open thread – September 20-21, 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.

{ 1,672 comments… read them below }

  1. Pam Beesly*

    On Tuesday, our sales manager went to a customer site to do a presentation in which he needed to log into our company’s teapot making website.

    I used to be the sole teapot making specialist at my job, but have since moved departments. Our current teapot making specialist is on vacation this week.

    So, my sales manager calls me at the office frantically on Tuesday, saying that his login isn’t working for the teapot making website, and he needs my username/password. I felt uncomfortable giving it to him, but he is my superior (although not my manager), so I did. He wanted me to give it to him over the phone (in an open office!), but I chose to email it to him, requesting that he delete the email ASAP.

    I know that our corporate office would say giving our passwords to ANYONE is a no-no, but I felt obligated since he was frantically trying to login to give a roomful of several customers a presentation. I have since changed my password so that he can’t access it again, but I’m frustrated that he asked in the first place. He obviously should have tested his login before the presentation to make sure he could get in, since he apparently does not use the teapot making website often (unfortunately, his M.O. is his unpreparedness).

    Is there anything I can do about this now? Should I tell him that in the future, I’m uncomfortable giving my password out?

    1. Rex*

      Could you talk to someone on your IT team? Maybe it would be an easier convo if you said, “I asked IT what we should do next time this happens, and they said X” (probably CALL US to reset your password). And they could help explain to you why what they asked for was really problematic.

      1. Pam Beesly*

        I should have mentioned in my letter…the procedure 100% IS calling IT to have them reset passwords when we’re locked out. Our sales manager is fully aware of this. I think he chose to call me because he “needed to login ASAP”, and sometimes when you call IT, you can be on hold for quite sometime before you reach anyone.

        1. Rex*

          Well … that’s not ideal. It’s probably not in your area, but it’s a good idea to have an emergency IT option available when needed. But might IT be willing to deliver a scolding to this guy? Depends on how they fit into the org.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            That would be my line of approach too. I’m very very firmly in the camp of “never share your passwords” (my spouse doesn’t have any of mine, nor I of theirs), but a roomful of customers waiting for a presentation to start is a justified exception, if the PW is immediately reset, as in your case. But you should be totally able to bring it up with whoever at IT does user education. Also, if your actual superior is on board with reasonable PW security, I’d tell them, too, so that they can have the message delivered over to the other person’s reporting chain.

            BTW, email is pretty bad, at least not end-to-end encrypted. Text message and some chat apps would have been better. You might want to ask IT to delete the email message from the server.

            If you think that this sales manager might rely on you in the future, it would be important to convey the message that this was a one-time thing. Also IT should be made aware that sometimes processes for immediate assistance are needed.

            1. hamburke*

              My spouse and I put our password locker passwords in each other’s password locker just in case anything happened to one of us and our oldest child has mine in case something happens to both of us. Of all of the morbid planning, that’s really the only thing we’ve done…

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                Yeah, the password locker I use has a “assign a recovery person” function, and I’ve been trying to get this set up for us, but we use different password locker apps for the moment!

        2. Observer*

          Ask IT what to do in an emergency. And, also talk to YOUR supervisor about how they want you to handle this of it happens again. If they will have your back on holding the line on whatever IT tells you, then that’s how you should handle it. If you get the sense that they won’t back you if the sales guy gets ticked, then you give him what he wants and then change you password again.

    2. Qwerty*

      Is it possible to have a demo account that can be used during presentations instead of a real account? An even better long term solution is a demo site that has its own database so sales people can create/modify orders on the site without it actually going into the business’ feed. Using a demo account and/or site means that you don’t need an account for each sales person, and they can let the potential client check out the site themselves.

      1. Pam Beesly*

        Yes, I think that would definitely be possibly to have a demo account set up (and who knows, one might actually exist for this reason!) Thank you, I’ll definitely look into that so that he can use that account in the future.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          We have a ‘department account’ associated with a published feedback form. People forget it exists, but when they come scrambling for website accesd uts one we can shout from the rooftops. Zero private info,controlled access, or HR links. Very useful.

    3. Ella P*

      Glad you changed your password. Short of encouraging him to test his login ahead of time, what can you do?

      Have a dummy login setup for those traveling, if that makes sense and they don’t need to access their full account or other programs as well? For safety and security’s sake?

    4. Kes*

      I would definitely follow up with him (and with the new specialist, if they’re back) but since he’s your superior I would frame it as following up out of concern to ensure he has the access he needs (read: so he doesn’t have to use yours). I wouldn’t bother telling him you’re uncomfortable sharing your password since I suspect he’d just override that but I would say you’ve discovered it’s against policy and as such have changed your password and won’t be able to share it in future

    5. Angelinha*

      For what it’s worth, in the future, it’s better to give it over the phone which is secure, rather than sending it over email! (But I wouldn’t’ want to say it in an open office either.)

      One time our IT director asked me for my password while he was helping me at my desk. I was like “ah…do you mind if I just type it in myself?” and he thought I was being weird but I reminded him that IT themselves are always telling us not to give our passwords to anyone. But the real reason was that my password was something embarrassing and I didn’t want to say it out loud!

      1. facepalm*

        That’s weird of an IT professional to ask. Anytime I’ve had to have IT to do anything on my computer, they ask me to enter my password (and usually they even turn their heads or bodies away so they aren’t looking).

    6. Kimmybear*

      I’m working on an IT security training at the moment so here are a few thoughts: 1. giving out your password is big no-no and giving out your password should be covered in your IT policy. 2. good for changing your password. Also make sure you change your password anywhere else you used the same password. (don’t do that anyway but people always do) 3. Do you have an automated password recovery method so he can change his own password? 4. Let IT know because you may not be the only person that he does this too.

      1. Quill*

        For certain programs that we have, we have one password connected to our network ID. Which is probably just fine for internal databases, if you know where to find that data you’re probably one of the few people who needs it.

    7. nonymous*

      What I do in this case is I log in and share the program via IM. This obviously doesn’t work without a ready internet connection or if the demo is really long, but I just treat it as if a coworker walked over to me and asked for help and we’re puzzling through something together. Super inefficient and awkward for something as silly as a login, but that’s on them.

      In general, I suggest asking if there is a self-service reset option available. At my org we have a 2-factor login and a separate OS login. So if you forget one you can use the other to reset it without getting the helpdesk involved.

    8. peg*

      Honestly I wouldn’t be stressed about this at all. I’d give the login info, wait for the presentation to be over, then I’d change my password. I wouldn’t even give it a second thought. Maybe I’m in the minority but I just think this is pretty insignificant. If this was a pattern, I’d probably bring it up to him and be like “you always seem to be in a pinch, I can’t be the one to bail you out of your tech emergencies anymore and need you to get used to calling IT instead of me” but for one time, the password was used very briefly in an urgent situation where clients were involved, and then you changed the password.

    9. Feline*

      You should tell him you can’t help him and he needs to call IT to reset his password. No matter how frantic he is.

      My sister was demoted and eventually lost her job for being the person who sat next to someone who did what you did and not reporting it. When it came out, she was treated as harshly by management as the people who used someone else’s login to access systems to which they weren’t authorized and the person who gave away the login information.

      Don’t share your login information. Ever.

      1. Cat's Pajamas*

        Yes to this, also, depending on what data is in your system you could be compromising the security and privacy of other clients, especially risky of you deal with minors or medical info. A demo site is a great idea and used in many industries.

    10. LGC*

      So, I think you…didn’t do the right thing in terms of pure opsec, but you did do the right thing for the company in this case. The sales manager is…not great, to say the least, but it sounds like giving him the password for the presentation was the least disruptive option overall, and I think you managed the risks pretty well in this situation.

      There’s two problems; 1) he might expect this going forward and 2) it seems like resetting passwords through IT is an onerous experience. Ideally, for things like that, he’d be able to reset it himself in a couple of minutes – if you have the capital to go to IT with that, I’d possibly suggest that?

      If he asks you again, you owe him nothing. You did your one big favor to him for your professional career. He can call IT and have them reset it if he forgets his again.

  2. The Actually Mad Scientist*

    I want to thank everyone for your wonderful advice last week about how to talk to the hiring manager (Sally) because I was upset about not being offered an interview for a position opening in my department. After reading all of your wonderful advice, I talked to Sally and used words a few people suggested, where I said “I was upset that I didn’t get an interview after what I thought was 4.5 years of quality work. As you know, my long-term goal is to get a permanent position here. Do you have any feedback on my application/resume? Is there anything you think I can work on in order to get to the level to be considered for a permanent position?”
    She responded that over 45 people applied and there were only 6 positions open, and with that many people they couldn’t have given interviews to everyone. She said that if she had one more spot I would have gotten it (which is probably just BS) but that my application looked fine and my work is fine and the only reason this time was because, with 45 people applying, they limited it to only people who had direct experience in that particular lab, which happens to be the only one that I’m not cross-trained in. Basically I guess they wanted people that they didn’t need to train.
    I’m still bummed (because the offers came out today, so I’ve had to watch people who have less seniority than me celebrate from my desk all day) but I guess it makes me feel better that it was not personal, and it wasn’t even anything that I had any control over. Thank you all so much! I would not have talked to her if it weren’t for all of your wonderful advice. 
    I got invited to a networking event at a managers house this afternoon, so I’m looking forward to that! Anyone have any last minute advice?

    1. Dasein9*

      The only advice I have for the networking is to try to be in a good mood when you get there. After a day of watching people celebrate from your desk, maybe that means you give yourself some kind of small treat today? Something within budget and any dietary restrictions, of course, but something to just help you feel good? People want to spend time with happy people.

    2. Ella P*

      No advice, I’m like an anti-networker but I hope you enjoy and it leads to other opportunities for you in the future.

      I think that it’s amazing that you spoke to Sally and got some feedback, even if some of it could have been BS and not specific. Confirmation that it wasn’t personal really frees you up and I hope helps you move on. And you stood up and made it clear you are looking for a role and I think that’s much better than the impression that you’re upset/not a teamplayer/anything negative.

      Have fun at the event!

    3. Kes*

      So I didn’t see your initial post, but perhaps you can talk to your manager and express your interest in opportunities to cross-train on that lab if that’s a growing area in your department? And at least you know that based on what she said, if opportunities come up for other areas/labs you should be in a good position applying to those.
      Good luck with the networking, I don’t have much advice in particular but I agree with the suggestion to do something beforehand to try and make sure you go into it in a good frame of mind.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 I would definitely ask your manager to help you close that gap between your resume’ and the position you want…

      2. The Actually Mad Scientist*

        Thank you, I can’t actually do that. I’m a contractor, and we just opened up a new facility to do testing of this antigen. The reasons that these positions opened up was because, by law, us contractors are not allowed to work in them and they have to be full-time employees because of background checks and etc. So thank you for the advice, but this is not something that I can do now that the new lab is operating.

        1. IL JimP*

          I wonder if there’s other ways you can learn the skill without actually working in the lab. Is shadowing an option (maybe not with the BC but who knows). Or are there any classes you can take internally or at a local school to gain the knowledge?

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      It sounds like you handled everything really well and the outcome was as positive as it could be. Enjoy the networking event – sounds like a great opportunity!

    5. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “She said that if she had one more spot I would have gotten it (which is probably just BS)”

      I absolutely hate statements like that, statements like “if it were up to me,” because people who say those things never have to back them up. There’s no way of knowing if you really would have gotten the job if it actually was “up to me.”

    6. Sally*

      It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally learned that (IME) networking events are best used to meet people and not have any expectations. It really takes the pressure off. I can now go to these things and talk with people, find out about their work, share things from my work that relate or are helpful, and collect business cards. I make sure to write on the back the date and where I met them because I’ll never remember otherwise. I hope this isn’t too remedial, but I wish I had figured this out a long time ago…

    7. Anon for this*

      The best advice I ever got in terms of networking (as someone who always used to feel uncomfortable and vaguely sleazy at such events, like I was just there looking to see who I could use) was to look at it as an opportunity to help others. Every person you meet, think about who in your network might be able to help them and who you know that they might be helpful to and try to connect them. It takes the focus off of yourself and by helping other people, it builds their goodwill toward you, making them more willing to help you in the future and more active about wanting to do so. Hope this is helpful. Good luck and btw I love your username!

      1. long time lurker*

        This is BRILLIANT advice – it’s always been what I’ve done, just by default, because I am much more comfortable helping people than accepting help, but it’s the reason I’ve been as relatively successful in my difficult field as I have. Anytime I meet someone, I think about who in my network I can connect them with. The benefit to me is that I therefore end up at the center of a whole bunch of good professional connections, and I’ve ended up with a reputation as a connector and as someone who ‘knows everyone’.

        The thing is, I genuinely do love connecting people, and in each individual situation, I really don’t care if I end up benefiting; I just want to help. And ironically that’s what’s helped me most of all.

    8. Kiwiii*

      When networking with people you sort of know or know of, you’ll make a really good impression if you can comment on something you already know about them (“I heard X project went really well” or “I heard you got published in Y”) and then follow up with a way you’re related to that/something you’re doing in the same vein or ask them more about it.

  3. Tabby Baltimore*

    For The Man, Becky Lynch:

    You mentioned in a post from a while ago that, over time at your job, you have automated a lot of your office’s–not sure how to say this, data feeds?–and it sounded like doing that enabled you and your employees to stop having to manually enter data, and instead get it pushed to you all automatically. You have done so much of this work that it sounded like you are now basically looking at what might be a dashboard, rather than a spreadsheet, every morning.

    If I’ve got that right (more or less), I’m dying to know: how did you do that?

    Could you take some time today to lay out the steps you took, from the beginning, to locate the sources of the data you needed, then what you did to get it automatically delivered to the right people in your office, or to the right programs/applications/systems you’re viewing the data/dashboards in?


    1. AndersonDarling*

      I may be able to help you a bit, I did this at my old job and I’m starting this at my new job.
      The first thing is that you need a software to help you bring everything together and distribute it. You can feasibly do this through SQL, but it is a bear. I used Tableau before and I’ll be using Qlik in my new job.
      Generally, you are going to track everything people do to prepare the reports and then automate those steps by writing internal calculations. At my old job, there was a lot of hand finagling (I don’t think this case should be red, so I’m going to make it green) and all that had to stop. So I had to put policies in place, do a bunch of training to show people how to properly code items, and create reports that would flag items that needed correction.
      Once you have a good understanding of what each person does to prepare the data and the calculations, you can start building those calculations into your reporting software. Sometimes it’s easy, like counting how many calls came in, but sometimes it’s “how many calls came in to operators with the Senior title, were on the phone for more than 10 minutes, filled out a call survey, and had a survey score less than 5.”
      I used Tableau Server to set up distribution lists to send some reports through email, some were ongoing reports so they were available in the Tableau portal anytime someone wanted to see them. And then I had some critical reports that I personally posted once I had validated the data.
      I don’t want to drone on for too long, so feel free to ask some direct questions!

    2. leukothea*

      I’m not the person you asked, but I do this work as well. It’s an entire discipline in technology, in fact, and there are many pieces to the puzzle! In my case, we have a data warehouse that ingests data from many parts of the org, and we have both SSRS and Tableau dashboards that feed from the data warehouse. Sometimes we side-load data from other sources, but the data warehouse is the best source because we have already cleaned the data, confirmed it to the correct shape for reporting, and permissions are baked in.

      Anyway, people make entire career out if this and it’s a hot field!

      1. CSD*

        I don’t do this at all at my current firm but see how it would be so helpful. What would roles doing this type of work be called?

      1. AndersonDarling*

        If tableau can get to the SAP data, you should be able to. I did all my data modeling in Tableau and added in all my custom calculations. I was working with smaller datasets so I was able to use a live connection, but it will work with an extract as well.
        My DBAs were very happy to have the calculations on the reporting (tableau) side so they didn’t have to mess with it. It made it easy to make updates to calculations and check the underlying data whenever something came up.

    3. Kiwiii*

      My team does something similar to this for data we receive from certain child welfare agencies? Between SQL in the back in and xml in the front, we create dashboard and reports for them to better understand what’s upcoming and make it less likely that a service might get skipped.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m unfortunately not sure what you’re asking and what data you’re talking about? Is this about timekeeping setup? That’s the only thing that I can think of?

      I’m such a loudmouth that I’m wondering if you’ve got me mixed up with someone else? The only dashboards I can think about is my payroll/timekeeping ones!

      Otherwise it’s also a bunch of importing and exporting between programs [an internal system created by The Wizards and then my standardized over the counter software for accounting & timekeeping]. I’m not programming anything, I’m not a wizard tech person =(

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        I just remember you saying something along the lines of how bored you were getting, because you didn’t have as much work to do as you used to, and it was because you had done so much to automate so many of your company’s processes. Sorry I can’t point to the specific post anymore!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Oh right! I understand now, no worries.

          It’s all due to the software we use. We have our system that was built by the programming wizards that did it all. So I’ve never done so little by hand in my life.

          My whole life is mostly catching computer errors or order entry errors. Everything is pulled through the system but it’s so streamlined that mistakes do get pulled along with it.

          So sadly I can’t walk you through that, I just say to make sure your company invests in the best software for what you do! There’s a lot of different software and it mostly all talks to each other on some level. I only do AR in one system and AP in another system, then they get to “chat” via import and reconciled that way. Just data file to data file chatter.

    5. You Get Cheeseburger!*

      Could something like this work for timesheets? We still have to all do paper timesheets and I’ve been wondering if we could google forms or Smartsheet or something to at least partially automate the process. Though, I’m not sure how supervisors would be able to approve them tho.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        *stabs air* You just need to get any basic timekeeping software that’s out there, then the administrators would have access to confirm and approve changes etc. I’m crying inside over the fact that there are still paper time sheets.

        There are also places that do use a shared spreadsheet to clock in and out, you could go that route if you all have computers available. Lots of POS systems have timeclock built into them for that reason. I used one for the short stint I did in the restaurant industry, you just jump on the POS and punch in your number and in/out, etc.

        I can think of a few industries where you have to track hours due to billable hours, that this wouldn’t be as simple with but if you’re not in the billable hour field, I’m stink eyeing so hard [not you, the institution that is still using timesheets and not investing in the technology available.

        If they are small enough and use Quickbooks they can also look into T-Sheets. Actually it may be available without QB but that’s what it’s meant to do, to sync up your timesheets and payroll.

        1. The Time(sheet)s They Are a-Changin'*

          I’ve been using Toggl (free version) for time-tracking and love it. Just being able to run a report of the week is making me giddy. I feel like I used to spend crazy amount of time on time sheet otherwise. Now I just click a button, or can enter an amount, and can go back if I realize I forgot to click the button…

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Is this just for your own personal time sheet calculating?

            I love that this is a thing but at the same time hate that employees are tasked with finding these apps on their own, since so many will just struggle and some aren’t tech savvy [I live in a world where I still have to “do the computer thing” for people who are brilliant in so many other ways but yeah, not “the computer thing”. I am the go-to for “My phone is acting a mess…”, I happily lump it under my HR duties over the years which I know most others would not but I’m a bleeding heart, I cannot turn away people for things that are literally a couple clicks on my end and it makes them so happy ;_;]

        2. You Get Cheeseburger!*

          I roll my eyes so hard every month when I have to fill them out! I work at a college and I would guess that over half of our employees are FTE. Our staff who are unionized and hourly have a digital clock in and out system, but the rest of us all print out paper sheets and schlep them to HR. Which then I assume someone is doing manual data entry? Which I would think ups the risks for typos and probably takes FOREVER. Plus, the amount of paper we all go through once a month.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            LMFAO it took a UNION to get them a timeclock? Yikes! Yeah, I bet it’s a cost thing over all. A lot of places like to think about the initial charges only and not what it saves you over the years it is in use. Yes, timeclock management isn’t cheap out of the gate, it’s a hefty price if you get the really good ones. However the error rates go down, the frustration levels on all sides employee, approval person and payroll is lowered and the time spent on the GD thing goes way down!

            I want to know their error rate on paychecks…

            No. Wait. No, I don’t. I’ll lose my GD mind. That’s how so many errors for PTO and Sick leave get all over the place, if it’s not automated in some way.

            Don’t get me wrong, I have had to tally up manual punch cards in my life. Guess what I did? I input that stuff into an online time sheet calculator to avoid any math errors. I know not everyone is doing that and it’s time consuming AF.

  4. Awkward Moose*

    I wrote in last week about how my co-worker Fergus and I were working together, Archibald, a manager of another department, seemed to be giving Fergus a hard time about being there with me.

    I don’t know if Fergus feels uncomfortable now or if something else was discussed, but he’s been acting differently. When I do see him, he seems awkward and starts talking about his girlfriend. He used to joke around more, but now he doesn’t.

    I was in another male-dominated job where this happened and it’s frustrating. It also affected my ability to do my job. (The guys would take away materials that I needed to do my job and ignored my requests for help with work, even though it was their job.)

    I see other women my age talking with male colleagues and think, how do they do it? What’s the secret?

    Fergus and I have to work together- do I just deal with this awkwardness? Has this happened to anyone else? What did you do? Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Qwerty*

      I don’t really have advice, just sympathy. I’ve run into this too many times to count. The women you see talking to the guys have probably dealt with it too at some point. It really just has to do with the maturity of the people around you. Archibald is the one making things awkward. There’s no “right” way to deal with this, since it could backfire. My personal route probably would have been to say something like “Ugh, people like Archibald are why women don’t want to be in this field” or “Gotta love sexism” after Archibald walked away, (or something worse, depending on how fed up I was that day). Not as a planned statement, but because I’m just sick of that type of behavior. But I’ve also been on my male coworkers’ case about taking over the responsibility of dealing with the Archibalds and immaturity in my field because the women are tired of doing so.

      1. anna green*

        Ugh. Yes. Same here. I would probably do the same. Continue to call it out and make it awkward for them when you get treated differently. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If Fergus is a good person and is just caught in the middle, this may help him be able to ignore Archibald.

    2. Kes*

      Oof, that sucks and is awkward.
      Honestly I would probably try and treat him more as a bro to emphasize the fact that you’re not interested in him (eg. ‘Hey man, how’s it going’ – imitate how the guys treat each other and play it up a little more), and if you have a significant other feel free to mention them as well

    3. Minocho*

      I would bring up what you saw with your manager. You might not be able to address this with Archibald directly, but your manager should know what you saw and heard, and you can mention the difficulty Archibald’s actions and words can cause you with regard to your ability to work effectively with your coworkers. This sort of thing, on a systemic level, can negatively impact your effectiveness at work, and hopefully your manager will recognize this too and work on it, even if only to protect his employee(s) and his turf.

      You might be able to directly address it with Fergus too – even if you just let him know that there was nothing about you working together that you found inappropriate for a professional work relationship.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      UGH! That’s annoying. If you have the opportunity, I’d call Archibald (or others) out in the moment for being sexist (because that is sexist as heck!).

      “Hmmm, that’s a weird thing to say, Archibald. Why – exactly – does it matter that I’m a woman?”
      “Excuse me? Are you saying you have concerns about me talking to male colleagues?”
      “Wow. I’m trying really hard to to think of a non-sexist reason someone would say that, Archibald.”

      You can also just stick with “That’s a weird thing to say to your coworkers,” “Wowwwww.” (in a disbelieving tone) or “Excuse me?” (in a confused tone), but I personally like being *very* clear of how it looks to me.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Talk to Fergus, maybe something like, ‘Hey, after Archibald made ‘comment x’, it seems like you’ve pulled back a little. You don’t have to do that on my account, and I really hope you’re not doing it because Archibald’s being weird. You and I can be grownups about working together, right?”

      1. Ms. Meow*

        This! I’ve had to do this before, and explain the sexism behind attitudes like Archibald’s. Though your mileage may vary. In one case it helped, and that coworker became more outspoken about sexism in situations like this. The other caused the guy to completely withdraw from our work friendship; I heard through the grapevine that “his career was more important than his working relationship with [me].” Good luck!

