open thread – August 9-10, 2019

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

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

{ 1,946 comments… read them below }

  1. Coffee Bean*

    Negotiating for a promotion and raise, here is my Q:
    (for context, I am in Finance)

    While I am negotiating for a promotion and raise, my manager and grand-manager keep using phrases like “even to get this (small % increase) has been such a large fight” and “we are fighting but having trouble getting it approved”. They say these things, indicating that higher levels within the company are the roadblock, while simultaneously saying everyone within the Financial Org higher up agrees I should be paid X amount more. I even directly asked, “Is there something I need to be doing to justify this increase” with their response being that I am (and have been for a while) performing at that level, already doing the higher-level work that the promotion would entail, and providing the value that would justify the pay. With Budgets coming up I even asked if this is something they could budget for, so they could then raise my salary to be at market rate with this promotion and not exceed 2020 budgets, and they still started talking about “approvals”, again implying that someone somewhere is stopping them. So, given the two messages, is it HR stopping the pay increase, or are they using this Boogeyman as a negotiation tactic?

    At this point in my career, I have not been in a place to advocate for someone else’s pay/raise, so I am really curious, what & who are roadblocks that managers typically face when trying to get someone else a promotion?

    1. MonteCristo85*

      I think finance has a hard time fighting for pay raises because they are the ones always doing the doom and gloom to the other departments. It does seem to reduce their fighting capital, if that makes sense. My experience is usually that promotions and large raises are usually sort of a consensus among upper management (all departments, not just which ever one you belong to) so if the department itself doesn’t have clout, or if the person in question isn’t well know by outside departments, it can be difficult to get these things approved. But sometimes they just don’t want to waste the capital, so they do fall back on this as a bogeyman. It is hard to say.

      1. De Minimis*

        Another reason I think is just that we finance people are support employees and we don’t generally bring in revenue. I work in non-profit and often raises/promotions usually go to people who are doing the “program work.” On the opposite end, support people are usually the first to be laid off or have their salary reduced.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Man oh man do I feel you on this. I’m in non-profit as well, support staff (HR), and while my current org is pretty good, there’s definitely a tendency to prioritize the needs of program/funding staff, and give support staff whatever scraps are left. And I’ve heard absolute horror stories about other nonprofits that are even worse.

      2. Coffee Bean*

        Thank you both, MonteCristo and De Minimis.

        You both are probably right – finance in general is the cost savvy, support group. Making our starting position a little bit more challenging than other departments.

    2. gbca*

      Manager in finance here. I have promoted two employees. Our company has a standard 7.5% increase that HR recommends for promotions. However, the department leader ultimately has discretion. One of the employees I promoted had been underpaid, so I asked HR to pull the salaries of people at his new level and set him at the 25th percentile of that group, which was more like a 13% raise. My boss was on board and since she owned the budget she had authority to approve. I think HR had to approve, but since I had a data-based approach I was able to justify it.

      Every company is different though and it is entirely possible HR or other executives may be able to block a larger increase. But if all the finance leadership truly believes you deserve more and there are no internal equity issues, honestly I think it’s a little BS and them hiding behind the cloak of “the powers that be”.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Thank you gbca.

        The way you approached your employees raise was really smart! In my personal situation, I do believe that the equity issues are actually the opposite way, largely due to how low of a starting salary I initially took to “get my foot in the door”. Absolutely my fault, but I definitely want this fixed as I realize I am paid so much less than others here with the same or similar experience.

        1. gbca*

          I will add it’s typically MUCH easier to get a higher salary bump with a promotion than the annual review/increase process. In the latter case leadership had a fixed budget for raises and they really couldn’t give someone a raise that was too far out of line to address equity issues. I recall one employee who got stuck in that situation. He was a great employee and ended up leaving the company. So definitely fight for it with the promotion. You might want to also consider very (very!) gently implying that you might be looking elsewhere if you’re not getting paid what everyone admits you deserve. It’s a strong market, particularly in non-management roles. We were having a heck of a time filling finance analyst roles at my company; our recruiters were having to actively reach out on LinkedIn to find candidates and it was still tough. So depending on where you’re located you likely have some power here. Of course, you’ll have to be extremely careful about how you handle that because you don’t want to come off like you’re giving an ultimatum.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I had a similar situation and my boss provided documentation to show me where the road block was. The VP of Finance had the final approval and he kept “losing” the documents. Boss handed me copies with every signature except the VP since he knew I was getting really frustrated and ready to leave. Those docs came in handy when I did actually put in my notice and when he forced a meeting on me to try to get me to stay (since I was such a valuable member of the org and ALL OF THEM had tried so hard to get me the raise and promotion) and I could put the blame directly on him.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Oh man, I hope you were leaving for a much better position and salary. That sounds like it felt amazing – in my head, you just fanned out all the docs in front of you with stickers indicating the blank signature line with VP’s name under it and said nothing. at. all.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Nope – better. Since I wouldn’t go to his office (I was leaving what the hell did I care), he came to my desk in the cube farm so I got to pull them out one by one in front of lots of people.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            That’s the dream scenario! “Allow me to demonstrate to everyone in this room how opposed you are to adequately compensating your staff!”

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      A piece of advice I wish someone had given me years ago is that when someone says “I’ve had to fight real hard to get you [table scraps]” you should ask them how they’ve been fighting for you. Not in a snotty confrontational way, but in a genuine information-seeking way. Because then either you’ll get real information on the steps someone has taken for you and you’ll understand the struggle, or you’ll get some handwavy/stammery answer that reveals that they haven’t actually fought that hard for you, and that’s good info to have.

      Apologies that this doesn’t actually answer your question, but my hackles get raised whenever I hear of managers “fighting” for someone. And sometimes they truly are! But more often I feel it’s a diversionary tactic.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Love this! Thank you Narwhal – I will absolutely ask this question the next time, because you are right, regardless of their answer the information is good to know.

    5. Fortitude Jones*

      So, given the two messages, is it HR stopping the pay increase, or are they using this Boogeyman as a negotiation tactic?

      It could be either one. I know at my company, salaries, bonuses, and raises are set by line management, but have to be approved by the company’s CFO. So if CFO says no to an increase, that’s pretty much it – HR and line management has no say. On the other hand, I l’ve worked at companies where HR did have the final power over these things and line managers could theoretically use their political capital to negotiate an increase for whoever they wanted, so if you got a lousy raise, it was most likely because your boss didn’t advocate for you. It’s hard to tell in your situation, but since you’re in finance, they may be telling the truth that there’s no money in the budget to get you up to the level you need to be at market rate.

    6. Jadelyn*

      It depends entirely on your org structure – and I mean both official and unofficial. If your department head approved the raise, but your setup requires that the SVP also approve all raises above a certain amount, maybe the SVP is the roadblock. Or maybe another department head feels like their team hasn’t gotten budget for raises this year, so why should anyone else, and is nudging the SVP into denying the raise, even though that other department head isn’t over you and has no official say on the raise.

      It might be HR – it shouldn’t happen this way, but I know sometimes it does, where someone’s raise request, if granted, would raise parity issues with others in similar roles. And if HR is aware of that, and especially if there’s any trend along race/gender lines…well, the right thing to do is to fix it for EVERYONE, but whether you’ve got crappy HR who decides not to or org leadership refuses to let them, it’s not going to get fixed for everyone, and so you can’t have your raise either.

      It might be that your new rate is outside, not the budget, but the established salary range for your position (if your org uses ranges like that), and the policy is that there are no salaries approved above-range, so they’d have to redo the whole range to give you the raise you’re asking for, which might mean realigning big chunks of their comp structure. And that’s a ton of work, tbh. I’m…let’s say comp-adjacent in my role, so I don’t do the actual job assessments and market research and level-setting and balancing that goes into setting up and maintaining a comp structure, but I work closely with the guy that does, so I have some idea of what that would entail.

      There are a surprising number of spots where a raise can get blocked or bottlenecked. Without knowing the details of your company, it’s hard to say for sure.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        Jadelyn, this is so helpful. I just got a meh-ish raise after a couple of years of big raises to fix a parity issue. I’m still kind of “behind” and this meh raise is still ok, just not great. My boss said it could possibly be revisited in 6 months, and talked about raising it to our new division head at that time. This breakdown helps me think of questions for my boss about what might be blocking a raise instead of just focusing on my own performance and trying to earn a raise.

        1. Coffee Bean*

          Seconding cmcinnyc here – this really does help understand the different types of roadblocks that can happen within a company. Thank you Jadelyn.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Happy to help! Being in HR and “comp-adjacent”, I see a lot of the behind-the-scenes conversations and negotiations and politicking and other maneuvering that goes into allocating salary budgets and raises. I can’t share the details with the people it’s affecting at my org, but I can at least help draw back the curtain a little in general terms for folks outside my org. :)

        2. Jadelyn*

          Ooh, you’ve got a new division head and an existing parity issue they’ve just finished fixing? Yeah, I’d guess it’s top-level politicking getting in your way here, with maybe a bit of comp structure issues thrown in for good measure.

          Definitely see if you can get your boss to explain why it’s being blocked – but also be prepared for the answer to be “that’s confidential” or something to that effect. If we had staff negotiating pay issues who asked why their raise is being held up, if there’s *any* politicking involved, the answer is going to be “because reasons” basically, since they don’t want to air upper management’s dirty laundry. *rolls eyes*

          And of course, the unfortunate truth is that there’s no guarantee that this *is* a real blockage and your boss isn’t just saying that because he’s avoiding taking responsibility for his decision not to give it to you (for whatever reason). But pressing for reasons might help that come out, too, depending on how your boss answers. I wish you luck!

    7. Artemesia*

      In my experience (not in finance) when bosses say this, chances are always good that they have in fact not done a thing to get you more money. Maybe they know it is feckless or maybe they are too lazy or don’t want to burn their capital, but I bet they have not in fact been strongly advocating for the raise but are shining you on. At this point, looking elsewhere is the key to getting paid better; if you can’t find a better job that pays more you don’t have to tip your hand or take a job you don’t want, but it seems clear you will not be well compensated where you are.

    8. Lauren*

      I would respond, thank you for being blunt with me about this. I appreciate your honesty, and ask if they will be a reference for you while you begin looking for a new job. Let them freak out, and say back to them – but you said this isn’t possible – i appreciate how honest you were with me and I’m being honest with you. I want market rate, and I’m not willing to keep compromising / waiting for something that I can get elsewhere. It is what it is. As you said, it won’t be approved. I tried, you tried on my behalf already. When I find another job, I’ll give 3 weeks notice – but i’ll start doing some transition document now.

      Then get up, and thank them again and leave the room.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I wouldn’t tell them I was planning on leaving, especially not being in finance – finance departments sometimes walk departing employees out the day they give notice. No, it’s best to make a mental note of it, tell yourself you’re leaving, job search like crazy, and then put in notice when you have another job in hand.

    9. ..Kat..*

      I recommend that you say some version of the following to your manager: “I am being paid below market rate (make sure you know what market rate is), in fact, I am being paid less than people at this company who do my same job with my same title. Yet, you are telling me that I cannot get a raise? That if I want to be properly compensated for my work that I will need to find a position at a different company?”

      Are you female? Are the people making more than you in the same position male? Are you in the USA? Might be illegal. IANAL.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Also, point out that you are being told that you are excelling at this level (if indeed you are).

  2. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

    My terrible employee has handed their notice in this week! They were about halfway through their (informal) pip, and not doing well, so they were likely going to be going formal at the end of it. I am still uncertain as to whether they are genuinely that incompetent, actually horrendously lazy or honestly convinced that I was an evil demon boss for actually expecting them to follow a key job process correctly 90% of the time.
    They are currently working their notice, well I say working… they have been consistently telling me they have completed tasks, I check them and they haven’t been completed. They then act extremely put out when I ask them to redo the task. My old manager enabled a lot of his behaviours, but when they left I took over managing him, and my temp manager/mentor sees things my way (ie that he is a liability to the department). He has 3 weeks left, but my temp boss is speaking to grand boss to see if there is anything we can do to push him out eg garden leave. As at the moment I’m having to redo a significant amount of their work as it’s so poor quality, that it’d be easier for me to have done it in the first place!

    This individual is very popular in the department, they are charming and gregarious, and I imagine if I didn’t have to manage his work I’d like him too. The individuals on the floor that he is particularly close to have been decidedly frosty to me of late – I imagine that his version of this tale is that I’m a mean micromanager and that I’ve put him on an action plan because I hate him and that I’m not accepting of his working styles.

    Anyway, my question is:
    What script should I use when people say things to me like ‘Oh I bet you’ll miss him’ or ‘he’ll be a difficult team member to replace’ – when in truth this was one of the biggest things I hated about my job! I’m aware he was popular on the floor, but I don’t think anyone was really aware of how bad his performance was! I’m happy to give some sort of vague pleasantries, but also I feel like all his gossiping about me has likely turned some people against me and I don’t know if I should address it?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      “Well, I wish him the best.”

      You don’t have to directly address the substance of what was said, just make a pleasant vague response. Like saying “Well that certainly is a baby.”

          1. Michaela Westen*

            That might be a little too positive. Is a person who doesn’t do his work really a team member?

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            A co-worker once said, “Whenever there was a problem, she was there” in a reference check for a particularly whiny colleague.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      There’s no need to tell people how awful he was, you can simply mildly agree with these comments, or turn the conversation to either “we have some candidates in mind” or “we’re looking for candidates, so please keep an eye out!”

      1. Antilles*

        In fact, I don’t think you even could address the substance of his gossiping or try to set the record straight. There’s nothing you can say that’ll change people’s minds – at best, it’ll look like you’re a little petty and can’t let stuff go; at worst, it’ll be interpreted as a confirmation of exactly what he was saying.
        That said, you don’t really need to. It’ll die down very quickly after he joins his new company and loses contact with people. Just take the high road, continue to be competent and professional, and let this roll off.

        1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

          I do hope it dies down!
          I really don’t want to seem petty – it’s just so frustrating as we have done so much to help him and he’s really not put the effort it. It’s been nearly a year of performance issues before it went informal, and several major mistakes/errors – in a private company he’d have been fired. As we’re Govt that wasn’t an option, however, even by our govt body standars we’ve been very lenient (and the policy is already lenient!)

      2. Sheik Yurbooti*

        Unfortunately, you cannot share with the team the reasons he is being fired. It’s part of being a manager. I understand you want to be liked but the truth may never be known. You can only give generalities like “We’re moving on with a replacement.” I also think turning it around on people would be a good way to deflect: “If you have any great candidates for referral, I would be happy to see their resume!”

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      Sounds like a great time for a noncommittal “It sure will be different here without him!”

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I love that because it can be interpreted either way (you liked him or you didn’t).

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          My stepfather used to describe unwanted gifts as “the finest example of its kind”. I think “He was one of a kind!” is the equivalent for an unwanted person.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Regarding the scripts to use with people – is there a quality or something about him that you actually do appreciate and will miss? Maybe you could use that to come up with a few phrases to use. Something like “People are really going to miss his sense of humor/kindness/whatever.” Or “It’s always tough when someone leaves, for sure!” Or “I’m hoping he finds a great opportunity and everything turns out great for him!”

      Basically, you just need to acknowledge that this is the way this person feels, but you don’t have to pretend to be super sad.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        I could probably go with enthusiasm, as he was very enthusiastic, just not about his assigned work!

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I do wonder, though, whether there weren’t a few people who are less positive about him. Someone who is truly awful isn’t usually just awful to their supervisor. Or is the job of a kind where there is no interaction between co-workers, where no one else’s task depends on that employee’s task being executed correctly and in a timely manner?

    5. MtnLaurel*

      If it were me, I’d just do a simple agreement on the “difficult to replace” (“he sure will!”) or on the “I bet you’ll miss him”, respond with something like “I’ll certainly miss his (endearing personal quality unrelated to his work).” Like, “I’ll miss his smiling face/silly jokes/cute ties.”

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’ve been in RDOD’s position before, and could NOT make myself give compliments to my departing troublesome-yet-popular employee. When my colleagues said, ‘I’m sure you’ll miss him,’ or ‘He’ll be hard to replace,’ or anything else that invited me to agree with their positive comments, I just slowly nodded my head and responded, ‘Mmmm!’

        People who didn’t know the whole story assumed I was agreeing with them, and dropped the subject. Sometimes you don’t need actual words, right?

    6. !*

      I absolutely hate these situations where everyone likes the employee (if they don’t have to work with them!). I have one of those now, but the kicker is that not everyone likes him, he does crappy work (if at all), is inconsiderate, and has even *bragged* that he’s an asshole! Of course he’s been having troubles with his health so my boss says her hands are tied to do anything about him, which I don’t understand because he sucked before his illness and nothing has changed after the fact.

      People from the outside of the situation looking in have no idea how frustrating and demoralizing it is for someone to work with a person like this. And there really is no good way to explain it so that others don’t think it’s a personal issue!

      Good for you for trying to make a positive change for those who have to work with this terrible employee, I wish my boss would do the same. :(

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I would try to reframe this internally from “he’s probably spreading terrible lies about me” to “he’s probably a good guy who just wasn’t a fit for this role, which he realized also”

      As others have said, once he’s gone people will forget about it anyway…

    8. QCI*

      “I bet he’ll be hard to replace”
      ~”I certainly hope so!”
      Probably not as professional as AAM.

      1. Autumnheart*

        “He’ll be difficult to replace!”
        “I’m sure he’ll be difficult wherever he ends up.”

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Just smile and nod along. Don’t correct them, just say “It’ll be a process to replace anyone who leaves but we’ll get through this transition period!”

    10. LCS*

      I’m a fan of the “Change can certainly be a challenge” sort of response that kind of sounds sympathetic to their “losing him will be hard” comment, but makes it not about the individual specifically. And then it’s a good segue into how change also brings opportunity, what the search/referral process looks like for a replacement, etc.

      1. MaxiesMommy*

        “Yes, it’s hard when (work) friends leave. . . .” So you’re acknowledging their POV, but staying silent on his abilities and attitude as an employee. The “friend” comment is also code for “That’s fine for you but I have a department to run”.

    11. Amethystmoon*

      Had a co-worker like that for 3 years. He was absolutely terrible when it came to accuracy (and this was a data entry job) and totally unreliable as far as completing tasks. I had to stay late and fix his errors a lot of the time, but people liked him because he could be nice and charming. Even though to me privately, he send weird text messages that attempted to be controlling, but I didn’t let him. He never got fired; I changed jobs to not put up with him anymore. You probably aren’t going to be able to change your team member’s minds, as he is probably spreading false information about you when he chats with them.

    12. JennyFair*

      For some reason what springs to mind is Miss Elizabeth Bennett’s response to how her family will bear the departure of the Army Regiment: “I think we shall bear their absence quite well.”

    13. AliceInWonderland*

      I have had a few departures from my team where I was secretly relieved/pleased the individual was leaving. My responses were a cheery “It happens that people move onward and upward! I’m happy for Name. For our team, we’ll be just fine – I’ve already thought of how the work will be distributed, and we’ll have interviews in the coming weeks”.

      1. AliceInWonderland*

        Your team members should feel comforted by diplomacy, and it will make you look bigger if you keep it positive.

    14. OhBehave*

      My first thought was to get rid of him now. Hopefully something can be done such as move him to a different task.
      You really can’t diss him to his peers. You can speak honestly to your equals.
      As to the frosty treatment you are getting, that needs to be addressed if it continues. That will continue if not nipped in the bud! It undermines your authority.

    15. Middle Manager*

      That sucks and I’ve been there. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with as a manager. I had a poor performer who told anyone who would listen that I was an evil micromanaging jerk. And for awhile I know at least some people believed her. In the end it came out pretty clearly to everyone when she screwed up some data that was key to a lot of people and they all got to experience the consequences of her incompetence and laziness first hand. Even though it sucked to not say anything before when she was bad mouthing me, in the end it was definitely worth it bc I never want to be that person as a manager.

      Maybe once your guy is gone and someone good is in the job people will realize the difference?

    16. Documentor*

      Someone else wrote to this already, but this person is showing the worst reasons for allowing an employee to work out notice – poisoning the well and creating extra work. The bigger issue to frostiness is that the co-workers who do have this person’s number are looking for you to take action. Letting it ‘die on the vine’ shows that you will allow the bad to walk all over a situation. You don’t say whether early termination is an option, but at minimum garden this person or outright get rid of him as soon as you can. This lets everyone move on to the next things, and helps to set a tone of what you won’t tolerate.

  3. ThatGirl*

    Frustrating happening this week that I’m hoping isn’t some larger sign of trouble here. I just moved to a new department that’s not customer-facing and was looking forward to occasionally taking advantage of the company’s work-from-home policy. But on Tuesday we were informed that the company is revoking the “privilege” for everyone – allegedly because some folks either were complaining that they can’t get work done with others out of the office or because people were taking advantage of the policy. There have also been rumors swirling that it wasn’t truly the whole company, just marketing and sales, since other departments don’t seem to have heard about it yet. It also seems to be related to disappointing financial performance, which is not really the fault of any one department—the global supply chain has been hugely affected by the tariffs currently in place, for instance, plus various weather disasters.

