updates: the no motivation, the allergies, and more

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. I have no motivation to do my job

I didn’t see the email from Alison saying she was answering my question because I’ve been so busy at MY NEW JOB and generally being social/seeing my friends and not fretting about spending every moment of free time I have applying for jobs (because, sigh, is that exhausting on top of working a job you hate).

I will say I wrote this letter in a particular low point. I was also in grad school and finishing up the quarter. It was winter. I was probably a bit depressed and constantly stressed out and my mental state was not great. I also started therapy soon after I wrote it and that helped a ton.

What did help me was actually thinking about how Alison would respond to this letter. Putting on my Alison hat, I made myself find a project I actually liked doing and focused my energy on that. That project actually helped me get my new job!

I hope that others who are in similar situations find her advice useful! And I’m keeping this letter to remind myself that if I’m every *thinking* about leaving a job, I need to start looking. I never want to be in such a miserable situation again.

2. Can I ask to work from home because of my terrible allergies? (#5 at the link)

I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter. Thanks to you (and the comment section, they gave really helpful advice!), I was able to sit down with a meeting with my boss and properly discuss the teleworking situation with him. I got my telework schedule approved the same day you published my letter. I cannot thank you enough for encouraging me and helping me out!

3. Will age discrimination keep me from getting hired? (#5 at the link)

Since my letter was published, I’ve had interviews with six more companies (four of them including in-person interviews and two phone only). One of those was somewhere my husband worked (though in a different department), but unfortunately two days after I applied he got laid off. My mother-in-law continued saying negative things, including that my interview must have gone so horribly that they let him go. Ironically, my husband had heard prior to his layoff that I was at that point one of their top contenders. After the time had gone by when they had said they would decide passed, I politely followed up, and was told they still had not decided.

The employment agencies I’m working with have submitted me to some other opportunities, and I should be doing some more interviewing soon and hopefully finally getting an offer. My husband is in a specialized industry, and he has two interviews this upcoming week. So it’s a race to see which of us will get hired first and hopefully one of us does soon.

Thank you everyone for your well wishes and advice, I will update again after we both find jobs.

Alison here: You must never talk to your mother-in-law about your job search again; she is saying terrible things to you and has forfeited her right to information. I’m so sorry she said that to you and there is zero — ZERO — chance that she is correct.

Update to the update (received last night):

My husband got offered a job first, which would have been working opposite hours than me, we never would have seen each other during the week. Luckily, he then got a second offer at another place which he did accept. He will be a supervisor, though it pays a bit less than he received at his former employer. He will start next Monday.

I ended up having interviews at over 15 places (some just screeners and getting into final rounds a few times). Though I didn’t get multiple offers, I did get offered a temp to perm role at a company that’s a household name and if/when it converts, the benefits are amazing. That started today.

4. Executive wants me to repay him now for expenses that haven’t come through yet (#3 at the link)

I’m the letter writer whose boss asked me to pay him back money for expenses out of my own pocket while I waited for Accounting to reimburse me. I thought it was time for an update.

Well, I took your advice and it worked just fine. My manager emailed me once more asking for the money, I told him I couldn’t pay him until I’d been reimbursed, and he responded “yes, absolutely understandable, no need to transfer the cash before then.” The money came through a week later, all’s well that ends well.

But where there’s smoke there’s fire. After I mentioned working 60 hours for a salary that barely covered my bills, one commenter gently suggested I seek greener pastures. That was a wakeup call for me, and within 6 weeks of sending out CVs, I was offered a job offering me a 30% salary increase for 33% fewer hours.

I was offered a corporate role in the same industry as my old employer. Let’s say I used to work in strategic finance and report to the CFO at a company producing fully automatic coffee machines for corporate canteens. My new role is at a company producing hipster teapots, and I’ll be working in the accounting transformation team to produce standardized invoices for our supply chain. Although our CEO famously stated last year that Tpotz Inc. is no longer a competitor for CorpoCoffee Ltd. because their target markets are so different, he went ballistic when my manager told him where I was going. He convinced himself I would take CorpoCoffee’s financial secrets to Tpotz. I wouldn’t: stealing confidential financial information is generally frowned upon by the legal system. Nevertheless, he released me from my duties a few days later.

My manager was furious, and viewed his decision as cutting off his nose to spite his face. I couldn’t deliver a finalized 2019 budget before leaving as I was locked out of our financial databases. I was barred from meetings with senior managers and my boss needed to trail me throughout the building to ensure I didn’t do anything to damage the company. I discreetly packed up my desk one Wednesday evening, and the team received an email from my manager on Thursday telling them I was gone. He then handed in his resignation to the CEO as well. By the time he left a month later, two more Heads Of in our team resigned. 4 more resignations followed by the end of January.

With half the team’s leadership now gone, the CEO decided to merge our corporate team with a market facing one. So, if we were finance, we were put under the leadership of the Marketing team. The justification was that, as Finance deals with numbers and Marketing is moving towards data-driven ad campaigns, merging the two teams is essential for CorpoCoffee’s long-term success. I find this decision…somewhat eccentric.

My contract with CorpoCoffee Ltd. required 12 weeks’ notice from me – and being pushed out obliged my employer to continue paying my salary throughout my notice period. The CEO also enforced a non-compete clause barring me from working for Tpotz for an additional 3 months (Tpotz was fine with that) in exchange for continued payment of half my salary until I began with Tpotz. Sounds friendly, but it was ice cold: the CEO said he would sue if I didn’t comply, that he never wanted to see my face again, and that I was dead to him.

As I finish up my extended holiday, I’ll admit I feel guilty about my decision to leave. It seems like things fell apart because of me. But my former coworkers tell me not to feel bad: my manager says he’d had one foot out the door when I resigned anyway, and other Heads Of mainly left because my boss was leaving. And that the CEO pushed me out with mission-critical open tasks and then merged our team with Marketing are decisions he alone is responsible for. Anyway, my new role begins in a few weeks and I’m trying to put that behind me and focus on what comes next.

{ 233 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    Congrats LW3 to both you and your husband, and yes I totally agree with Alison’s advice about your m-i-l – that’s a really horrible, jealous thing she said.

    1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      I’m not so sure if it’s jealousy or what. She worked for 27 years at a large household name company. Usually she relates things to that company and her experience or something a friend or relative experienced, in this particular case I think she was just grasping at straws.

      1. Why isn't it Friday?*

        OP, did your husband step in and tell your MIL to cut it out? What she said was illogical and cruel.

        1. hayling*

          I always thought it was the role of the partner who is related to the boundary pusher (or really, a-hole) to tell them to cut it out. The husband should be stepping in!

          1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

            My husband did tell her to do so, but she did say it to him again later. She must think he doesn’t share information with me.

            1. JSPA*

              Give him an extra hug for having become a decent human being (and for not having extreme tunnel vision) despite her influence. And congratulations to both of you!

              1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                Thank you. Yes, he’s a great and kind person despite his early upbringing, it’s pretty amazing.

                1. Former Employee*

                  I think it shows great strength of character to have been raised by someone so negative and unpleasant and turn out to be totally opposite.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              Yeah, what’s that all about? My husband’s father wanted a private conversation with Marido (aka Primo) before we got married. As in, “Is she listening? Is your email private?” And then FIL to be told Marido not to marry me and that MIL and FIL to be would be boycotting the wedding.

              When Marido told this to me, I asked, “Did your dad think I wouldn’t figure out something was going on when either you didn’t marry me or you did and they didn’t show up to the wedding?”

              Honestly. Ten ounces of booze a day apparently makes someone stupid.

            3. TootsNYC*

              she did say it to him again later. She must think he doesn’t share information with me.

              He doesn’t have to repeat everything she says.

              1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                I do agree he didn’t have to repeat things she says including that. However, due to his tone when he told me, I took it as more he saw it as something ridiculous we could laugh together about, instead of him agreeing with her.

      2. PollyQ*

        If your MIL believed what she said, then she’s just nuts, but my money is on her saying the meanest thing she could think of because she’s a mean person.

        1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

          She’s definitely a bitter person. Decades ago she was widowed with three young children (one of whom was in utero at the time), and she never remarried.

          1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

            Ahh, that explains a lot. I would maybe move to minimizing the time you have to spend around her when she is in her “bitter fits” so your son doesn’t internalize that angry and bitter is a good way to go thru life.

          2. ENFP in Texas*

            FWIW my mother was widowed when she was 39 and had three children (ages 15, 13, 9). She never remarried, either. But she would never DREAM of saying something like that to her children or their spouses.

