lingerie party at work, having a parent call in sick for you, and more

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

1. Lingerie party at work

In two weeks, my coworkers will be throwing a bridal shower for another coworker. Someone had the bright idea to make it a lingerie party. We are expected to give her underwear instead of any other gifts because she “doesn’t need house goods.” Oh and also, no men are allowed at this party for “privacy reasons.” This party will be in the lunchroom during lunch time (so if anyone wants to eat in there, too bad). Is this an HR nightmare like I think it is, or am I overreacting? We work in a very conservative office in a very conservative field, so it’s hard to tell.

It’s wildly inappropriate. Try just being direct about it: “I know this is meant well, but a lingerie party at work is really inappropriate. I don’t feel comfortable giving a coworker underwear, and I’d imagine some others won’t be either. Can we switch the plan here to something that isn’t an HR nightmare?”

2. Having a parent call in sick for you

Recently, I caught a virus and totally lost my voice, to the point where my mom had to come to the doctor’s office with me to help explain some of my other symptoms (I still live at home, so she knew what my other symptoms were). Thankfully, this occurred over the weekend and I was able to return to work on Monday.

However, I have to ask: How bad would it have been if my mom called me in sick? My voice was gone to the point that you couldn’t hear me talking in person, and it would have been impossible to hear me over the phone. Due to the nature of my job, neither I nor my boss have work emails, and I don’t feel comfortable sending a text to let her know I wouldn’t be able to make it (I’d be afraid that she wouldn’t see it).

This is one of the very few situations where it would be okay to have your parent call in sick for you. You literally couldn’t make the call yourself, so someone else would have needed to relay the information on your behalf. She wouldn’t have been doing that as “your mom” but as “a person aware of the situation and able to communicate when you were not.” (You’d want to have ensured that she made it clear she was calling because you literally had no voice, not just because she was your mom and taking care of you.)

3. Getting news of a death right before an interview

About a year ago I was scheduled to interview for a job I was really interested in. About 30 minutes before the Skype interview, I found out about a friend’s death. I was in shock, and gave very succinct answers to the questions. What was slated for a 30-minute interview, lasted about 15. I wasn’t called in for a second interview, and the only feedback I got was that I didn’t give enough information about myself.

Is there a way I could have handled that differently, like sending an apology/thank-you email after the interview? Also, a similar position is open within this department. Can I apply again? Is there anyway to address this, or account for it when applying? I know I might be dismissed out of hand due to my performance a year ago, but I don’t think I said anything bad, just not enough to make me stand out.

If you could do it all over again, it actually would have been okay to try to reschedule the interview. You’d say something like, “I’m so sorry for the last-minute notice, but I just got terrible news a few minutes ago — a close friend died. Would it be possible to reschedule for later in the week?” (There’s some risk to this because some employers are bad at rescheduling, but decent employers would understand and try to make it work.) Or, having gone ahead with the interview, it also would have been okay to send a note afterwards explaining the situation and that you weren’t at your best.

Since it’s been a year and you want to apply again, you could email the hiring manager, note that you’ve submitted a new application, and say, “When we spoke last year, I wasn’t at my best. I’d just received news of a friend’s death a few minutes before our call, and I was devastated. I’m sure it affected the interview, and I’d love a chance to talk again if you’re willing to.”

I’m sorry about your friend!

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Can I ask my friend’s employer to take the money she owes me out of her check?

My friend owes me $50 and I kept asking her to pay me back. It’s been two months and I’m super mad about it. I paid for her gas and food when she said she would take care of the food and she begged for money for gas when I didn’t have a job and she did. and so I gave her $50. She blocked me on her cell so now I know she’s greedy and friendship isn’t as important than money.

I’m thinking of going to her manager and asking if he could take out my $50 with her knowing that he’s going to do it and hand the $50 to me, or go tell my friend to get the money, deposit it, and hand it to me. I’m so fed up, I’m trying to work my way around her.

It would be illegal for her manager to deduct the money from her paycheck without her permission. The employer owes her that money and can’t decide on her behalf what creditors to pay. (The exception to that is if there was a court-ordered garnishment, but that’s not likely to happen for $50.) Unfortunately, this is between you and your friend, and it sounds like she’s not an ethical person.

5. Will dressing more nicely make people think I’m interviewing?

Should one let an impression that you’re job hunting develop with your colleagues or your boss? I work in a casual office, where jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, or sandals are the norm. Those a step above me on the hierarchy wear business casual — polos or button-downs and jeans or khaki pants, with loafers or other casual shoes. At the onset of my employment, this casual dress code was one of the factors that attracted me to stay on as a temp-to-hire. But now, I feel sloppy wearing t-shirts all the time and want to up my dress to more business casual — blouses or polos with dark jeans or khakis. I wore a button-down poplin shirt one day with jeans and thought I looked rather put-together, but a colleague immediately asked me in the morning if I was “going somewhere after work,” which I figured was code for “Do you have a job interview?” Should I worry about giving a “job hunting” impression with my new wardrobe?

The key to upping your wardrobe at work without looking like you’re dressing for a job interview is to do it fairly consistently. If you’re always in jeans and one day you show up in a suit, it’s going to look like you’re wearing that suit for a reason. But if you start regularly dressing more nicely, it’ll read as your new normal, and people won’t react to it the same way.

So I’d say just wear your nicer outfits a few times a week. At first people may ask about it, and you can say “eh, just feeling like a change” or “yeah, trying to wear more of my wardrobe” or anything else that’s nonchalant. But they’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

{ 446 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I’m trying to pry my jaw off the floor. It’s so wildly inappropriate that I’m also having a hard time reconciling “lingerie party” with “conservative office.” You’re entirely right, here.

    As a general rule, it’s never ok to get into people’s underwear at work (literally and figuratively). I’ve worked for an organization that had to drop an organizational client because of they gave one of our staff thong underwear as a “Christmas gift.” That was awful, but what you’re describing sounds worse.

    If folks want to give the bride gifts (which they should not feel pressured to do), give money. But my goodness don’t give someone intimate apparel.

    1. Observer*

      I know that you were being completely serious, but I had to laugh at “it’s never ok to get into people’s underwear at work”.

      I’m with you on all of this.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Op I am curious does the bride even know this is happening? As in that coworkers are being encouraged to get her lingerie? If the bride does not know about the lingerie I think there is a very good chance that she will be mortified once she opens a present that is lingerie.

          On top of lingerie being a bad idea in general this is made even worse by making this a segregated event between males and females.

          At work I have been to a few “wedding showers” at work, it has been the company paying for us to go out for an extended lunch and coworkers (small office) chilling in for a Visa gift card. They were open to everyone regardless of sex/gender and had a good time discussing/avoiding wedding topics depending on the guest of honors mood.

          This is all around a bad idea that if you are unable to change the course of the shower that I would advise you OP to abstain from attending period. Give the bride a gift in private and explain why it was a bad idea to attend, or make up an excuse why you were busy at the time. Or at the very least get the bride a non lingerie gift.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Right? Just because no men are in the room doesn’t mean cheeky jokes about your coworker’s wedding night are appropriate, for one thing. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how someone thought “a workplace lingerie party will be awkward if it’s mixed-gender” but didn’t follow that thought all the way to “a workplace lingerie party is a generally bad idea.”

          2. Delta Delta*

            And they would all have to guess what the bride/co-worker’ underwear size is. Imagine that conversation.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              This. I have to know someone very intimately to be cognizant of their underwear size and preferences in underwear features, both functional and decorative. (Is lace elegant or scratchy?) This has never once been something I could say of a coworker.

              1. nnn*

                Added to that, I am very intimately cognizant of my own preferences in undergarments, and it’s still hit and miss and a lot of trying on to find things that work for me – even with the help of professional fitters! I have no reason to believe that I could buy something that would work on someone else, even if I had in hand all the information they have in their head!

                1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                  Yes! Plus, I’m frankly not going to spend more than $20 on a coworker gift. $20 will buy a 3-pack of the sensible jockey cotton bikini briefs I prefer, but it won’t buy “lingerie” anywhere outside of a truck stop.

                2. Lana Del Slay*

                  @HarvestKaleSlaw — now that’s the solution to this lingerie party. Everyone gets the bride a nice sensible 3-pack from Fruit of the Loom or similar.

              2. Dino*

                I had one job where I actually did know that information about all my coworkers but I was working at a lingerie/adult novelty store, ha. In literally any other workplace, NOPE.

            2. Parenthetically*

              In my experience over 15 or so years of marrying friends off, the invitations for a lingerie party include the bride-to-be’s sizes and general preferences.

              (I had one, it was gloriously boozy and silly and fun — but it was CLOSE FRIENDS ONLY, no family members, and it certainly was NOT a work shower shuddering for days at the thought.)

          3. Harper the Other One*

            If my workplace had held a lingerie party for me the wedding would have been off because I would have died of embarrassment. So I second the possibility that the bride has no idea.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Right here. The idea that my coworkers are even contemplating my underwear, my wedding night, my sex life with my intended, nope. Not even a little bit okay.

            2. The Original K.*

              Amen. I honestly don’t think I could sit through it – my jaw would drop and I would probably say flat-out that I was horrified.

            1. Michelle*

              Wow, I just can’t even. “Hey Karen, I wear 38 B and size 6 underwear. My HTB likes red silk. See you at the shower”.

            2. Heidi*

              Interesting. I have been pondering how this office jumped from “not home goods” to lingerie without even considering the vast number of gift giving options in between. If the bride is suggesting it, I can see how this situation might evolve. I bet she’s figuring she’ll always need more underwear. But it’s still not appropriate for work.

              1. Zephy*

                I have attended a bridal shower where the “game” we played was that all of us bought the bride-to-be a pair of panties and she had to guess who bought her what. Her grandmother was in attendance. It was exactly as awkward as you’re imagining. It sounds like this BTB took that idea and ran way, way too far with it.

                1. Heidi*

                  I love weddings. However, I do think that a lot of wedding-related activities and behavior would be considered bizarre in any other context. Perhaps anthropologists will be studying our society hundreds of years in the future and saying things like, “There is evidence that the pre-wedding gatherings included the gifting of undergarments. The reasons why remain unknown, as this does not appear to be a part of any other public ritual and may have even been considered inappropriate at other times.”

              2. Working Mom Having It All*

                Right? This situation truly calls for cash donations pooled and contributed to the honeymoon, or almost any other NOT UNDERWEAR idea.

            3. Observer*

              Is there anyone in your office the would recognize a boundary if it hit them in the face?

              I can’t figure out if this makes it better or worse, but I find this horrifying.

            4. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              Wow. I can’t imagine ever being comfortable wearing underwear picked out and purchased for me by coworkers. I really don’t want my coworkers imagining me in underwear of any sort, or trying to select items they imagine to be to my taste under any circumstances.

              1. Marmaduke*

                I’m trying to imagine enjoying my wedding night wearing coworker-provided lingerie—nope. “What do you think, honey? This hot little number is from Jennifer in accounting!”
                Whether things went well or terribly, I’d feel pretty weird the next time I saw Jennifer, too.

              2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                Yeah, I mean, I choose to assume that my co-workers are wearing underwear (rather than going commando) as part of their work outfits as part of the large pile of Assumptions I Prefer Not To Interrogate Closely About My Co-Workers And Their Life Choices, but I want no detailed information on the subject.

            5. Matilda Jefferies*

              Okay, that’s it. I have officially died of second-hand embarrassment for everyone involved. Any further comments will be posted from the afterlife.

              1. Parenthetically*

                I am joining you in the Beyond.

                OoooOOOoooooOOOOooooo nooooooo this is awwwwwwwfullllll OOOoooooooooOOOOoo

              2. AuroraLight37*

                German has a word for this, as it so often does. Fremdschämen* sums up the situation perfectly, and it’s what I’m swooning from ATM.

                *”to be ashamed for somebody else who is behaving in an embarrassing way.”

            6. Artemesia*

              IN addition to all the other crazy here, lingerie is super expensive. No way I want to give a gift costing that much to a co-worker. Showers at work where people are expected to give individual gifts are really in appropriate in general, but this one takes it to a new level.

              1. 36Dear God No*

                “Mazel tov, enjoy a 3-pack of Hanes on me!”

                – Me, if forced to go to an office lingerie shower

              2. AuroraLight37*

                Yeah, I buy my nice lingerie on sale, but it’s still not cheap, especially when you’re looking at odd sizes. My friends who need serious over-the-shoulder boulder holders can rarely get them for under $50.

                1. NotTheSameAaron*

                  And forget buying anything fancy or in colours other than white. Sizes in those stores stop at B/Medium. For C and above, you need to find a specialty shop (or Wal-mart).

            7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I cannot even imagine sharing that information with my coworkers. This story is insane, OP#1.

            8. Happy Pineapple*

              I have tears in my eyes and I’m trying so hard not to laugh at my work desk in an open office.

            9. Kendra*

              Speaking as someone whose work emails are public records and available to LITERALLY ANYONE who files a FOIA request, I just died inside.

              Your coworkers have LOST THEIR MINDS.

              1. AuroraLight37*

                SAME. I used to work for the feds, and while some goofy emails did pass between coworkers, this would never, ever have happened, because NO.

            10. AKchic*

              I mean… my bras aren’t cheap and I have absolutely no shame when it comes to trying to get people to buy me my $60-$150 bras (depending on brand and sales), but never had I considered my coworkers being fair game.

              “Hey all, I have a major life event coming up – instead of standard gifts, I’m a 36J-K in underwire t-shirt bras from brands X, Y and B and I like the following colors. No frills, please! If you decide to get matching panties, I am a size 6, and am pretty flexible on cut/style!”

              No… that just doesn’t seem right. I wouldn’t even send that out to my family or my closest friends.

          4. Dust Bunny*

            Seriously, I do not want ANYONE giving me underwear, ever. My boyfriend is the only one who is even remotely allowed to do this, and even then I get input. I don’t want the rest of my friends, relatives, and coworkers anywhere near my unmentionables, literally or as a concept.

            1. Kendra*

              Agreed, but I can’t imagine any of them with even a lick of sense WANTING to be involved in this. It’s bad enough the women are participating; can you imagine being a guy and having to explain to the salesperson at Victoria’s Secret that you need help picking out a bra for a COWORKER?

    2. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      At Oldjob, someone who was leaving was given underwear as a farewell present. We’re talking a nice looking M&S style (not sure of the US equivalent – Penneys maybe?) bra & pants rather than anything racy, but still…..

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        Just occurred to me – hopefully this isn’t the same company as the cleavage-starer from earlier…..

      2. HappySnoopy*

        M&S = Marks and Spencer?
        Probably Macy’s would be U. S. equivalent.

        Also…still no no no.

      3. WellRed*

        “someone who was leaving was given underwear as a farewell present.”

        Why?! Why?! Just…why?

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I mean, if you actually worked in lingerie at M&S and were leaving, maybe…

            2. Artemesia*

              This seems awful on so many levels but I can’t even figure out a hidden meaning other than ‘we are tasteless and have no boundaries.’ Yikes.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is where I keep getting stuck. Seriously—why?? Kids don’t even like getting underwear for XMas, why on earth would adults want their professional peers to give them underwear!?

    3. Mookie*

      “Conservative” makes a little bit of sense to me, in that rigid gender roles and homosocial segregation fits right in, along with thinking the only thing a bride could need would be domestic goods or sex attire*.

      *may be wrong, but I tend to differentiate between underwear and lingerie. I’m butch and I like butches, so I don’t have a lot of experience in this arena.

