lot of our younger new starts were confused by our uniform requirements which is a white button up shirt, black trousers and black smart shoes and turning up in leggings, black jeans, sneakers, open toed shoes etc, and then being turned away by the shift manager, so I made an infographic with examples I pulled from google images.

      It may be a little more difficult to get it into our marketing material pre-interview as that’s a whole other level of bureaucracy but I’ll definitely do my best to push for it.

      1. BadWolf*

        I, for one, just had to google “black smart shoe” as I could guess what they probably are, but wasn’t sure.

    4. Sara without an H*

      This is a good idea, both for new employees and interns. I’ve seen a lot of complaints at AAM about young people not knowing workplace norms. Of, course, how would they, if we don’t teach them?

  18. Jan*

    OP2, what a pain Veronica sounds. She’s silly to assume a prior claim over a parking spot.

    I wouldn’t make a point of getting up early to beat her to it, as I agree with others that would be petty (tempting though it is!), but you’ve got every right to use the space if it’s free. So if you happen to arrive first, I see nothing wrong with using it as you would if you’d never had the discussion with her. The worst she can do is complain to the boss, and if the boss agrees, the onus is on them to put it in writing company wide and erect a sign in the car park “RESERVED FOR VERONICA” so even visitors will know. But most people will see her as the petty one if she complains anyway.

    I’m a busker living in London and have occasionally noticed this attitude from a minority of street performers. For the most part, everyone understands it’s a first come first serve system, and the Mayor of London has published a Buskers’ Code which recommends no more than two hours on a pitch for each performer, or one hour if someone else is waiting. This is a fair system and it works well, but you’ll always get the occasional person who thinks they’re entitled to a particular pitch Just Because. You just have to politely explain that of course you wouldn’t be rude enough to set up there if the other musician was there first, but they can’t expect nobody ever to use that pitch except them, because that’s not how public spaces work!

    Good luck and don’t let this person boss you around.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      Ooh! I’d love for you (or another busker) to be included in Alison’s occasional interviews-with-people-with-interesting-jobs series.

  19. Delta Delta*

    Parking wars! I worked somewhere that had a big lot. There were no assigned spots, but it was understood that The Big Boss got the spot closest to the building. However, a big show was made of the fact there were no assigned spots. So you had to simultaneously know there were no assigned spots but also know there were really assigned spots. New Hire came in early to meet with Big Boss one day. Having been told there were no assigned spots she parked in the spot closest to the building because she was there first. Big Boss was visibly petulantly angry with her for a couple days (days!) because she parked in “his spot.” She didn’t understand what she did wrong, because of course he didn’t tell her why he was mad because he couldn’t say he was mad she parked in his spot because there are no assigned spots but there really are. Then he was upset when she quit after only 8 months with the company. Eyeroll so hard.

    Point being – there might not be assigned spots, but habit and custom are hard to break. We don’t know more here. Has Veronica worked there for 45 years and always parked there? If so, I’d say back off and leave it for her. Or has Veronica just staked it out because she’s early and it’s habit? If it’s that, seems like parking there is no big deal.

    1. Jadelyn*

      …wild. My org’s parking lot is technically a city lot but it’s attached to our building, so while it’s primarily our clients and ourselves parking there, there’s definitely no reserved spaces.

      That said, people do have their routines and unofficial spaces/ordering. Lily’s black Chrysler is second or third in on the first row, with Anna’s silver Honda next to hers and Dan’s black Ford past that. Carrie’s old-lady-gold Lexus will be either a spot or two over from Dan’s, or across from his on the other side of the same aisle, Mike’s blue SUV will be near the Lexus, etc…you just sort of absorb this stuff over time. But I certainly wouldn’t expect a newcomer to know it without being told!

      I’m one of a handful of people who park out at the far end on purpose, and of us I’m the most consistent in which spot I take. Do some of my fellow far-end-parkers sometimes park in “my” spot? Yeah. I grumble about it as I pull in and park in the space next to my usual – and I definitely know who parked in “my” spot because I’ve worked here for 5 years and know the cars of most of the people in my building – but by the time I’m inside and starting my day I’ve gotten over it and the day moves on. At most, I might joke with whoever took “my” spot if our paths cross in the breakroom, but it’s always very clearly said as a joke and we all laugh about it.

      I just…I can understand being mildly irritated, but I can’t fathom being actually upset in a lasting way with someone – over multiple DAYS! even – over them not knowing the unwritten rules they’re being expected to abide by.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        One of my co-workers has a gold Mazda, and he parks way out in the back lot away from anyone else. One day we are going out to lunch, and parked right next to him, in the middle of nowhere is the exact same gold Mazda. We got a laugh out of that, and the other Mazda person obviously did it on purpose just for the heck of it.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      “Big Boss was visibly petulantly angry with her for a couple days (days!) because she parked in “his spot.” She didn’t understand what she did wrong, because of course he didn’t tell her why he was mad”
      Being treated like this is another reason I’m so glad I left Kansas. I was always being punished for not knowing the mysterious unwritten rules, in both my personal and work life.
      Ask vs. Guess – Ask wins every time!