            1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

              I really appreciate that. As she is the only person I know in real life to be widowed young with children, I didn’t know if that was a common response or not.

              1. Sinister Serina*

                My mom is friends with a woman who was widowed young with a bunch of kids-five or six. She did re-marry when the kids were still pretty young and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, unlike your MIL and her extremely mean-spirited remark.

              2. Observer*

                Also, there is bitter and there is nuts. I don’t know whether your MIL is just a nasty piece of goods or has a diagnosable issue, but she’s way out of the norm, even for “bitter”.

              3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                My mother was widowed in her early 50s when I was 10. She was overwhelmingly relentless in imagining the best possible future, and sometimes a little manipulative to convince others that her way was the best possible future… but never nasty.
                Best wishes for strong boundaries for you guys!

              4. Librarian of SHIELD*

                My situation is similar to ENFP’s above. My mom was widowed at 40 with youngish kids, and she’s been the most supportive force in our lives.

                I think grief tends to erase our filters and make us more of what we are, if that makes any sense. I’ve seen people who already had a tendency to feel put upon respond to grief experiences with bitterness, but I’ve also seen people who had a life philosophy of “we can’t change it now, let’s just do what we can with where we are now” react in line with that same line of thinking.

                That’s not to say I think your MIL is a bad person, OP3, or that she’s not had a difficult life. I just don’t think the entirety of her negative mindset springs from her grief.

              5. AKchic*

                Some people just get bitter as they age too. *glares at grandma*
                Some are naturally bitter people and mad at the world for the life they have. *glares at current MIL*

                Limiting your time with your MIL and Grey Rocking her would be the best bet.

              6. Artemesia*

                One of my best friends had her kids late in life and then was widowed quite horribly when they were very young. She remains the wonderful positive person she has always been although she lived through a nightmarish few years towards the end of his life (he had late onset serious mental issues — a wonderful guy torn apart — it was awful) and her two kids grew up to be well adjusted lovely adults.

              7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Your MIL is an outlier, even among widows with young kids. She sounds like a deeply unhappy person who chooses to be cruel to others to satisfy her feelings of insecurity and unhappiness.

                She really is being horrid, and none of what she’s said to you is merited or true.

              8. ENFP in Texas*

                Losing a spouse is hard, maybe moreso at a young age (I also was widowed before I turned 40, but we didn’t have any children), but like any life-altering experience, it’s how you deal with it that matters.

                Some folks will become bitter and negative, because everything that they thought their life was going to be that is now gone. It is very easy to become bitter and negative with that mindset.

                It is hard to take a look at your new normal and say “this isn’t what my life was supposed to be, but I am going to do the best I can with what it is now.”

            2. JSPA*

              My aunt was widowed young with small kids. Her husband was the great love of her life, and died young and agonizingly with cancer.

              She ended up moving herself and the kids in with her cutting, spiteful, (non-widowed) mother and sweet but disengaged father, in their home country.

              My cousins were legit scarred by grandmother’s cruelty (despite their mom’s best efforts to shield them) and by an abusive older uncle (who parachuted in on occasion).

              Their mom, in contrast, was their rock. She frequently took them on fantastic low-budget adventures to get them away from the house, was their greatest supporter, and tried to buffer them against the increasingly bizarre anger as her mother sunk into dementia.

              Explanations exist, as do excuses, and they may be reason enough to offer forgiveness in the philosophical sense. But they’re no reason you have to expose yourself and your kids to misery or damage.

              Finances and citizenship and roof-over-head and physical safety and the right to keep your kids? Ignore at your peril. Wishing you could have the grandmother role be played well by the biological grandmother? Not in the same league, at all.

              You can keep a “we send cards and call on birthdays” relationship alive, and try additional contact periodically to see if anything’s changed significantly–some people do mellow or learn.

          3. Observer*

            Yeah, it’s probably a good idea to put MIL on an information diet and make plans with her that allow you to duck out early if she gets started.

            1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

              Luckily for me if this job does go perm (and this particular employer is one that historically convert people often), neither I nor my husband would be job hunting again for the foreseeable future.

              1. Observer*

                I hope that this works out. But when I said “information diet” I wasn’t talking just about your job hunt. I was talking more generally. This person is toxic, at least some of the time and part of that behavior is triggered by things you tell her. The fewer triggers you give her, the better for all.

              2. LSC*

                I do think it’s worth considering an information diet in a broader sense – please disregard this if I’m wrong, but I got the impression from your comments that she can make negative/mean comments about other things as well, not only your job hunt. So it may make sense, for your own self preservation, to avoid sharing anything personal that she might respond to in a similar way.

                1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                  You’re both right, she makes tons of bitter comments as a whole. With non work related things it’s easier for me to shake off and assuming this job works out she at least won’t have a job search to sow poison seeds on.

                2. Artemesia*

                  I would become a cordial stranger i.e. be effusively gracious and never let her even slightly close to you and who are. Talk about the garden, the movies, trivia on the news; ask her about equally trivial things about herself — but never discuss anything about your marriage, your personal interests, your religion, and your workplace. Give her a shiny smooth surface with no toe holds or crevices to put the dynamite charges in. Whether she knows it or not, she wants to hurt you and hurt your marriage. Start being charming and bubbly and a brick wall to her.

          4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            And she sees you and your happy, long successful marriage and there’s just some atavistic response.

            1. Lena Clare*

              Yes, that was my thought too with the jealous comment, although of course OP knows get best.

              1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                We actually have been married just over 3 years (we found each other late in life). You may be right despite our happiness being relatively short term it may provoke some sort of jealous response from her.

                1. Lena Clare*

                  That’s interesting then. Maybe there’s a feeling (unconscious on her part) that you’ve come in as an ‘interloper’ and now it’s not just her and her son, but her son and you, and then her.

                2. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  I think Lena Clare has a really good point. A lot of the families I met in grief support groups responded to their loss by pulling really tightly together. If you spent a significant portion of your life feeling like these people are the only people you have left, it’s easy to feel threatened when one of them starts to rely on someone else.

            2. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

              My husband is the oldest and looks quite a lot like his late father. She’s always relied a lot on her now adult children to be close to. One moved far away to the opposite coast and the other and his wife barley let her in theirs. I like the idea of having a close family, I’d just like it to be a happy and close one if at all possible.

              1. Observer*

                The fact that both of your husbands sibling have placed a significant distance between her and them (in once case literally and physically) should tell you something. The odds of your being able to have any sort of close relationship with her are low.

                If you have realistic expectations, you are much less likely to be disappointed.

              2. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                I wonder if your MIL sees you as an interloper then. You took her her baby, the one that looked the most like his dad and was supposed to always take care of her, no matter what. Now he has other responsibilities. Could she be trying to subconsciously run you off to get him back (I say subconsciously because she may not even really be acknowledging why she’s doing what she’s doing, she’s just doing it).
                There is also the fact that the other siblings have put distance and boundaries in place, you may need to do the same thing, but at least it sounds like you have an ally in your hubby.

                1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                  I do think she sees me as an interloper, but she’s stuck with me unless we get divorced (which I truly hope doesn’t happen and isn’t on anyone’s radar).

                  She’s relied on my husband all of his life in a lot of ways (not financial, things like helping with yard work and decorating outside the house for the holidays as she’s petite and he’s willing to get on a ladder and string up lights). If she thinks I’m discouraging them being close or helping her she’s wrong, heck I make sure to put the holiday decorating on our calendars as life with a toddler can get hectic and everything needs to be scheduled.

                  I don’t mind having her over or going to her place (and we see her a lot due to having our son), but if she’d knock off the negativity we’d all get along so much better. I’m not saying I’m Pollyanna, just that some positivity from her would be so welcomed.

      3. Liz*

        She sounds like a friend of mine who “worked in corporate” for many years. Which she did, BUT the last time was 20+ years ago. So she has no clue how things are now, yet seems to think all her knowledge is soo spot on.

        1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

          Lol good to know we aren’t the only ones who have an “expert” in all companies based on her decades with one.

      4. Clorinda*

        Maybe that’s how it worked at Household Name Co., and she genuinely believes it! So now you know she has absorbed toxic workplace norms and work is not a safe topic with her. Congratulations to you both on the new jobs!