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      Archibald got in his head. Probably some variation of “everyone has noticed and has been talking about how close you and OP are getting – I’d be careful if I were you” or “haven’t you noticed how OP seeks you out so much or blah, blah, excuse to talk to you? I think she has a crush and is behaving inappropriately and you need to watch out so she doesn’t ruin your life.”
      You need to get this shut down with Archibald and with Fergus. Call out the behavior when Archibald starts talking about whatever. “Oh its YOU TWO again. Every time I’m over here I see the two of you together.” Respond with “Well yes you will since this is our department and we are doing our jobs.” If Fergus starts rambling about his girlfriend, give him a puzzled look and say something along the lines of “Yeah…I know all about Celia. Why are you talking about her when I asked about setting up a meeting with Boss regarding X Work Thing next week?”

      1. Bagpuss*

        I think this is good, however, I also think that it may be helpful for you to mention her sometimes – not every time you speak with him, but maybe sometimes when you are having a social conversation, even if it’s just “How was your weekend?” make it explicitly about him and his girlfriend trather than just him e.g. “How was your weekend? Did you and Celia make it to that gig you mentioned?”

        That way, if he has internalised Archibald’s assumptions that people will assume you are flirting it should hopefully counteract that.

        But also definitely explicitly call out hisbehaviour and tell him that you have had some weird comments from Archibald and that it’s importnbat that Fergus doesn’t start treating you any differently because of your gender.

        rame it that way. “I know you have never treated me any differently bcause of my gender, before, and I am concerned that you are starting to do so now.” (and if necessary, you can remind him that you are not interested in him a or he in you, expect as coworkers,)

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Thinking about it, I (female in a VERY male-dominated field) typically frame questions to my colleagues this way. When we’re making casual conversation I’ll usually ask after their spouse, kids, girlfriend, etc… I hadn’t considered it before now, but I think this is one of the ways I subconsciously try to establish that I am Not Available.

    7. QCI*

      I would bet money Fergus was told something along the lines of ‘he’s getting too friendly’ or perhaps something about “appearances”, of how you two look from the outside.

      Or even the girlfriend had a “chat” with him about his female coworker.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        This being 2019, I cannot help but wonder if Fergus was told something like “be careful, she might report you for harassment and you’ll lose your job, you know how these women are nowadays” (barf)

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yeah, I keep hearing men say stupid shit like, “In this Me Too era, I can’t even talk to women at work anymore in case she gets mad and accuses me of sexual harassment.” Men at my last job kept saying variations of that mess, and it made me roll my eyes every time. It’s like, dude – we know the difference between you doing your job and just being a damn creep.

          1. QCI*

            But does EVERYONE ELSE know the difference? It looks like Archibald clearly didn’t, and possibly caused this issue to begin with. Sometimes office gossip can be just as bad.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Harassers don’t know the difference. Well, okay, they DO know the difference, but the part they’re having a hard time with is that now they get in trouble for their behavior.

    8. UKCoffeeLover*

      I would ignore Archibald and talk to Fergus. An earlier commenter suggested a helpful script.
      Is always best to clear up awkwardness in my experience.

    9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Happened once – I asked a colleague at an OldJob if we could go to lunch to talk work, because the questions I had for him were all related to workplace dysfunction that I did not feel we could discuss in the office. We ended up going and having a productive conversation, but the initial response I got from him was “I have to warn you, I have a new girlfriend and I’m a terrible liar” dude, what?!

      As everything else in my career, happened a lot more often with my generation (older X) and older generations than with the millennial coworkers. And by a lot more often, I mean “never happened with the millennial coworkers”.

      1. Observer*

        The ideal reply would be an enthusiastic “excellent! Then I can be confident we’ll have a productive work discussion! Thanks!”

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That is a good reply! Pretty sure mine was something along the lines of “dude, what?” I absolutely had not seen that coming and was confused!

          1. I edit everything*

            I think a flabbergasted, “What does that have to do with anything?” would be a pretty effective reply, actually.

          1. Gumby*

            My automatic assumption is that none of the men around me are attracted to me. Especially in the office when I am at work. Working. Focusing on my job which is the whole reason I am there and what I am being paid for.

        1. Close Bracket*

          Bc some guys genuinely can’t think of any other reason for men and women to have a conversation than romantic interest. I don’t even make friends with guys anymore. If they want to make friendly overtures, that’s fine, but I’m done doing the reaching out.

    10. Michelle*

      Definitely talk directly to Fergus. Many great suggestions upthread. Archibald is an arsehole and definitely said something to make Fergus pull back.

    11. Jill of All Trades*

      Honestly, in the few cases that has happened to me I have simply withdrawn and become professional but distant with that person until they get the hint that we are COWORKERS and I don’t actually want to date them. Like ever. It’s not terribly fun, but it’s better in my opinion than trying to breach the awkwardness that comes from someone else not knowing how to handle this type of situation.

    12. tamarack and fireweed*

      I’m a middle-aged lesbian who’s worked in male-dominated fields for most of my life, and I had to read your post twice to figure this out. This is pretty outrageous and deeply unprofessional of them! Presumably mostly Archibald who is putting Fergus in a bad situation that he doesn’t seem to have the maturity or maybe status to stand up to. I’d go to my own boss and ask that this be addressed with Fergus’s boss. You’re there to do the work and you can be expected to be treated like the professional you are.

    13. Don't you be that kind of barn owl*

      Do you have or can you develop a relationship with these other women? It might help to talk to them about how they have successfully negotiated these unnecessarily treacherous waters.

  5. MCL*

    I have been in my job for just over 10 years, and I am fortunate in that I really enjoy it. I currently work in an academic department in a large state university, so I have a physical office that I go to every day and have a decent amount of face time with my co-workers. I just saw a job that I’m very intrigued by, which pays slightly more (like 5K) than what I currently make. It’s a position at a non-profit with a very small team (this opening and two other staff), and the work is remote. This small team is very geographically separated – one person in in the UK, the other in NY (I am in the Midwest). For those of you who have transitioned from an office job to remote work, what questions should I be asking here? Are there things you wish you had known?

    For what it’s worth, the remote working bit isn’t necessarily a motivator – my current commute is very easy and my current job is flexible enough that I can WFH if I need to. In fact, I already know that I’d prefer to go to a co-working space because I just work better in a dedicated work space that is not my house (at least, that’s my take from WFH days in my current job). I think it looks like a super interesting opportunity with slightly higher pay. There is travel involved, but I like to do that (to an extent), so that is an attractive piece too.

    1. M. Albertine*

      Make sure you take a HARD look at the benefits package, moving from state to non-profit. I made a similar move a couple years ago, and $5K doesn’t begin to cover the reduction in benefits.

      1. MCL*

        Definitely on my radar. I have an excellent sick and vacation time package, retirement benefits, etc (health insurance is through spouse’s employer). If there are not comparable benefits offered at this non-profit, I will probably need to pass.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Be clear about things like availability, core hours, team communication, and meetings. We had a guy in Hawaii at my last job and sometimes he got up at like 5 AM to Skype into meetings. The downside of remote work is feeling disconnected – both to your team and to your boss. How do they plan to (for example) handle social events (like a holiday lunch) for those who are remote? Will you be able to drive over to an office and join in? Will you get the equivalent time off? Where will your boss be? Would it be at all beneficial to you to keep your office or some work space at the university? If not, are you paying for your workspace or will they give you a stipend? What restrictions might there be on where you work – are you handling any sensitive data that should not be discussed in, say, a coffee shop?

      One thing I wish I’d realized is that people don’t really understand that WFH is work, so I’d clarify with friends and family that no, you are really on the clock. I had family think I could spend all day cleaning the house and minding kids (mine and theirs) and that just wasn’t reality. Working in a co-working space is probably going to help that.

      Good luck. It sounds like a good gig for you.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I’m sorry, I need more coffee. I realize this is a change of company, so if you got it the whole “keeping the office” thing wouldn’t apply.

      2. MCL*

        Yeah, the wide dispersal of geographic location of the team is a concern for me! I don’t want to start my work day at 5AM, so I’d need to clarify core hours. If I were offered the job I think I’d try to negotiate some sort of subsidy for workspace. Great point about the confidentiality thing. It does seem like they do virtual conference calls a lot, so I’d need to make sure I had a place where I could do that.

        1. CherryGirl*

          I was surprised at the jump in my electric bill when I went remote, especially during the summer when the AC is on all day, etc. Ask about how things like office supplies and printer ink are reimbursed, will they reimburse part of your WiFi costs or if you need to replace your computer chair, etc.

          It’s also good to get an idea of how much collaborative work you need to do with colleagues and their availability. I’m in the Midwest, most of my team is in the UK, and when I’m working on joint projects that can really be a problem.

          1. MCL*

            Thanks so much! It’s helpful to have the perspective of someone in the Midwest who works remotely with a team in the UK. Definitely will ask about how equipment, connectivity needs, and supplies are dealt with. My instinct is that I would be happiest at a co-working space so I won’t have to worry as much about my home’s electric usage, but that’s definitely a hidden cost that I would not have considered!

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Yeah, I work from home in the Midwest (half of my team is in Europe; the rest is dispersed throughout the US and Australia), but my electric costs didn’t drastically increase – I think it went up, like, $10-15 extra dollars a month. But some companies will reimburse for your electric usage and will pay most or all of your internet/phone costs, so you should ask about this.

              I second the suggestion to ask about core hours. My current manager really doesn’t care when I work because I’m involved in global projects, so there are times when I’ll be on a conference call at 1am my time and will need to sleep in to be productive for the day. The only thing she said was to try to ensure I can provide coverage/help to my US colleagues on the east coast, so I took that to mean if I start work between 9am-10am and am still around at least between 3pm-4pm, I should be fine. But, again, global projects doesn’t always allow for that.

              1. MCL*

                Definitely great to keep the reimbursement/core hours thing in mind. If I get an interview I’ll be sure to ask about these. Since the only other two staff members are in totally different time zones, I’m curious how much they’re already doing.

      3. MCL*

        To provide a clarification, the small team of three is the entire staff of this organization. I realized I referred to it as a “team” in the original post without making that detail explicit. So, this is an extremely tiny non-profit. So if there’s someone on the team I don’t work well with… well, that’s going to be a magnified issue. :)

    3. CSD*

      I transitioned from an in-office to a remote role (though within the same company) and even with established relationships with my coworkers, found it can be difficult to keep up with overall company flow, news, and communication. Make sure you ask questions about how you’re expected to communicate with your coworkers, navigate the time difference, expectations on delivery with regards to time zones, and general accessibility (will your supervisor expect you to be accessible and will they be accessible for questions?)
      I didn’t find the WFH aloneness to be a problem, and I expect that might be even less for you since you’re looking at a dedicated work space/co-working solution.

      1. MCL*

        That’s a really good point about accessibility. Since it is a tiny team of three FT employees, all of whom are remote, there needs to be really clear expectations for communication. Since all three of us (assuming I were hired) are in totally different time zones (UK, NY, Midwest), I want to make sure this is feasible without me needing to have totally wacky work hours. I value my 9-5 core hours.

        1. 8DaysAWeek*

          This. Find out how much you will be working with the colleague in the UK. Will you be on projects together that you need to meet via phone often?
          I used to work in IT and got burned out fast in my last few years in the group. I was working with people in Europe (eastern and western) and Asia. I am on the east coast of the US, but having daily calls with some of these places made it difficult to maintain that “9-5”.
          The advantage of WFH though is that if it is not a video call, you can be in more comfortable clothes.

          1. MCL*

            Yes, I think that would be a pretty big factor. I already do some work that requires contact with people in the UK, and it can sometimes be a challenge.

    4. san junipero*

      I’m working remotely for the first time, so I may not be the best source of advice, but the one thing I made sure to ask was about getting access to a coworking space if I needed one (i.e. if my company would pay for that). They said they wouldn’t pay for a full-time coworking space since I don’t actually *want* one, but we found a compromise that would let me leave my apartment at times while still mostly being at my home office.

      The time difference has been a bear, although mine is more significant than yours would be. Still, definitely ask about how they manage it. In my case, most of my company is 12 hours away, so I’ve already had a number of meetings take place at *someone’s* 8 or 9 PM.

      I’d also ask about flexibility of movement if that’s something that interests you. Some remote places require you to remain in your home country (although if someone is in the UK, that bodes well for international flexibility). Some, like mine, are open to a full-on digital nomad life.

      Last: would you be a contractor or an employee, if this is something that matters to you? That was a big discussion when I came on board, because being a contractor in my city is a huge pain, but it’s obviously much easier on their end.

      1. MCL*

        That’s really helpful! Flexibility of movement would potentially be an advantage at some point. My spouse and I own a home in our current city, but we have considered moving. Having a remote position on my end would give us much more flexibility if we chose to make that happen. I’d definitely think about an international move some day if it were in the cards, but it’s not high priority for me at this point.

        Your point about contractor status is well-taken. My impression is that this position is considered an employee, but it’s not made explicit in the ad so I’d want to ask.

      1. MCL*

        I would definitely negotiate some sort of subsidy on the space. If I couldn’t get their agreement to that, then I would probably pay it on my own… it’s one of those things that I think I would need to stay engaged and productive.

    5. Rainy days*

      Would you get face time with the rest of your team during travel?

      I work remotely with a team on a side gig (not my core job) and it’s so hard to build rapport. Not that rapport is necessary, but it does help. If you can see them in person every few months, it goes a long way toward making your remote work smoother.

      1. MCL*

        There are conferences 3-4 times per year, and a few additional meetings for the executive and steering committees. I would definitely be at the conferences, and my assumption is that this position would also attend the meetings but I’m not sure. I do a lot of in-person work with my current team (I share an office with my closest teammate and we work really well together), so it would be a huge shift in how I have worked. Something to consider for sure.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      There are a few things that I would be really careful about. One is benefits – I would be really shocked if a tiny non profit had comparable benefits to a large public university, and I would expect the difference in value to be more than $5k. Also as others have said, be really clear about what they’re covering – will they cover coworking space costs (maybe, maybe not), but also who pays for a printer and ink, a laptop, work phone, chair that’s good enough to sit in all day, repairs or replacement, web camera, necessary software, and who pays for repairs and replacements. How much will A/C at home cost you in the summer? Also, what is the raise/COL at your current job (that can be highly variable at universities!) and can the new job match that. Do they fully cover travel expenses and budget for decent travel and your own hotel room?

      The other thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the size, not the remoteness. If you take a job with a 3 person company, I wouldn’t expect it to be as stable as the university job. Go in knowing that the company could fold at any time, that if someone quits your workload could skyrocket for an extended period, that there won’t be the sort of HR/admin structure you’re used to, and that things may change suddenly – maybe they hire someone in a new time zone, and suddenly you’ve got 6am meetings three days a week. Be sure to ask about expected email/work availability outside of normal office hours – will you be expected to respond to queries from the UK, for example. But go in expecting to leave if you’re not happy.

      Also – I work in projects with people scattered over the world, and telecons outside of 9-5 are a fact of life, it’s just a matter of how often and how outside (I have a twice monthly 9pm Friday meeting, for example).

  6. Gimme A Chance*

    I am applying for a job in which I need to have a license and a good driving record. I have an overall great driving record, but a year and a half ago I got a speeding ticket in a poorly-marked school zone. I decided to play it safe and defer the ticket instead of trying to fight it. The judge even agreed with me (after I had already deferred) that the sign was barely visible.
    However, I’m concerned about honesty if they decide to interview me. My official record is spotless, but I still know that I did have a moving violation even if it was never entered into my record. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to cost myself a job. Of course, this might not be an issue as they might not want to interview me, but I want to be prepared just in case. What should I do if it does happen?

    1. Bobbi Books*

      If anyone asks you can say honestly that your record is spotless. No one has to know WHY it is spotless. This isn’t a lie.

    2. Sunflower*

      Don’t say anything. They will most likely run your motor vehicle report if the driving record is necessary and it will come up clean.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yeah I’m going to second this. For most companies, a good driving record doesn’t mean a spotless one. They’ll run your driving record and determine if they find it acceptable or not. I’ve gotten a speeding ticket as well that I just paid instead of fighting, so I’m sure it’s on my record and when I was hired at my current job they ran a driving record for me and I was still accepted. I think most places figure that people have a speeding ticket or parking ticket somewhere. They’re looking for a pattern.

        1. Gatomon*

          A pattern or something egregious like a very recent DUI is probably what they are looking for. Almost everyone has gotten a speeding ticket at one time or another – I actually got a reckless driving ticket in HS and it has never stopped me from any jobs with a good driving requirement.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      I wouldn’t worry about this too much. I used to review driving records as prehire conditions and I looked for a couple of things:
      Careless/Reckless tickets
      High quantity of speeding tickets
      Driving without insurance
      Driving under Suspensions and/or revocation

      1 speeding ticket in an otherwise clean driving record would not have been a big deal.

      So I would not give this another thought. Even if for some reason they find out about this it’s not a red a flag and your failing to mention it would also not be a red flag.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Also…one speeding ticket from a year and a half ago doesn’t matter. Good driving record simply means you don’t have a bunch of tickets and accidents for whatever reason, especially DUI’s and that type of stuff, not that you can’t ever have gotten a ticket. Professional truck drivers get tickets all the time.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. I got a ticket from a misfiring red light camera and the ticket was dismissed. I don’t even count that kind of thing. That’s not on your record. They want to know about big things, and it might not even come up if they just go by what they pull from the MVA.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I get one about every three years. Used to get more when I first started commuting across town. I am fairly certain that employers and other orgs that do BG checks more or less ignore speeding tickets, unless there is an unusually high number of them per year. I vaguely remember me being asked about my traffic violation record during my naturalization process, and me sheepishly mentioning speeding tickets, and the other person basically laughing and saying that’s fine. And I once had to go to court because I’d gotten three in a year. One that is not even on your record is totally fine.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yup, I think you’re totally fine here. The language is funny in that a ‘clean’ driving record doesn’t necessarily mean a spotless one, it just means that you’re able to drive without any restrictions and you’re insurable.

      I’m in agreement with @Somebodyelse about their parameters for checking out driving records. One speeding ticket 18 months ago wouldn’t raise an eyelash for me.

    6. Kuododi*

      Well, in situations like what you describe…my personal approach is that I won’t volunteer the information. If I am questioned directly however…I will not lie. Best of luck!!!

    7. Silver Radicand*

      Gonna agree with everyone else. I hire drivers. One speeding ticket is not a big deal. I’m concerned with DUI’s, patterns of speeding, and things driving through stop signs/lights or unsafe lane changes.

    8. voluptuousfire*

      You have a good driving record. I’m in the same boat–got my first moving violation (was caught using my phone to check google maps by a random cop) after having a clean driving record for 20 years. I just paid the ticket and plead “guilty” and while I’m irked that my spotless record is no longer so, it’s still a good driving record.

      They mean more along the lines of like no DUIs, license suspensions for unpaid parking tickets, various and several moving violations etc.

    9. Clever Name*

      You can bring it up if you want, but they are looking for things like a ton of at-fault accidents, DUIs, an excessive amount of speeding tickets (I’m confident that a single speeding ticket that doesn’t show up on your record does not meet the definition of excessive) etc. And I seriously doubt they will ask about your driving record in your interview. I once worked a job where I had to have an FBI background check, and it was not mentioned during the interview and I wasn’t asked anything about arrests or whatever.

    10. Kiwiii*

      One speeding ticket doesn’t usually mean that you don’t have a good driving record, and even if it does show up somehow or come up, I can’t imagine they would think you’re a bad fit from that alone.

    11. LawBee*

      The violation doesn’t exist. You can honestly say you have a spotless driving record, which will be born out by the actual official driving record if they order one (and you can order one for yourself just to confirm), and that’s what they are looking for.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Or, if you want to be technical about it, you can say you have no ticket adjudications on your record. Depending on the jurisdiction the fact a ticket was issued may show up but since it was dismissed it should should show that, too.

  7. Hermione*

    How do you personally deal with burnout during a job search?

    Background: I’ve been in my position for about three and a half years, and while I’m good at it and sometimes enjoy the work, I really want to be in a higher-level role with more responsibilities. I’m not going to get that here (and there are other problems afoot more generally in my division) so I’m looking elsewhere. I don’t NEED to move on immediately, so I’m being rather picky in what I apply to, but I’m starting to feel pretty burned out doing lower-level work. Can anyone relate? How do you stave off the burnout and get your work done?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      I am in a similar position: At work for two years, accomplished as much as I can and am looking to migrate but being picky about what I go for.

      For me, I asked for sign-off from my boss to start taking Lynda coursework when I am caught up on my regular work. He was 100% in favor of it, as the company had to pay zero (our local library provides Lynda for free to all cardholders). In the mean time, it helps my current employer, as I can do more. And in the long term, it helps me. Taking courses in a completely new system does wonders for staving off my burnout.

      Good luck!

    2. ACDC*

      When this happened to me, I scaled back (within reason) how I was working. I stopped trying to be a superstar and just did the bare minimum to not raise any eyebrows. I worked 8 hours a day, and left promptly when 8 hours hit. I did not look or respond to anything work related outside of being at work, and I made sure I had at least 1-2 things a week that I really looked forward to. I also started using CBD oil to help keep the anxiety and frustration at bay while I was at work. Taking small breaks several times a day to go for a walk or read a book were really helpful for me too. Good luck on the job search!

      1. CSD*

        I agree with this – do the work you have to to continue to be a good employee, but you already know being an excellent employee isn’t going to get you anywhere, so take that time and energy and focus it on finding another job. I also found I spent more time developing personal hobbies during downtime since I now had the energy to focus on it.

    3. Bird Person*

      What helped me in that situation was pursuing professional development opportunities outside of work and putting a focus on building my network. I joined my field’s professional society and pursued accreditation, which gave me some interesting things to do that pushed me intellectually while I was feeling stifled at work. The time at work is harder to deal with though. I typically resort to time blocking with the promise of a small reward (fresh coffee, a walk around the building) if I get the small tasks done.

      1. LunaLena*

        I did the same. Outside of work, I took on more freelance work and spent more time on my online shops, which are a combination of creative playground/side gig for me. Breaks at work were generally spent planning what I would do next for my shops, so I’d have something to look forward to later.

    4. Alternative Person*

      I chunk the daily stuff basically.

      First, I try to do as much of that day’s printing and admin when I arrive so its done and I’m not rushing around later in the day.

      Then I go to my list of ongoing projects- mostly prepping materials and work on the ones that have the least amount of leeway. I also set a limit on how far ahead I need to be (i.e no more than two units ahead) so I’m not over-working on stuff that won’t be needed immediately, but I’m still mostly ahead of the curve.

      Any time left over goes to personal projects (some work related, some less so). Giving myself permission to work on my own curricula that isn’t directly required for the job (though sometimes, it does get used) gave me something to look forward to and makes me feel like I’m achieving something.

    5. Kiwiii*

      If you can focus on one thing you’re doing that you still like or are interested in continuing learning that might help. My last job was heavily admin and I had gone in with the expectation that I’d be there for 1.5-3 years as a foot-in-the-door position, but I figured out within 4 or 5 months that that was just not going to be something I was going to like or be good at and I couldn’t make it a year. There were some data organization and report-adjacent things that I quite liked doing, though, and I learned as much as I could about those aspects, volunteered to do the next step or larger overviews of those things for high level meetings, and became really knowledgeable and reliable regarding that, so much so that it didn’t matter if my work was average at best with the rest of the stuff I was meant to be doing while I was job hunting.

    6. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Loving these suggestions, since I’m dealing with the same. Like others have mentioned, I’ve been exploring areas of professional development on my own accord. While trudging through my job search, I’m keeping busy working on a side project and practicing my programming skills. On a personal level, I’m also allowing myself more indulgences than usual. Meet ups with friends at my favorite bar, bubble baths, and watching more movies. I think it’s okay to treat yourself when you are struggling.

  8. Fridge Frustration Fighter*

    The habits of people in my office regarding use of the break room refrigerator are so weird. Everyone crams their items into the door while leaving the shelves inside the refrigerator practically empty. It’s as if they are too lazy to actually reach inside. Meanwhile, I, a person with a disability who really can’t reach inside, can never find any reachable space for my own items. I’ve tried placing a sticky note in the door politely asking that space be saved for those who can’t reach anywhere else, but it is ignored. It is just so frustrating. I reached a new high in my fridge frustration last week when, while trying to fit my lunch into the least overloaded top shelf, my knee lightly brushed the middle shelf, which was so overloaded it gave out and spilled out onto the floor. And there I was, helpless to pick any of it up, and just angry at people for causing the situation.