  20. Roscoe*

    Regarding the parking spots, this is something that I’d say you should get over and just let her have “her” spot. I’m not arguing who is right or wrong, just sometimes thats how things go. I’m not sure who has been there longer, but my guess is that its her. But, for whatever reason, certain patterns have been going on for x amount of time, and now you are trying to change those just because you can, and being petty to just come in earlier so you can do this. In my previous jobs, some people had a specific mug they liked to use, even though they were technically all community mugs. Sure, I could have used it if I wanted to, but for what reason? Even at lunch or in meetings, some people have “their” spot that they like to always get. Because, even if you are on the same level, this can probably have some unintended consequences for you, because you are the one who would be seen as the agitator here. There was a social contract happening among your colleagues that you have now decided to break. You won’t come out looking good, even if you are “right”

    1. pleaset*

      “now you are trying to change those just because you can”

      No, she’s trying to park where she wants because she prefers that space. Not the same thing as what you describe.

      1. Roscoe*

        She prefers it after learning why Veronica likes it. As I said, everyone has their habits and routines they fall into in the office. I guess my thing is, if everyone in the office has kind of accepted certain people’s routines, having one person who just wants to buck the system just looks bad

        1. pleaset*

          “I too like the idea of having only one car parked next to mine in the parking lot, and the tree gives it a lot of shade, which keeps it cooler.”

          But it’s not “just because.” It’s because of a real benefit. Veronica may have demonstrated the benefit, but even if Veronica started taking the bus, the OP would still want it.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          She prefers it due to the same reasons Veronica prefers it, not necessarily because Veronica told her that. It’s not hard to figure out.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          No she was coming in early and it was empty. She parked in an available space. Veronica came in later and got pissy about “her” spot that’s not actually her spot.

  21. Mysteryslang*

    I would choose to park there sporadically, say, just one day a week at the beginning. Take baby steps in changing the parking status quo. On the days that you don’t take “Veronica’s spot”, make sure you park next to it, so she can see that you have deliberately left it for her.

    1. lnelson in Tysons*

      If the OP did that, it would be interesting to see how Veronica responded.
      Whether, a “thanks for leaving that spot for me” or “it’s about time you saw reason and stopped parking in my spot.”
      A petty part of me would love to hear that OP didn’t park in THAT spot one day, but someone else did and Veronica was still not in her beloved spot.

  22. Foreign Octopus*

    It’s not often that I disagree with the general commentariat here at AAM, but I do seem to find myself in the minority with OP2.

    Yes, I understand there is no assigned parking at the office and it’s first come, first serve. That’s fine. But it does sound like Veronica has been parking there for a while and it might have become “Veronica’s spot”. I can understand why Veronica would be upset at having OP park there. People get accustomed to routine and having the routine disrupted is annoying. Her reaction to it seems out of proportion, but I’d be inclined to let it go.

    There are plenty of other spaces in the parking lot, OP, and it sounds like you haven’t had a problem parking there before. This isn’t a hill I’d be willing to die on (but you might want to go for it), so I’d ignore Veronica, let her have “her” space, and just park somewhere else.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      But it isn’t OP’s job to manage Veronica’s emotions, and if Veronica gets upset or annoyed by this … okay? Certainly not the worst thing in the world. And I don’t think OP parking there = choosing to dye on this hill. It’s just a parking spot. Veronica will get over it or she won’t, but if OP continues to park there on occasion it normalizes the fact that spots aren’t reserved.

      1. Roscoe*

        But OP may be going against the office norms by doing this. My guess is Veronica isn’t the only person with her “thing”. Someone’s thing may be a spot, another’s may be a mug, another’s may be a particular spot in the refrigerator. And it keeps the peace when everyone kind of respects those things people have. So is OP “wrong”? No. But she may be making unnecessary waves here.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I 100% agree with you. Definitely not on OP to manage Veronica’s emotions, but I would also argue that if it’s just a parking spot then surely it doesn’t matter if OP parks somewhere else as well.

        I also suspect that maybe this is possibly the tip of the iceberg with Veronica. I wonder if OP has had problems with her in the past, or if Veronica is unreasonable in other aspects of their working relationship.

        I just personally feel that putting this much effort into a parking spot is a little too much, but that’s me.

        1. Gilmore67*

          But why is it being assumed Veronica is the problem?

          I am not saying the OP is a bad person but this really started with the OP parking in a space that OP knew Veronica preferred.

          If the OP had not done that there’s be no issue.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            OP parked there because it was available. There is no assigned parking. It’s a nice spot. OP is as entitled as Veronica or anyone else to take it if it’s available. Veronica could pound sand if I were OP…but it’s not my work/job situation, so I only advise OP to do whatever she feels is the best choice.

          2. willow*

            Right, because the other spots were just fine for OP to park in, until OP started coming in early.

    2. mcr-red*

      My thing is I can sympathize with Veronica. I get unreasonably mad when someone takes “my” locker at the gym.
      It’s the confronting part that takes away my sympathy. I don’t go up and yell at the person who has “my” locker.

      For Veronica to go up and yell at OP for taking “her” spot, no. That’s over the line, and yeah, in the OP’s situation, I’d probably be petty and start getting up early in the morning to deliberately take “her” spot, where if she had kept quiet, I probably would have been back to taking my routine spot in a matter of days.

      1. Jadelyn*

        This. I have “my” spot in the work parking lot, and my coworkers know it. Sometimes someone who has “their” spot in the same area of the lot that I use, will park in “my” spot before I get in. Do I get irritable? Yes. But I also acknowledge that I’m being unreasonable about it and I sure as hell don’t go argue with them about it, even when I know who it is! Like you, that’s the point at which Veronica lost my sympathy entirely.