  2. Leslie Knope*

    “My contract with CorpoCoffee Ltd. required 12 weeks’ notice from me – and being pushed out obliged my employer to continue paying my salary throughout my notice period. The CEO also enforced a non-compete clause barring me from working for Tpotz for an additional 3 months (Tpotz was fine with that) in exchange for continued payment of half my salary until I began with Tpotz.” so wait, did they pay full or half salary for the 3 months?! Happy that Tpotz was fine with it.

    1. Det. Charles Boyle*

      Well, the OP is definitely not in the US. I can’t imagine any US company having an employment contract; requiring 12 weeks of notice; and then paying an employee half their salary after they quit! This all sounds awesome!! Congratulations on your new job, LW #4!

      1. Flyleaf*

        With regard to paying salary, or partial salary, while enforcing a noncompete, I’ve had that happen to me twice in the US. Both noncompetes required that they pay me my full salary for up to a year if they wanted to enforce the noncompete. In both cases, they decided not to enforce the noncompete, and I am sure that the cost factor into the decision.

        1. Antilles*

          The salary part of your previous non-compete agreements is probably the company’s way of making sure the entire agreement doesn’t get nullified by a court.
          In the US, even though non-competes are generally legal (unless blocked by local/state laws), they can often get tossed out if they’re too broad or ‘unreasonable’…and expecting you to not receive income for a year might cross that threshold.

          1. Antilles*

            (Hit enter too soon)
            As for why they waived it, think about this: The purpose of the non-compete is probably not to prevent anyone from ever leaving, it’s more to protect the company from someone stealing trade secrets and running immediately to a competitor.
            So if they don’t think you’re a risk of doing that, they’d rather not cut the checks and they waive the agreement. But IF there’s something in Chad’s behavior that makes them think it’s a serious possibility for him, they want a non-compete agreement that’ll hold up to legal scrutiny.

            1. Sharikacat*

              I wouldn’t call it trade secrets so much as company-specific secrets. If you were part of Teapots LLC’s yearly strategy meeting, they don’t want you being able to quit a month later and joining Kettles Corp and telling them all about it. Or leveraging a great relationship with the vendor that sells you parts to either give you as good a deal at Kettles Corp or steal the vendor altogether.

              Weird thing, I recall a sandwich company (I think Jimmy Johns) years ago trying to enforce non-competes for their front-line sandwich makers to prevent them from trying to work at other sandwich shops. As if the lowly minimum-wage-making guy slapping meats on bread has the secret knowledge that will give Subway the insight to rule all sandwich making.

                1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  If knowing how to make a sandwich is a closely guarded trade secret, then I’ve got some bad news for Jimmy Johns (or whoever it was).

      2. CM*

        Hope this isn’t a derail, but some U.S. states have noncompete laws that say noncompetes are only enforceable if they offer the affected person some compensation, typically 50% of their salary. This is a concept borrowed from the UK, where they have “garden leave,” meaning that right after you leave your job, you’re supposed to hang around your garden for a while, and then when your specialized knowledge is stale and you’re no longer a threat, you can go work for a competitor.

        1. JanetM*

          Ah! I’d heard the term “garden leave” before, but was never quite able to work out the precise meaning. Thank you.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Garden / Gardening leave is not usually after you leave a job – it’s more usually when they decide that they don’t want you to work during your notice period , so they pay you to stay home.
            So you might have a 3 month notice period but if the company wants, they can send you home as soon as you give notice, During your 3 months notice period you are still an employee and entitled to be paid, but equally, you are still an employee so not entitled to work for anyone else.
            It may be t let specialised knowledge go out of date, or to ensure that someone else can take over the departing employees contacts and clients while they are on leave so it’s harder for them to poach, or could make it harder for the departing employee to cause any damage.
            We’ve had a couple of employees where we put them on garden leave for some or all of their notice.

            1. JSPA*

              Given the longer default notice period in the UK, it would work out somewhat similarly, as far as how stale the knowledge is and the barrier to poaching. When notice is commonly 2 weeks (and even that, not necessarily required, just customary), you need the ability to tack extra months on the end.

            2. SuperAdmin*

              A former colleague was asked to resign due to differences between her and her manager – they agreed she would work one month notice, and receive two months garden leave, to allow her to find a new job. The company didn’t necessarily want to fire her, but there was a decided difference in working styles between her and her manager, and this allowed her to leave on ok terms with the company.

              So garden leave is often used in awkward or delicate situations, as well as to protect company intellectual property and knowledge.

        2. AnnaBananna*

          I guess I’m still confused. Why is the employee penalized 50% of their salary? (yes, I could totally google this, but you know stuff…like Garden Leave. ‘You fancy!

    2. The RO-Cat*

      As I understand it, OP was paid in full for the 12 weeks of notice AND half-salary for an additional 3 months (making thus about 6 months from notice to Tpotz Day 1)

    3. H.C.*

      From what I can tell it was three months at full pay, then an additional three months at half pay.

    4. OP 4 - the defector*

      I’m the OP. Indeed, it was 12 weeks full pay and then 12 weeks half pay. And also correct: my company is not US-based. Where I am there’s also a funny taxation system that meant I got to keep a lot more of the 50% salary than I did of my 100% paycheck, so for those 3 months I was on non-compete I only ended up earning about $20 less than I had while I was working full time.

      1. Ladybird*

        I know a 6 month break is probably not how you intended or even wanted things to end up, but considering that Tpotz was fine with it, it sounds like an AWESOME break while still getting paid roughly the same the entire six months. So happy that everything turned out so well for you!

        1. OP 4 - the defector*

          The time off was amazing. I was thankful for every moment – most people will never get a paid break like that. I spent a lot of time working through some of the toxic things that happened at that company, and realized it was far worse than I’d noticed while I was still working there. So glad I’m out. So glad I had time to process things. So glad I’m now working at a company with a great reputation.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Wow, that sounds like a great deal. I’m glad you had time to process everything.

            Even though your leaving may have been a catalyst, I agree with the folks who told you not to feel guilty. CEO can lay in the bed he made.

            1. MagicUnicorn*

              Agreed. If anything, OP4 is a hero for being the catalyst others needed to realize they, too, could flee this toxic mess.

            2. Bryce*

              A house of cards may fall because one was removed, but that doesn’t mean it was stable beforehand.

          2. AndersonDarling*

            Good luck at your new job and I hope you shed any guilt you had about leaving your old job. Now that you have seen the true colors of your old employer, you should know that you made the best choice. If that much chaos occurred when you left, I have to wonder how an actual crisis could destroy the company.
            Cheers to you and your new adventure!

          3. Urdnot Bakara*

            This was a horrible situation that ended up working out well for you!! I just can’t imagine going back to your new employer like, “Hey, I actually can’t start for 6 months!” That had to be a nerve-wracking conversation.

            1. OP 4 - the defector*

              I knew there was a good chance that it could happen. When I applied for the new role, the last question on the online application form asked when I could start, and I told them at the time it could end up being six months. The hiring manager said at the time that he would be willing to wait if it came to that. I think my big takeaway there was that managing expectations up front and being completely transparent is sometimes the simplest way to get a good outcome.

          4. JessaB*

            Yes, being able to step back for that time, I’m sure helped you not bring habits enforced by the toxicity of the old place with you to the new. Yay OP, congrats on your new job.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Just saw this. That’s what I thought. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is a great gift to have that time during your working years. I had 12 months in my 20s and it was outstanding.

      3. Gerta*

        I’m so glad to read that! After you mentioned barely covering your bills on the full salary, I was afraid that only getting 50% might have caused some serious problems. Well done on getting out of there – truly, you have nothing at all to feel guilty about. Go ahead and enjoy your new job!

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        I just want to say, good lord, some CEOs seem to be missing middle school (junior secondary school) antics! Good for you getting out, and nothing at all of their debacle is your fault.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Or is it half salary for an additional three months after full salary for the notice period time?

    6. kittymommy*

      I’m still baffled by the idea of putting Finance under Marketing. That’s…. an interesting decision.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Sounds like the CEO has a long and glorious history of Interesting decisions.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          A courageus leader willing to think outside the box. Not bound by little things like common sense or advice from the experts he employs.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Finance under Marketing? Neither of those is my area, but wow, the potential for conflicts of interest, and poor financial decisionmaking due to motivated reasoning, seems vast.

      1. OP 4 - the defector*

        It is the most bizarre setup I’ve ever heard of. I should say it’s not finance, but another central function (actually more capable of sketchy conflicts of interest than finance would be). But there are quite a few people from my old company who read here, so I’m hesitant to say exactly which central function I work in!