    1. throwaway123*

      Maybe put a handicapped symbol sticker where you want to put your lunch and get your manager to notify everyone that area is reserved just for you since you cannot reach inside. Anyone who puts their lunch in your reserved spot has to bring the rest of the office coffee or a treat as a fine.

        1. Fridge Frustration Fighter*

          I can with the higher drawer and do use it when available, but it’s often already occupied as well.

          1. Alston*

            How about you leave a decoy Tupperware to reserve your space. Put something non perishable in it even for weight so people won’t just chuck it because it’s empty. Then when you get in put your lunch in there and remove the decoy.

      1. zora*

        I would definitely find an ally to help you, if not your manager, an admin, HR person, etc. And have one spot marked as reserved for you. Then everyone else can fight over the rest of the door (Like weirdos. I don’t get this either, I’d automatically use the bigger space if I had the option) but you have that one space.

        1. valentine*

          have one spot marked as reserved for you.
          And choose the door spot you can reach most easily on your worst day. Don’t go for something you can theoretically reach or reach most days. Don’t try to be accommodating. These people are seriously weird.

      2. Quill*

        This is much better than my suggestion, which would be to stick a biohazard sticker on the fridge and watch people clear the heck out.

      3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        If there’s an “accessibility” sticker or “reserved” sticker, I’d use that. Then, if some one puts their stuff there just move it. Seriously. (If your office is big enough that your boss/HR needs to send a message about the note, go ahead so people have been warned).

        If you want to keep your original note below it so it’s clearer, go for it. Combine it with the fake/empty Tupperware suggested below and your spot should be yours all the time.

        It may just be a case of “spots” in the fridge like “spots” at a conference/room/bus–creatures of habit. I’d just move the other person’s stuff to a shelf.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m sorry to hear about your frustration. This is almost like the phenomenon when someone parks in a near empty parking lot and another car despite having a multitude of other open choices, elects to park right next to your car (and inevitably door dings you in the process.)

    3. Laura H.*

      Loop your manager in.

      Also depending on if this is feasible w/ your office culture and also that beyond the fridge weirdness, your coworkers are courteous, maybe ask someone to help put in and retrieve your lunch. (I know asking for help sometimes feels weird, but it’s always an option.)

      Good luck :)

    4. LadyTesla*

      It might be simply a size thing. I used to have a taller lunch box that wouldn’t fit in the shelves, and had to use the door.

      1. zora*

        Can’t you turn your box on it’s side tho?
        Also, fine if you are one person who really needs to put theirs in the door, but is it possible that every single person in this office has a tall lunch box? I doubt it.
        And if that is the case, then they should remove a shelf in the fridge so that people can use that shelf instead of the door.

    5. Juneybug*

      Could your office get another fridge in the break-room? Or could you place a mini-fridge in your office for your own personal use?

  9. Dankar*

    Friday PSA for any boss who needs it: Please don’t use the shared work bathroom barefoot! Especially not when the people you’re supervising can see you making the trip back and forth to your office!

      1. valentine*

        While this seemed gross at first and most non-infant feet gross me out, what’s the problem? Any transfer would also be distributed via shoes.

        1. Gatomon*

          Well in addition to the poo and pee particles that are normally transferred on shoe soles, now there is foot fungus to worry about.

        2. Damien*

          It’s less about the transfer and more about having poo and pee and potentially fungal/warty particles on their actual skin, and then inside their socks and shoes.

      1. EddieSherbert*


        I used to have a coworker who did that… but she also used her neti pot at her desk (despite all of us in her cube block telling her to stop multiple times) and joked that she should start “hanging her used tampons in her cube” when another coworker lost it and yelled at her that she was gross.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Yup. Then she’d take that to the bathroom to dump out, and lay out the neti and cup on a towel on her desk to dry. It was odd.

            She was pretty far removed from social norms – she ended up getting fired after sneaking her boyfriend… who she had a restraining order against… into the building on the weekends so they could get wasted and watch pirated movies on her desktop monitor.

              1. EddieSherbert*

                Clearly, but at the time the neti pot thing seemed obvious to us and we didn’t know there was anything else going on.

            1. Sharrbe*

              Wow. Talk about having no judgment and few boundaries. I would have flipped out over the used tampon comment too. It’s gross to even joke about.

            2. Kat in VA*

              But…doesn’t a neti pot pour water into one nostril and it runs out the other? Did she…collect the used nosewater in another cup? I’m appalled and I don’t even wanna know, I GOTTA KNOW.

    1. Mother of Cats*

      I work with someone who does the barefoot shared toilet thing too. We have a big four stall women’s toilet that rarely gets cleaned but thankfully most of us are tidy people so it’s not gross but like enough people have been in there in outdoor shoes and likely spilled bathroom stuff without noticing, and she goes through the office (fair size office) from her desk at the far end through reception and into the loo in her socks all the time.

      In a situation that likely doesn’t surprise anyone, she also doesn’t wash her hands. If you’re at the sinks at the same time she does the whole turn the water on and splash water on your finger tips thing but if you’re in the stall and can’t see her she just does away with the pretence and leaves without even running the water.

      This is all around so gross. Wear shoes in common areas, especially the toilet! and wash your hands with hot water and soap every time. I touch the handles after you!!! Your hands are now dirtier than they were before by just splashing water on them and walking away. ARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

    2. Ella P*

      What fresh hell is this? Is this a thing??? People can’t do their business and keep their shoes on?

      Man I really have heard it all today…

    3. san junipero*

      To be fair, I used to do this.

      …when I worked at a pool, and the bathroom was on the deck, and I could rinse afterwards, and only if I didn’t have time to get my sandals.

      I cannot IMAGINE doing it in an office environment, holy cannoli.

    4. Kiwiii*

      There’s a dude in my office who’s always barefoot (who I have to work on a project with currently) and I am just so .. upset every time I see him.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      You’re going to be horrified by this but…when I taught swim lessons, we all went to use the bathroom barefoot. The same bathrooms that the under 8s in the lessons used. None of us got anything worse than athlete’s foot, though I would recommend avoiding sharing swim flippers because that’s a guaranteed plantar wart or toenail fungus.

    6. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I find this interesting. I totally wouldn’t care unless the person was putting their feet on something I owned or had to touch later. Why does it bother you so?

      …of course, I’m a barefoot often (but not in the work bathroom because people are gross) person….

  10. Rhonda Retirement*

    I’m having a hard time writing a cover letter where I’m taking a major downward shift position. My husband and I only need me to work for the health insurance. I just want a 20 hour a week position where I can keep my pension. The jobs exist, I’m just having a hard time writing that I’ll be a good employee and not get bored. I hate my current job. I don’t want to supervise or mentally take work home with me. I just want a chance to do good work while I’m at work and hopefully have the job for the next 8 years.

    1. Clorinda*

      “I am looking forward to moving into a part-time position at this stage of my career”?
      And if anyone asks why, it’s “family reasons.”

      1. WellRed*

        Agreed. I think this is one time where being older is of benefit when job searching. That said, do employers in your area offer health insurance to part timers?

        1. Rhonda Retirement*

          I’m lucky enough that there are health insurance benefits to part timers – well, 50% paid by employer – which is all I need at this point.

      2. Rhonda Retirement*

        that sounds like promising wording.

        I feel like I have to address this in the cover letter or a hiring manager will just be left scratching their head or jumping to conclusions.

    2. Ali G*

      When I was looking for lower level work due to burnout, I said something like: “I am looking forward to using my skills to contribute to and support a team in work that is meaningful to me.”
      When asked if I would be bored/why I didn’t need to make as much money as before I said: “I am lucky to be in the position that I can choose to work less and at a less stressful level and I am looking forward to doing just that.”
      good luck!

    3. JessicaTate*

      Definitely address it in your cover letter to get ahead of speculation, and make it clear that you WANT less time, responsibility, and won’t be bored. The other suggestions here are good. When I was hiring recently for a junior position, I got a resume from a very experienced person. I was skeptical/confused until I read the cover letter; they said something like, “In planning the next stage of my career, I have reflected on what is most important to me, and JOB TITLE is exactly the type of position I’m looking for. I want to convey that I understand the junior nature of the position. I view this as an opportunity to XYZ.”

      They got ahead of my skepticism by being very self-aware and clear why they wanted this. I was less worried that they’d be bored by the job / didn’t understand it was a lower level position than they’d held. I think if you can make that kind of statement — looking for a place you can contribute, be enthusiastic about your work, but at a scaled down level of time and responsibility from what you’ve been doing… I’d get it and consider you!

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I think this is excellent advice. I often get resumes for lower level positions from people who are clearly further along in their careers. Many–maybe most–applicants do not address the discrepancy anywhere. I am left to assume that they are simply applying to everything, and I immediately stop taking their application seriously. I’d even go so far as to emphasize that you do have a plan for the next 8 years and why that plan looks the way it does. That way, you forestall any thought of “Oh, she’s just burned out from her current job. As soon as she gets a little rest, she’ll want to move back into the fast lane.”

    4. Parenthetically*

      You appreciate that this position can offer you a better work-life balance? You’re looking forward to a long season of enjoying more free time while also putting 100% into a job while you’re there? The part-time aspect will enable you to tackle the job’s tasks each day with diligence, energy, and a fresh mind?

    5. Kiwiii*

      Is there an aspect of the job specifically that you’re interested in? Can you emphasize why that appeals to you over other work/the work you’re currently doing? Maybe you could highlight that you’re excited for the flexibility of shorter work hours and are prioritizing that over pay? Highlight your desire for work-life balance?

      When I was in my first career-adjacent position, my boss hired a woman in her early 50s as our program assistant (heavy admin, but with some other interesting work as well) and she’d specifically come from a higher-level/stress, though not management, position and was candid about doing related work w less responsibility as her husband was planning on retiring in the next couple years. So it’s definitely been done.

  11. Marion Q*

    What’s the minimum amount to ask for reimbursement?

    Last Saturday I had to visit a branch office two cities over. Fortunately we have good train service with very cheap fare, so I really only paid for the motorbike taxis. The total cost of the taxis is approximately $25 (I’m not in the US). It’s standard fare; I spend similar amount of money for my commute every day.

    The two coworkers, who’ve worked here quite longer, told me I should ask for reimbursement, but I’m not really sure. It feels weird to ask for such a small amount of money. I kinda feel like … Penny-pinching? I guess I’m just not sure what the reasonable minimum of money to qualify for reimbursement.

    So, should I? How do you determine what amount is worth asking for reimbursement?

    1. Colette*

      I’d ask – you were there for work, and it’s a business expense. I’d talk to your manager and say something like “What is the policy for being reimbursed for things like motorbike taxis when we are visiting branch offices?”

    2. Jay*

      If your company’s policy is to reimburse travel fare, then absolutely ask for the reimbursement no matter how small! I once asked for reimbursement for $1.50 in postage, it’s not that I couldn’t afford it, it’s that it is a business expense and employees should not be personally responsible for business expenses.

    3. MCL*

      I always submit for every dime of reimbursement that I am entitled to. I’m not here to subsidize my employer’s expenses. Submit your expense report with a clear conscience!

    4. CatCat*

      If it’s reimburseable, I seek reimbursement. I don’t care how small. There is no minimum for me of seeking a reimbursement.

      1. valentine*

        There is no minimum for me of seeking a reimbursement.
        Yeah! You can always give it away, but, just like your pay, don’t base it on need.

    5. The Original K.*

      I’ve asked for reimbursement for less. It’s not about what I can afford, it’s about what the company is responsible for. I say ask, expect to get it, and feel good about it.

    6. Aly_b*

      I have asked for reimbursement of transit fare of $2.75. It is a work expense, you should be reimbursed for it. This is totally normal.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      If this is a one-off, I can see your reluctance to claim it. But those $25 trips can add up if you do this often. I think the lowest amount I ever claimed for a taxi was about $9.00. But the process for reimbursement is a hassle, so I generally hold my receipts and submit them when I have a bunch. Saves me some paperwork, and makes me realize how those small amounts add up.

      1. Marion Q*

        Yes, it’s once or twice every six months. The process is also a hassle, which makes me even more reluctant.

    8. Junk Food Octopus*

      I’ve asked for business reimbursement for Lyft fare to our office downtown – anywhere from $15 to $30 each. It didn’t feel like penny-pinching since it would set a precedent; the company sent me down there, and they should cover it. If they started sending me every day, it would quickly add up, so I definitely asked for reimbursement.

    9. ACDC*

      To echo the sentiments of the other commenters, any amount is worth reimbursing! That being said, your company could have a policy on a minimum for reimbursement, but that seems unlikely.

    10. HappySharpie*

      I think you can absolutely ask for a reimbursement. It was travel for company business. I work in grants, and we only reimburse based upon receipts so I’ve reimbursed some small amounts (think less than $10). I think $25 would be an average request. We can get reimbursed for mileage for certain things and sometimes I’m just too lazy to turn in the paperwork, but sometimes I’m not and it ends up in the $25 to $35 range. I would say don’t forego asking for the reimbursement just because you think it’s a small amount.

    11. Sled dog mama*

      My rule (which seems to be what Alison endorses) has always been that if it’s not something I would ordinarily be spending to go to my normal work site and return home I apply for reimbursement. So my normal commute is on me but when I got to work one day and boss called and said I need you to go handle this emergency at other site the extra mileage for that (or train fare or taxi fare if that’s how I got there) is on the business.
      I’ve been lucky enough to always work for companies that don’t have a minimum item amount to be reimbursed just a minimum to get it issued as a separate check. Policy is anything less than (I think) $500 is issued with your next paycheck anything over the default is with next check unless you request a separate check (sometimes faster). Yeah company did the use your own card and request reimbursement thing as default but they would do an advance (sort of a down payment on travel expenses) in some circumstances.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Are there really companies out there that have a minimum reimbursement amount? I find that shocking if we’re talking about the US. I would think that in the eyes of the law, compelling an employee to spend money and then not reimbursing it would amount to withholding of wages, no? And there is no minimum amount that makes that illegal. Withholding one penny is just as illegal as withholding an entire paycheck.

    12. Ginger Baker*

      I enter expenses all the time for a wide range of positions. You can – AND SHOULD – get reimbursed for every business expense that is covered [by which I mean: travel etc. not say, a book you bought to read on a flight]…there is no minimum amount and absolutely no one you work with or in accounting will so much as blink when you enter a set of receipts all under $5. I have entered *numerous* receipts for, say, $1.25 water for an attorney who was travelling.

    13. Witchy Human*

      If a travel expense is no more than a few dollars more than my normal train commute, I usually don’t ask for reimbursement. Otherwise, absolutely.

    14. Meg Danger*

      Is this a typo? Did you mean $0.25? Depending on which country you are in $25 or $0.25 could be reasonable. For a quarter (or USD equivalent) I would probably just eat the expense, or wait until I had taken enough taxi rides to justify the expense of the paper/ink/postage to send a reimbursement check. For $25 absolutely ask for reimbursement.

      Side note: I wish my wage were high enough to think it would be reasonable to eat a $25 business charge :)

      1. Marion Q*

        Not a typo! I don’t live in US or UK (which I gather is where most readers here are from), and I can’t simply convert because the difference between USD and my currency is too great (the actual cost, if converted to USD, would be around $3). So I tried to guess an equivalent number, but I guessed wrong :/ basically, think of the base fare for Uber or Lyft, and add a couple of bucks.

        Aaaaand I just showed everyone how bad I am at math.

        1. BetsCounts*

          I would ask your manager if it is ok to accrue these small expenses instead of preparing a reimbursement for each item. With an amount that small, it does get to be more of a pain to request reimbursement, but Half Caf Latte is making an excellent point- it is important for the company to know exactly how much it costs to do business.

    15. IvyGirl*

      You should ask to be reimbursed for anything other than the travel from your home to work and back. So, train tickets, taxis, all of it.

    16. Half-Caf Latte*

      Yes, you should submit. I have also submitted for less. In addition to what else is said here- this helps the business understand what its expenses really are, and helps normalize reimbursement. The next person in your role, or another employee, might really need that reimbursement, but feel pressured not to ask for it if you/others don’t.

      This isn’t a social situation, where it might be awkward to ask a friend to pay half of an inexpensive cab ride. Businesses don’t have feelings and you can totally ask, it’s normal and expected.

    17. ArtK*

      It’s a business-related expense, you should be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny amount. Ask yourself this; “Why would I want to give my salary back to the company?”

    18. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’ve had 59p for a stamp before.

      Yes, you absolutely expense it. Some accounts departments prefer if you combine several small amounts on one claim, but yeah.

    19. Parenthetically*

      “How do you determine what amount is worth asking for reimbursement?”

      Literally all amounts that are an expense I incurred while doing my job. It’s not your job to decide whether or not it’s a reimbursable expense; if it isn’t, you won’t be reimbursed. Submit it. Don’t use your own money, however little, to subsidize company expenses.

    20. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      As long at the taxi was for business purposes–getting to or from a meeting or to the local office where you traveled to, you should be reimbursed the full amount of your taxi fare (unless your company has a limit on the amount it will reimburse you for taxis while on a business trip). Also, be sure to get a receipt. Not sure what your company policy is on business trip reimbursement, but you should find out if you can be reimbursed for meals while you were on your business trip. Again, get all the receipts.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Business travel where the client doesnt feed you, anything you buy to eat is reimbursable. Unless you brought lunch & snacks, theres probably something else like that to add on.
        Maybe ask about a petty cash advance for next time.

    21. Coverage Associate*


      I am insisting on reimbursement for $1.50 in internet charges that should have gone through a company account, but my boss was in a bad mood so he said not to involve anyone else.

    22. Kiwiii*

      I’ve asked for a $0.60 parking pass be reimbursed. It was during a trip where I also asked for about $3 in mileage reimbursed. It felt silly, but they were business expenses.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Additional context: We were always encouraged to submit monthly so that we’d get our money back quickly (I was in an office with 3 coworkers and a manager who were in high local travel positions, my coworker Sansa would sometimes have $1000s in expenses), but mine were always just like a trip down to the central office and back (7 miles round trip) + parking for .5 to 4 hours twice or so a month to help my manager’s boss with something or take notes for my manager and were rarely $30+ total.

    23. LawBee*

      $25 is worth asking for a reimbursement. $5 is worth asking for a reimbursement. Trust your coworkers and get your money back.

    24. Rainy days*

      I’ve asked for $5 reimbursements before. If I know I’ll be spending more money soon, I might wait and bundle it in with other receipts.

    25. Ranon*

      I’ve turned in $3 parking fees for reimbursement. It’s a business expense, it should be paid by the business! (We bill most stuff to clients, too, so if I’m paying to park in the client’s parking garage because I went to them for a meeting you bet I’m getting that reimburse)

    26. LGC*

      So, yeah – as covered, even if it’s roughly $3 in local currency, it’s probably worth getting reimbursed for it! You might also want to check your company’s policy – they might require you to submit those expenses, or at least strongly encourage it. And if you’re in a place where $3 US is like $25 to you, then it’s not really that minor.

      If your workplace is reasonable, they would allow you to submit multiple transactions at once. And it might add up if you have to do it often!

    27. Kat in VA*

      Our CTO – who probably makes well north of a quarter million a year – routinely asks for reimbursement for $3.00 tolls. It’s your money. You don’t have to donate it to the company.

    28. Hamburke*

      I cut the checks for a couple companies. One does outdoor work. Over the summer, I cut a check for the cost of a single bag of ice – under $2. Put in your reimbursement, no one in finance will think twice about it if it’s a reasonable, approved business expense.

    29. Ms Cappuccino*

      No minimum amount. If I spend £1.50 for a cup of tea when travelling for work, I got it reimbursed since I have the right to.
      $25 is a lot of money! If you don’t really need this money, you could give it to a charity rather than your boss’ pocket.

    30. Lynn Whitehat*

      I hate dealing with the reimbursement process, scanning in receipts, and all that. $10 would probably be my line of whether the money is worth the bother.

  12. New girl rayray*

    I started a new job a few months ago, and it hasn’t worked out so well. My boss just isn’t a good boss, and anyone I’ve talked to about it- including in an open thread a couple weeks ago has suggested I look elsewhere, as this just isn’t a situation that will get better, not to mention I feel under utilized and I don’t see this job benefitting me in the long run.

    Here’s my question today –
    I am going to start job hunting, and I want to be careful I find and accept a good role in a good company. There’s one company I’ve been very interested in, and my childhood best friend works there. I had applied there before listing her as an employee referral, but got a generic rejection email. However, she told me that they told her they liked my resume and wanted me for something, just that they had another candidate better qualified. It’s a fairly large company, so I asked her if she could get me contact info for a recruiter  or talk to anyone. I also have that email from last time from a recruiter (the rejection) . Is it a good idea to just send my resume and a message to a recruiter, explaining that I had applied in the past, and I would like for them to consider me for any openings in the future? And how might I word it?

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I think it’s perfectly acceptable to let a recruiter know you’re still interested in the company. Basically what you said here – I applied to this company in the past and while it didn’t work out at the time, I’d love to be considered for any openings in X department in the future – should be fine.

      I wouldn’t leave it SO open-ended (I’ll take any job in any department!) that it sounds odd, but the above should be fine for a *one-time email* with no followup (unless anther job does open up and you want to apply specifically for that).

      If the recruiter emails you back with questions or anything that continues the conversation, you should reply of course. But don’t follow up just to see if they got your resume or “to check in”.

    2. Joielle*

      Personally, I’d just wait until another suitable position opens up and apply then, list your friend as a referral, and ask her to put in a good word if she can. I just don’t think a recruiter for a large company will remember your resume and remember that you wanted X type of position when one opens up months down the line (or more, who knows). I assume you’d apply through the regular channel anyways if you saw a posting you were interested in. I don’t think there’s any benefit of sending your resume outside the usual channels, and you risk the recruiter thinking you’re a little too high-maintenance or don’t understand office norms.

    3. BRR*

      I wouldn’t. They already know who you are and unless you’re in a high-demand field, it’s not something candidates can ask of in-house recruiters (I’m assuming it’s in-house).

    4. LadyTesla*

      I think everything said here is totally okay, just know email might not be the ideal medium. I know recruiters that lose resumes in emails very quickly, especially at large companies. Ask your friend if they prefer a phone call or a automated system through their website.

      1. New girl rayray*

        Good point. Emails can definitely get lost, and even if they did look it over and have the intention to keep it for a future opening, it’s very likely it would be lost in the abyss of their email inbox.

    5. Margaery Tyrell*

      My instincts here are not to reach out to the recruiter directly – the point of a referral is they can connect you. (Recruiters deal with a lot of emails; I feel like you might end up lost in the shuffle or seen as too pushy.) It sucks that you already applied and got a generic rejection, but I’d really try and ask your friend if she can connect you to the recruiter about other roles at the company, because a personal connection is much more impactful.

      If your friend plays email tag with you about this or avoids the topic, I’d take it as a sign that your friend may have heard through the grapevine you might not be a good fit and doesn’t want to deliver bad news. :/

      If I’m wrong and things do work out, however, I think you should seriously consider if you can work with your friend. Would you guys be working together closely? I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about friendships falling apart due to work conflicts, so just be cautious there. If you guys are in separate enough departments you should be fine, but especially if your friend has some kind of supervisory role to you, things could be tricky.

      1. New girl rayray*

        That’s a good point, and I have considered if I could work with this friend. It is a good sized company, probably hundreds of employees at this office if not even over 1000. I think I could work there and be fsr enough removed it would be fine. Btw- THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to commen their thoughts for me on this thread . I really appreciate it! I’ll work on my resume this weekend and browse other companies. Today was a particularly bad day with my boss and it was an extra push to get hunting.

    6. Mama Bear*

      I had a situation where I was interviewed, but didn’t get the job. I wrote them a thank you and asked to please keep me in consideration for future opportunities. If there’s a POC on the email, maybe write back to say thank you for letting you know/keep you in mind/thanks for the consideration. In my case they circled back 2 months later and asked if I was still interested and I got the job. You never know.

    7. Close Bracket*

      I would not do that. I would look for open positions and apply directly and include in the cover letter that you interviewed before and still excited about the company.

  13. Ella P*

    So are employers now ghosting candidates?