      1. Yvette*

        I don’t think you are wrong. Too me underwear is technically all encompassing but tends towards the everyday type of fairly substantial, practical comfortable stuff that you would wear under clothing for work or to the gym or to take great-grandma out to lunch. Lingerie is the silky, skimpy, sexy lacy racy version meant to be seen at some point, with comfort being secondary to appearance.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I agree that underwear and lingerie are different. I have been given underwear (undershirts, socks, and even boxers) by my partner’s mother, but they were all comfortable and practical pieces of clothing I was happy to receive them and not embarrassed. But if it were some silky looking boxers or other male lingerie equivalent I would be embarrassed.

          1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

            Yeah, my former MIL had gifted me very practical flannel pajamas a couple of times, which was just fine. If she’d given me silk boxers, that would’ve been awkward.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              Although both our parents are ready for grandchildren, so they might be at the stage of gifting us silk boxers and lingerie to try and speed things up lol. Thankfully both of them have better sense then that.

        2. Minocho*

          I agree with this. I went shopping with a girlfriend, and her husband tagged along because she appreciated his fashion advice, and didn’t trust her own taste. We stopped at a Hanes store, and I’m looking for practical underwear for underneath my work clothes: comfortable, unlikely to show under my clothing due to either color or cut, and hopefully helping make my clothes look more flattering. The husband pulls me aside to explain that I’m doing it wrong, and no man will find me attractive in what I’m picking out.

          Dude, that’s not what I am buying these for!

          I ignored him, dear reader.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            He’s wrong, anyway. And dunno, call me old fashioned, but I’d like to think my partner was already attracted to me for other reasons by the time they were at the stage of evaluating my underwear.

          2. Remedial Chaos Theory*

            So even if this was at all appropriate for him to point out (which, imho, it absolutely isn’t, because he shouldn’t have a say in your underwear preferences, and underwear on a woman isn’t inherently for appeal to men), he can’t even generalize like that. All that he effectively pointed out was that /he/ wouldn’t find you attractive in that underwear, and that’s a whole another level of uncalled for.

          3. Dr. Pepper*

            That’s just……. ew. I would have had a few choice things to say to him. Also, it’s been my experience that by the time underwear is visible, nobody particularly cares what it looks like because decisions have already been made.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Quite. As long as they aren’t visibly dirty, they’re going to be sexy by virtue of being visible and nearly off …

          4. NotAnotherManager!*

            I don’t know about that guy, but I’m typically not walking around in my undies as a first step in grabbing a romantic partner’s attention. (And, as my lovely spouse says on the topic of both matching sets and fancy lingerie, “That’s nice, but it’s not like anyone’s ever been like, nope, if your bra is a different color than your panties, I can’t do this. Put your clothes back on!”.)

            And also, what an ass to insert his unsolicited opinion on your underwear. He was there to help his fashion-inept wife, not give you advice on your Hanes.

            1. Filosofickle*

              I actually saw a dating ad/profile once where the guy stated he *required* matching sets. Not only that, but mixing patterns/colors didn’t count as a proper set. He said that! Seriously. NOPE.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I kind of appreciate him being up front about that, because it’s a great way to weed him out of the mix.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  Agreed. It’s probably also an effective hurdle to find someone who’s willing to be controlled. (Sounds kinda Dom to me.)

            2. Parenthetically*

              My husband and I had this exact conversation before we got married — he, being raised by his dad and having only brothers, had no idea how expensive and hard to find a decent bra is, so the concept of mismatched bras/undies was SO confusing to him. “Why wouldn’t you just buy them as a set so they match? It looks so much nicer!”

            3. kristinyc*

              When my husband and I were first dating, I asked him about his preferences for this, and he just said “Off.” (Second choice is a matching set, but that’s certainly never been limiting in our 12 years together…)

            4. bonkerballs*

              I remember watching some crime show (SVU, criminal minds, something like that) and laughing out loud when the detectives were able to tell that the victim hadn’t dressed herself because she was wearing an expensive bra and the panties didn’t match and no woman would ever do that. Like…I don’t actually think I *own* any matching sets of underwear. Clearly this scene was written by all men.

              1. Marmaduke*

                I remember this one! I’m pretty sure it was Criminal Minds. I remember thinking, surely LEOs of all people would know that you wear the most comfortable bra available, full stop.

          5. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I have gone shopping with my partner to give my advice/opinion, just because a second pair of eyes is nice to have, but never because I don’t trust my partner’s taste. This is just me, but I would almost never tag along on an explicit shopping trip that my wife and a girlfriend were going on. One I would rather have some time to myself doing other things, and two I would want to give them some one on one time. If the three of us were already out and saw a good sale, yeah I would gladly tag along.

            I also have boxers that are more everyday boxers, and nicer “special occasion” boxers. But men have it a lot easier than women even the “special occasion” boxers are still pretty comfortable and I could use them everyday. But I just choose not to so that they last longer.

            @Miss Pantalons en Fuego I agree with you for the most part, but I still think that dressing better/nicer when going out with a partner is good thing to do. I have some dress pants that are more of a slim cut and a bit tighter (nothing inappropriate for work) they are more flattering to my body. They are still comfortable but not as comfortable as my regular cut dress pants. But if I know that I am meeting my partner after work I will wear clothes that I know she likes more and are more flattering on me, even though she already knows what I look like. When we go out she also puts on clothes/underwear that are more flattering on her.

            For the most part I think when you are at the stage that a partner is evaluating your underwear they are already attracted to you and certain underwear will stop the proceedings, but nicer underwear can enhance the mood.

            1. Egg tighty whities*

              No kidding – I’m a guy, and I’ve never gotten this “women should buy underwear for men” thing. I’ll buy my own, thanks!

          6. Minocho*

            Heh, yeah, my reaction was to think “What the hell? This is for wearing to work, and none of it is your business anyway!” but I just rolled my eyes and continued to do my own thing.

            Eventually, even though I only hung out with them together, he put his hand on my knee and kissed me full on the mouth, then laughed with a ‘Oh! What a surprise!’ comment as I backed away with a ‘WTH?!?’ look on my face.

            Yeah. No.

            Haven’t seen either of them since.

      2. Antilles*

        Yeah, I think in this case ‘conservative’ really means ‘traditional’. And it often is a tradition in certain circles for gifts like this to be given at the bachelorette party with similar-age close friends. Not a bridal shower.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I’ve given lingerie to a friend at a bridal shower, and was not the only one! It’s definitely a thing.

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        I definitely agree with you. While I fall on the “practical and comfortable” side of things, there’s a distinct different between underwear, which is meant to be worn, and lingerie, which is meant to be seen and is not usually worn for great lengths of time.

      4. Newington*

        That interpretation of ‘conservative’ also fits the implication of “getting married == starting to have sex == needs lingerie”

        1. Parenthetically*

          Yuuuuuup! My mother and the ladies at her church throw a bridal shower for each woman connected with the congregation who’s getting married. Most of the gifts are normal off-the-registry type gifts, toasters and wooden spoons and the like, but a) I’ve seen more than one box containing an apron and a pair of matching racy undies, and b) one of the “games” they play at every one of these showers is to write down what the bride-to-be says as she’s opening the gifts, and then read it back after the gift-opening as what she’s going to say on her wedding night! You haven’t truly lived until you’ve been in a church hall surrounded by completely sober gray haired ladies hooting uproariously at someone reading out “Now where should I put this?” and “Ooh, isn’t that the cutest little thing!”

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I have to admit the game in the setting you described does sound like it would be hilarious. I wouldn’t actually want to be in attendance at the shower but would want to be a fly on the wall.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Oh it absolutely was. Just very much connected with the culture of “it’ll be her very first time seeing Man Parts, god bless her.”

              1. AKchic*

                Yes, and each and every one of those silver-haired biddies maintains the fiction that the bride is completely virginal and innocent, having never been to a health class, never read any book, seen any movie, or been alone with *any* male outside of her family and has not touched anyone at all. Even if raised on a farm, all fictions that the bride has not even seen her own animals mating must be strictly observed.

                It’s a weird cognitive dissonance.

                It’s even funnier when they try to do it with someone who’s getting married for the second (or third) time; or who is visibly pregnant or has children prior to the marriage. Especially if not everyone in attendance is aware of the brides circumstances (i.e., maybe some of the groom’s distant relatives).
                I got stuck going to a churchy bridal shower for my aunt. Both she and my uncle were marrying for the first time at 40. Both had previous relationships (some live-in). Everyone maintained the fiction of virginity for both the bride and groom. I thought it was ridiculous to even think about their bedroom habits.

          2. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I have been at this kind of church lady bridal shower, and it’s really something to hear your surrogate aunts and grandmothers, who have always chastised you for using the word “butt,” make explicit sex jokes. There’s really nothing like it.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, I agree that in this case “conservative” likely means “heteronormative beliefs about gender roles.” But workplace lingerie seems inappropriate under both meanings of the phrase.

    4. T2*

      My wife is one of those people who couldn’t stand the thought of other people buying her underwear at all. So no personal shower, work related or not.

      To each his own, but I think that unless you work at Victoria’s Secret, if someone spends any time thinking about your undergarments at all at work, you have done messed up.

      1. Ashloo*

        I had the same feelings as your wife. I also don’t wear or own lingerie at all so the thought of literally anyone guessing at my personal style and size are so embarrassing.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I would extend that embarrassment to myself as the giver. I would be embarrassed to try to guess someone’s style or size.

          I have a very traditional family that gives household goods as shower gifts, but have been to a few family wedding showers where some friend gives the bride lingerie, and even that was awkward in front of grandma. Can’t imagine with coworkers.

      2. Peachkins*

        Yeah, I’m one of those people too. Outside of maybe my husband, I can’t fathom anyone buying me underwear. Even my own mother hasn’t done that since I was a kid. A coworker? I don’t even know how I’d react. Probably sit there in denial that it’s even happened.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Also my first thought was to be wary of MLMs–isn’t there one that sells this stuff? I am wondering if the person who organized it is pushing their side scam or preparing to do so at the party. I hope not for OP’s sake!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        When I saw the headline, I immediately thought, “Oh no. I think a Pure Romance hun has managed to con her coworkers into throwing this shindig.” I don’t know if I’m relieved or disappointed that this is not the case.

        1. PVR*

          Although it wasn’t anyone’s shower, I was once invited to a Pure Romance party to be held at work in a break room—with coworkers!! I declined.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        There was a letter here last year, I think, where the OP had gone with a longtime client and a friend to a hotel and they pressured her to buy lingerie. One of the reasons she felt pressured was she had ridden to the hotel with one of them and didn’t have a way home.

    6. facepalm*

      At an Old Job, a friend of a coworker threw her a lingerie party when she was getting married and I was invited. This was a group of about 10 young women in their very early 20s in their first jobs out of college, lots of giggling, immaturity, cliqueishness, etc. Only (young) women were invited (I declined because it felt super icky and inappropriate and I was not nearly close enough to want to give the bride-to-be pieces of intimate clothing for husband’s s3xual enjoyment). But even these brand-new-to-the-workplace super immature women knew better than to try to hold this party at work!

    7. JB (not in Houston)*

      An office I worked at did this once. I was so new the workforce at the time that I didn’t get how unprofessional it was, but it was awkward, and I really wished I didn’t have to go. It was for a VP (in charge of HR) who was marrying the owner’s son, so I felt compelled to buy her lingerie and attend the shower. It was weird and uncomfortable, and I really wanted to be anywhere else but there, which pretty much sums up how I felt the whole time I worked there.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Yikes. That situation sounds far more messed up than just the lingerie though!

      2. Observer*

        I didn’t think I would be able to say this, but the lingerie is just the tip of an iceberg of WHAAAAAA!

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*


        what. I. no. I cannot words about this.

    8. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      In what universe do conservative office co-workers buy lingerie for one another? My former boss gave me a bottle of nice champagne she and a couple department-mates kicked in for when I got married, and it was a great gift. Then again, my “wedding lingerie” was a pair of long johns and a practical strapless bra.

    9. Anonymoose*

      > As a general rule, it’s never ok to get into people’s underwear at work (literally and figuratively).

      I joke that my former boss (very quiet and strait-laced man) bought me underwear. I do it with a crowd who knows him, because it gives them an initial shock and then a good laugh when I eventually explain that I had a work trip where they covered all my expenses, including clothing, and that specifically included everything from boots to sunglasses to underwear. So, he might have bought me underwear, although the closest he ever got to it was when his admin filed the receipt.

    10. Ella Bee Bee*

      My sister went to one of these showers for her boss! The invitations had boss’ bra size on them. Sister was weirdly okay with it, but I can’t imagine buying my boss a bra.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I can’t imagine buying someone else a bra even if I knew their size, because they don’t all fit the same.

    11. Quinalla*

      I don’t personally go for this kind of party, but it is definitely a thing and I had an aunt that bought me lingerie for my wedding shower (it was tasteful, but still weird IMO). Anyway, if done outside of work and some coworkers invited, still not my thing, but I could see it, but AT WORK in the LUNCHROOM!? That is inappropriate. At this point since the OP has said the bride is all for it, maybe at least suggest a change in venue: someone’s home in the evening or on the weekend or a private lunch room at a restaurant?

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        In my opinion this is something that can be fun with close friends and maybe cousins who you are close too but done during the bachelorette party. My partner was given lingerie by her aunt at the bridal shower, Im pretty sure she was the only one, everything else was standard registry stuff.

        But the aunt gave it to her in a plain white retail plastic bag, the lingerie did not have any tags or hangers. It didn’t look obviously used, but without tags/hangers we were not quite sure if it was new. Part of me thinks the aunt might have done it to few funny and grabbed something she had out of her closet and thrown it in the bag, or maybe something she had in her closet that was new never worn, but had taken the tags off. Either way we did not want to find out the truth so we didn’t ask, and either shoved it into the farthest corner of the closet never to be seen again or threw it out.

    12. Non-profiteer*

      Aaaack this is terrible. Even worse than when the CEO of a previous office of mine, who loved to throw parties for the office, suggested we have a pool party. I don’t want to wear a bathing suit around my coworkers, and I DEFINITELY don’t want anything to think about my underwear!

    13. TootsNYC*

      does the bride even know?
      and if she does know, does she feel comfortable saying no, or pushing back?

      I’d be so incredibly mortified if my coworkers did this.

      1. Wren*

        up thread, the OP says the bride not only knows, but has endorsed it by emailing her underwear sizing to all the women in the office.

    14. Llama Face!*

      “It’s so wildly inappropriate that I’m also having a hard time reconciling “lingerie party” with “conservative office.”

      Well obviously it is businss appropriate because the lingerie ideas involve collars and ties…

      (I’ll show myself out now)

    15. bonkerballs*

      I’ve been to a few lingerie parties for friends who were getting married, and thinking back now *all* of them were for women who were a part of very Southern, conservative communities. I’ve given underwear to several Texas Catholics. Part of the conservative part of it is all her friends have to help fill up her lingerie drawer because presumably she doesn’t have any of her own since she’s waited til marriage.