          1. OP 4 - the defector*

            The thing is, I think it might make even less sense if I say what department it really is! It’s so bizarre and makes sense on no planet ever.

            The best part was that the new CXO for the team decided to change the name of the department to something really cheesy. So if it was Finance, the team is now called “Money Solutions.” And the team’s meeting room is now called the “Money Solutions Discussion Space”. Life is so much better now that I’m hearing these stories from the other side.

            1. Artemesia*

              for some light summer reading you might enjoy Connie Willis ‘Bellwether’ set in an organization about like yours — it is a research institute, but still, about like yours. It reminded me so much of the idiocies of corporate team building and other nonsense. I think you would really enjoy it.

            2. Glitsy Gus*

              I now desperately want to put a sign on our meeting room door that says “Money Solutions Discussion Space” even though my department isn’t even remotely related to money.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Yes, I was coming to say this is really strange. I’ve never seen marketing people who had any affinity or inclination for finance.

  3. Coder von Frankenstein*

    LW #4, you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You did everything right. If a whole bunch of people followed you out the door, you can be quite sure that none of them were happy in their jobs before; your leaving, and the CEO’s insane response, provided the wake-up call for them in the same way Alison did for you. Their lives will now be better because you made up your mind to leave.

    1. Marissa*

      That’s exactly what I thought! You shouldn’t feel guilty OP4, you did the best thing for yourself and so did your coworkers. If it’s not a wake up call to CEO that his behavior drives away talent, then he’s beyond help.

      Congratulations on the new job!

    2. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

      Agreed. It sounds like there were a bunch of people that were REALLY unhappy already, as there was basically only one thing keeping them there. Have something make throne piece leave, and let the landslide begin.
      OP4, don’t blame yourself at all. This is no longer your circus, and those aren’t your monkeys to corral anymore.

      1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

        That was supposed to read “make that one piece”

        The joys of posting from a mobile device.

    3. PollyQ*

      1000000% agree, LW#4! You should *never* feel guilty about quitting a job anyway (maybe about not giving notice, but not about quitting), but that place sounds like a classic “Bees, So Many Bees, Bees Everywhere, Inc.” Congrats on your new job!

    4. OP 4 - the defector*

      Thank you all so much! My coworkers who left after me all say it was the best excision they ever made as well, so I’m feeling a lot less guilty now than I did before. One of them left because she was sick and tired of having the CEO shout at her in meetings about how “sh!t” he considered her work to be (she was a stellar performer and got paid peanuts), so you’re right. People were definitely going to leave anyway.

      1. OP 4 - the defector*

        Oh!! “Decision” – not “excision”! But you know what? I like the autocorrect better.

        1. JSPA*

          Self-excision–perfect term for it. Sounds like the lot of you were underpaid, overburdened, and told that “play hard” was somehow appropriate pay for “work hard.” Glad you cut loose.

      2. animaniactoo*

        FWIW – I once left a job because I had a level of responsibility that nobody involved in the company should have had without a stake in it. I am given to understand that my departure hastened the death of the company by at least a year (it was a little less than a year later when they went under and they were in serious trouble when I left). I was working 60-70 hours a week and the money wasn’t bad but there were zero benefits and the constant stress of missing the next overpromised deadline.

        My thoughts about it were pretty much that if I was that essential then they should have found a way to pay me more and get me some damn help when I was asking for it. I was 24 at the time. They replaced me with two people. But here was the key – I was not responsible for the management’s/ownership’s lack of willingness to bid projects properly, invest in the right resources, or their hiring practices. They were. So even though my former coworkers were in a worse position because I left – that was still not my fault. It remained solely the responsibility of the people who had the authority and responsibility to make the decisions that would have made a difference to the overall working environment and viability of the company.

        And I say this to you to say – you cannot save others by sacrificing yourself to enable a dysfunctional setup. Not when you have little to no authority to DO anything about what makes it dysfunctional. In your case – omg that CEO. Wow. Just wow.

        1. OP 4 - the defector*

          “you cannot save others by sacrificing yourself to enable a dysfunctional setup.”

          Amen to that. Also, as I read your story, I have to ask: is there a chance that you’re me? Our stories sound so similar! I can learn a lot from your experiences.

          Also also, yes. The CEO is bonkers. A while ago, he posted the weirdest rant on LinkedIn: if you’ll imagine for a minute that he’s CEO of CorpoCoffee, he placed a last-minute order of for a large amount of beans from a local Starbucks. The shift supervisor at the Starbucks said they couldn’t fill the order immediately, but would have it 2 days later after restocking. So he (the CEO) goes on LinkedIn and basically writes “Mr. Schulz, your franchisees are not customer oriented at all. You need to put more thought into who you have as workers!” So weird.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff*

            Of course he’d be one of those people.

            It sounds like he treated his own employees the same way.

      3. Observer*

        One of the people who left “because of you”* was being yelled at and having her *GOOD* work belittled? You did her a HUGE favor, and the boss deserved to lose her.

        The phrase is in quotes because none of this is really because of you.

        1. OP 4 - the defector*

          He was awful to her. The number of times she came back to our office in tears….

    5. Samwise*

      Or they were already looking — that’s fast to get a new job if they’re starting the job search from scratch.

      1. JSPA*

        Or…they were so massively underpaid that they were happy to move to jobs where they’re just moderately underpaid? (And, it’s been eight months since the question ran.)

    6. Blue*

      Yep! I initiated a landslide-exit at my last office, about a year ago now. Everyone who left after me had already been thinking about getting out; some just saw me cutting and running as a warning sign that things were about to get even worse and they should escalate their exit plan. To my knowledge, every one of us moved on to better things and is happy with the decision. Meanwhile, things in that office did get much worse, and they’re still losing people in critical roles left and right.

      The CEO’s responsible for creating an untenable environment for his employees, so OP shouldn’t feel guilty for exposing him to the consequences. And this collapse was inevitable – if it wasn’t OP, it would’ve been someone else!

    7. Bagpuss*

      Absolutely – I think seeing someone leave, reminds people that leaving is an option! I had it happen with a job I had – It was a small, really toxic place . I was the most recent hire, when I left, and 3 others followed me within 3 months. They were all people who had been there years, I think that that my leaving was a bit of reminder that there were other jobs out there!

    8. AnonyMouse*

      You shouldn’t feel guilty, you just got some momentum going for people to find something better. I was #2 in an exodus that ended up being almost half of the department. And I added to it by warning a few colleagues that an upper level manager was on her way out, and likely they were going to be tasked with picking up her slack in dealing with our terror of a VP. They all landed on their feet with new jobs, and were reminded that they were amazing employees despite the VP’s constant belittling. Everyone is much happier in their new jobs.

  4. Anonymeece*

    LW #4: Don’t feel guilty! Having your boss trail you throughout the day!? If anything, that many people leaving and the bizarre stuff they put you through is just another wake-up call about how absolutely great it is that you got to leave!

    I’m really glad that you found this new position and wish you the best of luck!

  5. Amber T*

    Dear lord that was a wild ride for what seemed like a fairly simple letter for #4. OP – sounds like your old CEO was bananas!

    1. Autumnheart*

      Agreed! That CEO is making crazy decisions. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company went under soon after all this.

    2. Myrin*

      Right? I read the first two paragraphs and thought “Awesome! What a straightforward solution!” and then I saw that the letter still went on. And on. And on yet further. My goodness.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Completely bananacrackers. OP4, things definitely did not fall apart because of you. You were just the draft of air that made the house of cards come tumbling down.

  6. pentamom*

    I’m just wondering how LW #4 is managing to make it on half the salary that was barely making it, for three more months. Other than that, it seems like drama aside, things turned out well and (s)he’s well out of there.

    1. H.C.*

      Well, lumped with her 3 months at full pay – LW averages out to 6 months at 75% pay, which is a bit more manageable.

      Also, if a good portion of LW’s current expenses were work related (commute, child care, meals out) – there’s potential to temporarily cut down on those costs too.

      And fingers crossed that there is payout for any unused PTO (either by the state’s law or ExJob’s policy) too.

      1. Laufey*

        Also, if LW knew that the noncompete was going to be enforced when she left, that would be six months out of work. She couldn’t work for Tpotz, but she could pick up a temp job or a retail gig briefly.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      Her non compete probably specified that she could not work in the industry not that she couldn’t work at all. She could take a retail job or something else temporary.