    My husband had an employer reach out after he applied to a job, the owner himself since it’s a small business, phone screen him and then have him travel to the office after hours for an interview that went a few hours. Husband left feeling very good, they had a great rapport, my husband offered ideas that he seemed receptive to and was what he was looking for, said the “job is yours if you want it” and they talked salary and even discussed nailing down the details of a bonus structure. Next steps were to complete the background check and finalize the pay and bonus details once that came back.

    That was last week. My husband sent off all the background check details over the weekend and decided to follow up and make sure the owner had everything he needed this Tuesday. Left a message, no call back. He called again on Wednesday (I wouldn’t have called again so soon but so be it, they had been communicating consistently), again left a message. No call or email back. The owner had been so responsive in the past, we’re figuring this is a done deal for some reason or another. My husband was actually going to be given a company vehicle as long as he agreed to move within two years closer to the office which of course had us thinking through all kinds of details, as much as we were waiting to have things finalized. To be so sure you’re moving forward with someone to just disappear is confusing to me.

    So I know things change, for all kinds of reasons that we may never know. My husband was wilder in his youth, could something have come up in the background check? That was over 15 years ago and I didn’t think they went that far back, do they? Even so, why not a callback or at the very least an email saying “sorry, we’re going in another direction”?

    Eh, guess I’m just venting… Maybe this the norm now?

    1. House Tyrell*

      Unfortunately it’s not uncommon. I’ve been ghosted a ton by employers after interviews, or even second interviews and since I’m planning on running for office one day, my record is squeaky clean (I’ve known I wanted to go into politics since I was a child!) Employers are just rude a lot of the time for no known reason.

    2. The Original K.*

      This is common, unfortunately. I’ve been ghosted many times – not talking about sending out a resume and not hearing anything after that, but about going through one or more in-person interviews and having to assume that no news is bad news because there’s radio silence after those interviews.

    3. Mindy St Claire*

      Background checks typically take 2-3 weeks in my state. Also the person he is trying to contact could be out of the office or out of town. I think you are jumping to conclusions way too quickly.

      1. China Beech*

        100%! They should try applying for certain government jobs where the process takes at least a year and one doesn’t hear from anyone for months at a time. One week isn’t ghosting; it’s people doing their jobs (or being on travel status or vacation).

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Especially since it’s a small business and all communication so far seems to have gone through the owner. He may be the one running the background check as well, in addition to doing other things for his business, that he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. In a perfect world, he would have just answered the first email with this update, but he’s probably swamped and figures he won’t say anything until everything’s clear.

    4. So glad I'm out of there*

      There’s a great chance this is only related to the owner’s time, in terms of replying back. If anything happened in his business (or personal life) that was unexpected, he may just not have time to reply back right now. And especially if he means to reply with all the details you’re waiting for…it’s easy to just that off “for a few days” in order to handle it completely. Not great, but easy to happen in a small company.

      It’s frustrating on your end, because it seems that it would only take a minute to at least say, “Hey, haven’t forgotten you, unexpected crisis here, back in touch soon” but it’s likely there there’d be tons of these emails to send to vendors, customers, employees, etc etc.

      Good luck to your husband, I hope you have great news soon.

      1. Ella P*

        Thanks. We’re a little on edge, there is some timing at his current job he’s trying to be mindful of as well with his plans to (hopefully) give notice. They typically walk people out the door as soon as they quit so… maybe we need to be more patient. I had thought that perhaps the owner was away or had something going on…

        Employer time is never the same as candidate time. We shall see! And if he doesn’t hear, well, then better to know now…

        Love your name, btw :)

    5. Art3mis*

      I don’t think this is even a new thing. Before moving to our current city 11.5 years ago I flew in for an interview (on my own dime) and never heard one way or the other. And yes, they knew I was coming from out of town and paying to fly in for the interview. When trying to move back five years ago I had a similar interview that I drove to, but I still had to take time off of work and spend money on a hotel and gas, and I never heard a thing. Anyway, just wanted to say it happens, and it’s not a new thing, unfortunately.

      1. Ella P*

        Sorry to hear that. Especially when you spent money and time out of pocket. I don’t get it, I probably need to lower my expectations of people.

        We once had a candidate who could not travel in for an interview so we set up a video conference. It was actually a hassle at the time and in the end… he never showed. I felt so foolish, trying to reach him, assuming he had maybe had trouble connecting… never showed, or called or heard from him again. And I’ve also seen a manager not understand that someone was balking a bit at leaving work early for a third visit to our offices which were out of the area, not wanting to jeopardize their current job.

        Things were moving so quickly and the owner indicated that they could finalize at the end of this week so to not hear anything feels out of the norm for this situation. Thanks for the response.

        1. Art3mis*

          I’ve been ghosted plenty of other times too, but those two really stood out. Interviewing can be a pain when you have to take time off of work, but add in the time and expense of travel and it’s really a hassle. So, yeah, I don’t get why I can’t even get a FOAD email, you know?

      2. Petry Dish*

        Is there someone else you can contact in the company? I sometime like emails because it keeps a paper trail. I suggest maybe sending one more email and looping in perhaps HR? Then if no response you have your answer. Sorry this is taking so long! I feel the same after going through 5 interviews and getting no response, come to find out, the interviewer was out on disability leave and couldn’t get to his emails in the meantime.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      So you think he’s being “ghosted” after only 4 days of no response? That’s way too early to make that assumption. I know you’re excited and anxious, but give him another week before checking back.

      Hiring your husband is not the owner’s only responsibility with the company; he’s probably just working on higher priority tasks. Hiring can take months.

      Plus “checking he has everything” is unnecessary and really pushing for an update. Assume if your husband had forgotten necessary information or a document that the owner would contact him and ask for it.

    7. QueenoftheCats*

      To add to commiseration: I had to do a writing test and a Skype interview back in June for a job. I haven’t heard from my three interviewers since then, even when I emailed them to ask for an update in July/August. The job’s start date already passed. Maybe I should send them another email to ask them where they are in their hiring process (lol jk. To be clear, I am not going to email them again).

      I’m sorry that your husband may have been ghosted. I wish him well in his job searching!

    8. san junipero*

      I agree that you can wait a little longer. Hopefully you hear back soon.

      Still, I have my own ghosting stories. My ‘favorite’ is the recruiter who swore up and down that he made it his absolute mission to get back to every interviewee within two weeks. Did I ever hear from him again? Of course not.

    9. vanillacookies*

      I’ve almost never received a rejection at all, I’ve always been ghosted instead.
      That said, as others have pointed out, it’s recent enough that the employer might not have gotten around to it yet.
      Best of luck!

    10. Observer*

      The boss could be ghosting him – it does happen, and it’s not right. But it could be that this is just taking longer than expected and the boss is not good at communicating stuff like this. That’s not great either, but not as bad.

      Since you don’t know which it is, I’d just more on as though the job has gone poof.

    11. Kiwiii*

      It’s only been a week? That’s not anything to worry about. I’d assume the owner was on vacation or in meetings and/or was too busy to follow up while waiting for the background check. Call back at the end of next week if you haven’t heard from him, but assume he’s doing what he’s said he’s doing.

    12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Employers do ghost candidates, so much so that, for the longest time, I thought it was standard procedure to never call back unless it was to schedule the next interview or to make an offer. I’m still waiting on the company I interviewed with in May of last year, who said they’d contact me in about a week to let me know whether they wanted to proceed. That was the last I heard from them. That said, in your husband’s case, it hasn’t even been a week yet. The owner may be out of town, the BG check company may be unresponsive, who knows what else.

      The BG check probably has not even started yet. In my current job, I sent the information to my employer and then received an email a week or so later from the BG check company itself, with forms and releases for me to sign. If your husband hasn’t received any of that, they may not have even started on him.

    13. Ella P*

      Thank you everyone who replied here. Sorry for those who have be ghosted, how horrible when people are rude, like this stuff is ever easy.

      So I forgot to mention in my original post, the owner had said that they could hopefully finalize everything by end of week, meaning this week/today. So yes we were anxious but that’s why he/we were expecting to hear quickly. This is a small business that has been very responsive throughout, not like the corporate places I work at/deal with :)

      Sooo…. my husband has a personal phone and a work phone with personal calls forwarded to the work number. He had an issue with his phone last week and stopped at the carrier to have it fixed and whatever they did cancelled the call forwarding. So the two times my husband called, yep, the owner had called him back!

      So he called him today and they had a laugh. The owner was starting to think he no longer wanted to job! Anyway, he’s going in Monday after work to meet one other person, second interview style to be sure he’s a good fit and to hopefully finalize all the details of the new role.

      Thanks again everyone. This has been nerve wracking for a number of reasons for us, especially with a move needed in the near future and I have been looking for new job myself in a different area… Life. But always appreciate the commentariat here!

    14. Autumnheart*

      I’ve been given a verbal offer and told that the paperwork was on its way…only to never hear from the company again. And that was about 17 years ago. Ghosting has been a thing for quite a while, unfortunately. I basically don’t assume that I’ve gotten the job until I show up on the first day and am assigned a desk.

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’ll spare you the details, but about two years ago, I was internally promoted to work on a new team with a head honcho, Bob. Unfortunately, he hired someone, Jane, who sabotaged my work, quietly bullied me, and excluded me from all meetings. Jane wanted me gone, and she was successful. Jane also wanted me gone from my current job, but she failed at that. Bob demoted me back to my old position. During our final and extremely awkward conversation, it was clear that Bob wanted me to like him. It was then that I laid out what had happened and the lack of action. (I did not call out Bob, but that was the gist.) All of the sudden, Bob spent 20 minutes begging me for forgiveness, claiming he was new at management (he was NOT), it was all his fault, and he didn’t give me a chance to succeed. In a moment of frustration, I told him I’d never work for him again. He was hurt, but he should have seen that coming.

    The thing about Bob is that he’s obsessed with being a good manager or maybe being SEEN as a good manager? I don’t know. There isn’t a management book he HASN’T read. Unfortunately, none of that has cured him of his fear of confrontation, especially confrontation between two women. One of the reasons he got that job is because he touted himself this way and his life for “making teams great.” Yeah…I don’t have a lot of respect for Bob.

    Every now and then I see Bob. I don’t speak to him unless spoken to. When I do speak, it’s one word responses. I leave the room when he enters. Etc. No one has really noticed except the people who know what happened. I say Bob has got some serious courage by trying to make the effort with me.

    Why won’t I forgive him? Because I sincerely believe that if given the chance to do it again, Bob wouldn’t change a thing. He’d let Jane do what she did, sit there, and then feel bad when everything blew up. His desire for my forgiveness isn’t about me but rather his own conscience. This isn’t the first time that something bad started getting out of control, he didn’t do anything, and then he felt SUPER BAD about it afterward. So…yeah I don’t have respect for him. He’s trying to shield himself from the consequences of his actions. That’s a no go from me.

    Professionally, this hasn’t hurt me. I about to get a major promotion that might put me in more contact with Bob. Is there anything I can say to him to cut off this nonsense? I really want him to leave me alone. The last time we were alone, he kept apologizing nonstop “for everything that happened between us”, and I was terrified about how this would like if someone overheard us — yet another example of him not knowing how to act. He’s making me uncomfortable, especially when the one thing he wants is never going to happen.


    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      To be clear, I’d warned Bob of what was happening in a piecemeal fashion as it was happening, but he didn’t do anything at the time. It was only when I laid out everything at the end is he finally figure it all out.

      1. irene adler*

        The next time when he starts in on The Topic, say “Stop right there.” In addition, hold up your hand to indicate “stop”.
        Then state something along the lines of ” that topic is closed to any more discussion” or ” I am not going to discuss that topic any longer.”
        Then change topics, or walk away- as you think best.
        Repeat as necessary.
        Don’t let yourself become his audience on this.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          I’d say “you keep saying that you are sorry. what are you doing to repair the damage?” or something similar (i.e. what are you doing to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again, etc).

    2. Bilateralrope*

      I’m thinking that you should tell him that his apologies come across as insincere if he hasn’t done anything to prevent a repeat of that scenario. Thus he should stop apologising unless he’s willing to tell you what steps he’s taken. Find a better way to word it.

      Then keep treating him coldly, but professionally. Maybe stop leaving the room when he enters.

    3. Witchy Human*

      “I understand that you’re sorry. I hope in the future you will be more proactive in shutting down bullying and sabotage from one of your subordinates. We don’t need to talk about this any more.”

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I would maybe even go as far as “I understand that you’re sorry… We don’t need to talk about this any more.” and skip the middle. The middle is *true*, but he clearly isn’t changing anytime soon, and you don’t want to open the door for any other discussion(s) about the topic, or to hear about ‘what he’s going to do differently.’ You just want him to leave you alone.

        So I’d skip the middle, anddddd repeat as needed.

        1. Ella P*

          Actually let me +1 here. Simpler is best if you want to put a stop to this, especially if you may have to deal with Bob more in your new role (congrats on that btw!)

          1. valentine*

            I’ll spare you the details
            Okay, but details are great.

            “I understand that you’re sorry. We don’t need to talk about this any more.”
            I might make it “Let’s leave it there,” lest he insist that he must continue until you come around. What if you accept the apology as a way of closing the issue? Not that either of you mean it or that you forgive him, but if you accept, he’s got nowhere to go, unless he insists he needs to hear you say you forgive him.

            I would return to professional behavior, because you’re still colleagues and, if you’re a woman, this is more likely to harm you than him, and you’re already worried. I wouldn’t issue ultimatums, either, unless prepared to quit on the spot instead of working for him.

      2. juliebulie*

        If Snarkus A is going to have to work with Bob more in the future, then this nonsense has to stop.

        What happened in the past is in the past. If Bob is really sorry, he can show it by dealing effectively with the next problem.

    4. Allie*

      To be fair, this all happened 2 years ago. I think you can make the choice to let it and and forgive. You not being able to forgive Bob or Jane is only hurting you…especially if you’re up for a promotion that could put you in more contact with him.
      If Bob approaches you again with an apology just tell him you’ve decided to let the past be the past. That should cut out his constant apologizing and after that you should work on having a polite professional relationship with him…Because you DO have to work together. That doesn’t mean you have to nurture a friendship with him…it just means that you’re refusing to let the past dictate your future.
      We don’t always get to choose who we have to spend our time around…but we can choose not to hold on to a negative experience and allow it to dictate our lives.
      Good luck to you!

    5. Kes*

      I mean, I agree that Bob sucks, but if he still works there I really don’t think you’ll be able to refuse to talk to him forever over this and not have this impact how you’re seen or your career, especially since you’re now being promoted to a position where you’ll need to work with him more. And to be honest, your continuing to give him the cut direct is probably leading him to continue to try and beg for your forgiveness. I really think that being slightly cool and interacting with him only when needed, but being totally professional and polite whenever you do come into contact with him, might serve you better. You don’t have to forgive him for what he did but you do need to be able to interact professionally with him (and not make things super awkward for everyone else around, because that won’t make them think well of you, even if the original fault is his).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The promotion probably means that new people are going to notice the cut direct. They won’t care about the history; they care that no one make work awkward for hapless bystanders.

        Like Allie and Kes, I think cool professionalism would be a better way to go. “Let’s leave that in the past” and firmly moving on to the topics of today, but not monosyllabic responses.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      What you need is an ongoing professional relationship with Bob. Here’s how you get there:

      1) You stop avoiding / punishing him. You don’t trust him, but you do behave politely and professionally around him. Leaving the room / 1 word answers are neither polite nor professional.
      2) Next time he starts apologizing, say “Bob, it’s water under the bridge. I hope you’ve learned to be more proactive about bullying situations, but I’ve moved on. Please hold on to your lessons learned and leave the rest of it.” + SUBJECT CHANGE to a professional topic

      Note that these scripts don’t absolve him of guilt, or say you forgive him, or say that you trust him. They just say he needs to let go of the apologies. He *will* assume that you forgive him, let him. That’s on him, not you.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. If you’re being promoted, you’re no longer the underling you were before and shouldn’t feel like you need to flee. After so long it now reflects more on you than him. Love #2 above.

        1. voyager1*

          I really like script #2 as well. But there is a elephant in the room. You told Bob you never wanted to work with him again. Now here 2 years later you will be working with him again. I think you need to apologize or say something about that. If you tell him his actions are “water under the bridge” that doesn’t absolve you have being pretty petulant with your former manager. He might let it all go or he might not. I would probably say something about being regretful for those words and hopefully you and him could have a fresh start.

          1. LilySparrow*

            I don’t see any reason Ozp should pretend to be regretful or give a fake apology when they did nothing wrong.

            OP doesn’t need kowtow to Bob, just move on.

              1. voyager1*

                But that this the thing, the OP said “I wouldn’t work for them again” them being Bob. Maybe in AAM comment land where everyone is a rockstar who does the work of three people that can be swept under the rug. But in the real world, people don’t forget when a subordinate says that to them. In the real world a lot of subordinates would get that wish by getting fired.
                I think addressing she said that helps for her and Bob to really have a fresh start and for her to be actually successful.
                We can agree to disagree though.

    7. Pam*

      Every now and then I see Bob. I don’t speak to him unless spoken to. When I do speak, it’s one word responses. I leave the room when he enters.

      Honestly, if you’re going to be in more contact with Bob- this needs to stop or it is going to be obvious to everyone. Be professionally cool and friendly in your interactions with him. You don’t have to respect him, but you do need to maintain basic politeness.

      1. CherryGirl*

        Agreed. Two years down the road this seems surprisingly childish. It’s like you feel the need to hang on to this grudge and make it clear to everyone around you.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        Agreed. You’re doing this TWO YEARS after the fact? No wonder he keeps trying to apologise. Being cool towards someone is one thing, but getting up and leaving the room when they come in is something else entirely, and I’m sure it’s very obvious and awkward for everyone observing.

    8. juliebulie*

      By the way, I think you’re right in your belief that his “guilt” is more about wanting to see himself as a good manager, and needing that validation from you. That’s his problem.

      But you will have a problem of your own if don’t let it go.

    9. fposte*

      I’m not actually a big fan of forgiveness. I am, however, a big fan of making bad past things smaller in the landscape, and he’s making that hard. I like some of the scripts suggested for telling him to stop.

      Is there a possibility, though, that your manner is contributing? It sounds pretty cold and punitive, and if I were your current manager I’d consider it a problem. You don’t have to love Bob, but it seems like you’re giving him a lot of negative power right now, and I think that’s probably worse for you than it is for Bob.

      1. Ella P*

        Great point. If you become more indifferent, along with some of the language stated above, it may help diffuse Bob’s need to discuss.

    10. mananana*

      Perhaps a simple “Bob, your constant apologizing is making things worse, not better. Please drop this.”

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I’m a fan of this simplicity. Also agree with a point upthread that you will need to update your demeanor with Bob now that you’re becoming more senior. You can be easier around him without being friendly, warm, or pals. The easy is for YOU–you want people to see you unruffled and succeeding, Bob or no Bob.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Yup. Simple and to the point.

        If he quits being wierd and trying to demand absolution from you, you’ll be able to talk to him normally. You shouldn’t have to avoid him just to get throygh your day without an unpaid therapy session.

        Bob screwed up. He needs to put on his big-boy pants and deal with his sadfeels on his own time.

        You don’t have to smooth anything over or try to make anything right. He just needs to knock it off so you can have civil, productive work conversations.

    11. LGC*

      So, I’ll be honest: I got 2/3 of the way through this, and I was like, “Why has Bob built a penthouse in your head rent-free?” Because that’s what it seemed like – you had a really bad experience with him a while back, but you went your separate ways with…some damage done, but not something severe or permanent (you got taken off that project, but you kept your job and eventually got a big promotion). But you still have very strong feelings about that experience, to say the least.

      And then I saw you potentially have to work with him again. And it sounds like he’s still apologizing for his mistake whenever he sees you, years on. So, yeah, I get why you hate him right now.

      So, yeah. You get to be coolly polite to him, because that’s all that’s required. EddieSherbert gave what I thought was the best script – acknowledge his expression of guilt, but also state that you need him to move on from this. This happened two years ago! That’s a pretty long time! Much like Elsa in Frozen, he needs to let it go!

      I scanned the replies (28 at the time I started writing this), and I want to ask – how likely is it that you’d be working with him, and how closely? You said you might be in more contact with him, but that doesn’t sound like it’s definite. So hopefully it’s not an issue for you, but if it is, you can start with that and escalate from there, I think.

      Two more things (well, three more):

      1) Okay, so I want to revisit the opening paragraph of my comment – as a couple of people have pointed out, your feelings towards Bob are really negative, and it read to me that you’re angrier at Bob than you are at Jane (who was the person that actually bullied you). That’s a lot of emotion to have, and while I came down on assuming that your feelings are understandable…man, he might not have built a penthouse in your head rent-free, but he is certainly paying well below market rate on it. You don’t have to love the guy or forgive him ever, but right now your anger reads as an 8 or a 9/10 when it really needs to be closer to a 2 or a 3 on a day to day basis, in my opinion. (That said, this promotion is all new to you, and you’re allowed to AAM While Angry. I don’t advise it because jerks like me tend to assume that ANGRY!!!!11! is your baseline, but sometimes you just need to vent.)

      2) I’m just going to put this out there as a supervisor who struggles a bit with picking up subtle cues and desperately desires validation from his team – although I’ve been working on tamping down the latter and getting better at the former. (Why yes, I do have autism, why do you ask? I can’t speak for Bob, obviously.) He actually might not have picked up on the situation until it was laid out in front of him. Which doesn’t make his handling of it any better – or his over-apologizing any more acceptable. But he might genuinely be oblivious! I myself have missed subtle cues about my employees being bullied before, which I’m ashamed to admit and I still feel terrible about. (To my credit, I have not hectored the targeted employees with unwanted apologies.)

      For what it’s worth, I’m going to be slightly more generous to Bob, and say that…it sounds like he does want to improve. I don’t think you owe him anything (least of all your approval), but I’m hoping that he’s become more alert to situations like you and Jane in the future.

      2a) Again, for the record – I’m not saying that Bob handled this situation well at any point or that you need to forgive him and that you’re a terrible monster for not doing so. It can both be true that Bob made a reasonable mistake and Bob also made a mistake that hurt you a lot.

      3) Congrats on the promotion! And may it be Bob-free!

    12. Miles*

      So what’s your actual goal here, and are you acting in the best way to get to it? Neither you nor Bob can change anything that happened in the past, so put aside your anger and hurt for a moment because it won’t help you figure out how to get your goal here.

      Is your goal to no longer have to deal with Bob ever? Then turn down the promotion and get a new job. I’m guessing you don’t want to do that but that’s the only real way of no longer having any interaction with Bob.

      Is your goal to make Bob feel like crap to punish him? If so, I think you’re actually doing a pretty good job. He seems to feel terrible and be reminded of his failings with every interaction. He’ll definitely keep trying to apologize to you though, because if he could get you to forgive him he wouldn’t feel like crap anymore. And that may impact you at your job if other people start to notice or if it starts to impact your ability to work with him at that new promotion. Still, if that’s your priority, maybe add some backroom gossip.

      Is your goal to make Bob a better manager? From what you say, his failings are a core part of his character. No one but a skilled therapist is going to be able to change that, so that goal is unobtainable.

      Is your goal to work productively with Bob without him constantly bringing up the issues between you? If it is, you’re sabotaging yourself with your actions. By fleeing his presence and only responding with one word responses you’re not working productively, you’re closing the door to working productively, and you’re non-verbally bringing up the past between you two every time you see him. Of course he keeps talking about it, you remind him every single interaction you two have! So stop running away, stop visibly sulking, stop the cold treatment. You don’t have to be his friend, you don’t even have to be friendly, just act like a professional talking to another professional at work. Even if you don’t agree with me that that’s what’s going on, you’ve been doing this for two years and he keeps bringing it up. Obviously, what you’re doing right now isn’t working and isn’t going to work. Do something different if you want something different.

  15. AnonForNow*

    TLDR: coworker donated eggs- like from her ovaries- to a former employee and it almost turned into a giant mess.

    No advice needed, I just have to tell y’all this story. All of this was before 9am earlier this week.