    16. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

      THIS. My dogwalking boss always tells clients that if they want to do presents for us at holidays, a gift card or cash is the best way to go. They don’t generally meet us – though over the years I’ve met all my clients several times, and occasionally have been the person getting the keys, contract, and initial payment – so sometimes they ask her because they want to do something nice for us. One client usually gets me expensive wine, which I don’t drink, really, but will share with my mom. I mean, it IS nice wine, I just can’t drink (wine tastes like vinegar to me) it. But I definitely like the fact that they do this. It’s a nice gesture. One lady offered to get me a winter coat because she thought I didn’t own one – I have a habit of wearing hoodies even in very cold weather because I get hot fast, and winter coats are too much. I had to reassure the lady that I in fact own two very heavy coats, with access to my mom’s very long one if I need to, I just don’t unless we’re getting a polar vortex.
      I can’t imagine them getting me UNDERWEAR, though. Ew. Ew ew ew.

  2. Observer*

    #1- you are NOT over reacting. This is wildly inappropriate. Also, does upper management know about this? Because is a LOT of conservative companies, this would totally not fly.

    I think that if someone suggested this at my work it would go over about as well as a stink bomb.

    1. PollyQ*

      I think it would go over like a lead balloon at almost ALL companies, with the possible exception of strip clubs and the Playboy mansion. (And even there, I wouldn’t be surprised if employees don’t want underwear gifts from their colleagues.)

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah, I work at a self-consciously hip tech start-up, with ping pong and beer Fridays and stuff. We wouldn’t even do this!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          That’s the only category I can come up with. If the company makes underwear, then you probably do spend a lot of time thinking about appropriate underwear for all sizes and shapes, and a discussion of underwire at the water cooler might make perfect sense.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Ooo, OP#4, the only option besides hounding her is small claims court (which honestly will be more costly than the original $50). But even that’s going to be difficult, because you’d have to establish that the two of you entered into an oral contract with clear expectations/terms regarding repayment, and that’s really hard to prove when it’s one person’s word v. another’s.

    I’m really sorry your friend has put you in this position and is now being cagey about repayment. But definitely don’t get her manager caught up in all of this—the manager isn’t your friend’s parent or ethical/moral instructor.

    1. PollyQ*

      And even if she wins in court, my understanding is that it doesn’t give the plaintiff any legal tools for getting the money back anyway. (NAL tho, so I could be wrong about this part.)

      1. valentine*

        it doesn’t give the plaintiff any legal tools for getting the money back anyway.
        I imagined you’d sort of prepay and the court would hold it pending the verdict, or that the defendant would pay before leaving court. Otherwise, you’re still at square one.

        1. Mookie*

          In the US I think that only happens with televised (for entertainment) arbitration, where the appearance fee paid by the production to both parties adds up to the state maximum award and that money is treated like a community chest (if anything’s left over after judgment, they split the difference).

          1. Antilles*

            That’s actually the hook they use to get people to appear – the TV show pays the judgment, no matter what’s decided. So if you’re willing to have Judy or Joe Brown or whoever make you look stupid for 15 minutes on national daytime television, you get out of actually paying your small-claims court debt.

            1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

              Oh, wow, TIL, thank you! I’ve always wondered how the heck they got people to agree to these things, because nobody comes out looking good!

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Except the guy whose dog was given back. The dog looked great, and I think the guy looked pretty good, following the rule of law instead of stealing the dog back or something like that.

                ( judge judy it’s his dog )

                1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

                  Didn’t know about that one, but always happy for dogs being reunited with their people!

                2. SusanIvanova*

                  There was also a lawyer who was in the news a few years ago for some important case, and someone found old footage of when she was a student with a bad landlord on Judge Judy – she came off quite well, with all her paperwork in order and her case carefully laid out.

        2. Delta Delta*

          Nope. The person pays or they don’t. If they own any real estate you could record the judgment as a lien but that’s about it.

        3. The Other Dawn*

          Nope. I’ve taken someone to small claims and although I won, it was up to me to figure out how to collect it. The defendant had to sign a document stating how much they could pay per week, but that’s it. The court does nothing to make sure they pay–it’s all on the plaintiff. Had this person not stepped up and honored the payment agreement, I would have had to find out where they lived if they had moved, where they work, where they bank, etc. and then try to collect it. Not easy at all and lots of people give up, as the satisfaction of having it show on the person’s credit report for 7-10 years is sometimes enough. Plus it’s just a PITA.

          1. JM60*

            This probably varies by state, and maybe by amount too. My aunt successfully sued someone for thousands of dollars (I think in small claims court in Nevada), and they garnished the defendant’s wages. They may not go through the hassle of enforcing the payment unless the award exceeds a certain amount.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          You might be thinking of arbitration or interpleader, where disputed property is placed in escrow pending adjudication. But the process for recovering on typical small claims cases is almost identical to the process for civil lawsuits, which means that the judgment creditor (i.e., the winner) has to dog the judgment debtor (i.e., the loser) for payment.

        5. JSPA*

          Nope, not how it works. If friend was dead broke and is only now working, they may actually be what’s called “judgement proof” (google it–varies by state, but it means that you have too little for any creditor to seize any of it). Basically, the courts no longer throw people in the poorhouse or “reduce them to rags” (by taking away their last wearable clothes) nor a mattress to sleep on etc.

          The OP #4 has learned a very good lesson for only $50. It will save them much more money, over the years, than that. A lot of people learn it when they’re in the hole for thousands of bucks.

        6. Burned Out Supervisor*

          The court only issues a judgement to pay, but can’t necessarily compel payment (unless the judgement qualifies for wage garnishment). About the only thing you’re guaranteed if you win is that the person who owes you money will have a judgement on their credit record.

        7. Burned Out Supervisor*

          Also, just as a general point, I always decide what’s the maximum amount of money I’m willing to lend a friend with the realization that I won’t get paid back and have no hard feelings about. As I got older I realized that, while it’s nice to help out a friend, I need to make sure that I’m able to meet my own needs before I help anyone else. If I were the OP, I’d chalk that $50 bucks up to a gift (or a life lesson fee) and move on with the expectation that I won’t be lending my friend any more money.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The primary tools upon non-payment are to ask the court to find the friend in contempt, request a judgment debtor hearing, and ask that the court garnish the friend’s paycheck (as Alison noted). But you’re right that even if OP wins, it can take a lot of work to collect on the judgment.

      3. Grack*

        I’ve taken people to small claims, and I absolutely had tools to get the money back. In one case I froze a bank account and was awarded the money out of that. Other times I have garnished paychecks.

        People say “there’s no way to get the money back” because the ways to do it cost more money, take more time, and involve going back to court. No, the money won’t be handed to you after the court decision. But you can absolutely recover it.

        1. valentine*

          the ways to do it cost more money
          Cost more money than the judgment you won?

          I don’t think OP4, even if now employed, should pay more than $50 to get that back, including lost work days, transportation, filing fees, and on and on.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I believe you can add court costs to your requested award, and you will usually but not always get them if you win, but you can’t add your time off of work for the lawsuit. (At least, that’s my limited experience in my jurisdiction. It may vary. Mine were filing costs, but I would think that any non-optional costs to recover the money awarded would be the defendant’s responsibility, too.)

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t think Grack and valentine are talking about court costs (filing fees, transcripts). I think they’re referring to the loss of value from all the time spent from taking time off work, traveling to court, etc., which usually are not recoverable.

      4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I had to take an ex to small claims court because he owed me a few thousand after we broke up. We came up with a payment plan and after the first month, I got nothing from him. Thankfully it was all credit card purchases, and they were mostly made out of town and I could prove through my boss that I had not left the state during those times. After the judgment, he had 30 days to pay it. After that I was able to garnish his wages and get my money back fairly quickly. So there is a way to get it back. But proving your friend borrowed money from you, and proving that she agreed to pay it back for $50 is just not worth it. OP needs to understand that when you lend someone money, you should only do so with the expectation of not getting it back. So in other words, if you don’t have it to lose (which is sounds like they didn’t), don’t give it to anyone in the first place.

    2. T2*

      A word of advice. Never, ever loan any money you are not comfortable never seeing again.

      When I loan money, I make a written agreement to pay me back and when. And then if the time comes, where paying me back is not possible, then I have the option of just forgiving the debt and moving on.

      Yes there is a principle, but $50 is not worth the heartache. Take your $50 lesson in her character and move on.

      1. Róisín*

        Yep, I have this same rule. No loaning money (or things!) I would be uncomfortable losing.

        I have a couple friends who are religious about paying back everything I’ve ever loaned them, and at one point I literally wrote them a check for $100 because unexpected expenses happened right before they went on vacation. But I’d glanced at my budget ahead of time, and thought “if I never get this $100 back, it’ll be fine.”

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is what I was thinking — as lessons go, this was a relatively cheap one to learn that this “friend” is irresponsible and not a good friend. I’ve had more expensive ones, but never more than I decided that I could afford to lose. But more often than not I’ve been repaid, because I don’t usually make or stay friends with people who are not considerate of their friends.

      3. Antilles*

        My similar rule is that I never *loan* money to family or friends. If you really need money and I can afford it (and want to), I might *offer* you the money, but we’re not calling it a loan because that just introduces all sorts of tension and awkwardness to the relationship.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          This is my rule, too. I don’t ‘offer’ very often and it’s usually to nieces and nephews. $50 here, $100 there, nothing major.

          Once this backfired on me, in a good way. I gave a sizeable sum to my sister when she was in a really tough spot that was not of her making. I told her it was not a loan, and that I was just glad I could do something to help her to resolve the problem. Because that’s what sisters do, yo. I had truly forgotten all about it when she paid me back 6 months later.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          It can work out though – decades ago my mom sold me her car, and I paid her directly instead of getting a commercial loan.
          – They could afford it if I died and no payments happened
          – I gave them a written statement of the purchase price and payment schedule
          – I met that payment schedule, before anything else except rent.
          I made sure my parents never needed to ask me where the money was.

          I know my mom was proud that she raised kids she could trust with this. I think it’s actually helped now that they’re getting older and we’re talking about long term strategies.

          1. Parenthetically*

            My brother and sister-in-law did this with their mortgage if you can believe it. My folks floated them the money to buy the house, and they wrote down a payment schedule, etc. SIL is extremely good with money so it hasn’t been an issue, but if they did have to get behind, all parties agreed that it would come out of their share of the inheritance.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              It’s not all that common, but there is such a thing as a privately held mortgage! I’m surprised your parents didn’t go that route. I don’t know much about the tax implications, but obviously they could be as lenient as they liked about the payments, but if it wasn’t paid off they could foreclose on it if things went really horribly, so it’s more secure than just an informal loan. Then again, I guess deducting it from the inheritance (if necessary) is actually easier!

            2. JSPA*

              There are tax complications. If the total is above the amount they could legally give as an unreported gift, in the year that loan was made, they have to charge a certain minimum interest and they have to report that interest to the IRS (and perhaps the state) and they have to pay tax on that interest and send/receive the appropriate forms to the person paying the interest (which can’t be xeroxed / have to be original / have to be paper not electronic, last I checked). It’s a bit of a headache. Also, you would generally write it up as a secured loan, with the house itself as the surety (just as the bank would do). And if part of the loan is later forgiven, it can be tricky as far as the IRS is concerned, whether the original intent was to forgive the loan (in which case, it returns to having been an unreported gift in the year that the loan was made) or whether a change in circumstances for one or both parties created a materially different situation, such that the intent to forgive the loan happened later, and the forgiveness is counted as a gift at the time of forgiveness.

              Note, IANAL nor a tax professional, and I have not looked into this since the last tax revision. But I do have a really great tax guy who not only keeps me scrupulously on the right side of tax law, he very patiently explains the regulations and the theory behind them.

              1. Parenthetically*

                They similarly have a great tax guy, so it may very well have been a privately held mortgage such as The Cosmic Avenger mentioned — obviously I’m not privy to the details of their financial situation!

            3. Wren*

              I believe it. Mortgage rates were awful when my parents bought their house shortly after I was born, and both a well-heeled friend and my grandma loaned my parents money. My mom has said the friend was much more business minded about the loan than my grandma was, but either way, the interest rate was a win for everyone.

      4. The Door Guy*

        This. General rule of thumb I’ve always had is never lend out money you can’t afford not to be repaid, OR don’t dip into your necessary funds to lend someone money (like if it was allocated for your rent/insurance/car payment) outside of true emergencies or people you trust implicitly. (I would give my father-in-law the shirt off my back and anything else he ever needed no hesitation. I wouldn’t give my mother-in-law bus fare unless it was to take her away from my family, and I’d have to give it to the driver myself just to make sure that’s what it was used for.)

        I also find, when a situation like this happens, that if you flip it around in your head it makes some of the sting go away : your “friend” doesn’t owe you $50, you spent $50 to find out their true character and now you know what their word is worth, what they value, and exactly how much your friendship meant to them. It hurts at first, but you have to compare it to the cost of your time, energy, and anything else they are costing you, as that has value too even if not as obvious. Take the high road and don’t splash around social media or the like unsolicited, as ultimately your money and “friend” is gone and there is nothing to gain by playing up the injured party, and take more care in lending money in the future.

      5. Yankee in Dixieland*

        I think I read this from a reader years ago in an Ann Landers column, but I really liked it and use it to this day:

        “I’m giving you $X. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s a loan or a one-time gift.”

        1. SusanIvanova*

          That’s my brother. He’s worked his way up through restaurant manager to owning his own restaurant, so even though he’s good at it, he’s at the whims of the economy. I’m in software which is equally whimsical, but my good times are *much* better than his. It took me forever to convince him to ask for help *before* the late fees piled up, and when times are good he’ll send me payments on a “loan” I’ve totally forgotten about.

    3. smoke tree*

      Yeah, unfortunately it might be best to mentally write off that $50 and think of it as the cost of finding out what kind of person your ex-friend is. Otherwise you risk investing way more time or money in this situation than will ultimately be worth it to you.

  4. valentine*

    OP4: Think of the $50 as the fee for learning this person enjoys taking advantage of you and a down payment on learning to detach and put yourself first, especially when someone wants you to prioritize them to your detriment.

    1. Dr. Pepper*

      Exactly. That $50 is gone forever and you will never get it back, no matter how unfair nor unethical it is. You’ve learned something valuable about this person, and hopefully you will be able to avoid being in this situation ever again. I’ve heard this described crudely as an “A**hole tax”. You have learned exactly who this person is and what they value. Consider it money spent on education and move on. I wish there was a way to get your money back but unless you resort to illegal methods, there really isn’t.

      1. Koala dreams*

        I’ve heard it referred to as “school fees”. As in, this experience taught you to be more wary.

        1. Artemesia*

          We call it ‘stupid tax’ but your phrase is nicer. We all pay some stupid tax in our life one way or another.

  5. JKP*

    When I’ve lost my voice and couldn’t speak on the phone, I called in using an online TTY through the deaf relay service. I only knew about this option because I once worked at a relay service and occasionally we had people use the relay when they had temporarily lost their voice and needed to make a phone call.

    Using your mom is the faster, easier option and is totally acceptable. I only mention the relay option in case someone else is stuck with no voice and no one to call in for them as I was.

    1. Beatrice*

      I have texted my message to my manager and used email to communicate with my colleagues about my problem (usually a request to IM me about anything that requires my attention instead of a phone call, since I couldn’t communicate verbally.) Texting to call in is perfectly acceptable where I am anyway, but seems like it should be acceptable in these circumstances anywhere.

      1. Fikly*

        I think the LW’s concern was more that the text wouldn’t be seen, rather than the appropriateness.

        But for LW#2, if you’re not sure what to do should this ever happen again, go ahead and ask your boss what she would have preferred! You can simply explain that you lost your voice over the weekend, and you were wondering how you should contact her if this happened in a way where you would have needed to take a sick day.