    3. Gilmore67*

      Agree with Foreign Octopus.

      It was a better spot apparently and OP got a chance to take it and did. The OP “claimed” that spot. ….. ” I get here earlier now so tough luck to you ” OP did this on purpose. I don’t think Veronica needs to be rude to but OP did park there with purpose so I don’t think OP should be acting as if they are ” right”.

      In my opinion, the fact that there are no ” assigned spaces” isn’t the issue. OP knew someone always parked there and proceeded to basically take it away with the thought of… ” Well I can now, because well.. I can” and that isn’t much better than how Veronica is acting.

      OP said outright in her post… ” Now that I have been coming in earlier, I have decided to park there”.
      OP had no regard for Veronica at all. OP claimed that spot no different than what Veronica did. Why is that OK and not for Veronica?

      If I as another co-worker knew OP did that, I’d be half tempted to get in earlier just to park there and see OP’s expression.

      Everyone is getting mad at Veronica saying she needs to get over it. Why can’t the OP just get over the fact that Veronica liked that spot first and as a matter of common courtesy not park there?

      Again OP parked there with intent knowing Veronica parked there regularly, so I am not really getting why Veronica is being dogged on.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        >>OP said outright in her post… ” Now that I have been coming in earlier, I have decided to park there”.
        OP had no regard for Veronica at all. OP claimed that spot no different than what Veronica did. Why is that OK and not for Veronica?<>Everyone is getting mad at Veronica saying she needs to get over it. Why can’t the OP just get over the fact that Veronica liked that spot first and as a matter of common courtesy not park there?<>Again OP parked there with intent knowing Veronica parked there regularly, so I am not really getting why Veronica is being dogged on.<<

        OP parked there because it was/is empty when she gets in. There is no assigned parking. OP is as entitled to it as Veronica or anyone else. First come, first choice. Veronica is being doged on because she is being entitled and demanding something she has no actual right to demand.

        1. Gilmore67*

          And nor does the OP get the demand it or claim it. And the OP is being just as entitled. She is the one that started this problem with …. I want that spot now even though I know Veronica always parks there.

          I don’t believe for a minuet that if anyone reading this blog, would be OK if someone did this type of thing to them.

          Are you seriously telling me that if you sat in a certain spot at lunch and everyone knew it. You’d be totally fine with someone else sitting there just because they got to lunch earlier? Tough luck I got here first. And proceeded to take it over completely ? When they KNEW you liked that spot? You’d just be like.. OK no problem. No irritation at all? No.. Jane Knows I like sitting there and now I have to find somewhere else. You’d be totally OK with that?

          If a new worker came in there and said OH I see Wilma always sits ” There” that is a nice spot would you say… Oh who cares, ahead and sit there anyway?

          This is common courtesy.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            OP is not being entitled. OP is not demanding that anyone leave the spot open for her. You’ve got the sequence wrong.
            For a long time, OP’s start time was later than Veronica’s and Veronica (unbeknownst to OP) always parked in The Spot. OP’s schedule changed to earlier than Veronica. She came in, saw the spot open, parked there. Then Veronica threw a fit about it being “her spot” despite there being no assigned spaces in the lot. OP continued to be scheduled at the earlier time and continued to park in the spot if it were available, regardless of Veronica’s complaints because neither of them has claim to any spot. It’s open and you’re there, you can park there. The second time OP did it Veronica got even more pissed. And here we are.
            The spot is objectively better than others in the lot. The question is not if OP is somehow parking there AT Veronica just to get her goat. The question is how anyone else with earlier schedules has not started a race-to-the-good-spot on more mornings.

  23. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 – no the parking spot doesn’t belong to your co-worker, but if she parks there 99% of the time, it’s a jerk move to start taking it just because you get there first. At my last company, I was usually there first, so I would park in one of the spots that was next to the curb. If someone else on my team got there before me, knowing I usually parked in that spot, they would park somewhere else. Granted, if someone had parked in the spot I usually took, I wouldn’t have given them a hard time about it, but it’s less about who’s right and more about common courtesy. If you want to start WW3 over an unassigned parking spot go for it, but IMO this is one of those things you need to let go because at this point you’re doing it out of spite and not just because you happen to get to work first sometimes.

    1. yala*

      Very much this. OP isn’t technically wrong on paper, but it still feels like a jerk move.

        1. willow*

          It’s making this situation into a competition, a zero sum game. It’s the difference between “haha, Veronica isn’t in yet, I get THE BEST SPOT!!!” and “Oh, Veronica likes to park there, I’ll just park over here (a whole seven feet away)”.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      See, I view the situation completely differently. Parking spaces in this lot aren’t reserved, so to me Veronica is acting kinda jerky and entitled by confronting OP for parking in a spot that she has every right to park in. Who DOES that? That parking space is just a parking space. Anyone can park there if it’s available. Veronica is out of line here.

      1. Jasnah*

        Absolutely, but is it worth fighting over? It’s just a parking space. OP dealt with parking elsewhere before and can deal with it now. Not worth fighting with unreasonable people over.