    Now, on a personal level, the revocation of WFH doesn’t affect me a great deal — I can use sick time for dr appointments and usually have a little extra PTO if I need it for things like car trouble or vet appointments. We’ll have to figure out how this affects inclement weather, but I’ll manage. But on an employee level, it feels punitive — why should we be punished? It feels both demoralizing and like bad management. And it makes a lot of us wonder why, after lots of talk about employee engagement and retention, they would be taking away perks and privileges, and whether more are potentially on the chopping block.

    There’s a town hall meeting next week which I’m actually going to miss, but we’ll see if more comes out then…

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      My company put something similar in place; when we questioned it as a larger group “no more work from home” turned into “no more regularly scheduled work from home, but of course you can ask your manager for one-offs like bad weather or waiting for a service person”. Hopefully that’ll be what happens for you as well.

    2. MonteCristo85*

      We had an interesting thing where a Anti-WFH policy was put in place on our network, but not announced to anyone. It was very restrictive, stating that every single instance must be approved, in writing, by the CEO. Some people found it, and there was a general outcry (we are a start up, very flexible, people work crazy hours, but is has always been ok to do it from home, plus we have sales people that don’t live in the state). It made it up to the CEO, who squashed it immediately. The policy was completed scraped, and we are back to being adults who can manage their own time and schedules. It was a weird interlude, not sure what was the purpose of the original document, I guess someone was flexing?

    3. Dana B.S.*

      I’m not really sure why you mention doctor’s appointments, car trouble, or vet appointments because WFH wouldn’t apply anyway since you’re attending to personal matters. Inclement weather is always a gigantic hassle at all workplaces.

      On its own, this doesn’t sound like an indicator of trouble. It could be a sign of poor management, but it also could just be related to the fact that these jobs really don’t fit for WFH and the experiment failed. It’s too difficult to judge when you’re new to an organization.

      1. Catherine de Medici*

        It’s an issue when you live in a city with long commutes. I telework whenever I have a doctor’s appointment or vert appointment so that I only need to take an hour off, not half a day or more depending on appointment time. Smart managers would allow this so people can still be productive and not waste what little leave time they likely have. I have zero patience for not-friendly telework places when you don’t need to physically be in the office to do your work.

        1. Dana B.S.*

          All of my jobs have been in a city with long commutes, but I generally work in companies with a natural state of distrust towards employees. It’s rubbing off on me. I wouldn’t dream of doing car maintenance any day except for Saturday.

          1. Catherine de Medici*

            My current agency (fed) is super flexible. Core hours are only 10-2:30 Tuesday-Thursday and any four consecutive hours on Mondays and Fridays. As long as you cover core hours with work or vacation time and put in 80 hours every pay period, you can come in or leave whenever without needing approval. We also have credit hours that you can roll over if you work more than 80 hours. With telework, as long as my work is getting done, my boss doesn’t care what we do.

            I got offered a promotion in a different office but same agency that I turned down because they have a jerk for a branch chief that only allows telework once a week and has the staff meetings on Friday afternoons. Both of these violate the agency-wide policies and I guarantee they are worse in other ways.

            1. nonymous*

              Varies by agency and how the various heads choose to interpret the same policy. Our core hours are 9-3P and some of the supervisors put up a big stink about remote workers in other time zones. Are core hours in HQ timezone or local? Timekeeping policies say it’s tied to duty station, but there were enough loud complainers that my start time is 6A so that people could “see” that my IM status as available about the same time that many people get into work where they are located, which is 2hrs ahead of me.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Sometimes the car simply does not cooperate, and the battery is dead in your driveway on a Tuesday. And it’s the alternator. Good Times!

          3. DC Weekend*

            I’m so fascinated by this (in a genuinely curious, non-judgmental way!). I’m the exact opposite and would never WFH without doing a few life things when it was quiet. It’s one of the perks of WFH. I’ll note that I WFH rarely and my work is such that as long as i am paying attention to email and get things done in a timely manner, nothing else really matters. I live in DC in case that makes a difference as well.

            1. LizB*

              Yeah, when I’ve had positions where I can WFH, I often do a couple life things on a WFH day — it usually takes up about as much time as I spend on an office day chatting with coworkers, refilling my coffee, and all the other little distractions of office life. Or sometimes I’ll start working at the time I would normally start my commute, and then take a chunk of time in the middle of the day. As long as everything gets done and I’m responsive to email and phone, it doesn’t matter.

        2. EH*

          This. I don’t even have that long a commute, but if I have anything going on in the town where I live, it adds at least 45min to my out-of-office time if I go in to work rather than working from home. I live on the east side of town and commute to a town further to the east, so when I have appointments in the main part of my town, it makes no sense to go in.

          For example, for a vet trip, I’d have to drive home (20 min under ideal conditions), pick up the cat (~10min depending on how cooperative the cat feels), drive to the vet (15min), have the vet appointment, then do those previous steps in reverse vs just driving to the vet and back. 90min plus the duration of the appointment, vs 30min plus the duration of the appointment.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’m not new to the org – just my current role. I’ve been here for two years.

        And I mention those things because they have been, in the past, a perfectly valid reason to work from home – I could work from home, run to the vet for 30 minutes, then come back home and finish work. Or drop my car off for new tires, get a ride home and work there the rest of the day.

        1. Dana B.S.*

          Sorry, misunderstood your newness.

          Also, I want your vet. I feel like it’s always a big hassle to go to the vet, but I got an old pup.

      3. Aquawoman*

        People in my org WFH all the time because they have doctor visits or the like. I’m in DC where the average commute is 45 minutes each way. If someone has a 10 AM doctor appointment in the burbs 10 minutes from their house, and works from home, they work a full day; if they can’t WFH, that’s 3-4 hours of leave (the couple of hours before 10 AM + the length of the appointment).

        1. Mama Bear*

          Exactly. I used to be able to pop over, do a thing, and come back but today I could not justify both the thing and the commute time (easily an hour round trip). Rumor here is that someone seriously abused the privilege a few years ago, so the option for routine WFH days has been cut. The vacation time is generous, but it goes quickly when you have appointments.

      4. Overeducated*

        If you have, say, an hour+ commute, then when you take leave to deal with doctor’s appointments, car trouble, etc. it is a lot easier to minimize the amount of time off or even make up the time on the same day if you have the option to WFH. As someone who has frequent doctor’s appointments close to home right now and the ability to telework weekly, I’m finding that I can simply make up the 1-2 hours of work missed in the time I’d normally be on the road (with managerial approval of the change in hours), and it’s so incredibly helpful.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Precisely. This is Chicagoland, and while my current commute is short, a lot of people drive at least 30 minutes; 45-60 isn’t uncommon.

      5. Anax*

        I have a very short commute, but I also like to WFH when I have medical appointments – I tend to have anxiety before them, and it’s easier to be productive in my own space, with a cat in my lap and a letsplay on the tv.

      6. peachie*

        Not sure if this is the case with ThatGirl, but it’s common in my office to WFH part/all of the day if you have an appointment (e.g., if you live far from the office and would lose a ton of time going back and forth, if the appointment is close to the end of the day and it’s easier to WFH for the rest of the day after, etc.).

    4. peachie*

      Ugh, that is so frustrating. I hate when employers don’t treat their employees like adults — i.e., trust them to do their job and actually deal with performance problems rather than making broad punitive policies.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      Half of my department (not under my manager) used to have a WFH policy but it got removed due to productivity issues. However, as my manager noted they weren’t given any tools to help them succeed (like additional equipment as needed, etc.) and a lot of technical issues were behind at least some of the productivity problems. Since then, their manager (and the one above the whole department) are gone, and they’re hoping to re-evaluate and move back to WFH options.

      Meanwhile, my division is facing the need to switch to a partial WFH schedule simply due to running out of space because of expansion, so we’re giving our requests for hardware (generally laptops, docking stations at the desks, and second monitors for home use) to our manager.

    6. Currently Bill*

      The stigma around WFH is one reason I don’t like to use the term. I prefer to describe it as working remotely. That then encompasses folks on business travel, at client sites, out of area sales people and more traditional WFH folks. It also press more emphasis on the idea of work rather than the idea of being home.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I think you have a good point. We have a “spare office” where people who come in from other offices work. Technically they are not remote from the company, but they are remote from their own desks, as are the BD folks who are always out and about. It’s more about the flex than the location.

    7. JustaTech*

      This happened at my company (where there were a couple of senior tech people who kind of only stayed because they were allowed very generous WFH, where home was often another state or country), and there was a lot of grousing, people spent more time in their offices or at their desks until whatever high-up either got over the “butts in seats” or got distracted by something else, and it went back to “ask your boss, get your work done, don’t be excessive”.

      So hopefully it will blow over. Part of what did it for us was a terrible snowstorm, in a city that doesn’t really get snow. People had to WFH, work got done, the world didn’t end, and the bosses stopped fussing.

    8. Old Millenial*

      I find that generally the anti-wfh policy just hurts the business.

      Some examples:
      My old company banned wfh snow days. So instead of having safe employees working from 8am-5pm or later at home, you had staff getting in between 9:30 and 10, several wrecks, and leaving promptly at 5pm ot sneaking out early for safety reasons.

      Just yesterday I was 2 hours late, because I was previously given a hard time using WFH. So rather then getting a full day’s or more work from me they are getting 6 hrs.

      Banning ot eliminating WFH “cause others complain” is the epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    9. Garland not Andrews*

      Have you had a change in senior leadership? When the administration changed the Secretary of the Department, he instituted much more limited telework. Many people who would WFH 3-4 days per week and only come in 1-2 days, now are only allowed to WFH 1-1.5 days per week.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes, our CEO left a few months ago; we were also purchased by a large German multinational last year. I’m sure that has something to do with it, and is also the reason our finances are getting more scrutiny now.

        Aside from a few full-time remote employees, though, I think most people were only WFH 1 day a week (except for special circumstances). I really wouldn’t mind that much if they said it would be a case by case basis or only occasionally in limited circumstances, but we’ve been told the ban is basically universal.

    10. Lamplighter*

      This happend ten years ago so maybe WFH is more accepted. When I was promoted to a new exempt role in the company’s regional office, I was issued a laptopwith security on it and a Blackeberry (!) since I was now required to travel to sites I supported from time to time. However, I was told that I could not work from home. Now if I spent 10 hours on a site, I was still expected to handle my usual work from my hotel room into the night but not from home. This was the policy set by our Director who had apparently never heard the old adage about what is good for the goose is good for the gander. She worked from her home, 1500 miles and a time zone away from headquarters, when she wasn’t unnecessarily flitting around to job sites; she dropped in the main office for 4 or so days a month.

      About a year into this, a lot of bad winter weather hit –massive amounts of snow preceded or followed by ice. The region had been paralyzed on and off for several week. I had missed several days of work (I live 30 miles away and my car was lousy on snow and ice) and was catching hell from my boss in the main office for not resonding to issues as fast as she wanted. One evening when a foot plus of snow was expected overnigh, I took my laptop and some work files home. Eighteen inches fell that night into the next morning. I worked on some files, went out to dig out my car when the sun came out, and waited for the snowplow to clear the road. By the time I could leave, everything that had melted in the sun was refreezing; the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered evryone to stay off the roads. I took care of some more pressing work items from my kitchen and cc ‘d boss on some of them; I also put some hours on my timesheet. A couple of days later, my boss called me to say that she told Director that I had worked from home and Director had me written up. I was dinged because I tried to keep up with my work. Their reasoning: It was not “fair” to the non-exempts who had to use leave when stuck at home in the snow. I should have done nothing and used up a day of my leave. A couple of years later, Director screwed up something big which had to be disclosed to employees and she was “resigned” a few months later.

    11. Preach it!*

      We just got a new Exec VP (formerly with a Name car corporation) whose first move was to require “all butts in seats all the time”. We’ll be lucky to work from home during snowstorms. In six months we’ve already lost two people to leaving the Department and one person retiring early.

      We’re a Fortune 300 company and this has caused a lot of other people to start to mumble about resumes and retirement. This EVP has done more to squash morale than her VP predecessor did in 10 years (and he was required to fire 8 people due to financial reasons).

  4. Kelly*

    I have a question regarding internships (in MA if it makes a difference) – my brother is in his last semester of college, and interning for a small company. The internship is full time, unpaid, but counts as a full semester of credits for his school. He plans to work in a very niche industry (film and media). The internship was supposed to end yesterday the 8th (as well as the semester) however this company planned a work trip that he was invited on for the week and they will be back tomorrow. Since his internship is officially over and the trip goes past the semester end date, they promised to pay him for the 2 extra days as they weren’t back in time.

    My question is, are they legally obligated to pay him for this? He was afraid they may not actually pay (since they promised previously that they would pay him for working overtime on a different day, but they have not). And how would he go about this? He has nothing in writing. Should he take it up with his school?

    I would’ve asked this last week but the trip was last minute, he didn’t know until Friday that they’d be traveling out of state on the following Monday. My family advised him not to go but he felt pressured to go – and thinks this is normal for the industry.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      He should take it up with the boss, not the school. And–while I have feelings about unpaid internships–that’s what this is. If he’s out of pocket for all the expenses of the trip, I can see both feeling pressured and the argument for saying no anyhow. But if they covered his expenses, then the internship extending a day for what sounds like a valuable experience people entering this field would line up to have is just not a hill to die on. Similarly if there’s been one overtime day over the course of months–a lot of people would frame that as going the same mile as the other people in the office, everyone buckling down to get the Teapot Project out the door on time.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I’m with Dipthong here – it sounds like an awesome opportunity. If it were me I would go on the assumption I wouldn’t get paid and consider any pay as a bonus.

        If course if he has reason to believe this trip won’t be any benefit to his chosen career then thís advice isn’t valid, but it seems likely to me that a work trip with a company in his chosen niche career would give him some fodder for his resume / interviews, even if he ends up not getting paid.

    2. designbot*

      I would follow up with the person who promised to pay him and ask them to show him how to fill out their timecard for the extra days. There may be some legitimate paperwork he’s missing, and they may not realize that he wouldn’t have the first clue how to fill it out.

    3. NothingIsLittle*

      Did he get the internship through one of his professors? If so, he can ask them for advice and they might advocate for him with the company. Other than that, I agree with Diphthong that whether he paid out-of-pocket or whether the company paid for him will change his response. I can’t speak to the legality of it, but if the company paid his way, he can probably ask once about how he should submit those hours to them and ask what additional paperwork he’ll need to fill out, but then he may want to let it go rather than risk getting a poor reference. (I say may because I’m not a lawyer and not certain of the specifics.) I suspect that trying to retain a lawyer would cost more than what he’d receive anyway, so I’m not sure how much the legality matters in terms of actually being able to act on it.

      Potentially the school could advocate for him in some way, but if it’s the school I’m thinking of, they can’t change the number of credits he received for the internship and won’t risk losing internship slots at the company over one student.

    4. SamSoo*

      If his internship is effectively done, why does he feel pressured to go? Just to keep things smooth in case he needs these people later? Just curious.

      1. Kelly*

        He wants to use them as references and thought they might not give a good reference if he skipped on going

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t understand. If his internship is unpaid, how are they even going to pay him. He’s presumably not in the finance system to be paid.

      I feel like I’m missing something here.

    6. Not My Money*

      As someone who pays film and media, I agree that he should talk to his company supervisor about what paperwork needs to be completed in order to get paid. Every project has a start packet with forms for both the entertainment payroll company and the production company – if he hasn’t filled anything out there’s no money in process for him. I couldn’t tell you the number of times someone has called looking for a check when they never filled out the paperwork or a time card. And the internship paperwork isn’t sufficient.

  5. Former Usher*

    My megacorp is in the process of removing all wall clocks on its campus. The stated reason is to save money on batteries and on the labor required to update the time twice a year. They’ve even created a new corporate policy to govern the purchase of any new clocks, with multiple managers required for any purchase. Somehow this feels even more disappointing than the various cuts to our benefits over the years.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I wonder how much labor it takes to remove and dispose of all of the wall clocks versus the updating and batteries…

      1. Antilles*

        A little less the first time, but you only need to do it once:
        >When you replace the batteries or change the clock, you have to take the clock off the wall, do whatever, then put it back on the wall.
        >When you dispose of the clock, you take it off the wall and toss it in the trash barrel.
        So the first time, sure, it’s a fairly minor time savings…but then every six months from now until eternity, that’s effort that doesn’t have to be spent.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Whaaat? That’s ridiculous. Even their stated reason is ridiculous, because batteries + labour can’t be THAT much money, can they? Then to write an actual policy requiring multiple managers…yeesh.

      I’m sorry to tell you this, and I’m sure you knew this already, but you work for a bunch of loons.

      1. Mediamaven*

        So, if they have to cut budgets would it be preferable to cut OP’s pay? How do you know they are loons or how much money is being saved. No one even uses clocks anymore. They are obsolete. Sometimes budgets cuts have to happen and they likely no what they are doing.

        1. JustaTech*

          Uh, I use a wall clock every time I’m in the lab because I need to record times accurately and I can’t see my watch under my gloves and I sure can’t be digging out my phone.
          So people do still use them for work, and not just for watching in boring meetings.
          That said, I do replace the batteries and change the time myself.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          How much money do you suppose the company is saving by not buying a pack of AA batteries twice a year?

          The skeptic in me immediately assumed they didn’t want staff to know what time it is so they’ll stay at work longer.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          Uh, raising hand as someone who wants a wall clock. Just today I looked around my new office and thought I should bring one in. I understand that a company may want to save the hassle of dealing with them (we had some in the past that were supposed to auto-update themselves at each DST change, but had a tendency to get stuck and confused…), but useless they aren’t.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        This is such a small expense I would be concerned about whether the company is going under.
        No matter how big or small it is, the expense for batteries and time changes can’t be much percentage of their total costs.

    3. New Job So Much Better*

      We have no clocks, except for one in the kitchen. We all use our computer clocks.

      1. Jules the 3rd*


        I mean, there’s clocks on the kitchen microwaves, and I think I saw one in an obscure corner, but we don’t use public clocks for anything.

    4. Toodie*

      So you’re … ticked? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I would also hate to lose all wall clocks.)

    5. LCL*

      Forgive me, but this is hilarious. The company took away something that many people use, but you can get a replacement, if you follow their new policy! and go through the purchasing process. It is reassuring to know that my workplace isn’t the only one that makes new policies that increase workload but don’t have any positive effect to the customers.

      1. Chaordic One*

        In my office none of the clocks are set to the correct time. They’re either fast or slow and quite a few of them are still set to daylight savings time. The clocks are screwed into the wall and you can’t just stand on a chair to take them down and reset them. Some of the people in my office have gone and bought their own clocks that they have mounted on their cubicle walls.

    6. Newington*

      I’m pretty sure I have adult ADHD, or some similar sort of neurodivergence.

      I’m pursuing an official diagnosis through my GP, although it has to be referred to the local mental health team which can have a long wait. I’ve told work about this and they’ve been wonderfully supportive. But even if things go smoothly it’ll be a long time till I can get medication.

      Some days I can’t get into work. Some days I can get here but barely do any work. The best I can describe it is that it feels like I’m trying to push my head through a wall. The wall’s right there, the other side of the wall is right there, it’s simple enough to understand the task but… it’s impossible. Over the years I’ve got good at ‘looking busy’ and can usually rely on having enough ‘good days’ to meet deadlines. But I’m now in a job I really care about and although they’re being lovely I fear I’ll wear their patience down eventually. (One thing they’ve done that has helped is to let me switch between tasks so that I don’t spend more than a day or two on the same thing.)

      Are there people here who’ve been in this situation? Any advice? I’m not looking for general “how to be motivated” things – I’ve probably tried them all – but specifically things that have worked for neurodivergent folks?

      1. Human Form of the 100 Emoji*

        I am not diagnosed, but I have many symptoms of adult ADD. I’m not sure what kind of job you have, but I’ve found that physical tasks (eg, organize physical files or move all these boxes) are way easier for me to complete and focus on than abstract or computer-based tasks (eg research or data entry) Maybe you could ask your supervisor to take on tasks like that to break up the more abstract ones, or find a way to relate abstract tasks to more physical ones?

        1. Newington*

          Mm, not many physical tasks in my job (coding and tech writing), although I’ll do the odd mailroom/milk run/walk round the block when I need a wander. That was basically the reason I’ve spent years doing admin assistant jobs that I’m way overqualified for, though.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        The best I can describe it is that it feels like I’m trying to push my head through a wall. The wall’s right there, the other side of the wall is right there, it’s simple enough to understand the task but… it’s impossible.

        This is the best description I’ve ever heard of how ADHD is for me! And it’s so, so frustrating. Some days I just can’t hit that Start button in my brain, and no amount of Pomodoro or anything else will kick me into gear. Mostly I do the same as you – switch tasks when I can, and count on having more good days than bad to balance it out overall. I’m also going to my doctor to talk about increasing my meds, so hopefully that will help.