        Only the craziest of managers do not like to be asked their preferences.

        1. Artemesia*

          I would do anything to avoid having Mom make the call; so not a good look and so likely to be misunderstood and perhaps noised about ‘hey OP’s Mommy called; she won’t be in today.’ Text or even call yourself and then hand the phone to Mom when you can’t make yourself understood. Even with laryngitis you can usually whisper to be understood.

    2. Mockingbird 2*

      Oh wow, I didn’t know this and that’s actually really helpful for me to keep in mind as a backup for texting/emailing. I have a soft, “sensitive” voice and lose my voice about once a year.

    3. Krickets*

      What a lifesaver! It’s not something a lot of people would think about, so thank you for sharing this.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d suggest this script: “Hello Ms.Boss? I’m calling on behalf of OP who has lost her voice. Would you prefer a text from her or a verbal message from her through me?”

      1. Baska*

        Eh, once she’s on the phone anyway, I’d just do the whole thing. “Hello Ms. Boss. I’m calling on behalf of OP who lost her voice. Normally she’d call herself, but she can’t be heard at the moment due to laryngitis. OP wanted me to convey that she will be out today on a sick day but is hoping to be back tomorrow. How would you like her to convey any further updates to you?”

    5. PhyllisB*

      I used to be a long distance telephone operator, and that happened to me one time. (This was back in the day before cells and texts) I still lived at home and got my mother to call in for me, same reason. They insisted I get on the phone and attempt to speak before they would approve my call-out.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      From the headline I expected an over-involved helicopter parent, but here they are playing the part of your roommate who can still talk. Calling up your boss and breathing heavily at them isn’t a great idea. (Unless, like Phyllis, your boss insists on that as proof of how awkward it will be if they try to make you come in and talk to customers.)

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        I did have one time that my husband had to call in for me for the same reason–no voice, no way I could be heard over the phone. We had to call in (text was not acceptable at the time). I agree to other com mentors who have said not to identify as mom, just say calling on behalf of.

  6. New AAM Reader*

    OP #1, one other note to add to the great advice from Alison, PCBH and other commenters: I am a woman, and I personally think it’s a terrible idea for any workplace to sanction events at which there are “no men allowed.” Yes, I get it that many people feel it’s ok to exclude men from things (but not women), but I disagree. I work at a nonprofit that is made up of 36 females, and every time a male tries to interview, he’s effectively blocked. Sometimes those reasons make sense, but often they come down to men “not getting our culture” or “not fitting in with our vibe” or “being so privileged already that why should we give them jobs?” Uh, some of these men come from backgrounds that clearly demonstrate extreme deprivation, poverty, and lack of opportunities, while a surprising number of our females, myself included, come from extremely affluent, privileged backgrounds during which we’ve never really experienced the effects of sexism, at least as far as we can tell. It’s a dangerous game to play when you start excluding entire groups of people for any reason, but especially at work. Even if you don’t care about males and figure they should all just suffer for the sins of the past, it’s a short leap from “no men allowed” to “no women allowed.” This type of thinking does not belong at work (not to mention the sheer idiocy of a lingerie-themed event, but I feel like that’s been well-covered by Alison and other commenters).

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      I mean, showers are some of the most boring events known to humanity, so the men are probably like “oh thank god we don’t have to go,” but in principle, yes.

      1. MK*

        That goes for a lot of workplace activities that women have been excluded from in the past; in fact, it goes for a lot of workplace activities, period. It doesn’t actually matter if the excluded person/group would like the activity, the exclusion if a problem in and of itself. And it’s not just a matter of principle, it can have very tangible consequenses.

    2. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Maybe this says something bad about me, but I prefer mixed-gender groups, all other things being equal. I feel more comfortable in that dynamic.
      Their discrimination is unfair, no matter anyone’s preference.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Me too. I find the dynamics of all women groups can be a bit, hmm, weird I guess. I’m not sure of the appropriate word. I like having a mix of people.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Hi, New AAM Reader — Your letter is very eloquent. I know you didn’t ask for advice, but, jeez—have you considered looking for a new place to work? Your NPO sounds perfectly dreadful.

    4. MagicUnicorn*

      This is why I opt out of the sip & shop events my company hosts for female employees. I feel like it is one thing for a group of friends to organically plan a ladies night out, but when the company sponsors the same thing it becomes detrimental to all of us.

      1. Observer*

        Sip and Shop? Ew. Is this for the women or for the “girls”? Because if it’s for the “girls” I have a perfect excuse for bowing out – I think I graduated from being a “girl” a few decades ago.

        1. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

          Loool fastest way for me to NOPE a work event. I’d ad lib that “Ah, nah, honey I’m good” song QUICK.
          First of all, I’m 43 not 12, even if I look like I am barely out of college. Secondly, I neither sip nor shop in the company of thers, as I don’t drink and can guarantee you that unless the other ladies are into punk, goth, and grunge attire, we will not enjoy a mutual shopping experience…

      2. Koala dreams*

        Oh, they do this nowadays? I’ve heard of that as an 80s thing, as a way to give women a place to vent and share tips as a part of encouraging women to join the workforce. I’d hope most companies have found more inclusive ways to deal with sexism today.

      3. yala*

        ” my company hosts for female employees”

        I…that seems…REALLY dicey? I’m sorry, outside of maybe a health-specific thing, I can’t imagine how it’s remotely legal to have gender-exclusive activities directly hosted by a company.

        I mean, men like drinking and buying stuff too.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wow. There is a legitimate need for some female-only classes in education, as studies show that some girls and young women learn better and participate more that way. But this is not a school, it’s a workplace, and as you said it sounds like the mirror image of a boy’s club. There have been letters like that, saying that women just weren’t a good fit with the corporate culture, and they were all in the wrong. When the corporate culture excludes people based on protected classes or innate features rather than their actions, it’s the culture that needs to change, not the applicants.

    6. Anon for this*

      These are really good points that I feel like get lost a lot in discussions about privilege (ultimately causing fewer people to accept that things like white privilege and male privilege are real). Being male provides you with certain privileges, but there are lots of other types in privileges, and if a women has all of those when a man has none, her life will be easier!

      Also adding to the complexity of “discrimination” against privileged groups, I find that it’s often offensive to the very group that’s supposedly benefiting. I (a woman) used to work for a guy who claimed he would only ever hire women to do my job, and he flaunted this in a way that implied he clearly thought it was a progressive stance. But my job was grunt work, doing whatever he asked without questioning anything, and (he made this very clear) required a quiet, submissive, eager-to-please personality. He clearly associated these traits with women rather than men.

    7. Anonym*

      IN-TER-SEC-TION-AL-I-TY. Intersectionality!

      This is distressing to hear. I hope your colleagues learn and evolve. Best wishes to you in navigating their ignorance, and may it have as little impact as possible.

    8. JSPA*

      It’s never OK to exclude people by gender from a workplace event–surely that’s one of the few absolutes of the work world. Toilets and changing rooms are the only “separate but equal” spaces.”

      It’s bad form to hold events that would primarily interest only a subset of your workforce, but no, you can’t exclude Jim from complementary manicures, if you’re offering them.

      Other wrong things:

      the assumption that the bride to be is comfortable with female workmates seeing what undies she’s getting.

      The implicit assumption that all women are straight.

      The assumption that straight women can’t be icky about (or turned on by) the underwear of other women.

      The assumption that “spend money on things someone may not want at all” is a way to show support.

      If the theme must be “underwear,” let it be a group gift card to some purveyor of such items, and let everyone in for the cake and punch.

      1. Gumby*

        you can’t exclude Jim from complementary manicures, if you’re offering them.

        One of my family members is a 6 foot something (4?) firefighter who fits a great number of the “manly man” stereotypes.

        He loves a good pedicure.

    9. JSPA*

      If “getting our culture” requires someone to not identify as male (or, not have specific bits between their legs) that’s blatantly illegal, as well as unpleasant.

    10. smoke tree*

      I’m guessing this must be a self-consciously progressive organization. This kind of thinking shows evidence of the tunnel vision progressives can fall into (I say this as a pretty progressive person myself). My experience has been the opposite–I work in an industry that is overwhelmingly staffed by women, but men still tend to rise to the top and get preferential treatment.

    11. Sue Wilson*

      it makes perfect sense to exclude non-marginalized groups from social activities meant to strengthen their ability to exist and succeed in a workforce that does not lean toward their benefit, but reinforcing gender norms with wedding showers isn’t it.

      and groups which do exclude for that reason aren’t having men suffer for sins of the past. they are present sins, and treating people equally doesn’t mean everyone situations will be equitable.

  7. Thank You*

    OP#1 Please, be the voice of reason at your company and notify someone about this.
    Good on you for recognizing the situation and writing in to Ask a Manager. I bet your coworkers will thank you too!
    Also, woah, well meaning or not, what a weird thing for someone to plan at work. I wouldn’t give a friend getting married lingerie, I *definitely* wouldn’t give it to a coworker.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        In a shocking turn of events, the OP commented upthread that the coworker getting married sent her lingerie sizes to everyone. o.0

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have known it once – at a “hen do” (bachelorette) which was a weekend away. One of the party games was that each “hen” made or decorated in advance a pair of underwear for the bride based on their relationship/shared interests, and then she had to guess who they were from. They were ridiculous (think pompoms and Sharpie) and there was absolutely no expectation that she’d actually ever wear any of them!

      Now, that was a dozen of her actual friends, initiated by her actual best friend, in a private environment, and not providing lingerie to wear.

      Honestly, even the thought of having to provide my precise lingerie sizes (cup size??!!) to colleagues at large is giving me hives. Jaw-droppingly inappropriate.

      1. yv*

        That actually sounds kind of fun and cute for a small group of friends to do. I can see everyone being provided with the same plain pair of panties and told to go to town on them.
        I could even picture a baby shower version with the base garment being a plain onsie.

        1. Cleo1717*

          My best friend did that for my shower. It was hilarious for everyone involved. However, even DIY spangled, pom-pom, and sharpie granny pantie underwear is inappropriate for an office party. The segregation between men and women is gross too.

          I attended a baby shower for someone where onesies were decorated. That was really fun and some of them turned out so cute.

        2. Wren*

          Yup, I decorated bibs at a baby shower. There was no guessing involved, just fun with fabric paint.

      2. JSPA*

        This sounds fun to me, too, for an at-home-with-friends thing–but doing it at work would entirely undermine the idea that women in a workplace are, y’know, there as professionals.

  8. Marmaduke*

    I hope OP1 can get the ixnay on the lingerie party, but also if this were my workplace I’d be the employee bringing in a set of long johns.

    Were the guest of honor’s bra and panty sizes included on the invites? Surely not, but how are coworkers to buy lingerie without her specs?

    1. Miso*

      Oh yeah, that’s my biggest question here. Or is everyone supposed to get one of those one size candy thongs?

      1. valentine*

        Were the guest of honor’s bra and panty sizes included on the invites? Surely not
        I wondered about this for Zaphod Beeblebrox’s comment as well, especially since someone would have to share a range of sizes, unless they’re focusing on a single brand. I kind of hope there’s a registry.

        1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

          Somebody somewhere must have known her size, because she seemed pleased with the gift, but how they knew I couldn’t say.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I was wondering about the size thing too!!! I can barely manage to figure out what size to get for my own unmentionables and you can bet your bottom dollar I neither know nor care what size any of my coworkers is! Unless there is a specific registry how does this work?? And honestly, for someone that doesn’t need anymore household supplies because they already have everything…..well, shouldn’t they have plenty of underwear? I am now having a giggle picturing a house full of every appliance known to man and the coworker standing forlornly in front of their underwear drawer which is empty and full of cobwebs.

      1. SigneL*

        I was once invited to a lingerie shower (ugh) and the honoree’s sizes were listed on the invitation. I KID YOU NOT. When I became engaged and was asked if I wanted a shower, I said politely that I would be happy going out to lunch (no gifts, thank you!), which seemed to please everyone.

        1. Johnny Tarr*

          Well, I’ll add “bra size sent to co-workers” to my list of nightmare fuel. It wouldn’t even be particularly useful because size is so brand-dependent. It would be doubly awful to emerge, humiliated, from a work lingerie party, and also be left holding 10 brand new bras that don’t fit.

          1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

            Heck, sometimes size isn’t even standard within a brand! (Glaring at you, Wacoal.)

          2. JSPA*

            exactly–this is set up to be more about conspicuous consumption and ability to waste money and resources as a marker of status, as it is about giving someone something she can use.

        2. Marmaduke*

          My bridal shower involved watching The Lion King and eating cupcakes and pizza with my friends. At the end of the night they gifted me a nice suitcase they’d all gone in on. It was perfect.

        3. Parenthetically*

          I had a lingerie shower and my sizes were on the invitation. Dunno how else people are supposed to know.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        If you have a helpful coworker who keeps track of what size everyone’s assets are, perhaps you can ask them?

        1. Close Bracket*

          So glad I’m not the only person whose mind was going there—at last! A chance to put that brand and style recognition skill to work!

      3. wittyrepartee*

        I’m imagining going “I prefer balconettes to avoid quad-boob”.

        “Additionally, I’d prefer unpadded bras for summer-wear”

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Was your coworker on board with this? I’d be mortified if someone brought me underwear at work!

        1. OP1*

          She’s totally on board for this. She was in on it when the list was sent out, she included her favorite colors and brands and her sizes.

          1. Sara without an H*

            OK, she just lost my sympathy. If I couldn’t get out of attending this shindig, I’d be tempted to get her a long flannel nightgown with long sleeves and high collar.

          2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

            OMG For that she would get the biggest, brightest white “granny-panties” I could find. I might even get some glue and rhinestones and bedazzle them for her.

          3. JSPA*

            She knows that email can be forwarded? And that it has her (and everyone’s) work email address on it? Compared to, say, working as a DJ on Saturday nights, I can’t see how this is a good choice for the company.

  9. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    LW 1 – Reading the title “Lingerie party”, I had visions of this being like an “80s party” or something, with guests encouraged to *wear* lingerie. So the real version is at least less insane than that would be. But still – *lingerie* and *work* absolutely do not mix. This is extremely inappropriate – many people would be horrified to be the recipients of such gifts from anyone, let alone coworkers. It’s like asking someone about their sex life… only more than that, it’s essentially *making suggestions* about their sex life. Very icky. It’s also pretty inappropriate to have a ~ladies only~ gathering at work – given that it’s a bridal shower, I could see organizing an all-women party outside of work, but not at work, and not during work hours. Social events AT work kind of have to be for everyone. This is definitely inappropriate on multiple levels – good for you for being the voice of reason.
    (My suggestions for a more appropriate version of this: after work/outside the office; if it’s at work, invite everyone; no gifts or everyone goes in on one, more appropriate, gift; if you insist on gifts, ask the bride-to-be for suggestions; and absolutely no mention of sex! This is a work environment, not a sorority!)

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      Even if it was an after work party, I don’t think you can invite all the ladies and not the men, without it being a thing. Can you invite a handful of women the bride is closer with to an all female bridal shower sure, but only if there are more women at work that are not invited.

      This is similar to inviting coworkers to the wedding or other get together. You can invite a small handful if there are still more coworkers that are not getting invited. But you can’t invite a majority of coworkers say 7, not invite a handful of coworkers say 2 or 3.