    K and G were friends when G worked here and remained friends when she left (I don’t know G since she left before I started.) K has fertility issues and is doing IVF and G also does but idk what her issue is. K decided to donate some of her eggs they were harvesting to G, to be inseminated by their respective husbands. Eggs were harvested and inseminated yesterday and G called this morning to check on them. Nurse says “yes all the eggs were inseminated.” G freaks out thinking the nurse means all like all of the eggs rather than all of her portion of the eggs. Calls L (also current employee, known drama stirrer) crying, L tells K, K starts freaking out, L tells them both to sue the other depending on whose husband’s sperm was used. G calls K angrily. K is crying bc she doesn’t want her friend to sue her and is nervous that after all this time they’ll have used the wrong sperm. K calls, nurse tells her all the eggs were inseminated with her husband’s sperm. More confusion. Turns out when the nurse said “all” she meant all of their own separate portions bc she can’t discuss other patient’s procedures bc of HIPAA and didn’t realize the two patients were connected.

    1. Clorinda*

      It can only go downhill from here. If they both succeed, their children will be half-siblings and there’s no way either K or G will be able to get over that.

      1. GrumbleBunny*

        And if only one succeeds (and especially if it’s the recipient of the donated eggs) it’s going to be even worse.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Also my first thought! What if only one of them has a successful cycle? There’s a reason people usually do this stuff as anonymously as possible!!

        1. LilySparrow*

          Yep. My brain went there, too.

          I mean, I don’t blane them for freaking out – it’s a high-stakes situation at the best of times, and the hormone/drug cocktail they put you on doesn’t help with emotional regulation (to put it mildly)

          But what a colossally bad idea from the outset.

    2. New Normal*

      Oh. My.
      I think you’re best plan here is to have an ever-ready supply of popcorn because there’s no way this doesn’t get more … interesting.

    3. A Poster Has No Name*

      Oy. Disclaimer, I’ve never done IVF or been on the serious reproductive assistance meds (though I’ve seen others go through it), but this sounds so much like hormones in action.

      I agree that it was probably a terrible idea for one to donate eggs to the other, what with their kids being half siblings and all, but this particular issue will likely blow over, particularly once they come down of the hormone cocktail needed for IVF. In the moment it can seem like a REALLY! BIG! DEAL! but G should come to her senses and realize it was her misunderstanding that cause it.

      L, however, there’s no excuse for. L needs a stern talking to about not making already emotionally-charged situations worse, or maybe judicious application of a clue-skillet.

    4. QCI*

      So it’s not a mess and K and G have the right sperm on their respective eggs, correct? That’s what I got from the last sentence or 2.
      Anyway, they can’t sue each other over the clinic making a mistake, unless there’s some really weird contract stuff going on between them, and then still it would be the clinic that made the mistake that didn’t happen.

      I would avoid ever telling L anything even slightly secretive or potential drama fuel.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I agree. It isn’t a mess at all. It’s actually really good and happy news for both of them. I hope you have another happy update for us next week that they both have viable embryos to implant.

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

      Sue? That’s a strange leap for either of them to make. Please tell me that no money has been exchanged — would that even be legal for K to sell her eggs? Also, I hope that they have had a lawyer draw up some sort of formal agreement so it’s documented. If they’re this crazy over the insemination stage, can you imagine if there ends up some sort of custody or child support issue years down the road?

      1. Cat*

        If you’re in the U.S., it’s legal to sell your eggs. And if you go through a fertility clinic, you can usually get contracts in place that ensure that parental rights are properly relinquished as the parties intend. So I don’t think it’s necessarily a disaster waiting to happen. It just sounds like a very highly emotional situation with two people in a very intense situation.

        That said, G is kind of silly – of course the nurse isn’t going to tell her about the other person’s eggs.

    6. Close Bracket*

      I really feel for both of them in this situation. IVF is nerve wracking, and I’m sure their emotions are running high. I wish them the best.

    7. AnonForNow*

      To clarify a little since I rushed this post (everyone posts so quickly!)

      This happened earlier this week so disregard the “this morning” and “yesterday” time markers. I C&P’d this from a message earlier about the situation.

      The suing suggestion from L was about suing for custody rights based on the paternity.

      I’m sure this will blow over soon, although it was still being discussed this morning and afternoon!

      We all pretty much agree to never involve L in anything as this is the most drama she’s ever caused between people- one of whom doesn’t even work here anymore!

      K and G do have some paperwork about the eggs, but they were not sold and I don’t know the details or legality of it.

      1. QCI*

        If there’s actual paperwork I would hope there’s something in there like “these eggs and resulting children are legally bond to (whoever birthed them), and (donor) shall not have any guardian or parental rights”. In legalise of course.
        Otherwise it could be like giving someone a car, and then asking for it back someday because you put the engine in it.

  16. Sunflower*

    I’ve been working in events/marketing for the past 6 years but am looking to make a move into sales/business development(maybe account management). I don’t know what level of jobs I should apply to since I’m not sure how my experience translates- esp for jobs that ask for X years sales experience. I don’t think I need to start entry-level but can I apply to jobs asking for 5 years experience?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Can you aim for the same ‘field’?
      For example, if you have done marketing for a type of product… let’s say kayaks, maybe you could look into jobs with outdoor retail stores/chains, touring companies, etc.

    2. LunaLena*

      I’d say go ahead and apply, and explain specifically how your experience translates to what they’re looking for. From there, it’s up to them to decide whether they agree with you that it’s relevant or not.

    3. SuperAnon*

      On your resume, maybe a line under your name — something like “Events Marketing Professional Moving Into Business Development” might help get the message across?

  17. Dr Useless*

    I had a job interview scheduled this week but got hit by a pretty bad cold and had to reschedule for next week, the head of HR told me this would set back their entire recruiting schedule and it’s making me feel extra anxious about the upcoming interview. Has anyone had positive experiences with rescheduled/postponed interviews, to calm my mind?

    1. Canonical23*

      I made a job offer once to someone who had to reschedule their interview. I’ve had to reschedule before and while I didn’t take the job, I did get an offer. As long as it’s not 10 minutes before the interview, the employer isn’t going to think anything of it, and if they did, you don’t want to work there anyways.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      I got food poisoning the day before I interviewed for my current job. The interview was scheduled for 10, I started vomiting about 10 pm the night before. Around 3 am I realised it wasn’t going to stop and sent an email apologising. We rescheduled and I got the job. The ironic part is that I’ve been there a year and I’ve only taken one sick day – for pre-scheduled surgery. I’m normally a healthy person, but timing can suck.

      Life happens and this is far more common than you think. Organisations are used to rescheduling.

      1. Michelle*

        Gosh, this happened to my son! He got food poisoning, but managed to power through the interview*, but when he got went for pre-employment drug screening threw up at the screening facility. He got the job as well, and has not missed any days so far.

        *He ended up going to the doctor and got an anti-nausea shot and pills to help.

    3. Ella P*

      Because my company typically has a half day of interviews scheduled for candidates with a few different panels that involve groups of people, and I help with scheduling, let me say that we do have to reschedule a bit, or have candidates that need to adjust from time to time and I have never known it to influence the consideration of said candidates.

      Life happens. Best of luck!

    4. Fikly*

      I don’t know if this is still an option, but can you do a video interview? I had the flu when scheduled for my last interview for my current job, which was with a VP *cringes in memory* and I emailed them, apologized profusely, offered to meet over video, and then quickly apologized at the beginning of the interview for being low energy due to the flu, and got the job.

      They did offer to reschedule (props to them) but I have anxiety and was worried I’d lose my chance at the job.

      1. Dr Useless*

        I could hardly speak on the phone, so I didn’t suggest it. I was less worried about my ability to get to the interview and more about my ability to string coherent thoughts together and talk without coughing. Anyway, it’s been rescheduled now, the head of HR was even nice enough to tell me they’d confirm the date with the hiring manager and then let me know by email rather than by phone, in case I wanted to go back to bed.

        1. Sue*

          When you have your interview, shake hands and thank them for rescheduling and casually mention that you didn’t want to spread your germs.
          I had a nasty cold come on this week and believe me, nobody wanted to be around me. It just makes it you being considerate of them, not about messing up their schedule.
          Good luck!

    5. LadyTesla*

      Honestly, that reflects more on their HR head than you. If I was an HR person and I saw that you were proactive in changing times, and had your priorities of health and safety first, then I’d think you were doing the right thing. Yes, it’s annoying, but so is being sick!

    6. On Hold*

      If they ding you for this, you don’t want to work there anyway. Stuff happens when you’re applying, stuff happens when you’re an employee. If the company can’t be flexible now, they will likely not take good care of you later.

    7. Blue Eagle*

      I was hiring manager and the day of the interview there was flooding and the interviewee cancelled. HR told me to not reschedule as the interviewee’s resume didn’t seem that strong, but the interviewee’s recruiting agency said the interviewee really wanted the job. So I rescheduled the interview and the interviewee was the strongest of all the candidates and ended up being one of the best employees I ever hired.

    8. MsMaryMary*

      No, but I once did a day-long series of interviews* when I had a nasty head cold. I was not at my best, sneezed on a couple people, and did not get the job.

      *I was still in college and it was a group interview/event for a recent grad trainee program. I couldn’t have rescheduled if it had occurred to me to do so. I still should have bowed out.

    9. MonteCristo85*

      I’ve not rescheduled and been hired, but I’m a hiring manager, and it wouldn’t phase me in the least if someone needed to reschedule, even if it wasn’t for sickness (you don’t need to provide a reason IMO). You have a life outside of work, and if the prospective employer doesn’t get that, I’m not sure you’d want to work there. Honestly, I don’t want to meet with you if you are sick anyway, just on a selfish level. Plus, you won’t be at your best, and our interviews are grueling as it is (6-8 hours, meeting with 5-6 people, you need to be in fighting shape, lol).

  18. Dr. Doll*

    I am at a different campus for a one-day conference. Looking around at my fellow-conference goers, I see that we all schlepped dozens to hundreds of miles to do our email here instead of at home. So much for that sustainability commitment. >_<

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My division is doing that on Monday – bringing 300 people who usually work from home onsite for absolutely nothing (other than face time) that couldn’t be accomplished via webex, and completely removing all of them from doing actual productive work that day. Yeehaw. :P

      1. downdate*

        I had several days of that recently. I’m still mad about it. If you’re gonna make me fly out somewhere, it better be for a reason and not for something we could do through videoconferencing.

      2. KnowsWhereHerTowelIs*

        My company keeps doing that to me. They rented out a ballroom for 400 people so we could all “get to know each other” because nothing creates a bonding experience like being bored by people reading off of a powerpoint in real life. Bonus points, I’m a contractor so I’m hourly. I worked so much overtime on that trip I didn’t just get time and a half, I got double time. All while doing 0 hours of actual work.

        I’m part of a small tech team in a much bigger team that does customer facing work so, it was pretty clear by the end of the day who else was a programmer. By hour 3, we were all sitting in the back, on the floor, cross legged, leaning against the wall and looking at our email.

  19. Fishsticks*

    Any advice on under $50 (preferably less but willing to pay a bit more for good stuff) casual work pants that aren’t jeans? I hate wearing jeans but I’m having a hard time finding pants that aren’t dress pants to thread the needle of a casual office dress code. I love loose pants with elastic or drawstring waistbands but am having trouble finding good pairs of those as well.

    Thanks for any and all suggestions!

    1. MOAS*

      A few that I can think of:
      Old Navy
      Gap factory
      Express & Gap when they’re on sale
      If you’re plus size, Torrid has these soft but dressy pants, they’re called “cigarette pants” and have a tapered leg with a sash you can tie around the waist. I find them to be soft fabric and very comfortable and stylish.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Possibly not Target if you’re plus size. They remodeled my local store and cut that area down to almost nil. I used to get stuff there regularly but now I don’t even bother.

        1. sensitive topic*

          That sucks! Both of my Targets carry plus size, but there’s always more availability on the app/website.

        2. A Poster Has No Name*

          My store’s plus size section got bigger after a remodel, so YTargetMV in this regard. It used to be kind of combined with the maternity section, which sucked, but now it’s a very clear and distinct section with a better selection.

    2. Goldfinch*

      Dana Buchman pull-on pants from Kohls. Several cuts, comfy elastic flat waistband that isn’t dowdy, several colors, and currently on sale for under thirty bucks.

      1. BetsCounts*

        I forking LOVE the Gloria Vanderbilt line from Kohls. They come in a variety of colors and wear well.

    3. Hills to Die on*

      Beta brand! A little more BUT they are machine washable and feel like pajama pants. I absolutely detest and despise dress pants and I live in these. More comfy than jeans – literally!

      1. I See Real People*

        Yay! I’ve been wanting to hear from someone who has actually bought some of these! They look so comfy in the ads. How does the size fit, i.e. runs larger or smaller?

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m usually an 8 and the medium fits me great. I live in jeans, but the Dress Yoga Pants (with pockets) were amazing for my last conference. Though I did find my phone got a bit sweaty in my pocket from being right up against my leg. (The only sweaty thing about me, freezing to bits at my conference. Why are hotel conference ballrooms so dang cold?!)

          I’m long in the leg, and these were plenty long on me, so that might be an issue for shorter people.

        2. alex b.*

          I LOVE Betabrand (no affiliation, just a fan). I have the straight-leg work pants in several colors/patterns, and they are so comfy but look great. They are flattering even when you’re not feeling your best. I also have a dress that I adore from them (the “sweatshirt travel dress”). This brand is my go-to for work clothes.
          I’m a size 6-8 and medium has always been good in their clothes. My best friend thought what she ordered ran slightly small, so I’d order up rather than down if you’re unsure.

    4. Lora*

      Uniqlo! Not the leggings type pants, but they do get regular kind of pants in neutral colors (black, gray, tan, navy etc). EZY ankle length pants are $40.

    5. Dasein9*

      I just found some pants at Uniqlo that look like dress pants but are made of sweatpants material. The quality seems high, though they’re a bit thick for the current season. I haven’t worn them for any amount of time so can’t tell you how they hold up, but they’re $40/pair.

    6. Sunflower*

      H&M has some great paperbag pants and also cropped, flowy, gaucho like pants. They have different price points but I’ve found their ‘work’ stuff is better quality and a little pricier than the stuff not part of their professional collection. I got a great pair of cropped, flowy pants there on sale for $8(originally $35).

      1. Joielle*

        I got a pair of paperbag pants from H&M recently and I LOVE them! They’re so comfy. As a chubby pear-shaped not-teenager, I didn’t think there was much for me at H&M but I was actually pleasantly surprised at their workwear collection.

    7. TiffanyAching*

      I am personally a fan of the Old Navy Pixie pants. They come in a variety of lengths, fabrics, and prints, so you can do like floral or polka dot or mustard or forest green for a more casual vibe, or black/grey for more formal. They also have a bit of stretch. Standard button/zipper closure, but I find them pretty comfortable.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        And a more casual one, Old Navy Stevie! They’re pointe knit with a wide soft waistband (no “control top”) and are pull-on.

    8. bubba g*

      Lands End has some nice stuff, especially the Sport Knit line, which is available in all sizes, and you can get them in corduroy as well. They are super comfortable and are dressy enough for work. I wear them to work (I’m an educator) and they also fit with my country club’s dress code.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Pfft…pfft…pfft… the sound of walking in them used to drive me nuts when I was a teen. Oh the things we remember!

    9. Emi.*

      Lands’ End has chinos with an elastic-back waist that are frequently under $50 on sale (if they’re not usually — but never buy anything from LE full-price unless it’s really urgent).

    10. downdate*

      Dockers from zappos. They don’t last too long (I replace them every couple years) but they’re cheap and good.

    11. Wearing Many Hats*

      Buy used! I got a pair of Rag & Bone elastic waist skinny stretch pants that still look like dress pants and not leggings from TheRealReal for $40. Shipping is kind of expensive, but I just wait to buy until I have a number of items I like (I may have too many clothes). Thredup also has great options, but I find it harder to sift through their site.

    12. Muriel Heslop*

      So many great suggestions here. I would also add J Crew Factory and Loft. They regularly have great sales that bring their prices down substantially.

    13. TooTiredToThink*

      Are you in the US? If you are size 10 or larger; Torrid generally has some awesome clothes. You do have to wait for specials sometimes.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        +1 for Torrid. They can be pricey but in the decade-plus I’ve shopped there, I’ve never paid full price for anything. They have a wonderful Studio ponte knit business wear line. Torrid is the only place I will buy pants or jeans from since I know the fit and they also look fantastic on me.

    14. knitter*

      Thred Up. I just got great pairs of like new J. Crew and Boden pants that were like new. I think both brands have great selections of classy casual pants, but are generally way too pricey for me.

      1. Joielle*

        I love Thredup but I wish they would list a bit more information about the clothes. I bought a couple pairs of Gap pants for like $8 each thinking they were the same as a worn-out pair I wanted to replace, but they were a slightly different style and didn’t fit as well. Such a bummer, since I really like being able to try something on in a store and then buy the same thing used online for cheaper, but you don’t know exactly which cut you’re getting until it arrives!

    15. Type 2*

      I love Chico’s “Travellers” pants. Elastic waist – super comfy! They are maybe $70 but they often have sales. Good luck!

    16. M*

      Zara does a good line in what are effectively jogging trousers but in office-suitable fabric – the current ones they have will show up if you search their site for “elastic waist pants” (one variety) or “flowy pants” (other variety).

    17. Princess of Pure Reason*

      LL Bean has the Sunwashed Canvas Pants, which are super comfy. Drawstring waist, tan, olive green, and navy for colors.

    18. voluptuousfire*

      Target has super cute pants with the A New Day (or a similar name). They’re high waisted, stretchy and comfy as hell. They’re also 24.99. I wore them out for a friend’s birthday evening out and I had no issues.

    19. Yuan Zai*

      I get all my work slacks from Macy’s. Charter Club, JM, and Style & Co (all manufactured for Macy’s) all offer a variety of options in a variety of sizes. My pants are all comfortable and low-key enough to wear as casual pants while being totally appropriate for my business casual office and even look fine when I throw on a blouse and jacket to be a little more formal from time to time.

    20. LunaLena*

      Costco sometimes has some dressy-looking pants that are comfortable and inexpensive. I got some charcoal gray pointe pants from them for $10 that were pull-on and had fake pocket and crotch details.

      I would also tentatively recommend PoshMark if you’re okay with buying used, or even your local thrift store. I sometimes find brand new items with the tags still on at mine.

    21. Michelle*

      Belk has nice “business casual” clothes for work. They also usually have a sale going on or a coupon you can use. Today’s coupon is THEBIGSALE and has very few exclusions.

    22. AppleStan*

      Dress Barn. Their Secret Agent Pants are TO DIE FOR. They can be casual, dressy, out-after-work, or date pants, depending upon the top and/or jacket and shoes you pair with it. And they go on sale from time to time for $19.50 each (usually about $29.50 each). They come in Plus, Misses, and Petites.

    23. Wandering_beagle*

      I have a couple pairs of outdoorsy-type pants that I wear to work — I got them from REI Outlet.

    24. Coverage Associate*

      I am wearing Lands End sport knit corduroy pants. I got them on clearance for less than $10. I own 4 pairs.

      1. Petry Dish*

        Jones New York- Sales/Clearance
        Dillards- they have a great semi annual sale
        Costco- sometimes has some nice leggings that are thicker and more dressy

    25. JR*

      The Halogen brand at Nordstrom is great. I especially love the ponte “work leggings” I got there a couple of years ago. (Not really leggings, totally work appropriate.) I think they’re more like $70 full price, but Nordstrom has pretty good sales.

    26. CatMom*

      Everlane is my go-to for high-end casual clothing. $50 would be the bottom of the price range, but “the work pant” is exactly $50 (and very comfortable!) and the “easy chino” is $55. They also have lots of other really nice casual options in the $60-70 range. Their whole jam is high-end products from ethical factories, etc. More than half my work wardrobe is Everlane.

  20. ItsABirdItsAPlaneItsAnxietyMan*

    Just wanted to share that I’ve officially put my last day of work on the calendar and seeing that date in red already helped lessen my anxiety. Can’t wait to move on to the next chapter of my career!

  21. DaniCalifornia*

    Just venting, no advice needed. I’ve continued to apply for jobs and know I’ll find something else.

    Wednesday my recruiter told me I didn’t get the job I’ve spent the last 8 weeks talking with. 4 interviews, aptitude tests, personality tests, lots of emails and phone calls back and forth. Waiting patiently for 3 weeks to hear back while the executives decided how I could best support them as they continued to push back the date they would make a decision 2-3x a week. I was the only candidate as the company reached out to recruiter specifically for me. Was constantly being told it’s not “if” I get the job, but “when.” Long explanation of why they aren’t hiring but it’s best summed up as recruiter said the situation is a true “It’s not you, it’s me.” Since they still have their head barely above water without the support then they probably won’t hire someone until they are drowning or sinking. 

    I feel…I don’t know, confused? Why reach out about me, put me through all of that and then not take the time to determine what’s needed? They’ve known and been looking for 1.5 years for this support. Bummed and kind of upset that I felt like I was strung along. And that maybe the company isn’t so awesome and is more like my current company. My current extremely toxic job does this. Won’t hire extra team members or support until we are sunk at the bottom of the ocean. My supervisor refuses to take the time to teach me llama grooming even though I want to learn, have expressed the desire to learn, and the owner is even surprised when he asks questions and I can’t help him. She’s even gone as far as to lie about the owner not wanting me to do it but he’s disputed that. But when she’s on vacation I have to fill in for her. If she got hit by a bus everyone would be looking at me to do it. It’s very confusing, frustrating, and upsetting.

    I’m just so done. My job is terrible for my health and llama grooming season is coming up Jan – April and I am quitting before that if I don’t find a new job, and will temp. I really thought this new job would work out and I don’t know how to feel towards the company bc they have every right to not hire me, but I feel like I wasted a lot of time on their behalf encouraged by them. Normally if I just didn’t hear back after a few weeks I’d decide that I just didn’t get the job and go about my business. But the extra layer of recruiter and constant communication of “We love you, we want you, we’re working on what you’ll do and when you can start.” gave me too much hope.

    1. Joielle*

      Ugh, that sucks. It is SO frustrating when people don’t think through a position before starting to hire for it… like, what do they think they’re going to accomplish besides wasting a lot of peoples’ time?? I know it’s a gigantic disappointment, but in the long run you probably dodged a bullet. Like you said, it’s pretty strong evidence that the company is not as awesome as it seemed. Sending you good vibes as you continue the search!

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        Thank you for the kind words! I’m sure in a week or so I’ll be good as new. The amazing recruiter just emailed to say she has someone else interested so I’ve got that.

    2. Michelle*

      Much sympathy. Job hunting plus a toxic/terrible job can really suck the energy out of you. Positive thoughts and good wishes to you.

    3. LawBee*

      “I feel like I wasted a lot of time on their behalf encouraged by them”
      Oh, no no no no. You can’t waste THEIR time if they were the ones asking for aptitude tests, interviews, etc. This isn’t on you at all. (And honestly, it sounds like it’s a sinking ship, so this could be a blessing.)

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Exactly. I wouldn’t want to work for people who are this scattered and flighty anyway.

        I hope you find something great soon, DaniCalifornia.

    4. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I understand you’re frustrated, but think of it as dodging a bullet. This is NOT how professional employers behave. I recently interviewed for a job they realized last minute they couldn’t budget for. I just thank my lucky stars that they figured this out BEFORE hiring me (so that I didn’t get hired and then laid off).

  22. Bad Janet*

    Anyone in here that made a drastic career change into programming? I’m looking into doing this and interested in what your stories are (Bonus points if you self-taught or bootcamped it)

      1. Bad Janet*

        Language- I’m starting with python b/c that’s where most of the programmers in my social circle are (or recommend). Area of interest with it will possibly be data analytics.

        But overall I’m real early in this process and just kinda looking at where people have gone with this sort of path.

    1. Aly_b*

      My husband did this (law student then city employee then programmer.) He did a computer science degree, but was able to do a shorter 3-year program since he had previous degrees. It’s been great – he got one of the high paying a-list tech jobs you read about and they pay him and feed him and stuff. The hours are a bit much, especially the first year or so as he was getting used to it. But he really enjoys it and it’s opened a lot of doors for the future. I don’t know what the chances are of getting that kind of job from just boot camp and self teaching – he’s into some pretty heavy comp sci stuff. One thing I would very much be aware of is not all tech jobs are created equal. Some of the crummy ones kinda draft off of the really good ones on people wanting to get into the sector, and expect a-list hours and effort without paying anywhere near a-list salaries (like, my husband looked at jobs offering 30k for tech work and one at more than 3x that coming out of school.) These are not your minor 10% difference in an industry kind of differences. Value your time accordingly.

