how to say “I’m not volunteering for this, but I’ll do it if it’s required,” using bathrooms on a different floor, and more

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

1. How to say “I’m not volunteering for this, but I’ll do it if it’s required”

I work for a small company that provides a skeleton client-facing service on Saturdays. Most employees’ contracts state that they will work one Saturday per month and have a day off during the week to compensate. I’m part of a group of staff who, for various reasons, don’t have this clause in their contracts, and when I was hired it was to work weekdays only.

Recently one of our staff left, and it’s been decided that we won’t be filling her role. This has led to a hole in the Saturday rota, and management have decided that the only way to fix this is to get everyone working some Saturdays, regardless of contract. Those of us who haven’t worked Saturdays so far will be working them less often than people whose contracts include Saturday working.

I hate working Saturdays. I did so in my previous job and it’s just disruptive and prevents me from enjoying my weekend. But it won’t happen too often, and it’s not something I’m willing to leave this job over so if I’m required to do it, I’ll deal with it.

The problem is that instead of my manager speaking to me about this, my grandboss has sent me an email saying, “I’d like to ask if you would consider working (dates). I did ask other staff who already work Saturdays if they would want to take on an extra Saturday, but had no takers. I’ve asked other staff who don’t currently work Saturdays if they would take on a date and they have all said yes. You’re the only person I haven’t approached directly yet.”

I don’t want to! It’s ironically a dynamic that my wife has been complaining about with her family – when people think it’s “softer” to ask “would you like to do X?”, when in fact what they’re saying is “please do X.” I’ll work the damn Saturdays, but I don’t want to go “yes, no problem!” and let grandboss think this is a popular change (and if business needs change in future, I’d like her to know that I’d be eager to have my weekends back), but nor do I want to come off like a surly teenager (“Fiiine, I guess!”). How do I communicate my begrudging acceptance without putting undue focus on my level of grump, which is already high due to some other, unrelated, changes to my working pattern?

If you want to push her to clarify how optional or required this is: “Because of outside commitments, it would be difficult for me to work Saturdays. I’d actually intentionally made sure it wasn’t in my contract when I was hired! I can’t tell if this is optional, but if it is is, unfortunately I’d need to say no.”

Or you could change that last sentence to, “I can help out if it’s an emergency, but it would be tough for me to commit to it regularly.”

Or here’s another formulation: “I haven’t volunteered for this because it would be tough for me to make it work, and I’d intentionally made sure Saturdays weren’t in my contract when I was hired. If it’s essential that I figure out a way to be able to do this, I can try, at least in the short-term.”

2. Why do people use the bathrooms on a floor they don’t work on?

Our company has multiple floors within the building that we’re in. I believe there may be one other small company that takes up a quarter of one other floor, and that is it. Why do a lot of people whose group is on a designated floor go to use the restroom on other floors other than their own? It’s quite irritating to me, to be honest. Like, some floors may have fewer people, or maybe fewer people of a certain gender maybe, but that is the only reason I can think of. People can’t expect privacy in a workplace public bathroom entirely, but it bugs me that when I go to use the restroom in the morning before most people on my floor even arrive, a gaggle of other employees from other floors are in there or come in probably knowing that this floor barely has people in the morning. I don’t know if I’m even asking this correctly. Basically, why won’t people just stay on their floor and use their own floor’s restroom?

Typically because they’re looking for privacy and they assume they’re more likely to find it there than on their own floor, either because they expect fewer people on your floor at that hour or because to them privacy means “if I’m pooping with someone else in the bathroom, I’d rather it be someone I don’t know.”

3. My employee married a coworker — do I need to talk about boundaries?

Over the winter, two part-time coworkers got married to one another. In June, both had employment status changes: one took a full-time position here, and the other (whom I manage) received a promotion — close to, but not quite, a full-time position.

Their relationship complies with our HR policies. As a manager, is it appropriate for me to ask my employee if the pair have established boundaries for work/life? The couple has neighboring offices due to the departments each work in, and I share a workspace with my employee. How can I encourage her to remain focused and professional with what feels like a delicate topic?

Are you seeing any signs of problems, like distraction or inappropriate PDA? If so, address those directly. But if you’re not seeing any problems and are just worried about the possibility of problems, leave it alone until/unless you see evidence of something you need to address. If your employee is conducting herself professionally, it would be insulting to talk to her as if you assume she won’t.

4. How to tell a networking contact they’re not qualified for the job they’re interested in

In the past year or so, I’ve had many alumni, connections, etc. reach out to me about positions at my organization. Some are recent graduates and many are individuals with several years of experience looking for a change. Since I had many people willing to network with me in the past, I always like to pay it forward to others.

I’ve noticed that many will ask me about a particular job at the organization that tends to be too senior for them. For example, the job description will say seven years of experience is needed in a specific area and they do not even have a year in that area. I’m also in an industry where you could easily be an expert in one area and those skills are not easily transferable to another department or area. I always try to be polite and let them know what we typically look for, but sometimes they’ll then send me another position with the same problem. How would you suggest saying that you really need more experience before applying for a more senior role?

“For that role, we’re really looking for someone with more experience in X so I don’t think it’s the right match, unfortunately.”

Also, if this is true, you could add, “I know not everywhere sticks closely to the requirements they list in job postings, but we actually do — so the best way to know if you’re likely to be the right match is to take those pretty literally.”

5. Is this employer sending me mixed messages?

I started my application process with an employer with a conversation from a recruiter, who said she would definitely move my application forward after the first phone screen and she did. She promptly sent me times for interviews with two potential supervisors for the following week. She also said they were trying to move things along quickly. She recommended I meet with them in-person in another city, but because I had already scheduled vacation and paid for plane tickets for that week, we agreed to do it on the phone. I had the phone interviews and they seemed to go fairly well. One of the supervisors suggested I reach out if I had any questions and another said “when we send you the test part of the application” as if it were inevitable. This was on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, I emailed the recruiter and asked if she knew the timeline for receiving the written part because I wanted to make sure I schedule enough time to complete it. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday passed and I heard nothing from her.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have emailed the recruiter but the supervisors I spoke with. But it was odd that she didn’t acknowledge receipt of the email at the very least. I couldn’t enjoy the rest of my vacation since I kept checking my email for a response. Am I wrong in thinking I’ve received mixed messages or should I assume the message is crystal clear, that they didn’t like my interviews, and that I should move on? I feel like it might be wise to reach out to the person who said I could reach out for questions but perhaps it is overkill. I am genuinely confused, and to make matters worse, my current place of employment is being sold off, everyone is leaving, and the whole place is falling apart. I want to secure something soon and that may be warping my idea of the employer timeline.

I don’t think you’ve received mixed messages; I think you misinterpreted ““when we send you the test part of the application” as meaning that they would definitely be doing that. That’s understandable! But typically that kind of statement in an interview means “if we move you to the next step, here’s what will happen.” It’s not a promise that they’re moving you forward. (More on this here and here.)

I also don’t think you should assume they’re rejecting you! It’s only been a few days. Your recruiter may not have responded yet because she’s busy, or on vacation, or waiting for feedback from the company.

They know you’re interested, and the ball is in their court. The best thing to do is to assume they’ll get in touch if they want to talk further, know they may not (as with any job you interview for, no matter what signals you get), and meanwhile move on with the rest of your search.

{ 465 comments… read them below }

  1. Bubbles McPherson

    >> “Their relationship complies with our HR policies. As a manager, is it appropriate for me to ask my employee if the pair have established boundaries for work/life?“

    No.

    Why would you?

    1. Annette

      Yes Bubbles. Some irony here is that LW is well intentioned but doesn’t realize THIS would cross a boundary. Offer your congratulations and say nothing else.

    2. Airy

      Because they’re worried about what might happen if they haven’t. Alison explains why they shouldn’t ask about that if no problems have yet arisen. For perspective, why would you ask someone who asked an advice columnist for advice why they asked?

      1. Airy

        And in case I’m being needlessly oblique, I mean I think you can infer the reason for the question from the question itself.

        1. tamarack and fireweed

          TBH, not really. The LW doesn’t make it clear what exactly they are worried about.

          * Inappropriately unprofessional interaction/PDAs?
          * Gossip?
          * Secrecy related to a potential non-disclosure agreement one or both of them are under?
          * Confidentiality (is one in HR/Finance/Legal/a medical role)?
          * Fraud/abuse???

          Nearly all of these would be highly inappropriate for the LW to address preemptively in the absence of concrete reasons to act. But we can’t exclude there is something of actual substance the LW is concerned about. There’s also the somewhat strange specificity about the two employees being part time in the past, and one not any more, and the other having been promoted and now in a nearly full-time role, which frankly rings no bell at all for me.

          (My workplace, due to the geographic remoteness of our location and its nature and size, is full of married couples that both work there. Sometimes in equivalent roles, sometimes with a discrepancy in status or seniority. It’s something that happens among grown-ups, and should be treated with relaxed, uncomplicated professionalism.)

          1. Myrin

            Yeah, I’m generally more of Airy’s mindset (it happens somewhat regularly that an OP’s concern is entirely clear in their question but commenters claim it’s unclear when they actually just disagree) but with this particular question, I’m 100% with you.

            I’m scratching my head about several aspects of it, most prominently the detailed shift in status you mention as well, and I can’t help but think that there’s a lot of backstory here – either on OP’s end in that she’s been burned by unprofessional couples before, or on the two employees’ end who have shown lapses in judgment before – which is so omnipresent in OP’s life that she didn’t even think to include because she forgets that not everyone is privy to it.

          2. Falling Diphthong

            Also, why does it arise now, a month or so after the promotions, rather than back when they got married? Did the person reporting to LW just get moved into that chain of command? Did one of them become privy to sensitive client data? (Even there, a lot of us discuss work stuff with our spouse with the understanding it doesn’t go any further–the violation that arises here is when the spouse then tells their book group everything.)

            1. LQ

              I don’t think that it’s ok to tell a spouse something that is actually private client data, especially when that spouse works at that company. That someone thinks that is a good reason to have a conversation saying, “No, you can’t talk about sensitive client data even with your spouse, even if they pinky promise to not tell anyone.”

            2. Dust Bunny

              It’s not OK to tell a spouse private client data. Period. They are not in that job and there is no reason they need to know it. If somebody believes that spousehood trumps client privacy, they need a different job.

            3. Meese

              This is an argument FOR having a preemptive conversation. You can’t tell your spouse sensitive client data if your spouse works for the same employer and isn’t authorized to access that information! I’d be extremely concerned if someone I supervised had that attitude. Marriage doesn’t supersede professional confidentiality obligations.

              1. tamarack and fireweed

                Yup, this sort of thing is what I was thinking of re: “something of actual substance the LW is concerned about”. But at the same time, absent concrete indicators, it’s not ok to treat your employees as if they had violated a rule if in fact you can only guess at their attitude.

                It would be ok to have a conversation with the LW’s report along the lines of: “Now that you’re responsible for X, and given that [spouse] also works here, there’s something I need to bring up. And I apologize if this is already obvious – addressing it with you directly is just to avoid any misunderstanding and make it completely sure you understand the expectations of your new role. The confidentiality rules around X include [spouse], that is, you can’t tell him/her anything about X, not even casually over dinner, and not even if he/she “wouldn’t take it further”. This sounds straightforward, but many find it hard not to slip up accidentally. I’d like you to be really careful, because it could expose us regarding [whatever the legal concern is, HIPAA, client confidentiality, bidding rules, the SEC, contract secrecy…]”.

            4. Emily K

              I fully believe a lot of people consider their spouse as “not counting” when it comes to confidentiality agreements, but to be clear – they do count. Courts have weighed in on this, and spousal privilege doesn’t make a breach of confidentiality any less of a breach. Spousal privilege means you have the right to expect communications with your spouse to be confidential, and that you have the right to refuse to testify against your spouse or allow your spouse to testify against you. It doesn’t have any bearing on a confidentiality agreement between one spouse and a third party.

              It’s a bit like the letter a while back from someone who had shared embargoed information with a friend who was also a journalist. Divorces can get nasty and what happens when the spouse decides to reveal confidential information as an act of revenge or bitterness, specifically to get the ex in trouble? We discussed with that letter how the whole point of confidentiality agreements is that you’re not leaving it up to each individual’s assessment of how trustworthy other people are and whether they might or might not spread the information at some point in the future – the company doesn’t want individual employees making those judgments because from their perspective everyone who doesn’t need to know the information to do their job is an unnecessary vulnerability.

          3. snowglobe

            I do think one reason to say something would be if there were a potential for conflict of interest between the two roles (as you suggested if one was in finance or hr). I wouldn’t ask if they had established boundaries, but I would point out to them that there is a potential conflict of interest and if they ever run across anything in their work that might impact their spouse or their spouse’s work group, they should raise the issue with their supervisor immediately. If these are newer employees, they might not realize the impact if there is even an appearance of a conflict of interest.

          4. ToS

            Sometimes this comes up when people take the sexual harassment prevention training too literally. If HR is fine, let it be. Monitor your employee, as you do others, for signs of smoke (potential issue), THEN check for fire (an actual problem).

          5. One of the Sarahs

            I also wonder why OP assumes whoever promoted one of them didn’t take any of this into account. If OP absolutely *has* to raise it, she should at least check with the manager(s) who was in charge of the promotion, to ask if they’d talked to the employee about it. (If she does do this, I would highly recommend stressing she doesn’t have evidence of problems, or imply employee is being unprofessional, if there’s as little evidence as she’s suggesting here)

        2. Batman

          Airy – It’s a rhetorical question to make the point that it’s not really OP’s business, it wasn’t a serious question that was looking for an answer.

      2. Mookie

        If they’re under compliance with workplace guidelines, the manager has no call to ‘double check’ nor would it be the manager’s responsibility if something spontaneously goes haywire. No one would expect the LW to be a mind reader, but to mitigate normal risk (it’s not possible to prevent all possibilities, just the likely ones) and to observe before pre-emptively acting. Asking probing questions or ‘reminding’ them of the rules can smack of suspicion or hostility. They have done nothing to warrant either.

      3. Lance

        Up to the point of that statement, I’d agree with you… but then we get to ‘How can I encourage her to remain focused and professional with what feels like a delicate topic?’ This suggests that the manager very much expects their employee to behave unprofessionally, which isn’t a good place to start from. And just to add to that… if they’re getting married now, then surely they were dating previously, while still employed there? So I’m not sure why the marriage suddenly makes this an issue.

        1. Fiberpunk

          I agree, the whole thing seems paternalistic and inappropriate. If she has been behaving properly, why is he worried about making sure she isn’t going to start duck club or spend all day writing “MRS. XXXXX” in the margins of all her paperwork? And the way he says it, “encourage her to remain focused and remain professional” seems to imply he believes she isn’t capable of that without his intercession, when that doesn’t seem true at all.

          This one gave me a bad feeling about that supervisor. This woman was good enough they just gave her a promotion, but he still seems to think that she’s flighty.

    3. Snuck

      I presume they were well into a relationship before they got married…

      Was there a problem before? If not… what’s changed aside from their legal status? Their promotions? Well… they got those WHILE dating…

      Leave it be. Unless there’s an obvious issue… then manage reasonable expectations on behaviour with the employee you manage, and only touch base about the other one’s behaviour if it impacts your team.

      1. One of the Sarahs

        They also got married “over winter”, so around 6 months ago, so there’s been a long time to observe how they interact, even if (for some reason) the marriage is seen as different to their relationship/engagement.

        1. Squeeble

          I suspect the concern may be more about the change in their roles that happened in June. I don’t know for sure, but maybe both had part-time roles at the company before, so their work times may not have overlapped as much, etc. Now that they both have bigger roles, perhaps it’s more of a concern?

          1. One of the Sarahs

            I said this upthread, too, but if this is a concern, why is OP assuming that whoever promoted the employee didn’t consider this too? It sounds like she doesn’t agree with the decision to promote the employee, and I wonder if there’s something else going on, or if she thought she should have been involved with the decision, etc etc

      2. Mookie

        All of this. Commenting on it now looks like you’re targeting a relationship status for special and unnecessary scrutiny. It’s weird and it’d put backs up in a lot of workplaces.

    4. LGC

      If I had to guess, they’re a new-ish manager and unsure of the appropriate boundaries and when to head off issues. I could definitely see myself having similar concerns when I was a new supervisor.

      So I don’t think it’s that odd that LW1 asked that question, or even that the answer is that obvious to a lot of people.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Agreed. When I was a new manager there were lots of things I didn’t know, and didn’t know if I should ask about.This definitely would have been one of them.

        1. LGC

          Like, I think there was one time early on when I asked a coworker about something he vaguebooked about because I was Concerned that it was about work. (We had mutual friends before I got promoted – he went to HS with my best friend and knew him that way, and we became work friends – so we were FB friends beforehand.)

          A huge part of it is that I’m a compulsive fixer – if I see a problem, I’ll workshop ways to “fix” it. Sometimes this is great. Sometimes this is…not so great. One of the things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning!) is how to just let stuff be, because it is not my job to make everything and everyone my idea of perfect.

          (And I’m speaking for myself here – not necessarily that this is what LW3 is going through, although I suspect I’m not that far off the mark.)

          1. The Other Dawn

            “One of the things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning!) is how to just let stuff be, because it is not my job to make everything and everyone my idea of perfect.”

            I’m trying to teach a direct report this now and it’s hard. I get the impulse to fix things, and she’s a new manager who hasn’t yet figured out which things she should care about and fix, and which ones aren’t worth the time or effort.

            1. LGC

              Honestly, from my experience? Trial and error, and also occasional check-ins when I’m not sure if I should dive in. (The universe of things I care about almost entirely includes things that are my job to care about, but also includes a lot of stuff that it is TOTALLY NOT MY JOB. To be honest, 90% of my Friday questions are perfectly answered by, “no, this is NOT your business, why do you care about this?”)

              It IS really hard, but the way I’ve hacked it for myself is to assign priorities to things, and to assess how immediate the concerns are and the context. (And also to ask other staff members and my managers if needed. Thankfully, they’re open to it sometimes!) I have an unlimited amount of nosiness, but a limited number of hours in the day.

              Back to the letter – I think that LW3 is not wrong in seeing a potential problem. In fact, I’ve had to deal with spouses with inappropriate boundaries myself, so I totally get why it’d be concerning. But it’s something that’s best addressed only if it becomes an issue, because being proactive makes things more awkward in this case.