      1. Flyleaf*

        Not necessarily. I have had severance and noncompete agreements that specified that any and additional income would reducepayments from the former employer.

    3. Scout Finch*

      Maybe picked up some temp or part-time work? Sold stuff online?

      It’s amazing what one can accomplish when one is not dealing with toxic workplaces all the time.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      She responded above that because of her country’s tax laws, her take home at the 50% rate was only about $20 less than her full pay rate.

      1. fposte*

        Even if it weren’t, a lot of people would happily take a 6-month vacation at 75% of their pay.

        1. Risha*

          I would gladly cancel and cut back on some things in order to get a 6 month vacation at 75% pay, and I’m not exactly rolling in cash.

      2. JSPA*

        Having the default for every meal be home-cooking can save a bundle, too. Fresh tomato sandwiches from the garden, you’re not suffering, you are saving.

        1. JessaB*

          Fresh tomatoes are the best thing. And I say this as someone who gets a rash from uncooked tomatoes, nothing tastes as good as ones that are not handled and shipped half way round the world to get to a supermarket and badly handled there too. I’ll take the rash for the ones my sister grows. Seriously. And OMG her tomato sauce is to die for. I cannot see how fresh tomatoes could ever be suffering. Even as a frugality measure.

  7. Ewpp*

    This is going to come as extreme by some, so be it. Your husband needs to cut your mil out of your lives. Nasty in your ear rumors that by the way destroy people.

    1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      There have been times we’ve considered it. However, when she’s not being awful she’s actually a decent grandma to our son, her first grandchild, so for that reason alone we couldn’t. I do wish she’d stop being so negative all the time and she better not say horrible things to him (he will be 2 in a few months) as he grows up.

      1. PreK isn’t for Wimps*

        I’m in something of the same boat in that my MIL also provides some stopgap childcare for hubby and I. In our case it’s my FIL who we’ve almost cut out a time or two. Fortunately my hubby agrees with me when his dad is being bonkers, but oddly he hears ultimatums better from me than him (doesn’t take them seriously from his son).
        I would say monitor how things go, and if MIL continues to stay negative and then your son parrots that negativity, then you have more concrete concerns that both you and her son can address together with her.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        First, congrats on the job!

        Second. As a grandchild of an awful woman who was negative and awful to my mother specifically but also in general, even though she wasn’t “bad” to me, it ruined my childhood. It gave me anxiety and caused night terrors whenever I came home from visiting. Sure if you asked me at 10 if I loved her, I would have told you of course I did, she’s my grandma! But by 14, she wasn’t my grandmother anymore. I realized what was going on and I was upset my mom kept sending me to her in the idea of “she’s your grandma and she loves you, it’s okay that doesn’t love me or treat me well!” kind of nonsense.

        So please. I don’t think you should cut her out completely but make sure you listen to your kid and notice if they’re internalizing her negativity and awfulness.

        She says it to him. She says it around him. Especially as he grows up. These people rarely protect the kids and put on a real face to make sure they don’t know what they do “among the adults”.

        1. Ewpp*

          Thats sad what you had to go through. Of course it affected you. I didn’t suggest cutting the mil out of their lives, only to clarify my thoughts on the situation, because it was easy. Often that becomes the option for people because they simply don’t have the time for someone who is that rude to his partner. I don’t want to add more to derail or whatever it’s called this post if it is not wanted.

        2. Samwise*

          Did we have the same grandmother? Mine would say, When your mom and dad die, you can come live with me.

          Ugggghhhh. [shivers]

          She had had a very hard life and a terrible childhood, and I’m pretty sure she was mentally ill (untreated). Even so, no one cried at her funeral.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            OMFG she just straight up said that your mom & dad were going to die before her? Like that’s the normal circle of life?! Woah.

            I have a lot of family members with hard lives and they never used it as an excuse to be awful. However I suppose that would make it a bit more understandable, if I squint really hard, as to why she’d think that she may outlive the generation before her if she had lost younger family members frequently or something but still, just yikes!

            That has Disney Villain, evil-stepmom vibes!

        3. Sharrbe*

          I had a great aunt who did that to my mom. She berated her about everything. Then she started complaining about me to my mother (I was too fat, my hair was too messy, I should get better grades, etc.). It put stress on my mom, and in turn on me. Lots of therapy needed to clean that whole mess up.

          1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

            Yup – I had that great-aunt too (mine was on my dad’s side). She was like that all the time to her daughters-in-law and granddaughters-in-law, constantly nitpicking and belittling, but would attempt to be sweet as could be when the hubbys were around. She was SHOCKED and BLINDSIDED when none would take her in when she was too frail in her late 90’s to live on her own anymore and had to go into a nursing home. She reaped what she had spent decades sowing.

            1. AKchic*

              My MIL is currently reaping the rewards of constant bad behavior.
              Shit-talking her DILs (me and my SIL), faking illnesses, exaggerating illnesses, manufacturing crises for attention, stalking her sons and showing up at their job sites if they don’t answer her texts immediately, and a whole host of things I could write, but really, some of it seems too fantastical to even put into words.
              She is now dealing with some physical issues and possible dementia (I refuse to deal with her, I’ve been No Contact for almost two years now, and she refuses to tell my husband exactly what’s wrong because he won’t “stand up” to me and take her in). None of the sons would take her in. Her sister couldn’t afford and physically care for her. Her mother refused (rightly so, considering she needs her own caregiver). None of the 30+ cousins or their spouses would do it (the wives have all been on the other end of her rumor-mongering) so she had to go into a home. She is furious about it. Nobody visits her. Nobody *wants* to visit her. Barely anyone calls her. I refuse to let my son be taken to see her, and my SIL won’t take her daughter to visit either (note: she did not have much of a relationship with either grandchild prior to this, she saw them maybe twice a year if the sons could be conned into it or if she randomly showed up at our homes).

              1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                Yup – apparently one of the wives in my great-aunt’s case told her wavering hubby that he had a choice between his mom or his wife and kids (kids were grown, but weren’t going to visit if granny crankypants was living there). The hubby was a traditional product of a 40’s coal-town upbringing; he picked the wife.

        4. Minocho*

          This rings so true for me as well. My grandparents had a shotgun wedding, no divorce, but they felt forced together, and made themselves, their children and most of their grandchildren miserable. Some people grow resilient and/or beautiful through tribulation, others grow bitter and/or twisted in it.

          You know your situation, OP, much better than us. But as another grandchild with a toxic grandparent, I can say that there exist grandparents for whom the lack of love/spoiling is greatly overshadowed by the lack of toxicity in their lives.

          Congratulations on the offers for both of you, and I hope your new job converts into everything you’re hoping for!

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Also know that kids can feel “energy” around them. They don’t always know what’s going on, they don’t know it’s “bad” either but they know it’s not right. They feel tension, they feel terse conversations and tone a lot more than we do as adults even. The stress is hard on their little bodies and souls.

        PS. When I say I didnt’ love the woman by my early teens, I mean it. She died when I was 14 and my response was literally “Oh.” Whereas I will still start tearing up and sob over my grandfather or my maternal grandmother, they were good to me and they were good to my parents. I could feel their stress at times but it was life stress not their utterly internal toxicity.

        1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

          Yup – this is what I was referring to. I have watched it for a while with one person I know very well. Neither of her grandmas thought much of her (one because friend didn’t want to go into the medical field, the other because friend wasn’t a girly-girl who was obsessed with boys). Friend’s grandpas both loved her and her independent streak, and eventually moved to doing things without their wives to maintain the relationship with my friend. Her dad was also a constant source of support and understanding.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Man, I wish that the woman didn’t just like me specifically. You can hate me all day long, suck iiiiiiiiiiiiiit. But yeah, I also disowned my mother’s brother as well because he pushed her when I was a kid [drunken idjiot move and I guess they worked it out, me though, nope, bye, you touched my mom who has literally done nothing but wipe my butt literally and figuratively since day 0!] So yeah, we are conditioned to love our parents unconditionally but other extended family. Meh whatever, they’re great, when they’re great but mediocre ones, take ’em or leave ’em. So please, do it for you if you love her too much but never do it for your kids, your kids love you first and foremost forever, especially if you’re cultivating a close loving supportive relationship!

        2. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

          Thank you for sharing your insight and experience. It’s a lot to think about and I will keep your words and advice in mind.