    3. LQ*

      If Veronica had written in I (like to) think that everyone would have said, chill, just park somewhere else, this isn’t a hill to die on. But Veronica didn’t write in, OP did. So for the OP, chill, just park somewhere else, this isn’t the hill to die on.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I’m trying to think what I’d say to Veronica and it might be something like:

        “Yeah, super annoying, but a parking space is a parking space. Either get their earlier or let it go.”

      2. Working Mom Having It All*

        Yup. Nailed it.

        Veronica shouldn’t have made it a thing, but OP doesn’t need to sink to her level and start a war.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          If Veronica would’ve kindly asked, maybe…maybe I could see the LW move. But really…no. It’s not Veronica’s spot, never was, never will be. The LW gets there first, like the spot (because hey, it’s a nice spot, regardless of what Veronica might think of it) and therefore has every right to park there, and there is nothing Veronica can or should say about it.

          And once she makes a big fuss, forget it. The spot is anyones to take, so the LW is not doing anything mean, she’s just parking in a spot since she’s there and it’s available.

        2. willow*

          And the next parking space is, what, like seven feet farther from the building? All this angst for seven feet?

    4. pleaset*

      Yes, it’s a jerk move to take something that is better when someone else had it first and wants it forever because of that. Suuure. The newbie is the jerk. The person who gets the better thing forever is the one who is being reasonable. Riiiight.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      The OP isn’t taking it “just because she got there first,” which I agree would be a jerk move. She’s taking it because it’s a better spot.

    6. Susana*

      But .. “common courtesy” is understanding that the first person in the parking lot gets first pick of a spot. And if there is indeed a spot that is objectively better, that one is going to go fast. Bullies thrive by convincing people it’s common courtesy to give in to them.

      1. One (1) Anon*


        OP isn’t taking that place to spite Veronica, just because it’s a) available, and b) convenient. There is nothing wrong with that, and insisting that they should bow to Veronica’s demands is insane to me.

  24. a1*

    OP2 – you’ve done nothing wrong. Parking is first come, first choice. I trust you know your company well enough to know that there are no reserved spots (officially or unofficially), as you state in your letter. Park where you prefer when you get there, and if the spot if available, take it. If it’s not, do what you always do and park elsewhere. Your CW can do the same.

  25. Environmental Compliance*

    Personally….though Veronica is an absolute bore, it sounds like a misuse of office capital & a heck of a lot of drama to start by persistently & purposefully getting to work early just to take her parking spot. Doing it on occasion because you legitimately were there first? 100% agree (unless this is an office culture where there are informal parking spots). Doing it just to be petty? Man, I have better things to be doing, you know? Veronica just wouldn’t be worth the time and effort.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      The LW said her schedule shifted, so she’s getting their earlier than Veronica. She’s not going in early to purposefully take Veronica’s spot (though she thought about it out of spite, since Veronica is being such a pain about it). As of now, she’s done nothing wrong, and Veronica has no leg to stand on.

  26. MuseumChick*

    OP2, as others have said you have not done anything wrong. People can get really weird about what they consider “their” spot. Like in school in a class without assigned seating. Everyone has “their spot” and if someone sits in different spot one day it’s like collectively no one knows what to do, it throws everything off.

    Unless there is some kind of professional consequence you could face, I’d keep parking there.

  27. Anonny*

    Is it bad that I’m hoping that if OP2 does continue to use the parking space (not necessarily pettily, just on a ‘I got here and it was free so I used it’ basis), Veronica winds up completely Carol-ing on her?

  28. agnes*

    oh the things we choose to fall on our sword over….We have company vehicles that employees use during the day as part of their jobs. They are handed out randomly but people get very attached to a specific vehicle. We actually had to write a policy and have company wide meetings explaining that no one is allowed to pick a vehicle, and that vehicles are randomly assigned. We’ve had grievances filed from people thinking that someone is deliberately making them drive a specific vehicle that they don’t like.

    1. Jadelyn*

      I will admit I am baffled that this needed to be said, and that people have filed grievances(!) over it.

      Life is a rich tapestry.

  29. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #2 OK. Since there are no reserved parking spaces, you are well within your rights to park there. But I don’t think this is a battle worth fighting. Just let her have “her” space, and move on.

  30. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – Another vote for making “communications with your manager / HR” a part of the orientation package, complete with who the company will and will not communicate with.

    I really do like that you take the “no fault” assumption that the parents are doing this without their kids’ knowledge. Probably correctly in most cases, although I know some people who are passive enough to let their parents do everything for them. (In the process of trying to train my kids to be a little more self-reliant, before we get to that stage, lol.)

  31. Phony Genius*

    For #4, the OP says, “he asked if he let my boss go would I stay.” This question should never be asked to an employee. The fact that the big boss asked this question shows that they have bad management skills. I can’t think of any circumstance where a subordinate should be asked by upper management if their own boss should be fired. You can dance around the question, but never directly ask it.

    1. Cogsworth4*

      He carefully worded it but yes it was a very shocking conversation to be a part of. I don’t think he realized until he visited the office and had 1:1s with our staff how bad it was and how much of my bosses job I was doing and he was taking credit for so he wanted me to understand that he “gets it” now.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Agreed. At most the big boss might have asked “There are some management changes coming up, are you interested in taking a larger role than you currently have?” Which is both acknowledging OP for previous over-performing and letting OP know that the bad manager is on the way out regardless. If the big boss hadn’t actually made that call yet, then it should not have been discussed with OP even as a hypothetical.