        I have no other advice, but lots of empathy! If you’re not already familiar with it, www-additudemag-dot-com is a great resource for all things ADHD.

      3. Syfygeek*

        I was just diagnosed this week and out on medication. I filled out 11 pages of questions, took 3 computer tests, and then met with the Doc.

        ” Over the years I’ve got good at ‘looking busy’ and can usually rely on having enough ‘good days’ to meet deadlines. But I’m now in a job I really care about and although they’re being lovely I fear I’ll wear their patience down eventually…” could have been written by me. I described it as having a house of cards, and being terrified that a card would fall and everyone would know I did not have it under control.

        2 days on medication, and I have not only started boring tasks, but finished them. When before I would start enough to make it look like I was making good progress, but really I’d go on to something else when I got bored. Or distracted.
        Good luck!

        1. Newington*

          This sounds amazing. Congratulations on the diagnosis.
          I got a questionnaire from my GP that had me score a bunch of questions from 1 to 5 and I was like “5, 5, 5, 5, 5….” for everything except the drug abuse (and there but for the grace of not making friends with the wrong kids, etc.) He referred me to the local mental health team, who sent me basically an essay question about how it affects my life… which I didn’t do, because DOING THINGS LIKE THAT IS REALLY HARD, THAT’S WHY I’M ON YOUR LIST. So they assumed I must be fine and took me off the waiting list, and I’m now gathering the spoons to go back to my GP and start again. (I can only imagine how much more awful this is if you’re having to fork out cash at every turn, too.)

          1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            In the U.S., a lot of ADHD meds are considered controlled substances, so you can’t just put in an automated refill through the pharmacy website; you have to contact your doctor or psychiatrist every 30 days and have them send in a new prescription. You can’t contact them too early because your insurance company won’t permit a refill while you still have a lot of medication left, but if you leave it too late, you’ll run out of meds.

            Guess what people with ADHD are really bad at?

            Every single ADHD person I know has had multiple times of “Oh crap, I just took my last pill and haven’t requested a refill yet” and then two or three unmedicated days while waiting for the prescription to be submitted and filled. And then there are constant medication shortages, so your pharmacy might need another two or three days to get the pills in…

            The whole system seems designed to make ADHD people miserable. It’s really awful. But it’s still better than being unmedicated.

            1. Newington*

              Yeah, this happens to me regularly with my other medication, and all I have to do is fill out an online form on my GP’s website. (You’ve just reminded me to do so – thanks!) I also need monthly-ish blood tests for a clotting issue and keep missing them. (Reminder apps are helpful but not unbeatable.)
              I know we shouldn’t get too political on here but thank heck for the NHS; this could all be so. Much. Worse.

      4. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Does physical stimming help you focus? If it’s not the kind of workplace where you can use a spinner or a fidget cube out in the open, you can get a bumpy cushion to put on your chair that lets you stim just by sitting or moving very slightly (not noticeably). The search keyword is “sensory seat cushion”. Or string Bouncy Bands under your desk so you have a big rubber band you can bounce with your feet where no one can see. Or ask to replace your chair with a yoga ball or get a standing desk for ergonomic reasons. A weighted lap blanket might also be useful. A lot of these things are marketed for autistic people (especially kids) but there’s a ton of autism/ADHD overlap, so see if something like that works for you. And then expense it! If your workplace is accommodating, they should cover low-cost, low-effort accommodations like this.

        Caffeine is the poor man’s Adderall, but you probably already know that. Don’t be shy about measuring your coffee intake in pots if that’s what keeps you focused and calm.

        If your workplace is lovely, trust them to continue being lovely, and to let you know if they’re starting to be concerned about your productivity. Ask for your tasks to be put in SMART goal format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely), or reframe them that way yourself, so you can reassure yourself by saying “The teapot report was due at noon Tuesday and I got it in at noon Tuesday, and no one needs to know I did it all between 10 a.m. and 11:59” and the like. The more you can see your job in terms of “Did I deliver the deliverable, y/n”, the less anxious you’ll be about the accommodations you need to deliver those deliverables, especially if there’s a clear before accommodation/after accommodation difference in your performance. (And the more muscle you’ll have to push back if your manager starts saying “We need you to stop taking so many WFH days” or “Do we really have to pay for this weighted lap blanket? That seems like a personal item” or whatever.)

        Good luck!

        1. Newington*

          I’ve tried lowering the caffeine but I haven’t tried upping it. Worth a few shots, I guess – thanks!

      5. Phoenix*

        Newington, my diagnoses are anxiety and depression, but I also have a ton of issues getting work done when my mental health is suffering. Something helpful for me has been to radically chunk tasks into super small pieces, so I can feel the momentum begin to pick up and then I feel like I can keep going. Like, if I have to send an email I feel worried about, it might be: Open my email app. Yay, I did it! Look up the person’s email address. Yay, I did it again! Put their email in the “To” box. Hurray! Three steps down! It felt stupid the first few times I did it, but now it is my favorite way to feel motivated – it gets me out of that downward shame spiral and gets me into a place where I’m celebrating what I am doing towards work goals. Similarly, stopping mid-morning or mid-day to make a “Already Done” instead of a “To Do” list helps me feel like I am DOING things, just maybe not the highest priority things, and helps lessen my worries about everything I haven’t done yet.

        Also, I had a great therapist tell me that my fears about other people being disappointed in me in the future are future fears, and have not happened yet, and maybe never will. So a reminder that if no one is telling you that they are disappointed in you, assume the positive if you can – that no one is disappointed and you’re doing okay!

        Your mileage may vary with your own diagnosis and set of hurdles, but best of luck – you’re not alone out there!

        1. another anon*

          +1 to all the above, I also recommend Marla Cummins’ email newsletter, and the “How to ADHD” youtube channel.

          I use a simplified bullet journal which helps.

          I totally relate to the meds refill issue. My current doc wants me to skip meds on the weekends, which has been challenging because I still need to get chores and stuff done. It’s been a little easier to skip at least one day since I left ToxicJob with Ridiculous Commute. It does help with the refill issue a bit, too.

          Another thing that works for me when I forget meds or am out, or when I had to switch insurance was taking small sips of a 5 hour energy every few hours, and only taking 1/2 the bottle per day instead of chugging the whole thing as directed. It’s way more expensive, and not good for long term use, but ok in a pinch.

          Good luck! You are not alone.

        2. Newington*

          Ah, I’ve tried small subgoals with hourly deadlines but the even smaller ones is a new idea. Thanks!

      6. Food Sherpa*

        Your description fits my ADHD coupled with chronic severe depression. In fact, I am procrastinating right now when I need to get some reconciliations completed. I try to reward myself with little things once I’ve finished something. Reading ‘Ask a Manager’, reading news, taking a walk, making a nice cuppa- these are all things I consider a reward. Find rewards that will work with your job and spend your day being nice to yourself instead of beating yourself up.
        You mentioned Pomodoro method, I use a free app called Forest to help me. It’s loosely based on the Pomodoro method and you get to plant real trees.

    7. Jess*

      Back in the late 80s or early 90s, Delta saved about $7 million per year by getting rid of the decorative parsley on its meals. My guess is that your megacorp is probably saving a bit more money than you’d think (especially if union labor is involved). And it could be one of those things where someone said, “we can’t afford X unless you can find a way to pay for it in the existing budget,” and X may be something that even you might choose/prefer over wall clocks.

      Just another perspective.

      1. Grapey*

        +1. Most people carry a phone or are near a computer in an office setting nowadays.

        All the wall clocks at my job are a little bit off (early/late) in one way or another and most people check their phone/laptop to see if the wall clock is even correct.

        1. Kathenus*

          Interesting perspective on the clocks being off.

          I wonder if inaccuracy is one of the reasons? If people are using – “I wasn’t late, the clock in the lobby said it was still break time” or something similar might have become an issue?

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Well, if no one requested the clocks, that’s certainly possible. But how many levels of managers are we talking about with the new clock policy? Because they may end up paying more in the time those managers are wasting on reviewing clock requests.

      3. Pippa K*

        I think it was American Airlines, $40,000, and one olive from each salad in first class. There’s another story about which airlines did or did not slice limes into thinner slices to save money, but the olive story is the best documented. Sometimes the little things matter – but sometimes they don’t matter as much as people think. There’s a reason ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ is a saying. (Ok, a fairly antique one at this point, but still.) My employer likes to save money by making us buy our own printer cartridges, but there’s always enough money for outside consultants. Who, come to think of it, probably came up with the printer cartridge idea.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          “Penny wise pound foolish” is our corporation’s m.o.
          Buy your own printer cartridges? From your own personal money??? Oh HELL no.

    8. Rebecca*

      I have a clock story! About 20 years ago, at my old weird company, I got moved to an office by myself, and it had been pretty much stripped bare by the previous occupant. At that time, company had closed a ton of factory locations, other buildings, etc. and was downsizing. There were literally stacks of all sorts of things, clocks included, stuffed in storage. I asked for one of the spare electric clocks for my space. Answer, No, we can’t spare it. There was literally no reason other than they just wanted to be jerks about it. So, a few weeks later, I was in “big box store beginning with W” and happened to see clocks on a clearance table. It was a fishing motif clock, complete with a bass photo, lures next to each clock number, a wooden outer ring, it’s actually sort of weird looking, but – it was $4.00. I bought it, stuck a battery in it, and took it to work with me. 20 years later it has occupied every office space I’ve inhabited since, and still keeps perfect time.

      And Clock Hoarder Company buildings and stuff are being sold at auction now. I suspect there are still dozens of clocks in boxes from that time frame. I almost want to go just to see if there are.

      And for my clock, I have to change the battery about once every 2 years or so, and it takes less than 30 seconds to move it an hour back or forward twice per year (OH WHY CAN’T WE JUST STAY ON THE CURRENT TIME!!).

      It probably cost them more money in meeting time, worker hours, and management “managing” that it would cost to just ask someone on that floor to update the clocks twice per year for the next 100 years.

      1. Former Usher*

        I thought about buying my own clock, but the new policy also states that clocks purchased outside the new policy will be confiscated.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yeah, this is weird. Getting rid of their own clocks that they pay for and have to update? Sure, okay. But getting rid of a clock their employee pays for and presumably keeps at their own desk?! What in the world would that accomplish?

            1. DerJungerLudendorff*

              That does support the suspicions that management is doing this for ulterior motives, and the cost is just an excuse.

          2. Mama Bear*

            Funny not funny that you said this. Last year the principal of my child’s school had building maintenance round up all the rugs from all the classrooms. He later claimed no rugs were stolen/thrown out, but survey of teachers said otherwise. I ended up buying a new rug for one of our favorite (and new to the profession) teachers because that was messed up. I guess we should just be grateful that the teacher didn’t have her new rug confiscated, too.

            1. LizB*

              Omg, if those were nice educational/teacher-focused rugs, those things are EXPENSIVE! I would be livid.

        1. Jaydee*

          That is bizarre! If the issue is truly the cost of battery replacement and time changing for daylight saving time (which in a large enough company may be legit), why does buying your own personal clock matter? You would be replacing batteries/setting the time at no cost to them.

          I suspect they really want employees to be unaware of the passage of time. “We’ll show them! They can’t be clock-watchers if there are no clocks to watch! Mwahahahaha!”

          1. Newington*

            In the UK (and the rest of the EU, I think) it’s the law that you have to be able to see a clock from your workstation. The clocks on monitors count for anyone working at a computer.

            I’d guess the motivation is something weird like “people might leave 5 minutes early if their unauthorised clocks are wrong.” It’s still bizarre that they’d ‘confiscate’ anything (is that even legal?)

            1. Capital Laundry Services*

              I have never heard of that law in the UK. Could you give a source/link?

              1. Newington*

                I thought I could, but now all the Google results seem to have be polluted by Brexiters pretending that the EU is forcing us all to wear cuckoo clocks or something

                1. Jaid*

                  Cue me with the thought balloon…of a cuckoo clock on a wrist band, with a bitty bird springing out to chirp.

        2. NothingIsLittle*

          Even if you’re paying for the clock and the batteries?! That screams micromanaging and run now.

        3. Quinalla*

          What? Ok, I already thought this was a little weird, but I could see it, but confiscating outside purchased clocks?!? That’s just weird!

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Will they be confiscating people’s wristwatches too? This is a bonkers policy.

      2. Clocks*

        Ooh, I have one too. One year in college all the clocks got set to different times. It took a couple days to figure it out, then we got the explanation. A facilities guy was tasked with replacing phone batteries & resetting clocks. He didn’t have a watch that day, & his boss didn’t want to loan his own so the guy was directed to set every clock for noon. So he did!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And depending on the clock it might even adjust itself for time changes. (My bedside digital did.)

    9. Earthwalker*

      They did that at our place and a coworker hung one of those silly cat clocks where the tail is a pendulum and the eyes look back and forth. It was a great response!

        1. LCL*

          My mom worked for that company, back in the day. Unfortunately she didn’t have any of the clocks.

    10. Accalia*

      Removing all wall clocks….. and a BS explanation…

      Are you sure they’re not removing the wall clocks to trick you into working longer hours? Because that sounds like the sort of thing a company that would try to deny you access to instruments that would tell you the time.

      1. Mobuy*

        Are they banning cell phones, watches, and computers as well? Because this is an odd conspiracy theory otherwise.

    11. A Simple Narwhal*

      So random! I totally get that on its own it might not be a big deal, but I’m guessing this is just one more thing adding up to the overall depressing/disappointing situation.

      Of course now that you pointed it out, I’m now noticing that there are zero wall clocks in my office building.

    12. noahwynn*

      I don’t think we have any clocks in our entire office campus. Everyone uses their computers or cell phones.

      It is a bit weird to take them down, but I can see it being a pain for the facilities people to keep up with if no one is actually using them.

      I work for an airline, and you’d be surprised about how much money small things save. We recently changes our boarding pass paper to be thinner and less cardstock like. It saved the company almost $300,000 a year.

    13. no, the other Laura*

      This is such a tiny, petty thing that I would seriously wonder if my paycheck was going to bounce. This is beyond “you have to live with the plain yellow sticky notes and regular boring pens cause that’s what we got,” this is it costs more to have someone go around taking the things down and setting up the new policy than it cost them to just change a battery once a year when they do the smoke detectors.

      I know for sure how much operations costs add up. I know better than a lot of people. This is seriously, they can’t afford payroll territory.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s an enormous stretch. Facilities budgets usually aren’t diced that finely, and it’s not like getting rid of the clock maintenance tasks would actually mean people going home early or something and thus saving actual cash. The far, far likelier explanation is that some unexpected clock-related expense or PITA task came up (having to move one, or get one repaired or replaced) and someone in facilities proposed just getting rid of the clocks instead.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’d guess their outsourcedata facilities company charged them to change the clocks and no one thought to tell the department’s to just do it themselves next time!

        2. no, the other Laura*

          That’s sort of what I mean, that the company needs to consider whether or not this is saving money in real life or whether it’s just going to make them look spectacularly bad.

          If you’re managing a facility and you’re going to make a change that will be visible to everyone, you need to think about how you will communicate the change so people aren’t surprised. They might hate it a lot regardless, but if they are surprised by it AND hate it, they’re going to read it like tea leaves if you haven’t given them a reasonable, reassuring explanation.

          Good facility change / communication: “ABC Corp will be removing the Jura coffeemakers and replacing them with Krups coffeemakers in two weeks. The Jura coffeemakers were out of operation 25% of the time and the Krups coffeemakers are more reliable and easily replaced if they break. In addition, Starbucks coffee drinks are available in the cafeteria at a discounted rate. We know how important your coffee is and want to ensure that you have a reliable supply!”

          Bad facility change / communication: “Some of you noticed the Jura espresso makers were removed and replaced with Krups drip coffeemakers last month. This enables the company to save $5/year on the Jura maintenance and replacement parts. Let’s all to our part to make ABC Corp more economical!”

          Nobody gives a crap about putting $5/year in the CEO’s pocket. It’s not even an explanation that makes any sense, really. Messaging is important.

    14. seeveeargh*

      This sounds like a plot line of a campus lit mystery novel. Budget cuts, adjunct exploitation, horological manipulation… sounds like a real thriller.

    15. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      So…they’re taking them all down. Get that part. But they’re just tossing them and have a procedure to purchase a new one?!

      Instead of just rounding them all up, setting them in a storage area and then you have to be authorized to have a clock in your workspace, which would make the most sense?

      What a horrible environmental decision but I know that they are certainly going to be saving lots of money in the end by not doing the bi-annual changes and batteries. They just need to do some more research and pull down the unnecessary ones but nah, just ditch them all since it’s the easiest way I’m sure. Yuck.

    16. Tupac Coachella*

      I mean, they’re not wrong-most people don’t use wall clocks enough to make them worth any company time or effort whatsoever, though YMMV on that statement- but why the public announcement? I feel like they’re doing some kind of weird experiment by telling people “we’re taking away clocks, deal with it!” And the prohibition against bringing in your own clocks that you mention upthread is bananacrackers. Are they afraid that you’ll miss a deadline with the 4 seconds per year you spend messing with it? I get the vibe that you might not even care that much about the clocks, it’s just demoralizing for them to be so unpleasant for no reason.

    17. Autumnheart*

      What? They make batteries that last 10 years now. Is someone really too cheap to buy $50 worth of batteries?

  6. Overeducated*

    I’m going to the Grand Canyon for training for 2 weeks!!!

    That is all :D I have been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m so excited.

    1. Lady Jay*

      Ooooo, sounds so fun! Get in some good walking/hiking/running/sightseeing on behalf of all of us while you’re there. :)

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks! I have some health limitations right now that mean I can’t take advantage of opportunities for overnight backpacking and intense hikes or runs, so I’m hoping to find company for more easy to moderate day trip type activities on the weekend in the middle. But I’m very very excited about the sightseeing.

        1. merp*

          Oh yeah, there are a ton of trails that are less rigorous, I took advantage of them when I was there as well :) I recommend the cemetery as a potentially off the beaten path place to check out – it was really interesting. Have fun!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve always* wanted to do the donkey or mule tours, and I hope when I get there I’ll still be flexible enough to sit a saddle.
          (*Where “always”=”Ever since I read ‘Brighty of the Grand Canyon’ )

      1. Overeducated*

        Very cool! It’s an organization-wide training that is available within a certain number of years after hire, and there are waitlists, so I feel lucky to be going. It should be really interesting for getting out of my extremely narrow and specialized bubble and meeting people whose jobs are TOTALLY different from mine.

        1. Not All*

          You probably already have, but make sure to talk to people before you go who went previously. (I work for the same agency & know which training you’re referring to.) For example, the food situation is…challenging…depending on your flight times vs the shuttle not to mention any mobility issues you may have and there is some other weirdness that makes the logistics harder than most people expect. If you need to be in touch with people at home, definitely figure out the phone stuff in advance. A couple people from my office had a lot of trouble getting signal there…no big deal for some people but was a real issue for one person who ended up having to borrow other people’s phones. Seemed to depend on carrier/phone type though because others had no problems at all.

          (This class got pretty mixed reviews in my office…it was about 60% loathed it, 30% adored it, and 10% “well, at least I got to see the Grand Canyon”. I hope you fall in the love it category! My particular office makes it mandatory for all permanent employees for inexplicable reasons. I’ve been to the equivalent training for 2 other agencies and managed to get out of it based on some family obligations because after talking to what people did/didn’t like about it, it was pretty clear I would loath every minute and I already have a pretty diverse network. I did love the style FWS does though…I’m still in touch with people from that course a couple decades later!)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I loved the Grand Canyon. If you’re staying in the park, take advantage of early morning and late evening to explore while it’s relatively uncrowded.

        1. Canyon sunrise*

          Drink way more water than usual. If you go on “easy, short” excursions take more water than usual. If memory serves you’re in a humid climate so desert will hit you harder.

          If it’s easy to do, I highly recommend watching the sun rise over the canyon. Your hotel will have recommendations for good spots. I complained loudly about getting up that early but was struck dumb by the experience.

          Enjoy the classes & the canyon!

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            *EAT* way more than usual too – you can’t drink enough water to replace the electrolytes you’re sweating out, you need to be absorbing them from solid food in your lower intestine all the time.

            If you do somehow make it to the bottom, Phantom Ranch has THE BEST bacon in the world.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Actually plain water doesn’t replace electrolytes. In a strenuous or sweaty situation you need to be sure to either eat frequently, or have drinks that replenish your electrolytes like smart water or gatorade. Or both.

    3. J*

      Have fun! I loved fundamentals (also my home unit, so it was nice to be able to “play host”). Lots to see and do. If you’re going early fall that’s a nice time to visit.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Find yourself a copy of Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers and take its lessons to heart. There are many ways to die there, not all of them obvious to the uninitiated.