    5. jDC

      Guessing they were dating before they married and LW didn’t indicate it was a problem then.

    6. Washi

      I’m mainly cpnfused about what kind of answer the OP would be satisfied with in response to basically “do you have boundaries?” A list of boundaries? An enthusiastic “yep!”?

      I can see why the manager is wondering about this, but she would need to have a specific, relevant, realistic question/concern for this conversation to be productive.

    7. Married a coworker

      Right? MYOB, LW 3. If there are issues in your employee’s work that arises, deal with those issues. Otherwise it’s kind of inappropriate to assume they aren’t both adults who haven’t already figured out how to maintain professional boundaries.

    8. Peachkins

      As someone who has worked with their husband in the same office and department, yes, please don’t discuss work/life boundaries with the married couple unless there seems to be a real issue. We never had that particular conversation with our respective managers, but my husband did get a talking to by his manager because he was spending time at my desk. We were eating lunch together, in an office where it is very common to eat at your desk. The manager didn’t realize that until my husband said something to her later, and she did confirm it was fine for us to do that, but it still put us on edge and made us uncomfortable spending any time around each other at work. Please don’t do that to your employees.

    9. ArtsOP

      3. My employee married a coworker — do I need to talk about boundaries?
      Hey Friends,
      Original poster here and first time “asker” so to say.
      Firstly, thank you Alison! You’re response was just the gut-check I needed (more to that below).

      Wow, lots of great questions and comments. As one commenter mentioned, there is a lot more history to the story, however we are encouraged to be short when submitting our questions.

      To address some of the backstory and bring more context:
      – Both individuals were intermittent employees prior to their promotions, meaning they worked anywhere from once every 3 months to 3 times a week. With their promotions, both are now in the office 40 hours a week. (commenter Freya picked up on this).
      – The employee I manage directly has already been distracted by components of the new dynamic. As Allison mentioned, these are the items I will speak with her about. And as Airy commented, I was worried about what might happen and about my own overstepping, which is why I asked the question. Despite the intention of getting ahead of things, it would be insulting to the employee to address these concerns.
      – Part of the phrasing, which may be rubbing some people the wrong way, also comes from our organization’s mission. My employer prioritizes Work/Life Balance (in those words), so as managers, we’re encouraged to help our team identify and take actions that help achieve this.
      – “How can I encourage her to remain focused and professional with what feels like a delicate topic.” My employee is an incredibly high achiever with high empathy, but like so many of us, she can be discouraged by criticism. Our work is in arts/entertainment and she is incredibly professional in her public-facing capacities, but has had some challenges adjusting to the added administrative environment – even incredibly skillfull employees still have weakness.
      – I also noted that my employee and I share a desk with side-by-side computers, which puts me front and center to all interactions. This closeness also had me questioning my own impulse to set boundaries – perhaps I was identifying the wrong boundaries to establish: not her work/life, but our shared-desk boundaries? Since it is new for me having someone by my side 40hrs a week now too, perhaps this could help.
      Lots to think about! Thanks for all the perspectives shared.

      And also, gentle commenters, please remember that I asked because I was questioning my own approach and needed advise.

      1. Oh So Anon

        Thanks for providing some clarification! The more I read your details, the more I wonder if the issue at play is more about their adjustment to full-time positions with added responsibilities. That’s completely above board for you to address with the employee you manage, and I’d guess that most employees would be greatful for a manager checking in on their learning curve and being supportive.

        That said, I don’t really see anything in here about your employee’s challenges that points specifically to her marriage, so it may be best to not bring that up unless your employee does. If there’s something specific that’s an issue – such as the two of them spending a lot of work time hashing out each other’s work difficulties or him doing her work for her – then deal with that, but keep in mind that those types of issues would be problems regardless of their relationship status.

        Even though your employer prioritizes work/life balance, you really should steer clear of bringing your employees’ personal lives into any discussion of *work* issues unless it’s obviously and clearly pertinent. I think it’s a very good and healthy instinct of yours to rethink your shared-desk boundaries. A big part of supporting work/life balance is making sure that your employees don’t have to justify their life choices at work, and as a manager, sometimes that takes having less contact with your direct reports’ personal lives.

        1. ArtsOP

          Thank you!
          One of the sticky points for me is the idea of ” having less contact with your direct reports’ personal lives;” I’m struggling a bit because I feel very in-view of this component. For example, I overhear the pair discussing home repair projects, or even just last week she called over her shoulder to him from the desk that she submitted his info for the company wide raffle, etc. I’ve asked myself if such conversations/comments would jump out at me if they were not married, and the only response I can come up with is, probably not. Right, as long as she is getting her work done, then it’s fine.
          So maybe the key is achieving distance from personal lives is to discuss some points about shared-desk etiquette, and how both she and I can keep each other accountable here (as mentioned, it’s a new adjustment for me as well).

          1. Oh So Anon

            You’re welcome! I appreciate you being so forthcoming about what’s not working for you here. It’s not super-easy for people to check their own biases in situations like this, where you feel like something’s off and you just want to *fix* it.

            Distance is important, but it might not be on her to create and manage that distance. Why? As you said, if the person she was having a bunch of non-work conversations with was her BFF rather than her spouse, it probably wouldn’t bug you. If that were the case, would you feel comfortable asking her to limit her non-work discussions with BFF even if she’s getting her work done? (The correct answer here is that you probably shouldn’t because they’re both adults, unless there’s some other evidence that their relationship is creating an exclusionary environment in the office.)

            I think your best bet is to figure out how to separate your desks *without* bringing up your perceptions of her work/life balance. As weird as this may sound, I’m not entirely sure that the responsibilities for maintaining boundaries are symmetric between managers and their direct reports. Within reason, your direct reports aren’t expected to hide that they have a life outside of work, but the expectation placed on you as a manager is to ensure that the work gets done while cutting your direct reports an appropriately wide berth to have their lives. This is coming from someone who’s a big fan of maintaining discretion about one’s personal life at work for the sake of optics; even so, a strong employee with a visible personal life doesn’t send the same kinds of mixed signals about commitment to work as does someone whose work performance is iffy.

            1. ArtsOP

              Yes!
              We share a 9’x7′ footprint, and because I hadn’t picked up on how our physical boundaries were impacting work, I jumped to relationship boundaries. Oh boy, ask me that yesterday and I would have never have landed on ‘Have you considered rearranging your desks?” :-)
              I knew there was a different question I needed to ask, but it took everyone’s participation to get me there.

              Submitting my question and reading the responses has been an incredibly enlightening process.
              Thank you to Alison and the community.

  2. My Dear Wormwood

    #2: I end up pooping in another floor’s bathrooms pretty regularly because my bowel movements are synced up with our floor’s toilets being closed for cleaning. Just…one of those things.

    (Also, Alison…was it a happy accident that this was assigned #2 on the list or did you do that on purpose?)

    1. Annette

      For some people the walk to another floor is ‘me time.’ A chance to be alone and anonymous in the crowd. They seek out and prefer this experience. Sometimes you want a longer toilet break.

      1. it's-a-me

        If I put myself on a toilet break, and then left the floor, my supervisor would be questioning me the moment I got back.

        Then again I work in a call centre which has different standards.

        1. tamarack and fireweed

          I am sorry. It’s not actually necessary to have infantilizing rules like this for a call center to run well. (Personally, I think it’s counter-productive.)

        2. Admin in Arkansas

          When I worked at a call center for a major telecommunications company it was a known trend that many of the late shift (mostly those of us in tech support) would go to to the top floor to use the bathrooms – that was the executive suite and those lucky ducks got to go home at 5:00 on the dot every day.

          The bathrooms were guaranteed to be empty.

          I also thank that experience for making me truly grateful that I am no longer beholden to a lifeless black box to report my every whereabout at all times.

        3. Tisiphone

          I used to work in a call center. Never again. I logged out of the ACD (Automated Call Distribution) queue to listen to a message someone left and within thirty seconds, the manager sent a coworker to tell me to get back on the phone.

          That call was from my future boss offering me a job.

        4. Eukomos

          I mean, my supervisor questions me when I get back from a normal length toilet break, but that’s because she’s a micromanager who demands we hop to the instant an idea crosses her mind and not because it’s appropriate.

      2. Like Snow Never Evaporated

        I do this. It’s nothing about privacy, I walk to a further shared bathroom when the closer one is individual. It’s about getting more steps in that I walk to the farthest bathroom in our office from where I sit.

        I don’t do it all the time but it’s nice sometimes to get a mental break and leg stretch in when I also have to pee.

        1. juniperberry

          yes, I was also going to say this. I often use the bathroom farthest from me as a chance to stretch/get a bit more exercise in.

        2. Sherri

          Me, too! I don’t usually have a thing about not wanting to poop around co-workers, but I totally get that.

          I don’t always go to another floor, but often take an opportunity to get in a few extra steps and flights of stairs to make up for my sedentary desk job.

          I also will go to another floor if the one closest is being cleaned. Most people go back to their desks and wait. I’d rather get in extra steps and go now.

        3. Awesome Sauce

          Yep, same. I almost always go to a different floor because it lets me get a few flights of stairs in; my job is completely sedentary and I can use every chance to move around I can get!

        4. Jadelyn

          I was coming to say something to this effect. It’s one of the things that a lot of people recommend for increasing your activity during a mostly-sedentary work day – like parking at the far end of the lot and walking in, things like that. Use the bathroom on another floor, and especially if you take the stairs, you’re getting a tiny bit of exercise in.

      3. Quickbeam

        I end up walking to either another floor or our bathroom in the gym. The H/C stall on my floor is perpetually occupied as a phone booth or yoga studio (not kidding) and I need the grab rails.

        1. NothingIsLittle

          That’s super obnoxious! I’m sorry you have to go out of your way to get to a usable bathroom. Would you be uncomfortable banging on the door if they’re in there for nonsense like yoga? (nonsense because it’s in a bathroom stall, not because it’s yoga)

        2. hayling

          What?! I have seen people used the accessible stall for changing into gym clothes after work, or at restaurants/malls you’ll see parents bring their little kids in there. But phone calls and yoga do not belong in the bathroom, stall or otherwise!

        3. Eukomos

          D: Who does yoga on a bathroom floor? I’m usually the furthest thing from a germaphobe but that’s gross.

        4. OhNo

          It is both depressing and heartening that I’m not the only one to have this problem. Dunno what it is about the accessible stall that makes everyone think it’s their own personal relaxation zone, but I wish it would stop so I can go when I need to go and not have to head to another floor.

    2. Avasarala

      Yes, OP if you use the bathroom around the same time, it may line up with cleaning schedules on other floors.

      1. My Dear Wormwood

        I’m glad I’m not the only one here who’s, like, 9 years old on the inside.

    3. FW

      Yup, I was going to suggest this. Floor’s restroom closed for cleaning, or will be shortly, trek upstairs. to the OP, it’s not personal, I promise. I just have 4 minutes to use the restroom before my next meeting.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Now I’m curious as to what OP would observe if they came in half an hour earlier.

    4. Pam

      In my case, I use a wheelchair, and the handicapped stall on my floor is often taken up by people changing clothes or students with rolling backpacks.

    5. Ginger ale for all

      I do it so I can get some stair climbing in to get my blood pumping a bit more so I don’t have afternoon langour.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt

        At my old work it was very common to go up/down a few flights to use the bathroom to get some extra exercise in during the day.

      2. DJ

        Same here. In my case, I tend to forget to actually get up from my desk every so often, so when I do finally get up, I like to walk around for a bit so I’ll go to a restroom that’s farther away.

    6. Cat Meowmy Admin

      Yes, please – I wish I had the option of restroomS (plural!) on different floors! I have to manage incoming calls, people at the office door, people *calling out to me just outside the 1-toilet bathroom with questions WHILE I’m in the restroom*.
      Like I said down thread, extra restrooms on several floors are as necessary as the parallel of litter boxes on each floor of your home based on the number of your cats. It’s all relative. No diggity, no doubt.

    7. Mookie

      I’ve got a live map in my mind of the choicest, most productive commodes I’ve ever patronized, so I can relate to this. After awhile, you learn to sync up, Pavlovian-like, your best turds with your favorite, most accessible toilets. If you’re like me, anyway.

        1. Aquawoman

          Given the number of bathroom-related and specifically poop-related questions Alison gets, I’m going to say yes.

          1. Petunia

            Doesn’t Alison often ask people not to derail with personal anecdotes? I think bombarding readers with details of their “turds” counts.

            1. Observer

              Not in this context – the point Mookie is making is totally relevant to the question, because they are explaining why they might use a bathroom not on their floor.

        2. RobM

          Maybe not in detail but I think most of us would agree that bathroom time generally er, goes better when you’re relaxed. So if you perceive a particular bathroom as “better” somehow, or the walk to a further away bathroom helps things, that’s fine isn’t it?

        3. Anon.

          How is this not appropriate? Mookie is offering an explanation why someone may use a bathroom on another floor.

        4. Perse's Mom

          Everybody poops, and lots of people poop at work. If the topic is upsetting to you, minimize the thread.

          1. anon for this

            I don’t think it’s a case of being omg so upset. It’s getting really tiresome to read a workplace blog filled with commenters who can’t resist talking about their own sh*t so much.

            For people who are terrified of human interaction in the workplace, they sure are open with their bowels on this blog. Poor Alison.

      1. Richard Hershberger

        Back in college I had a detailed knowledge of bathrooms across campus, including how nice they were, which had the best graffiti, and most important of all, which were accessible even at night.

    8. tamarack and fireweed

      Not that I think this is the actual reason, but for the anecdote… back at the first university I attended, in a highly male dominated program (10% women), we were lucky enough to have a brand-new building to use for our lab classes. Toilets were at each end of the oblong building: Men / disabled on our end, and men / women on the other. On the floors above and below it was reversed (men / women at the first end and men / disabled on the other). So we 10% women often used the toilet on a different floor as it was closer and faster than schlepping to the other end of the building.

      1. A. Lovelace

        When I went to school they had recently converted half the building’s toilets into ones for women, because Back In The Day there was only a small one for women next to the admin office. Which led to the fun of trying to remember which floor you were on, because they were identical on each floor except that some had randomly been changed over, so when I entered a washroom I always had a reflex to check if the urinals were covered (essentially the conversion was to cover the urinals in basic plywood, and then change the little sign on the front, so on the few times that I went in the wrong one it was quickly noticed because I could see the urinals).

        I take small comfort in the fact that at least this was an equal problem for both genders.

    9. Tuna

      I worked at a company that had 100 women sharing 4 stalls on one floor, and a floor below that had ~maybe~ 50 total mixed gender and 10 stalls.

      Heck yeah I would pop down to that restroom!

      Also, didn’t help that all of the stalls had the creepiest gap in between the door and the latch. I’m talking 2-3 inches creepy. I had so much anxiety using the bathroom there.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt

        I wish there was something we could do to take a stand against that. I get that it’s cheaper, and in America it’s everywhere, so it’s not like we can vote with our dollars. I still wish there was a way we could make this go away. Work bathrooms would be so much more pleasant without those horrible gaps.

        1. Lynn Whitehat

          YES. My current job has proper doors that come all the way to the floor, and NO GAPS. It makes a genuine difference in my quality of life. People can’t see my feet to know who I am. Love.

          1. Callie

            I love these only when there is also a red/green indicator on the outside indicating whether the door is locked. Otherwise, the anticipation of people trying to open the door on me (or worse, knocking and forcing me to speak) throughout my bathroom session gives me MORE anxiety.

            1. Michaela Westen

              Yes, what’s the point of knocking and startling someone??? Just try the handle and see if it’s locked.
              My most noisy coworker will rap sharply on the restroom door, making me jump. One day I was so annoyed I just didn’t answer. I hope it didn’t confuse her! ;)

              1. Environmental Compliance

                From past experience, I avoid trying the handle because I have been surprised and surprised those who didn’t latch the door properly. I would rather knock politely than surprise someone with their pants down on the toilet.

                1. Michaela Westen

                  I just try it gently and crack the door if it’s unlocked, so I won’t see anything/startle anyone.

            2. Perse's Mom

              If the door is in range, knock back! No voice needed. You might be able to get away with it by knocking on the wall or flushing as well if the door’s too far.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          {sigh} Oh, the glory of the European toilet. But even in American toilets, a 2-3″ gap between the door and the latch is abnormal.

        3. Artemesia

          IN Europe these private booths are the norm; there is no reason it couldn’t be done here. They were originally made with the gaps to prevent ‘shock’ bad behavior occurring in the private booths; it is about the prudish sensibilities of this country. Heck in many schools there are no doors at all.

      2. Xarcady

        I went to grad school at a formerly all-male university. None of the older classroom buildings originally had ladies’ rooms. One building originally had three men’s rooms per floor. When women became students they turned one men’s room on every other floor into a ladies’ room. So, three men’s rooms on one floor. Two men’s and one ladies’ on the next, repeat. We had an evening class on one of the ladies’-room-less floors and in order for all the women to have a chance to pee in the short beak allowed, we just took over one of the men’s rooms, instead of having to race up or down stairs and then down the full length of the building.

          1. Artemesia

            My favorite story on this: In Nashville they built a new football stadium with ‘potty parity’ i.e. adjusting rest rooms so that women would not need to stand in line. They miscalculated the gender ratio and the amount of beer men drink and so on the first game weekend, there were long lines at the men’s rooms and none at the women’s. This horrible unsustainable shocking unacceptable problem got fixed by the next game. Women had been standing in line for decades, probably centuries, but when men were inconvenienced, it was a crisis to be immediately resolved.

            1. JSPA

              So not surprised. Guessing they feared some of the men would find alternative spots to relieve themselves, too, which might have ramped the urgency up another notch.

              1. Venus

                It is a reasonable worry, as I have distinct memories of a colleague complaining that when he tried to wash his hands at a local sports arena he was fighting for space with all the men peeing in the sinks. (it’s a distinct memory because Ewwwww!!!)

      3. lyonite

        My old job had doors with a gap problem almost that bad, which they solved with these stick-on rubber barriers. They didn’t look great, but it was a lot better than accidentally making eye contact as you went past.