          Also, we are huge WWE fans at our home. My husband gave me a “The Man” T shirt and had a custom made “The Little Man” shirt for my son as a gift.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I almost wore my “The Man” tshirt today but I adulted *sigh*

            Just be in tune with your kiddo in the end. My mom knew it, I discussed it with her later in life after I finally got some therapy for my anxiety and realized what had started it all. Anxiety is natural to kids because it’s a “safety” mechanism that teaches us to stay out of danger and run away from bad things. But sometimes we don’t shake it after youth and that’s what we carry into adulthood that causes us long term problems [per my therapist]. So just stay tapped in, no need to be immediate. My mom could tie my night terrors and stress meltdowns after a trip to their house. But she is old school [just enough, she’s otherwise really Ef This Ef You My Kids, My Life, I do what I want] in the way that she did play into that “but family is family” stuff. Nope. Slap the Dis-Arm-Her on, gurl’s gonna tap ;) xox

            1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

              The Man,
              I want to so echo your thought. OP3, be in touch with your kid and watch for changes in him. He is more important than any relationship he could have with his grandma.

              1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

                Agreed. He is also one of the happiest kids ever (I’ve had so many, many people say this including people with dozens of years of childcare experience). This is not to say he’s never sad or has a tantrum or so, but he’s truly one of the most gleeful people I’ve ever met. This is a gift to have so much joy inside, I don’t want her or anyone to take it from him.

                1. JSPA*

                  Grandparents and grandkids are great, but they don’t have to be you own, to be great. There are a lot of older people who don’t have kids and grandkids, or not nearby, or who are just really great at grandparenting.

                  Some of them would love extra quasi-family in their lives; be on the lookout.

                  It can be as practical as “someone who can drive me home after a procedure” or as intangible as, “it’s been so long since a child gave me a really good leaf.” You can very mindfully set out to cross the invisible boundary lines that sometimes cut generations off from each other, and let people know, “we consider you family,” when that’s so.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          Yes to this “kids can feel “energy” around them. They don’t always know what’s going on, they don’t know it’s “bad” either but they know it’s not right. They feel tension,”
          I was a very anxious child because of my father’s verbal and emotional abuse. It was made even worse when adults whispered, and went into the other room, and wouldn’t tell me what was going on even when I asked. Most of the adults I knew would just shut down if they heard anything disturbing and not talk about it.
          So I was left wondering what was going on, who had been hurt, whether I or my friends or family had been hurt. It was so much more stressful than just dealing with whatever it was, even if it was something very bad.

          1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

            I’m so sorry your childhood had memories and experiences like this. I truly hope to shield my son from stuff like this and to give him the happiest childhood possible.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Thank you! Make it clear you care about his feelings and stand up for him if MIL gets toxic. That will help!

      4. Ewpp*

        That’s a normal, which is not the best word choice, response from someone in your position in the relationship. From someone in his position in the relationship, it is problematic. But, here’s to things being better for you. But there’s a reason people don’t shine through toxicity.

      5. Artemesia*

        I commented (near the bottom here) before reading this at the top — Please be very careful with your child and this awful woman. Grandparents can be strong influences on a child’s self esteem. It does not take many comments like the one she made to you to brand a child’s soul. Kids remember these cruel moments and take them to heart. I would literally not let this woman babysit but only have her around your child when you and your husband are present. I have a little personal experience with cruel relatives and after 65 years I still remember an ugly thing said to me when I was 10 years old. Kids really embrace the judgments of parents and grandparents and they can have a huge impact on the way they see themselves. This comment to you was SO outrageously vicious that I cannot imagine her not saying something to your child equally undermining and vicious. Don’t give her a chance.

        1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

          Growing up my mom said a lot of mean and abusive things to me. I try so very hard to say only helpful and respectful things to my son.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            My suggestion would be to keep an eye on how she responds to your son when he brings her gifts of rocks or dandelions, the way kids do. If she’s mean to him about gifts like that, it can be a sign.

            I was stunned when my SIL told her daughter, who was probably about 8-9, that she didn’t want weeds when she gave her a dandelion. I was stunned. I’ve always thanked kids for the cool flowers or amazing rocks. SIL and her daughter have next to no relationship now.

  8. Falling Diphthong*

    I love the idea of collapsing all the departments that deal with numbers into one division, and all the departments that deal with words into a second division. It’s like Sesame Street for the C-suite.

    OP, you didn’t cause a cascade; you were one raindrop in a cascade set off by senior management.

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      It must be called Sesame Suite, and instead of each episode being brought to you by a letter and number, it’s by business function.

        1. Alex the Alchemist*

          Mr. Noodle is the incompetent but lovable employee that they just can’t get rid of.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      I’m just trying to imagine how “Finance reports to Marketing” would even work… The purpose of a company is to make money, and the purpose of the Finance department is to track the money.

      You don’t make that group a subordinate of the folks who are spending the money.

  9. Arctic*

    “he never wanted to see my face again, and that I was dead to him.”

    And nothing of value was lost.

    (I know it’s better to have a good relationship with an ex-employer. But this is toxic and you are better off without this person in your life.)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      “Dead to him” reminds me of Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tanke when someone doesn’t take his offer.

      Only this dbag is not my beloved Mr. Wonderful, he frigging wishes.

    2. OP 4 - the defector*

      Well, now that I’m over on the dark side, I’ve learned just what a horrible reputation my old company has. It was scary at the time, thinking I’d burned all these bridges with former colleagues and anyone who knew my CEO, but in fact I think my reputation would have been worse in the long run if I stayed there and tacitly supported the decisions the CEO was making.

      1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

        It’s amazing what you learn when you leave a place because people are now willing to give you “the real story.”

      2. JSPA*

        There’s a book to be written here, unless that’s also barred in the noncompete. (Your understated delivery and pacing in the update were excellent, BTW.)

    3. Le Sigh*

      This is such a ridiculous response to someone leaving for another job. Who’s your boss, Erica Cane?

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Any ‘leader’ who says this to anyone leaving the firm has serious problems. OP 4, it’s sounds like he’s the kind of guy who lets you know you’re doing the right thing if he’s mad at you. I’m so glad you’re in a much better place now, congratulations.

    5. ACDC*

      My old employer was like this when I put in my notice. The biggest down side was that I couldn’t/can’t use them as a reference when applying for jobs.

  10. HouseOfErasure*

    LW #1 sounds just like me. I am just absolutely burnt out at work and I am looking to find something different as I’ve been in the healthcare field (support type of role) for many years. I’m so stressed out that it’s affecting my sleep and my eating habits. I am looking to do something completely different but I feel stuck. *sigh*

    1. Marissa*

      I was there too a year ago. It felt so all-encompassing at the time, and it made daily tasks so much harder. Hang in there, and be kind to yourself when this job sucks out all your bandwidth and you just can’t bring yourself to vacuum (or whatever it is). A couple months from now hopefully we’ll be cheering for a similar update from you in a Friday chat!

      I used to do deep breathing before bed and tell myself the day is over until I could quiet the anxiety. It’s small, but it was a helpful way for me to get out of the spiral. Best of luck and keep us posted.

  11. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    LW #3: Is your husband also older? If so, does he have any advice for an older person (I am 50) on getting a job? I am doing all that Alison recommended and while I will land interviews from time-to-time, I have only gotten 1 job offer in over 8 years. I have a strong feeling that age discrimination is in place because often the people I interview with are quite young.

    I wish you the best of luck in your job search!

    1. Devil Fish*

      How recent is your relevant experience? What have you been doing for the past 8 years to keep current in your industry and with new technology? What’s on your resume for the past 8 years (volunteer work, schooling, etc)?

      There are some jobs that lean heavily towards hiring younger, more exploitable workers, but if you’re not in an industry that skews very young/bases its success on constantly swapping out disposable fresh new grads, 50 isn’t old (and you’ve been having this problem since your early 40s?). When you say your interviewers are quite young, do you mean they’re 30-something or like early 20s?

      I admitted don’t have enough details here, so I’m willing to admit that there’s is the slightest non-zero chance your difficulty in finding work is age related but I’m at least 99% sure it’s something else.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Thank you for all of the information. I have been employed (but under-employed) for the past 8 years. I work at a major state university, where youth is a big plus. Further, I am often applying for jobs where I have much more than the experience specified in the job ad. Part of the problem is that even though this is a large university, it is a very small city, just larger than a town. I am not saying that the difficulties I have had were always age related but I do believe some of them were. The people who I have interviewed with over the past 4 years or so have mostly been in their mid-30’s or younger. I am often applying for jobs where a 25 year old to someone in their early 30’s would be applying and getting the jobs.