  7. FaintlyMacabre*

    What do you do when some of your coworkers consider elements of being professional as being stifled by the “PC police” and your higher-ups don’t care? I will soon have to spend a week working with one such co-worker and it’s going to be long hours listening to him about how immigrants and criminals should be killed. He’s said things about wishing death on immigrants in front of our boss before, and boss did not bat an eye. I’m considering finding a new job, even though I started here fairly recently and was hoping to stay a few years to get some experience and make up for some other short stays, but honestly this dude is like a turd in the soup tureen and I’m starting to feel like there’s no point sticking around for the rest of the dinner.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      Will HR care?

      Do you have to stay near him? If he starts talking like this, can you move to a different area?

      Can you tell him, “I’m not interested in listening to your violent fantasies, let’s talk about work”? Can you say something to him whenever he starts?

      To be honest, I would leave a job to get away from this kind of person, especially if I had to work closely with them and my boss/HR did nothing. But since it’s been just a little time, what about setting like, a month’s deadline where you’ll leave if it doesn’t improve, and if speaking directly to him doesn’t shut him up.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I’d definitely take this up with HR. I don’t care what your personal opinion on immigration is – you don’t wish death on people out loud in the workplace. Full stop.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          Would you be able to say that he’s making you feel unsafe when he expresses such violent desires in front of you? That type of language might inspire a quicker response.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            That kind of language in the workplace would make me feel unsafe, for sure. If that is true for OP as well, I’d definitely recommend saying that to HR.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Wow. Yeah, I think if your boss doesn’t care, there may not be much you can do. You could report him to HR – and I would argue that you should report him to HR, because he’s definitely making people feel unsafe. But if your boss isn’t already on board with how terrible this guy is, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about the outcome – sounds like you should be making an exit plan sooner rather than later.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      “Let’s not talk about politics at work, it’s really unprofessional.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

      1. Rose by another name*

        Agreed–appeals to common decency don’t sound like they’re going to work here, and refocusing on work is probably the only way to stop him.

        Could you also emphasize your own work needs, like by saying “I’ve got to get these TPS reports out by 5, so can we put a hold on the non-work talk?” or “I really need to devote all my mental space to learning $NewProcess.” And back that up with the strategic use of headphones, when “working together” allows?

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Many people (myself included) have loved ones in the groups this guy is targeting, or are in those groups but don’t look it. And it really can be distracting to hear those rants, so your requests to focus on work have a basis in truth.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        Let’s please draw an important – I feel – distinction: what the coworker is doing isn’t talking about politics, they’re talking about inflicting violence against groups of people for what they are.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I agree, but if HR won’t do anything and FaintlyMacabre doesn’t feel comfortable or safe being that specific, “I don’t discuss political opinions at work” is a safer option that could work.

    4. LCL*

      To get through the upcoming week, keep interrupting him when he starts on his violent tangents. Keep repeating I don’t want to hear this at work, don’t talk about these things to me, this doesn’t belong in the workplace, etc. I am all for educating people instead of contacting HR first, too much so one of my managers has told me, but that only works for coworkers who are being ignorant. People who advocate violence don’t get tolerance. If you don’t believe your management or HR will be supportive, all you can do is interrupt him or walk away.

      1. Lilith*

        “People who advocate violence don’t get tolerance.”
        What a great, powerful line. I hope I remember it.

      2. Groove Bat*

        I’d dispense with the “in the workplace” qualifier. I’d just say, “I don’t want to listen to this. Please stop.” Leave it at that.

        This isn’t political speech. It’s hate speech.

        Honestly, if he is saying immigrants *should be* killed, he sounds like a danger to the community.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          “I do not want to hear this. Frankly, when you keep advocating violence and crime I have a mind to call the police.” (Not that you should call the police. It’s a way of marking the seriousness of your disapproval.)

    5. Buttons*

      That sounds awful! I am sorry you have to deal with that. I have no problem telling people “That is incredibly offensive and racist, please don’t say those things to me.” And he if he goes off with “PC police” BS, tell him “It isn’t about being politically correct, it is about being a decent human” Fuck that guy, he is ing offensive and rude and in most companies he would be fired. You do not have to be nice to him.

    6. Leslie Knope*

      I once worked, for an NGO with a big refugee project, with a self-professed member of the BNP + EDL (British National Party + English Defence League – as close as we have to the KKK in the UK). He would say vile things in the office about immigration/refugees/people of colour – almost as though he had totally disengaged with the core aims of the organisation (and social norms….!).

      I complained to higher-ups, and they absolutely couldn’t care less. It was a sign of how dysfunctional my workplace was that they saw it as ‘political and not something which could be stopped’.

      In sounds similar to what you have described…. but I would say while some (bad) bosses may see political discussions as out of their hand, with people entitled to free speech – wishing death upon anyone is unequivocally wrong. That seems like a hard evidence way of making a complaint, grounded in something very real and clearly wrong.

      But wider advice would be to get out. Management which ignore this kind of thing is going to be making other, big mistakes.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Um… why did he even apply for that job?

        (and was he using his position to act against your clients’ interests?)

        I seriously don’t understand why your bosses did nothing :(

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Lots of racists apply for jobs where they can negatively impact the lives of the people they hate.

        2. Leslie Knope*

          He worked as the database manager, so really was totally separate from the mission & saw his job as separate from his views.

          It was truly bizarre.

    7. Temperance*

      Honestly, I would report him to HR as soon as he starts that shit on me. I can see disagree about the death penalty or whatever (but not a work conversation), but the xenophobia and hatred needs to be stamped out.

    8. Kate R*

      Can you try something like “I don’t like to talk about politics at work” or “I wouldn’t wish violence on anyone!”? It’s super frustrating that the boss hasn’t called this out, but I can also see conflict-averse bosses letting it slide because they think nobody cares about what he’s saying. Calling him out might force them to take some action, or it could be possible you work with jackasses and should be looking for a new job, but either way, hopefully you’ll know.

    9. FaintlyMacabre*

      The big problem with the upcoming work is that we are, let’s say, teapot repairers. When we work in town, we do it alone, but when we do our week long out of town trips, we work in pairs. So… long periods of time in the repair vehicle, repairing a tea pot, then off to the next place. There is no walking away. Last time I had to work with him, I made a couple of comments about us having different political leanings, and maybe politics isn’t a good topic, changing the subject, and so on, but nothing seemed to stick.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I agree with Purt’s Peas, I would threaten to walk off a job if forced to work with someone like this, but then again, I can afford to do that. If you are willing to try again with HR, I would emphasize that he’s talking about genocide and murder, and you don’t feel safe, because who knows if you’re going to fall into one of his “unacceptable” categories??

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup. He’s threatening and advocating violence in the workplace. OP’s boss may not care, but the company should – he’s a liability. That’s the kind of crazy who would stroll into work with a gun and kill people. No, his ass needs to be reported to HR and if they fail to act, start looking for a new job. This guy is dangerous.

      2. Buttons*

        A person like that isn’t going to take hints. You have to say it directly “Do not say those things to me.”

        1. Ms. Ann Thropy*

          This. Also, I would report him to HR to get it on the record. A person wishing death in strangers is a small step from wishing death on those coworkers who disagree with him. This is a dangerous person creating a threatening work environment.

          1. Lamplighter*

            Agree. Go to HR and tell that the employee wishes deatht to certain people not like him and that you are therefore afraid for yourself.

        2. PeteyKat*

          Yes, maybe a bit snarky – if you are comfortable looking at him and saying something along the lines of “Did I give you any indication that I have a closet full of German Jack Boots or white sheets and would appreciate and share your opinions? But thank you for showing me who you really are.” Sometimes people say these things to scare you – like a bully. If you think the company (not the Boss) will be responsive to your complaint, I would report him. But I think you should look for another job. Also, please don’t say anything if you truly feel that he could harm you. Your co-worker is a racist idiot and I think your Boss is too for not saying anything.

      3. CatMintCat*

        Don’t frame it as political, because it isn’t. He’s inciting violence, and frame it that way when you call him out. Hard. And do the same when you speak to HR, the boss, the EEO, or whoever you need to take it too. This won’t leave our society unless and until people are held to account for their words.

        It isn’t political.

    10. CatCat*

      “Don’t talk to me about killing people or wishing people would die.” “I won’t tolerate talk of violent deaths. Stop talking.” “I don’t care if you feel stifled. I don’t want to hear from you about violence.”

      Interrupt if he starts. Keep repeating. Literally walk away from him if you need to. If you have to be in transit with him, wear headphones or earplugs. You don’t have to put up with that crap. I’d still escalate it if he persists to your boss and HR, even if they haven’t cared yet. I’d do it in writing. “I have repeatedly told Fergus to stop, but he keeps sharing violent death fantasies with me. I want him to stop it.”

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Perfectly good reason for looking for a new job.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        This, exactly. Don’t go with “no politics at work.” This isn’t politics. You are not having a disagreement over property taxes or the school board. Keep bringing it back to the fact that this guy is talking about violence and death and that you should not have to hear it.

        I’m so sorry! The human race, I can’t even…

      2. EnfysNest*

        Yeah, don’t let anyone pretend this is just “political talk”. There is no justification for violent language like that, and you have every right to insist that you need to not hear it.

    11. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      Could you start talking to him anout something he would find equally repulsive, to get the point through? Lots of bodily topics (esp female ones) that are not talked about in public. PC-police-him if he protests that.

      Please update us as to how it goes!

    12. Aquawoman*

      This is potential legal liability for the company. This violates harassment/EEO laws and could easily create a hostile work environment. I’d consider either addressing it that way with your boss or with HR, if you have an HR. EEO laws protect people based on national origin and that includes the origin of their ancestors.

    13. Holly*

      I would definitely report this, especially after El Paso. Not that everyone who says that horrible garbage is going to go carry out their sentiments, but it’s something your employer should be monitoring.

    14. Dasein9*

      Add my voice to the chorus of those advising you to set firm boundaries.

      It would be wise to be prepared for him to start trying to needle you or get your goat. He will be testing the boundaries you set. I advise using whatever coping mechanisms you have to remain calm, not only for your own sake, but for strategic reasons: that’s when he’s most likely to cross a line and say something your boss and HR will agree is a problem. Then you can request a different assignment.

      Give him the rope and let him do the rest.

    15. WellRed*

      Secretly report him to the police and stand back and watch the ensuing chaos? After last weekend…

    16. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Go to HR and tell them in light of recent events I feel unsafe listening to Fergus explaining how certain groups deserve to die.

      1. Lobsterman*

        Also, I’d consider consulting a lawyer about next steps when/if (on, when) HR doesn’t come through for you

    17. IV*

      Well, obviously the sane professional responses, escalating to HR, and so on are your first and best line of defense. However, if that’s unreasonable or doesn’t go anywhere for whatever reason I suggest… knitting. Whenever he starts to rant about crazy/scary stuff start talking, at length and in great detail, about your most boring hobby (in my case knitting). For example:

      Him: “Immigrants, criminals, crazy craziness, yar!”
      You bust in with: “It’s just like the debate about whether to use wool or acrylic for knitting, I mean I get that acrylic has had a bad reputation for a long time, but many of the new acrylics are really nice and they are soft and washable too, on the other hand some people are allergic to wool (and I mean really allergic, my aunt gets hives, seriously major hives, it’s crazy), and who has the time hand wash things, plus sometimes even the expensive wools are itchy and you know you go through all this trouble to knit something for someone and then they don’t wear it because it’s itchy, on the other hand merino is quite nice and not all all itchy, it’s just hard… hmmm, better get back to work.”

      Notice the lack of punctuation here implying that you don’t pause long enough to let him get a word in.

    18. Una*

      I just finished doing some workplace training on active shooter situations today, and one point they brought up in training is that there are usually warning signs when someone is planning an attack, but people either don’t notice or don’t act on them. Talking about wanting to commit violence against people is one of the big warning signs. I hope this doesn’t come across as alarmist, but the fact is, this kind of behavior is really far outside the norm – even if violent fantasies are pretty common among humans, the vast majority of us know it’s inappropriate to share them, *especially* at work. It tells you something scary about his impulse control, his sense of what’s normal, and just how much space these violent fantasies take up in his mind.

      In your shoes, I would definitely be looking to see if this person matches some of the other warning signs, and more importantly, looking out for your own safety, whatever that means for you – but I definitely wouldn’t prioritize keeping this job unless you absolutely have to. If this guy gets specific about his fantasies, I might even skip HR and go straight to calling the police (I know someone who had to do that recently when her roommate started talking about his hatred for certain groups, his desire to commit violence, and ordered some guns). The police considered him a credible threat and he was arrested and charged. This guy sounds frightening – trust *your* instincts, not your boss’s.

  8. Frustrated Today*

    When managing people, at what point is it OK to say, “I’m done, I can’t do anything more to help this person and they need to leave”?

    A situation I’ve had at work since I started earlier this year has finally come to a head.

    I inherited this person as part of taking a department manager position at a new company. He was very close to the previous manager and based on what I was told and what I later witnessed, it was eventually to his detriment. The manager laid more work on this guy than they probably should have, but the guy also didn’t speak up to say it was too much and actively volunteered himself for more. I’m now left with the aftermath of that. We are, or were, headed in a good direction, though there were lots of bumps in the road and frequent ups and downs; I never really knew from day to day what I would get. Not only did I give this person leeway and work with him to manage his workload, I sought out opportunities for him to grow. In addition, the company really went above and beyond for him over the years.

    Things came to a head this week and when confronted with an issue, he told me he’s still unhappy and there’s nothing I can do to help him.

    Had I hired this person, I would have managed him out after probably three months or so (given some issues I haven’t mentioned, things that are just part of his personality and probably not easily changed); however, being that I inherited him, he was basically a golden child to his former manager and my own manager (his grandboss, who now knows the full extent of the situation and agrees with me that we stop our efforts to overlook his quirks), and his been with the company a long time (about 7 years), I gave it extra time so as not to appear as though I’m not willing to make the effort. And I also thought that it was the shock of a new manager that has a different style, which can be really hard for some people.

    Anyway, even though I know logically that I’ve done everything I can do at this point and it’s on him to make changes or leave, and my manager agrees, I can’t help but feel like I could’ve done something more. “If only I’d done X or Y, then maybe I could have made a difference.” I guess I feel like I failed at my first truly challenging situation as a manager. Even though I’ve been a manager for 20+ years, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to end up with people that aren’t problems—they did what they had to do, did it well, and had a good attitude.

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      It sounds like you’ve done everything right; if he feels that there’s nothing you can do to help him improve then he’s made the decision to leave by default. If it makes you feel any better I suspect that both you and the rest of the team will be happier/function better once your ‘golden anchor’ is gone.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        Yes, I do believe people will be relieved. I have no idea when the change can be made, but I’m relieved that I no longer need to keep on trying. I mean, obviously I won’t be a crappy manager to him. I just mean I don’t need to make an effort any longer to change his mind/feelings.

        1. Jaydee*

          I find that people spend a lot longer trying to change other people’s minds and feelings than is warranted. You can’t control what other people think or how they feel. Sure, words you say or ways you act might have an impact on how they think or feel. But ultimately, they are in control of how they think and feel about things. Being unable to control others is not a failure.

          And, keep in mind from the opposite side, this employee also probably feels like *he* should have been able to change how *you* think and feel about the same issues. You don’t want to change your mind on these issues any more than he does. So, once you accept that neither of you are going to change, what options are there? You guys can continue to butt heads about the same things for eternity. Or you can accept that he’s not going to change but the benefit to keeping him as an employee outweighs the downside. Or you can accept that the downside outweighs the benefit and take the appropriate steps to end his employment there.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          He told you he’s still unhappy, but he’s still there?
          Sometimes you’ll just have to lay it out: what you want, what you expect, what he needs to do, and that’s the way it’s going to be.

          If he cannot manage under those terms, you can suggest he might indeed be happier elsewhere and you respect his decision if that is the case. If he’s been decent and this is not an outright firing, you can facilitate an exit strategy, and give him some time to find a job and transition out of the company.

    2. designbot*

      The measurement of success here shouldn’t be turning coal into diamonds. It should be handling the coal in an appropriate manner that doesn’t tarnish the rest of the gems on your team.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        Thank you. Logically I know this, but I still wish I could have made a bigger difference.

    3. voyager1*

      How did you him grow? How did you go above and beyond? Did he feel like he was given opportunities?

      Sounds like to me this guy is just burned out. There could also be some difference in expectations of what is success in his role.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        I think some of it is burnout, but a good deal is personality and other issues; I didn’t spell them out since one never know who’s reading this. The company really has bent over backwards to give him many opportunities that others haven’t received, but doesn’t recognize that at all.

    4. Quinalla*

      Sometimes you do all you can (or maybe more than you should even) and the other person is a bad fit for the role, won’t hold up their end, etc. It sucks and I still feel guilty about it too when it happens, but you can’t control others, you can only do what you can to set them up for success. Hopefully it will be a relief for your team (it always has been on mine when problem people were let go or left) and hopefully he will find someplace where he can succeed and feel motivated.

  9. Paralegal*

    Hello! Paralegal here hoping to talk shop with other legal folks. My boss asked me to look into new legal document and case management software for our small law firm, but rejects the obvious choices like Relativity because they’re too expensive. What softwares or other systems do you use that you like, that might be more accessible to a firm with limited resources to spend on IT? We do environmental litigation, so we have lots of documents to keep track of!

    1. Madam Secretary*

      We use a document management system called FileSite aka iManage and I love it. Not sure what the costs are or the tech requirements. It’s basically a massive database, but very easy to use. Our files are set up within Outlook.

      1. Paralegal*

        I’ve heard good things about iManage! We use gmail, though, and I don’t think it integrates with that :(

        1. Philosophia*

          It does now, but with many flaws—some in I Manage itself, some in the Gmail integration.

    2. Former Govt Contractor*

      If you’re talking about e-discovery and production, check out Thomson Reuters eDiscovery Point. I just met with a rep. A subscription is $550/month for 10 GB, pre-review costs nothing – you are only charged for what you send for review and production. Or if you need it less frequently, their one off charge is $130 GB. They also store your documents. User friendly too, I hate Relativity.

    3. Bigglesworth*

      I work at a small estate planning firm (two attorneys and me). They use Cosmolex but also use dropbox, since we digitize all our documents and give the originals back to clients or shred them.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Not sure if this is the type of program you’re looking for (others responded while I was typing and I didn’t see them). Hopefully you get some good ideas!

      2. Paralegal*

        Thanks! I’ll look into Cosmolex. I wish we would digitize and shred all our old documents, it would make my life much easier, haha! I use Dropbox for my personal files and love it.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          We had to move offices recently and being a digital office made packing up a breeze! Plus, it’s saved our hide a few times because we digitize all outgoing mail and we someone emails us and writes that they never received XYZ, we can point to our chron file and let them know when we mailed the documents to them and what the documents were. Happened twice today actually.

    4. Hamlindigoblue*

      We used TrialWorks, which was just ok. It did what it needed to do, but it’s clunky and dated. I’ve heard good things about Smokeball, which is cloud based and they cater to small firms.

      1. Paralegal*

        Oh, I haven’t heard of smokeball – thanks for the tip! I will definitely look into it.

  10. Under Suspicicion*

    Kombucha quandry: I’ve been reported to HR for “drinking at work.” The report comes from my new habit of drinking a GT’s Trilogy Kombucha every afternoon (for the record the clear bottle, not the dark bottle). While it has a small amount of alcohol, it’s low enough that it’s not regulated (less than mouthwash). That means that a 5-year old could purchase one, and the cashier wouldn’t bat an eye. In my opinion, this means that it’s fine to drink at work. I mean, I’ve got a coworker who drink 64-oz Mountain Dew from the gas station every day. That’s got to be more mood altering than a kombucha. For the record, HR is going to let it slide but told me to stop drinking them at work.

    I’m just wondering if anyone else has run into something similar.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Personally, I don’t like kombucha, but I know a lot of folks do. I’ve never heard of it being a problem at work and it seems kine of silly. But my question to you is, is this the hill you want to die on?

      (Also some mouthwash has a lot of alcohol in it, actually, it’s just that it’s unpleasant to drink)

      1. Under Suspicicion*

        No, not the hill that I want to die on. I’m discontinuing per HR’s request; I’m just rather annoyed.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Not the hill I would die on personally, and I’m surprised (or I guess not really surprised) that HR would care either. I don’t love the framing of “we’re going to let it slide as long as Under Suspicion changes their behaviour” – as opposed to “Under Suspicion isn’t doing anything wrong, and we told Nosy ComplainyPants to mind their own business.”

        But yeah, at the end of the day it’s probably not worth arguing about, if HR feels that strongly about kombucha.

    2. Arielle*

      WTF. My work cafeteria sells kombucha and I see people drinking it at their desks all the time.

      1. Autumnheart*

        My work cafeteria makes cream of mushroom soup with sherry in it. Nobody’s calling HR about that.

      2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Our GM’s corner office is so warm and sunny that another coworker is fermenting jugs of kombucha in it.

        Many sympathies, Under Suspicion; the busybody who “reported” you needs to chill out, and your HR should have laughed it off.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      My in-laws got into (and lost) an argument as to whether they could purchase ginger beer on a Sunday. And that has no alcohol. You never know what will cause an eye bat.