      There was a letter a while back about a guy who wanted to invite his 9/17 male coworkers to a weekend beach party but no ladies. That was also problematic. Search “Beach weekend” letter dates July 19, 2018

      There was also a similar letter where 4 coworkers were going to a beach weekend, but one of the people invited someone who was the supervisor to two of the other coworkers already going. Other non work friends were also going to be attending. The issue there was that no one wants to go to a rowdy beach weekend with their boss.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        Hm, I think it’s a little less weird if it’s outside work, just because bridal showers have such a tradition of being women-only, and from LW’s description, this sounds like a group that cares a lot about such traditions. To me that makes it not quite the same as a regular party or other gathering that doesn’t have such a tradition behind it. (Though, that said – is the bride having a ‘real’ bridal shower with her non-work friends, in addition to the work-bridal-shower? If so, the best option is definitely to invite everyone to the work-bridal-shower!) But yeah, it’d definitely be better to either invite everyone or only people the bride is especially friendly with – was just trying to list ways the LW could make this party be saner, that her coworkers that proposed the lingerie party might go for.

      2. JSPA*

        An entire weekend is more exclusionary than an hour in the lunch room, but…yeah, it’s on the same continent, just a different specific location.

      1. bluephone*

        Oh man, actually, I bet that is how this all got started. The person who dreamed it up got suckered into the newest MLM scam, her upline is on her case about bringing in more suckers—I mean recruits—next thing you know: lingerie party at work!

        I don’t know of any MLMs that specifically sell lingerie but if they have MLM scans for books, then why wouldn’t some Lyle Lanley-type decide that a pyramid scheme would work best for overpriced bras that don’t fit anyone.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          I don’t know of any that do lingerie specifically, but I’ve heard of “Fantasia” parties for selling sex toys and such – not sure if that/those companies would also sell lingerie, and I also have no idea how those MLMers manage to go around with straight faces trying to convince every woman they know to buy overpriced vibrators.

      2. mark132*

        My daughter got invited to a bridal shower and it turned out the bride’s mother-in-law to be was using it as an excuse to hold a lingerie party. My daughter was one of only a small few who actually brought a gift for her friend, the bride.

    2. Agnes*

      I mean, lingerie showers are a thing. There’s definitely a tradition of wedding lingerie showers, going back a fair amount (Miss Manners mentions giving them in college). So it’s maybe not completely surprising that it occurred to someone. But, no, this is not a thing for work.

      1. SigneL*

        Yes, back when I was in college (when dinosaurs stomped around), lingerie showers were a thing, because no decent single woman had lingerie (theoretically). And sometime one’s MOTHER was invited.

      2. bonkerballs*

        Yeah, they’re pretty common tradition in pockets of the south. Nothing MLM about them.

  10. Krickets*

    Regarding letter #1, is it at all ok for a spouse to call in on the employee’s behalf if they have sudden emergency or surgery and can’t call or email themselves, i.e. appendix burst?

    And to OP#4, this sucks, mate. You gotta take this L, my G. :(

    1. Grand Mouse*

      I would think so. I imagine anyone would be in the clear to call in for someone else in the event of something like being taken to the ER or being so ill they cannot call in themselves.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        I’d think it’s OK/wouldn’t reflect poorly in any situation where the employee *couldn’t* call themselves – either because they lost their voice or the illness/injury is so severe they needed emergency medical care. The reason it reflects poorly to have someone else call in with a ‘normal’ sickness is that it seems like the employee isn’t mature enough/not taking responsibility – there’s a ‘have mommy call the school’ vibe – and because in general employers want to talk to their actual employees, not their employees’ families. But just like most employers ask for an emergency contact for their employees, and would presumably contact that person if the employee was seriously injured, there should be a recognition that exceptions exist.

        I would hope that a reasonable employer, if they got a call from an employee’s spouse that the employee was in the ER having emergency surgery, would a) mostly be concerned for their employee’s well-being and b) just be glad that *someone* let them know so that they could take whatever steps were needed to cover the employee’s work.

    2. tamarack and fireweed*

      Reasonable workplaces tend to be reasonable about practical problems. So having a medical emergency, or being physically unable to produce audible/intelligible speech are perfectly good reasons to have someone, really anyone, call in for you. I’ve certainly done it, though I will then lead not with “I’m X’s wife/girlfriend/[whatever]” but “I’m calling [to pass a message] on behalf of X”, at least for more formal/stuck-up workplaces: simply because I want to avoid even the initial thought that it’s odd and vaguely inappropriate for a relative to address someone’s boss in a work context.

      Also, I live in an area where a) cell connectivity is sketchy as soon as you leave town and b) weather can be hazardous, and wildlife encounters are commonplace. Here, flagging down a random stranger and asking them to send a text (as soon as they’re in range) to one’s mom with instructions for the mom to call one’s boss to say you’ve hit a moose or have slid into the ditch is not going to raise any eyebrows.

    3. Willis*

      I think this is supposed to be about #2, but I got a laugh out of the idea of having a spouse call in an “emergency surgery” so the employee could avoid the awkwardness of having coworkers through her a lingerie party!

      (More seriously, yeah, I think it would be fine for a spouse to call in if you have an emergency medical situation.)

    4. Myrcallie*

      I once had to call in for my partner after they were taken to hospital- the call was acknowledged, but on the understanding that once my partner was able to get in touch, they would do so to discuss practicalities (i.e. return to work, a few brief questions from manager r.e. outstanding projects etc.) I wasn’t allowed to discuss any personal data-related things beyond giving their boss that initial heads up.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, this is it. The relative/roommate/partner is only a proxy for the employee for as long as the employee can’t communicate. So in the “lost voice” scenario, the boss might say “thank you for letting me know – we have a daily call-in policy but Jane can text tomorrow if she’s still off; please tell her ‘get well soon’ from us” or maybe “could you ask her to email to let me know if there’s any meetings that will need rescheduling”.

    5. LGC*

      Yes. The rule is that you should call out when you’re able to, but in cases where you’re incapacitated then you don’t have to. I’ve had this happen on occasion myself, and I’ve been more worried about the employee than concerned about any over step.

      And honestly, if your boss is that rigid when they expect you to call out yourself when your appendix burst, you should be looking for a new job immediately.

      1. MK*

        I really don’t think any reasonable manager will have an issue with taking a message from a relative (or even a friend) in cases when it’s impossible, or even just very difficult, for the employee to call personally. The rule is about not making a habit of having other people contacting your employer on your behalf, not a total ban on anyone ever doing so.

        1. LGC*

          Hence why I said that if a manager does have an issue with that, their employees should quit ASAP! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this site, it’s that there are some REALLY terrible managers (including ones that force feed you their leftovers, make you parade around the office in their hand-me-downs, pay you $30k a year in NYC for a FT job, AND get mad at you for falling through a subway grate and breaking a couple of ribs), and I can definitely imagine a rule-policing manager getting their underpants in a bunch about this.

          Personally, I assume that if someone else is calling out for you, it’s serious enough for you to be unable to communicate. I don’t think I’m alone in this, so that’s something else to consider.

    6. hbc*

      I think most employers would take a call from anyone (spouse, friend, random passerby) if the situation is such that calling is pretty difficult for the employee. We had a son-in-law call about an employee’s wife’s death because the guy couldn’t really handle being on the phone for a while, even if he was physically capable of speaking. Zero problem here.

      It’s not something that you expect to have happen more than, say, once every five years unless there’s an underlying medical condition, in which case you should make sure that your boss is okay with the parent call as a default way of handling it

    7. Tree*

      I had a long-standing argument with my now ex-husband about this. I wanted him to call in for me when I was in hospital on morphine but he thought it was inappropriate. I made the call but I still think I was right and it would have been appropriate for him to call … I could physically talk but I was loopy from the morhpine and upset about the reaon I was there and ended up bursting into tears. I’m sure my director would have preferred a quick call from someone else.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. The only time anyone has ever called in sick on my behalf was when I had actual proper flu (not the sort of bad cold that people insist on calling ‘flu’, but genuine can’t-get-out-of-bed-for-five-days flu) and was completely incapable of doing anything. My mum came to pick me up and take me home to be looked after (my flatmate at the time was away and I literally could barely make it to the bathroom on my own, let alone doing anything as complex as actually getting food for myself) and she called my boss the next day to let them know I wouldn’t be in. Boss said no problem, we don’t expect to see her back before next Monday, take care. I don’t think it made me look like any less of a competent adult! Reasonable people understand that sometimes people lose their voice/are delirious with flu/are in hospital on loopy painkillers.

      2. Joielle*

        I called in for my husband in a similar situation! He was in no condition to talk on the phone or send an email (even if we had thought to bring his work computer to the ER, which… we definitely didn’t). His boss was very understanding and sympathetic. Not weird at all.

      3. Observer*

        I can see why he’s an ex. That’s either an insane level of rigidity or a ridiculous level of jerkdom.

      4. JSPA*

        Ouch. Did he more generally miss the forest for the trees? Or was he simply devoid of empathy? Surely that’s a “not medically recommended,” even if not explicitly stated as such.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Yes, I called in once for my husband – it was a relatively new job, it was before texting was terribly common, and he was puking his guts out and didn’t trust himself to even manage a 5-minute phone call, so I did so and explained.

    9. BelleMorte*

      I think this is really something that should be addressed before it happens. You never know how your employer will react.

      I was in the ER for emergency surgery and hooked up to a ton of machines and when I was conscious I was screaming in pain – post surgery I was in the ICU for a week. I am also deaf and this was before texting/email was prevalent in retail so my communication was via TTY using a relay. My husband called in for me explaining the situation. My boss tersely said ok, and hung up.

      When I finally was out of the hospital nearly two weeks later (my husband kept my boss up to date the entire time, always responding “ok” and hanging up), I went by work to talk to them in person, literally on the way home from the hospital. They informed me I was fired due to not calling in sick through appropriate channels. They expected me to call in myself using the relay, ignoring the fact that the hospital I was in did not have a TTY and my system was built into my computer and not portable, I was barely lucid for the entirety of the first week as it was.

      I said “cool, I guess my next stop is the Human Rights Commission ( equivalent of ADA), and a call to head office”, and they walked it back. I still called head office, they were not pleased as that would be a PR and lawsuit nightmare and my manager was fired shortly thereafter.

      Knowing what I know now, I probably should have just sued them for disability discrimination. The rest of my time at that job was horrible because of this situation.

      Long story short, I never would have guessed my manager would react like that, she seemed sane, until she wasn’t.

      1. Observer*

        What happened to you was terrible and ridiculous. But it doesn’t prove that you need to handle this in advance. It means that you had a boss who was a terrible person and a terrible boss – someone who was clearly doing other problematic things that came up once someone started looking.

        Let’s be honest – What could you have “settled in advance” anyway? If you had asked your boss about how to contact you in a genuine emergency and are in a place where these is also no relay and she told you that that doesn’t matter and you will be required to call in yourself and not have someone call for you, what could you have done about it? And if she had acted sane and said “Have your husband call”, do you think that would have affected her behavior when the emergency actually happened?

        You can’t really plan for this kind of crazy.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Good god, how terrible. Glad you’re out of that dump!

        I admit, though, that I have no idea how to ask beforehand if this sort of thing is ok without, in effect, asking “are you going to behave like a decent human being when one of your reports happens to go through a life-threatening situation and is unable to notify through normal channels”?

    10. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      When I managed front line employees, I used to explicitly tell them that if they were too ill to call in, they should have someone else contact me. Roommate, sibling, parent, significant other, I don’t care as long as you let me know.

      Apparently a lot of places tell people the employee themselves must be the one to call in, and then when people are too ill to make a phone call or send a text they end up no-call no-showing because they were afraid to have someone else call them in. That is a stupid convention.

    11. Artemesia*

      well of course. I believe Alison also mentioned that in the answer — when the individual CANNOT contact work then the friend or spouse or parent contacts the workplace.

    12. JSPA*

      Sure, for the same reason that people have presumed medical power of attorney based on degree of relatedness, or people write springing health care POAs if the people you’d choose are not the ones that might otherwise be presumed to have decision making capacity. That’s yet another version of, “when you physically can’t, or it would be against doctor’s orders to do so.”

    13. JSPA*

      Other reasons not to do so, from the employer’s point of view, is that you don’t want to create situations where, say, an abusive spouse can call in with a pretext for why the abused worker is not coming to work, or a conniving coworker can’t inform the boss that someone is sick, so how about they plan to do the big presentation tomorrow instead. Anyone can report, but the employer may want to further verify or have confirmation after the fact.

    14. Sparkly Librarian*

      Last year my wife was leaving for work when she broke her ankle in our driveway. I had to call her employer as we were waiting for an ambulance. By the time I got through to a manager, it was 10 minutes past her (night-shift) start time, and the manager didn’t bother trying to mask her displeasure. Screaming and sirens in the background notwithstanding. What else was she to do — not call in until at the hospital and medicated? Not call in at all?

    15. AuroraLight37*

      I’ve been the person who took the call from a spouse saying that her husband had been admitted to the ER that morning because of a leaking heart valve which was going to require an immediate procedure. I was perfectly fine with her being the caller. She also asked me to dissuade her husband from trying to come in to work, because he was telling the doctor he had to go. She handed him the phone and I told him if he showed up I’d carry him out of there and back to the hospital. He knew I’d do it, too. He stayed put. (For the record, we were good friends and I had the authority to tell him to stay there.)

  11. All Outrage, All The Time*

    OP #2 Your mum doens’t need to say she’s your mum. “Hi, I’m calling for OP#2 to let you know that she won’t be in today as she has completely lost her voice.” I wouldn’t ask for someone’s relationship to my staff member before I accepted the message. Alternatively, you could send your manager a text or email. I don’t recall the last time someone called in sick on a phone. But that may be dependent on your workplace culture.

    1. Not Australian*

      This particular OP did explain that in their case text and e-mail were not available options.

      1. MagicUnicorn*

        OP said she could text just was not sure boss would see it in time. So OP could always text that they lost their voice, then have mom call in and explain that OP sent a text and just wanted to make sure boss saw the text that OP is out sick and is unable to call in due to having no voice.

        1. Filosofickle*

          That feels like the best solution — one piece of (less reliable) communication coming directly from OP with backup from mom.

    2. P.C. Wharton*

      That’s what I was thinking. Or, if you think it will be obvious it’s your parent, you could even text/email a responsible friend your own age to do it.

    3. MK*

      Why on earth not? Look, I appreciate the need to present yourself as an independed adult, but does accepting any help from your parents cast you in a bad light that one needs to resort to subterfuge to hide it? Isn’t it natural for family members to take care of eachother when they are ill or injured?

      And, no, I would not accept an anonymous phonecall telling me my employee won’t be coming in; in fact, I would think it downright odd that this person hadn’t identified themselves and their relationship with the employee unprompted.

      But if you really don’t want to have your family contact your employer and you happen to be friends with a coworker, a solution might be for your family to contact them and ask them to pass the message to the manager.

      1. Agent J*

        I agree. If the caller doesn’t identify themselves, I’d wonder if it was a prank or a way to get out of work. It seems small but having the caller say who they are in relation to the employee legitimizes why they’re calling instead.

        1. Delphine*

          I agree. My follow-up question to a call where the caller told me my employee was sick but didn’t identify themselves would be, “Who is this?”

      2. PretzelGirl*

        I think in this case, the best solution would be to text. Honestly, I almost always text in a call off and have for several years. I have never gotten reprimanded for it. Often times I am calling off pretty early, like 6am. Currently my manager comes in at 9:30, and theres a good chance he’s still asleep at 6am.