        I can’t go back to my previous industry because it is now obsolete. It was starting to be obsolete when I got laid off 9 years ago. I am basically having to start over in a new industry (academia).

        I can’t move because my wife has an incredible job here. Also, at this time, I am so close to being vested in the state retirement that it does not make sense for me to look other places besides the university.

        1. JSPA*

          Probably the easiest and most important thing you can do is to scrupulously and actively avoid giving the impression that your “excess” experience might flag some problem combination of out-dated training and a deep-seated conviction that you know better than your new employers do. (You may already have re-worked your cover letters with this in mind, but if not, do it.) Beyond that, it’ll really depend. Some universities and doing a lot of public-private partnerships in large part because it allows them to grow in influence while shedding nearly-vested people and not generating more people who risk being vested. This…obviously sucks for people who’ve worked hard in the expectation of getting vested. With that in mind, if you’re very close, figure out what indignities you’d be willing to accept, in the name of getting vested, with the idea that some job opportunities might magically open up again, once that magic line is crossed. More generally, what modern fields either supplanted or drew on processes from your old field? Thinking of ISU, a school that would be comparable to what you’re describing, but knowing if your field was VAX supercomputer repair or obtaining horse semen it’s…hard to suggest anything specific, y’know? Only to say, think of how you’d categorize the physical and mental processes required for Old Job, and whether any of them might still be needed, but in short supply. “Extended attention span when faced with a complex yet repetitive task”? Or, “strong mix of machinist skills and comfort formulating or using complex algorithms?” “ability to understand complex wiring diagrams, trained journeyman electrician, willing to climb, dig, and worm through small passages”? “Long experience with valuable animals in high-stakes situations?” From pharming to materials science support to watching multiple security camera feeds, those skills still have a place.

    2. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      My husband is younger than me by 4 years.

      When I was job hunting I attended a lot of classes at a career and job finding place that helped. I took classes in networking, connecting with LinkedIn and interview prep. I also updated my interview outfit near the end of my search.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          That could probably help you out a lot, especially if you are looking to stay within your current larger employer, the university. If you get to know more folks in more departments not only will you possibly hear about new openings sooner, you up your chances of not just being a name on a paper, you’re, “Bob from Admissions? Oh yeah, I’ve met him, he’s a good guy. Yeah, let’s interview him.” It can’t hurt to have a good first impression already taken care of.

          Plus if you’re friendly with someone you can casually mention how your experience might seem intimidating, but you just really love working at University and you just want to find the place you fit, not keep up with the skills on your resume… That kind of thing. Networking can help you out a lot, I think.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It may also be that you’re in that awful “over qualified” category that comes with your experience. Age discrimination is always a possible factor but it’s also possible that it’s a lot of other things that could be triggering the issue.

      Even following the recommendations given by experts and knowledgeable hiring managers isn’t always the golden ticket. There are other deciding factors, including your demeanor and ability to connect with the younger individuals on a level. Legally, there’s no “discrimination” listed towards those under 40, however in reality it goes both directions fluidly.

      If you go in there thinking “These kids, they’re all in their 30’s they’d never want to hire me, I’m old enough to be their parent.” you’re doing yourself a disservice and you may be poisoning your energy.

      You have to go in without age in mind and assume the best, assume they’re capable and aren’t discriminating. Honestly as a mid-30’s person, with a mid-30’s executive boss we skew over 40 a lot of times, we would love if you to retire here and we don’t think you should work here 37 years until you retire by any means. We also understand if you only want to hang out for a few years, get your feet wet and fly to greener pastures, if you’re a younger person.

      We don’t care a single bit if you’re 25 or 75 and want to work here, what matters is you have the right attitude, you don’t mind that we’re younger than you and are “the boss” and you do have to take directions from us, etc. I grew up talking to my mom like an adult, now as an adult, we have adult adventures [bars, concerts, beach trips, nothing outrageous but things that a lot of other parents wouldn’t dream of doing with their 35 year old daughter. Neither of us are heavy drinkers but a couple cocktails and some good tunes, it’s all good.]

      I can feel when an older individual writes me off as “a kid” despite my background and experience. I also know what it feels like to connect with people on an adult level, where age is just a number.

      I had this issue happen when I was looking for work a few years ago. I was interviewing to replace a retiring office manager, who was probably in her 60’s. She could not for the life of her wrap her head around a 40 year old taking over her spot [joke was on her, I was 31 and looked it, I did a survey and was constantly carded, to which I would then respond with “Wait, you don’t think I look 40?” they’d look at my ID and say “WTF, no…and WTF how are you actually 31?”] STILL THAT ASIDE, she was certain that my “youth” was going to make it so none of the older [actually 40 year olds] in the office would ever take direction from me and that I just didn’t have it in me. Despite running a GD business for just about all my 20’s and my resume/responses proved that but oh no no no, I couldn’t because waaaaaaaay too young for this job, blaaaaaaaaaah. So yeah, it goes both ways, so please, keep trying and try to do some digging inside and make sure you respect and understand that you can work well with the generation after you, we aren’t all a bunch of snotnosed wet behind the ears bros!

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Thanks for all of the info and advice. During interviews, I don’t let age get in the way (or at least I hope I don’t)!

  12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Holy monkey farts, #4.

    He’s his own personal circus, I’m glad your other coworkers have told you that it’s not your fault but I’m going to say it again for you! I’m so glad you’re out of there. I’m glad you pulled your last Jenga block and the whole house of cards fell down around his ears, when your CEO is that out of this world outrageous, he did it to himself. Please. He did it ALL to himself and to the company, this is not your fault.

    No company gets to own you. You don’t topple one over that isn’t already resting on the ledge. That’s impossible. You are awesome and you are strong but you are not a one person wrecking machine that demolished the whole place yourself. That, my dear friend, that wrecking ball wears the title of CEO.

    1. OP 4 - the defector*

      Wow, such kind words. Thank you!! I literally want to frame this last paragraph.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It comes from my heart and experience, so I’m glad it touches you.

        I had to teach myself this over the past couple of years after a similar incident. Only I didn’t get walked out or totally “dead to me”, I wish they had tried. I didn’t go a “competition” but the nonsensical jabronis actually did send an office wide email right after I gave notice to everyone reminding them that all “references” were filtered to HR and nobody was to give references for anyone. Like I had left without a job lined up, hahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahaha gurl, bye. Also all the office had their foot out the door as well. They had already started shedding staff earlier and I was plugging holes up with every finger and toe and my nose at that point and that’s how they ended it.

        When we’re good at our jobs, when we’re good at our lives, someone is going to want to tear us down at some point. As my foe Taylor Swift says, hater’s gonna hate hate hate and I’m gonna shake it off. [And also laugh manically while doing it because my personality is to cackle like a witch when someone wants to go in on me, since my natural state is to be nice and helpful, until you have the audacity to smack me like a badly behaved pup.]

    2. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

      So agreed. It sounds like that place was one removed piece short of an implosion, and it just wasn’t obvious from the OP’s point of view. When the piece got removed, well natural chains of events took place. Normally, I don’t think removing one person from a company would cause the reaction OP4 described.

      1. OP 4 - the defector*

        Observer! There you are. Just wanted to say, you’re the first one who suggested I look for a new job. Thank you!!!

  13. Tabbythecat*

    Glad your heads better. You helped me as going through similar situation. I lost my job at excel conference and events. While i loved my job i couldnt stand hospitality work and i was not getting past interviews for role of event co ordinator. This had me glued to a csual job in ahem racecourse hospitality. Gawd i hated it and the agency i worked for. No matter what i did there was no more event opportunities and got burnt out with jobhunting. So i called time out and went to the beach. I even spent a day at a spa. I feel better now. Not out of the woods but i feel better. Thanks alot.

  14. Knitting Cat Lady*


    You didn’t do anything. This was simply a game of dominoes your CEO started by pushing you out like he did.

    And the CEO takes business decisions incredibly and weirdly personal. As if his workers were actually his serfs.

  15. ENFP in Texas*

    OP4 – you have NOTHING to feel guilty about. The CEO is nucking futz, and that is NOT your problem or responsibility.

  16. Catsaber*

    OP #3, my parents have some weird ideas about how spouses “affect” one another, specifically the wife’s representation of the husband. By weird, I mean outdated. I can see them saying something similar to the “your bad interview made your husband look bad” thinking. Still a mean thing to say though, along with the other mean things she said.