      1. Clisby*

        Based on my experience, I’m thinking similar. Learning something about a programming language is fine, but it’s not the same as actually knowing how to be a programmer.

    2. Qwerty*

      Most bootcamps are not worth it and the market is saturated with bootcamp grads. They make grand promises, but the reality is that most don’t teach a good foundation of programming and function a lot like other for-profit colleges that are considered questionable. I won’t list all the issues here, but a lot of articles pop up with a quick Google search.

      Anyone can learn to code. Coding is easy. Engineering is hard. Focus on programs that acknowledge this, because those are the ones that are more likely to teach you the important stuff, like algorithms, optimization, and design patterns. Algorithms are not taught well in boot camps and websites, but are a huge part of the foundation of programming.

      Take a look at the requirements for degrees at engineering schools that are in your area or highly rated and final common courses besides the obvious programming ones to figure what auxiliary topics you need to learn. The reason for needing Data Structures knowledge is obvious, but people often skip learning the non-obvious discrete math (aka logic), which is a pain but ends up having an impact on how you approach future problems. The mindset is a big difference between a coder and a software engineer. There are a lot of sites out there that let you audit college style courses at an accelerated rate for these topics (Edx, Coursera, etc)

      When you finish with a project for a online class or for yourself, go back through it at the end and look for ways to improve it. Imagine future changes or features that might be added and check if your code would be easy to integrate the new features. If it’s not, rework it to be more flexible and maintainable. Next time you do a similar project, your mind will likely default to the improved version.

      For breaking into the field without a degree, you’ll likely need to show some example of what you can do. There a lot of recommendations out there for things like creating a demo site or writing an app, but if you want more real-world implications, then you could volunteer with a local charity or really any type of local group.

      Another good way to immerse yourself in the tech world is to get a job as a tester in quality assurance at a company that produces quality code. That way you can ask for view-only access to their code reviews to see how enterprise software works. You can practice coding by working on automating the test procedures or by writing small applications to help with the test process. A lot of tech companies have small continuous learning events like lunch-and-learns that you could sit in on and you end up learning a lot just by hanging out with coders at happy hours who can’t stop talking about work. The trick is here is to be transparent about your desire to transition to a dev during the hiring process – some companies won’t have opportunities, others will be thrilled at the possiblity of an automation tester, and in rare instances they might have a path to transition.

      1. Choosing a career path?*

        My child is thinking of taking a CODING bootcamp. I think your response is about programming bootcamps. Do you feel the same way about coding camps?

        1. Qwerty*

          I’m referring to coding bootcamps. There aren’t really programming bootcamps, and the few that exist tend to be just mislabeled. You simply can’t fit a full degree into such a short program. While the terms “programmer” and “coder” tend to be used interchangeably, it’s because software developers tend to be programmers and therefore know how to code (Similar to “a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square”) Hiring managers are rarely looking for someone who just a coder – they want someone who can develop quality code without much hand holding.

          This answer is assuming you are talking about an adult going to a “professional” coding bootcamp. If this is in regards to a youth wanting to go to a summer camp that teaches coding for fun, they have about as much professional impact as any other topic-based summer camp. Children’s coding camps also tend to teach surface-level stuff, but it’s for kids so that’s expected and the point is more for them to get excited by tech so they choose to explore STEM fields in the future.

          1. Choosing a career path?*

            Thanks so much for your response. My adult child is looking at the possibility of coding bootcamps as a way of getting a foot into the door of professional, office-type jobs. They have a friend who did some kind of coding bootcamp and apparently got a reasonably high-paying job upon completion, so my kid thinks they might do the same.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              My city has a highly-ranked STEM/tech university that offers a highly regarded coding bootcamp for adults. I’ve met several friends-of-a-friend who did it and got decent jobs.

              It probably varies a lot by program; the STEM/tech school in my city is top 10 for computer science in its undergraduate major.

      2. Bad Janet*

        Thanks so much for taking the time to put all this info in a reply! I hadn’t yet had the logic/algorithms side spelled out to me, so I’ll start looking for those resources.

        I’ve seen similar sentiments about bootcamps elsewhere, so I’ve not been particularly sold on them (and I really don’t think I have the time or $ for that level of risk, either), but still have a small curiosity about them. I’ve signed up with a handful of meetup groups and have a variety of events to sit on in the next 2 months, covering lots of different areas (at least I live in a big enough city to have some tech diversity).

        And I have a friend who started in QA (science degree that wasn’t CompSci) and I’ve talked to him a lot about that track as an option. QA seems rather up my alley to begin with, so I’ll keep this in mind as I refine my targets.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      I know someone who did the classic boot-camp route. She was a marketing person. She did the boot-camp, spent another few months building her portfolio, got a QA job at a small startup, then a couple years later was able to get a development job. It helped that her partner was a software developer who’d made a very successful exit (well into the range of never having to work again). There was homework help available; also, having money equals not having to take a survival job while learning, plus more flexibility to take an under-paid first job.

      I was a less dramatic case. I was a wet-lab biologist, but I’d taken some engineering and CS courses. Whenever data needed wrangling, robots needed fixing, or similar, people looked at me. Eventually I realized that not only was this stuff the fun part, there were jobs where I could do it full time (instead of doing it on the side and then falling behind on my real job), and those jobs paid a lot better. I’m now a bioinformatician.

      1. Bad Janet*

        I’m unfortunately stuck working my day job while I plug away at this in my nights and weekends. I at least have programming friends who can occasionally help. I’m currently finance-tangent in my day job and have figured out I like data-wrangling and process refining. So, that’s what’s leading me down this path.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          If you have some access to the kind of work you want to do, you can use that as leverage to get a more advanced job that specializes in that work. Hard to argue about your ability to do the job if you’re already doing the job, even on a part-time and informal basis.

          There are jobs for “business analysts” who track various metrics, make dashboards and reports, and generally wrangle data to help the higher-ups make informed decisions. You’ll need to know the basics of scripting, databases, and statistics. Advanced Excel doesn’t hurt either. But you won’t be expected to write enterprise grade software, which as people have mentioned, is its own non-trivial skill set.

          FWIW, I don’t write real software either. We have proper software engineers who take our prototype code and make it fast and customer-proof. My job is to be the domain expert who knows what the code needs to do, and who can fiddle with my own “research-grade” code until it does what I want.

    4. LadyTesla*

      Hi, I work in software.

      Bootcamps honestly aren’t viewed as great, or comparable to a CS degree. If you’re looking to start in a pretty route tier 1 support or similar job, then it’s a really great option. If you’re looking to do hard core dev, know that you’re one in a million of people who took the 6 week bootcamp jump. Now, that doesn’t mean don’t do it. What I look for is more the Github fillness, and if they have certifications. Salesforce, Azure, AWS, those are really great for a resume! And Salesforce certs I’m pretty sure are cheap.

      So if you have that + those other items, you’ll stand out great.

      1. Bad Janet*

        Good to know about bootcamps. I know about Github & plan on having a portfolio there. I’ll start chasing down certs & hopefully find some that align with whatever track I settle on. Thanks!

    5. Meyla*

      My husband switched from being a middle school math teacher to a software developer. His 1 year anniversary at his new job is in November. I’m not sure if that’s “drastic” enough to be helpful, but he was incredibly motivated. He decided not to renew his teaching contract, spent that summer going through 4 or 5 giant books on Java, MEAN stack, software engineering principles, and more. He built two fully functional sample projects – a stand-alone Chess game and a web UI using Angular that was based on published APIs for a domain he’s interested in. I had encouraged him to do the sample projects so that he had a portfolio to show, but he ended up not really needing it. YMMV – all the jobs I consider applying to have a place to reference a portfolio/github, so I thought they may actually look at it but maybe it’s optional.

      Once the school year started back up and he’d spent 2 months full-time independent-studying, he started applying for everything entry-level he could find. Another two months went by where he was applying to at least a job per day (usually many more). He was starting to get discouraged when finally a small software contracting company reached out to him to take a relatively brief skills test. He did great, they hired him, he got a raise at 6 months and is leading his project team.

      I will say that my husband is incredibly smart and is fantastic at learning something without help or guidance. He also is very confident in his ability, so while I’m sure he was honest about his practical knowledge in his interview, he comes off capable and charismatic. If I were switching careers, I wouldn’t be able to do as well as him because I don’t learn on my own very well and I’ve heard bad things about the bootcamps.

      1. Bad Janet*

        Well, I lack charisma :D but at least am a decent self-learner, and I have a good circle of programmer friends to help me talk out what I’m learning.

    6. Tau*

      Me! And I have a second data point in my brother.

      In my case, I realised during my maths PhD that I didn’t want to go on in academia and software devleopment was my plan B. This was a bigger stretch than it may sound, because my PhD was in pure maths and there was very little computation involved in that – we did all our calculations with pen and paper. Applied mathematicians are more likely to at least work with automated algorithms or the like.

      I lucked out and found a company that specialised in hiring graduates from non-computer science STEM subjects, training them out, and then sending them out as consultants/contractors. There was a four-month training period that I guess was a little like a boot camp – but you were in full-time employment and being mentored by senior devs. They also really liked people with higher degrees – I think they’d found that people with Master’s and PhDs often made very good programmers.

      My brother had a BSc in Physics that he’d somewhat struggled to get and didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. He did an actual bootcamp; I’d been working as a developer for a few years by then and looked through a few descriptions to see what sounded reasonable (and kept an eye out for projects resembling actual enterprise software development, because IME that’s the hardest thing to learn but really, really vitally important once you’re trying to code professionally.) It was also several months, and worked out well for him – he found a job as a software developer not long after and has been happily employed as one since. I will note that I think for him a large part of it was normalising full-time work and getting help and support with the logistics of a job application – I suspect that as far as his CV went, he might have been able to land a programming job without the bootcamp.

      Although this stuff can be regionally dependent. My company was in the UK, and they seem to have a strong tradition of graduate schemes aimed at getting fresh grads into the workforce and training them up. I moved back to Germany, where my brother is, and I get the impression there’s less mentoring of junior people going on. I see a bunch of companies – my own included – that only seems to want to hire senior devs. What, are you expecting them to grow on trees?! (Disclaimer: this is a small sample size, I may be wrong about the tendencies.)

      1. Bad Janet*

        I minored in German and keep up my practice. Ain’t gonna lie, I have a small dream of being able to master these skills and use them to live over there :)

        1. Tau*

          That’s awesome! :) And yes, software developer is a great career to use to move to Germany. The tech industry is always looking for more people and many jobs, particularly of the start-up variety, are English-speaking. My colleagues are very international, and not just from the EU either. Developer salaries are lower than in the US, but I think it’s still a very good amount of money and you get the advantage of German holiday allotments, sick leave, health insurance, etc.

          In general, I adore being a software developer and am so glad I made the switch, and it’s a great career to be in right now, so I can only encourage you! I wish you all the best of luck – fingers crossed and thumbs pressed that it works out for you :)

    7. sara*

      Me! I was a biologist/zookeeper and started doing some basic web dev on the side. Started self-taught, realized I needed a kickstart and some help finding what to learn etc. So I did a bootcamp in front-end web dev (HTML, CSS, JS, React, WordPress). I got a full-time softwared dev job within 5 months of quitting my previous job (3 months of school, 2 months of temp/freelance/job searching) and I’ve been in my job now for 3 years.

      I’d say the bootcamp was a great route for me because it put me in a place to get connected in the local tech scene. The bootcamp is what helped me get my first job but on-going learning is what has helped me get promoted and will help me find my next job. Plus, the soft skills they taught were mostly really helpful, especially in figuring out how to explain my drastic career change and how my skills from the previous career are actually an advantage in tech.

      It depends, I think, on the team and company, but I don’t feel at all “less than” my teammates who all have CS degrees (there’s only 5 of them). They’ve taught me a tonne about CS principles (or pointed me in directions to teach myself) and I’ve got everyone else actually valuing and learning CSS and JavaScript.

    8. Clisby*

      Not sure what you mean by drastic. My first degree was in journalism, and I worked for newspapers for about 12 years. For the last three, I worked full-time at night as a copy editor while I went back to school part-time for a computer science degree.

      Journalism was how I first got interested in computer programming – not surprising, since the field was just getting into what computers could do. I took a couple of programming courses at a local community college, and then moved on to getting the college degree.

      I mean, it took 3 years – I already had a B.A., but had to complete all the computer science/math courses I hadn’t taken before.

      1. Bad Janet*

        My undergrad was journalism :) I SHOULD have realized then, when my favorite classes were the ones requiring website work. But alas, I forged ahead and didn’t even bother going into the industry. I don’t have the means to learn via college again, so I get to put all my research skills into learning a new field.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you haven’t considered technical writing, take a look. Online help might be a perfect fit between trained writer and code-lover.

          1. Bad Janet*

            I’ve been try8ing to get into tech writing for years. Of all the variety of jobs I send out resumes for, that’s the one I never get interviews on. A lot of the tw positions in my area have hard-line requirements of knowledge about obscure softwares.

    9. Second career*

      I’m a career changer into software engineering. My previous career was in special education and then I went back to school and got a master’s degree in computer science. I know quite a few people who went the bootcamp or self taught route who have careers as developers but obviously those are the success stories and I know it’s harder to get a first job with a bootcamp background (once you have experience your second job should be easy to find regardless of education). I would look into some tech related email groups or online communities in your area and find some people who have gone through similar career transitions to get their advice on local programs and businesses open to bootcamp grads. Not all programs are created equal so get some real first hand experiences. Also keep in mind that the industry is White and Asian male dominated. If you’re a woman and especially if you’re a woman of color, you’re going to have a harder time. Start building your network as soon as possible so you can get the inside scoop on companies before you apply to them.

      1. Bad Janet*

        Thanks for the perspective! I will be getting out into my local meetup groups over the next couple of months for networking. Anticipating the glass ceiling problem, but at least a couple of the meetup groups seem to have a greater balance of women, which is nice.

    10. DataScientist*

      I did this. Started my boot camp just about a year ago. I did a data science boot camp, got hired into a job in March at about a 60% higher salary than what I made before. I spent about a year before that casually learning basic python on my own from various free online courses, and I had a stats background from college. There’s a lot of gloom out in the internet about bootcamps being repeated here, but everyone I graduated with ended up with a good job, so I dunno. It’s an incredibly fast growing field without enough qualified people to fill the jobs. We did have an amazing careers coach with decades-worth of connections in the field though, so that definitely helped. Many of us got interviews based on his introductions (obviously from there we had to prove ourselves, but it was a foot in the door. For the most part, cold applications basically got us nowhere, so keep in mind that networking is huge). But ask tough questions about job placement rates and career assistance. Also make sure you’re able to support yourself for a number of months after the bootcamps ends – with one or two exceptions it took us all 3 months or more to actually start new jobs.

      Also make sure you’re doing this because you’re really excited about programming and you enjoy it. If you’re only in it for a higher paycheck you’re going to struggle and be miserable – this stuff is hard.

      1. Bad Janet*

        Thanks so much for chiming in! I’m actually looking at this b/c I’m interested in it and need something more challenging (I’m stuck in low-level admin/clerical hell and I’m smarter than this). Some undergrad classes had basic web dev requirements I loved. My favorite grad class was data & stats…so this seems like a good direction for me. I’m starting with python right now, and looking into data tracks. I don’t think I’ll have the finances for a bootcamp, but if I do I’ll keep in mind the points you’ve brought up.

    11. I Heart JavaScript*

      I’m a bootcamp grad. I’m a former EA in Finance who hated it and needed more of a challenge, learned basics by myself (in downtime at work and evenings/weekends) before applying to a bootcamp and quitting my job.

      All told, I was out of work for ~5 months: 3 weeks pre-bootcamp to decompress and visit family, 3 months of bootcamp, 3 weeks of job search, 2 weeks of travel/visiting family before I started my new job.

      Some things to know:
      1. Not all bootcamps are created equal. Most are a rip-off. There are a few that are better than others, but even the hardest (most intensive curriculum and longest hours) will only give you as much as you put in. And even the most advanced bootcamp grad is still a very junior engineer. So do your research — talk to grads of the various programs and dive into actual placement rates. The general consensus from the grads I talked to in my area was “I wish I went to program X”, so that’s the program I picked.

      2. Your network going in is a bigger predictor of success (getting a job quickly) than your placement in your class. The fastest to get jobs in my cohort were already in tech or tech-adjacent before attending.

      3. CS grads will also attend these bootcamps. Coding isn’t taught by a lot of CS programs for undergrad, so while they know theory about how logic gates work or how memory is handled by the operating system, they may not be able to do FizzBuzz to save their lives. And believe it or not, the CS grads aren’t always the top of the cohorts.

      4. Some companies really love bootcamp grads. Not necessarily new grads (but then, they don’t love new grads from CS programs either), but bootcamp grads know a lot about the most modern web tools and can often hit the ground running with a lot of the standard web developer roles. You don’t need deep CS knowledge for most FE jobs. My company’s FE team has hired bootcamp people for 3 of the last 4 open jobs and has been extremely happy.

      5. One thing bootcamp grads (especially the career changers) have going for them is that their soft skills tend to be significantly more developed than new CS grads. Years of office work have taught us how to communicate with all sorts of stakeholders. Learning coding from a non-technical background means that we’re usually better at talking to our non-technical colleagues (like our Project Managers, Product Managers, Designers, etc.). These skills snagged me an offer of a promotion to Team Lead after just 1.5 years of professional experience over much more experienced colleagues.

      6. I know of 1 remote program that’s any good. That same program also has a part time offering. Any other part time or remote program is likely not worth the time you’ll put in. Run.

      7. Avoid the college extension bootcamps at all costs. They’re not actually run by the university. They’re run by a company called Trinity and the universities sell their name and branding for a cut of the profits. They’re terrible and in no way worth the money. Run.

      Sorry about the late response — I was too busy working on a new feature at my job to check the posts today until nearly midnight :)

      1. Bad Janet*

        Thanks so much for sharing your experience! If I end up boot camping, it will be after a lot of research. I’m definitely focusing first on learning & networking.

    12. KnowsWhereHerTowelIs*

      I have a BA in Psych and Art History. I wanted to be an art history professor or psych researcher and really didn’t expect to make this left turn. I have no formal CS training.

      Because of the needs of the psych lab I was working at, I went from being the Excel guru to being encouraged to learn basic programming so I could do the things that are just sliiiightly beyond Excel. I learned Python from codecedemy and some basic Ruby. The rest of my job was basically just clerical/admin so, the day I figured out how to do a demographics chart we needed done ASAP when Excel kept crashing was the most valued and appreciated I had ever been and they ended up making me co-author.

      After that I did a bootcamp, which was awkward and not ideal, I was one of 2 women and was the only math person who was there to get better at computering when everyone else was already a programmer who wanted to brush up on statistics. If nothing else, I learned how to create and document projects, such that they’re easy to show to people at any technical level. Having a background in art and psych really gave me a comparative leg up on that compared to the engineers.

      I did a bunch of not great middle level jobs that all had something to do with making sense out of data for non-technical people in wildly differing fields, slowly getting more languages and systems under my belt, and now I have the shiny Data Scientist title and people have largely stopped speaking over me in meetings. It’s been a weird journey.

  23. Yogurt pants*

    Update on George from 2 weeks ago–part vent, part asking for advice. I mentioned last week was quiet, but this week was….not so much? 3 incidents in one day, but it didn’t involve the grand-boss or company wide meetings, so OK I guess. Majority of our communication is via email/message/chatting. 

    1. A manager sent out an email with an instruction related to a new task that we have. George was confused. Neither person was wrong but that manager’s email was just “hey FYI, after we’ve implemented this I found this happening, so let’s do this.” It was something really easy to clear up. blamed us b/c they were confused, even though the processes had been discussed, established and written down prior. To my knowledge, they didn’t run to my grand boss like they would have before (but maybe they BCCd her, who knows).

    2. A second incident (same day) was about the ownership of a project (we have very clear set in stone rules about ownership on projects). They dumped it right back in my lap before they got clarification–the senior manager (not my direct boss but acting in for him while he’s out) weighed in (because they were looped in from the beginning) and only then did George take the project back. 

    3. In our group chat, one of hte other managers asked if she can “borrow” my team member, Edwin, for a small task and I said sure and mentioned that he will be on vacation. George was commenting on how Edwin didn’t block his calendar, his flight’s at night etc. I just said “Ok I’ll handle it.” I felt it was overstepping, which went back to how they flipped out the one time I overstepped but I’m expected to play nice. BUT I could be wrong on this b/c Edwin & G are good friends (they used to be peers before George was promoted). It annoyed me b/c he’s MY team member! I don’t butt in and go through George’s teams’ projects and calendars. I have no issue with George & Edwin talking as Edwin is a great employee. 

    Idk if this was BEC or another sign of dysfunction–and maybe I am blowing this out of proportion. If this was 3 weeks ago, these would have been very different conversations. What I hate the most though is that anytime George isn’t “right”, they run to the VP they work closely with and complain that we’re playing favorites and biased.

  24. Hills to Die on*

    I am 2 weeks into a government job and I am feeling guilty about how slow things are going. I am trying to keep myself busy with work-related tasks and trying to onboard more quickly, but it’s obvious that things just don’t move like that here.

    Has anyone else experienced going from private sector to public, and how do you floral with the transition? Is this normal?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      In my experience the first couple of weeks in any new job are slow because you haven’t been woven into the work of the office yet. I tell all new hires in my office that those first two weeks are the time to meet old friends for lunch, and I give them background materials to read during down time. And I note that in a month they will wonder why they ever thought they had time to do that. That’s what usually happens, though sometimes there is an issue to be resolved (usually computers not routing things correctly, sometimes someone who doesn’t want to give up their work). Not knowing what kind of job you have, I can’t tell you how quickly things will pick up, but this is normal at the beginning.

    2. CheeryO*

      I went from a consulting firm to state government almost five years ago, and the transition had me crawling out of my skin! It’s absolutely normal. Two weeks is nothing. We’ve had new employees who didn’t even have a computer after two weeks. We’ve had new employees spend MONTHS reading regulations because it takes so long to get up to speed on things. Just keep doing your best, and try to make peace with the slower pace.

      1. Middle Manager*

        It’s totally normal. I work in a state government policy office. So much of what we do is on an annual cycle, that it took a year for me to do everything once. Until I did and was fully up to speed, it was just very hard for me to be super useful, because I didn’t have the bigger picture. I have someone onboarding now and it will take them 6 month to a year to start to be able to do independent work.

        But I’ve found that the best employees use that time well. Read everything remotely related. Do webinars and online trainings. Once your up to speed it will probably nearly impossible to read a 400 page legislation on something related to your work, so now is a great time to do that.

    3. Miz Behaven*

      It takes more than two weeks to get the general feel of the flow of any workplace. People appreciate others being eager and proactive but don’t over do it and try to push yourself into things just yet. There may be good reasons for some of what you are seeing that you would not know since you just got there. Be patient, read the manuals, and inquire gently.

    4. Brownie*

      I went private tech startup to public and yeah, the transition took so much longer than private did. Heck, it was just over a year after I was hired that I finally got complete access to all the systems I was supposed to be supporting! The best thing you can do with all the time during the transition & onboarding is write up everything you’re being told and then go look up those topics on whatever wiki/documentation/internal website for your department/employer is for more details. Also, go look up resources, review any benefits/insurance information, and read any other work-related policies you can because you don’t want to find out that the onboarding documentation is out of date in regards to those things. Be patient, the change for me felt like a complete 180 from private and the waiting chafed so much, but it’s been very much worth the wait in the end.

    5. sometimeswhy*

      I went from a 24hr manufacturing plant to government. To keep myself from going completely stir crazy the first few years, I spent a lot of time digging allllll the way into the things that I was learning.