        1. Observer*

          Well, the OP had a good reason for not texting. I think it’s reasonable to trust their judgement here.

      3. Michelle*

        Agreed. If you have no voice, are in the hospital, etc., there should not be a problem for your parent calling in. “Hi Mr/Ms Boss. This is Helen, John’s mother. He is sick and has no voice/just had emergency surgery. I wanted to make sure you were notified and John will contact you as soon as he is able.”

        Most employers are going to sympathetic and hope there employee is ok, not thinking “John is immature. His mommy had to call in for him”. If your parent is calling in for you every time you are sick then that is a problem. Once or for an emergency? No biggie.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The times that I have had to act as my daughter’s agent (which is a legal term, btw) (I was interviewing a surgeon because she was at school during finals week, and the surgery would be in our town a couple of weeks later), I was very careful to say, “My daughter is unable to be there and she has specifically asked me to act on her behalf.”

          I establish my “agent” status. So I’d be saying, “This is June’s mother; she has laryngitis and cannot speak at all. She asked me to call and let you know that she won’t be in today. Do you have any questions I can relay to her? And then she can write me the answers.”

      4. roisin54*

        The only time I didn’t call in myself was when my father passed away suddenly last month. I texted a co-worker I’m friends with and asked her to pass it along to my boss. They already knew that the situation was somewhat dire, and as far as I’m aware no one had a problem with how I handled it. I did call my boss myself a couple of days later to straighten out a few things. I think that any manager or boss with any sense of compassion or common sense would be fine with something like this.

    4. Observer*

      Most places WILL ask for relationship. Because the last thing an employer needs is to accept a call out from a random stranger claiming that someone is out sick.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I’d be pretty suspicious if they didn’t say who they were and what the relationship was. I’d be envisioning my conversation with the cops: “She was dead on Sunday, but you say she called in Monday?” “Well, it wasn’t her. It was somebody with no clear relationship to her whatsoever.”

        1. Observer*

          Definitely. There are also a lot of other less dramatic scenarios that I could think of.

          I once had someone call in to tell me that an employee had died over the weekend. You can imagine the shock – but if the caller had not identified themselves I would NOT have accepted – I would have probably taken the number from the caller ID and tried to see who I could report this to.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, realistically I would likely land on another scenario eventually, but my catastrophizing brain would steer me first toward the worst-case event.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Sorry but calling work on another’s behalf as some rando is weird. There’s no issue here. If she lived with a roommate, I would expect a “hey I’m Jane, Jill’s roommate, calling to let you know…”

    6. JSPA*

      Right, she’s calling as a voice tool, not as your mom. You write the message, she turns it into sound. It’s still YOU doing the notification.

  12. Anon for this*

    OP#3, I’ve had a similar experience. I was out of town and just got back from a pre-interview dinner with several higher-ups at the organization I was interviewing at on the night before a day-long formal interview when I checked my phone and saw a bunch of texts and voicemails from my petsitter. It turned out that my previously-healthy cat (one of my closest companions for the past 7 years) had suffered a stroke and had been taken to an animal hospital in severe cardiac and respiratory failure. In speaking with the vets taking care of him, I learned that the prognosis for meaningful recovery and return to any semblance of a good quality of life was incredibly grim, so I made the heartbreaking decision to decline aggressive care and let him pass at around 11 PM that night. I was all alone in a strange city, far from my family and friends, and spent the entire night crying in my hotel room unable to sleep. In the morning I dragged myself up, endured a full day (8 AM – 5 PM) interview culminating in an hour-long talk I had to give, and probably gave everyone at the interview the impression that I was a humorless bore because I kept my emotions so tightly reined in afraid if I didn’t I would absolutely lose it. I didn’t get the job. To make matters worse, I had booked (out of my own pocket) several out-of-town interviews in the coming days, all involving flights, hotels, etc. and so I stuck with my agenda and didn’t get home to my now cat-less home until a week after he passed. (I didn’t get the other jobs I interviewed for that week either.) This was one of the hardest weeks of my life, and really, it probably would’ve been better to cancel and try to reschedule at least the interview the day after this happened. (Logistically, though, it’s unlikely they would have able to reschedule, given the nature and competitiveness of the job.) OP, I’m so sorry you had a similar experience, and I can empathize with how you probably felt during that day. I think it’s totally fine to bring up that you were in pain and in shock the first time around if you choose to apply at this organization again. And if anyone else is unfortunate enough to receive tragic news like this before an interview, I would definitely say try to reschedule if at all possible.

    1. Marny*

      I’m so sorry. I would have been an absolute wreck if I’d had to go through that. I’m impressed you were able to hold it together as much as you did.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same! I lost my kitty several years ago, and we had a couple months to come to terms with his terminal illness and I was still a mess. I would have totally lost my shit in an all-day interview the day he died, much less a whole week of them. I’m so sorry that happened to you and very sorry for the loss of your beloved pet.

    2. Barefoot Librarian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I know first hand how hard that is. My corgi died earlier this year while I was out of state with my little sister who was having her first baby. She and her husband were understandably nervous and excited, and I got the news the night the little guy was born. I had to hold it in for at least the first couple of days even though I was in shock and devastated. I didn’t want to ruin their special time. I also didn’t get home until a week after. When I finally got home, it ripped the wound right back open having a corgi-less house to come home to. My heart goes out to you.

      1. Newington*

        I haven’t had to go through this as an adult yet (my cat is 10 and healthy but I’m already faintly dreading it) but I’d be wary of using a pet’s death to explain bad performance, even though I think it is absolutely a good explanation. The inevitable attitude of “But it’s just a cat!”, even if it only comes from one dingus, could make it so much worse.

        1. EH*

          Anon for this, I am so sorry, what a horrible experience! So awful.

          There’s a surprisingly large number of “but it’s just a pet” people out there. I’d probably couch it as a family emergency or terrible news from a friend. At my current gig, I was able to take a day off when our eldest cat had to be put to sleep and they totally understood, but I’d been here for almost a year and had a good relationship with my bosses. With strangers? I wouldn’t lie, but I also wouldn’t be specific enough to have to say exactly what was going on.

      2. Nanani*

        Some people can be very callous when it comes to pet death. It could have helped, but it also could have gotten “Ugh, its just an animal” reactions.

        I love my cat but I know some people who just do NOT understand caring about a pet.

        1. Observer*

          That’s a major reason I said “perhaps”.

          I’m not a pet person, but I think I would understand that this could really throw someone off.

      3. TootsNYC*

        you wouldn’t have to say a pet had died; you could just say you’ve received some bad news, and so you will be more subdued than normal.

        i also think that saying it out loud to someone might actually make it easier to cope with. Hiding the emotion is really draining and damaging.

    3. Anon for this*

      Thank you all for your kind responses! Barefoot Librarian, I’m so sorry for the loss of your corgi when you were away supporting your little sister.

  13. Stella*

    #5 As someone whose worked in casual offices before when you’re dressed a little nicer and someone asks if you’re going somewhere after work they tend to think you’re going out with friends or on a date rather than jumping straight to interview. If someone came in wearing a suit or something else obviously work wear I might assume an interview but if it was just a nice shirt and jeans such as in this example I’d be more likely to think they’re just going out to dinner after work

    1. Goose Lavel*

      It is also interesting how an apparel change can delineate between hierarchy.
      In my last job, there was very clear dress standard between managers and everyone else.

      I usually wore button shirts and dockers and dressed in same when I started my last job. Many people that I had not been introduced to assumed I was I manager, rather than an engineer. This happened on mulitple occasions during my first month and I only caught on after I started attending cross functional meetings where I noticed that all of the male engineers dresses in t-shirts and jeans (and sometimes shorts and open toe shoes).

      Only after I stared wearing polo shirts and jeans did I start fitting in with my peers and no one asked if I was a new manager.

      On a funny note, the VP of Engineering asked that the engineers leave the t-shirts and jeans at home for the company’s upcoming Christmas gala. My wife and I liked dressing up and did so for the gala (suit and tie for me, evening gown for her), but there were still many male engineers wearing the same old worn out clothes that they wore at work.

      1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

        As a woman, I’d find it off-putting for a guy to *always* dress casually. Variety is nice.

        1. Close Bracket*

          We’re talking about dress standards at work, though. Men shouldn’t have to dress with an eye toward whether their female coworkers find their clothing off-putting anymore than women should have to dress with an eye toward whether men find it exciting.

      2. Newington*

        Heh. I used to dress smart-cazh by default, but when I got my first job in $CREATIVE_TECH_FIELD I stocked up on jeans, geeky T-shirts and converse-esque shoes to fit in. It almost feels like a dress code in itself.

        1. Filosofickle*

          When I was young I always loved dressing up, and as long as I lived in a more formal city I got away with it even in my creative field. When I relo’d to the west coast, I was terribly overdressed all the time — not only overdressed, but also too conservative — and had to overhaul everything. West Coast Creative definitely has a dress code.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, if OP was wearing jeans it seems unlikely anyone thought they were going for an interview.

    3. PantaloonsOnFire*

      I’m not sure about all industries, but most of the interviews I’ve had took place during the 9-5 workday and required a couple hours absence from work. I’d only assume that someone was interviewing if they were dressed abnormally nicely on a day when they were in late or out early or took a super long lunch. Just dressing nicer with no absence would lead me to think they had post-work plans or a fancy date, and for someone who consistently dressed nice 3-4 days a week it wouldn’t be a flag at all.

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I like the reply of “wearing more of my wardrobe.”
      I once showed up to a casual office wearing tuxedo pants.
      Someone said, “Job interview?” I replied, “Laundry day.”

      Then again, my best friend’s sister has worked at a corporate-casual office for decades and wears perfect victorian to the ankles and wrists fashion every single day and few people bat an eye anymore. Establish your style and people won’t think anything of it after a while.

  14. Good Wolf*

    #5: I also think it’s possible that no one’s thinking you’re interviewing at all. I’ve also been asked if I’m “going somewhere after work” on days when I happened to dress up more than usual, and it turns out my coworkers were wondering if I had a hot date but didn’t want to directly pry – they just hoped I’d share if prompted! They could just notice a bit of a difference and want to say something to start a social conversation, for lack of another topic.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      That’s actually what I thought the question was about too.

      If you dress up slightly (let’s be honest it doesn’t sound like she’s in “interview” attire ie suit) an work the whole day, I don’t think you look like you’re interviewing. Especially if you start to dress nicer consistently. Most job interviews happen during the work day. So unless your taking long lunches or leaving he office for appointments, I think you’re fine.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Absolutely — definitely “dress up” on a day you’ll be in the office all day so people don’t think you’re interviewing. But I also don’t think a nicer shirt and jeans screams interview regardless.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Thirding–I think they thought OP had a fun social activity planned for after work, and wondered what it was.

    3. Lisa Babs*

      Coming in to say the same thing. “going somewhere after work” in casual offices really is code for “Are you doing anything fun after work, but I don’t wanna pry”. It’s just casual conversation. NOONE is going to immediately think you are going to a job interview after work for wearing a button-down shirt with blue jeans.

    1. Rewe*

      I was thinking the same. Mom can just say “this is Jane Smith calling on behalf of Jasmin Smith” instead of saying “this is Jamin’s mom Jane calling” type thing.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I mean, as a practical thing, it’s likely to be the person you live with. Whether that’s your parent, long-time best friend, or dude who answered your Craigslist ad last month. If you don’t live with anyone, then you go with people close to you who are likely to a) be happy to help out b) be paying attention to whatever means of communication you use to ask them to call in.

      1. Crystal*

        True, I was definitely coming at it from the perspective of myself who hasn’t lived at home since I was 17. Rooomate whoever it may be is correct!

    3. Joielle*

      I think this would be weirder! If someone called me and said an employee wouldn’t be in today, I would definitely ask the caller who they are. It’s totally understandable for a young employee’s parent to be the one caring for them during an illness – no need to try to hide that.

    4. Observer*

      Why? Anyone who calls has to ID themselves if the employer has any brains.

      And, if the employer is in the least bit reasonable, they are NOT going to look badly at someone who has a parent / spouse / roommate call in for them when they are sick and can’t talk. The idea of needing to find someone else to call in for you so you can pretend that you don’t have a parent in your life is toxic.

  15. staceyizme*

    I don’t get how the party planner thinks this is going to go over without any awkwardness? It’s like they have a script for how the event will play out in their head, but no grasp of the pitfalls. So- underwear/ exclude men/ monopolize lunchroom? I wouldn’t attend. I might even find a way to give a heads up to the honoree, because, wow, this is Inappropriate!

  16. Beth*

    #5: Another way to ‘normalize’ a wardrobe change is to implement it gradually. If you jump straight from torn jeans and an old t-shirt to button-down and khakis, people will notice. But if you switch out the jeans for a nice, professional-feeling pair combined with your usual t-shirts for a while, and then start gradually mixing in nicer shirts, and once your shirts are fully switched over occasionally wearing dress pants instead of your nice jeans, and then maybe start accessorizing or upgrading your shoes or putting more thought into your hair or etc….odds are people won’t even notice the shift on a day-to-day basis, they’ll just gradually update their sense of you over time.

    Alternatively, it’s fine to say “Just looking to upgrade my style a bit. Thanks for noticing–I guess it’s working!” Or just wait it out; if you’re consistently dressing in your new style, after a week or two it’ll be pretty clear that this is the new ‘normal’ and not for a special occasion.

    1. Also a project manager*

      I agree with everything Beth said. This was actually how I upgraded my own wardrobe in the last year, incremental one-at-a-time changes. The key thing was making sure that everything I upgraded still fit within my own style. As long as you still feel like you in the changes you make and you’re comfortable in what you wear, then most people probably won’t notice.

  17. justcourt*

    It’s a sex clothes party. I mean, it’s called a lingerie party, but you’re buying clothes to help your coworker have sex with her husband. That’s a party I would not want to go to.

  18. MistOrMister*

    OP5 you could also just start dressing nicer every day and not worry about easing in to it. Doing it gradually is generally the way to go if you want to avoid questions. But if you’re feeling sloppy and not as happy with the more casual gear, there’s nothing wrong with going in today dressed more formally and continuing that every day. I think it’s just likely that you might get more questions. Although, it probably won’t take very long before people realize this is just your new norm. But, if you’re doing it daily, no one is going to think you’re doing it for job interviews.

    Also, one good thing to remember is that almost no one pays as much attention to your clothing as we tend to think! If you asked me what a coworker was wearing 5 minutes after I walked away from them, unless it was unusually distinctive or caught my eye for some reason, I am not going to be able to tell you.

    However you decide to do it, good luck making the change! Feeling sloppy b/c of your clothing is not a nice thing.

  19. Delta Delta*

    #1 – being generous, the only time I think i’d get at all involved (and we are talking the tiniest amount of involvement) with purchasing underbritches for a coworker is if they lost all their possessions in a disaster. And then I’d probably give them a gift card because I don’t need to get too involved in whether Judy likes bloomers or Ned likes boxers.

    Also, the “no boys allowed” business. What are they, twelve? This isn’t a backyard treehouse, it’s the work lunchroom. Sorry dudes, you can’t have lunch til 1:30 because we have to embarrass Jane by giving her dental floss-sized undies and make veiled jokes about her wedding night? None of this is good.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      During the government shutdown I was moved that around the corner from the food pantry for the furloughed volunteers set up a pantry with menstrual supplies, Depends, etc–things you still need to obtain somehow even if you aren’t being paid.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Also an excellent example, and more along the lines of being helpful, which is sort of what I was going for.