    10. AnotherAlison

      I’m guessing it’s not the reason at the OP’s place, but we can be pretty fluid on going from floor to floor for our regular work. You may have people you regularly work with on another floor, or have to reserve conference rooms on a different floor for meetings. It doesn’t seem weird to use the restroom there.

      (Or there was the time my company turned one of the women’s restrooms into a men’s room, so there were no women’s rooms on that floor. . .)

    11. Sneaky Ninja for this one

      Our bathrooms are usually gross and full of people yapping on cell phones. So I go downstairs. Plus, it’s a chance to stretch my legs.

      1. Bill

        In the first office I worked in back in the late 1970s the loos alternated. One floor gents, one floor ladies. On the top floor where I worked in the computer room was a ladies so the entire staff of the top had to troop downstairs for the loo. I think there were two or three ladies and about a dozen guys. I think it must be down to the deficiencies of late fifties/early sixties office design and the building being shoehorned into a spare corner of the City of London.

    12. Lily Rowan

      (There’s a link to report a typo above the comment box, which would probably get to Alison sooner.)

    13. ellex42

      We have a serial toilet clogger (at least they always use the same stall!) and a transgender person on our floor. I’m lucky enough to have very little sense of smell, so the clogged toilet doesn’t bother me. Sharing a multi-stall bathroom with a transgender person doesn’t bother me either, but it’s become clear that a few of my coworkers feel otherwise (although no one has been openly or even covertly unpleasant to my transgender coworker…that I know of). And so they schlepp upstairs to use a different bathroom.

      Apparently, the serial toilet clogger has been going upstairs as well lately, or so I’m told!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        At least they’re the ones leaving, instead of making your poor coworker who just wants to use the bathroom in peace do it! Small mercies, I guess.

      2. Anax

        And this is why I, as a trans person, try to always use the same bathroom – at least everyone is used to seeing me in there, so it’s no surprise. :P

        It’s the serial stander who drives us nuts. Whoever it is cannot aim worth a darn, and after the first few unexpected puddles and gross seats – and one memorable incident where they flooded both stalls – our floor’s bathroom makes me a tad nervous.

    14. Tisiphone

      Ohhhh! I didn’t notice that #2 was about #2. Most entertaining.

      To answer the question: I work second shift and sometimes I have to go to another building. My building closes the bathrooms right after the meal hour when people most need to use it.

        1. Tisiphone

          We have only one guy who cleans the building. First he empties the trash, then he does the bathrooms and the kitchenette, then vacuums. I try to time my dinner hour for after he gets to my trash, so I don’t need the bathrooms when they’re not available. I don’t care so much in the summer, but when it’s -5, I really don’t want to go outside.

    15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I did it when we worked in a different building that had two floors. The bathroom on our floor had three regular stalls and a handicapped one, the one on the next floor had something like ten (?) You walk in and it’s like… bathroom city. Fewer people working on their floor than on ours. No one ever said anything to me (probably because their giant bathroom was always empty when I came in).

      My point is, there can be many valid reasons, and also, OP, you do not own that bathroom.

    16. RussianInTexas

      The bathrooms on my floor are gross, we have (sorry) a seat-pee-er and pooper. And for some reason my bathroom always runs out of paper towels by the end of the day.
      Besides, all bathrooms in my building are outside of suites, and “belong” to the office building, so they are fair game to everyone.

      1. Scarlet

        A seat pooper?!?! What is this barbaric behavior?!

        Like OK seat peeing- maybe an accident. Whatever I can get over it. But poop!! What!!

    17. Yorick

      I often go downstairs to use the bathroom because it gives me an opportunity to stretch my legs a bit.

    18. AnonForThis

      I work in a 4-story building that was converted from a women’s dormitory into office space. Each floor has a massive bathroom with 6 toilet stalls (and 6 shower stalls, but irrelevant), so the building has 24 toilets total. Sounds great, right? In reality, we have FOUR single-person bathrooms thanks to the building’s rule that men and women cannot be in the huge, multi-stall bathrooms at the same time. People have to find an unoccupied bathroom and lock the door behind them to prevent someone of another gender from entering. I personally would not mind if a man came in to use one of the other FIVE unoccupied stalls since they all have doors with functional locks (and minimal gaps!), but some of my coworkers feel differently. I get it. What’s annoying is when Mr. Skinny Jeans from the first floor comes up to my floor and locks himself in for 30 mins. We are 95% sure that he’s spending most of those bathroom sessions playing on his phone and avoiding work. That’s fine if you’re in a regular public bathroom, but NOT OKAY when you are preventing others from having access to the toilet.

      1. JSPA

        If that’s meant to avoid offense, maybe suggest to them that they give people of hanging any of three cards, rather than locking: male (in use by male, only enter if you identify as male); female (equivalent) and any gender (I don’t care, if you don’t either, come on in and do what you need to do). I’m guessing that more and more people are used to the toilet saying “toilet,” not “men” or
        “women,” and they’d be fine with sharing, if the setups are as described.

        You’d have to set it up so that they can’t leave without taking down the card, or the toilet could be blocked for hours, though.

        If they’re worried about people getting frisky in the stalls, maybe point out that gender segregation isn’t doing anything to prevent that. (Unless they really want it to be, “one person only”–do they allow a group of three women or three men to make a bathroom run together?

    19. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

      Our floor has two stalls and one sink in the women’s restroom and there is always a line. The floor above us has 8 stalls and the company who occupies 2/3 of the space on that floor works remotely 90% of the time.

      It’s more efficient to go upstairs and use the bigger bathroom rather than risk waiting in line on my own floor. Plus, it’s a good way to add a couple of 100 extra steps to my day.

    20. AuroraLight37

      I frequently end up using a staff bathroom on a different floor at the library where I work. On one floor, all the permanent staff are men, and the staff bathroom on that floor- let’s just say the space around the toilet can get a little sticky at times. Not what I want to be stepping in. Unless I’m desperate, I go to a different floor- one of them has a women’s room, and the other is on the floor where all the staff are women.

    21. Blue Horizon

      It could also be that there are no free stalls on their floor, for a variety of reasons (it’s common right after a large meeting finishes, for example).

      I’ve also worked in at least one building that located the men’s and women’s bathrooms on alternate floors.

    22. GeekCyclist

      I work as a software developer, a sedentary desk job. I will often find that I go for multiple hours without standing up and moving. So, when the urge to “go” hits, I find that instead of using the restroom just down the hall a nice way to get a tiny bit more active is two walk down 2-3 flights of stairs to another floor, walk the main hallway to the distant restroom, then return to my floor via the stairway in the opposite corner of the building.

      And in another building I had the issue that My Dear Wormwood raised… my “breaks” always seems to coincide with the timing of janitorial service on my floor.

    23. TardyTardis

      I used to walk up a flight or walk down a flight (depending on where we’d most recently been moved) to get water and coffee, and sometimes the bathroom to make sure I exercised enough.

  3. Annette

    LW 1 – when the boss says “would you like to do…?” it almost always means “please do this.” It’s just a way of saying the same thing in this context. Not the same thing as in-laws. If you know they’ve decided everyone will be working some Saturdays – obviously this includes you. You say you’ve decided not to leave over this so you will indeed be working some Saturdays.

    1. Snuck

      Agreed. Why not wander into his office with the email and say “Hrm.. I got your email… the reason I hadn’t replied yet is I’ve got a lot of Saturdays booked up… can you shoot me the dates you were thinking and I’ll work out what I can move around and we can go from there?”

      The ultimate outcome is him saying “Oh, I didn’t realise, hrm, don’t worry about it… we’ll work it out from here” the mid level response is him tossing you the dates and you finding one you can live with (I presume this is a once every ?three months? Thing – if there’s a rota of others regularly, and then your team each taking at turn in one place of that rota? So you are pretty rarely called upon?)…. the worst case scenario is he says “Nope, I can’t let you pick a date, you’ll have to do it on Date XZY” and… you do.

      The longer you hold out, the more chance he will be frustrated and just assign you a random date… if it’s not a polite request and more a diplomatic demand… the longer it drags the more the diplomacy will fade.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt

        I was under the impression that the email the grand boss sent did have the dates in it?

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Yeah, and OP was getting last shot either because she is low ranking and has to take the leavings, or because she is high ranking and they knew she would hate it and so first tried to see if other people might take up all the slots.

          1. Snuck

            Or OP has taken too long to volunteer and thus is left with the various other dates that are left…

            Inaction is a form of action. If others aren’t keen on this, but know that there’s going to be a requirement… so they’ve fallen in earlier and grabbed dates that suit their schedule… this isn’t about giving the OP a lessor option intentionally (for a seniority or otherwise reason), it’s about rewarding the early adopters by letting them grab their preferred availability.

      2. Close Bracket

        “The ultimate outcome is him saying ‘Oh, I didn’t realise, hrm, don’t worry about it… we’ll work it out from here'”

        lol. As if.

    2. Emma

      LW here – quite! Both the boss and my in-laws are using it in the same way: this is a thing that needs to happen, it makes most sense for you to do it, so please do it.

      If they’d said that then there’d be no problem at all, and I’m certainly going to have to work the Saturdays – this bit got edited out, but the only way I could really say no would be if I had genuine serious conflicts, like childcare issues, which I don’t. So I was looking for a way of saying “I don’t WANT to, no, but I will!”

      1. Snuck

        I think you would be wise to separate out your boss from your in-laws as best you can…

        Even if both are behaving the same way, the relationships are different (or should be!).

        Your in-laws might be using this passive aggressively, or manipulatively… but it might be part of a larger pattern of behaviour. If you buck up against them you have a different set of consequences to if you do against your Grand Boss. You might well have more lee way with them too as they are family.

        I presume your grand-boss is actually just trying to be polite, and at the same time give you a polite out if you have a desperate need (a child who has a regular therapy appointment at that time, or a 3hour each way trip to visit a parent in a nursing home you do every Saturday etc)…. Unless your grand boss is showing a lot of other behaviours that link with this, directly to you, then… I would err on the side of assuming he’s polite rather than manipulative.

        He also gets quite the say on your pay check… if not firing you, he can and will influence your wages… if he only has a limited pot to share out amongst the team each year, he’s going to give it to the people who do what he values most…

        1. LW

          For sure – this is why I was looking for a diplomatic framing. I didn’t want to say “I guessss I can if I HAVE to”, I want it to be clear that I’ll do it without complaining, but also that it’s not great for me and if there’s a way in future that I can not do it, I’d appreciate that.

          I don’t think she’s being manipulative – but it’s an ongoing problem that the senior staff team in general are not good at being direct, especially about uncomfortable conversations (hello, performance management of individuals by way of vague all-staff emails!), and I feel like this is just more of that, really.

          1. valentine

            I guess it’s a contract that doesn’t mention Saturdays, versus a no-Saturdays contract. Unless they grill you or have a lot of say on what you do with your nonwork time, you don’t have to specify why you can’t work when you don’t want to. Saying you don’t want to won’t help. They only care about the “will” part and, once you do it, you’ll probably feel like you need to go up the DEFCON scale to say no. (Practice by telling your in-laws no, but, with them, feel free to say you just don’t wanna.)

            If what you need are two consecutive days off and you can get the same deal as the Saturday-contract people, you could have some three-days weekends: off Monday (the 12th) in exchanging for working Saturday (the 17th).

            1. Flash Bristow

              Same here. When I’ve had to do something on some specific Saturday or Sunday afternoons, I’ve apologised but I already have an appointment in that slot.

              Now, I know it’s an appointment between me and the TV so I can watch Formula 1 :-) but it’s important to me and goes on the calendar months in advance, so I’m sorry, that “booked” me first.

              Other weekends, I’ll try hard to meet requests.

              OP I don’t think it’s unreasonable to set aside weekends for things that matter to you, even if not “essential” (childcare or whatever) – as long as you offer alternatives.

              That might show your willingness to do the odd Saturday as needed, but that they can’t just rely on you as not having other commitments / being available on any given date.

              (And no, I dont tell them what the “appointment” is. It’s private.)

            2. Tisiphone

              ” They only care about the “will” part and, once you do it, you’ll probably feel like you need to go up the DEFCON scale to say no.”

              That’s been my experience. Once they started the “temporary” mandatory overtime, the “temporary” never ended with zero intention to end it. I burned out, got sick, had a doctor’s note limiting me to 40 hours five days a week, and management refused to honor it.

              Don’t cross the event horizon by even reluctantly saying yes. Any schedule changes will end up being permanent.

          2. MK

            To be frank, OP, I don’t think any framing is going to disguise the message that you are doing this unwillingly. Alison’s and others’ suggestions will cover up the resentment you feel, but the gist of it is bound to show through.

            1. DrTheLiz

              But “unwilling” is exactly the goal! “Unwilling” means “this is an employee retention problem, fix it, this is not an ‘eh, whatever’ thing”. The goal is “unwilling but compliant” without “petty and childish”, which I think Alison’s scripts manage well.

              1. Rusty Shackelford

                Exactly. What you’re trying to get across is “Fergus will do this, but isn’t happy about it, so I can’t consider this situation solved in a way that works for everyone, and maybe I need to keep working on it.”

          3. General von Klinkerhoffen

            Given that it sounds like everyone else has said no, why are you feeling such obligation to be the one who says yes? Is there a gender factor?

            I have found it empowering to say no when a request is phrased in that way: “No, I don’t think I do want to, thanks.” However, that only works in a certain power dynamic and you may not have the standing to risk it.

            Is there a possibility that by “volunteering” (ha!) you would get the choice of Saturdays rather than being forced? I’m wondering whether you could volunteer for those Saturdays when your in-laws are going to be around, for example, in order to avoid the weekend when you were planning to take the kids to the cabin.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen

              Oops, I misread – I thought everyone had said no, not yes. So there’s already coverage, isn’t there!

              1. ChimericalOne

                Everyone who *doesn’t already* do Saturdays has said yes to doing a Saturday, but no one on the current Saturday roster has volunteered to do an additional Saturday. OP should definitely be clear that this is something quite challenging for her, something she deliberately tried to avoid, and something that she could do on a short-term basis but not regularly, and make it clear to grand-boss that they need to either find a way to get other people to step up (one of my old jobs used to offer double pay for Saturday work) or replace the worker they “decided” they could do without.

                1. Daisy

                  My last job used to give time-and-a-half off in lieu for Saturday and evening work. That was nice.

                2. JSPA

                  I’d push back a bit on that, as people whose contracts explicitly include a saturday are just as much fair game for taking a second saturday, as people whose contract don’t explicitly include saturdays. Unless they currently work three saturdays out of four, or something. Unless their contracts have a “no more than x saturdays” clause, which they might.

              2. Snuck

                I think we need to be mindful of the coverage here…

                How often/how much is this about? If the team is down one person, and they already work on a rota…. then is it ?one Saturday a month that needs coverage? (We don’t have the numbers… but …. for the purpose of this exercise…)

                And then… that one Saturday that needs covering a month … there’s four people on her team…. that are going to cover this… so the 12 Saturdays a year that need cover, means the OP might be doing this once every four months…

                I feel this is relevant.. it’s not every Saturday… how many is it actually.

                And while that’s coverage… from others… it sounds like this would be unfair to double someone else’s coverage rather than ask this person to fall into line… which is not an unreasonable request.

            2. juliebulie

              Honestly, when the manager claimed that everyone else had already said yes, I wondered if that was just a tactic (lie) and that she was sending everyone the same type of message.

          4. EventPlannerGal

            I mean, “I will if I HAVE to” is pretty much exactly what you’re saying, and I don’t think there’s a way of phrasing it that will hide that.

            It very much sounds like your bosses are well aware that you don’t want to do these shifts. You’re the last holdout, they’ve already asked other people to take on additional work so that you don’t have to, and now they have the grandboss asking you to step up. Certainly you could use Alison’s scripts if you wanted, but I don’t think any of them will hide the fact that you’re mad about these shifts. It sounds from your comments like you’re going to do them anyway, so if I was you I would focus on trying to get scheduled for the days that will be most convenient for you rather than making sure everyone knows you don’t wanna.

            1. Lady Jay

              Yes, this.

              LW, you say that you want the boss/grand boss to be direct, but the way you’ve phrased it in the letter seems pretty direct to me—polite, yes, but direct.

              A response that emphasizes how much you don’t want to work Saturdays, in contrast, would seem impolite and a little tone deaf to what the boss is asking.

              For someone who has decided they will live with working on Saturdays, the new requirement seems to still rankle at you—which is understandable! but I think if you want to stay at the workplace, you need to figure out a way to respond gracefully, and if that’s not doable for you, then reconsider if you really do want to stay there.

            2. LW

              To be clear, I’m not the last holdout – this is the first time I’ve been asked, although I’ve known it was coming for a while. I’m not sure why grandboss pointed out that everyone else had already said been asked – some people do have childcare etc so it makes sense that they got first pick of dates.

              1. A Simple Narwhal

                Perhaps I am jaded, but when I read the “everyone has already agreed and you’re the only person I haven’t asked” part my first thought was that I’d bet dollars to donuts the boss sent that same email to everyone at the same time.

                I could be totally wrong, but that was my gut reaction.

                1. LawBee

                  I got that impression as well. Email went to everyone, all except for LW responded with dates they could work or whatever, and there are still empty Saturdays remaining so who is left? LW who didn’t respond.

                  LW, is there a saturday date that’s tied to a Monday holiday still free? (like the Saturday before labor day). Take that one and the Tuesday after as your comp day and get an off-set three day weekend. I get that this is annoying, and I wouldn’t want to do it either but instead of holding out, accept that “everyone” includes you and try to make it work for you.

                2. juliebulie

                  Lol, sorry, I said the same thing (much later) because I hadn’t read down this far yet. I assume LW knows whether or not this person is likely to try something like that, but honestly, it’s hard not to be cynical when someone is changing the deal on you.

                3. A Simple Narwhal

                  Ha I’m glad I’m not to only one who thought this.

                  It feels like a way you could game an outcome as a kid – “dad said it’s ok if you’re ok with it” “mom said it’s ok if you’re ok with it” meanwhile neither parent has been asked and they’re more likely to say yes to a request they might have otherwise said no to.

              2. EventPlannerGal

                That’s great – that will probably make it easier to push back if you decide to! But I don’t think that substantially changes what I’m saying. To me, it really sounds as though your bosses know that you aren’t happy with these shifts and possibly the other things about your workplace you refer to in your letter, which would explain why they’ve approached you last, are trying to be polite about it rather than ordering, and are having someone senior make the request in writing. Again, it sounds like you are going to do the shifts anyway, so I don’t think there is a way to phrase “I will do these shifts because I HAVE to but I don’t want to” without conveying exactly that.