      If I needed to measure a cogwidget and was taught how to measure it, with what, and the specifications for measuring it I would do as instructed then spend the downtime answering my own overly detailed questions. What does the regulation say about cogwidgets? What if it’s a cogwidget of a different material? What about this other related cogwidget thing that we DON’T do but might someday? Does the tool I’m using need to be calibrated? What’s the tolerance on that? Is there a user manual for that tool? What happens if I drop a cogwidget? Where is all this documented? What’s our record retention policy? Why do we have to keep that sort of thing for seven years but that other similar sort of thing for five?

      I didn’t badger my (extremely overburdened trainer) but dug around our SOPs/guidance/how-tos then dug around THEIR reference documents then when all that was exhausted dug around HR and finance stuff so five years later, the first time I had to travel for work, I knew where to find the travel request form AND how to fill it out and also had an idea how to start doing that other thing with cogwidgets.

    6. Quiznakit*

      This is super, super normal. If you’ve got down time, try seeing if there are elearning courses to fill the time or procedures you can familiarize yourself with. That’s what got me through the slow period at the start.

    7. Garland Not Andrews*

      I moved from Private to public and it can take weeks to get everything in place to be actually productive. All your equipment, all you various accesses. It is crazy how long.

      Hang in there, it will get better!

    8. Saraphina*

      Two months into my new fed job and I totally get this! I just read tons of stuff, took notes, even researched the part of the government, took online law courses, anything to fill the time. It’s normal to feel anxious that you aren’t doing anything tangible, but you slowly get used to it. Checking base with your supervisor can help ease that too!

    9. Oh No She Di'int*

      This is not a knock on you or anyone else in this thread, but dear God, the stories here are making me wonder why on God’s green earth I EVER pay taxes!!

      1. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

        You pay taxes so that you have roads to drive on, planes that fly and land, passports, id cards and drivers licenses issued, federal aid and emergency responders, fire and police departments. So you have people processing social security claims, small business loans, section 8 and food stamps. You pay taxes so children get educated. And many more things. Just because government inprocessing is somewhat cumbersome and slow due to all the bureaucracy it entails, doesn’t mean that taxpayers don’t get a service. And by the way, I worked in both private industry and government jobs and found overall not much difference when working for a large corporation. Only there, any associated costs are passed on to the consumer as part of the price you pay for goods or services.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          There are many ways to do government as many nations around the world exemplify. The stories here do not exemplify the optimal ways.

    10. Hamburke*

      I went from college to (seasonal temp to) fed gov job and was bored out of my mind! The pace was ridiculously slow.

      More recently, my husband went from private accounting firm mid-busy season to state gov in a slower city than we lived (he’s IT and this move was his switch from 2nd tier support to infosec). He spent 6 months feeling like he was about to be fired bc of how little he accomplished but he got great reviews and praised for quick work.

    11. Consultant Catie*

      This is so so normal. My husband is a fed and took a temporary assignment with another federal agency — it took him 9 weeks to even get a log-in for his computer. And even then, he only got it because he accidentally emailed the Deputy Director of the entire agency.

      I would just re-set your expectations much lower, and spend time getting to know your colleagues. Relationships with new people never hurt.

  25. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It's SuperAnon*

    I moved to a new role back in March, and just had my first major screw up. Like, a sub assembly for my product is going to be a month late and we found out the week we were supposed to get them in. And it delays testing. Unfortunately, our supplier/partner company has apparently been snorkeling behind us for months, and used this as an opportunity to say “actually, it’s going to be 3 months. And it’s all SuperAnon’s team’s fault”. Our company knows they’re using this as an excuse because yes we did have delays along the way, but we didn’t have any indication that our delays were going to cause such an issue until now.

    I’m lucky that my management has been so good about this and aren’t making me a scapegoat in any way. I immediately went to my project manager (dotted line) and told him I realized I had made a mistake and hadn’t been following the subassemblies as I should’ve, and we had a good talk about what went wrong, what should happen in the future, and how we’re going to handle upcoming team turnover so we don’t lose this lesson. I had raised some concerns early on about the relative experience on in our team (college hire project engineers, 1 year experience design engineer, and I have 8 years of engineering experience but this is my first team lead role) and it looks like that did end up playing a big role in all of this. It sounds like I’m going to be set up with a mentor going forward to help development the management portion of being a team lead.

    Not the best week of my career, that’s for sure. Any suggestions on how to own my own failure without letting our partner company pile on?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I think you’ve done it – RCA + corrective actions + baking those into the team knowledge base. Anytime the partner company mentions it, say, ‘We understand our piece of the problem, and have taken actions to fix it for the future. Now, what can we do to address the impact today?” Stay very ‘solution focused’.

    2. Emilitron*

      A really program-management type response: When you started the project you laid out risks. Some of them are technical and some of them are personnel-based. With a new team, something was going to happen – if it hadn’t been you, it would have been somebody else. Sounds like you knew this was a risk; ideally you allowed margin for it. Your PM job now is just to make sure this week’s event is the only thing on the project that will be eating into that margin.

      And yes you own the failure. The thing happened, it happened because of you. Here’s how you prepared for it (margin), here’s the impact, here’s how you fixed it, here’s how you’ll prevent it *and similar things* in future.

  26. Librarian of SHIELD*

    Has anybody else noticed a pattern of staff recognition that leaves out reliable, consistently good employees? Most of the employee recognition I’ve seen lately is either “Celeste did the thing that was always her job, but that she rarely gets around to doing! Hooray!” or “Herbert managed to stop the building from exploding last week!” with hardly anything in between.

    Why is that? Why don’t we stand up in staff meetings and say things like “Philomena is always on time” or “Matthew always gets his projects turned in before the deadline” with those same levels of celebration?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Yes, and I hate that. Political and/or trying to motivate the office grump/slacker instead of just managing them.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Sometimes management gives public recognition to employees that crave it. They know that awards don’t motivate the top performers, so they only give awards where it will make an impact.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      Yup. Even for big or important fixes – it’s all about “Joe who put out the fire that grew so big it disrupted everyone’s day”… and then Jack doesn’t get any recognition for fixing the gas leak before it did anything besides make a small whooshing noise.

    4. Kramerica Industries*

      Yes, this is the worst. “Congrats to Joan for doing her job as expected! We usually don’t get much out of her”. Meanwhile, good performers are held to a higher standard and are less likely to be recognized.

    5. fposte*

      In my workplace a lot of it depends on who the employees’ work is visible to (which may mean who their manager is but isn’t limited to that). That being said, we hardly ever give public praise for “Celeste sucks slightly less than she used to!” and I would hate a workplace where people are being publicly celebrated for coming in on time. That’s getting into participation trophy territory to me.

    6. Qwerty*

      I think its a visibility thing. Herbert did a big flashy thing! Celeste surprised us! When people are doing consistent good work, you are expecting them to do consistent good work, therefore they are meeting expectations and no longer exceeding them.

      It applies to most aspects of our life – think of how much praise so many dads get for doing basic parenting tasks that no one praises moms for doing. Or that household appliance that you don’t realize how much you need/use until it breaks.

      I really sympathize! I used to work on a team where doing our job well meant no one saw any impact from our team. The slightest mistake could cause huge issues for the company, but the better we performed, the more invisible it made it us. It took a lot to convince management that they needed to acknowledge that we were useful because people started to wonder why the team existed.

    7. Mazzy*

      I had this two jobs ago when excel skills were becoming generally higher in the workforce and people wanted training. One favorite/ social employee did an hour long training. He became employee of the month. Sorry, someone who managed a difficult customer for the entire month deserves much more recognition than a token-gesture training.

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      The reliable, consistent employees don’t make noise. They rarely complain or make a hassle out of coverage or new duties…they just work out how to get it done with efficiency and excellence. Plus being on time is expected. Its the things that are “different” that draw attention.
      Celeste probably whined and whined about said task and many people probably noticed that it all of a sudden went from not done to done and Ta Da! ITS A BIG DEAL!

      Herbert really should be recognized for stopping building explosions though.

    9. Frustrated Limousine Driver*

      My pet peeve is when a manager is complimented for “stepping it up” and taking on a greater workload because of special project/launch/covering open positions and given recognition/awards – WHILE THE ADMIN gets nothing. Not even a nod. Yes, manager had to go to 10 more meetings this week — but admin had to schedule 10 more meetings this week, find 10 more meeting rooms, etc., route 10 times the mail, reports, whatever.
      When you increase someone’s workload, you should thank them. To only thank one of them is to give the unspoken message that “hey your job is not considered difficult enough that extra work is seen as a burden, it’s just part of your role and probably has no impact or adds any strain to you workload, and you certainly don’t need thanks for doing your job”

      1. Avacado Oil Magnate*

        Related pet peeve – at my company, managers nominate each other for awards all the time. But admins cannot nominate each other, so they have to hope the managers notice them. And the managers tend to nominate each other partly because it helps them move up and ahead, its a recognition of leadership, and the admins are not considered to be leaders, so no leadership awards for them.

        1. Qwerty*

          What??? The policy I have always seen is that manager nominate people on their team. Rare exceptions for if a member of someone else’s team was a huge help (aka Jane from the Llama Grooming team was acknowledged by the manager of the Alpaca Grooming team because they needed her expertise on a new initiative) but you always nominate someone that was a lower rank. If I wanted another manager to get special recognition I think I’d have to reach out to either their boss or mine to recommend that someone higher up make the nomination.

          1. Avacado Oil Magnate*

            The company allows anyone at any level to nominate anyone at any level. But it works out that the admins tend to do work that support their teams. So for admins it is never a lateral nomination, whereas for managers it can be.

    10. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      And this is why workplaces where top performers leave after 2 years and mediocre employees stay until they retire exist.

    11. Hope*

      At my place of work, it’s all about visibility, because everything depends on being nominated by other employees. If you have a job where you interact with a lot of people, you’re much, MUCH more likely to get recognition. If you don’t, no matter how good you are, you’re pretty much never going to get any of the employee awards.

      It can be really disheartening. It has definitely made me question going out of my way to do extra, because after a few years of trying that route and getting zero recognition for it while seeing others who are more visible get it just for doing the jobs they’re supposed to do, why bother?

      That said, I wouldn’t want an award for always being on time or whatever, since that’s something you should already be doing as a basic part of your job.

      1. Avacado Oil Magnate*

        Also there’s that declining return thing – if you are always exceeding expectations, then the expectations will change so that your exemplary behavior becomes the expected norm for you. “That’s just Jane!”
        While the slacker who goes just a tiny bit above the norm is seen as really making a huge effort.

      2. All out of bubblegum*

        And what is considered ‘visible’ work varies too. The people who organize the company blood drive – not visible. The people who organize the Thanksgiving food drive – not visible. The people who run the ‘stuff the bus’ back to school initiative – not visible. The people who participated in a walk a thon – visible. What was the difference? The walk a thon participants were all managers who walked . Everything else was staffed by administrative assistants, every day 1-3 for a week.

    12. Parenthetically*

      Not a work context but a school context — we noticed this with students as well, and created a couple of student recognition categories to focus on kids who just kept plugging away even if they weren’t getting awesome grades all the time.

      1. ECHM*

        Yeah … it always made me sad as an elementary student to not get the student of the month awards, since I was always one of the reliably good kids … Thanks for noticing this dynamic!

    13. Spargle*

      Thomas consistently meets the minimum expected requirements for his job! PARTY!

      No, thanks. I’d rather have a raise than be publicly praised for being at the office on time every day – I’d actually be offended by that.

    14. Squeeble*

      I know what you mean, but I used to get that kind of recognition for everyday things at a prior job and it got old pretty fast. One-on-one is nice (“thanks for always keeping my calendar so organized, it really helps!”), but in a group meeting I don’t know if I want to be singled out for that because it can feel like…well, sure, of course I’m doing my job.

    15. ...*

      Hmm, at my company I would say it is more likely the consistent person to be rewarded and our main “award” that’s given out each month is done by peer or manager nomination. I like this way because you know you had a voice in getting them recognized!

    16. RobotWithHumanHair*

      And on the other side of the coin, if one of those reliable, consistently good employees happens to do something wrong? Time to put them on blast! Frustrating.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        YES. I had a coworker at a past job who would screw things up all the time and it was always “well, that’s just Eugene.” But the minute a consistent performer screws up, it’s a big freaking deal and it must be talked about immediately.

    17. LGC*

      Yeah – that’s an EASY trap to fall into. If someone is a rockstar like Herbert, you notice. If a poor performer makes marginal improvements like Celeste, you rush to praise them so they continue improving. Philomena and Matthew get left out in the cold because their reliability isn’t as attention grabbing.

      But also, I think people stand out in their own ways. I have a couple of Philomenas. They’re great, precisely because a lot of my other employees are flighty. The Matthews on my team are appreciated because I don’t have to worry about their work, unlike the Celestes. (I can litigate why I have Celestes, but I’d rather not.) So I try to let them know that – because I think that in the end, everyone is a mix of all four employees. You have your talents like Herbert, your areas of improvement like Celeste, your soft skills like Philomena, and your core competencies like Matthew.

    18. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Last year, we added 2 new roles to our team that basically outsourced the more administrative aspects of the analyst roles. (So think Llama Coordinators in addition to Llama Analysts.) Later that year, my company started a thing where you can recognize certain employees each month for accomplishments at the team meetings. Within 6 months, the people hired into the roles were given heaps of praises for successfully completing projects, when in reality, completing projects is their actual job. Also, none of the analysts ever got praised for simply completing projects when it was part of their job. *rolls eyes* (FTR, the new employees are good, but so is, like everyone else.)

  27. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    I’ve been helping cover our very busy reception since one of our main receptionists quit. We hired a new receptionist, Lucinda, and unfortunately her start date coincided with the other main receptionist, Jane, taking a pre-planned vacation, so I am training Lucinda. It’s becoming very clear that Lucinda has absolutely no computer skills to speak of, and we do everything in Outlook and SharePoint. I already was not the best person to train her since I’m not a receptionist and just do backup, but I agreed because I assumed that surely they screened for basic computer skills in the interview and I’d just need to train her on things specific to our office. I am a very tech savvy person and don’t have the patience to teach someone how to use a computer and I want to pull my hair out. Lucinda is also very miserable. I feel sorry for Jane when she gets back. The good news is I am going on vacation next week, so it won’t be my problem, thank goodness.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        Nope. No one else knows how to do the job well enough to train her. And yes, I’m super aware that this is a huge problem, and I’m trying to develop an extensive training plan and SOP to mitigate this kind of situation in the future.

        1. downdate*

          How self-started is she? If she’s willing to put in the work and willing to learn, and google basic problems, this might not be too painful. A transition but learning basic e-mail and SharePoint is often a case of “read the buttons, click the button to do what you want to do”.

          I’ve had both kinds of users. I highly prefer the “don’t know much about computers, but will write down all instructions and google things” folks much much much above the “know somewhat about computers but don’t bother learning so every single time they need to find a file, they ask me where it is”. One of them is respectful of my time. The other one thinks I exist only to hold their hands.

          1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

            She’s unfortunately definitely the second type. Apparently she has been taking classes but I don’t think she’s retained anything.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I could handle her not being proficient at SharePoint, but her not being able to use Outlook even is driving me up the wall. Not even the more high level functions, she has issues with email and knowing when she has a meeting scheduled.

      2. Hello gorgeous!*

        Last week one of the departments decided that they would no longer be responsible for the collection and reporting of certain data, that the project owners would instead provide the data directly to global. They didn’t discuss the change with the project owners, just asssumed it would be no problem to get the information. , The project owners were all sent an email for a Skype meeting where they were shown a brief PowerPoint on how to find and. update the data sheet on sharepoint. This was about 80 people, none who are familiar with sharepoint.
        The training turned feral, and the sound of people angrily hanging up was a 3 minute popcorn effect.

    1. Art3mis*

      In training for my current job I sat next to someone that was like this. I have no idea how she was successful in her previous role at the same company because basic computer skills are pretty much a requirement for an office support role at an insurance company. She was super nice and I felt bad for her, but I don’t know how to train someone to use a PC when they don’t retain anything or take notes.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        Yup. I can’t believe they hired her without asking about that. I wasn’t on the panel, but there were 4 people and HR she somehow got past.

        1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

          Our supervisor keeps saying that I need to be patient because she’s older and new, but I work with a 65 year old woman who is a wizard with Excel and my 90 year old great-grandmother has a Facebook, so sorry but I don’t think age should matter.

          1. downdate*

            I don’t think age is a factor in this. I’ve had users of all ages. The worst ones were in their 40s and their 20s. I had some great users in their 60s. I think how much they actually want to learn matters a lot; people know their own learning styles and what works for them, and in this case, their paycheck depends on it. So, do they learn it, or do they just rely on other people to do their jobs?

            1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

              I’m 26 and while I definitely get asked to help a lot of colleagues with technical issues, but usually it’s because they have a formatting issue with Word or don’t know how to make a pivot table, and I’m fine with helping because they generally know how to use a computer and those aren’t basic skills that should’ve been required for their jobs. I am just floored. I know we were desperate, but really?!

              1. Camellia*

                You have my sympathies. My company once hired an experienced (20 years) systems analyst and gave him to me to get him up to speed. When we got him logged in to his computer I said, “Now open your browser.” And he said, “I don’t know what that means.” He didn’t last long.

            2. LilySparrow*

              I think it’s slightly more common to see lack of computer skills in folks 50+, because if they were at a job for a long time, they may have relied on seniority or accrued goodwill to avoid change. Or if they returned to the work force as empty-nesters, they may not have kept up to date.

              I think the inherent lack of curiosity and willingness to try things is the same at all ages. It’s just a lot harder for younger workers to get away with it.

          2. SuperAnon*

            I have to say, your supervisor should not be using ageist language like that. Maybe your supervisor should be TRAINING THE UNQUALIFIED PERSON SHE HIRED instead.

            1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

              She doesn’t know how to work the front desk. The other day I was by myself back here and she came over to ask me something and two lines rang at the same time so I could only answer one and she just stood there because she “doesn’t understand how the phones work”.

              1. SuperAnon*

                Then she’s not qualified. And she’s not qualified because she hasn’t got the right experience. Not because she’s “older.”

                1. SuperAnon*

                  Maybe I misunderstood your comment, because upthread you talk about knowing people over 65 who are technically minded.

                  Bottom line, your hiring team made a terrible hire of a person w/o the qualifications to do their job.

                2. She's One Crazy Diamond*

                  That comment was about my supervisor, not Lucinda. My supervisor doesn’t know how to work the front desk.

          3. Autumnheart*

            I totally agree, especially as the workforce ages. It was one thing for computer skills to be a specialized skill 25 years ago, but the computer-savvy 25-year-olds from those days are now 50. Outlook has been a thing for nigh on a generation. These skills are a baseline expectation now.

      2. Joielle*

        This reminds me of the last time I signed up to be a pollworker in my city. We had just started using electronic pollbooks (basically the voter rolls on tablets rather than paper binders) and I was assigned to an advanced training for people who would be “specialists” in the software. You might assume that these people had been screened for the most basic familiarity with tablets before being assigned to the advanced training, but NOPE, absolutely not. We spent at least half of the hour-long training repeatedly teaching a couple of people the concept of drop-down menus and the fact that you have to click a button to get the keyboard for numbers and symbols. We didn’t even cover all the actual features of the pollbook software. Very nice people, but like you said, I wanted to tear my hair out.

        1. Ethyl*

          I am a pollworker and yeah, I don’t know why exactly but it seems like about 80% of the people volunteering just have no ability to retain anything from the multiple training sessions we do each year. It’s weird. And now we have the tablets too and people are freaking out ::facepalm::

    2. Rex*

      If you haven’t already, you need to flag this for Lucinda’s supervisor right now — it’s possible they have no idea about the computer skills and that might be a dealbreaker.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I did. We have the same supervisor, which is how I got stuck covering. She said that I need to be patient with her because she’s older and has been out of the workforce for a while, and that she will arrange for paid training for Lucinda. However, since apparently Lucinda has been taking classes and she hasn’t seemed to retain any information, I’m pretty sure it will be a waste of money for us.

        1. QCI*

          This isn’t the 90’s anymore, age shouldn’t have anything to do with a persons computer skills at this point.

          1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

            That’s what I’ve been saying!!!! I know she’s been out of the workforce for a while, but unless it’s been 20+ years (which I doubt) she has no excuse. The thing that really baffles me is why require applicants to apply online, so how did she manage to do that? I wonder if someone helped her.

            1. Kat in VA*

              I was out of the workforce 20 years when I rejoined it last year. Using Google got me up to speed right quick.

  28. Fortitude Jones*

    I’m so very happy today – I just received word this morning from grandboss that I’ll now be reporting directly to my dotted line manager. This is fantastic news because a) I don’t like my current direct manager (I’ve talked about her here before and how she’s petty, territorial, and just an all around pain in the ass to work with); b) my dotted line manager is super easy to work with, receptive to any and all feedback, and doesn’t feel the need to always assert his authority all over the place the way my current manager does; and c) he’s the CEO’s son, so he has the kind of institutional knowledge that no one else in this company has, which comes in very handy when I need to know who to escalate things to. He’s also being groomed to one day take over for his father (that’s a long way off, though, as his dad isn’t yet at retirement age), so having the opportunity to work with him now and impress him with my work ethic and abilities can help me later if/when I’m ready to move up in the company myself.

    More importantly, and I’ve said this in the open thread before – it didn’t make sense for me to be reporting to who I was reporting to anyway. She had very little to do with my day-to-day work and didn’t quite know or understand everything I do, so it made more sense for me to report to someone else. I also spoke about how I was going to try to nudge grandboss into changing the reporting structure (some of you here said that would probably be a bad move since my current boss is petty) – well, now I didn’t have to do that behind the scenes influencing because he and my dotted line manager already came to that same conclusion! I love how in synch I am with those two – whatever I end up thinking/wanting, they do too. It’s awesome.

    I’m super pumped and can’t wait to see how this team grows. There will be a team name change at some point according to former dotted line manager/now new direct manager, so my next step is to try to get a title change.

    Here’s to hoping the rest of you have as good a Friday as I am thus far!

    1. new kid*


      I wish that were me, tbh. My direct manager isn’t terrible but she’s in a different office and has no visibility to my project so then I feel like she tries to overcompensate, and like you mentioned about your previous manager it just doesn’t make that much sense for me to report to her since she’s not involved in my day to day (nor should she be!). My dotted line manager would be a much better fit.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Aw, I hope you too can get that situation straightened out so you can start reporting directly to your dotted line manager. Is your grandboss pretty reasonable and open to suggestions? If so, I would broach this subject with him or her as delicately as possible to see if changes can be made.

        1. new kid*

          It’s a slightly different situation in my case where I’m embedded in a project team (permanently though, not a short-term project) but technically report up through the part of our org with all the other folks who do the same type of work as me (think marketing or design, for example). So my direct boss, grandboss, etc are all in another office in another city, whereas I sit right next to and work day to day with the folks on my project team, though I’m the only person on the team who does my type of job.

          I think my dotted line grandboss might be open to changing the reporting structure (especially since my position is funded through her project), but I’ve only been here for 4 months, so I feel like I need to give it more time before I try to broach a change with anyone.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Ah, I see. Well, I’ve only been in my role four months, and I got my change – but you’re right. I didn’t really broach the topic (grandboss initiated it), so it may not be appropriate to say anything yet. Maybe try at the six month mark and talk about how you believe the move would make more sense as you don’t really do what the rest of the project team does and, since you’re funded through her project, you think having closer contact with her would be to the company’s benefit.

  29. JB (not in Houston)*

    Has anyone else read today’s work-related Captain Awkward post? I’ll put the link in a reply. Although it’s not a workplace-focused advice blog, I thought she offered good advice.

    I would quote the most relevant parts of the question here, but I never seem to have luck with block quoting in html and don’t want to just paste a wall of text. But if anyone is interested, the question title is, ““My Boss Is Overly Enthusiastic About My Need To Pump Breastmilk At Work.”

    1. TiffanyAching*

      Yes! I really enjoyed how CA pointed out that in academia, you often have to try to parse out whether the weirdness is malicious, targeted oddity, or typical, “yeah Nobby is just like that, you get used to it,” oddity.

      That’s added on to the fact that, as CA and Alison have said before, academia/higher ed is just extra weird in general and often plays by its own rules

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, this question really reinforced that! Although honestly based on questions Alison has had here before, I could see this happening outside of academia as well, unfortunately.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Shoulders -> ears, big time. The staring at ‘pumping boobies’ was super extra weird, and made me wonder about fetishes. But I was not going to open that can of worms there, because ‘why’ doesn’t really matter, the solution paths are the same.