  20. A New CV*

    My assumption was that the lingerie party was a MLM type lingerie party where one of the organizers is using this “shower” as an excuse to trap her coworkers into buying from her. They would be buying for the bride and themselves. I am cynical, tho.

    1. Yvette*

      I too had that impression as well, but the LW did not come out and say it. Maybe they don’t even realize?

      1. A New CV*

        I have been tricked into MLM parties that I thought were showers or house warming parties, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is an undercover sales party.

        1. Artemesia*

          When I was in a new city at retirement I was looking for book clubs and it takes awhile to find private ones and get invited. The first one I was involved in was lovely in many ways but the last time I attended, the facilitator allowed someone to do a pampered chef demonstration and sales. I think it is horrible to ever invite people to something that is a sales ‘party’ without a heads up.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Maybe? But I discovered when I moved to the Deep South the lingerie parties were a very very normal part of wedding planning down here. So, as strange as I found the custom, I wouldn’t assume disingenuousness.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is part of the cultural norms of highly differentiated gender roles in the south. I spent decades in a major southern city and coming from the PNW this was one of the things that just jumped out at me. From how children are dressed to the ‘little jokes’ made about husbands and wives, to social event segregation it was like stepping into the 50s where that was very much the norm everywhere in the US. The lingerie shower harkens back to a time when it was assumed the first time the groom would see his bride’s underwear was on the wedding night. Much giggling.

      1. a1*

        No, but lingerie MLMs *are* a thing, just like jewelry MLMs, vitamin, MLMs, etc. Not all lingerie parties are MLM, of course, but many are.

      2. Artemesia*

        But after you have been rooked into one of these monstrosities a couple of times unawares, you get a finely tuned antenna for this kind of exploitation of friendship.

      1. B*

        But I would like to know if this is the case. Either the party organizer of even the bride herself may be profiting from this terrible idea. OP1 please fill us in?

        1. bonkerballs*

          It’s a super common part of weddings in conservative areas of the south, which I’d assume this is what with the conservative office, hetero-normative no boys allowed shower, and the bride being on board and emailing out her sizes.

          Not MLM related.

  21. Lynca*

    OP 2- Alison is 100% right that there are some situations where it’s very normal to have someone call on your behalf because you literally can’t. If someone called in to me (be it spouse, parent or adult child) to tell me one of the workers was so sick they couldn’t even speak, I really wouldn’t think anything of it other than “Wow they must be really sick. I hope they’re going to get better soon.”

    I completely understand why you would be concerned though. I’ve had to do it and I think part of why it bothered me was I felt very vulnerable about having to do it. I am a very independent person and I have this back of the mind fear of being a burden.

    Story Time:
    I was in a horrible car accident on the way to a medical appointment. I was supposed to be at work later that morning but I was in the ER getting examined, evaluated, and hooked up to IV morphine. Obviously in no condition to call in to work to tell them why I wouldn’t be there. I just handed the phone to my dad and told him to call the work number, explain what happened, and tell them I will call them to discuss it further when I am able so we could figure out the leave. His first sentence was literally “Hi I’m Lynca’s dad.” I was very glad I was hooked up to that IV and didn’t care in that immediate moment. My workplace is huge on calling in yourself. It’s drilled into you. No one said anything to me about it, ever. They all understood that was a situation where I really couldn’t call in myself.

    1. PretzelGirl*

      When I had my 2nd child, I went into labor very quickly on a weekday morning. My husband had to call off for me, because I could talk over the contractions. Obviously everyone knew I was pregnant so it wasn’t a huge deal.

      Also he had to call my boss’s boss for this. My boss, just had a baby a few days earlier. Apparently he forgot to tell anyone that I wasn’t coming in, because I was in labor (or wasn’t sure if he could). He also forgot to tell HR. When I faxed in my paperwork for maternity leave, everyone was shocked that I had the baby and no one said anything. lol.

  22. Jellyfish*

    LW #2 – Sometimes circumstances override typical boundaries. When my spouse had a bad reaction to a dental procedure, I called into work for them. I identified myself as their spouse and explained what was going on. No one regarded it as unprofessional or overstepping because Spouse literally couldn’t talk. It was also a similar situation where a phone call was a better option than text or email. I passed along the necessary information, and everything was fine.
    You happen to live with your mom, and she was able to help you handle an unusual situation. Nothing wrong with that!

  23. I don't want to have to leave*

    I once worked in a place where we had a lingerie shower for a coworker…. she got a lot of pretty nightgowns and giftcards to stores where she could pick something out for herself. There was no actual underwear. But, this was years ago, and YMMV. Every workplace was different.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I went to one of these they wasn’t at work. (They are pretty common in the Deep South) and it was awkward enough without adding a work dynamic.

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      Yes, I’ve attended one too, but not at hosted at the workplace. It was hosted after hours at a winery. That workplace was so cliquey and it was imperative to be friends or at least super friendly with everyone, and to not attend (without a valid excuse) would have sent a message.

      For the record, the bride was aware of the gift giving suggestion and told people her size- it’s not like it’s anything to be ashamed of? Her closests work friends brought fancy underwear (nothing more expensive than Target prices) and I think I just got her a card.

      The spectrum of work environments is interesting.

      1. CMart*

        I think the spectrum of what people are comfortable with in general is so interesting!

        My own bachelorette party had people gifting me things like nighties and it was the most awkward thing ever. For me. For my friends. None of us thought that part was fun, we were all weird about it. I was just the first person in my friend group to get married (at the shockingly young age of 26, ha) and I think no one knew you didn’t have to get those things for that kind of party.

        I could never, ever imagine buying anything more salacious for a coworker than a nice perfume.

  24. WellRed*

    It’s $50. Let it go. If you had it to loan, you had it to lose and at this point I think you’re upset at the principle of of it all, not the actual money. Stop letting it and your friend take up so much space in your life.

  25. voyager1*

    Disagree with AAM with caveats: I think the party is fine as long as it doesn’t happen on company time or company lunchroom. I think it is fine if the bride to be is onboard. I think it is fine if the other coworkers are onboard too.

    But really this kind of event need to happen off the clock and off company property. Just treat it as a party with folks who happen to be coworkers.

    If LW doesn’t want to go, that is cool. But this isn’t something I would waste capital over. It isn’t a bachelorette party after all.

      1. voyager1*

        Yeah that to me is the problem. Taking over the lunchroom is pretty obnoxious. That would not go over well any of the places I have worked.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Well, but it’s more than just that they are taking over the lunch room. Even if they held it offsite after hours, there are issues surrounding vocally excluding the men in the office, and it’s not really a party with folks who happen to be coworkers unless they also socialize outside of work at other times. There would be an issue with holding an event that only work people are invited to when half of them are explicitly excluded even if they were flying kites or panting pottery.

  26. MicroManagered*

    OP5, my current and previous manager both have the “are you going to a job interview?!” tick. It’s SO obnoxious. If I step away from my desk to make a quick personal call during work? “Was that a phone interview?” If I have an errand that must be run during business hours? “I had a nightmare you were really at a job interview!” If I also happen to look nice that day? “Uh ohhhhhh you look nice today. You better not have a an interview…”

    I just don’t entertain this kind of behavior at all. All these people get is a quizzical look and a “no?” I don’t explain what the phone call was really about, or that I had to physically go into my bank, or that my new skirt was on sale at TJ Maxx and I wanted an excuse to wear it… because I feel like that would make them feel entitled to that explanation every time and then what happens when I really do have an interview? Now I’m in a place where I have to lie.

    My point is: Dress however you want (within the dress code of your office, obvs) and don’t explain yourself to people if/when they think you are interviewing.

    1. Joielle*

      This is so annoying. If they want to make sure you’re not interviewing anywhere else, they should make sure you’re paid well and treated well so you won’t want to leave, not foist their paranoia on you.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I once worked at an office where this sort of behavior was (unfortunately) one of the boss’s better behaviors. As said boss was terrible and wasn’t going to change, my supervisor and I made an escape plan. Once I’d been there a year, I’d start interviewing. Once I got out, supervisor would start interviewing. (Supervisor was actively sheltering me from some of Boss’s worst behaviors.)

      However, we knew the “Are you interviewing?” questions would start as soon as we wore anything nicer. So at about my six month point, we scheduled two “un-casual” days a week. We planned our answers. A “You sure look nice today” simply got “Thank you”, while a “Why are you so dressed up?” got an explanation of how looking better made us feel more professional and thus do our jobs better. The idea was to completely normalize our new wardrobes long before we started interviewing.

      We both got laid off when I had worked there about nine months, but that was for financial reasons, not our wardrobe upgrades.

  27. Roscoe*

    #4 This is the problem with “call out culture” that has taken over. People now feel that they can involve peoples jobs anytime they aren’t being what they would consider a good person. Its ridiculous. I’m really curious when all this started. I’m in my mid 30s, but it seems its a recent phenomenon to want to go to people’s managers and tattle on them for things that have nothing to do with work. People really need to stop. As to this LW, just no. You lost $50. Look at it as paying that much to get this person out of your life and move on

    1. CMart*

      I don’t think this has anything to do with “call out culture”… OP clearly just wants their money and was hoping they could go straight to the source (with maybe a little bit of “I feel very wronged by this and want the other people in your life to know you’re scummy”). It’s not like they were asking if they could wage a Twitter campaign to get their ex-friend fired for the sin of reneging on their small debt.

      1. Roscoe*

        Its not exactly the call out culture itself, but the feeling that going to the employer because of someone’s behavior is relatively new, and seems to me to have gained popularity with call out culture. But yes, there is a lot of “I want the other people in your life to know that you are bad”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I actually don’t think that’s the situation here. I think she’s looking for a way to get her money back, and figures going to the source would let her do that.

    2. Zephy*

      I dunno, I think there’s a difference between “this person owes me $50” and “this person is loudly and publicly engaging in hate speech.” That second one, their job probably wants to know.

    3. Nanani*

      This has nothing to do with call out culture.
      Stop trying to insert your pet bugaboo into everything.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      This isn’t really new at all though. The method of delivery — social media or anonymous email or whatever — has certainly changed, but this sentiment is older than the Victorians…or Puritans…or medieval times…where if you skipped out on church, spoke poorly of your superiors, were bad at paying your debts, or were seen entering an establishment of ill-repute this would cost you your job and all social standing…hell maybe even your life.

  28. Sharrbe*

    Even if you get through the shower with minimal awkwardness (which is impossible), can you imagine the how difficult it will be for the co-worker to write the thank you notes? “Dear Jean from Accounting. Thank you for the lace bra and thong set. I’m sure my fiance and I will enjoy them frequently. Signed, Jane from Sales.”

    1. CMart*

      Honestly. I see above that OP says the honoree is totally on board with it, but I can’t imagine getting that Thank You e-mail the next day.

      “Dear CMart [in accounting!], loved the floral details. We will think of you every time I wear it. Sincerely, Soon-to-be Mrs. Jane Husband <3 XOXO"

  29. PretzelGirl*

    #5- I have just brought my suit and changed either in my car or popped into a Starbucks or fast food joint to change. Sometimes I wore a shell, and cardigan, so I could just throw my suit jacket on over it.

    1. melicopter*

      I’m not sure what this is meant to accomplish. LW5 isn’t interviewing. They just want to upgrade their day-to-day wardrobe.

  30. Amethystmoon*

    #5 A button-down shirt and jeans would not be appropriate for an interview at pretty much every medium-to-large company where I live. I guess it always depends on one’s locale, but if someone was wearing jeans, I would not automatically assume they were interviewing just because they wore a nice top. I would maybe think they were going out after work or something. The place where I work definitely does the jeans and polo/nice tops.

    I agree with the taking it slow approach. There are jeans that look like khakis because they are colored tan or beige. Also nice black jeans can be a step up.

  31. Justin*

    re #1: yikes.

    re # 5: I not only started wearing nicer things more often, I actually made a point of speaking about it if someone brought it up, saying I know the culture here is a bit more casual but I feel a bit more “work productive” if I dress up a bit (which was/is true). So if you can make it sound authentic as to why, it might play better (not that you need to use that reason).

  32. Snickerdoodle*

    OP #4: I agree with the other commenters who have pointed out that fifty dollars is the price you will have to pay to learn that this person is not your friend. On the other hand, though, just how good a friend are you that you’ve badgered her to the extent that she’s blocked you and are now trying to reach around her and ask her employer to do something illegal? I understand that you’re upset, but that kind of boundary-crossing behavior will hold you back in more ways than one. What if you ever want to work for that company and the manager remembers you as the random person who asked for money from somebody else’s paycheck? That’s why you shouldn’t do it.

    Also, fifty dollars is a minuscule amount of money in the greater scheme of things. I’ve lost a lot more than that that I’ll never see again. I got burned enough that I changed the kind of people I hung out with entirely. It did me a lot of good. Fifty dollars and a bad friend is all you’ve really lost here. Be glad it wasn’t worse, learn the lesson, and move on.

    1. Jungkook*

      “I’m thinking of going to her manager and asking if he could take out my $50 with her knowing that he’s going to do it and hand the $50 to me, or go tell my friend to get the money, deposit it, and hand it to me.”

      Neither of them are getting a friend of the year award and it sounds like both of them are young so lesson learned. Also, how would the OP expect a manager to react to that kind of request? Insane!

    2. Snark*

      Came here to say this. Yes, you learned that your friend isn’t a very good friend. You also learned that you go absolutely bananas over small sums of money and maybe need to work on emotional regulation and not flying off the handle in these kinds of situations. Because asking someone’s boss to break the law for you over $50 is not a healthy and proportionate reaction to a dispute of that magnitude.

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      Yeah, I am assuming they are both around college aged, both because of the immaturity of each person’s actions and the fact that fifty dollars is a much bigger deal to somebody on a younger person’s budget. Here’s hoping OP learns to react appropriately and proportionately in the future.

  33. personal*

    #1, depending on where you are this party may be perfectly acceptable and encourage by those in charge. If that’s the case, you don’t need to report it, but you certainly don’t have to go.

  34. notMichelle*

    LW3: I once got a phone call to schedule an interview the week that my dad had passed and had to schedule it far out (this was just about 5 years ago and I eventually did not get the job, but had gone up to the 2nd round of interviews for that job). I feel that people are very accomodating around these types of life-changing events. I’m really sorry to hear about your friend.

  35. jDC*

    I had my mother call in for me when I lost my voice. I apologized when I returned and my manager could care less and replied “makes sense to me”. I still had barely a voice when I returned so there wasn’t really any doubt.

  36. AnonyMouse*

    Not sure if anyone here also reads Etiquette Hell, but I remember there was an LW over there once who said that she had a really shy coworker who was getting married and her other coworkers decided to throw her a sex toy party as a joke. I remember being mortified for that person reading that! It sounds like the bride to be is on board with this (there was an update that the invites had her bra/underwear sizes and preferred brands), but I also agree that this should probably be offsite and not during work hours.

    But also, why are people so opposed to just giving money as a gift? It could be used on their honeymoon, to start a savings fund for a house/kids/etc, a nice date night… Or she could buy herself a whole bunch of lingerie! I don’t get why people insist on getting a physical item.

    1. Artemesia*

      I don’t want to spend a lot of money on obligatory work gifts. I would prefer if any gifts were given that it be from small donations pooled. But individually, giving money is not easy to do when it is a small amount. A small inexpensive gift is more gift like than $5 in an envelope.