      Like ThatGirl, I would put this into “not rational, not the hill I want to die on” and move on.

      1. Grapey*

        I used to work at a grocery store when I was 16/17 and had to call over a cashier over 18 to ring out O’Douls. (“non alcoholic” beer.) Ridiculous.

        1. Mama Bear*

          My college roommates and I got written up when Res Life found a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and a bottle of Goya’s Malta in our fridge. Some people can’t read. (We did successfully fight it, though they also wrote us up for cooking sherry which stuck.)

      2. Natalie*

        I’ve seen a couple of brands of fancy ginger beer at the co-op that are 0.5% alcohol. But they’re obviously not considered alcohol, because if they were you’d only be able to get them at the liquor store in my state.

      3. Filosofickle*

        I got carded once for ginger beer at Safeway. I wondered if that was staff discretion (checker saw “beer” and didn’t know the difference) or a system prompt (the register popped up an “ID required” flag). I live in coastal California, not exactly a hotbed of blue laws.

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

      I’ve never done the math on this but I imagine they may see this as similar to someone who splashes some whiskey in their coffee — i.e. whatever the actual alcohol content, it doesn’t look good to do it openly at work. If this is something that you can’t live without, can you drink your Kombucha on a break outside of the building?

      1. Yarrow*

        I don’t think those are the same thing. Kombucha is not alcoholic. (it has so little alcohol that it’s legally non-alcoholic.) I don’t get how this involves more than emailing HR and saying “Hey, someone probably just saw me drinking kombucha. It’s not alcohol.”

        1. Venus*

          If you search for the drink which Under Suspicicion specifically mentions, the drink states it is 3% ABV, which is *not* ‘not alcoholic’ (which is limited to < 0.5%)

          1. Rainy*

            Ugh, really? So A) that’s not normal for kombucha afaia, and B) yeah at that point don’t drink it at work.

            1. Ingray*

              From what I can see that’s the dark bottle one, the one the OP specified they are NOT drinking.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            *googles* Okay, I’m reversing my earlier position. If you wouldn’t drink 3% alcohol beer at your desk, 3% alcohol kombucha is also out.

          3. Arielle*

            There are two versions of that drink which is why the OP mentioned the clear vs. black bottles. The black bottles are 3% ABV and legally a beer. The clear bottles are not and can be sold in any grocery store.

            1. Venus*

              Fair enough, although the fact that the brand does have an alcoholic version may be why there was a concern expressed by someone. If the colour of the bottle is a factor then the complainer may not appreciate the difference.

              Personally I wouldn’t care (I have worked places where wine was sold at the cafeteria), but I can appreciate how there could be confusion on whether the drink had alcohol.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, a mix up between beer in a bottle and kombucha in a bottle seems most likely. Or someone who believes kombucha is like whiskey. (I recall someone had to defend their KUMQUAT license plate on the grounds that it is a fruit, not a sexual euphemism.)

          So give HR a chance to say “kombucha is not whiskey” but if that’s the line they are drawing, you can shrug and transfer your kombucha into an opaque tumbler.

      2. Rainy*

        So kombucha is not a brand, it’s a type of fermented tea stuff (I am not a fan, sorry, I can’t describe it fairly), but if you’re going to ban drinking kombucha at work because of trace alcohol, you need to also stop eating bread at work.

        1. Arielle*

          Yes. Or orange juice. I am in a number of pregnancy groups where occasionally someone will freak out about the negligible amount of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer, and inevitably someone points out that orange juice has more naturally occurring alcohol than the <0.5% that NA beer has.

          1. writerson*

            Yes, orange juice! I came here to say exactly that. Also, I’ve brewed my own kombucha for years, and continue to drink it now, even while pregnant.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          When I was still into soda, I used to drink root beer at work, in a tall brown bottle. I’m surprised nobody tried to ban it because it looks like a Budweiser and contains the word ‘beer’!!

          1. Rainy*

            One of my classmates in ugrad (we were both nontrad students), who was married and pregnant with her third got pulled over driving home from class drinking a rootbeer (she spent that entire pregnancy drinking rootbeer like gangbusters because it was the only thing that settled her stomach) because the cop thought it was a beer. She was like *gestures at enormous belly* “DUDE!”

    5. CatCat*

      I have not run into this and it strikes me as patently silly. I’d be side-eyeing HR on this one and wondering about their judgment in general. Just a weird thing to me for them to take up your time with and to ban.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Trilogy does not contain 3% ABV. GT’s does have 3 special kombuchas that are a dual fermentation method specifically designed to be an alcoholic beverage but those are their New World Noir, Heavenly Hops, and Pina Paradise. All of the other kombuchas only contain trace amounts of naturally occurring alcohol that do not need to be labeled.
        And yes, I have an actual bottle of the GT’s Trilogy in front of me at work right now.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Trace amounts of alcohol in flavorings are not uncommon, but that’s not nearly the same as 3% abv. To be clear, 3% is low, but it’s not nothing. And comparisons to mouthwash or vanilla extract are a bit disingenuous, you don’t drink those by the glassful.

      3. LCL*

        The website for the product she is drinking says it contains a trace amount of alcohol. Kombucha is a fermented product that also has bacteria in the process. The yeast ferments the sugar and turns it into alcohol, and the bacteria eat the resulting alcohol. Commercially produced kombucha should have negligible amounts of alcohol. But if it isn’t pasteurized, and not held at a correct temp, it’s possible there could be some secondary fermentation after it is bottled.

    6. cactus lady*

      Oh I would be so annoyed by this! I drink kombucha at work relatively frequently, and before we started brewing it at home I would occasionally wonder if anyone would have a problem with it. (Now I bring it in reusable to-go cups or water bottles.) I’m sorry, that sucks!

    7. LCL*

      It’s not worth fighting HR on this. It sounds like they don’t know too much about it, and once they were told it has a trace amount of alcohol they lost their minds.

      The question, as always when HR or management asserts their authority to stop something innocuous, is what is really going on here? Who decided to inform HR? Why did they decide to inform HR? Why wasn’t the informer told MYOB?

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      I drink them daily as well (also at work – same brand plus several others depending on my mood and sale/rebates) and my BOSS actually asked if he could try some. Hell another coworker brings in her husband’s homemade kombucha.
      This is utterly ridiculous and the fact that the FDA or whatever department is over alcoholic beverages DOESN’T consider it a regulated substance means your coworker and HR are out of their ever living minds.

    9. CoffeeforLife*

      This is bananas. And I would probably push back since it’s not an alcoholic drink, it is sold to children, on Sunday, and you wouldn’t even register a blip on a breathalyzer. It is NOT the same as a splash of whiskey in your coffee. Pretty sure you have to be 21 for that.

      Have you tried water kefir? It’s less tangy but still a probiotic drink. I’m pretty sure there isn’t an alcohol warning on the label (even though it can produce alcohol as a by product). I brew my own and sometimes make it boozy.

    10. LawLady*

      I went to college with a guy who had been VERY sheltered. There was kombucha at some event and he had some, and then someone later mentioned that the fermentation process meant there was a little alcohol in it. “Alcohol??!? This has alcohol??” He freaked out and then proceeded to act very drunk (stumbling around) and telling us he was drunk.

      I wondered where that guy ended up, but it turns out it’s your coworker.

    11. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ve seen some Paleo/Whole30 sites that recommend Kombucha as a substitute for wine, so it’s possible that folks are misinformed about what it actually is.

    12. Mbarr*

      Uh, our workplace actively brought IN Kombucha for employees (it started in the California offices, then spread to our Canadian ones). The CEO himself was waxing poetic about it.

    13. c56*

      Incredibly dumb, so dumb that I might actually consider dying on that hill (if I drank kombucha).

    14. Moocowcat*

      Alrighty……..*confused look* I’m not sure why HR even recommended that kombucha not be consumed at work.
      As you said, kombucha is just a slightly fermented beverage that has less alcohol than mouthwash.
      Drinking kombucha would absolutely not be a problem at my workplace. In fact, there are a few bottles of kombucha in the staff fridge.

    15. bdg*

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided kombucha is not within the scope of fitness for duty regulations and can be brought in a protected area. It was previously a reportable violation of FFD regulations, and it looks like people are still reporting it, but apparently it’s allowed now.

      Don’t know if that helps or hurts you, but it’s definitely been the source of much debate in the nuclear community.

    16. Kt*

      Annoyed on your behalf. Get them to ban chocolate chip cookies made with vanilla extract, too. And cookie dough ice cream since it’s not cooked. For sure sourdough bread.

    17. Zona the Great*

      I think this is loony-toons but I should mention that regular kombucha makes me feel a little drunk (yes the kind your child can drink). Maybe the complainer is like me and perhaps doesn’t realize kombucha doesn’t impact most other people like it does them.

    18. Ciela*

      I knew a girl who was told, in high school, to put away the O’Doul’s she had brought in on St. Patrick’s day. No detention or demerits, just a “put that in your locker until dismissal”.

      At work though? What about Nyquil, or other cough syrups? But then I where I work we have “work beer”. As in beer that the company has purchased to assist the production team in dealing with customers’ BS. I will note that it is very rare for anyone to have more than one work beer a day.

  11. Goldfinch*

    I would appreciate some advice on career development. Colleagues in my age range who work in other fields are getting interviewed in trade journals, receiving industry awards, being highlighted at alumni events, etc. I’ve only just dipped my toe into the world of networking, and separating the useful from the useless is daunting. I don’t want to embody the joke about the D-list actor going to the opening of an envelope.

    I’ve always been the only person at a company who does my job (technical writing) so I don’t have a department of peers to discuss with. I belong to the appropriate professional association (STC) and have attended some seminars, but am not sure what else to do.

    How do you seek out this type of development, and how do you develop a sense for which opportunities are a good use of your time?

    1. BeenThere*

      When I was a technical writer, I also belonged to STC, both the national association and the local chapter. I went to all the local chapter meetings. I also served as a judge in the STC competition. If you’re trying any new strategies in your work, you might consider putting together a paper that you could present at the national conference, or perhaps participate on a panel.

      It’s been a while since I’ve been a member of the STC, but I think I remember a sub-group for lone technical writers. That might be a good fit for you. There’s also the LavaCon Content strategy group.

      Good luck!

    2. 867-5309*

      Attending events, joining conversations on LinkedIn, asking people to meet for coffee or over lunch, etc. These are good ways to network. Those who are getting interviews and awards are actively putting themselves out there by apply. Does that interest you?

      Most alumni and professional organization publications list career moves, so you could submit yourself to those, when applicable. You can also submit for industry awards on behalf of your organization, though those come with a fee.

      I don’t dig the award band wagon and I think increasingly (at least, in my field of marketing) they’re being seen as less relevant the more people humble brag about them. I swore a few years ago that the only awards I’d consider would be those on behalf of my organization that further meaningful business objectives, versus those for my direct work in marketing. You learn over time what events are worthwhile and what aren’t, but start with the most well-organized and largest membership association for your field.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Re: Those who are getting interviews and awards are actively putting themselves out there by apply

        I confirm that for many awards you have to apply to be considered: there is usually no such thing as a “search committee” for prize candidates. If you look at the webpages of the awards you should find where and how to apply.
        Some prizes require a senior member to recommend you (as opposed to you directly applying), so if you have a mentor you should talk to them; they should also tell you which prizes are worth competing for, because it’s true that they are so many now that their value is diluted.

        Also, for the general networking part: if conferences are common in your field, try to go as much as you can. People go to conferences for exactly this reason, and networking is expected and encouraged between the sessions. It is also much easier to start talking with new people when you can comment and ask questions on what they just presented.

    3. Willow*

      Don’t just joing goups or attend meetings or seminars, volunteer to help with them. It’ll make the networking easier, because you’ll be forced to do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

  12. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

    Has anyone ever been flown out for an interview? This is the first time in my career that I am being seriously wooed ny a company and it is overwhelming. How have you all dealt with those intense emotions?

    1. hermit crab*

      Me! I was interviewing for a position in my current city, but the rest of the team was located in a different city so that’s where the interview took place. They paid for my flight and hotel up front, and probably would have reimbursed me for a meal or two (but I didn’t ask).

      Just don’t do what I did: because of a combination of me not being prepared for the nightmare that is Chicago-O’Hare and a gate-change communication error, I actually MISSED MY RETURN FLIGHT despite being in the airport well ahead of time. Luckily the airline didn’t charge me anything to rebook my flight, but I was so nervous that evidence of my shame would get back to my interviewers. (I got the job and have worked here for a year.)

      1. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        Oh goodness–this is always a thought in the back of my mind. Thank you for the advice!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been flown out a couple of times. While it might make you feel as if you’re getting some kind of special treatment, just remind yourself this is a cost they’ve built into the hiring process. Yes, they like you enough to invest in you as a candidate (so you should feel special in that way), but don’t at all feel guilty. It’s not a vacation, but also feel free to enjoy the time you’re in that new place when you aren’t in the middle of an interview.

      1. Antilles*

        Yes, they like you enough to invest in you as a candidate (so you should feel special in that way), but don’t at all feel guilty.
        Similarly, don’t feel like you have any obligation here either. If the job isn’t the right fit, it’s not the right fit; don’t let yourself be swayed by the cost/expense they’ve put into the wooing process.

      2. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        Thank you so much for this. I think this comment addressed all of my big issues. I appreciate it!

      3. OtterB*

        Also, if you would be relocating for the job and haven’t visited the area before, it is completely legit to spend a little time looking around. You can’t do an extra hotel night without checking in with the employer, but if your interview starts with dinner one evening, it is not at all sketchy to come in early that morning and look around, or if it finishes with dinner one evening and you don’t fly out until the next day, it’s okay to fly out late.

    3. BeenThere*

      Yes, I was flown out for my current role. It was a very short trip — I arrived the evening before and was taken out to dinner by a small group by my new company. Then I had all-day interviews, both one-on-one and group interviews, and I flew home that evening.

      The good part of this for me was that I didn’t really need this job. I had a job that I liked in Previous City, so could be very picky. That really helped me stay calm. But it did involve a lot of conversation with Spouse, and when I accepted the position, sadness at leaving friends. That’s been the most lasting emotion — I am slowly making new friends, and I still miss the old ones three years later. But the job in New City turned out great.

      Another thing was that I had already developed a list of places that I would absolutely not move to, and a list that I’d be interested in. And also, I had a good idea of the directions I wanted to move in my career. So when New Job came up, and it was in a place I was interested in living, and the role moved me in directions I wanted to go, it was pretty easy to consider it seriously.

      1. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        This is a great idea as well. Until very recently, I never thought of relocation as a possibility, but it’s been a factor in the past two interviews. I need to decide which cities I could live in and which ones are a no-go.

        Thank you!

    4. 867-5309*

      I’ve been flown out for an interview probably 10 times in my career. There are two big things that can help with the nerves: 1.) Prepare for the interview a couple days before. Don’t rely on the flight or night before hotel stay to prep. 2.) If it’s in/out same day, I do some small things like not wearing my jacket/blazer/sweater until landing, putting on make-up at the destination airport, bringing desperate and a toothbrush & paste, spraying toner on my face after landing, etc.

      Good luck!

      1. hermit crab*

        Don’t rely on the flight or night before hotel stay to prep.

        Oh, yeah, this is such good advice and something I always plan to do (not just for interviews, but for other meetings, conference presentations, etc.) and somehow NEVER actually manage.

  13. Eillah*

    Is there any way for me to have two excel files open at the same time on two different monitors? I can’t make it work!!!

    1. Coffee Bean*

      If you have Excel 2010 or older you need to open two instances of excel. Right-click the icon and just press “Microsoft Excel [year]”.

    2. Art3mis*

      What version of MS Office are you using? You shouldn’t have a problem doing it. I just tested it on mine and it’s working fine.

      1. Becky*

        This was a well known quirk of older versions of Excel. Sometimes getting two instances of Excel open at once to put on different monitors was a pain. By default it would open both files in the same instance.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s just one version IIRC, because I remember being aggravated when we were updated and suddenly I had to do the dumb work around to have two workbooks open at once. Thankfully someone came to their senses and fixed it in later versions.

    3. KR*

      I hate this! I usually end up dragging the Excel window open across both screens and then opening the two Excel files side by side within the one bigger Excel program if that makes sense. But it is a major pain.

    4. fposte*

      Are you Windows or Mac? On Mac, you just need to make sure the external monitor isn’t set to mirroring and set the arrangement so that the screens are adjacent; then just drag one spreadsheet over to the other monitor.

    5. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      On mine, I have hold down the shift key while clicking on the Excel icon (mine is in my bottom taskbar, so I only have to click once).

    6. stelms_elms*

      Open the first Excel document, then go to the Excel icon and open your second document. That should work. (If you try to open the second one when you are in the first document, you’ll have to toggle back and forth which I think is what’s happening for you.)

    7. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

      My method is to have excel open on one screen and then go to start> excel and it opens up in a new window – note some things won’t copy/paste over between the two windows!

      This is on windows 10 with Excel 2010

      1. Existentialista*

        Yes, this method works for me too. It look me literally YEARS to figure this out, so I feel your pain!

      2. Nope, not today*

        this is what we have to do in my office as well – opening a second file from Excel’s menu will only allow it to be open in that window. You have to open a second instance of Excel instead, and drag it over.

    8. ChachkisGalore*

      It’s been awhile since I’ve had this issue (no shade – I’m just genuinely rusty, so apologies if I’m misremembering). I think it works if you open your first excel doc. You can open it however you want. The second one is where you have to do it specific way – you can’t just open a saved excel file. You have to open a brand new excel workbook (not from within the first one – completely fresh – like from start->excel). This should open a second, separate instance. If you’re trying to access a previously saved workbook then you can go through the Open option within the fresh workbook (I think it’s File->Open).

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      Right-click on icon at bottom of screen and select excel (version) not one of spreadsheets.

    10. MoopySwarpet*

      I think you can shift click on the excel icon on the taskbar and then open your file from within the new window. (The computer I can test on is currently occupied so I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done that before.)

    11. Clear All before Calculating*

      I have it in my task bar (Windows). While holding ALT on the keyboard, right click on the icon in the task bar and choose Excel (or something similar). Keep holding down ALT and you’ll get a prompt that asks if you want to open a new instance of excel

  14. hermit crab*

    Who else listens to the podcast The Broad Experience? I just heard about it and listened to a couple of episodes this week. It’s about women and gender in the workplace.

    One episode talked about how long people stay in jobs (especially if there are reasons they might want to leave), which is not something I ever thought about as gendered, but it totally makes sense. It turns out that women are more likely to be risk-averse in making career jumps (“This situation is not the best, but the next one could be worse, and what if I want to get pregnant?”) and to be subject to that sort of overly-personal one-sided job loyalty (“I can’t leave, I would let everyone down!”).

    I was particularly struck by this quote (from guest Danielle Maveal in episode 136, talking about when she left her job at Etsy):

    Even now it gets me emotional, it breaks my heart — and I don’t know if a man would ever be like, “I can’t leave this job, it would break my heart.” I mean maybe, but…

    I have BEEN that person! I stayed at my last job maybe two years longer than I should have, and deciding to leave felt more like a breakup than some actual breakups I’ve gone through.

    Anyway, I thought that was super interesting. I’ll put a link to the episode in the comments.

    1. Sarah*

      That is me right now! I’ve finally decided to actively apply, but now I’m also dealing with imposter syndrome and feeling grossly underqualified for everything I want. I’ll have to check this out.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      This is interesting because I’m always seeking new opportunities and have no feelings of guilt or sadness when I move on. The only things that might give me pause about leaving a specific company or position is salary and benefits, especially medical. I simply cannot take a pay cut ever (every job I’ve held so far has been an upward trajectory), and due to various medical issues, I need to find the best high deductible plan possible with the largest coverage amount and lowest deductible (since most places no longer offer high premium/low deductible plans or HMOs).

      1. hermit crab*

        I aspire to have that sort of rational, objective outlook! I’m a pretty risk-averse, relationship-focused person in general, but I was still really surprised at how hard it was to make the decision to leave my last job. I left for really good reasons but it was TOUGH.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          See, and I’m task oriented – relationships really don’t rate that high to me, so that’s probably why it’s easy for me to be objective.

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t heard of this podcast, but will subscribe to it. I have definitely stayed in a job where it was clear I wasn’t wanted, and I didn’t feel like I was providing value. However, I was trying to have a baby within a year of starting that job, and had a few miscarriages first. So it was definitely a matter of already having a job, so didn’t want to change that while I was focusing on other things. But when it was so obvious I wasn’t providing value, something clicked, and I finally started looking for a different job at the same company.

    4. Federal Middle Manager*

      Yes! Quitting jobs is definitely a gendered thing, in my experience. In my friend groups (mainly educated professionals and some service industry) men are much more likely to quit a job because of some perceived intolerable situation, whereas women are more likely to stick it out until they have something lined up.