      Bad management is implying that the poor manager would be retained *unless* the star second-in-command steps up. Those should have been treated as separate issues, even if they were de facto linked.

  32. Buttons*

    OP1 – Some times we have these unwritten rules in our work culture, and you have violated one. She always parks there, why is it so important for you to now park there? It seems petty, and childish of you to suddenly take what has always been an unwritten rule in your office, that co-worker parks in that spot.

    1. Susana*

      It’s not an unwritten rule – it’s Veronica’s Rule of I Get What I Want Just Because. And it’s not a creature-of-comfort thing – it’s a *better* spot. So lots of people would like it – not just Veronica.

  33. Retired but Read Religiously*

    #5 — Is it possible the “don’t get sick” comment was because OP was out on the day remote boss came in to meet her? Still not great to say, and I agree it would behoove OP to check around to see how sick days are regarded in general

  34. boop the first*

    1. I can’t think of any better approach (except maybe adding a short “just to mention…” to your usual response to parents). My stepdad used to tell me to call up employers every day to ask why we haven’t moved forward yet, and I would just ignore him. He would check in with me constantly to ask if I’d done it and I would say no, it’s a bad idea and no one in their right mind would be charmed by this. No effect.
    That’s the only downside to telling the young applicants. They already know, which is why they’re not the ones calling. When the applicants take this information back to their parents, parents won’t believe them. They’re not going to accept truth from their kids the same way they *might* from working adults. You’ll be doing a service, but it’s going to feel futile. Sounds like it already does.

    4. Not sure it’s actually a different situation at all. The boss never mentioned anything about putting OP into the new job until after the fact. There’s a lot of information missing that might explain why OP was the #1 choice in the matter, it doesn’t sound like OP has been training for this.
    Which means they can find literally any other person to train and the situation remains unchanged. Maybe this weird, non-communicative way of hiring people into roles is how you got a lousy boss in the first place?? If they weren’t going to fire him if you weren’t around, that’s not a lot of confidence that things would have gotten better had you stayed!

  35. Roscoe*

    Here is another analogy that remind me of what OP is doing.

    Lets say you have a co-worker named Kevin. Whenever there is an office party or pot luck, Kevin brings in his “famous” chili. Everyone knows this about him, and its just kind of assumed that that is “his thing” . Then one day Kevin is out sick, and that happens to to be the day the pot luck signup sheet is put up. Now you have another co-worker decide to sign up for to bring chili because they think their chili is better. Then when Kevin is back the next day and sees the sign up and he says something, co-worker says “First come first serve” with a little smirk. Did that other co-worker do anything “wrong” or against the rules? No. However, I think to me and a lot of other people, it would still be a jerk move to do, and I’d definitley look at co-worker a bit differently even if I know that they were within their rights to do so.

    Its like the saying, “just because you are right, doesn’t mean you aren’t a jerk”

    1. Emmie*

      Tone, and reason matters here. In your scenario, the person is snarky and doing it with malice. If the person said “hey, I make a good chili too – let’s have two!” It’s not as big of a deal.

    2. pleaset*

      Here is a better analogy, building upon yours:

      Kevin has always brought in plastic cutlery because it’s much easy to buy and easy to carry, compared to other things such as food or drink. And then, one day someone else picks that since it’s easy.

      That’s the difference. The OP wants to park there because it’s actually more convenient. It’s not to rock the boat, it’s the have someone nice that the other person wants to have forever.

      “with a little smirk.” Nice touch BTW.

      1. Roscoe*

        I’d still argue that if everyone has kind of accepted that Kevin brings the cutlery, and everyone is ok with it, then its still kind of a jerk move to swoop in when he isn’t around to claim that for themselves. Now, maybe I just say that since my grandmother was always the “bring the cutlery person” since I feel that she had tons of the stuff from functions over the years. But no one questioned her. It was just kind of assumed. That is what this seems like to me. Everyone else in the office has kind of accepted this, and OP is stirring the pot just because.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Really? I’d say that maybe it’s not fair for Kevin to “own” the easiest contribution (unless that’s a general agreement because his rented room doesn’t come with a kitchen or whatever).

        2. pleaset*

          “everyone is ok with it,”

          The everyone has changed. It’s not the same everyone as it was when it started.

          “OP is stirring the pot just because.”

          No, she’s stirring the pot because that spot/bringing cutlery is better. It’s for a reason that is very different than “just because” she can. It’s about a benefit that two people want.

          1. Roscoe*

            Sure, now one person wants it changed. That is a good way for people to not like you. Have you ever had a new employee come in and try to disrupt the established flow of things? Unless they are a boss, it doesn’t work out well. Even if they are a boss, they may have a bit of a revolt on their hands

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              Humans are creatures of habit, I know I have my routines and habits. But change can sometimes be good. Just because something has always been done a certain way does not been it is the best way. Yes the initial change in the process might create more work, but if it is better eventually it might make things easier.

              Also talking about a bringing cutlery or a parking space is not forcing everyone to accept an entire new workflow process. It is making one person change the way they do things. If people really care about letting Brian bring in cutlery for potlucks, or Veronica parking in the prime space they can go to the boss and advocate for it to become official policy.