                Like, I do get that Saturday shifts suck. I did them every Saturday for years and eventually quit because I wanted my life back. But I think it’s the sort of thing you need to have an actual conversation with your management about, not try to find ways of saying it without actually saying it.

      2. Snuck

        “Hey GrandBoss, I can work on this date, but if something changes would prefer to have the Saturday back of course!” Insert cheery smile. Follow up with “If this is going to be a regular thing going forward, what sort of frequency are we talking about and can we plan out the dates for the rest of the year so I can make my various other plans around them or arrange swaps with others?”

        All very normal in a flexible working office…

        1. LW

          This is good language! (And yes, it’s going to be a regular thing for the foreseeable future)

        2. Avasarala

          Great script. LW, if you know you have to work it either way, what is the point of letting your boss know you’re not happy about it? As opposed to cheerfully working as few Saturdays as possible, and joining any pushback with coworkers if it’s an option. I don’t see how visibly/openly grumbling about it will get you what you want.

        3. Anonomoose

          As the Lefty union member:
          “Oh! So you’d like to amend the contract because you won’t hire a new staff member to cover these extra days? As this is a substantial change, I’d propose the following contractal amendments (insert 1.5-2 times overtime clause, stipulations that weekends count as overtime, guarantees that the day off next week is, say, a Monday or a Friday, that the weekend schedule is laid out x months in advance)”

          I am somewhat serious, though, in that I would want changes, in my actual contract, if I was going to work on Saturdays. And they’d be for some consideration, whether for a general pay increase, 1.5 time off (work one Saturday, get 1.5 days off) or overtime weekend pay. I’d also worry about the number of Saturdays. Sure, it might be tolerable now, but if someone else leaves, and they decide not to replace them too, this could get worse. So stipulate an absolute number.

          Do this gently, and with good humor, but get it in writing. If it’s only temporary, get that in writing too.

          Don’t let them tell you that your co workers all agreed without this. That was their mistake. You’re giving up something by agreeing, get something you’d like back in return.

          1. Asenath

            This is what puzzles me – they apparently have a contract that doesn’t require Saturday work. That isn’t – or shouldn’t be – as easy for management to change as a mere scheduling arrangement that didn’t assign Saturday work to people in certain positions. How can management unilaterally change a contract that specifies working hours? Valentine suggested “a contract that doesn’t mention Saturdays, versus a no-Saturdays contract”, which might explain it.

            If for some reasons the contract isn’t enforceable, yes, I suppose you could use some of the language suggested here to get across the “reluctant but not sulky” idea. If it is, some recompense for changing it might be possible.

            1. valentine

              I’d also worry about the number of Saturdays. Sure, it might be tolerable now, but if someone else leaves, and they decide not to replace them too, this could get worse. So stipulate an absolute number.
              I really admire the Saturday people not agreeing to more. Seems they know which way the wind blows.

              1. LW

                If we get to a point where everyone is working the same number then I’ll start saying no, I think. At the minute there’s a general feeling that people who haven’t worked Saturdays up to now are lucky and shouldn’t complain, so I want to reserve a relationship-damaging no for a time when there’s better risk/benefit!

                1. JSPA

                  But this is a classic death by many cuts; there’s (strategically) no point where it makes particular sense for everyone to take a hard stance, so the pushback is never coordinated and effective.

                  I’d talk to the coworkers a bit more about this dynamic. Including, to the already-Saturday people, that if there’s no pushback to negative changes in your scheduling, they are at risk of further saturdays in their schedules, too.

          2. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah, I’d be inclined towards that now you’ve mentioned it!

            Certainly first call would be to my union rep with a wee “hey… they want to change my contract…. what’s best move?”

            1. Akcipitrokulo

              I think reason didn’t occur earlier here is this does tend towards US norms (reasonably) … but I am in UK, and have a union – this is what they’re there for!

          3. EPLawyer

            Willing to bet, as the lawyers for the company wrote the contract not the LW, that the actual wording is something like “Cersei is not required to work Saturdays, unless Company deems it necessary to ensure adequate coverage.*” In other words, enough people, Saturdays off, but if someone is out long term on leave or as happened here, someone left and is not being replaced, the Company can deem it necessary.

            Almost wrote “Cersei is not required to work Saturdays unless the Whitewalkers appear” but wanted it to be more of a paraphrase of the actual contract.

          4. LW

            Also a union member! Generally speaking employers can make “reasonable” changes to contract, if you want to push back the options are basically collective bargaining (not going to happen here), using some capital (not worth it), or refusing to accept the change in which case your contract will end.

            And to be fair, I really don’t think this is an unreasonable request! It’s a business need and management is dealing with it in the fairest way they can think of. I’m not happy about it, but I’m not looking to get out of it either.

            1. Ra94

              Hm, legally this seems bizarre to me. I’ve never heard of a ‘reasonableness’ test for contractual changes, and if your contract explicitly states you don’t work Saturdays, making you work Saturdays is a material change and one that requires a renegotiation. Unless, as someone suggested, the language is ‘doesn’t work Saturdays UNLESS etc.’?

              1. valentine

                refusing to accept the change in which case your contract will end.
                Why can the Saturday-contract people refuse?

            2. Anonomoose

              I’d disagree, as a union rep. Extreme changes to working hours would generally fail any reasonableness test. Weekend work is an extreme change ( in the snese of a big shift in conditions). If you had weekend work in your contract, a shift from Saturday to Sunday might not be extreme.

              A reasonableness test isn’t based on if the business needs it, it’s based on the impact it has on you

            3. Akcipitrokulo

              Hi :) glad you are in a union! They will ba able to give you info about exactly what thile situation is where you are… if you’re in the uk & been there 2 years + it may be a fairly strong hand you have.

              And opening negotiations about what you want in return does give a fairly strong message of exactly what you wanted to say ;)

              But union rep is probably best first call.

            4. Anonomoose

              And, if it’s reasonable or not, you should be getting something back for altering it! Contractual changes are a chance to renegotiate!

              Like, if this was ” we need you to come in half an hour earlier on Mondays for a team meeting” then, probably fine. But we’re talking a substantial change, because the business is trying to cut costs. Get some of those costs redirected to you.

            5. Akcipitrokulo

              I would mention that whether a change to a contract is reasonable or not actually has nothing to do with business needs. It’s the scale of the change.

            6. JSPA

              Sounds like a business decision, not a business need. (They chose to not replace someone–that’s not a decision made by the heavens, it’s made by the company). Ditto they could offer enough of a bonus payment or extra hours off to get actual volunteers. Unless prohibited from doing so or unqualified, management could themselves staff the phone on weekends. Now, if you really believe that margins are thin enough that the company might go under if the hire were made, that may alter your choices. But again, it might not; depends how good the job is in general, and what other jobs would be out there, if this one were to fold, and whether or not you have stock options or some other ownership stake.

            7. Beth

              Since you’re a union member, it might be a good idea to run this by your union rep before agreeing to anything. They probably have a better sense of what counts as a ‘reasonable change’ than your average layperson. Plus, they have experience negotiating working conditions with your employer, so they’re more likely than we are to know how hard you can get away with pushing back. And, if they’re hearing about these kinds of problems from a lot of people, that may add up to something bigger than you expect–but if no one talks to them about it, they wouldn’t know even if everyone is really collectively unhappy.

            8. e271828

              Requiring someone who explicitly does not have to work on weekends, to work weekends, is not a reasonable alteration of their contract. Management has chosen to understaff. Contracts cannot be unilaterally rewritten to get them out of the consequences!

            9. Avasarala

              I missed that you’re contracted. I know the world is unfair but it seems very unfair that employers can make “reasonable” changes to the contract, like requiring you to work Saturdays, and you can’t also make “reasonable” changes to the contract, like deciding not to work Thursdays.

              In my contract (not US or UK) it stipulates that I get overtime if asked to work a “holiday” and stipulates what “holidays” are, ie weekends and national/company-designated holidays. Is there something in your contract like that? At least you should get extra pay for working Saturday. I’d be uncomfortable setting a precedent that management can just decide to change your schedule/contract without offering anything in return, even if I was OK with the change itself.

          5. Nanani

            THIS.

            I was kind of surprised the answer didn’t include anything about LW’s actual -contract-.

            I understand work contracts are rare in the US, where AAM is based, but LW mentioned it pretty explicitly.

            Don’t commit to working any Saturdays until your contract has been reviewed.

      3. Anon for this

        “So I was looking for a way of saying ‘I don’t WANT to, no, but I will!'” DON’T, if you care about your chances for advancement at this company (or if you don’t want to be the first let go if cuts happen).

        I’m with you in that I really, really hate when people are telling you to do XYZ, but they phrase it as “Would you like to do XYZ?” They want to feel like they’re not imposing. They ARE imposing! Unfortunately, if you call that out, I guarantee Grandboss is NOT going to react by thinking, “It’s crappy of me to be changing OP’s job like this. No wonder she’s not happy.” He is going to react with “OP is not a team player.”

        Something similar happened to me several months ago in which the head of another department asked for volunteers from my department for weekend work. I said yes, if I could get a comp day in exchange. Apparently saying “Yes, I will work this weekend, but only if I can have another day off some other time” made me Not a Team Player (the person soliciting volunteers said this to my boss!) and I’m still dealing with the fallout from that. If I had it to do over again, I would not have volunteered at all.

        1. SWench

          I get this: ” They want to feel like they’re not imposing. They ARE imposing!” I would also be fine with it, if it wasn’t also followed later by —

          “Well, we didn’t tell you that you had to. We just asked if you would like to do it.”

          Don’t duck responsibility as a manager. If you are requiring something as part of a job, then stand by it. It’s weaselly to do otherwise. When you rely on unstated expectations and social norms to do the work for you, you are being crappy at your job of managing people.

        2. theletter

          I think you might want to make it clear to the head of the department that you will not be volunteering for anymore work under someone who thinks that this is playtime. Trading a comp day for weekend work is rather standard.

      4. Falling Diphthong

        I think directness and simplicity might help here. “I will take those Saturdays. If things change in the future, please note that I had deliberately set up my work schedule to avoid Saturdays, so if it becomes possible to trade my Saturdays off I would love the chance to do that.” Sort of like your boss only knows that you would prefer Saturdays on and Mondays off, or to go from part- to full-time, if you have explicitly told them that.

        As Snuck intimates, you probably need to get your bosses divorced from your in-laws in your head. I get the parallels, but you can be more direct about what you do and don’t want and will or won’t tolerate when it’s understood that you are doing this for money rather than decades of family harmony.

      5. Qwerty

        Your boss is not asking if you *want* to work Saturdays. He is asking if you *will* work on a Saturdays. That’s very different and much more direct. He’s asking you to pitch and help before he reaches the point of having to impose a schedule change on everyone. Obviously turning this down will go over better for a scheduling conflict like childcare or a second job rather than simply not wanting to, but he doesn’t want to start with “do this or else”. I don’t know what goes on with your in-laws, but maybe the frustration with them is bleeding into this situation.

        It might also be worth clarifying if he wants you to work all of the dates or just pick which one(s) you can cover. The email uses singular language (“an extra Saturday”, “take on a date”) so maybe he’s only expecting you to choose one from the set. Maybe check with your other weekday coworkers to find out how many Saturdays they took on?

      6. Sam.

        Personally, I would probably say something that acknowledges that I know I have to do it without suggesting that I’m happy about it. Something like, “I understand that business needs have changed such that it’s now an expectation for the role,” but less awkward.

        1. JSPA

          “Let’s see (study phone calendar)…the least bad day is X, but none of them are good. If it needs to be one of these, give me X, and give me advance warning if this will be a continuing thing, as my outside obligations can’t be projected very far in advance.”

          1. you’re trying to be reasonable and helpful.
          2. it’ll be a headache each and every time for them to find you and get you to pick a date.
          3. clearly no reasonable person would be expecting you to do this long-term, would they?

      7. Close Bracket

        ” this is a thing that needs to happen, it makes most sense for you to do it, so please do it.

        If they’d said that”

        Well, but, they did say that. They said it indirectly, but that’s what they said. This is a time when “you can only change yourself” applies. You cannot change how your boss communicates. You *can* change how you respond to your boss. You know what they are saying, so make the choice to respond as though they used the words that make you happy.

      8. Librarian of SHIELD

        I actually did say something like that to a former boss who was thinking about changing our weekend rotation. I thought her new system would be a lot of inconvenience for staff, and I told her that. Then I said, “This would definitely not be my first choice. But if you tell me that’s what we’re doing, I’ll do it.”

    3. Flash Bristow

      I’m terrible for that too. I find myself saying “would you like to fetch me x, please?” When I mean “please fetch me x” .

      If the question ends in “please” then you can assume it’s more likely a request than an option.

      Sorry – I do try to be clear but it’s just the way I naturally speak, and I guess this person does too.

      1. WorkingGirl

        I haaate the “would you like to…” when what they mean is “please do…”- to me it feels condescending. It’s my job, just tell me to do it!

        1. Antilles

          I also hate that framing. It’s very condescending and odd.
          That said, I’m from a very straightforward family, so when someone uses this phrase in my personal life, at least half the time (if not more), I miss the implication and instead am legitimately confused. “Um no, I wouldn’t enjoy going to the grocery store. Why do you ask?”

        2. Fibchopkin

          1000% agree! Sorry Flash, I’m a pretty positive person, but requests framed like that really make me grind my teeth. It’s just so… Lumbergh from Office Space. I totally get why Grandboss’s version of this is irritating OP. A good manager can (and should!) be polite but direct at the same time. If a manager is truly asking an employee if they are able/willing to do something, and the employee will not be penalized for saying no, then the published email is appropriate; but if what the boss is really saying is “we need you to start picking up Saturday shifts every now and again, what would work best for you as we move forward?” Then that’s exactly what should be said. The wishy-washy “Would you like to…” is so much more difficult to deal with than just “would you please…”

        3. Everdene

          Me too! My husband has a bad habit of saying ‘do you want to turn the telly up’ and it takes ALL my restraint not to shout ‘No! If I wanted it up I would have done it already!’

          1. Blue

            I totally feel you. I’m generally a pretty agreeable person, and if the question was, “Would you mind turning it up,” I’d do it without hesitation. But there’s something about the presumptuousness of this framing that would make me want to say, “No, I’m good with it as it is,” just out of principle.

        4. Sleve McDichael

          Some members of my family do this and my response is always ‘No, but I will do it if you’d like me to.’ It gets a laugh at home, but I’m not sure it would be appropriate at work. Maybe between friendly colleagues who share that sense of humour.

      2. Michelle

        I don’t always use “please” when asking people to do something, but my boss insists I include it in all-staff emails that he directs me to send because it sounds”nice”. I use please when I think it’s appropriate, such as when I ask a favor or have a request that’s not the norm. When it’s something like “Credit card receipts are due Friday at 9 am” that’s not a request, but he insists I write “Please have your credit card receipts to me Friday at 9 am”.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Would “thanks” work for him? “Credit cards receipts are due Friday at 9 am. Thanks for helping the process run smoothly.”

        2. boo bot

          I don’t actually think the word “please” makes something sound like a request, in most cases – to me it’s the overall framing. I’m interested whether I’m off-base in the way I see this, or whether there’s some variation regionally or something.

          “Please have your credit card receipts to me Friday at 9 am,” to me sounds like a direction with the word “please” in it, which makes it a little more polite, but doesn’t soften the direction or make it less mandatory.

          “Could you please have your credit card receipts to me Friday at 9 am?” is technically a question, but I wouldn’t see it as optional so much as flexible: the writer needs the credit card receipts, ideally by Friday 9 am, and is asking me to either get them in at that time, or respond with a counter-offer.

          “Could you please try to have your credit card receipts to me Friday at 9 am?” is what would take it to a non-mandatory request, I think.

      3. Not Today Satan

        When I managed people, if I said “Could you please call this client?” they interpreted as if I was asking if they desired in their heart to do that thing (which obviously they didn’t, so they didn’t do the task). So I switched to “Please call this client” and, no joke, one of my reports made a complaint about me to HR for being too bossy.

        Yes, I’m a woman.

      4. WhoKnows

        Can I ask, is this a UK thing? In all my years working I’ve never had a boss ask me if I’d like to do something. It’s “Can you…” or “WhoKnows, please X.” I’d be so confused if people started asking me if I want to do stuff. Like, of course not, but will I? Sure.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen

          I don’t know if it’s a UK thing but I do find we are perhaps less direct.

          If my boss said something along the lines of “Could you look at the TPS reports ahead of Friday’s meeting?” I would absolutely understand it as an instruction, not a query. “Do you want to get those brochures down to the mailroom?” ditto.

          I think “Would you like to …” is a bit softer and I would interpret some kind of “this isn’t strictly your job but” either as a horizontal or vertical stretch.

          1. Liz Thaler

            “Could you look at the TPS reports ahead of Friday’s meeting?” is also understood in the US to mean “Look at the TPS reports ahead of Friday’s meeting.” But that’s because (one assumes), looking at the TPS reports in a timely manner is part of one’s regular duties on the job.

            This is,”Would you mind doing something significant that’s not actually part of your job, and represents a pretty big change to your schedule?” which can sometimes be merely polite phrasing but could also be a genuine question (and generally SHOULD be).

            1. Liz Thaler

              But will grant in the US, while “Could you look at the TPS report?” is clearly a directive, “Would you like to look at the TPS report?” is more ambiguous, even if looking at TPS reports is a normal part of your job.

    4. Vicky Austin

      I hate when people say, “Would you like to do X?” or “you can do X if you want to,” when they really mean “please do X” or “you really should do X.” This is especially frustrating for me, because I have a learning disability that makes it hard for me to process non-verbal communication. As a result, I only understand the words that are said, not the words that are implied.

    5. austriak

      I agree completely with this. It could be different if the OP is not in the US but my experience is pretty much that if you are a salaried employee, you will work whatever day or hour they want you to and if you are not happy about it, find another job.

      I would also caution against saying anything other than yes and which dates you can work. Trying to get out of it will hurt you long-term in raises and promotions if you want to stay with this particular company.