      My first major fight with my now-husband was that he quit a job after three days because it wasn’t a good fit without consulting me. For him, it was a clearly bad situation and his call. From my perspective, how could you know after three days and how do make a financial decision without talking to your partner?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This sounds like my sister-in-law. She used to quit jobs all the time for stupid reasons like she didn’t like her manager’s “tone” when the woman was speaking to her. My brother cursed her out a few times for this because they cannot afford to live off just his salary alone when they have a nearly five year old child, but she seems to be doing slightly better about this now that she understands she needs to talk to him before she makes life altering changes that shifts the entire burden of their household expenses to him.

    5. bookends*

      Wow, I’ve never thought about the gendered aspect of this before! I’m a woman and this is definitely me.

      My work situation has gotten a lot better, but I was in a years-long cycle of constant excuses to not look for other work: I’ll quit once my boss is back from medical leave, now she’s back but I should stay until the open positions are all filled, there’s always a position open, etc.

      Really looking forward to listening to this later.

    6. Quinalla*

      Thanks for bringing this up, subscribed!. Just got done binge-listening to HBR’s Women at Work podcast backlog, highly recommend it!

      I agree that this tends to be more of an issue with women than men, having more guilt at leaving a job, etc.

    7. TechWorker*

      Thanks for the recommendation. I feel the imposter syndrome thing hard (not helped by failing the initial test due to effectively a typo at the first place I got as far as actually applying to). My commute is what keeps me on my job tho tbh, to move to any other company would add on ~40min each way. Will check out the podcast!

    8. Bigglesworth*

      This is very interesting! I’m a relationally oriented person and won’t quit til I have something lined up, but you better believe that I’m going to start look ASAP if I get a bad vibe or hate where I work. There can be good coworkers in a toxic workplace, but they don’t negate the toxicity.

  15. FoodieNinja*

    Any tips for staying fresh and alert for a full day of interviews? I’m interviewing next week for a job I’d really like, and my agenda runs from 9:00 – 4:00, meeting with more than a dozen different people (in groups and individually). This is my first time with such an extensive interview agenda. How do I make sure I’m as “on” after lunch as before?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Whatever amount of coffee you usually drink – not too much, because it will make you jittery! And stay away from pasta or anything super heavy at lunch. Fresh air and breaks if you can get them – even a quick walk around the block if that’s an option.

      But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You’re going to be jacked up on adrenaline all day regardless, so I would count on that to carry you through – and plan for some good down time when you get home! Good luck!

    2. wingmaster*

      I just did my first ever full day of interviews last week! Some of my tips:

      1. Get a good night’s sleep.
      2. Eat breakfast, even if you don’t typically eat breakfast (I do intermittent fasting)
      3. Pack a small snack – whatever pick-me-ups you need
      4. Dress professionally, yet comfortably
      5. You’ll have a small break between each interview – use it to get up, stretch, go to the bathroom, refill your water
      6. Do socialize

      1. Catherine de Medici*

        To your first point, I would say get a couple of good night’s sleep in a row. I believe studies have shown that it usually takes at least two days to start to really have an effect. (Especially if you have a tendency already to not get enough sleep like me.)

        1. Mellow*

          To these two fine points, may I also add a brisk 30-minute walk around the hotel or wherever safe on the morning of the interview, to whichever music puts you in the mood to interview (for me, it was “Flashlight” (Parliament), “Disco Nights/Rock-Freak” (GQ), and other similar music).

          The walking and music made me feel calibrated.

    3. blackcat*

      I’m an academic. We do 2 day interviews, that are often 8am-8pm (breakfast through dinner).

      Drink lots of water, and pack a super quick snack you can shove in your mouth during bathroom breaks. *Ask* for bathroom breaks if you need them (and you will if you drink lots of water). Having just 2-3 breaks through the day that are just a few minutes but you get to be alone (even if peeing) can be hugely helpful. It’s best to go between meetings, and it’s easy to say something like “I’ll need a pit stop on my way to my next meeting. Where’s the bathroom?” Don’t eat a huge lunch, just enough to tide you over. Aim for carbs and less fat to reduce food-coma.

    4. 867-5309*

      Bring a toothbrush & toothpaste to brush your teeth after lunch and a small bottle of toner to squirt on your face.

      1. Krickets*

        I recommend a setting / misting spray instead and one with hyaluronic acid to keep moisture on your skin. :)

    5. Quinalla*

      Full night sleep the night before, and the night before that if you can swing it. Eat breakfast. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Take your breaks, don’t just sit in the conference room or wherever they stick you all day, get up and walk around, use the restroom, etc.

      Toothbrush & toothpaste, small snacks, etc. are all good ideas too!

      I’ve not done a full day interview, but I’ve done full day conferences which are somewhat similar. I’m introverted, so I usually either find a quiet place during breaks to recharge or hide in the bathroom a few extra minutes.

    6. TechWorker*

      I think even being aware it might be a problem is a good start! Try not to mentally rank the different sections in importance as it’s probably quite difficult to do that as a candidate/easy to get it wrong! Good Luck :)

      (When I was applying to grad roles I had a very intense full day interview process – where I succeeded on everything technical but did badly on the ~4pm interview because my brain was sludge from the pressure of the rest of it!

  16. Augusta has gone East*

    What do you think of unpaid internships NOT at the start of your career but 4-6 years into it.

    A few weeks ago I applied to a position at a start-up. The position had a short description that fit me perfectly and I also have experience with their customers.

    At the end of the first interview, they told me that the position is first an unpaid internship for a few months (part-time) and then, if both parties are happy, they offer a contract for a paid FT position. During the internship, they cover the cost of your commute and there’s an allowance for food (which covers lunches for about 1 week a month).

    Initially, I have accepted the situation and went on with interviews/reference checks while applying to other positions elsewhere. Then the offer came through and I have until next week to accept/decline. (This week they have their summer closure so I really have had time to think this through.) And I am still quite unsure.

    So there’s not a ton of opportunities here and I really like the position, the product and the company’s mission. I’ve just moved here and I’m also learning the language so this would let me focus on that and I’d have something on my CV.

    On the other hand, this would put me and my SO in a hard situation where he remains the sole breadwinner for longer than expected. I might be able to get a part-time gig in a local café but I might not.

    Also, I have 5 years of solid work experience and many years of volunteer work/student jobs. My last position came with a lot of responsibilites and I feel like I am too experienced/too old to work for free. (And unpaid internships are not cool even for unexperienced and young people.) Moreover, if I have an unpaid position, I need to take care of health insurance and my visa might run out before I get an actual job if this doesn’t work out (I’d still have months to find something and I can reapply very easily so it’s not super problematic but it is a concern, mostly because of the logistics.)

    What else do I need to take into account? When does it make sense to accept an unpaid position? Is it a red flag that they didn’t mention the internship part on their website? (I’m really quite annoyed about this but as it’s a start up, I know that different norms apply.)

    1. Sunflower*

      I would be extremely hesitant about this being a bait and switch. The fact that they didn’t tell you in the job posting what the job truly was, makes me feel like there may be no FT position available at the end of the unpaid internship part. Did they explain why that wasn’t listed in the job posting?

      1. Augusta has gone East*

        No, they didn’t. As it’s a very small company, there’s no HR so hiring’s done by peopel being promoted put of the role. There is the promise of the job and this is how all of them started but that doesn’t mean I’ll have the same opportunity.

    2. Forkeater*

      That sounds super sketchy, I would not trust them to hire you after it ended, why would they pay for something they were getting for free?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This sounds utterly bonkers to me (are you in the US?) and like they don’t have the budget to hire someone, but hope the money will turn up under a couch cushion in “a few months.”

      1. Augusta has gone East*

        This is my impression as well.

        (I’m not in the US. Over here it is incredibly hard to fire someone and very expensive to create new positions, this is their reasoning behind. But this hasn’t stopped most companies to create actual positions.)

        1. blackcat*

          Europe? This would be illegal most places over there, too, I think.
          If this is outside the norm, no, I wouldn’t do it. Sounds sketchy.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Frankly, if you’re in the EU, this is what the probationary period is for: At least in the UK, France or Germany, and you’re employed on an unlimited contract with a probationary period, it’s “no foul” FOR BOTH SIDES to end it during this probationary period. It’s harder afterwards.

          Back in my time in Europe, I’ve run into the problem that companies wanted to hire on *temporary* contracts, where more restrictions apply, and again both sides tend to be stuck in in the contract for a while.

          In any event, I second those who say “don’t do it (if you aren’t desperate)”. Sounds to me the company is not mature enough to offer market-standard employment conditions, so what they do amounts to dumping (whether legally or not). In any event you can expect more crap from an inexperienced organization.

          BTW if I were to decline the offer I’d spell out, politely but clearly, the reason (“[I like what you do, but…] After consideration, I realize that I do not think I should be working uncompensated at my career stage, or indeed at any career stage. I wish you luck with your mission.”) Why? Because *probably* there’s someone inside the org who isn’t too much on board with this either (see the half-hearted attempts to provide *some* compensation), and having a professionally written letter from a desirable candidate gives them ammunition to do away with this practice.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Startups are widely known for their creative (read: illegal) pay situations, I’d be very suspicious of this.

      1. b*

        Nope. Though perhaps you could see if they had a good LinkedIn profile or a connection you could trust. There really is no advantage to you in this situation. No money, no contract, no school credits.

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

      This doesn’t sound like a legal unpaid internship (in the US). Those usually need to offer something of value to the intern in return for work — so like college credit. There is actually a list of criteria they need to meet and one of them is “there is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship.”

      1. Mel*

        My thoughts exactly! Klaxons went off in my head the moment unpaid internships are mentioned WITHOUT college credit (which is the easiest way to make unpaid internships legal).

      2. Filosofickle*

        IIRC my state (CA) goes even beyond this — to be legit, an unpaid internship not only has to offer real educational value, but “interns must not displace employees or do the work a paid employee would typically perform.”

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          It’s not just CA. The Department of Labor has a 6 point test and overall the benefit needs to go to the intern and not the company for an unpaid internship to be completely on the up and up if it’s a for-profit organization.

          That’s a very very basic overview at least.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      I was listening to a podcast about this just yesterday! (link in reply.) The idea is that generalists sometimes have more success than specialists, and whatever you can do to gain a breadth of experience – rather than depth – is likely going to be helpful to you in the long run.

      Definitely check out the legalities of the internship as the others have suggested, and obviously it matters a lot if your family can afford it. But if those factors line up for you, there’s something to be said for trying something brand new that you haven’t done before – it could work out really well!

    7. Zephy*

      I agree that this smells fishy. The most charitable explanation I have is that they just don’t know what they’re doing and haven’t done much hiring before. Less-charitably, the role involves wearing more hats than the description would lead you to believe, they know the workload is unreasonable and anyone that takes the job will want to leave after a few months, and rather than try to hire an appropriate number of people to do the things, they’ve decided that a revolving door of free labor is more cost-effective. Is it an entry-level role, like are you trying to break into this industry, or is it a position that requires the five years of experience that you have? Especially if it’s not entry-level I would be dubious. I think you’re right that at this point, it doesn’t make sense for you to take this job.

    8. Miss Fisher*

      That sounds more like an unpaid probationary period, which I think isn’t exactly legal.

      Does anyone know, for my own curiosity, what exactly is an internship in legal terms? I didn’t think internships could be actual positions within the company. I thought they were set up within a partnership with a university for college students only.

    9. CatCat*

      It sounds super sketchy to me (pretty ballsy of them not to put in the advertisement that it was unpaid!!) and like it could cause several hardships for you. Hard pass.

    10. NopeNopeRope*

      You’re 5 years inter your career; you applied for a new job, not a volunteer gig. I’d be INCREDIBLY wary of this company. They essentially want your time and skills for free for “a few months”. Let’s say that’s 3 months/ 12 weeks. at .5 FTE, that’s 6 full weeks of work AND 12 weeks of no pay/limited ability to do other work for pay.
      Are you willing to trade that work for this connection and no guarantee of a job?

    11. 867-5309*

      Ick. No way. It’s one thing to say we’re going to start you out as a contract employee, which is more common among startups, but not paying you is ridiculous. And it’s a huge red flag that they aren’t clear about it on their website.

      This is not common at startups.

    12. Fortitude Jones*

      Yeah, I would be highly annoyed they didn’t mention the unpaid internship first in the ad and, personally, I would not accept this position. There are many companies that do paid training for people new to the industry (I did one such program about three years into my professional career at an insurance company), so the fact that they’re only giving you money for a commute and possibly lunch is ridiculous. Plus, what’s going to stop them from saying they hated your work after three months, not converting you to a paid employee, and starting all over again? Nope. I wouldn’t risk it.

    13. CoolCucumber*

      The fact that they pulled a bait and switch (made it seem like you were applying for a paid job that turned out to be an unpaid internship) would make me not trust them at all. What other things about the job are they being misleading about? And offering a job after a few months “if both parties are happy” sounds suspicious too. Why do they need “a few months” to see if someone with 5 years of profession experience (plus volunteer work and student jobs) can do the job? Can’t they just hire someone who’s a good fit and pay them from the beginning? What if, after three months, they say, “We need a few more free months to really see if you’re good or not”? What if you keep getting positive feedback and they rave about how awesome you are for three months, then say, “It just isn’t working out. We don’t want to hire you” at the end? If they only need someone to fulfill the job duties in a part time capacity, do they really need to hire someone full time?

    14. NJBi*

      I don’t know if you’re in the US or not, but here’s my armchair diagnosis of the situation if you are in the States:

      This doesn’t sound like a legal unpaid internship. Like, these are the six required criteria:
      1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment. // It would be hard to argue that this is the case considering you’re already coming in with five years of work experience. Clearly you’re above entry-level/could be taught in an education environment.
      2. The experience is for the benefit of the intern. // This is for the benefit of the company.
      3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff. // It sounds like they’re hiring for an open position, not a duplicate or subordinate/shadow thing.
      4. The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded. // They are getting a lot of advantages: they don’t have to risk hiring you outright and they get your product.
      5. There is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship. // Seems sketchy with the way that they’re advertising this to you as a trial period.
      6. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the internship. // You understand *now* I guess.

      Whether or not you’re in the US, it seems like these people are just trying to get some cheap labor and this would never transition from “internship” to “job.” A café position that gives you more time to apply for real jobs might serve you better.

      1. NJBi*

        Just saw that you’re not in the US–yeah, I don’t know. Seems fishy to this rando on the internet, though, who doesn’t know anything about your country’s particular job market!

    15. ten-four*

      My husband and I have both worked for start-ups and are reasonably up to speed on start-up best practices. This offer they are making is TOTAL NONSENSE. Companies operating in good faith pay their people – they don’t have them “audition” for months. It is the world’s reddest flag that they baited and switched on the job description. The fact that you have needs around your visa makes this flag even redder – there is little to no chance that they will help you with that, and I’m betting they’ll use your more precarious status to string you along. Other folks are making good points about the legalities too; I strongly doubt that “you work for free and we call it an internship and maybe we hire you at the end” is legal.

      You feel like you are too experienced/old to work for free because you are. There is literally nothing this start-up is offering you that is commensurate with the value that you’ll deliver. By accepting this role you’ll be accepting their frame, which is that they are SO GREAT that they are doing you a favor by allowing to prove how valuable you are. It’s the opposite: start ups need the best talent they can get so that they have a prayer of succeeding.

      I hear you on wanting to put something on your CV rather than not, but I’d look for ways to do project-based volunteer work in your field instead. You’d still be working for free, but the relationship between you and the org would be one of equals, and you could structure your time commitment to still enable you to find paying work in whatever way makes most sense for you and your partner.

      Seriously man, I’ve been around the block with startups. This is bad. Don’t do it.

    16. M*

      Sketchy as high hell, and a massive red flag not just that they didn’t mention it upfront, but that they’re the kind of workplace that thinks this is in any way acceptable. At absolute best, they’re wildly inexperienced employers with no sense of what is appropriate in hiring. At worst, they know they’re being exploitative, and there’s no way you should take their word that the internship will ever lead to a job. Run.

    17. ArtK*

      Very iffy. You can’t have an unpaid internship that gives any material benefit to the company. Lots of places got in trouble when the law changed. I’d run away.

      1. ArtK*

        Ah, not in the US so the legal stuff probably doesn’t apply. I’d still run far away from this one.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Right, being legal doesn’t make it ok. Lots of workplace shenanigans are technically legal but for one’s own sanity should be avoided.

    18. Kora*

      The fact that the job posting didn’t clearly explain what the position was is the first red flag, and it’s a massive one. The second is ‘if both parties are happy’ they’ll offer you a contract, and that’s even bigger. No goals, no performance metrics- you’re giving them months of free work and in return they’re giving you nothing. There is zero commitment in that wording to hire you at the end of this period; just them, the people who lied in their job posting, asking you to take their word for it that they’ll treat you fairly. Don’t trust them, and don’t take this position unless you have absolutely no other options.

    19. Augusta has gone East*

      Thank you so much for the reality check! Yep, it is indeed sketchy and a terrible hiring practice. I can now see that.
      I’m going to check if this is legal over here, although I’m quite sure it is.
      Hiring goes super slow from June till August here so I need to be patient in my job search and focus on learning the language. I should also remember to take a break though from school and applying as it is becoming overwhelming.
      Thanks again for your opinions, I now feel confident in turning down the offer.

      1. NJBi*

        I came back to the comments to see if you had replied, and I’m breathing a sigh of relief that you’re turning down the sketchy mcsketch sketch position! Wishing you the very best of luck with learning the language and seeking employment.

    20. CatMintCat*

      Run. Run far. Run fast.

      The labourer is worthy of his hire, and all that. They are pulling a bait and switch and I would bet big money that at the end of the unpaid bit, it’s “We’re so sorry but it isn’t working out” and on to the next unpaid bunny.

    21. Wild Bluebell*

      I wouldn’t take an unpaid internship even at the start of my career, unless it was for something like a week or two.
      I had a few internships when I was a student/graduate, and they were all paid.

  17. MOAS*

    Is putting drivers license on your resume common?

    Backstory —

    We’re hiring for remote positions and we’ve been getting A LOT of resumes that have “Drivers License” under license & certifications section of their resume. We’re a tax/accounting firm and driving is not required for this position. A lot of people who were reviewing these resumes were gobsmacked about it. The only thing I can think of is that this is common in parts of the country where public transit isn’t very common and some jobs would absolutely require having a drivers license.

    What do yall think?

    1. Rainy*

      I mean, I wonder if it’s just because they don’t have anything else under Licenses and Certifications, and they’re using a template that has that section and they don’t know they can just omit it.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It’s common in the UK, if old-fashioned. I think the implication is “doesn’t have to rely on others for transportation”.

      1. MOAS*

        That’s what I figured — it’s common in other parts of the US where there’s no public transit, to state they have a drivers license, whether or not driving is part of the job.

    3. KR*

      I have seen job ads that require a driver’s license or say they do. Or even more strangely, that specific states drivers license that the job is in. It’s so wierd to me.

      1. MOAS*

        even if the job doesn’t require driving? We are hiring remote/WFH positions for bookkeepers. Literally 0 driving involved for hte job.

      2. AndyTron*

        I have seen this recently with places that use a one size fits all application for everything from warehouse to executive positions.

    4. Mel*

      I’ve seen one person list “German Driver’s License”. When I asked about it, he clarified that the German standards are far above the US standards.

      Driving wasn’t relevant for the job at all, so it mostly came across as arrogance.

    5. Jerk Store*

      Maybe the Licenses and Certifications was part of the template and they think they have to put something?

    6. *shrug**

      I have never heard of anyone doing this, except for people who are applying for jobs where driving is a requirement. i.e. CDL A driver would put “CDL A license on his/her resume.

      Maybe these candidates want you to know that they are capable of getting to your location for an in-person interview?

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I have never seen that. Only thing I could think of is if the job required a special license for driving (like if the position was for driving large trucks or something), but otherwise that is very strange. Makes me wonder about the people applying

    8. Borgette*

      If the position is relatively entry-level, your applicants may be seeing ‘Driver’s License’ as a requirement for a surprising number of jobs, and started including it to cover those requirements and to add more content to their resumes. I remember seeing ‘must have driver’s license/transportation’ a lot in my first round of job searching after college.

    9. Bilateralrope*

      You might not realize how helpful a drivers license is to any job until you have to deal with an employee without one.

      I work security. For some sites, needing a license and car is obvious for transport to the site or sheltering the guard from the weather.

      But even sites close to public transport that have a building for the guard can find driving guards useful. Where guards on public transport can choose between leaving a few minutes early, or a 30 minute wait at the bus/train stop. Or the choice is between a few minutes late or 30 mins early. Too many choose to avoid the long wait.
      The guards with their own transport are more reliable in passing on relevant information at shift change.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I mean, unless you live in a densely populated area with extensive public transit. Cars often are the slower means of transportation during rush hour here.

