updates: office parties with secret destinations, the sarcastic junior coworker, and more

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

1. Office parties where the destination/activity is a secret

The party came and went last Thursday, so I can now update you on how it went. I was glad to read that I wasn’t alone in being annoyed by not getting any information about the party, so I opted out without feeling guilty. I later found out some colleagues opted out for the same reasons, so at least I wasn’t the only one.

I have now found out where the party was and what they did and am now a little bit annoyed I missed it. It turned out to be really nearby. I could have taken my bicycle there (I live in a very bicycle-friendly country). If they had told us that up front, I would have gone. There was no karaoke, but they did have a performer whose music I really don’t like. But if I had taken my bike there, I could have just left once that part of the evening began.

I gave this feedback to the organizers, so hopefully they will give out more information next time.

Also quite a few people commented about not knowing what food was going to be served and were afraid that people with food allergies weren’t going to be able to eat anything, but that was taken good care of. Everyone could send in their dietary restrictions and they are always taken care of, so that was never going to be an issue.

2. Can I suggest a junior coworker tone down her sarcastic sense of humor?

Thank you again for your advice and for the thoughts a advice from the commentariat regarding “Patricia.”

Patricia returned from 8 weeks FMLA leave in late June. Prior to that, our boss decided to move her to another area within hour department where her job would entail more “grunt work” and less creativity and responsibilities. This seems to be a better fit for her and Patricia seems less stressed overall. I think this type of production work gives her a chance to improve her speed and skills without the added pressure of coming up with creative solutions for clients.

She’s still a bit scattered and unprofessional, unfortunately, but I think part of that is just her personality. Today, for instance, she was supposed to take a shuttle up to our other office with our summer intern for a meeting and tour set up by a vendor. We bought them both shuttle tickets and we had several discussions ahead of time (me with both Patricia and the intern) about showing up for the shuttle on time, parking, etc. I wasn’t able to accompany them because I have several deadlines and anyway, it was all arranged and they’re both adults in their early 20s. Well, I checked in with Patricia around 9:00am to see how the trip was going and it turned out they both missed the shuttle and ended up driving the 3+ hours to the other office in Patricia’s car!

I asked how that happened and Patricia said she got stuck in traffic and then texted the intern and convinced her not to get on the shuttle and that they could just drive together instead. So now, rather than using their shuttle tickets (which the company paid for), Patricia wants to be paid for the gas she’s using.

In the end it’s not that big of a deal that they drove but it leaves me scratching my head and wondering if we’re ever going to be able to give her more responsibility in the future.

3. I got in a car accident because my company insisted I do an event in a remote town during a blizzard (first update here)

I had to laugh (and immediately send you an update!) when I received this text message today:

“Hi OP. This is Jane, your manager from Promotion Company. Did you see my email yesterday? We still have some open shifts this weekend! Please text (or email) me your availability so we can get them filled!”

Wow!!! No one from that company has texted me since shortly after my update in December 2018. Someone suggested I start replying questioning their policies again and that worked like a charm to get them to stop contacting me (great suggestion!). I assumed they finally figured out that I really don’t work there anymore!

Out of curiosity, I just checked my filtered emails… and YUP. I’m STILL getting their emails! Multiple a week. Too funny.

I texted Jane back letting her know I quit over 2 years ago and *moved out of state* several months ago (which is the only state they’re active in). Maybe that’ll finally stop them?!

Otherwise, I’m still at the same wonderful company that got me through my original injury in late 2016; I moved to a different location for my spouse’s new job earlier this year (and now I get to work from home half the week as well!).

4. How do I respond to a job rejection that mentions other future positions? (#5 at the link)

I wanted to send a happy update to my letter about the job rejection where the hiring manager offered to keep me updated about future opportunities.

Coincidentally, the day that you published the answer to my letter, I received an email from the hiring manager letting me know there was something open and she thought I would be a good fit for it. It was a long process, but I was offered and I accepted the position this week! The original hiring manager was serious about keeping an eye out for me and I got lucky in that the new position turned out to a great fit. It was really wonderful to hear from your readers in the comments about their experiences! Thank you!

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. WellRed*

    Am I the only one horrified by the idea of sending an employee and an intern on a six hour round trip in one day for a tour?
    Regardless, Patricia sounds like a flake.

    1. Lance*

      No, you’re definitely not. And I feel kinda bad for the intern getting dragged into taking a longer route, probably to make Patricia look better/feel better about herself.

      1. Tedious Cat*

        Yeah, if I managed to get myself into a predicament like that (which I totally could, I suck at being on time), I would be mortified, not asking work to reimburse me.

        1. Cat*

          I wouldn’t. Mistakes happen. I actually haven’t missed a flight or anything for work, but I’m positive my office has paid flight change fees for people who have and things to that effect. It’s really a minimal amount of moeny.