  4. M_Lynn_K

    #4- It could also be a real kindness to direct them then to the level or types of positions where their experience is appropriate. I’m in a field where the actual responsibilities for positions banded as officers, associates, and coordinators are vastly different from company to company. It’s really difficult to know where positions fall on the hierarchy.

  5. Phil

    #2 I found out the engineering department had nicer toilets than my department, so I’d occasionally pop down there for a treat.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      If I’m in a meeting on the far side of the building, that’s where I go when I need to.
      If I hadn’t managed to (finally) train people out of trying to talk business while I’m in the stall, I’d be inclined to flee.
      Unfortunately I know some people whof use a remote bathroom as their own personal phone booth… so far I haven’t seen who it is (yes the calls are long) so I haven’t been able to tell their managers.

    2. Feline

      The soap dispenser in the bathroom on my floor made an alarming, loud honking noise for a while. I think it happens when the soap supply in it runs low. I went elsewhere for a while to avoid jumping out of my skin while taking care of my business due to the Scary Soap.

      1. Booksalot

        My floor’s bathroom has a motion-detector air freshener on the wall just past where you enter the room. EVERY GD TIME, that thing sprays me in the face. You bet I’m going to relieve myself elsewhere–I’m freaking tired of gagging on a snootful of floral chemicals.

        I’m aware that this sounds excessively hostile. The Demon Freshener is my nemesis.

          1. texan in exile

            I would be trying to figure out how to disable it.

            And wondering about the irony that I have to beg for water and soap in public restrooms but cannot stop air freshener.

        1. SusanIvanova

          Since that would be instant migraine time for my mom, the thing that’s hostile there is the air freshener.

        2. AuroraLight37

          UGH. I hate those things. They don’t freshen the air, and they trigger my migraines.

    3. Michelle

      I recently found out that nicer toilets are actually a thing! Most companies, rental homes, apartments, etc. use the cheap toilets because they are looking to save money. When we had our bathrooms renovated a few weeks ago, the plumber sat down and walked us through the different types of toilets. The toilets we chose were about $100 more than what we had, but the difference is amazing. Our water bill went down, it only takes 1 gallon to flush and all of the “stuff” flushes completely the first time.

    4. Blue

      I’ve definitely done this. Taking two more minutes to walk into the connected building that has much nicer bathrooms is totally worth it.

    5. Triumphant Fox

      Our landlord renovated the bathrooms on another floor to attract tenants and refuses to renovate those on our floor, where we have been tenants for years. The bathrooms in general are not great – always, always out of soap. Seriously. But the ones on the other level are so much nicer.

  6. nnn

    A script I’ve found useful when I don’t want to do the work but I’m not actively refusing (in contexts where I’m at liberty to be direct):

    “I’m willing to do it if absolutely necessary, but I want to do no more than my fair share. And if there are other people who find it less disruptive, maybe we could assign it to them and I could pull my weight in other ways.”

    1. Avasarala

      I might use this but eliminate the “but I want to do no more than my fair share.” I think the rest conveys the point nicely but that bit adds a bit too much emphasis on “I will work the minimum and no further” that is a bit too harsh for me.

      1. Boobookitty

        Agreed. It sounds like “work to rule” and unwillingness to do more than the minimum required which aren’t great to communicate to bosses who reward employees for going the extra mile.

        1. Triplestep

          I am not sure why anyone would jump immediately to discussing fair share when simply being asked to fill some unfilled slots. Seems like a surefire way to make the asker bristle.

            1. valentine

              I am not sure why anyone would jump immediately to discussing fair share when simply being asked to fill some unfilled slots.
              Given the pressure of claiming the other non-Saturday people said yes, I’d expect the grandboss to guilt OP1 when a conflict arises, rather than finding cover or letting them go back to Saturdays off.

      2. Amethystmoon

        As a woman, if I dared to actually say out loud “I want to do no more than my fair share” in my workplace, I would probably get a lecture on tone.

        1. boo bot

          Yes. Which is kind of gross, really – it’s a really, really fair and reasonable sentiment, but saying it aloud violates the unspoken rules of the workplace.

    2. Bagpuss

      I think given what LW said I would vary it to say somthing like;
      “I’m willing to do it if absolutely necessary, but it will be very disruptive, and I specifcially negotiated my contract on the basis that I would not be reuqired to work weekends, so if there are other people who find it less disruptive, or who did not negotiate that specifc provision, maybe we could assign it to them and I could pull my weight in other ways.”

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        I’d change the end of that…

        “I’m willing to do it if absolutely necessary, but it will be very disruptive, and I specifcially negotiated my contract on the basis that I would not be reuqired to work weekends, so can we discuss what compensation is on offer for doing this on an occasional basis?”

        1. LawBee

          They’re getting a day off during the week, just like everyone else. Presumably everyone else who doesn’t have saturdays in their contract did that deliberately as well, right? There’s nothing special about LW’s situation that we know of, other than it’s an inconvenience and annoying (which absolutely it is) so I don’t know if this is the best approach.

          1. Yorick

            It is different. Some people were hired to work Saturdays and other people (like LW) were not. Maybe the other weekday-only people haven’t pushed back, but they could.

          2. Akcipitrokulo

            There is something different. Her contract states she doesn’t work a saturday, and (depending on location) you don’t get to change a contract unilaterally.

    3. Fair Share????

      You are actively refusing by saying you don’t want to do more than your fair share, when everyone else is working weekends. Also if everyone needs to do weekends and you don’t, you are no longer doing your share.

      1. nnn

        That’s what the word “fair” is doing in there :) I’m willing to do what I have to do to be fair to my colleagues, but no more than that.

      2. JSPA

        The “need” is created by the company choosing not to hire a replacement, nor offer inducements. They could have valid reasons, but all the same, this isn’t like, “we all need to work together to get off the island where we are shipwrecked.”

    4. pleaset

      This is not good “I want to do no more than my fair share.”

      This is not good either: “I could pull my weight in other ways”

    5. Wendy Anne

      If anyone said this in our office, they would be on the out with everyone. Teamwork and picking up the slack when needed is expected from everyone in our office and if, for some reason you don’t, people are less inclined to help you out when you need help.

      And who judges what is “less disruptive” when distributing the extra work?

      1. Deranged Cubicle Owl

        The thing here is that it isn’t a temporary situation. The company doesn’t want to replace the person leaving, so everyone is expected to just deal with it and work regularly on a Saturday, not just for a few weeks/months, but until the OP either quits, gets fired or retires. I would be put off by this development as well, especially if you asked or made sure that you wouldn’t need to work during weekends.

  7. Wishing RL had an Anon setting

    #2- Privacy, 100%. My particular cubicle in our local government building is on a floor that has the bathrooms on a public access hallway. You would think people could wait until you’d at least washed your hands and not ask you questions while you’re otherwise occupied because they can see your ID badge under the stall door where it’s clipped to your belt that’s currently down by your ankles, but there’s a reason I always go upstairs to one of the secure floors and use the toilets there.

    1. Mazzy

      I sometimes go to another floor because when meetings end in the big office near me, sometimes my bathroom is completely full . I don’t have health issues or new privacy or anything like that, but sometimes there is literally no room on my floor! I always feel like I should say something to the people on the other floor that the reason I’m there is so innocuous

    2. Falling Diphthong

      “Drusilla has locked herself into a small enclosed space! Now we can ask her all our questions!”

    3. The other Louis

      Yeah, that’s why I took to going to a different building–the bathroom is not where I want to answer complicated questions about work.

  8. Beth

    #1: Your company is really laying on the pressure here (having your grandboss deliver the message, not even raising the question with you until you’re The Last Holdout, telling you outright that everyone else already agreed to work some Saturdays, etc.). Based on that, my suspicion is that 1) this is indeed a requirement, 2) they already know you aren’t going to like it, and 3) they’re hoping you’ll feel bad about saying no and therefore won’t put up too much of a fuss.

    Based on that, I think instead of asking if this is a requirement, you should just pick whichever date is least bad for you and reply with something like “I’m not generally available on Saturdays–I actually made sure my contract didn’t include that clause because it’s not usually possible for me. Looking at my calendar, I can make (date) work, to help out with the crunch that’s come with (coworker) leaving, but I can’t commit to anything beyond that right now.” Hopefully that will signal both that you’re a team player willing to step up in a pinch, and that they really need to find a plan that doesn’t include you for the long-term.

    1. Avasarala

      Agreed, I would interpret this as strong pressure to pick whichever is the least awful option. I think Grandboss is trying to do this gently and flexibly before they have to do this forcefully. And they’re not actually asking “would you like to work Saturday,” they said “would you consider–” It’s not as soft as you think, they’re giving you a pick of options they know you won’t like.

      As Beth says, they already know you aren’t going to like it, which might give you some insight into how your level of grump about other changes is being perceived. Of course no one likes working Saturdays but if you want to be perceived as ambitious/a team player/flexible, then this is a data point of feedback for you. Maybe that’s not so important to you, or this is worth voicing your reluctance (a valid option! I’d hate it too!), but either way I think this is valuable information for you on your reputation.

      1. valentine

        telling you outright that everyone else already agreed to work some Saturdays
        I wouldn’t be surprised if they said the same to most people.

    2. Tan

      I too picked up on the fact this person was asked last and by the sound of it grandboss asked everyone in person (directly?). Either grandboss wanted to put pressure on you to join in or considered you a soft touch to pick up slack. Note it also sounds like most people picked one date not dates- don’t pick multiple dates if no-one else did.

      In addition to the comment above, I’d be tempted to add a comment: “it seems from the responses you are getting that regularly filling the Saturday shift is going to be a problem going forward. Maybe we can reconsider not filling former co-workers role or having a dedicated Saturday shift worker or perhaps we could hire a part time Thursday- Saturday worker etc.” As the boss should be made to see the evidence so far suggests that the plan of having everyone pick up the slack isn’t going to work long-term

      1. Tan

        If you really wanted to be helpfully unhelpful, which will require having some collateral /security in your place at work (not something everyone can do in every job), you could deliberately pick a date not offered i.e. “oh, you should have come to me directly sooner, I have plans on those dates but I could maybe make time on *other date*, although let me discuss this with my partner, make sure we don’t have plans and get back to you”. Why do this? Because it will hammer home the point that the boss is storing up long term problems by not hiring now or finding a permanent Saturday worker.

        1. pleaset

          “you could deliberately pick a date not offered”

          Have you actually done something like this?

          1. Tan

            Yes I have, in the past it happened often actually because a previous “badgrandboss” seemed to think of staff as indentured workers whose free time /weekends were granted by the grace of the corporate almighty (it was one of those places where corporate culture was like a cult that staff were expected to buy into). Although I suspect my industry to be very different to the writers and even then upsetting staff /pushing people in my niche too far was a bit of a no-no as the work was consultancy i.e. the staff /expertise were what they were selling. Hence I said above such push-back would not be appropriate for everyone.

          2. Tan

            In my opinion, ultimately by saying “oh, you should have come to me directly sooner, I have plans on those dates but I could maybe make time on *other date*, although let me discuss this with my partner, make sure we don’t have plans and get back to you”. You are being helpful but creating a problem for him /her to solve- this will not only make it clear you see this a a favour, not an obligation particularly if you add “as not working Saturday was a big factor in taking this job, what additional compensation is there for working Saturdays?” (Although to me asking about overtime probably would be a step to far for a one off Saturday- I would only ask if it becomes a regular problem) but also y ou can /should get a response from your grandboss that tells you a lot about his thoughts /plans on how he sees organising the Saturday issue in the longer term (and hence whether or not your should move on in your career)

      2. Falling Diphthong

        Or grandboss knew she wouldn’t like it and tried to see if they could get all the Saturdays covered without her. But they can’t.

    3. Akcipitrokulo

      I’m interpreting it as “we know we don’t have a leg to stand on, as this is in no way a requirement we can enforce, but hope we can just pile on the pressure”

      It’s not a requirement. Her contract says so.

      1. quirkypants

        In most jurisdictions, they can change employment requirements at any time (unless they’re unionized). So I don’t think this matters very much.

        1. Joielle

          This LW specifically says that she has a contract, though, which can’t be changed whenever. But, I do wonder if the company is trying to put on the pressure so the LW doesn’t insist on compensation for the changed contract.

      2. Beth

        This might be true by the book, but in practice there’s a lot of ways a boss can ‘encourage’ their employees to do technically non-required things that functionally make them required. OP’s contract may protect them from being outright fired if they refuse, but I bet it doesn’t protect them from being labeled a difficult employee/not a team player, given lower raises, passed over for promotions, etc.

  9. Ginger ale for all

    Regarding the Saturday worker, is there any way you can turn your schedule around with having a three day weekend and then a one day weekend every so often to soften the blow? You could work a Monday through Friday week and then a Tuesday through Saturday week afterwards and have a three day weekend in between.

    1. Rexish

      We had a similar set up as #1 in my previous work. I loved it. I worked on a saturday and then had a three day weekend the next week. It was great. Of course we are all different. I’m the type of person who likes to work long hours so on firday I can have a half day and it is worth it for me :)

    2. Drago Cucina

      Yes. This can be a perk of working Saturdays. At our library it had been tradition to take off on Friday. It took me a bit to show people that if they took off Monday they had a three day weekend. Then work 5 days.

      When I worked Sundays I used to love taking off on Wednesdays. It broke up the week and I could get so many things done or enjoy places that usually had a weekend crowd.

      1. Peachywithasideofkeen

        I love Wednesdays off too! I rotate working a weekend day at my job, and unless I’m using my day off to travel or something, I always pick Wednesdays!

    3. LW

      Maybe! I used to do this years back and it worked at the time, but now I find that friends are often scheduling stuff on Saturdays which is part of why it bugged the shit out of me at the last job. At least this is a lot less often!

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        I think the reason they are phrasing it like they are is to guilt/pressure you into saying yes to the occasional Saturday and they KNOW that they can’t do anything if you say no.

        You really, really don’t have to – and you’re helping your colleagues as well by not letting them change the conditions of your contract.

        1. Nanani

          This.

          Watch them turn to the next non-Saturday contract person and go “Well LW said yes now what’s your excuse”

          Don’t give up leverage you don’t need to give up. Your contract is there for a reason.

    4. Upstater-ish

      Why is it a blow to work on a Saturday. It’s just a day of the week. I have Sundays and Monday off. Monday’s are incredibly peaceful!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        If you’re working Saturdays and all of your friends have weekends off, it can be tough on your social life. Add in family obligations and I can see why working Saturdays isn’t ideal for some people. When I worked retail I had to work Saturdays but would only do so after religious obligations in the morning, and it made for a really long day.

        That said… it sounds like this is truly “once in a while”, not even once a month, so I think the OP should just do it, especially since it comes with a weekday off. If everyone else in the office is picking up a Saturday, it looks out of touch for the OP to refuse.

      2. No Tribble At All

        Because if the majority of people in your life have Saturday and Sunday off, it really sucks to never see them or to miss out on plans because “can’t, I’m working”.

      3. pleaset

        “Why is it a blow to work on a Saturday. It’s just a day of the week.”

        Because other people often have Saturdays off, and many people want to do things with others both days on the weekends.

        I’m surprised you didn’t know this.

        1. Isabel Kunkle

          Yeah, this. And while I theoretically wouldn’t mind working some weekends in exchange for days off during the week, a) there are specific weekends I really do need off, and “oh, hey, we’re changing your schedule to get you to do this thing you specifically said you didn’t want to do when we hired you” would make me doubt my requests for those weekends would be honored in a way I could trust, b) um, not everyone is me.

          (Sort of the same thing w/r/t most holidays: American Thanksgiving/Easter/the Fourth of July are not in any way big deals for me, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s not an imposition for US companies to require non-emergency workers to come in on those days, especially because the first two will hit people who have kids, whether they themselves care about the holidays qua holidays or not. As do weekends.)

        2. J

          LW isn’t being asked to work every single Saturday. Only periodic Saturdays. Thus LW still has plenty of opportunity to spend weekends with other people.

          I understand not wanting to immediately accept working on a Saturday, but its one day, periodically, not constant. Please be a team player. Your boss will remember your willingness to work as well as remember if you push back come reviews, promotions, or even time off requests.

          1. Kelly L.

            Periodic Saturdays have a disturbing tendency to scope-creep into constant Saturdays in almost every case I can think of.

        3. Oh So Anon

          You’d be surprised. Maybe it’s a socioeconomic thing, but there are people out there whose social circle normally doesn’t have weekends off so it’s not normative to them that weekends (and in some cases, holidays) are a “thing”. A good chunk of my extended family (who mostly have jobs in health care/service industry/security) see the world this way.

          1. J

            Agreed. I’ve had several family members who work weekends and holidays for years. We simply view it as days off, whether its Saturday-Sunday or Monday and Thursday.

            1. Oh So Anon

              Glad to know I’m not alone in this experience. My family members in this situation get really, really huffy when people make the assumption that weekends off are a standard expectation, or even that weekends are a social time.

      4. Falling Diphthong

        Mondays are incredibly peaceful because not all the days of the week are the same, in terms of what’s open, when your friends are busy, etc.

      5. agnes

        I can understand the difficulty, especially if the LW’s partner/SO has a M-F schedule. My husband took at job that was allegedly supposed to only include one Saturday per month. HAHAHA. He worked about 35 Saturdays IN A ROW. It really affected our relationship with each other and with our kids. He could never participate in birthday parties, day trips to see the little ones, nothing. He took another position at another location (less convenient) just to get the Saturdays back.

      6. Meese

        Also, if you work Monday – Saturday with a random day off in the middle of the week, you don’t have a weekend, since your 2/7 days off are not consecutive.

        1. Hlyssande

          Yeah, a single day off during the week is not a good trade for two consecutive days off.

      7. Rusty Shackelford

        In addition to the other comments, if you need child care and are already in the typical M-F setting, Saturdays are probably not available.

      8. Beth

        Many, many workplaces structure their schedule around a M-F work week, with Saturdays and Sundays off. That means that for most people, the days their friends are most likely to be making social plans/their families are most likely to be getting together/their neighbors are around to chat over yardwork/etc. are Saturday and Sunday. Those two days are also when school-age kids are home and in need of parental supervision. Not all days of the week are equal, in other words.