    10. cmcinnyc*

      Where I work we put “drivers license” in the job listing because it’s NYC–not everyone drives. And we do have jobs where you might need to drive (fieldwork). It is entirely possible to live here all your life and never need to get behind the wheel. Maybe your applicants are/were NYC based where having this license is actually a prized credential!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend worked for a local utility, in the IT department. They were all required to have driver’s licenses. Because in case of a union strike, he might have been required to drive the van to be a second person at a job site with the technician authorized to do the work.

    12. Moocowcat*

      Mentioning that you have a license and reliable vehicle would be common in my industry (supporting persons with developmental disabilities). It is stated on job applications that having a reliable vehicle is an asset. Though it would be odd of people were just listing a driver’s licence number on a resume.

    13. YetAnotherUsername*

      When I was learning how to write a cv I was told to put drivers license on it. Of course back then you were also advised to put that you had good health on it which would not be the advice nowadays. So it may be just outdated advice.

      However a lot of jobs DO require a drivers license so it may not be outdated advice – it may be that they are just not tailoring their entire resume to each specific job.

      I don’t think it would be considered a negative or anything – if a license isn’t needed just consider it as a neutral piece of info. You’re not hiring them to write resumes after all.

      1. MOAS*

        Oh I agree, it’s not a negative at all. I was just curious why it was so common. And someone mentioned above—none of these applicants is in NYC, it’s remote based

    14. ErinFromAccounting*

      It could *kind of* make sense for a role that involves extensive driving/travel (I applied for a gaming consulting role once, which required driving to various area casinos), but it also kind of sounds like the applicants don’t understand that the license section is referring to the CPA licences and such.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      I think these are people unclear on the concept.

      For an accounting firm, license or certification would be my CPA, possibly a CIA (certified internal auditor – surprised me too the first time I saw that one) or being an Enrolled Agent. Other professions have other certifications and licenses, but you said this is an accounting firm, right?

    16. Vendelle*

      In my line of work we are sometimes required to visit clients. Not havibg a driver’s license would mean that the manager can’t give a coworker a certain client, which is why in my field, it’s pretty common to put a drivervs license on the resume.

      1. 16 Pieces of Flair*

        These days you can get an Uber so it actually would be discriminatory for someone blind for example.

    17. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      Depends on the country. Some CV formats list it. And for some like having a HGV reads you’ve been vetted and don’t have ”hidden disabilities” , of course discriminating against would be illegal…

      I get asked ”do you drive”… I *can* drive and have a HGV licence, but *will* I drive or do I own a car…

  18. Alice*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for a while and I’m having a bit of trouble getting responses from companies. Part of the problem is that I’m trying to adjust my career path with this move. The industry I’m in is the one I want to work in but it’s split into two halves with only a few companies doing both parts, and I’m working in the wrong half. That’s making it feel difficult to make a strong case for the jobs I want.

    I’ve thought about going back to graduate school and looked into getting a job doing the kind of work I’m doing now with one of the companies that operate in both parts of the industry then using that connection for an internal transfer. Both of those options would take years to try. I’m young enough that I feel like I still have time to make a change, but not enough time to risk something that has a low chance to lead to what I’m looking for. Does anyone have any experience successfully navigating a situation like mine?

    1. Zephy*

      I don’t know, I think “When I got into this industry, I was drawn to the work on things like X and Y that my current company does. But as I’ve learned more about the industry, I realize I want to do more of what your company focuses on, like A and B” is a pretty solid argument.

      Do you need a graduate degree to do the work you want to do? Does your current employer offer any kind of tuition assistance or reimbursement for master’s degree programs? Is not having that degree the only thing standing between you and a pay increase, like you’ve been told “you’re at the salary cap for someone who doesn’t have this specific credential, and if you were to get it, we could bump your pay”? If you could cross to the other side of the industry without the degree, I would focus your energies on making that jump, and then see if your new employer will subsidize your graduate education if you decide you still need to get that credential to advance. If you can’t cross over without having the degree, then focus on that – it may require staying with your current employer for a bit longer, if they offer any kind of tuition assistance, because it’s really not worth going into debt for a master’s degree at this moment in time.

      1. Alice*

        A graduate degree isn’t essential (although it does help with pay from what I’ve seen), I’m just trying to think of ways to bridge the gap between what I’m doing and what I want to do. It seems like my current employer wants to avoid contact with their customers on the other side as much as possible, and I don’t feel like I’ve built up the relationships I think I need for effective networking.

        Since my company allows employees to view their personnel files, I recently took a look at mine so I could check old performance reviews for any details I might want to include on a resume. My boss has told me that I am at the salary cap for my position. I would imagine that this is an oversight, but my personnel file includes a transfer form from an internal transfer I did with the salary range listed. It contradicts my boss’s claim that I’m at the position cap. This is really just the tip of the iceberg, I don’t think I can trust the company on anything. I just feel like I need to get out as soon as possible.

    2. ten-four*

      Definitely don’t go to grad school on a “maybe.” This is the situation that informational interviews are MADE for. Talk to as many people in your target field as you can about what they are looking for when they hire and how you can orient your skill set to be hireable. Maybe you’ll find out that there’s a high wall that only a degree can get you over, but I bet there are other ways to get to where you want to go.

      The reality is that there are very few jobs that REQUIRE a degree and you usually know what those are (doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc). Grad school is a huge investment in dollars and time and also foregone opportunities: the earning power and working experience you sacrifice during the years you’re in school. It’s not that there’s never a reason to get a graduate degree to improve your hireability, but the bar should be pretty high! There are a LOT of people who thought grad degrees were tickets to better jobs who have discovered that they are now overqualified in education but underqualified in experience – not a great place to be.

    3. The dude*

      My situation might be similar to yours.

      I don’t know if this works in your case, but I’ve had success framing it as “Right now I’m a specialist, but I’d like to be a generalist, so I’m looking to do X to round out my skill set.”

  19. LucyHoneychurch*

    Question for loud sneezers: is this truly something you can’t control? I work in an open area with two very loud, sudden sneezers *behind me* who regularly startle the daylights out of me. If you tell me you can’t control this, I will try harder to not hate them.

      1. valentine*

        I tend toward a double ah-CHOO! or an ah-CHOO! ah-CHOO-OO-OO! It’s super over-the-top and either hilarious or annoying. Sometimes it just comes out. If I feel it coming and have enough lead time, I can press my tongue to the roof of my mouth to suppress it altogether (maybe tell your coworkers about this). Usually, though, I panic because I have to choose between that and holding my chest so it doesn’t hurt. I also have to quickly assess whether I am in public and, if so, figure out how to hold my chest so I am not grabbing my breast whilst double-screamzing.

    1. INeedANap*

      I think there is some level of control, but it’s not perfect. You don’t need to take a deep breath in for “power” and vocalize when you sneeze; I find that a smaller breath in and not making the “achooo” noise with my vocal chords helps the loudness. The sneeze itself makes a noise, though, and that I can’t control.

    2. fposte*

      It’s not uncontrollable, but it’s also not voluntary. Most people can learn to reshape their sneeze sound, but it takes time, and it has to occur to them as a possibility first.

    3. V*

      Personally, I can’t stop the suddenness, but I can usually stop / reduce the loudness (although it is *slightly* painful to me to do so). I do stifle the loudness at work in this way because a small amount of pain to me is outweighed by everyone else’s comfort!

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, this.

        I am gobsmacked at the amount of people that sneeze a monsoon everywhere. Most of them are my extended family. yuck…

        I find that if I sneeze into my elbow I can cut a lot of the noise, not all of it. I am a loud sneezer and at times startle myself.

    4. Rainy*

      It depends. I have a couple of regular sneeze triggers, and there are definitely some that I cannot stifle at all.

      Remember that when you “control the volume” of a sneeze, what you’re doing is stifling that sneeze, meaning that the sneeze is no less forceful, but the force is travelling backward through your sinuses, throat, and Eustachian tubes. If someone has blocked sinuses or habitually swollen Eustachian tubes, or if they have middle ear issues, stifling a sneeze might not be possible at all, or only with massive pain and possibly fucking up their ears.

      Sudden allergy triggers–like perfume from a passing coworker, or a huge unexpected snootful of pollen–are the ones I am least able to stifle, because they happen so quickly and so explosively that there’s no time to stifle them. The “ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…CHOO” type are for me the easiest to stifle, because of the long lead time (all the ah’s). Those I can usually turn into an “ah(x)…SNRK” noise instead, but if my sinuses are full or whatever, it’s better to let the sneeze out so I can use it to blow my nose.

      1. fposte*

        I think it depends what you mean by “control the volume”–usually people are talking about the vocalization, and controlling that volume doesn’t redirect the force of the sneeze. So this isn’t pinching off a sneeze, just changing the *AAAAAAAHH*-choooooo to an Aaaah-choo.

        1. Rainy*

          For me the inhale portion isn’t the loud bit, it’s the explosion on the back end that’s loud. I don’t vocalize my sneezes, those are literally the sounds the air makes rushing into or out of my body.

          1. fposte*

            If you’re a non-vocalizer, then there’s probably not much you can do. But it’s common to vocalize to some extent (and the loudest sneezers–I think somebody here called one a “scream-sneezer”–usually do), so there’s often room for some modification there.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        That’s the case for me, too. If I feel the sneeze coming on, I can stifle it quite easily, but if it’s unexpected I’m going to sneeze and it’s going to be loud. The “choo” sound, for me at least, doesn’t engage the vocal cords at all and is instead the result of the way my face involuntarily scrunches when I sneeze. In response to fposte, it’s more an aaaah-*CHOO* than an *AAAAH*-choo.

      3. EnfysNest*

        Yeah, when I was little, I got a lot of comments about how loud my sneezes were (“Whoa, who let the elephant in?” – stuff like that). It was so embarrassing, but the I couldn’t figure out how to sneeze quieter, so instead I started pinching my nose closed every time I had to sneeze. It altered the way I sneeze and now, even though I no longer pinch my nose, my sneezes don’t really go “out”, they just kind of cause a weird pressure for a moment and I make a strange sound that makes people ask if I just sneezed or had some sort of cough/hiccup thing, because it doesn’t sound like a sneeze does. I can’t control it or change it now. I’m sure it can’t be good for me to sneeze this way, and it makes me sad that little elementary-school-aged me was so embarrassed by people commenting on my loud sneezes that I permanently altered a basic bodily function to try to avoid the attention. And now I still get comments like “I’m not sure it’s good for you to sneeze like that,” and all I can do is shrug because I have no way of changing it now.

    5. Nikara*

      Yes, I really can’t control it the vast majority of the time. Sometimes I feel a sneeze coming and can stop it, but most of the time I can’t. And no matter what, I can’t control the volume of the sneeze. But I have upped my allergy meds recently, so I’m sneezing less :)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s uncontrollable. And that as with coughing–the person who is about to violently expel air has a moment’s warning, while the people around them do not. So it’s much more distracting and aggravating to the audience.

    7. Grace*

      I genuinely can’t change or control the volume.

      Apparently, my sneeze doesn’t actually sound like a sneeze and sounds more like a cough, judging by the number of times people have offered to get me a glass of water as opposed to saying ‘Bless you’, but I can’t change the volume. I don’t do the thing where you basically engage your vocal cords and say ‘Achoo’ (why do people do that? Is *that* on purpose?) but I do make a fairly loud noise. I can’t help it. A large volume of air being suddenly expelled makes a noise, I don’t know what to tell you.

      I do the vampire sneeze where I muffle it in the crook of my elbow, but beyond that, there’s not anything I can do.

    8. Sneezy*

      Please don’t hate them. As someone with a deviated septum that doesn’t rise to the level of needing surgery, I have a sneeze that is both loud and distinctive. When I worked in an open office, I would sneeze and people would call out, ‘Bless you Sneezy!” from 8 rows away. It’s horribly embarrassing, but I can’t afford to pay for the surgery out of pocket. I can assure you that your co-workers hate their sneezes way ore than you do.

    9. Myrin*

      Like others before me said, I can kinda control it but not really, if that makes sense? If I’m not taken by surprise by my own sneeze, I can technically reduce it to (what I’ve always considered) that weird “mpf” sound many people make, but that means the sneeze itself doesn’t “come out” – it just kind of goes back into my head and then I feel like my brain is going to fall out and get an honest-to-god headache because of it. However, I generally make sure to cover basically the whole lower half of my face when I’m sneezing amongs others and that – confirmed by others – helps a lot with the general level of loudness.

    10. IndieGir*

      Generally, while I can muffle a sneeze somewhat, if I try to stifle it significantly (ie, like when I”m at a concert/theater or something) it causes a back up of something (probably air) into my eustachian tubes and gives me significant ear pain. So yeah, sometimes it’s hard to sneeze more quietly.

      But, if they are not at least covering their mouths (which should make it quieter) then that is just plain gross.

    11. Sneezer*

      No one is sneezing at you on purpose. I’m not going to stifle a sneeze and cause myself pain, so deal with it. And I could not remotely care if you “hate” me. You’re probably just as annoying to the sneezers with your over the top reaction to a normal bodily function.

        1. fposte*

          It’s an excessive response, but “hate” was a pretty OTT word to use in the question, too.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This is an excessive response. LucyHoneychurch was asking a simple question and you just jumped on them for it.

        I’m a loud sneezer and I dislike other loud sneezers because I jump at loud, unexpected noises. If it was happening with regularity around me, I’d also be feeling very annoyed. They’re just asking whether it’s justified being annoyed, not condemning loud sneezers to hell for all eternity. Ease up a little.

      2. LucyHoneychurch*

        I think you misread my tone. Most of the responders seem to get that my word choice was tongue-in-cheek. I don’t literally hate my coworkers for this or any other behaviors.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Best I can do is muffle my sneezes a bit (into my arm/downward direction) – can’t change the volume they actually happen at!

      1. Miss Ames*

        I’ve always been a forceful sneezer since I was a child. But I don’t do it purposely in any way. I work in a small office so I keep a box of tissues at hand and if at all possible, I grab one to muffle the sound when I feel a sneeze coming on.

    13. blackcat*

      I am an extremely loud sneezer. It is very loud and very high pitched. Picture a normal sneeze mixed with stepping on a dog squeaky toy. And then making that super loud. It’s very unpleasant for everyone involved.
      I can, with great effort, control my sneezes. It causes intense pain, and twice I have dislocated a rib as a result of holding in/quieting a sneeze. So I only try to hold them in if absolutely necessary. Dislocated ribs aren’t that painful, but they’re hard to put back in and it’s generally a miserable experience.

    14. LucyHoneychurch*

      This has been very enlightening — thank you for your (mostly) kind and helpful responses. I shall adjust my attitude accordingly ;-p

    15. bassclefchick*

      Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I even startle myself! If I know it’s coming, I’ll try to warn my husband. I know my sneezing is very loud and sudden. I don’t take a big breath first. I’ll apologize to whoever is around me. Trust me, I would LOVE to have a tiny, delicate, sneeze.

    16. Becky*

      It is sometimes really difficult to control sneezes. I actually have pretty good control of them (abdominal surgery will force you to to figure it out fast!) but even then there are monster sneezes that come out of nowhere and are impossible to control.

    17. !*

      Yeah, I can usually catch my sneezes in a tissue so they are’t as loud…my hiccups on the other hand….yikes! Thankfully those don’t happen often! :)

    18. designbot*

      I can very rarely control mine, only if I feel it coming and actively try to stifle. But most of the time it takes me so completely by surprise that I don’t have the chance to.

    19. StressedButOkay*

      I 100% absolutely cannot control how loudly I sneeze! And trust me, with how bad my allergies are, I really wish I could!

      As a small woman, I have startled people with the loudness of my sneezing. I have also, in the midst of a sneezing attack, actually pulled muscles in my ribs and back before due to the sheer power of my sneezes (and with the number of times). As a Loud Sneezer™, I feel really bad for anyone near me but I truly can’t help it. (I do work from home when I have a cold or allergy attack but this doesn’t stop the random ninja sneeze.)

      I am completely envious of anyone who has gentle, small sneezes.

    20. CupcakeCounter*

      My mother (and her entire family) and my husband (and his mother/grandmother) are like this. No they cannot control it and and yes I also get the ever living crap scared out of me. My husband has left movie theaters when he felt a sneeze coming on. I still heard it from the hallway.

    21. Defective Jedi*

      A friend has developed a cue to signal her friends and colleagues when she is about to (loudly) sneeze. Now when we hear three quick finger snaps, we know what’s coming and nobody is startled. Works great for everyone!

    22. Sneeze McSneeze*

      I can’t control it. I’m sorry. I’m a multiple sneezer as well (consistently 3 or 4 in a row but sometimes more). It’s a running joke in every office I’ve ever been in. People either ignore me, wait until I’ve hit my “quota” before I get my “bless you” (if I don’t hit it, I’m told I don’t get my “bless you”), or will yell “C’mon! I made a bet on 5/6/7/8 sneezes today!”

      I do try to muffle it by sneezing into my elbow.

    23. Lilysparrow*

      It’s very much like burps or hiccups.

      You can be generally quieter most of the time, but there will always be an occasional one that sneaks up on you and is surprisingly loud. And that percentage is going to vary from person to person.

      If they’re really loud all the time, that could be moderated by most people.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Then there are sneezers like my dad, who has incorporated a sort of shout at the end of his sneezes. So it’s sort of a gasp-choo-BGAAAAAAAARGH!

        He could totally leave off the shout without hurting himself, he just can’t be bothered.

        1. SciDiver*

          One of my parents is a scream-sneezer, but both the sneeze and the recovery are extra-loud, like ka-CHOO!!! *pause* AUUUGGGGH. I know they can stifle it in quiet/formal settings (meetings, quiet restaurant, church services) because those are the only places it’s a quiet/normal volume, but otherwise it makes me jump every time I visit.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          God knows why, my dad always yells “ACHUGGAH” when he sneezes. I don’t even KNOW.

        3. Joielle*

          OMG my dad does this too. And it’s always after a bunch of sneezes in a row, so… gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-BGAAAAAAAARGH

          It’s SO IRRITATING. The man also doesn’t close his mouth when he chews. I love him but absolutely cannot spend more than two days with him at a time.

    24. Liz*

      I CAN but as someone with severe allergies and usually congested, sneezing helps clear things out. So if I’m forced to “muffle” it as someone else pointed out, it kind of backs up into things. whereas if i can just let it go, which can be loud, it helps my congestion etc. immensely.

    25. Dr. Anonymous*

      Can’t help it. I don’t even have a “choo”; it’s all “AAAAHH!” And there are always two of them. I’m sorry.

    26. Jaydee*

      I can, but only a little and not consistently. Some sneezes are so sudden I barely have a chance to get my arm up to block them. Others, I feel that tickle in my nose for a bit beforehand so I can do a better job of preparing. But as others have described, volume control is basically stifling the sneeze, so it’s absorbing some of the force of the sneeze into my head. And even then, it maybe dials the volume down a notch (from an 8 to a 7) not truly making it quiet

      That said, I am fascinated by people with consistently tiny or dainty or squeaky sounding sneezes. How do their sneeze parts work to produce those sounds?!? Humans are just so amazingly diverse and unique!

    27. Kiki*

      It depends on what you mean by loud sneezers.
      There are definitely some sneezes that are loud because of vocalization (like when you can hear a voice-ish noise saying “AAA CHOOOOO”). That aspect can be controlled to some degree.

      There are some loud sneezes (like mine) that are loud because of the way air is moving (think sneezes that sound more like coughs). Those can be mitigated, but usually at the expense of the sneezer. Like, it might make things hurt or plug up their ears, or cause them to sneeze more to fully get the irritant out.

      It’s one of those body things where nobody really *wants* a loud sneeze but some people’s bodies just work like that and it’s usually best to just accept sneezes the way they are.

    28. Akcipitrokulo*

      It depends. Sometimes I’m able to stifle completely. Sometimes there’s a sudden elephant in the room.

    29. EH*

      I sometimes sneeze hard enough that it makes my sternum hurt. (My doctor’s advice: don’t sneeze so hard. Thanks, doc.) I don’t vocalize much, but it can be really loud if my body is trying really hard to get rid of something. I can (and mostly do) stifle gentler sneezes, but the big ones are painful to stifle and leave my head feeling kind of weird, so I generally don’t.
      Thankfully(?) I don’t sneeze that often anymore. I do cough almost all the time, though – the horrible wildfires we had a couple years ago left me with a really reactive airway.

    30. Llama Face!*

      I really can’t help it without injury to myself. If I try to stifle it I end up pulling muscles. I know of a guy who gave himself a hernia trying to stifle a full body sneeze. My body- like that guy’s- just really goes all out with the sneezes. :( (And weirdly enough, always in sets of 3)

    31. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Totally out of my control. And it’s hereditary — my mother had a neighbor complain, and my daughter gets teased.

    32. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m all over the map. Sometimes I’m loud, sometimes I’m quiet, and I don’t really have much say in which. I also have post-nasal drip, asthma, and allergies – so I sneeze and blow my nose year round and do a lot of coughing as well depending.

      Trust me, as annoying as it is for you, it’s far worse for me.