          1. PennyLane*

            Mistakes happen, BUT, based on the information we have, I don’t think that’s the case. And even if it were a mistake on her part, the professional thing to do would be to tell the intern go ahead without her and she’d meet her there. Not pressure the intern to ditch the shuttle (and as a FT, more senior employee to the intern who is likely not familiar with professional norms, it would feel like pressure and that she should follow this more senior person’s lead because they know the “right” thing to do).

            I would tell Patricia that the company could not reimburse her because they already paid and cannot be reimbursed the expense of the tickets and had discussed several times the importance of being on time and it was her responsibility to make the shuttle. Otherwise, for someone like Patricia where this isn’t a one-off but rather a pattern of behavior, it will just reinforce this behavior and who’s to say it won’t happen again since there were no repercussions. If it were a different situation with an employee who has proven them self reliable and this was a one time occurrence that they expressed regret over, my thoughts would be different.

            1. Pebbles*

              If the company decides not to reimburse Patricia for her gas, then they should also preemptively have a talk with the intern about how she doesn’t need to pay Patricia for half of the gas (while also talking about how the intern should have gone ahead and taken the shuttle without Patricia). It was Patricia’s decision to drive and she roped the intern into going along. The intern might be similarly pressured to help out Patricia on the fuel charge.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Sure, we’d pay for the changes when necessary since we have to get the person to the location they’re needed in. A one off time, that’s going to be a “sh*t happens, whatever.” sort of conversation. But if someone has a track record of having time management issues, that would be the last straw that leads to termination since their time management now is costing us money and reputation.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              Yeah, I think it’s less “we won’t pay for this expense because of your mistake” and more, “this is a pattern and has work implications.” I recently booked our flights incorrectly – it ended up working out better than what we had originally planned, but in the interim my boss was like “It’s not a huge deal – our sales guys do that occasionally, if we need to pay for another set of flights, I’d rather do that than have you miss something crucial. If this became a pattern, I think they’d discipline me rather than have me pay for the new flights.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          For me I think it would depend a little bit.
          Was it traffic like: some dude stalled out in the middle of the bridge I take and then managed to set his own van on fire while lighting a road flare, thus all but shutting down the bridge and causing 1-2 hour delays? OK, yeah, I may ask for gas money to get to the event because there was no way I could see that coming and I was already on the road when it happened and could not plan ahead to reroute in a way that would not make me late. (yes, that has happened.)

          Or is it more like I didn’t really think about the fact the rush hour is an actual thing and therefore left my house at the last possible second to get me there on time under ideal circumstances and the fact that other people are just generally on the road at the same time during the morning is what made me late? That’s on me and I wouldn’t ask for reimbursement.

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            Oh, but I forgot to add, either way I would have told the intern I was running late but that she should get on the shuttle and I’d meet her there. I really don’t understand why Intern should have not done that, unless the shuttle is really gross or something (I’m figuring it’s not.). That sounds like Patricia trying to cover her butt in a very weird way.

            1. OhNo*

              Agreed. It sounds like Patricia felt like it would reflect badly on her to have missed the shuttle (she’s not wrong!), and so rather than take any negative consequences solo, she roped the intern into it, as well.

              I’ve seen a lot of people get in trouble and try to throw someone else under the bus in their stead, or try to pull the “but other people were doing it too~” card, rather than own up to a mistake. This sounds like something similar.

          1. Anonomoose*

            I’d disagree..if I break something expensive at work, I’m not paying for it (though, if it’s through my own stupidity, it might cost me my job)

            You’re basically loaning the company money with expenses. Which means, if they’re remotely plausible, they should be paid for, as missing a shuttle is precisely the same, to me, as me failing to observe correct procedure and dropping some bit of computer hardware down a flight of stairs.

            1. Dahlia*

              This is like your company providing you with a Dell laptop and you deciding you’d rather have a Macbook so you’re gonna buy one and expect them to pay you back.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is giving me hives and reminding me of that story the other day with the 8 hour drive time plus 8 hour work day in the same day.

      At least they originally were going to take a shuttle, so you know, you can take a nap. It’s easier to put on headphones and zone out in a public transit situation than in a car with a person who couldn’t manage her GD time. I’m pretty upset for the intern since she’s an intern and clearly has no foot to stand on to say “Gurl no.” and get on the shuttle that she had a ticket for.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Agreed about the intern. If I were OP I’d definitely set the record straight with her that Patricia’s behaviour is not normal before she gets a weird calibration on professional norms.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, setting an intern up with a flake could do some damage, I didn’t think of that part either.

          I hope that given Patricia “being Patricia’ the intern would hopefully know that she’s not the norm on her own but you never know and it’s better to not assume of course. It would be nice to pull her aside and let her know that what happened isn’t okay and apologize that she was sucked into the vortex that is Patrica’s bad time management.