        1. Oh So Anon

          I wonder if this is more the case among white-collar/office workers than it is for others. If you’re someone who does shift work and most of the people in your life also have non-M-F 9-5 work schedules, you may not have a standard expectation of people having common days off for social plans. Having days off in common may become so rare that people in that situation stop associating days off with “protected” time for get-togethers.

          1. LW

            Very true. My circles are a mixed bag of people working M-F and people working odd shifts, so weekends are still the time when you’re most likely to be able to get the largest number of people together.

  10. Avasarala

    #3, It sounds like what triggered you wondering if you need to have this conversation was the two employees getting married. But presumably they’d been dating for a while before that. Were there any issues with work/life boundaries last year?

    Or if the trigger was them getting full time status (or close to it), you saw them working part time before that, while dating/married. Were there any issues with boundaries? Do you have different standards of professionalism for full time vs. part time workers?

    I’m having trouble understanding why it occurred to you now to have this conversation after they’ve been working together as spouses for half a year and at this time status for at least a month. The clues you give, marriage date and full time status, don’t seem relevant to me. The only thing I can think of requiring it to be brought up at this point would be their inappropriate behavior, which you don’t mention.

    1. Paperdill

      Yes – this also puzzled me. I know I am painting all kinds of generalisations here, but if they have just gotten married, assuredly they had been dating for a while, living together for a bit, had a few arguments that were difficult to leave at home, met each other for lunch and all those coupley kind of things.
      Surely, if their was to be a discussion about their “boundaries” it should have happened way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay before now.
      Has OP newly assumed their role and looking for things they think need addressing?

      1. TechWorker

        It’s possible OP didn’t know about their relationship until they announced their marriage (I know this happened at my friends workplace where two fairly senior people got together and kept it secret until announcing their engagement). If that *is* the case though then clearly they’ve managed to keep it out of work so far and should be able to continue to do so!

        1. Avasarala

          Exactly, it sounds like OP just found out about it. Even if OP just started managing this person, I don’t see why you’d use that as an opportunity to bring up delicate topics that are under control.

          It makes me wonder if there are issues at play that OP was too delicate to mention.

  11. SisterSpooky

    #2- i 100% go to one of the two less populated floors in our building to poop, for privacy. The layouts of those bathrooms also give a more private feeling, even if you do end up with company. I think many of the people who work on those floors probably resent being the pooping bathroom, but it is what it is. Better than meeting up with one of my direct reports at the sink after they just heard me drop a deuce, or worse- there is an actual line of people waiting for the stall i am currently stinking up

    1. Mookie

      I think a lot of people do this for the reason you and other commenters say—privacy, quiet—but the LW describes a large “gaggle” of strangers in “her” bathroom, so it seems like people are flocking for other reasons (otherwise the crowd would quickly dwindle over time as they all sought out other places.)

      That being said, LW, if this is indeed what most people in your building do, that must mean that your colleagues from your floor are also going to other floors. That evens it out, surely?

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        A “gaggle” of strangers suggests the toilet on their floor is closed for cleaning, surely? Otherwise, it sounds like a team meeting from the other company “Re Thursday’s Accounts submission, meet in the third floor ladies room”
        (Sorry, that’s a bit flippant, but I’m having trouble thinking of another reason for *regular* gaggles on another floor if it’s *not* closed for cleaning)

        1. tamarack and fireweed

          Maybe someone is making morning tea or serving muffins in the kitchen on the LW’s floor, and that attracts a gaggle, who then visit the facilities together?

          If it’s such a mystery, I’d probably engineer to ask them. After making sure I’m a known face, and greet them with a cheery “good morning” for a few weeks, I might just grasp the next opportunity and ask “I’ve been so curious, can I ask you all a question? It’s just that we run into each other nearly every morning at 7:30 up here, but if I’m not mistaken you’re all down on floor 2, right? So… is there something happening every morning on our floor that I don’t know about? Or do we just have nicer washrooms?”

          1. c56

            Sorry but I think a stranger or vauge work acquaintance asking saying “I notice you use this particular bathroom, why?” would be weird as hell

        2. Yorick

          Maybe there IS a meeting with people from other floors coming to that floor, and so everybody goes to the bathroom before or after the meeting.

  12. Anonymiz

    OP 2, I can see it from both points of view as it’s annoying when your usually quiet bathroom gets busy so you don’t have as much privacy, but at the same time I understand people wanting privacy so going to a quieter bathroom. Some people find it hard to go to the bathroom with others around or just prefer a bit of space. I will admit to going 2 floors up sometimes in search of a quieter bathroom. Or like others have said, I’ve also had to use a bathroom on a different floor sometimes due to the nearest one undergoing cleaning at the time.

  13. MP

    I used to go to a different floor’s bathroom because the one on my floor smelled so bad. Combination of poor ventilation plus a few women who had really super funky . . . stuff. I was afraid my hair would pick up the stench.

  14. Kwazy Cupcake

    In my building, the women’s restroom is directly next to the stairwell. If I see a known Bathroom Talker go in before me, I pretend I was headed for the stairs all along and just use the bathroom on a different floor.

    1. JustaTech

      Ugh, we have this in my building too, and there’s one (dude) boss who has the terrible habit of standing right outside the women’s bathroom to continue the meeting that just got out. So I either have to ask Boss to move, or go up the stairs to the next bathroom.
      I even called him out on it once, when I really needed to go and he was slow moving, and his response to “you’re standing in front of the women’s bathroom” was “I am?” We’ve been in this building 7 years and the bathrooms haven’t moved.

  15. Cat Meowmy Admin

    #1) I work Sundays (and sometimes Saturdays if needed), and also any holidays if they fall on my scheduled work days. (However, part of the deal when I was hired; part time survival job, so YMMV, and your’s is a different circumstance.) Yes, it bites, and I don’t blame you. However, it may be in your best interest (your “capital” in your org) to offer to fill in on a Saturday *if needed*, or to try out a few Saturdays on a temporary trial basis if your life-schedule can accommodate it. (You may not want to be the only one who declines; talk about putting you on the spot, right?!) Your efforts to “volunteer” (when you’ve really kinda been “voluntold”), even on a minimal basis, may pay off better than you realize right now.

    1. J

      +1.
      Declining to work a Saturday when everyone else has agreed will give management a poor impression of you which may in turn impact future promotions, time-off requests, etc.

  16. Cat Meowmy Admin

    “#2”) Oh the irony of the positioning of this one! I see what ya did there, Alison! :D
    So…basically on par with “Why does someone climb a mountain? Because it’s there!”
    Yeah, look at it this way for similarity – it’s widely known among us feline fans that however many cats you have, there should be litter boxes “x 1-1/2” plus at least one extra litter box on each floor in your home. Presumably where you work, other “litter boxes” are being cleaned on the other floors at the time, so they flock to your floor. And at least you don’t have to scoop, so there’s that! :D

  17. Cat Meowmy Admin

    #3) You don’t need to bring up your concerns until, and if, it becomes concerning. Since one was recently moved to more full time and the other was promoted, I’m pretty sure they’re smart enough to not blow it by behaving inappropriately at work, and they’ve likely discussed this scenario beforehand. I would trust their professionalism and intelligence enough to do the right thing. (Unless you notice otherwise)

  18. Paperdill

    My old building’s staff toilet for the whole floor was an “accessible” cubicle (so one single door, door quite gappy) directly opposite the main office so good and visible and audible and smellable to everyone.
    So, in cases when I needed to number 2, had my period, needed to take a pregnancy test (post test cry included) or anything other than a super quick wee you better believe I used upstairs fancy, private, multiple cubicle suite.
    So, my answer is anonymity.

    1. Cat Meowmy Admin

      Omg very similar to my current situation at work. Unfortunately, there are no other restroom options in my immediate office vicinity- resistance is futile.

    2. Mookie

      This is nightmare-ish. Reminds me of “toilets” they stick in portables. Everyone ends up sounding like Paula Shore in Jury Duty.*

      *apologies for my terrible taste in cinema. I am no one’s doormat.

  19. Cat Meowmy Admin

    #4) I relate to the desire to pay ot forward. If a contact isn’t the right fit (experience, skills, etc), you’re still helping them by not wasting their time applying for a position they’re not suited for. It’s way better than the almost-never response when applying on your own. If you want to, maybe offer to circulate their resume with other contacts in your network, or keep on file in case you hear of something that may be a good fit for them. And you’re still paying it forward by helping them.

  20. Cat Meowmy Admin

    #5) You can remain cautiously optimistic while keeping things in perspective. (That’s how I roll in my draining job search.) If this is right for you, it will present itself. You should continue looking into other options, both for practicality and to give yourself the knowledge that *you* have some control in directing toward any available opportunities. That said with encouragement and empathy, with the very uncertain (well, maybe certain) direction of your current workplace. I know, it’s scary. Things where I work are unsettled in this way too. I wish you all the best.

  21. Laura

    I’d like to offer some possible insight for the second question! I sometimes go to another floor when I need to use the bathroom because it’s one of the few times a day I get off my chair and I think it’s good to get a bit of extra walking in while I’m already up.

    1. WorkingGirl

      Yup! I work in an office with one bathroom but I’ll walk the long way ‘round to stretch my legs.

    2. LizardOfOdds

      I also do this and get an extra 1-2K steps/day at work by going up and down the stairs to other floors to get coffee, use the restroom, grab something from a vending machine, etc. Also, I often will plan a trip to the restroom on my way to meetings, and those meetings sometimes happen on other floors. And, bathrooms on other floors sometimes have better amenities, like the one on my floor has toothpaste but the one 3 floors down has great lotion. If my hands are dry, I might go 3 floors down.

      There are a zillion reasons why someone might use a restroom on another floor and it never occurred to me that anyone would be paying attention to which one I use. We’re all there for the same reason and have to awkwardly share space while trying to do something private no matter which floor you’re on, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

  22. Overtime

    #1 If the company wants someone to work Saturdays, pay double. If the budget doesn’t stretch to that, guess what? – it’s not worth opening on Saturdays.

      1. Tan

        Ultimately a coworker has left so there is an entire person’s salary to “play” with- so isn’t perhaps that cheeky to say “pay overtime and you probably will get a better response”… depends on the writers standing in the firm. By the sound it the grandboss has realised weekdays are overstaffed whereas Saturdays are at their limit so wants to take the opportunity to balance things out and make the business more profitable: but they are not prepared to be a boss and rectify this decisively, which in the long term is just bad management.

  23. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    Unless I’m in a real, um, rush I always walk to the loos on the next floor up because I sit on my backside all day and it’s a good opportunity to get a bit of exercise and a few steps closer to my 10,000 steps a day!

  24. cncx

    I deeply understand LW 2. for me, i’m on a floor with exactly two women, and because of the women from other floors coming down to use the one on my floor i have had to do stuff like wait in line, or wait ten minutes for the toxic cloud to dissipate, or both. it’s really disruptive.

  25. Femmebot

    #1 I wouldn’t say yes if I were you. It sets a precedent that it is OK for the company to break your contract and it’s a slippery slope from there, getting harder and harder to say no.

    1. quirkypants

      While I would hate working Saturdays, the fact that it breaks a contract is only really relevant if the OP is unionized.

      Employment terms can be changed at any time in most jurisdictions.

      If I were the poster, I’d use a script similar to Allison but the whole contract thing doesn’t feel relevant here.

    2. Elle Kay

      This is a good point LW1. If they’re going to ask you to work Saturdays you can ask for them to revise your contract to lay out what the requirements are. For example, your current contract is Mon-Fri; if they add Saturdays are you going to get the weekday off that employees with that contract get or are you going to end up working 6 days/week?

  26. Luisa

    I hope this isn’t true in most workplaces, but I often have to use a restroom other than the one nearest my desk because things like toilet paper, soap, and paper towels aren’t consistently stocked in the closer restroom. Also, when the lightbulb goes, or the toilet seat detaches from the toilet, or the toilet clogs, the time to repair it is typically best measured in weeks.

    And this is WITH a contract that stipulates we must have access to working restrooms stocked with basic restroom necessities!

  27. Jaid

    Haha! LW #2, I use the bathroom on the floor that has fewer people working on it, because it generally is cleaner.

  28. Poopin Away

    Another option (not for the “gaggle” for for “one offs”) is that people happen to move between floors for meetings or to talk to friends or to drop something off to someone and they need to poop. My group is on floor 9, but I often have a lot of meeting throughout the day on floor 12. If I need to go between meetings, I’m not going back down to my floor just to use the bathroom so as to not offend people on floor 12 by using “their” bathroom.

    1. raktajino

      If the LW’s floor is the first floor, perhaps people are using the bathroom straight from their commute? I definitely use the first floor bathroom when I get off the bus.

  29. The Rafters

    LW 2, We have the nicest conference room in the building and the women outnumber the men. We run out of supplies more quickly and despite daily cleaning and stocking, regularly need additional supplies. So yes, we use bathrooms on other floors.

  30. Rose Tyler

    LW1, regardless of what wording you settle on make sure that you get the same “day off the following week” or whatever that the usual Saturday workers get. Maybe ask for it to be the Monday following, so you still get the same number of days off.

  31. Alex

    LW #2

    I use a restroom farther from my desk than the closest one for a few reasons:

    1. dividers between urinals
    2. It’s cleaner
    3. It’s smaller, so probably less trafficed

    The bathroom on their floor may be getting cleaned and drive them to a different floor.

  32. zillinith

    #3- The convo probably feels awkward because the policy exists in part to ensure you don’t have to have the convo. On some level, personnel policies exist to be a laundry list of things employees could conceivably do but shouldn’t, and to spell out what “shouldn’t” looks like. If she’s following the policy, you’re good! If you feel like it’s a situation where she’s following the letter of the policy but not the spirit of it, or something like that, then that’s the policy’s problem, not your employee’s problem, and you should look at whether it needs to be revised. The instinct of “I know the policy exists but I just want something … more” is one that can let all kinds of weird biases creep in, better to avoid giving in to that.

  33. Alice

    For OP5 – this really grates on me. Why can’t employers say “if we move forward” instead of “when we move forward”? Why can’t they say “the person we hire will do x” instead of “you will do X”? Or, “you would do X” instead of “you will do X”? I do not understand why these accurate statements are apparently so much harder than the accurate ones.
    Good luck!

    1. Triplestep

      I was composing my response below at the time this posted, but for the most part I agree. I can understand a lapse into saying things like “you’ll be doing this and that” instead of “you’d be …” but to strongly imply “we will send you a test” is just careless and actually kind of cruel. In LW#5’s case, it may have been that both Supervisors were not on the same page and one just mentally skipped a step in the process, but it would be nice for them to realize this happened had not leave her twisting in the wind.

    2. fhqwhgads

      I can sort of see it both ways. If the context of the conversation were already “this is how our process generally goes” then using the “we do X next” type phrasing is potentially reasonable/natural and congruent with the already established “if”. But if they just straight off start with “we are going to do X next” it does sound more like they’re taking the “if” out of it and making a direct statement, and that’s how the candidate got the mixed-feeling message.
      Put another way: it’s the difference between saying “when we move forward (in general with candidates)” vs “when we move forward with you, specific candidate”.

      I do agree just switching to “would” instead of “will” is more clear all around, but I also understand why in some contexts it might’ve still been intuitive and not felt misleading for the hiring people to say “will” and leaving the “whomever we hire, not necessarily you” implied.

  34. Triplestep

    I don’t think you’ve received mixed messages; I think you misinterpreted ““when we send you the test part of the application” as meaning that they would definitely be doing that. That’s understandable!

    LW#5, interpreting “when” as inevitable is understandable because that’s what “when” means. So I would not have said you “understandably misinterpreted.” I would have said that some hiring managers and recruiters are just pretty cavalier with their words and say lots of things that they either don’t really mean (or, to be fair, later change their minds about) without regard to how the candidate might be hearing those things. Plenty of them have no compunctions about saying “we’ll get back to you either way”, but then find ways to tell themselves it’s OK if they don’t unless you’re the selected candidate.

    Just know this: It is not your fault that you took “when” to mean “when”. It’s more than just “understandable” that you would do this.

    I hope this turns into a job if you still want it, but one of the best pieces of advice I got from this blog when I was job searching was to always behave as though you didn’t get the job and move on after the post-interview thank-you notes. In this case that would have been hard since you were expecting a test, but moving on does get easier in time. I expanded this advice to “always have an iron in the fire” because things do happen during the hiring process even when things seem to be going very well, and it feels encouraging to have another opportunity you’re exciting about applying for.

    Good luck!

    1. Colette

      If the interviewer had said “if”, people would also take it literally and assume they weren’t getting the job.

      And we don’t know the OP won’t get a writing test – it’s entirely possible that “when” is accurate.

      1. Triplestep

        Taking “if” literally would not be assuming they weren’t getting the job. Taking “if” literally would mean assuming there’s a possibility of moving on in the process. You seem to be saying this is a no-win situation for the interviewer, when “if” is actually the language (and stance) they should be taking for everyone’s benefit.

        I agree, though, that we don’t know if OP got the test since it seemed like not much time had passed before she wrote to Alison, but I’m assuming this all took place a while ago so maybe she’ll update here.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          This. If means “maybe.” When means “definitely, but at an undetermined time.”

    2. CM

      I agree, but I also have a personality tic where I’m almost totally unwilling to make declarative statements about what’s going to happen in the future. So, because it’s unlikely that I would ever misspeak that way myself, I tend to notice it more when other people do it.

      Also, it sounds like, in this situation, it wasn’t clear whether the test was part of the current stage (something everyone who did an interview is asked to do) or a later stage. And still might not be clear.

      That said, I think the bigger lesson is to set up better boundaries in your own mind about how often you’re willing to check your email when you’re waiting for a reply on this stuff. If we imagine a scenario where they did send a test, reasonable people would give you at least a 48-hour window to respond. So, checking your email once a day would be more than enough.

      I sound kind of pedantic and I don’t mean to — this is a trap that I fall into a lot, which is why I have opinions about it. You can’t control whether other people respond to you in a timely way, but you can control how much you let your life be consumed by waiting for the response.

    3. Me

      There’s also a chance the interviewer was discussing the next steps and said something along the lines of “we do this when we send out the written blah blah” and the LW heard it as “when we send you this”. I don’t want to speculate more consider that we all have moments when our brains both say words we don’t intend and hear words that aren’t there. That can really change the meaning of things.