    2. Michelle*

      I visited the Etiquette Hell website a few times. Didn’t the lady who ran that site say giving money/asking for money was tacky? I think as times change and many adults who get married usually have all the household items ) they need, money is a perfectly acceptable gift. As you stated, the BTB could by herself all the lingerie she wants!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        No, it’s fine to give whatever you want. Cash, gift card, item from the register or a randomly selected item. IT’s all about not asking for anything or expecting gifts or to dictate what others give you [so registries are kind of that weird half dressed elephant in the room].

  37. Sharrbe*

    LW#4. I can sympathize. You sound like you’re struggling financially and it totally sucks when people think that $50 is an inconsequential amount to lose. Loss of that money can put a strain on your budget for months. Unfortunately, she’s never going to pay you back. You are better off without this friend. The next time she contacts you for money (and she will – the next time she finds herself broke, she’ll suddenly realize that you’ve been such a friend and she’s sorry that you two lost touch), have a good chuckle and hang up (and block).

  38. StressedButOkay*

    OP1, that’s so completely inappropriate! This is not just you – your officemates are picked something that’s wildly inappropriate for work, even if it wasn’t a conservative office. You can’t be the only one uncomfortable – if you’re not comfortable being the only one to push back, maybe see if others aren’t happy with the party of choice and several of you speak up?

    Also, you can’t bar the men from the party, not at work. So you have two lines of defense of why this is inappropriate and needs to not happen this way.

    OP4, everyone else has said it – there’s no way you can approach your former friend’s employer and ask them to garnish their wages. As Alison said, the employer is legally obligated to give your former friend all of the money they earned during their pay period unless there’s a standing court order or IRS issue.

    Unfortunately, you’re going to probably have to suck up the loss of the $50. That’s generally not a big enough sum to take someone to small claims court over or get a lawyer and I don’t see another way for you to recoup your loss, not without spending more money then you’d get back.

    And think of approaching their employer like this – they have to say no to you. But it could very well cause them to question your judgment. If you’d ever considered trying to apply to that organization, this could have a negative impact on the hiring decision. This is all a very large What If but if you’re weighing $50 against potential negative outcomes…

  39. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1 I can imagine a scenario where this wouldn’t be that big of a deal– outside the office, everyone is friends, etc..

    But actually AT work in what’s described as a “very conservative” company and field? No..

  40. Buttons*

    OMG. I wouldn’t want my best friends giving me lingerie… but coworkers? No! I hope the OP can talk them out of it.

  41. Jessica Fletcher*

    OP #4 – If you’re in the US, you may be able to take the person to small claims court over owing you money. But, since it’s $50, it probably isn’t worth it. You’d have to pay filing costs with the court, and take time off to go file and to attend the hearing. If you don’t have very good evidence that you both agreed it was a loan before the money was exchanged, you may not win, in which case you’re out the $50, the filing fee, and that time and effort.

    Even if you do win, surprise! There’s no way to make her pay you back! Winning a civil judgment doesn’t include an enforcement action. Basically you win a piece of paper saying you’re right. Depending on your state and your friend’s situation, there might be no options for you to force collection. I sued a friend who owed me several hundred dollars. I won the judgment, only to find there were no legal options to get my money. For example, she had no assets that could be seized by a sheriff’s sale. It was pretty frustrating! I ended up getting my money by mailing the judgment to her parents and saying hey fyi, if she doesn’t pay me back by X date, I’m gonna file for a lien on her credit, which will mess up her life in the following ways. I got my money.

    But you don’t want to go thru all that drama, trust me! You’re better off considering this a crappy life lesson. Someone who begs their unemployed friend for money is not a real friend. I don’t lend money to anyone anymore, no matter what. Only “lend” money if you’d be ok never getting it back, because you probably won’t.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If anyone wants to feel better about the times they’ve loaned a friend/family/yeti money and never saw it back due to all these hoops you’ve got to jump through. I can tell some glorious stories about the business to business deals that resulted in not getting paid and how collection is a joke and can also be impossible to collect upon.

      This is why we have contracts and banks handle most financial stuff because the laws are not on our side without things buttoned up tight and cemented to the floor and even then, banks eat debts too in the end.

      I share this information because a lot of time this will spin into “the little guy getting screwed” kind of scenario and really, we all get screwed when we trust others to live up to their promises =(

  42. Lauren*

    #5 – When I was interviewing, I would end up wearing a nice outfit per week. I started with reasons like going to a funeral, meeting with spouses boss for dinner later, but finally, I went with – haven’t done laundry. This works so well. Every other week, like clock work, if someone would comment on my outfit – asking if i was interviewing – the office manager would bellow out and answer for me – nope, its laundry day! It would turn into a discussion of wash and fold or my lack of wanting to bother vs. netflix the night before. Sometimes, I would refer to my dress up days as ‘dentist’ appts and wink. Pretty soon, everyone was used to me dressing up 1-2 times per month and not questioning it.

  43. BigRedGum*

    #1 – this is completely NOT ok for work! wow. if the person doesn’t need household goods, you can never go wrong with a Target giftcard!

    1. Delta Delta*

      Right? Because you’re always going to need toilet paper and a bath mat and hand soap and Doritos and all manner of other things you can get at Target.

  44. cml*

    OP #3, I just wanted to share a positive outcome from a similar situation: a couple years ago I had to cancel an interview at the last minute because I lost my home in a wildfire. About six months later I emailed my contact there and let her know what happened–they were very sympathetic, allowed me to come in for an interview, and I got the job! I’m sending lots of good thoughts and hoping that the people you want to work for are as kind as the people I work for.

  45. miss_chevious*

    OP4, as others have suggested, if you start making dressing up more regularly, people will get used to it fairly quickly and stop reading into it. In my casual office, people know that I don’t wear pants (I don’t like them) and I almost always wear heels (I like them) and I’m just more dressed up than most of the rest of the of office, and it’s not a thing. In fact, they comment now if I show up in jeans or flat shoes. :) Once they realize that you dressing up isn’t correlated to anything, they’ll most likely stop verbalizing their thoughts about it.

    (And, bonus, if you do happen to be interviewing, they won’t know from your clothes. :) )

  46. Bunny*

    As someone who is recently married, can we just talk about how insane how many practices around it are? I haven’t even made an official announcement at work about it because I’m dreading the attention, I’m holding off on the announcement until I have to address that my name is changing.

  47. Nora E*


    I’m so sorry about your friend. When I first started my career in a new town, I had a friend stabbed literally in front of me the day before an in-person interview. I went to the interview and about 10-minutes in, I apologized and said I was in shock and told my interviewer what happened in a matter-of-fact sort of way. It turned out he had something similar happen when he moved to the city and he very nicely moved the interview to later in the week. He turned out to be an amazingly support boss that set me on a great career path.

    Generally I think most people are decent human beings who understand life happens. Ideally you’d reschedule, but I’m so grateful that when I realized I was blowing the interview and in shock, I shared something personal and had such a great response. It gave me so much information about the company and the kind of boss I’d want to be someday.

    Best of luck!

  48. Observer*

    #4 – The legal issue has been covered. It seems to me that you’re so angry that you really are not thinking this through. How do you think the boss is going to be able to take $50 out of your (ex)friend’s check without telling her? And if this is not a small employer where the boss does payroll too, you’ve just added a bunch of other logistical issues. If her boss is not the owner, then he also almost certainly wouldn’t have the authority to do something like this anyway.

    Your second suggestion is not more realistic. How do you think he would be able to make her bring him $50? Bosses don’t have that kind of authority.

    Look, I get that you are angry. and I get that this is not someone you want to ever have anything to do with again. But you really need to find a way to move on. No one wants to lose the money, so I understand why you are trying to find a way to get it back. But the fact that you are seriously considering such outlandish schemes tells me that your emotional state is not healthy. Get your emotions to a more manageable place and only then think about whether it’s worth the toll to try to get the money back. If you decide you still want to try, keep it emotionally low key so you can avoid schemes that could really backfire on you in a big way. What you were thinking really COULD create some significant problems for you.

  49. Anon.*

    I caught my then boyfriend cheating the night before an interview and we broke up on my way to the interview. I probably came across as miserable and unhappy even though I tried to power through it. I didn’t get the job either.

  50. TootsNYC*

    I had that same “I’m tired of dressing casually” / “Why do I own these nice clothes if I never wear them?” feeling in college.

    So I dressed up. And someone sort of snottily said, “Why are you dressed up?” I was annoyed and said, “Because it’s Monday.”
    Oh, do you always dress up on Mondays? “Yes.”

    So I did. It was kind of fun to have that as part of my routine.

    That does mean that if you suddenly dress up on Wednesday for an interview, you might get pegged for it, but it won’t be so weird if you just say, “This outfit was just calling from the closet this morning.”

    1. MSK*

      I used to dress up on Mondays —not particularly fancy, but I’d pick my “nicest” outfit for that week— to start the week of right! Looking nice helps make going back to work a little bit easier :)

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        I had a Wednesday Shirt in college! Added benefit: I had something to look forward to during hellish semesters – I really loved wearing that shirt.

  51. University of Trantor*

    OP #5 – I want to echo the gradual, but consistent transition from your current wardrobe to a dressier wardrobe. And I think upbeat honesty is fine here, too: “Oh, I’m not interviewing for anything. I just decided it was time to change my look.” As long as you are consistently dressing up, most of your coworkers aren’t going to assume you’re interviewing every single workday.

    It will also take a remarkably short period of time before people assume the newly-dressed you has *always* dressed this way. I recently had some medical issues and lost some weight. My old go-to business casual clothes were already on the baggier side (and was stuff I could afford right out of school…so not the nicest things). I used it as an opportunity to upgrade my wardrobe and started to dress business formal everyday, which made me well-dressed for my workplace but not too out of place.

    People commented on it initially, but after a couple months, not only was everyone used to it, a lot of them believed that I had always dressed that way in years past, too…or could only vaguely recollect that there was a time that I dressed more casually.

    [I also ended up using this as an opportunity to quietly interview elsewhere.]

    1. Semprini!*

      It will also take a remarkably short period of time before people assume the newly-dressed you has *always* dressed this way.

      I wear skirts and dresses when the weather is warm, and long pants when the weather is cool. Every spring when I start wearing skirts, I get comments like “You’re wearing a skirt!”/”I never see you in skirts!”/”You should wear skirts more often!” Then in the fall when I switch back to pants, I get “You’re wearing pants!”/”I never see you in pants!”/”You should wear pants more often!”

      I’ve been working at the same place alongside the same people for over a decade, and every single seasonal transition they seem to have no memory that I’ve ever dressed for the other season.

  52. CouldntPickAUsername*

    so people have covered the underwear issue and the no men allowed issue but frankly it’s not ok to just decide that you take over the openly shared break room for a private event during business hours. Nuh uh it’s my lunch room, it’s my lunch, I’m coming in there and having my lunch.

  53. Rachel B.*

    Here is the thing, OP #1: Lingerie showers used to be a thing (well before your time, AND mine) because “no nice girl needed pretty underwear before marriage”. This is so far beyond anything understood now that it is no surprise people are boggled. You mention your work is ultra-conservative; it is entirely possible someone up higher is remembering those times (probably not from personal experience) and somehow missed the entire inappropriateness of this happening AT WORK. In the lunchroom. Before Lingerie Showers, of course, women who could afford it had hope chests and trousseaus, but that is another weirdness for another day. (Aren’t you glad you do not have to have hand-embroidered twelve DOZEN sheets before you get married?)
    In your position, I would quietly object to whoever is running this thing, then decline to attend. If you are close enough to the bride, give her something appropriate; otherwise, allow this to pass unnoticed and unremarked. And bring your sandwich and fruit in a cooler bag that day so as not to bust in on the lunchroom.

  54. Database Developer Dude*

    A lingerie party, at work, and the bride-to-be is in on it? This is almost as bad as the place I worked where two supervisors played a joke on a contractor convincing her she was pregnant.

  55. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #4 Look at it this way.

    Imagine just going up to someone’s boss and saying “Hey! Rick over there owes me $50, gimme$50 out of his check!” How are you going to prove that he does or doesn’t? So you just go on the word of this stranger? See how awful that could spiral if life worked that way?! You are trusting that everyone is trustworthy and not a con artist, which is in turn how you get into deep deep deep deep trouble with others and the law.

    So please, understand why this is not possible. I fully trust that she owes you that $50 but without a court order, there’s no place to go to collect the debt. Don’t ever “loan” any money, even if you have a contract, it’s only worth the paper it’s written on unless you pay even more money to drag them through the system of recovering your money in most cases.

  56. zm131313*

    Wait, do people literally CALL in sick to work? I always send an email… am I supposed to be calling???

    1. PollyQ*

      If your boss/supervisor hasn’t complained, I’d think there’s nothing to worry about. Once I started working office jobs that were very email-centric, I always emailed when I had to be out, but some workplaces don’t use email much, and then there are those that think you need to call in to make sure you “sound” sick, whatever that means.

    2. thebobmaster*

      I’ll admit that I’m not exactly “in the know”, as I’ve only really had a few jobs. That said, I feel that the best answer is that, if your workplace is OK with how you are calling out from work, you aren’t doing it wrong.

      If they wanted you to call in verbally, and you instead sent an email, they’d almost certainly let you know. The fact that you are not sure means that you aren’t doing anything wrong.

    3. AuroraLight37*

      It depends on the office. Last time I was out sick at my current job I sent an email, because I was on the way to the hospital via ambulance and wasn’t up to a phone call- also, it was 5:30 am. My boss was fine with it. Previous job, they preferred a phone call because not everyone had email access after hours.

  57. Brooklyn Nine-Niner*

    Regarding #4; I recommend talking to a lawyer. You may be able to sue your friend in small claims court.

  58. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP1: EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who does that??? Also, on a more practical note: the bride will either get a bunch of stuff that’s the wrong size, or she’ll be humiliated by being forced to disclose her size to the whole office. Most women in my country are overweight or obese, so that is a very likely outcome. And what if she’s allergic to some fabrics, like lace? Lots of lingerie is scratchy or uncomfortable (I’m looking at you, buttcrack-riding thongs!)

  59. Kenneth*

    LW#2, I was actually in that situation when I had a job after high school – this was a little over 20 years ago. Woke up one morning – barely, it felt like – with a nice case of the flu that I felt coming on the previous day. Couldn’t really talk, felt like I had a golf ball in my throat, body aches, the works – though not much of a fever. And since I still lived with my parents at the time, my mother called in for me and let them know since… I wasn’t really in a condition to do that. Next morning I was still recovering so wasn’t back up to par for work so I called it in that time. Never heard anything from any supervisor or manager about the fact my mother called in for me on the first day.

    And if any workplace gives you grief for someone else calling in due to you not really being able to, then that tells you more about who you work for. So far my wife hasn’t had to call in for me, but it would probably more be writing the e-mail for me to my boss instead of actually calling in, provided I was beyond even barely able to tap out something on my cell phone.

  60. Frank Gonzalez*

    As someone who has spent the past 23+ years working in Equal Employment Opportunity, I see this lingerie shower as a great way for the bride to be to fund the wedding and the new house, car and so on with a nice healthy settlement from the company as a result of the sexual harassment complaint she files.

    Then the men get to file their gender discrimination complaint for being excluded from this workplace related activity and garnering smaller settlements (if the company is still solvent at this point!).

    Bad idea? Extremely bad idea!

  61. Vicky Austin*

    The only way this lingerie party could be any more inappropriate would be if everyone were to attend wearing lingerie!

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