              OP did not park in the spot to spite Veronica they parked there because it is the best spot.

        3. Susana*

          Roscoe, not the same situation at all. This isn’t about people’s little quirks, and wanting the blue coffee mug that’s not really different from the others. This is an objectively *better* spot, and Veronica thinks she can have it to herself in perpetuity because she’d managed to get there first for awhile. Sounds like she often gets there first, which means she’ll probably get that spot most of the time. But to expect everyone else to always let her have the best spot because SHE has decided it’s “hers?” Nope.

    3. Koala dreams*

      If you are only willing to eat your own chilli (or other food), then you shouldn’t participate in a pot luck, that’s just common sense. I personally would consider a coworker that demands other people eat their chilli yet are not willing to try somebody else’s chilli to be quite rude.

      The parking situation is different, since it’s someone claiming a community resource (the parking space) for themself. That is greedy. Sure, there is no monetary difference between the parking spaces, but that particular space is qualitatively better. So a better analogy would grabbing handfulls of candy from the candy dish or refusing to work the less desirable shifts.

    4. Mr. Shark*

      Yeah, I don’t think this is a good analogy. Nor the cutlery person. I think the perfect mug sitting in the kitchen is a better analogy. Kevin always uses the cool mug that is the perfect size for coffee and has the best handle. But LW gets in the office earlier, so grabs the mug.

      It’s not Kevin’s mug, never has been, he just uses it more often than anyone. He has no claim to it, though.

    5. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

      This is not really accurate, since OP didn’t know that Veronica habitually parked in the desirable space before the confrontation happened. Based on her work hours, OP always saw the space filled and didn’t know by whom. One day she is early and parks in the desirable space, because she logically can based on the space being available and no assigned parking. Only after she has parked there under this logic does OP find out that Veronica considers the space unofficially reserved.

      So, in your analogy, someone sees the potluck list and sees that no one has signed up for the easy option of cutlery; at past potlucks, there has always been cutlery but coworker never paid much attention to who was bringing it. Then Kevin goes ballistic because he always brings the cutlery and resents someone treading up on his toes, even though not everyone even realizes that it’s Kevin who always brings the cutlery.

  36. Sleepy*

    Ugh, parking wars. My neighbor has a fake disabled parking pass so he can park right in front of his house, hence leaving his attached garage empty for storage. There is abundant free street parking in the neighborhood anyway, but if another person with a disabled pass parks in his spot he gets livid and talks to them about not parking there any more, even though he is literally parking only one space away in most cases.

    To;dr people are insane about parking and I wouldn’t F with it. Not worth it.

  37. InsufficentlySubordinate*

    If you live in Texas, then I can’t see anyone even being shocked that someone would come in early solely to park in the shade, and it wouldn’t seem petty. It’s just how it is. A huge parking lot with 3 trees on the far edge will have all the early people clustered around the trees. Or the shade of the building.

    1. Lucy*

      I do not live in a country where this is a frequent issue, but I think it was a Texan (online) who taught me that on sunny days you should plan to park where the shade will be when you leave which may counterintuitively mean parking in full sun when you arrive. I wonder if the parking lot you describe has all the cars parked slightly to the east of the trees.

  38. Alice*

    #1 – I just want to add, aside from signaling that this is inappropriate, I hope you’ll tell that to the parents! I’m willing to bet many of them have a worse understanding of professional norms than their offsprings. A hiring manager saying “this will hurt your kid’s chances” carries far more weight than “mum/dad, stop doing this” (which is always brushed off as “silly child, I know best”).

    1. AKchic*

      I think this is a good idea too.

      “I know you mean well, but it is inappropriate for you to be calling for your adult/teenage applicant/employee. I will do them the favor of pretending you didn’t call in, but other employers may not be so kind. Nobody can discuss anything with you anyway.”

      Shutting them down hard, yet somewhat kindly, while also signaling that what they are doing is so beyond the boundaries of appropriate would do many people a favor (because you know those parents will get huffy and complain to their friends/family).

  39. ragazza*

    If I were a petty type of person, I could see maybe rounding up some coworkers and getting them to rotate parking in that spot, just so Veronica can’t blame just the OP. That would probably be more trouble than it would be worth. Probably.

  40. A Simple Narwhal*

    Re: #1

    Man, I lucked out that my parents never called an employer on my behalf. I’ve got super(/over)-involved parents who definitely called school/programs at the drop of a hat, but never ever called an employer. They definitely pushed me a lot, but I’m very fortunate that they were like “you’re an adult now, handle your work sh!t”.

  41. Essess*

    I feel like I have to channel King Solomon for the parking issue….. Just SHARE the danged spot. OP, you park in it on alternate days and let Veronica know that one of the benefits to offset having to come in earlier is the ability to choose a parking place that is less painful to come out to when you leave but you realize it’s not fair to others to hog it the entire time so you are only parking there occasionally to allow others the ability to use it as well.

    1. California NOT dreaming*

      I’m pretty sure that is what is already happening. They are sharing the spot but Veronica is not willing to share.

      1. Essess*

        The way I read it, the OP is now coming in earlier so she’s always taking the nice spot so Veronica can never park there again. Even though Veronica had no problem blocking anyone else from parking there, OP can make a point that OP won’t hog the space so that others have an opportunity as well.