      Regardless, it’s a good rule of thumb that up until written offer, to take everything with a grain of salt.

      1. Triplestep

        I’m going to guess that the LW didn’t pin false hopes on an explanation like “we do this when we send out the written part of the test”. “When we send you the test part of the application” would sound much more like “next steps” to most people.

    4. Marthooh

      I completely agree about just assuming you didn’t get the job and moving on!

      When always means inevitably? When pigs fly, it does! People do actually use the word in a conditional sense, so that is one of the word’s meanings. It’s not useful or actionable to say that these potential employers are just plain wrong.

      1. Triplestep

        When means when which means this thing is happening!

        Does it always then happen? Things can change, so in the literal sense, no, when does not always mean inevitably.

        I cannot think of an example of how to use “when” conditionally without paring it with “if” (although something tells me you’re going to help me out here.) And I don’t know what you mean by “useful or actionable”. My point is that job-searching can be an emotionally draining and punctuated with bouts of self-doubt. To tell someone “doubt yourself some more; you got it wrong when someone told you you’d be getting a test” seems unkind, as Alison would say.

        1. LawBee

          When also means “in the event that”. Check your dictionary. You’re stuck on one definition of a word that has multiple uses.

          You want an example? “Jared better stop trying to tightrope walk across 5th Avenue. When he falls off the rope, he’ll die.”

          1. Triplestep

            Interesting. I’d have used “… if he falls … ” in that sentence. Are you saying this a use of “when” is conditional because there is an “if” implied about whether or not Jared will continue tightrope walking? Is it still conditional if the sentence was “Jared is walking the tightrope over 5th avenue, and when he falls he’ll die”? Sincere question.

            Either way, this is getting really far away from my point. I think the best advice for this LW would focus on moving on after an interview. Suggesting she look at any “next steps” she heard about with a healthy dose of skepticism is fine; adding on that she was responsible for the false hope she was given seems unnecessary during what is an emotionally charged time.

          2. Mockingdragon

            Yeah, I have to agree that “when” in that case means the speaker thinks his falling is inevitable, or at least incredibly likely. If the speaker thinks it’s a thing that could happen but may not, I’d expect them to use “if.”

  35. Bathroom Bandit

    #2 I use the bathroom on another floor to avoid being cornered by a former coworker. I quit my old job to get away from them and I work in a different department now but they don’t know I still work on the same floor, much less for the same employer. I’ve been evading them for 7 months now. The way our harassment policy is written they would have to corner me in the bathroom multiple times before anything is done, so I’ll just go to another floor thanks very much!

  36. Isabel Kunkle

    LW1: In your shoes, I’d reconsider leaving, at least in the long term. You’ve said the Saturday thing itself isn’t bad enough, and I believe it, but “oh, we don’t want to hire another person, so we’re just going to make existing employees do work that’s not in their contracts!” is toxic af and a bad sign going forward.

    1. WellRed

      Agreed. Doesn’t sound like they have plans to fill the position. Who picks up the extra work and in return for what?

      1. Isabel Kunkle

        Yeah, this. Also, the “it’s been decided” not to fill her role..yeah, I just bet it *has* “been decided”, and I bet it’s been by people who don’t have to make up the difference.

    2. Me

      Perhaps, but that might also be a bit far to jump to toxic just yet. Business needs do change. They aren’t forcing people to do the work, they are asking.

      I think it’s fair to be concerned this may be a sign of things to come and proceed with caution.

      1. Isabel Kunkle

        “Asking.” And it sounds like the business has the same needs, they’re just unwilling to hire another person to address them–I’m guessing because that person’s salary might keep the CEO from getting another yacht.

    3. Lynn Whitehat

      Yes. I’ve honestly been surprised by all the “not a team player, oh no, don’t even let unhappiness show on your face” responses. I would consider working Saturdays a MAJOR imposition. As in, don’t even start the conversation without discussing what I get in return. Especially considering it’s the company’s choice not to backfill. I have family and volunteer obligations on the weekend.

      I get that not everyone is in a position to push back. But is it really all THAT rare to be able to have the conversation about “obviously I prefer not to work Saturdays. So what do I get if I do?”

      1. Isabel Kunkle

        Right, exactly! And my guess is that they’re going to lose some people who aren’t in the LW’s position–I know I’d be looking to send out my resume as soon as the “ooh, we’re not going to hire someone else, you’re all doing her work!” announcement went out.

      2. Falling Diphthong

        I think it’s fine to decide it’s your hill to die on. But if it’s NOT–and OP says it’s not–then you want to convey “I’d like this to go back off my plate if that becomes workable” without conveying “Yeesh, you sound so much like my mother-in-law. At her most annoying.”

        1. Isabel Kunkle

          Oh, that’s true. And I definitely understand if it’s not, just…a red flag, still.

  37. Akcipitrokulo

    OP1 – you have a contract that specifies no saturdays.

    You do not have to work Saturdays.

    If you are in a union, call them!

    If not… and they really want you to do it… and this answers the semantics part of it too…

    “As you know I’m not contracted to work Saturdays. What incentives are being offered for my agreeing to this on a case by case basis?”

    Personally I think giving you time + half for those hours would be a minimum.

    1. YetAnotherUsername

      I agree you should definitely ask what are the terms for the overtime. If its just a day in lieu, can you stockpile them and take a long holiday? Or can you get time and a half instead of a day in lieu? Also for any changes to a contract you can always say “I’ll show it to my legal advisor” if you want extra time to think – you don’t have to tell them that your “legal advisor” is your spouse!

      Don’t dismiss it entirely though – it can be very handy to have the odd day off midweek to get errands done that are difficult to do at the weekend.

    2. quirkypants

      I belive employers can change hours of work in most jurisdictions as long as they’re a) not breaking any laws, b) meeting legal requirements for pay and notice, and c) you’re not unionized.

      I believe it’s like most changes in duties, etc. Sure, you can reject them or try to get them out of them but ultimately if they want to make it a requirement they can.

      1. blackcat

        Having a contract changes things, though, and makes me think that the writer is in the US.

        I would explicitly ask for modified contract to get the exact terms laid out.

      2. Joielle

        You keep saying this, but the LW has a contract. It doesn’t matter whether the LW is in a union – maybe LW is a great negotiator and is the only one in the entire company who has a contract! Either way, the contract is a legally binding document and generally can’t be changed without mutual consideration. In other words, the parties both giving something of value. LW is giving the company Saturday workdays… so what is the company going to give her in return?

        1. pcake

          I see that Saturdays aren’t included in the OP’s contract, but I’m not sure that working on Saturdays was specifically precluded, either.

        2. Marthooh

          All we know about the OP’s contract is that it doesn’t have a clause specifying that they must occasionally work on Saturday. That’s not the same as having a “No Saturdays!” clause.

        3. Akcipitrokulo

          Exactly. having a union *helps*… free advice and legal representation if needed…. but it’s not necessary to have the protections in the contract. It’s just a lot easier to enforce.

          It does depend on location… but my impression was that even where employers can change the job’s conditions on a whim, a contract does offer some protection.

          Also the language used suggests bosses know this.

      3. LW

        I’m in the UK, so everyone has a contract, and my contract states what my working hours are but not what they’re not, so to speak. It also includes a standard variation cause – “Teapots Ltd reserves the right to amend your Terms & Conditions of employment and policies from time to time. You will be consulted on any proposed changes and you will be given appropriate notice of any change”.

        As is always the case with employment law, even if I did have a legal recourse I wouldn’t want to use it. But it’s always good to be reminded to break out your contract once in a while, I’ve discovered things I had definitely forgotten!

  38. MicroManagered

    OP2 I say this in kindness and from similar experience. Sometimes, when we are really annoyed by something that ultimately doesn’t matter, like people using the restroom on a different floor, I find it useful to ask “what’s REALLY going on here?”

    This idea of the other company having a “designated” restroom is ludicrous. The building has X number of restrooms, probably decided by the occupancy of the building. They are available for whoever needs to use them (unless of course those restrooms are located within your office suite itself, which, from your description, doesn’t seem to be the case).

    Sometimes when we are fixated on things at work that don’t have to do with the actual work itself, like policing who can use which “designated” restroom, something else might be going on. It might be a useful line of self-inquiry to see if it’s really about the restrooms, or something else?

    1. Fieldpoppy

      This is along the lines of what I was thinking, MicroManagered. You put it very nicely — what actually is going on for the LW that makes this feel like an issue?

    2. Observer

      That’s a really good point. I was thinking about this – why is the OP so worked up about this?

  39. Delta Delta

    #1 – I had an internship with a “do you wanna?” boss. Early on she said “do you wanna call Colin over at the Department of Tapioca about pudding regulations?” I said okay and made the call. Only to find that Colin didn’t want to hear from us, and in fact, was in a disagreement with my boss about pudding regulation applicability. Another “do you wanna?” led to two days of searching through chocolate pudding research journals to find one sentence boss thought she read. Finally it dawned on the other intern and me that “do you wanna?” was actually her saying “I need you to do this thing I don’t want to do.” I have her that feedback at the end of my internship and she said she didn’t even realize she was doing that.

  40. Liane

    Another reason for LW 3 to not have This Talk, absent any problems:
    Do you really want to be “The Boss who thinks it’s The Wife’s Job to make sure her man behaves at work” &/or “The Boss who thinks marriage makes people forget everything they knew about professional behavior”?

  41. Samwise

    OP #2: AAM is a lot nicer about this than I am, because my response is, Why do you care? Is the bathroom so full of people from other floors that you have to wait an unreasonable amount of time? Are they hanging out yakking and blocking the sinks?

    If yes, then sure, it’s reasonable for you to be irritated.

    If no, then I think you need to take a breath, because this kind of irritation first thing in the morning can’t be good for you.

  42. Snowball

    Another reason to use a bathroom on a different floor – I tend to need to use the bathroom when the one on my floor is closed for cleaning, and I have a meeting in 10 minutes, so I go to another floor. This happens about once a week

  43. Transman Here

    #2
    When I first started transition, I was working for an organization that may or may not have reacted well. Our office was in a building with lots of organizations, and we shared our floor with other, unrelated organizations. (The restrooms were in the common hallway, outside the office spaces.)
    Although the people in my office knew me as female, the people in the other offices did not know me at all. I thought it would look really wrong to an outsider to see someone wearing men’s clothes and having masculine features coming out of the women’s restroom. Obviously, I could not use the men’s restroom on the floor where my office was because I did not want my co-workers to know about my transition.
    So I went up one floor and used the men’s room there. There were multiple businesses on that floor, so anyone who did not recognize me would just think I worked for a different business. No one thought I looked weird going into or out of the men’s room.

  44. Strawberry Milk Tea

    #2 If it’s not for privacy there could be other reasons such as people on one floor rarely flush, toilets are regularly broken on their floor, or even bathrooms on other floors that have outlets they want to use for last minute personal maintenance or charge a phone.
    Where I work the lowest floor restrooms have a sewage married with bleach smell and “small” drain fly infestation. The majority of the people working on that level try to avoid using those restrooms unless necessary

    1. Anonymous Wizard

      But if people are using restrooms on other floors because the facilities on their floor are inadequate, that’s a problem that the building management needs to solve.

      1. Strawberry Milk Tea

        Very true but that’s not always a priority. I’ve seen more places avoid fixing it as long people can go somewhere and it not be too much of a hassle overall.

      2. Observer

        Sure. But in the meantime, people need to use the bathroom. And unless these people are blocking others form using the toilet or sink, it’s not that big of a deal.

  45. W. S. Gilbert

    Re #2, the women of my office stand (or sit) with you.

    I wouldn’t mind or honestly even notice bathroom interlopers except that they are really inconsiderate about cleanliness. After we started getting steady bathroom traffic from a different floor, the cleaning staff asked us why we had started trashing our bathroom. We had the building manager put a lock on the door.

    As for folks who only want to defecate in someone else’s bathroom, I, uh, wow.

    1. Arctic

      It’s not someone else’s bathroom. LW describes a situation where the people are almost certainly people from her company who work on another floor.

      And pooping is what it’s there for.

  46. rocklobsterbot

    LW2 I feel ya, we have people who come to my floor to use the ladies as a phone booth or hair dryer cubby. I sit near the bathroom so it’s annoying even when I’m not trying to use the facilities myself.

  47. Phony Genius

    Where I work, bathrooms on other floors are cleaner. This is mostly a function of employee behavior. Also, the lighting is better on other floors. (Not that lighting should matter much in there.)

  48. blackcat

    I am moving to a new role, but I’ll still have a desk at my old university. But it’ll be down a floor from my old one. The previous desk was on a floor that was mostly offices and labs for my department with one big classroom, and during breaks, the women’s room is always PRISTINE. It was myself and one other woman on that floor, and we could each use a clean toilet every time we needed to pee if we wanted to (because of the lecture hall, it’s a big 8 stall restroom).

    I’m still going up there to pee now, just because it’s so much cleaner than the floor I’m on now. This floor has some administrative offices and the offices of a much less male dominated department. Maybe 15 women? Anyways, the 2 women to 8 bathroom stalls ratio can’t be beat! It’s worth a flight of stairs. It doesn’t matter when classes are in session, though, since the big lecture hall drives a lot of traffic into the upstairs bathroom.

    I interviewed at a big state school where their department is still housed in the building built in the 60s. Of course, there’s one women’s room in the ENTIRE MASSIVE BUILDING, and they’ve done an excellent job increasing the number of women in their department. As a job candidate, it was super off putting to always have to walk far to the bathroom then always wait in a long line :/

  49. SigneL

    LW1 I’d suggest renegotiating your contract, if that is possible. I’m a big fan of getting things IN WRITING. That protects everyone.

    1. banzo_bean

      I like things in writing as well, but if I were hoping the Saturday work would get taken of my plate in the near future, I’d hestitate to put it in my contract.

    2. Susan

      Yup. My concern is if you say yes to the Saturdays, even if they hire someone else that you will be grandfathered in to working Saturdays going forward.

  50. Twosies

    Hi, I’m a person who uses a bathroom that’s not on my floor. The bathrooms on my floor for some reason don’t have fans running, so they get hot and stinky. There are also a lot more women working for the other company that shares the floor, and they are the chatty gaggles that scare me away. I can’t poop in a silent bathroom when I know someone else is just sitting there also trying to poop in total silence. So I usually try to escape to the floor below me once a day for a more comfortable bathroom experience: ventilated, fans running, no groups standing and chatting. Sorry to be “that person” but not sorry when I can actually poop during the workday. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  51. Warum

    #2 – I didn’t bother me if other women from different floors used the bathroom from my floor, when they started trashing it, I started to care. It didn’t matter if they needed the privacy to concentrate for good crap, or to use it for a bitch session about their co-workers, or to get away from sickness from their floor. It really started to matter when they don’t flush after they emptied half their colon. It really mattered when you find toilet paper on the floor, besides the toilets and the trash bins. Why trash my bathroom floor when you have yours? I guess they just want to share their trashy nasty habits.

    1. Warum

      one last rant, if women with little boys use the bathroom, please clean the seat after your little boys have sprayed it entirely. If you don’t mind sitting on a wet seat, I do!

      1. Isabel Kunkle

        I don’t think that’s little boys, I think it’s the Howard Hughes-y hover-above-the-seat-because-GERMS women.

  52. Redhead in NY

    #2 – all women I know will not poo when someone else is in the bathroom. I have literally been in a poo stand off being silent AF while someone else was in the bathroom, waiting for them to finish (they likely needed to go as well, hence the standoff – sometimes it lasts as long as 10 min. but if I was in the bathroom first, I’m holding my ground!). When I told my husband this, he thought it was ridiculous because everyone poos. Ok… true! but I don’t want anyone hearing me :)

    1. Anonymous Wizard

      Hi woman here who freely poops in a private stall despite who might be around. Ain’t nobody got time to wait to poop completely alone.

      (See also: pooping whilst holding a baby and/or toddler)

      1. Isabel Kunkle

        Likewise. I don’t *love* having someone around at those times–or being around someone else, conversely–but that’s how public restrooms work, and so it goes.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      This seems really unworkable, especially in large bathrooms with 1-2 dozen stalls.

        1. valentine

          large bathrooms with 1-2 dozen stalls.
          Ah, bowel-based bliss. As long as weirdos don’t take nearby stalls.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      I’ve had that happen! You walk into a bathroom and suddenly the person already in there stops breathing. I figure they are in the middle of a poo, and go to another bathroom if I can.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        There are two kinds of people in the world… (no idea what comes next in a poo standoff situation)

    4. Arjay

      But if you’re there first, you have to poo first! And I’ll have the decency to stay in my stall until you’ve finished, washed your hands, and left.

    5. Close Bracket

      Man, I am so happy that I never picked on on the cues regarding traditional feminine behavior. I cannot imagine dedicating this much head space to basic bodily functions.

      1. Observer

        I don’t think that it’s necessarily “traditional feminine behavior.” I work with a lot of women from a lot backgrounds, and while I don’t make it my business to track who goes to the bathroom when, I’ve seen plenty of them going into the bathroom when other people are already in there. Out multi stall bathroom is the only one available to our staff.

  53. Someone Else

    Short of being directly ordered under threat of , if you do show up – regardless of how reluctantly you’ve volunteered or how much you’ve protested – you have volunteered. And you’ll forever be known as available-if-needed if you do.

  54. ChimericalOne

    Everyone who *doesn’t already* do Saturdays has said yes to doing a Saturday, but no one on the current Saturday roster has volunteered to do an additional Saturday. OP should definitely be clear that this is something quite challenging for her, something she deliberately tried to avoid, and something that she could do on a short-term basis but not regularly, and make it clear to grand-boss that they need to either find a way to get other people to step up (one of my old jobs used to offer double pay for Saturday work) or replace the worker they “decided” they could do without.

  55. Professor Ronny

    #2. I’ll sometimes use the bathroom in an entirely different building just to get out and get a few minutes of exercise.

    1. Amethystmoon

      Exactly, people might be trying to get steps in, especially if the company’s health insurance program encourages that kind of thing. Or they might have a meeting on that floor, or the different floor is also the cafeteria location, and so forth. Not everyone can always hold it another 5 minutes.

    2. Phony Genius

      This can get awkward if your employer does not own the other building. Security is tight these days.