    33. Quinalla*

      I can reduce the volume – especially if I feel it coming – mostly by covering my nose and mouth sufficiently and making sure I’m not vocalizing, but my sneezes are always louder than average even when doing that. I do think some loud sneezers don’t try (because they don’t care or it hadn’t occurred to them) to modulate their volume.

      I’ll be honest the people the irritate me the most are the ones who hold in their sneezes. It makes me wince internally in sympathy :)

    34. Hamtaro*

      when i am alone i allow myself the scream-sneeze. but it IS something i can control and i do a quiet sneeze when i’m at work haha

    35. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve had nasal surgery, and since then sneezing just sort of happens at the volume at which it happens. I’m occasionally quite surprised by how loud a sneeze is when it comes. I don’t want it to be that loud. I just don’t know it’s going to be that loud until it’s already happened.

    36. geopanda*

      I have two of these at my job too. One of them sits all the way down the hall, so his screams are muffled. The other one sits maybe about 50 feet away, which sounds far, but she screams very loudly. Like a bloodcurdling scream. Also very sudden too. To the point where if I’m holding something or drinking coffee at the moment she sneezes, I accidentally drop the item or splash the coffee all over my face. It happened often enough that I got a cup with a straw instead of an open cup because I don’t want to scald my face.

    37. AndyTron*

      I have terrible allergies at times and the options are either loud, continuous sneezing, or I pinch my nose and have incredibly painful blowback in my sinuses.

    38. Loud Nose*

      I have a very loud sneeze, but it’s not like an Ah-choo, it’s just the sneeze, there isn’t a vocal part really, just my loud nose. (Blowing my nose is also incredibly loud, I wouldn’t blow my nose at all for years, even at home, because I was embarrassed by it!)

      I can lower the sneeze volume by holding the sneeze back, but it hurts and goes from startlingly loud to regular loud. I will try to do it, but if I’m sneezing often (like during allergy season or if I’m around a cat), it hurts too much to do every time and can pop my ears very badly. It also makes my eyes feel like they’re going to pop out! But I will try, especially if I’m in a meeting, or somewhere solemn (weddings…with the flowers…oh man…)

      I will not blow my nose anywhere outside my home/car but the bathroom while flushing for cover because it is so loud. I’ve tried to blow quietly, but it doesn’t really work.

    39. D'Euly*

      A family member used to (deliberately) make the noise “HatchiBOMBatar!” whenever he sneezed, so perhaps you could feel grateful that they’re not doing that?

    40. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      “Collapse 60 replies”, heh. I salute my fellow loud sneezers.

      I am a loud enough sneezer that we used to joke my mom could hear me in NYC when I lived in California. (I get my generous sinuses from my mom’s side of the family; she’s louder than me.) If I’m outside I can sometimes hear the echo of my sneeze ring off the building across the street. It’s… quite a thing.

      My partner is very easily startled. When I can, I gasp out “Sneeze—” so they have time to cover their ears before I let loose. I also carry a handkerchief and try to sneeze into it, which muffles the sound. But I can’t always manage it; sometimes sneezes sneak up on me, especially if there are airborne allergens around. Stifling sneezes is incredibly painful and I won’t do it unless I absolutely have to, for “the baby is finally asleep and if you wake them I will END YOU” levels of have to.

      You can definitely ask your colleagues (who are certainly aware that their sneezes are loud) to try to mitigate the noise or give you some kind of warning, but you may just have to cope. Foam earplugs or noise-canceling headphones might help if your job permits.

  20. Adventures of Corporate cat*

    Funny things said and done at work this week:

    “Are you teh work wife or the work husband?” – “I’m the work cat.”

    “My computer froze so my brain froze too.”

    “I gotta go, ASPCA is going to come get me.”

    I did an interview and the candidate’s child burst through the door, a la the BBC reporter incident (but this child was older and left immediately).

    We totally laughed together and it didn’t negatively impact our opinion of her and we called her in for the next step.

    1. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      I have a coworker who sometimes wears a shirt that says “I can’t. I’m an inside cat.” It makes me laugh every time.

  21. WM*

    What would you choose?

    High salary and high cost living or low salary and low cost of living?

    I know there are high salary and low cost of living, but in my situation of job interviewing, it is the situation above. Love to hear your thoughts!

    1. INeedANap*

      I would choose low salary, low cost of living, because the salary can always go up while the COL will usually stay low. Whereas with a high COL, if you’re laid off, or the job turns out to be awful and you have to leave it, or you become disabled/can’t work – then your life is pegged to needing that high salary just to have the basics of life.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Whereas with a high COL, if you’re laid off, or the job turns out to be awful and you have to leave it, or you become disabled/can’t work – then your life is pegged to needing that high salary just to have the basics of life.

        Good point. Though if you had a high salary position, hopefully you’d be able to put enough away in savings so that if you did become long-term unemployed for whatever reason, you’d have enough money to relocate to a lower cost of living area so you wouldn’t have to struggle too much. Additionally, some employers offer supplemental insurances you can purchase like accident or critical illness insurance that will cover your rent payments up to a certain amount/time period should you be unable to work for a given period of time due to an injury/illness. I have this insurance myself, and it’s pretty inexpensive.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      For me, this decision hinges on what my expenses look like. For example, I have a ton of student loan debt, so a low paying job will simply not work for me unless I’m okay either being homeless or moving back in with my mother, neither of which is an option. If I didn’t have the student loan debt I have, I could accept a low salary in a low cost of living area and be okay because my housing expense isn’t nearly as high as my student loan debt.

      So basically – look at your expenses. What do you spend in rent/mortgage payments, debts (student/credit/medical), and what amount of disposable income do you need to live comfortably each month? That should help you figure out what works best for your particular situation.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Yes. Delete the cost of living from the salary and you have your disposable income. This is what you should compare for the two jobs.

    3. Blarg*

      Generally I like the things that make high COL places that way — public transit, culture, big city life. If it were high COL on like a remote fancy tropical island, nope. But for me living in a city makes me happier and my life easier by my standards (being near museums, not needing a car) that it trumps low COL without those perks.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’m fundamentally a high COL person — I want to live in an east coast city, not have a car, etc.

      2. *shrug**

        + 1

        I grew up in a major city and cannot see myself living anywhere except near/right outside of a major city.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Yup, that’s why I live in the city as well. I’m within walking distance of cool restaurants, music venues, museums, art galleries, theaters, etc. I couldn’t live in the ‘burbs no matter how moderately priced it is.

      4. Joielle*

        Same. I have a couple of friends that moved to South Dakota after law school and bought gigantic houses for like $85,000 and are always saying we should move there because it’s so much cheaper than the city where we live. We paid more than twice that for a tiny little bungalow and absolute postage stamp of a yard but I wouldn’t trade it for all the rural McMansions in the world, no matter how cheap they are.

      5. Bostonian*

        Ditto. I also like the idea of being able to one day sell my ridiculously expensive condo and buy a mansion in a low COL area for half the price.

    4. Miss Fisher*

      I think it depends on where you want to live. I prefer a slower pace instead of a huge city. Where I live now is middle of the road on both, but I couldn’t see myself living in a place like LA for any amount of money.

    5. Overeducated*

      I couldn’t make this choice without all the other factors! There tend to be a lot of lifestyle differences between high and low cost of living areas, and if a partner who works is involved then that can make a difference too (sometimes more jobs in HCOL areas, but easier to live on one income in LCOL).

    6. Art3mis*

      I’ve been stuck on lower/low for a long time and I’m kind of sick and tired of it. But then again before that I was stuck in higher/low for a long time, so I don’t know what’s better. For me I preferred the latter just because my family/friends were there and other things I like to do were more of an option there.

    7. Honoria Glossop*

      I think it depends on how flexible your plans are for the future and how far along in your career you are. I would personally go for the high salary/high cost option because that gives me better leverage to keep a higher salary for the next job, which might be in a place where the cost of living is lower. If you don’t have the flexibility to change locations every time you change jobs (spouses job, family commitments), then YMMV.

    8. designbot*

      I’ve had this choice right out of grad school, and chose high salary/high cost of living. My logic was that even though housing costs adjust by location, my student loans don’t. So if in each place say everything else scales appropriately and I have 10% of my income to pay towards my student loans, my available contribution will be higher in the higher COL area and I’ll get them paid off more quickly.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Oh yeah — I paid half my income in rent for a long time in two different places, and it was a huge difference when my rent was $500 vs when it was $1000!

    9. Mel*

      All else being equal, high/high. Means you save at a high rate, and can move to a low COL in retirement with plenty of money in the bank (but you probably can’t pull off the reverse). Means you won’t be shocked when you travel for vacation. Means you can build up a safety net faster and move if you lose your job.

    10. Earthwalker*

      Depends on time of life, willingness to move, and whether you own your place. We started out in a high cost of living place with a tiny suburban home, and later took a company transfer to a lower cost city. Moving house costs money, even when the move is company-paid, because any time you sell/buy a house you pay real estate transaction costs. That said, the sale of our tiny expensive place bought a house in the country twice as big. Then we downsized at retirement and got the savings back out in cash. It was like investing in real estate without the pain and risks of being a landlord. We’re reasonably well off retired in a rural city. We like that but some people might consider living outside the big city a downside.

      Another note on high cost places: when we had moved, several of my coworkers and I compared the difference. We concluded that the extra salary paid in the high cost city didn’t go as far as the lower salary that the same company paid us in our low cost city. YMMV, of course.

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      I generally choose high salary high cost of living, because I tend to like living in cities that have a high cost of living (some of it is the city itself’s appeal, and some of it is being a particular non-white minority who doesn’t want to deal with certain things if I’m “the only” somewhere).

    12. lemon*

      I think you’ve got to work the budgets to see if that high salary in the high cost of living area is actually all that high.

      You would have to make at least $129k to afford an apartment and basic expenses in San Francisco (this is assuming an average rent of $3600/month and that rent is 1/3 of gross income).

      Compare that to Columbus, OH, where you would only have to make about $32k to afford an apartment and basic expenses (assuming an average rent of $900/month and that rent is 1/3 of gross income).

      1. geopanda*

        I live in Metro Detroit where my cost of living is probably similar to Columbus, Ohio. My monthly expenses are around $1k-1100 per month, rent for a 1br apt is $650 and the rest are other expenses. I do need a car though. I have lived in a city where I did not need a car and I don’t like driving as a result of that. But I have a short commute, so it’s not a big issue. A salary of $32k for a single person here would be enough to support basic expenses.

    13. new kid*

      I just moved from lower salary/ low col (midwest) to a much higher salary/higher col (east coast) and it was 100% the right move for me – closer to friends, more queer friendly, better social and career opportunities, etc. But I know a ton of people I would absolutely recommend the opposite to – it really depends on your lifestyle and the types of things and experiences you value. I used to own a house and now I have a tiny one bedroom for DOUBLE my old mortgage!! Honestly, if I wasn’t gay I don’t know if I would have left the midwest. Your money can go a long way in a city like Kansas City (where I lived last).

      1. geopanda*

        It really depends on where in the Midwest. I live in Metro Detroit. I’m also gay and I find it’s not much of an issue here especially in Ferndale/Royal Oak and there are lots of explicitly LGBT friendly businesses or events. I have lived in NYC too and in Toronto, Canada and I haven’t noticed a big difference in LGBT acceptance. But Kansas City would be a whole different ball game. I don’t think I would want to live in most of the Midwest.

        1. matcha123*

          Not gay, but a visible minority and when people online say ‘midwest’ I never know where they are talking about. I only really consider the Great Lakes states as the midwest, and maybe as far as Iowa, but I definitely do not put Kansas as the midwest. Totally different culture.
          Just like upper New York or much of California are going to be different from NYC or LA, SF…

    14. Jaydee*

      I think it depends on 1) will the salary be enough to cover *your* expenses plus savings? and 2) what are your future plans?

      Like Fortitude Jones said, some costs are going to exist no matter where you go or how much you’re paid. Student loan debt for example. If you wouldn’t make enough to cover those expenses, it doesn’t really matter what the salary is.
      Also, if you make $40,000 and have $30,000 of expenses you’re actually better off than someone who makes $100,000 and has $90,000 of expenses. The $10,000 you saved will stretch farther than the $10,000 they saved.

      The other thing is the future. I know people who lived and worked in a high COL area, bought a house or apartment, did their thing, weren’t rich by the standard of living there but then later moved to a lower COL area and the amount of equity they had in their home was plenty to buy a nice house outright in their new city. So even though they then earned less at new jobs, they also didn’t have to worry about a mortgage payment. So looking at where you want to end up makes a difference too.

    15. Another worker bee*

      All things being equal: high/high. (this excludes, in my mind, a few coastal cities notorious for INSANELY high COL, because they are at like 3x the COL of my high COL city while offering like…20% more in pay). Like other commenters have said, your disposable income after rent, etc. will still be scaled, so you will be able to save more, etc. Also in general, those high COL places are that way because there is more opportunity. Hopefully you’ll stay at your job for awhile, but you’ll likely have better options for the next job in the bigger city. (YMMV based on industry, of course)

    16. Lilysparrow*

      What’s the relative lifestyle effect? It’s unlikely to be dead even.

      There are high/high situations where housing costs are disproportionate to other col, and result in a cramped/under-maintained space, long commute, undesirable school district, etc. While the “low” salary might give you a much higher quality of life in the low col area.

      OTOH, sometimes the added expenses of keeping a car, homeownership vs rental, etc, mean a low col area isn’t very low-cost for you.

      Length of commitment is also important, as others pointed out. If you’re early in your career and will likely move several times, especially if you have no kids or other caregiving responsibilities, living small in a big city can allow you to make hay while the sun shines and be in a much better financial position later.

      If you’re going to wind up with the same margin of savings either way, choose based on other factors, like prestige, interesting projects, stress level, or proximity to your personal interests.

    17. wittyrepartee*

      Choose the area you like living in best. I make a medium salary in a high cost of living area, and it’s totally worth it. It fills me with joy every day. I love my city.

    18. NoLongerYoung*

      I am high salary (now) and very high COL. But… my social security for retirement will be pegged off my income for the last “X” quarters of my work career. That makes it worth it to me (I will be retiring to a low COL area).

      One other reason? I work a very interesting – demanding – but fascinating job. My brain is oh, so happy with the challenging tasks and information I get to use strategical daily. I would be hard pressed to find this job outside of a high COL area, at this stage of my career. (I have looked – my skill set and expertise has gotten so specialized and higher level that it would be a 2/3 drop in salary to even take a similar titled job – if one existed – in a related industry).

      Ramifications… Out of my take-home (20% goes into savings before that, though)… 60% is going for my rent and utility bills (no cable, frugal). No car payment. High COL also means high car insurance, gas costs and more. And I’m not in luxury digs, trust me. I’ve looked around and I’d have to commute an additional hour to get a better neighborhood for the same money. So I will hang tight for the next 7.5 years (if I can).

      But my retirement numbers look better than if I went to my home state, and divided my salary by 3. Then I’d have to work until I’m 80.

      Lesson – save early, save continuously, even if $5 a week, for retirement. It matters. I didn’t (circumstances beyond my control at the time). So… stuck here for a while yet, but making the best of it.

    19. Quinalla*

      For me it would come down to which place I wanted to live and doing an actual comparison of the salary vs. expenses.

      I will say my sticker shock at grocery store prices when moving from super-low-cost-of-living (rural Midwest) to still low but more moderate cost of living area (suburb of “big city” Midwest) was a tough adjustment. I still don’t like it, though I’m used to it now.

    20. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      I was on high salary and high costs and I am now laid off and seriously ****’d (and not in a good way), so another vote for ”low cost of living”, regardless of salary.

  22. Leslie Knope*

    I’ve been burning to ask this for a while!

    But who, on television, is the worst boss of all time?

    Michael Scott is too obvious (I mean, obviously he’d be up there) – but I’d love to know other bosses, especially surprising ones, from television who are terrible. Wonderfully specific examples welcome.

    As a follow-up Q – what are some of the most terrible moments of management/workplace behaviour on television?

    1. Rainy*

      Honestly? Captain James T Kirk is probably one of the worst bosses of all time. He can’t go half an hour without getting one of his reports killed. He facilitates siloing in his subordinates, has super close friendships with his most direct reports, constantly hits on people at conferences leaving his employees to shrug and explain it with “boys will be boys”, and he refuses to follow official regulatory guidance in culturally sensitive situations.

    2. Madam Secretary*

      Claire Underwood did some pretty ratchet stuff. She was cut throat.

      It probably wouldn’t be fun working for Tony Sopano either.

    3. Cruciatus*

      It was only one episode, but Mr. Faber on Roseanne was pretty awful. So probably not “worst of all time” but still bad. He upped the quota the factory workers had to hit and they all knew they couldn’t do it. He told them they’d hit it or be out. The workers nominated Roseanne to talk with him and he said he’d lower it…if she gave him respect and no lip. It works for a little while, though she already feels like she sold her soul for a lower quota. But then he tells everyone he’s raising it again and Roseanne and a bunch of her factory friends all walk out. “Guess we’re not gonna make our quota today, honey bunch.”

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Oh yes, and he used the most offensive analogy about making cows give milk while talking to her.

    4. merp*

      On The Bold Type, the younger employees just bring *so much* of their personal drama to work, going as far as to have long drawn-out conversations about personal health/relationship/etc problems with their bosses, and it always makes me think of this website and the need for boundaries, haha.

      I like the boss herself for the most part, although she should be shutting down more of those conversations, she’s pretty fantastic. I just can’t get over the behavior of the women who work for her!

    5. MonteCristo85*

      Rachel from Friends was pretty awful. Fired someone on their first day because she had a crush on another candidate, dated her assistant, blamed him for her own screw-ups, etc.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        YES! Watching her actions back as someone who is now not 11 years old, and instead has worked in the workplace with normal working expectations for a few years – she’s horrendous!

    6. Lizzy May*

      Don Draper was a horrible boss to his team and his secretaries. He threw money in Peggy’s face, slept with Allison and Megan, paid absolutely no attention to his creative team at all, got into an office war with every superior he had and ruined client meetings because of his emotional distress. Also, he’d just disappear sometimes. I don’t think there is a great boss on Mad Men, but Don was probably the worst.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Nah, Roger was worse – Don was just following Roger’s horrible lead. When your boss invites you to a wedding where they sing in blackface, yeah, you suck as a manager.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Bert Cooper was the OG boss who didn’t do anything. That disfunction went straight to the top. I guess the message was that the secretaries and creative held the operation together but I sometimes wonder how that company even existed in the first place.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Lol I love how Bert just comes into the office, takes his shoes off, plops down in his chair, and reads the paper all day. That’s it – he’s #goals.

    7. Lizzy May*

      My workplace has just sent out our annual employee survey and I have issues I’d like to raise, but despite the claims of anonymity, I do think it would be fairly easy for management to narrow down who leaves what comments. We don’t have skip level meetings and management doesn’t do 360 reviews for themselves so there isn’t really a way to provide feedback up. Is there a way to raise concerns about management without worrying that it will be held against me? (And yes, I’m looking for a new job because I know I shouldn’t feel this way in a job but in the meantime…)

      1. IL JimP*

        If you’re leaving already you might want to do it damn the consequences but maybe you can disguise your writing style. Usually when people are found out it’s because they wrote the comments the way they normally write or speak.

        1. SarahKay*

          You could explain what you want to say to a non-work friend and ask them to write it out in their own words. Then copy-paste their response, complete with any typos or spelling mistakes. That’d remove any common phrasing or errors (or lack of errors) that you use / make regularly.

    8. Jerk Store*

      Salena Meyer, Ben Cafferty and Congressman Furlong on Veep are the worst bosses I think of.

      Terrible management moment: I always think it was unfair that Monica got fired for accepting a gift from a vendor. The scene reads like she didn’t know it was a policy.

    9. Not really a waitress*

      I had to quit watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell because “the Gentleman” triggered me so badly. He reminded me of my then boss.

      1. Grace*

        The Gentleman is *such* a dick. I haven’t seen the show yet but I’ve heard that his portrayal is a bit different in that than it is in the book, in terms of how his manipulation works and the particular flavour of dickishness, so you might be able to stomach that more. (It’s worth it.)

        Speaking of which, Norrell is a *terrible* boss. Childermass deserves better, dammit. (Not getting anymore detailed than that, because spoilers for anyone that hasn’t got the end of the book/show, but *wow* is that the worst move ever from an employer.)

        1. wittyrepartee*

          YES! Norrell is an absolutely awful boss to both Childermass and Jonathan Strange. He stifles the growth of his “industry” for reasons of vanity. He doesn’t recognize the talents of Childermass due to classism, and recognizes but stifles the talents of Jonathan Strange. He consistently interferes with the home-life of his employees if they have one, and won’t train or recognize talent in women because of his complete disinterest in them. He hides important information from his employees because he doesn’t like the implications of that information, and creates bottlenecks for no reason but to keep things from getting out of his micromanaging control. However, despite being a micromanager, he fails to notice the gross incompetence or malevolence of some of his other associates (Drawlight and Lascelles).