      1. valentine*

        pumping boobies
        It’s “exposed boobies” and I kinda want the LW to give her a picture of the birds (US, not UK. I think she stared because she wasn’t expecting a bra to thwart her.

    3. fposte*

      Yup, read that. I had some sympathy for the deeply inappropriate overenthusiastic comment, because sometimes people just cram a foot vigorously into their mouth, but the followup of shoehorning her way into the locked de facto pumping room was madness. I join others in suspecting the department head is considering overinvolvement as a way to show support. Some people really suck at the kind of support that means leaving others the hell alone.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, that’s where I was.

        I could totally see myself accidentally saying something like that and kicking myself as the words even as the words were coming out of my mouth, but I would have offered her the office by herself and would never have done the creepy follow up.

    4. Joielle*

      Yes! All I could think was – if you find yourself saying the word “boobies” at work and you’re not, I don’t know, an ornithologist or perhaps a burlesque dance instructor, you need to stop, take a good hard look at yourself, and figure out where it all went off the rails.

    5. Michelle*

      Oh yeah, that was weird. It’s like the boss was obsessed with seeing “boobies” and was going to watch the LW pumping no matter what.

    6. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “I never seem to have luck with block quoting in html and don’t want to just paste a wall of text.”


      at the beginning of the text you want to quote, and put blockquote > at the end.

      So when you type


      , you’ll get


      Make sure to delete the space between “e” and “>” when you type the codes, otherwise they won’t work.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        *sigh* Let’s try this again…

        “I never seem to have luck with block quoting in html and don’t want to just paste a wall of text.”

        Type [blockquote] at the beginning of the text you want to quote, and put [/blockquote] at the end.

        So when you type [blockquote] text [/blockquote], you’ll get


        Just make sure to replace the brackets (” [ ] “) with pointy things (“”) when you type the codes, because the pointy things are what actually activates the HTLM.

        1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          Pointy things that actually don’t show up in text, but you know what I mean.

          * sigh* I need a bottle of Yoo-Hoo… make it a case…

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            LOL thank you for the help! :) I know in theory how it’s supposed to be done but I somehow always mess it up. Bookmarking this page so I can go back and review next time I want to try it.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      Favorite line: “One of the things about academia is that it can take a second to sort out behavior that is malicious, on-purpose, weaponized oddness from behavior that is well-intended but still highly fucking odd.”

  30. Kathy*

    A coworker and friend of mine is going to be taking my supervisor’s position. She is nice but breaks rules frequently (drinking on lunch breaks, talking on her cell phone in her cubicle, being out of dress code, coming in at times that are not her designated shift hours but working a full 8 hours to balance out the time sheet). Our company was even on high alert for her abusive ex as we feared he may come to the office and act violently (absolutely not her fault but cause for concern). Safe to say, I have my own reservations about her being my supervisor. In the last 2 weeks she has taken 2 unexpected half days and her life has been constantly filled with drama. She has a record that has been erased but she was booked for throwing a cement block through a girl’s car who wouldn’t fight her. Lately I’m very prone to keeping to myself and not being overly friendly with her as I have unfortunately lost respect for her the more I’ve gotten to know her. But I do not think she is supervisor material. What should I do to resolve th we feelings? No one else knows she’s being promoted. She told me in confidence.

    1. Talia*

      Are you sure she *is* being promoted? Someone who has a habit of being this dramatic may in fact not be telling you the truth.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          It’s the perfect time to back away from a friendship, you can explain that she will be your supervisor now and you’re ready to set up some boundaries for both of your benefit.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Yes, this. Be warmly polite at work, step away from all the drama / drinks. Get vague about your plans / happenings. “I had a good weekend, how was yours?’

            To reduce the ‘ugh, she’s not that good’ feelings:
            1) Look for what she does well – think about how those things translate into helping the business (ie, she supports flextime, which increases retention)
            2) When she does something you think is not good, name the behavior in your head, then think about whose job it is to deal with it. Applying verbal labels to things reduces their emotional impact, as does analyzing them.

            1. Kathy*

              As an aside, I very much question her judgement because she left work 1 week ago because she was puking in the bathroom yet is putting off taking a pregnancy test, while complaining she has a headache. A lot of her shit and mess of a life has fallen on me, ruining my day by thinking about her problems so I’m out.
              Company has about 400 people worldwide. Owners son seems to take liking to her (gave her a gift). Nothing’s going on but owners son is crossing boundaries. That might have something to do with the fact she got promoted for something most of us would have been giving a warning about.

              Rant over.

              1. Bilateralrope*

                Now I’m wondering who told her she was being promoted. If it was the owners son, does he have the authority to make that happen ?

                1. Kathy*

                  He didn’t. But my supervisor did tell her she was getting promoted. The founder/chairman’s son just has a special liking to her. He may be influencing things behind the scenes.

                2. valentine*

                  He may be influencing things behind the scenes.
                  If this is a family company, you might do well to leave for one that isn’t.

                  The fact she’s so awful, yet your friend, and worrying about her is interfering with your life sounds like enmeshment. Disengaging, disentangling, and distancing yourself from her might do wonders for you.

              2. AnonAcademic*

                I think you need to go on an “information diet” with this person. Meaning, do not seek personal information about them and if they start telling it to you, set a boundary that you can’t be an audience for it. If they are going to be your supervisor you do not need to know about their personal and medical life to the extent you are describing here. I believe you that this person really gets under your skin, but you are not going to come across as professional if you are listing reasons like “won’t take a pregnancy test” and “has charges pending over property destruction” as reasons you don’t want to work under her. Those things don’t actually have anything to do with her ability to supervise you. You may find them unbecoming of a supervisor but by highlighting them as reasons you can’t work with her, you are actually the one acting unprofessional. You come across as overly invested in the personal life of a work colleague, which reflects poorly on your boundaries as well as hers.

              3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Puking+headache, I’d assume migraine. Definitely sounds like a good time to step back from the connection, because you can lay it entirely on a professional reason not personal.

              4. Hello gorgeous!*

                Your opinion of her as a coworker/supervisor needs to be divorced from your opinion of her as a person/friend.

                Work: she left work early because she was sick
                Friend: she may be pregnant

                Work: a lot of her accounts have been given to me
                Friend: I deal with a lot of her personal drama

                You need to separate, because with the exception of drinking at lunch, no of your complaints are work related! They are friend related! (She threw a cinderblock, she may be pregnant, she has life drama!)

    2. Mama Bear*

      I would be super professional at work and try not to worry about things you know outside of the office unless they directly impact the office/work. If she works an 8 hr day and the job gets done, try not to worry about the details. If she starts to do things that affect your job, then respond appropriately. Managers generally shouldn’t socialize with their direct reports, so you can use that when you decline social outings.

      1. MommaChem*

        I know I’m days late and this may not be seen but a small recommendation on how to tweak Mama Bear’s separation advice: Make it a positive for her.

        “I’m happy for you that you are getting this new opportunity. Most supervisors have to have some personal separation from their direct reports. I am going to take a step back in our personal relationship so you don’t have to be the one to initiate the change. I do wish you all the best in your new role and hope we can continue to have a successful working relationship.”

        Good luck!

  31. Talia*

    I am attempting to write documentation for my job, for a piece of software that hasn’t had it. The problem is that there’s the list of steps, and then there’s the list of “If X, do Y instead”, which I can’t put into a separate document of edge cases because usually it’s very non-obvious that something’s weird– think “sometimes, when you are filling teapot orders, one will randomly refuse to fill. The only way this is indicated is with one field that doesn’t alarm in any way or act any differently on your screen unless you are watching that field, but if you just fill the order without fixing that, it will cause serious problems for other departments down the line. Therefore you must check every time. Usually the refusal to fill is because of X, but not always, and sometimes it really is just the software being ornery. Each of the reasons for this has different solution steps.”

    Every single step has *multiple* cases like that. (No, “use a different software” is not one of the available options.)

    The end result? I have zero idea how to format this document so that it is legible, because every step is filled with “Most of the time do X, but you have to watch carefully in case you have to do Y or Z instead.”

    1. downdate*

      If you’re doing this in Word, suggest you utilize cross-references. Something like:

      1. Open up the door. If there is no door, click here to No Door Case.
      2. Go to the mailbox. If the mailbox is open, go to Open Mailbox. If the mailbox vanished overnight, go to Contact Post Office.
      3. Open mailbox. If the mailbox contains bananas, go to Bananas.
      4. Pick up the mail.

      1. juliebulie*

        Yes. You’re basically writing subroutines for the edge cases and then xref’ing to them as needed. This keeps the clutter out of the main procedure, for those occasions when people are filling the teapot orders without any exceptions.

    2. Kes*

      I think you could still have a list of steps, with a list of edge cases to check for, what to check and how to handle it (or a reference to an entry in a separate document of edge cases) as sub-points to each step

    3. Cheesesticks*

      Can you add the step “Confirm field reads X”? if field does not read X, see alternate steps in Appendix A and maybe add a link to it? Have the appendices at the end of your document.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        This sounds like the best solution to avoid cluttering the main document.

        Alternatively you could have a Troubleshooting section?

      2. detaill--orieted*

        I can think of two strategies, depending on how common the odd cases are relative to total use. One, elevate the odd cases to the same level as the standard behavior:
        1) Rotation stage

        2) Randomization
        a) Standard teapot

        b) Chocolate-ready teapot

        c) Pre-version-2.1 teapot

        The other, call it out every time:
        2) Randomization stage

        NOTE: if this is a chocolate-ready, non-spouted, or pre-version-2.1 teapot, read Special Randomization instructions.

        I also like the idea, kind of like what @Cheesesticks says, of a checklist at the end of each step. “Before confirming Randomization, check: 1) Is “has handle” checkbox selected for all items in master list? 2) Is . . .”

        In either case, I’d want to back it up with an extensive Troubleshooting/FAQ section as another point of entry, with headings such as: “Is this a chocolate-ready teapot? See . . .” and “Did the tea fail to ionize? See . . .”

    4. On Hold*

      I think if “check that all teapot orders filled correctly and deal with it if not” is a step, you should write it in as a step. Depending on how often this happens, either put the most common fix in there, or direct to a separate section for Troubleshooting.

      The Troubleshooting section could look like this:
      Step 5 (Teapot order didn’t fill correctly): Teapot order failure is not flagged well, but it causes X and Y problems down the line if not fixed. If you see that a teapot order was not filled successfully, these are the troubleshooting steps to take.
      — A: most common scenario:
      — B: Unlikely scenario:
      — C: Somebody told me that they saw this happen once (but honestly I don’t believe them (but I’m mentioning it here just in case)) scenario:
      Step 7 (Out of cheese error): [explanation]
      — A: Redo from start

    5. Hamburke*

      I have a process like this. I write my instructions in outline so I can add this kind of choose your own adventure. I put in a step (step 4 or whatever) in my instructions “verify box X” . And then 4a says “if box X say (desired result), proceed to step 5.” 4b “if box X does not say (desired result): 4bi- troubleshoot routine 1; 4bii – troubleshoot routine 2; etc” I even sometimes add keywords to Google or say to tech support. 95% of the time, I’m bypassing this section of my procedures but it’s so good to have these notes when I need them instead of relying on my memory! Also, no one needs to call me on vacation!

  32. Minocho*

    Yesterday, Tropical Depression Imelda took us by surprise. My office is in downtown Houston, and we thought after Wednesday it would move north east and leave us alone. Oops.

    The public buses were halted, and a bunch of coworkers found themselves stranded without a ride home. I live in an area that wasn’t in danger of flooding (I had to evacuate during Harvey!), but all the freeways to the west side of town from downtown Houston were under water. The afternoon was spent figuring out what we would do to get home, or deciding to maybe stay at the office overnight.

    It took me three hours, but I made it home safely last night. I also took three coworkers who were stranded due to public transit being shut down to their cars. The company was really responsible too – they booked nearly 200 hotel rooms for employee to stay in town overnight if needed.

    This is the best company I’ve ever worked for. I get treated with respect, and am treated like an adult, and it is wonderful.

    1. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      This is the nicest thing I’ve read all week. I hope everyone stays safe and the flooding recedes soon.

      1. Minocho*

        There were some areas that were really hit hard, but downtown flooding is receding pretty well. I drove into work today without issue (though I am keeping an eye on the weather and road reports!). It’s kinda a ghost town in here today, though. Lost of people opted to work remote – understandably so!

        1. LeighTX*

          I am one of those–I CRAWLED through the Galleria yesterday and didn’t want a repeat of that mess, so I worked from home today. So happy to have that option!

    2. sunshyne84*

      This is what I’m worried about. I’m hoping to get this job downtown, but I’d definitely be stranded under those conditions. I guess I’ll just have to keep some snacks on hand.

  33. sensitive topic*

    I am not sure if this is the right place to write it, as it is quite sensitive so please feel free to delete…

    Earlier this week. Early morning. 2 coworkers talking to each other–both guys in 20s. One has very explicitly said he and his wife don’t want to have kids and that if his wife ends up pregnant, they’ll abort etc. (it’s a very open office and we all talk to each other about random stuff). Well, that led to some pretty gross abortion jokes. I’m pro choice so the stance doesn’t bother me, but the graphic jokes rubbed me the wrong way.

    I’m feeling heavy/guilty about not stopping it in the moment

    -Neither reports to me but I don’t think that matters? No matter my position, i *could* have said, please take this conversation elsewhere/stop it etc

    -They’ve both shown to be otherwise nice and reasonable people.

    -Inappropriate/TMI jokes are the culture here. I usually have no issue with it.

    -I had ample time to say something, but my thought process was–these are my own private issues. No one else was there to be bothered by that conversation. I was part of the conversation until it took that turn and I went back to my work right away.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      As long as Inappropriate / TMI jokes are the culture, it’s really hard to challenge any one example of that. In the moment, if you respond jokingly with “Ew gross” or any other light response, it would just encourage more jokes. If you answer seriously, you get a hit to your professional reputation, of being ‘uptight’ or ‘not a team player.’

      I would not willingly work for a place with that culture. If I did have to work there, I would either become the office grump on all the jokes (“Y’all are way out of line. Grow up, and stop with the gross jokes.”) and take the professional hit or, as you did, walk away when they hit my personal line.

      *IF* you are close to one or both of the guys, you could have a quiet conversation and say, “I know we have a pretty bro culture, but [graphic reference x] was just too much for me. Could you not joke about [graphic reference x] in future?”

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Caveat: I am a white cis mid-career geeky female with an advanced degree, so I have a pretty high relative privilege, which helps minimize that professional hit. I would not look down on anyone who did not choose to take it.

    2. juliebulie*

      It wasn’t your responsibility to shut it down. Or to put it another way, it was less your responsibility than it was theirs. So there’s no reason to feel badly about it now.

      But if you still feel that you should say something next time, remember how badly you felt this time. That might make it easier for you to act.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think it was your responsibility to shut it down. If it did make you uncomfortable, you did have the prerogative to ask them to move it along or refrain while around you, but that doesn’t mean you were obliged to do it.

      To me it sounds simply like you’re realizing now you wish you’d asked them to take the jokes elsewhere. I think that’s a reasonable response but it doesn’t need to bury you; just keep that thought in your pocket for future use.

      1. Joielle*

        Yep, this. It was your prerogative to ask them to stop, but not your responsibility.

        If it comes up again, you can say something – doesn’t have to be a serious conversation, just “WELP, that’s where I take my leave” or “Bleh, too much” or something while you turn back to your work. I’m sure they knew they were skirting the line of inappropriateness with that kind of joke and if they’re decent guys, would be apologetic if you said something in the future.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I dunno. I’ve been thinking hard lately about this responsibility thing when it comes to issues of conduct and discriminatory behavior. It’s true that it wasn’t any more your responsibility to shut it down, but on the other hand, whether something like this gets shut down or not makes the difference between a place in which a diverse bunch of people feel welcome. I mean, I’ll never have children and never was pregnant, and am fine with abortion, but joking about punching a woman in the stomach to induce traumatic loss of a pregnancy is WAY out of line.

          So I’ve set myself a personal policy that I speak up if I can. I’ve done it a small number of times now in situations where I didn’t used to, and it’s a range from “lost a FB friend-of-a-friend who I appreciated for her knowledge in [specialty hobby] but otherwise thought as a bit stuck-up anyway” to “tough but good discussion with person I care about very much”. Is it a risk? Sure. And if you do it, think hard beforehand what the best setting is. A preamble of “I need to bring something up that I’ve seen go badly, and I like you, so I really don’t want it to go badly, but this is important to me” to put an interlocutor in the right mindset has been helpful.

          Alternatively you could report it — not as an abortion joke, but as a graphic partner violence/ violence against women joke.

          1. Avasarala*

            I don’t think it’s appropriate to suddenly report two dudes for making abortion jokes in an office where off-color/inappropriate humor is normally OK. Sounds like OP is normally OK with this stuff but this one time just felt overboard. In that case it’s up to OP to say something to the dudes. It would be kind of underhanded to go straight to reporting them for making jokes about “violence against women” if you know they were toeing a line that is otherwise culturally OK in your office.

            And also I don’t think it’s always necessary to step in to conversations (literally or online) and police them for “conduct” on behalf of people who aren’t you, who are imaginary and might be offended. If you’re in the conversation and it bothers you, say something. But if you’re just passing by and you’re not bothered but “someone else might be” it just seems really performative and virtue-signaling.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              I pretty much disagree with every one of your points.

              1. It’s completely irrelevant whether I feel offended. As I often say, a racist may feel offended by the idea of having to work on equal terms with a black person. It’s not the sincerity of feelings that’s at issue here.
              2. People shouldn’t be having to endure casual jokes about punching women in the stomach, or about getting rid of a pregnancy given that strong, legitimate, desires and fears regarding pregnancy cut both ways. Especially not when the jokes aren’t even coming from people talking about what they’d do with their own bodies, but about violating other people’s bodies.
              3. If I lose coworkers or team members who should be feeling welcome and respected over this kind of shit, it concerns me. If people are keeping their head down at work trying to stay out of the way of the bros waving their penises around, it concerns me. And don’t tell me this sort of thing doesn’t differentially impact women and other people who aren’t straight guys (probably mostly white).
              4. If *this* is what pushes the OP finally across a line, in an office where the tone and conduct is generally already at below-sewer level, good for them. It’s not virtue-signalling. It’s actually making things overall better.

    4. matcha123*

      I’m female, don’t want kids, and have many female friends of varying racial backgrounds who also don’t want kids. I think we’ve all made pretty graphic jokes about abortion and what we’d do if we got pregnant. Is your problem with men talking about abortion or about the jokes or about men making the jokes? Why do you feel like you would have needed to say something? Especially if you seem to be working in a place where that type of humor is par for the course?

      1. sensitive topic*

        The jokes themselves–punching them in the stomach, throwing her down the stairs, using a coat hanger etc. I’ve had 3 losses, and want to be pregnant and have children, but have issues conceiving/carrying–no one in my office knows this, as it’s none of their business, and I don’t think that should have any bearing on why it’s too far/inappropriate even in an office where everything else is fair game. Again–I’m pro-choice, I just don’t want to hear graphic jokes.

        1. fposte*

          I’m really sorry for your losses; that is very hard indeed.

          I think that “they went too far” and “I don’t want to hear it” aren’t necessarily the same thing; I had thought you were going toward the second, but maybe you’re really thinking the first and wishing not just that you’d moved them away but that they had realized they had crossed a line. As Jules says, I think it’s hard to differentiate a single crossed line from others in a workplace that specializes in them, so you’ll have better luck in saying “Dudes, that’s too much for me–take it outside, please” than “Dudes, you’ve crossed from edgy to creepy,” but the second could be a possibility if you feel it and are comfortable with expending the capital.

          1. sensitive topic*

            Thank you @fposte …… I wasn’t too sure of the difference so my default was to stay quiet. I was considering saying “OK please take it elsewhere” but by the time I did, the topic had already changed so it would have been moot I guess.

        2. emmelemm*

          Those are some pretty bad jokes, I have to say. (And I’m pro-choice and not above risky/risque humor, I think?) Those jokes are two-fers: not only are they about – I refuse to say killing babies, because that’s not what abortion is, but perhaps “destroying fetuses” – they’re also about hurting/abusing adult women. And that’s not right. You would definitely not have been wrong to say, “Hey, that took a turn for the not cool.”

          But don’t feel bad that you didn’t. It’s always hard to veer away from the prevailing culture. It’s enough that you basically disengaged.

        3. LilySparrow*

          I think men “joking” about punching their wives or throwing them down the stairs for any reason is pretty awful.

          Would you consider this normal “TMI” for your office about any other topic? Or does the abortion reference somehow make it different than ….ya know, men talking about beating women as a funny joke?

        4. Kat in VA*

          I am very sorry for your loss. I have had a miscarriage myself. It’s not easy. I’m totally pro-choice myself…but…I don’t wanna hear graphic jokes that have the added bonus of YAY VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.

          I have epic Resting Bitch Face as it is, but I’ve very much perfected the art of the icy glare and a level, “That’s enough, thank you.” in my best, calmest, deadliest MomVoice.

          Sometimes simple works best. You don’t have to justify / argue / defend / explain – just “That’s enough, thank you.”

      1. fposte*

        It’s really hard to say in isolation. It would depend on the employees in question and their general behavior/merits, and it would also require grappling with what you’ve described as a workplace where the edgy is usually acceptable. In my workplace those would be *way* over the line; if I overheard, I was in management, and it was a one-off, I think it would be “WHOA! Bob and Ray, in here a moment please….We do not make violent jokes about unborn babies in this workplace, or anything else that could be straining to make edgy comedy about the personal experiences of people around you. Do not *ever* do that again.” If you came to me after the fact, I’d probably pull them in and say much the same to them.

        But I suspect from how you describe your workplace I’d draw a line way before they got to that joke, because I think your workplace is going way too far and possibly risking legal trouble as a result.

    5. Rexasaurus Tea*

      There was a post here a while ago about a person whose co-workers liked to discuss true crime podcasts, especially murder-related ones, and some good suggestions came out of there. (will add a link in a separate reply.) I don’t think it’s too late to go to one of them and say something like “Hey, earlier this when you and I and Barney were joking around about [however you want to describe it] the conversation took a turn that got pretty [dark/graphic/yourwordchoice]. Pregnancy loss is a topic that can hit some people really hard even if they haven’t shared it with anyone, and I’d hate it if we accidentally made someone uncomfortable. We should probably save that one for outside the workplace.”

      I put “we” because you said you had been part of the conversation earlier, and that way it comes across more as “oops, we need to check ourselves” rather than “you really crossed a line.” That does carry the risk of them thinking that you’re ok with this topic as long as it’s away from the office, so there might be better phrasing if you want to avoid that altogether.

    6. Gumby*

      You do you. But also consider: you were uncomfortable but did not feel empowered to say anything. Is it possible that there were other people around who were also uncomfortable and also didn’t feel like they could say anything? I would never work out in an office where that type of joking was a regular feature because my TMI limit appears to be much too low. But there have got to be a fair number of people between me and inappropriate-dudes who would *also* be uncomfortable with joking about domestic violence (punching? throwing down the stairs?).

      1. sensitive topic*

        Hi Gumby, it was early in the day, before people came in, so I was the only one in that general area to hear it. I’m 10000% sure if my boss heard it they would’ve shut it down but they were out that day. And they stopped pretty quickly, but if it comes up again, I’ll speak up.

        Not sure if this matters but the TMI usually verges on bathroom humor. I had a decent conversation with one of the guys, not about that but inappropriateness in general (not a lecture From me but we were talking about some comedy specials etc).

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A tactic I’ve used in the past was to pop around the cubicle wall and say “hey guys. Your voices carry really clearly and we hear everything over here.”
      Ie I just talk about volume. Because a quiet open office benefits all of us anyway.

  34. Jerkface*

    We have XM radio over speakers at work since we can’t bring headphones into our work area. Our security staff controls the station and they usually do a pretty good job of mixing up the genres, some of which I enjoy, some I don’t. But at least once a week someone switches it to a Christian music station. There’s nothing particularly offensive on the station. It’s mostly croony music with lyrics about