    3. Faithful Reader

      Yes! I work on a university campus and will sometimes go to a restroom in a completely different building just to get away from my desk. I also have a large team and will tend to avoid the closest restroom when we’ve had folks out sick with gastrointestinal illnesses — you’re still contagious for a few days after your symptoms resolve, so I’d rather use a different restroom than the one the recently-ill people have been using.

  56. i_am_eating_cheetos

    LW 5—it’s not clear to me if you’ve written a thank-you follow up to that interview? That’s where I would have said I’m looking forward to completing the assignment.

  57. Heidi

    Hi LW1. Assuming that you’re not going to ask for benefits in return or quit over this issue and you’re only looking for language to convey compliance without enthusiasm, I would actually try to turn negative statements into positive ones. Instead of saying, “I hate working on weekends,” redirect to, “I really like how my schedule is now. It was huge selling point for this job.” Then address the request. “But of course I’m going help out. I’m not going to let everyone else pick up all the slack.” Tone, not language, is the most important part of selling this. Force yourself to smile while you’re saying it, even if you’re on the phone and your boss can’t see you.

    1. Marthooh

      Smiling while saying “Of course I will help out!” will convey cheerful compliance. The boss isn’t going to carefully parse every word the OP says, they’ll just think “Oh, good, not a problem then.”

  58. Heyheyhey

    I used to go to the bathrooms one floor down at my office when the cleaning crew was in the bathroom on my floor, and I would use the bathroom (if I needed it) on my way to or from a meeting, on whatever floor the meeting was on. Pretty simple explanations, really….

    1. DataGirl

      Yep. Both at my current and previous workplaces the bathrooms are cleaned during working hours, and the cleaning person completely closes the bathroom when they are cleaning. If anyone needs to use it during those 20 or so minutes, they have to go to another floor/wing.

  59. dog person

    Letter 2: I work on the second floor, but use the bathroom that is on the first floor. I take the stairs down and back up. I do this because it gives me a chance to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing. It also helps me get my steps in.

  60. RussianInTexas

    Re: bathrooms.
    The bathrooms on my floor are gross, we have (sorry) a seat-pee-er and pooper. And for some reason my bathroom always runs out of paper towels by the end of the day.
    Besides, all bathrooms in my building are outside of suites, and “belong” to the office building, so they are fair game to everyone.

  61. Tisiphone

    Letter Writer #1:

    My experience with unpopular shifts and mandatory overtime — including 10-hour six-day workweeks — is that they never go away. No matter how temporary they may be presented by the bosses, they do not ever go away. Once you start working Saturdays, you’ve crossed the event horizon of working weekends.

    I’d definitely let the reluctance come through. There’s nothing unprofessional about saying no, that will not be possible. There’s a reason why there are no takers.

    You don’t want to work Saturdays, so why not politely refuse, without the disclaimer that you will if you have to — because that will guarantee that you *will* have to.

  62. voyager1

    #1 I would pick the minimum number of Saturdays to keep a job and start warming up the resume. I think this Saturday thing is bigger for you then you’d realize. Additionally if you somehow get out of these Saturdays your fellow coworkers are really going to resent you and your management. That will boil over eventually and there can be some serious consequences you may not be considering or thought of.

    I hate you have to work Saturdays but I think your management is handling this better then what I went through when something similar happened to me.

    1. Bunny Girl

      Yeah I wouldn’t stay at my job if they required me to work Saturdays personally. I like having days off that align with my friends and family so I can spend time with them.

      I would suggest that if #1 does work a couple Saturdays, to bargain that he gets the following Monday off – then you have two full days to relax instead of Sunday and some random one throughout the week.

  63. c56

    I work on the 3rd floor, but the 1st floor is my designated pooping bathroom. It’s bigger and less frequently used (3rd floor often has both stalls in use when I need one) and feels generally more private. Plus, 1st floor is Sales, and screw those guys

  64. AnOh

    #2 I know for me personally if I’m using another floor’s bathroom, it’s usually to stretch my legs so I’ll take the stairs to other bathrooms. I think our floor has the best bathroom, my company sets up extras like air freshener, hairspray, floss etc. and none of the other bathrooms in the building do that so it’s rare I don’t use our floor.

  65. LawBee

    #2 – maybe reframe your thinking. It’s not YOUR bathroom, it is a bathroom in a building where you work. Be a little less territorial over that room – especially if it’s on the first floor. Everyone has the occasional need for a morning constitutional, and there’s no reason for someone to have to hold it until they reach “their” floor in a communal building.

    #3 – I’m pretty sure that none of what you want to talk to your employee about is actually any of your business. Presumably these two didn’t meet for the first time on Monday and get married on Tuesday, so they’ve already been navigating the waters of being employed at the same company.

  66. Jennifer

    #2 (lol) I honestly don’t understand why this bothers you so much. Unless the floor is restricted for some reason all the floors, and bathrooms, are open to everyone. If you want some privacy go to a lesser-used floor where no one knows you. Beat them at their own game. People do this because they don’t want to blow up the bathroom with funk and then come out of the stall and see their boss at the sink with a wrinkled nose. Yes, it’s a natural bodily function but for some people, that’s embarrassing.

  67. Spartan

    #2
    I worked in an office that was 80% female total of about 500 worked There were 4 floors each with a men’s room and a ladies room. However the women’s room had 5 stalls and the men’s room had 1 stall and 2 urinals. You better believe that after lunch it was difficult to find an open stall in a men’s room. You had to decide whether it was better to wait or pop to another floor and hope it was open. Emergencies were something you prayed you never had!

  68. Dasein9

    #2, I have two reasons:
    1. I’m trans and men’s rooms have fewer stalls so what I need is often not available.
    2. At least two people who use the men’s room on my floor have serious illnesses and need the stalls so I go to another floor when I can to help keep the stalls clear for people who may have a more pressing need for them.

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      At least two people who use the men’s room on my floor have serious illnesses and need the stalls so I go to another floor when I can to help keep the stalls clear for people who may have a more pressing need for them.

      That’s kind of you.

  69. MollyG

    #1 The company is saving money by not hiring a replacement, then wants to negatively change the conditions of employment for the remaining employees. This is a cold business decision on their part, so respond with one on yours. Offer to work some Saturdays for extra compensation, or just decline. Employees owe their employers no more consideration then they receive. Employees should not be expected to “go beyond”, for that is just giving away extra labor for free. Now, if the employer wants to provide extra compensation, then that is a different story.

  70. SheLooksFamiliar

    OP #4 – I think Alison’s advice is spot-on. I’m in corporate staffing, so I regularly hear from former co-workers and colleagues about my employer’s job postings. Most of the time, the person does not meet the minimum qualifications for the role. I use a similar response to Alison’s and, while disappointed, the colleague understands. I encourage people to consider future roles, and to apply ASAP if their experience matches the job’s stated must-haves. This seems to scale down repeated outreach on roles they are not qualified to do.

    For those that continue to punch way above their weight, I’ll ask why they pursue roles they aren’t even remotely qualified to do. The response is usually, ‘I’ve always been told to apply to roles that interest me.’ That leads to discussion on application best practices, whether they want it or not.

  71. AnonyMouse

    Maybe I’m just grumpy this morning, but my immediate reactions to #1 and #2 were “… deal with it?” Am I the only one who was annoyed? Granted, my morning started off with my breakfast landing in the trash when I tried to put it in the microwave so…

    1. AnonyMouse

      I should clarify- for LW #1 I’m not saying “deal with it” because I think that management is doing the right thing. I’m saying it more from the perspective of their coworkers. The way the grand bosses email read to me was that the LW is the last person (or one of the last people) to step up. I’m going to guess their coworkers (whether they’re contractually obligated to work a Saturday or not) would all rather be doing a myriad of things on a Saturday instead of working. If this isn’t a deal breaker enough for the LW to start job searching, then at least try to appear to be a team player and volunteer for one Saturday. It sounds like if you don’t, your orgs next step will likely be assigning them w/o your input (again, I’m not arguing that this is the right thing to do. In fact, I’d recommend job searching. It sounds like there may be a host of problems brewing in your org).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      #2 hits all my buttons of “Why is this a thing you even think about” and my day has been pretty good.

  72. Robin

    #2 …I used restrooms on a different floor at my former job for most of the reasons already given – a chance to get a few more steps, etc. Also, one of the cubies I occupied for awhile at that former job was actually closer to the restrooms downstairs from me, as the cube was right across from the stairwell, and the restroom was a short jaunt down the hallway. And it gave me the opportunity for stair exercise.

    Then the company moved to a nice 3 building complex and I started using the restrooms in the building across the quad from us. This was the least occupied building, as the mail room, gym, etc were on the first floor and for some odd reason, that restroom just didn’t get used that much. Could get a fresh clean stall almost every time.

  73. blink14

    OP #2 – I also encounter this in my building and find it strange sometimes. I also tend to be highly observant, and I pick up on random stuff like that anyway.

    I’m at a university, but an outside company leases about half the building I’m in. I constantly run into the same person from that company, on my floor, which is at least 2 floors below their floor (this company occupies the middle levels of the building). Oddly, a few years ago when I was on a different floor in the building, the person visited that floor’s bathroom frequently.

    My assumption is the people you see consistently are looking to get away from their day-to-day peers in the bathroom, for whatever reason. Maybe some people occasionally have a meeting in your part of the building, their usual bathroom is closed for cleaning, etc.

  74. just trying to help

    #2, sometimes the stalls fill up in the bathroom on our floor. Sometimes, we want to get our steps in and see how the other half lives. My current building has nicer bathrooms on some floors compared to others. Mix it up, try them all.

  75. Liz Thaler

    Re: #1–I agree with those saying that grandboss is more telling than asking, but I think the LW knows that. The issue seems to me more that LW doesn’t want the company to get away with acting like this is no big deal! I wouldn’t either.

    The employer is choosing to understaff, and is knowingly, officially making that their employees’ problem. I wouldn’t want to help them alleviate their own discomfort at brazenly taking advantage of me.

  76. LW mixed messages

    Hi Allison,

    Thanks for your response! I’m the letter writer who wrote about my confusion during the interview process. I see things more clearly now a week or so after this interview and yes I agree you’re totally right that I clung onto the “when we send you the test portion” way too much than I should have. Now I have allowed myself to emotionally move on from it.

    Sometimes I think my anxiety takes over and waiting any period of time without at least acknowledgement of receiving an email feels dehumanizing even though intellectually I know it is not. Our careers can feel highly personal to us even though we’re just another candidate to a prospective employer. I know it is purely emotional when I interpret it that way. I’ve been on the other side of the hiring process and I know there are so many other things happening in people’s lives and lots of reasons for passing on a candidate, assuming they have. I’m going to assume it to make my life easier even though I have had employers follow up weeks afterward.

    But does anyone have any tips for how to give yourself enough emotional distance from a prospective employer so that you don’t obsess over the interviewing process? Is there anything you tell yourself to get through it and deal with rejection and not allow yourself to feel worthless afterward? I am in therapy so that helps but between sessions it can be rough.

    Thanks!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m a big ball of anxiety over everything, career and personal wise. What’s helped me has been to let it “get out” and then talk myself down from it. It’s the battle inside yourself where your anxiety says one thing, where your logical side says “Just chill, man. Just chill.” You have to let those two sides battle it out, even if its talking to yourself. You let the anxiety ramble and then you let the logic side weigh in to talk yourself down. This has worked for me because the build up of the pressure of keeping it bottled inside and trying to ignore it tends to make it spiral in my case.

      It may be helpful to even use some kind of journaling system as well. Journal all your anxiety and then you can re-read it and pick it apart. Sometimes spewing it out and the re-reading it is a huge help.

    2. Close Bracket

      Practice. My most recent job search, I applied to 160 positions. The search before that, I applied to over 200. I developed a “fire and forget” mentality for all steps in the process and got very used to rejection.

  77. AnonMurphy

    LW 2 – for some reason, in my current building, the upper floor ladies’ room has a movement-sensing light that turns off every light (including the emergency light) after 5 minutes….while the downstairs ladies’ room light doesn’t shut off until closer to 10/15 minutes, and I don’t believe the emergency light ever shuts off.

    Working in an IT building, sometimes ladies are scarce and people only come and go in the bathroom every 10-20 minutes. So on some occasions, I will go downstairs rather than using the closer bathroom…/end TMI

    Yes, I could report it to facilities, but I’m a contractor and taking the stairs is technically exercise.

  78. Nerfmobile

    Re #1. Early in my career I had a somewhat analogous situation. We’d just had a rotation of duties, and I had moved from the teapot assembly room to the teapot packing room, just before the quarterly maintenance on the teapot assembly sprockets was due. I was also already scheduled to go to a conference occurring the week of the sprocket maintenance, and had made arrangements for the maintenance to go on without me. However, the new person moving into teapot assembly, Rachel, was nervous about the maintenance. So, a week before the conference my grandboss, Ralph, approached me – ‘Don’t you think it would be better if you didn’t go to the conference so you could be a resource for the sprocket maintenance if needed?’ Well, no, I didn’t because everything for it was already set, and frankly if Rachel couldn’t handle the maintenance then she wouldn’t be able to do the job at all. Plus, I don’t respond well do that kind of coercion.

    So I pushed back, basically telling my boss, Chandler, that of course I would stay home if he told me to, but if they were leaving it up to me I was going to the conference. It took most of the day and multiple ‘pursuading’ conversations for Ralph and Chandler to finally just tell me not to go. (yes, I was being a bit stubborn and no, i’m Not especially proud of my behavior in retrospect, but their approach just totally rubbed me the wrong way and I wasn’t feeling sympathetic to Rachel, who I already had viewed as rather incompetent and this just sealed the deal there).

    So I was mad, but I stayed home, and pointedly kept out of the assembly line area. Rachel never asked for help, and I spent the week updating my resume. By the next sprocket maintenance cycle I had found a new job and was out of there.

    I don’t recommend being that stubborn! But I highly recommend that if you end up in this kind of situation that looking for a new job is a good plan.

  79. Really Meh

    I’m surprised no one mentioned simply being on another floor for a meeting or something as a reason for using the bathroom on that floor. You have to go when you have to go. That, and being closed for cleaning. In any case, work bathrooms are not private bathrooms and anyone can use whichever one they prefer.

  80. Noah

    I use bathrooms on other floors when the stalls are filled on mine. Doesn’t everyone do that?

  81. XtinaLyn

    LW3: I feel like I’m way late to the party, but this is a true story, honest to God.
    My mom is a very prissy, proper woman. Always has been. Her nails are always done, her frosted peach lipstick is always just so, and her hair is always perfect. Of course, keeping up this perception is tough when you have to do something as unseemly as poop, so back when my mom was working in a 4-story building, she would go to another floor to do her #2–God forbid someone discover that my perfect mom actually was human like everyone else.
    One day, she went from her office on the 1st floor to use the potty on the 4th floor. She had just pulled down her pants and was getting ready to do her business when another woman entered the stall RIGHT NEXT TO HER. So now, it’s that waiting game that you play when you wonder if the person next to you is going #1 or #2, and you’re left holding your poop in because you’re hoping that they’ll just tinkle and leave.
    NOPE. The woman in the next stall stayed there, so now my mom had a quandary–how to poop without the woman beside her knowing. My mom devised a plan. She decided to take a long length of toilet paper and make a little hammock out of it. That way, when the poop came out, it would simply rest on the toilet paper and she could gently lower it into the toilet without that telltale “plop” that give it away. So my mom fashioned the tp hammock between her legs, and sure enough, the poop came out and landed on the hammock…where it promptly bounced off and landed UP AGAINST THE SHOE OF THE WOMAN IN THE NEXT STALL.
    My mom was HORRIFIED! She pulled up her pants, ran out of the bathroom without flushing or washing her hands, and raced into a stall on the next floor to finish her business.
    And THAT is why people use bathrooms on other floors.
    The end.

  82. Catabodua

    For the weekends question- is it possible to ask for a contract revision that lays out the change? As in you agree to work 4 Saturdays a year. That way it’s very clear that if someone else leaves it doesn’t become a regular thing for you and/or they’d have to renegotiate again.

    Maybe tie it to something else you’ve been hoping to change in the contract?

  83. T bone 91

    LW#2
    Brought this up before a few months ago when the bathroom topic came up.
    JMO but when someone is going to another floor to use the bathroom they’re doing it to avoid embarrassment because they know they’re going to tear it up.

    Building I worked at had 37 floors with several different companies working there and each tenant had their own employee badges to access the elevators and stairwells. Floors 17 and below were occupied by two different State organizations with floors 5 and 2 being server rooms with hardly any tenants and none of those tenant companies were State ran. The only people who were supposed to be there were the IT people and techs who maintained those server rooms.

    State employees were notorious for going to the bathrooms on those floors and stinking them up since there was nobody there to notice. The IT staff were a skeleton crew.

    Building mgt. updated the access software upon request from the State organizations.(Secretary of State and Public Utilities Commission). Given the sensitive nature of what they dealt with: elections, lawsuits, environmental protection, etc., they wanted to restrict their employees access to whatever floors they actually needed to be on. This meant they couldn’t go to another floor to use the bathroom unless they had access to that floor.

    It was hilarious dealing with people coming to our control desk complaining about their badges not working. I’d ask them what floor they were trying to get on and say “hmm, that’s odd, I don’t recall your company having any offices on floor 5 or 2?” That’s when we politely informed them “your badge has been updated to give you access to whatever floors you have access to”. AKA go stink up your own bathroom.

    The crestfallen looks I received were hilarious. Even more so when I could sense they were prairie dogging it.

  84. Cats4Gold

    I use the bathroom on other floors because I’m trans. I transitioned while in the workplace, and it’s awkward to see coworkers who know I’m trans in the bathroom on my floor. I’ve had a few folks ask me why I’m on other floors (rude), but I just generally laugh and say “Oh, I like to walk up and down the stairs when I go to the restroom, it keeps me moving, and it’s great exercise!”

  85. Saltylady

    I used to work in a large office building . The stalls in the ladies room on my floor were not enough to accomodate the workers and the public at lunch time . Since i frequently had lunch with people on the 8th floor , two floors below i started using the 8th room facilities at lunch time . However we frequently noticed that one woman from another office was constantly talking to people in the ladies room. We became suspicious and reported it to Security .

    A few months later we opened the newspaper and this person was arrested for selling phony documents to Immigrants ! So there are many reasons for using restroom on another floor.

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