    I hope your new jobs go well, and best of luck going forward!

    1. Observer*

      Eh, I know a LOT of people with really outdated ideas about how women affect their husband’s career. But none of the would actually think what MIL said, much less say it.

      As others said, it’s cruel and illogical, even by her own standards.

      1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

        Yeah I can’t really wrap my mind around this idea. It was certainly no secret to them who my husband is, I cannot believe an actual adult with experience in the working world thought and said it our loud.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I think your husband needs to grow up a bit. He shouldn’t tolerate this kind of abuse toward his wife, even if it’s coming from his mother.

          1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

            In the past decade I’ve found jobs so quickly after layoffs, I think this long period (a little over two months – with me completing some short term assignments in between) stunned both of us a lot. He actually can and has stuck up for me in the past with her.

  17. RJ the Newbie*

    Wow OP#4. I’ve been in FP&A for twenty years and have seen my share of crazy, but your manager is on a whole different level of vitriol. I’m so glad you got out, got a great break and are on much greener (and less vitriol laced) pastures. I am still processing the Finance being under Marketing bit. Does not compute.

  18. Dust Bunny*

    Tpotz, yeah, no, this did not fall apart because of you. This was a house of cards that fell apart because your CEO is a wacko. It would have gone soon enough, anyway, and probably taken you down with it. You are in no way responsible for this place’s weird management.

  19. Observer*

    #4 – “defector” generally implies a duty of loyalty that has been breached, but you had no such duty.

    Also, things did not fall apart because of you. They are falling apart totally because of your CEO.

    1. OP 4 - the defector*

      All of us who left at the same time call ourselves the defectors. Our CEO demands nothing short of extreme loyalty. Apparently they’ve tightened up the non compete clauses since my departure…

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Anyone who demands extreme loyalty, is poison. This is dictator levels of poison.

        That’s what my poisonous boss used to act like. We were fantastic and great until he viewed me as a traitor. I saw reason and cared about staff’s actual safety/health over all, he cared about trying to make more money. Funny enough, he never made any money. Which is just sweet justice the world deals out when someone doesn’t just stink at being human, they stink at being human and being a business person ;)

        1. Jackalope*

          This is particularly the case if they DEMAND extreme loyalty but do not provide it in return.

      2. MicrobioChic*

        Is the non-compete even legally enforceable in your country at this point?

        I know you aren’t in the US, but in some states in the US, if a court determines that the non-compete is too broad, they won’t allow the company to enforce it.

        1. OP 4 - the defector*

          A very good question. I think…there was maybe a 25% chance it wouldn’t have been considered legally enforceable. But a court would have had to decide that.

          I spent a lot of time thinking about fighting it. But…well, it wouldn’t have been me in court fighting the CEO. It would have been me with my own lawyer, and then the company lawyer as the company’s defense – and he was one of my best friends at work. And again, I don’t want to give away exactly what department I work in, but my former manager would have needed to play a huge role in the case against me. Putting one of my closest work friends and my manager, who I cherish as a mentor, in that position – when my new employer assured me they were willing to wait for me – it just wasn’t a question I needed answered.

          Kinda wish I had fought it for the sake of everyone else with these contracts at my old company. Would have set a precedent, perhaps, if I had won. But that’s a big if and with my role and the people I was closest to having to fight against me…hopefully someone else can bear that cross for me.

          1. MicrobioChic*

            Oh I definitely think you did the right thing for your situation.

            I’m just wondering if them being “tightened up” after you left actually means “rewritten as to be so all encompassing that a judge would laugh it out of court.”

          2. Engineer Girl*

            Sometimes you need to walk away because of the human cost to fight. It looks like your CEO is managing to sabotage himself without any lawsuits.

      3. OrigCassandra*

        Cheers, OP4. Several people who also left my Toxic Ex-Workplace still get together for drinks, calling themselves “The Survivors.”

        1. kayakwriter*

          A group of laid-off and quit employees from my OldJob still get together for drinks as well. Their self-title is “The X-Men.”

  20. ErgoBun*

    I thought that the MIL in update #3 would be the most AGHAST I would be all day… and then I read update #4.

    Massive cheers to both of you for having to live through all of that. May your futures shine bright!!

  21. dramallama*

    I want to join the chorus of people saying “OP4, you did nothing wrong” and add that if anything, you should be damn proud of your judgement. A comparably minor incident that got resolved well caused you to take a hard look at the larger circumstances, and you made the call that it wasn’t the right place to be even before you knew all the really grisly details. As a result, you got out of there before the real sh-tshow started. I understand your survivor’s guilt, but I would give a lot for your foresight.

  22. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    LW3, age discrimination is something I fear very much in my next job search (I’m going to be almost 50 and searching in a new city), so I am happy to hear everything worked out for you and your husband.

    PS: Ignore your MiL. What company in their right minds lays-off a good employee because their spouse had a bad interview?

    1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      I could see Dundler Mifflin from The Office as about the only company that would actually do this.

  23. Artemesia*

    Yowza – hipster Teapot Rockstar — I would not feel even slightly guilty — would feel jubilant that his behavior helped wreck his company — ‘. . . and the horse he rode in on’ would come to mind. You did a wonderful thing and go to see the consequences of your CEO being a total ass.

    And Alison thanks for weighing in on the awful MIL — that was jaw dropping. That MIL would never hear another word about any personal life or business life of mine again — it would all be ‘aren’t the violets lovely this spring’ and ‘ have you seen the new Meryl Streep movie?’ from me for the rest of our lives together. This woman is a monster who should never have access to your soul again. And if you have kids, I’d be making sure she didn’t spend a lot of alone time with them undermining their confidence and destroying their souls.

    Your MIL is awful. And yes, there is zero chance anything you could ever do on an interview short of saying ‘my husband hates the company and thinks you are all incompetent loons’ could affect his job in any way.

    1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      While my husband did come up during the interview (the two departments work closely enough together that one of my interviewers worked with him on a daily basis), only good things were said of course.

      1. Artemesia*

        Oh of course. No one with an ounce of sense would think your interview EVEN if bad could affect his job. And no one with an ounce of sense or decency would say this thought if it did worm its way through the tangles in their brain.

        1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

          I’m known for speaking my mind (outside of work), and even I wouldn’t have told someone something like this even if I’d thought it.

  24. nora*

    LW3’s MIL sounds like my sister. My then-fiance (now husband) was laid off shortly after we got engaged. Great timing. He’s in a very niche industry that’s been flooded with new graduates so finding a job was extremely difficult. In the seven months he was off work he got two viable interviews in his field. (He was eventually rehired by his former/current employer in a role that makes him much happier.) My sister, a ghoul, told me that clearly there was something wrong with my husband that he wasn’t getting hired. I believe at one point she even said he had an awful personality and wasn’t a competent employee. I very nearly tore up her wedding invitation after that. Some people are just awful.

    1. MistOrMister*

      That is a really cruel thing to say to someone!! I am convinced that 99 times out of 100 getting a position is just the luck of the draw. There are so many factors that are completely out of one’s control with interviewing that not getting offers is definitely not an automatic judgment of someone’s personality! I don’t get it….that’s the sort of hateful thing that seems like it’s being said just out of pure spite.

      1. Artemesia*

        Luck has a lot to do with it. My husband moved following me and went from a highly sought after legal associate in the city we lived in (he had been recruited by other firms), to crickets in a new place where we had no contacts — He finally after months got two offers at the same time. He took the one that paid slightly less for several reasons and the one he didn’t take was in a company that about 2 months later re-organized and eliminated their legal position (back to central office in another state). If he had chosen that offer, he would have been out of work in two months. Luck.

  25. MistOrMister*

    OP3 glad you and your husband both found something. I’ve known some temps who were offered permanent positions almost immediately, so maybe you will luck out that way. But….holy flaming lizards to your MIL!! Unless you mentioned in the interview that you and your husband are serial killers who enjoy making people-skin suits on weekends, no reasonable person would suggest your interview resulted in his dismissal! Talk about bonkers….

    1. OP 3 - Now gainfully employed*

      In my experience one factor is the conversion fee – payment made to an agency if you covert an employee within a certain amount of time. For some it’s a prorated scale that becomes 0 at a certain number of months. Supposedly the one I’m working with the easiest they could do that without paying a fee is a little over a month and a half, so this could be very fast.

      1. MistOrMister*

        That would be wonderful if it turns out you enjoy the place. Hopefully it works out and you can start getting the great benefit package at the job!!!

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