        1. pleaset*

          “Veronica can never park there again”
          Oh, I think Veronica could park there by arriving earlier. It’s up to her.

        2. a1*

          In the letter she said she “feels” like doing that, not that she is actually doing that. AND she’s already replied at least twice up thread and indicated that it’s only happened 3 times, so she is in fact not actually doing that.

        3. Susana*

          No, that’s not what OP said – OP said s/he thought about doing that, but that it would be petty. And it was said in the context only of how frustrating this was, to deal with such a childish and selfish co-worker.

  42. LessNosy*

    When I started my current job, during the HR orientation meeting they cheerfully told me “Oh, we have a very relaxed office! There is only really one rule here: *face darkens seriously* if you leave for lunch, when you come back you MUST park in the same spot you were in before.” I kinda laughed, but the rep said, “No. I’m serious. It’s a thing.”

    Umm. It is 100% a Thing. It’s become a joke in my department if we all go out together (“Oh no, Boss, you’re one spot over!” of course no one would say anything to her though!), and there is ONE staunch defender of this rule who is not in my department. We all know to avoid HER spot of the day like the plague, or she WILL come and confront you about “parking in her spot!”

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      Honestly… I kind of get this. I pretty much never leave for lunch because I come back, someone has taken my spot (it’s a huge parking structure shared by hundreds of people including visitors), and then I have to go park on the roof in the sun and I’m like 4 floors up and have to wait for the elevator and everything is WAY more annoying.

      But my solution is to pack my lunch, not to create drama. Jesus.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yep, I know a ton of people who’ll do almost anything to avoid leaving campus for lunch if they got a spot in the ‘good’ lot, because there are almost always a handful of cars staking out the lot waiting for anyone to leave. If you’re not leaving for the day, you will not have a spot to come back to in that lot. But it’s a fact of life and not a personal insult, so people just, you know, plan for it.

  43. June*

    I actually got “fired” the second week of my internship because I apparently parked in someones spot on my first day. Instead of someone telling me, I just found my car completely keyed at the end of the day. HR was like “Hurr durr that’s Jon spot. You shouldn’t have parked there.” I was let go because I had the audacity to file a police report.

    1. lnelson in Tysons*

      That HR department is shameful.
      Someone keyed your car. If no one gave you the heads up not to park there, how could you have known.
      Which is the office again to report unlawful terminations? I know that it was an internship and assuming you are in the US and most likely at will, firing someone for reporting that your car was damaged really for no real reason, that is wrong for the employer on many levels.

      1. fposte*

        Firing for that reason could, depending on the state, fall under the public policy exception to the at-will doctrine. However, even if that’s true it’s not likely to get June much, given that it was a time-limited job anyway.

      2. June*

        I luckily have a dash cam recording 24/7 so I had proof it was him with several clear shots of his face so he couldn’t deny it. He did well over $10000 worth of damage (the guy keyed my car for almost 15 minutes straight!) so it was a felony charge and because of that, he had his security clearance suspended (which was required for his job). I considered that to be karma enough along with my insurance going after him for the full cost of damages.

        1. Koala dreams*

          That workplace sounds toxic. Glad you got out from there! I hope you got the money back from insurance.

        2. Observer*

          It sounds like you actually dodged a bullet, then. Someone did $10k worth of damage and HR DEFENDED him? What other insanity would they have expected you to accept.

          How to businesses like that continue to function?!

        3. The New Wanderer*

          Awesome result, *and* you didn’t have to keep working with someone who has clear anger management issues.

      3. Observer*

        No place to go because absent some fairy narrow exceptions, “unlawful termination” is not a concept in the US.

        Also, it doesn’t matter if someone warned her. Damaging someone’s car is NOT an acceptable response to someone taking your parking spot, by any measure.

  44. Anon for this one*

    I had “my spot” at work for over ten years. I loved “my spot”. Everyone knew it was mine, and in fact, had become an ongoing joke. New boss comes in, and like many of you, thought that was ridiculous, and parked there mostly just to make the point. It gave me a very negative view of their management style, and was oddly the proverbial straw! (It’s funny how so many things can be tolerated in exchange for a little perk here and there) Now I have a great new job, but I have not picked my new spot yet. :-)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is so rude, I’m sorry that you were treated unkindly by someone who had authority so WTF would they need to act so petty for?!

      We all have our “spots”, sometimes we have to switch it up only because the lot is limited and there’s some people not in our company that also squat there sometimes for various reasons. But yeah, nobody knowingly swoops and squats a spot out of spite because well we like each other, so there’s that.

  45. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1: We deal with minor employees in my job, helicopter parents are a daily occurrence. Unfortunately, because they’re minors, there’s not a whole lot we can do to prevent it. It’s always baffling when a parent expects us to just take their word on how “responsible” their child is, or what good “customer service” he has when mom/dad is the one doing all the talking and turning in paper work. Especially if the youth is of driving age, we can almost guarantee who won’t be showing up to most of their shifts based on the level parental involvement at the time of applying. Very refreshing when you get a parent who will be present but not take the lead when a youth comes in for application, questions, or an interview. They are always memorable because they are so few and far in between.

    I can remember one instance where we almost didn’t hire a legal adult because his father (who fancies himself a big name in the community, and he is a big name…but not necessarily a good one to everyone) emailed the one hiring to toot his own horn as if that had anything to do with his son’s qualifications. The hiring manager did respond to dad that we do not discuss applicants/employees without express written consent from the applicant/employee. Dad didn’t like that very much. We did end up hiring the guy and we did tell him that his father nearly cost him the job, so I’m not sure where things went on that end..but we never heard from dad again. So my hopes is that son took it to heart and told dad to back off.

  46. KoiFeeder*

    OP1, assuming that some of the parents are indeed calling on behalf of children who have phone anxiety, are there other ways to get information without making a call? The examples provided in the question don’t lend themselves to that interpretation, but having the ability to look at an FAQ or something instead of having to call a phone number actually does help me be able to make calls myself to that number in the future… sometimes. There’s still a lot of psyching myself up for it though.

  47. Lauren*

    #2: I had a situation like this once, except the person yelling at me was my cooperating teacher in my student teaching placement. My placement was at a city school not too far from my urban campus. There was a small (like 20 spaces) lot for teachers (placard was required – I have no idea what the system was for obtaining a placard for those spaces) and everyone else parked on the ample street parking around the school. The parking on the street is managed/owned/maintained by the city and anyone can park there (except on the designated snow removal days, which are clearly marked). I would park wherever I could find a spot – sometimes right in front of the building (score!) One day my co-op saw me getting out of my car and started yelling down the sidewalk at me that I couldn’t park there and that it was for teachers only. Again, no signage indicating anything other than public parking (for anyone, not even just people at the school). She was otherwise batshit crazy and I had to document a whole slew of other issues with her throughout my placement, so I just figured she was on yet another power trip, moved my car that day (since she literally stood there waiting until I did), and then after that I resumed parking wherever I could find a space. About a week later, she told me she saw my car parked out front again and reminded me that “we have already discussed this – those spaces are for teachers” me: “oh really? Is there a sign or something that I missed? The only signage I’ve ever seen on the streets around the school is that it’s public parking – no permit required” her “well I just don’t want you parking there. I like to park in the front of the building and when people like you park there it takes a space away from me”

    Needless to say, I continued to park wherever the hell I wanted (in a legal space), asked my supervising teacher (my professor from my university who oversaw student teachers) to come for observation at least once per week (normally you WOULDN’T want all the pressure of observation that often, but that was the only time my co-op treated me with any dignity or respect) and that bitch isn’t allowed to take student teachers anymore. Why are people so dumb and entitled?

  48. Working Mom Having It All*

    Honestly, if the existence of a parking spot that is slightly better for whatever reason is this big of a deal, I’m wondering how bad morale is in general, and whether people feel like they’re getting their needs met across the board.

    My company provides enough of these types of small perks that nobody really begrudges someone getting something “better” than someone else like this. For example bagels on Fridays, the piece of birthday cake with the rose on it, the “good” coffee mug, etc. There’s generally enough to go around, and things are generally good enough, that on the off chance that two people want the same parking spot/task chair/pad of post-it notes, like… who cares?

  49. Master Bean Counter*

    #2–I joked once last year about the seasonal office help taking my spot. We don’t have assigned parking either. I’m usually one of the first ones in, thus I have a “spot.” The only issue I raised with her was that she needed to fix the oil leak on her vehicle or just stick to one spot. The oil spots were starting to give some of the other office staff worries about their own cars.
    I actually felt a little bad when she settled on a spot on the other side of the lot. Even if it’s a small lot.

  50. Arjay*

    #2 should be the better person and park somewhere else. However, the petty part of me thinks she should park right next to Veronica, as close to the parking line as humanly possible, every day.

  51. Anony*

    #3 is what I needed to read today. Same issue, slightly minor changes to the situation. Still feel very guilty as I do like my new boss but the workplace environment is untenable for me.

  52. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    People are so weird about their parking arrangements. Even when it’s not an assigned spot, I’ve seen so many tantrums over the years both professional and in neighborhoods alike.

    If someone is that aggressive, it would worry me that they’d decide to do things to “get back” at me, be that damaging my car or just being absolutely unhelpful in any way possible. It’s not worth it.

    It’s also never good to get into a dispute with others over parking because that’s how vehicles get targeted for vandalism at some point. I don’t like leaving my car anywhere after I’ve experienced aggressive behavior because I’ve known too many road-rage-y stories that involve revenge destruction.

    It’s just not worth it, she’s absurd but don’t instigate it, man.

    1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      It makes me so glad my work has no parking at all. Every time I read about work parking lots and people knowing their co-worker’s cars and making judgments over them, it makes me never want to leave New York. An extra professional stress that no one needs!

  53. TardyTardis*

    Where I used to work it was said, ‘don’t call in sick for month end, don’t call in dead for year end’. Just *once* I saw someone sent home during year end, and frankly, she should have been in the hospital. But when you work for a Die for the Emperor culture, you’re going to get this.

  54. Little Tin Goddess*

    Late to the parking spot post but I find it amusing. There is a similar spot at my office that I usually park in when Im in the office ( I work remotely 3 days a week). Married work friends of mine realized recently how prime this spot is and park there when Im not in the office. Sometimes they get to office before I do on days Im working so they scoop up the spot before I can. We play argue about it on those days. Well, now there is a 3rd person who has realized how prime this spot it and is parking there. So THEY are in my spot. My work friend and I will now bitch to each other that someone else stole OUR (collective) spot.

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