    3. CB212*

      I interpreted “the shuttle” as a flight – for example the NYC-DC shuttle, which is pretty much a half-hr commuter trip. It’s particularly terrible if the intern was pressured to trade a fast trip for a 3 hour drive!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Ooooh this is an interesting twist, I hope the OP drops in and confirms.

        That makes so much more sense.

        Shuttle around here would mean you’re taking a small bus.

      2. ACDC*

        I need more details on this! I’ve never heard of a commuter/shuttle flight. Do you go to a regular airport and go through TSA and all that jazz?

        1. Sharkie*

          Yeah. It’s a normal flight. I have never known anyone to do it every day, but there was about a 2 year period that my dad took it once a week for a weekly meeting.

        2. Beehoppy*

          Yes, but it’s a smaller plane so much fewer people-boarding and onboarding goes more quickly, most people just have s small carryon and flight time is generally pretty quick.

        3. Cat*

          Yeah, personally, I think the utility is mixed. I’d never fly from Portland to Seattle, for instance – by the time you get to the airport, go through security, and then get from the airport to your destination, the 3.5 hour drive (or preferably train) is quicker IMO.

          1. mark132*

            Though D.C. to N.Y. the shuttle makes more sense. D.C. and N.Y. are two of the most parking unfriendly cities in the US, but with some of the better public transit systems. (I understand Seattle and Portland aren’t all the parking friendly either, of course).

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Laughing because I know a lot of people who do fly between Seattle and Portland.

            It’s 3.5hrs is on a good transit day. With all the road work and craziness in the Tacoma area, it has turned into 4-5 hours. Plus needing to stop for food and peeing and avoiding leg cramping, etc.

            I recently flew from Seattle to Eugene and it was the best decision ever. Yeah the flight was delayed since they’re always connecting flights on puddle jumper planes but in reality, at least I didn’t have to worry about the psychos on the roadways and the trip going from 5 to 7 hours when the interstate gets backed up when a semi flips.

          3. Swingbattabatta*

            Ha, I did this recently- down and back from Seattle to Portland in the same day. It was so much faster than driving, plus I was able to work/read a book while in the air.

            1. Mr. Shark*

              Yes, I’ve done the Seattle to Portland flight, not in the same day, but basically in place of driving, and it was quicker overall (and saved the company on mileage, which adds up significantly on a trip of that length).

          4. Nerfmobile*

            For Portland-Seattle the train is definitely the optimal experience if local transport on the other end is not an issue. Flying can be faster than driving depending on the relationship of your endpoints to the airports, given all other factors.

        4. nonegiven*

          New York to Boston, New York to DC, etc. There’s probably 1-2 dozen flights a day considered shuttle service.

        5. Laurelma_01!*

          I’ve heard of commuter flights, between a small airport to a larger one. That would be a quick flight vs 3 – 4 hour drive.

        6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Regional airports take about zero time to get through TSA.

          I flew out of one recently and it took me about 10 minutes from the time my ride dropped me at the curb to get through security and to the gate. Printed a boarding pass. No line at the TSA checkpoint. Wore the right clothes and had only carry on luggage. Side pat down. Even stopped by the store to get a Gatorade and was at the gate to sit and wait for the boarding to start.

        7. Malarkey01*

          I did the Delta commuter between NYC and Boston a bunch 15 years ago. There was a separate line for security (this was before pre-check), everyone just had brief cases and purses so it was super fast. The boarding was about 5 minutes and you sat wherever you wanted (the plane was maybe a quarter to half full) so it wasn’t like the 30 minute before flight time boarding. The part that was the best (and I don’t know if it’s still like this) but they would change your flights to the earlier/later one right at the gate. If I bought the 3:00 flight but my meeting was done early and I got to the gate by 1:50 I could jump on the 2 or if I cut it too close and missed the 3 I could get on the 4:15. You just walked to the gate and they did a quick switch. I would get to the airport 20 minutes before the flight and usually have plenty of time to clear security and walk on. It’s a lot more like catching a commuter train than regular air travel.

      3. CB212*

        East coast shuttle flights were wildly popular in the 70s. There was no TSA, with a carryon you could head straight to the gate, and you could smoke on the plane. Living the dream. ;) And if you missed your flight you could just get on line for the next one that probably left in half an hour. Just fantastic.

        They’re less attractive now – especially with the construction going on at LGA, and of course gas rationing ended a while back (lol) – but still, well to be fair it’s about an hour in the air, not half, but it’s still a lot better than driving. And I’m sure there are a lot of regional airport flights where this kind of thing is still smart, when you can get from downtown to your gate pretty fast.

    4. CmdrShepard4ever*

      It might have been a situation where if they had gotten on the shuttle on time there would have been less traffic and it would have only been an 1.5 hr trip each way, but since they were already late the time when they left meant they hit traffic resulting in a 3 hour trip.

      Or the shuttle presumably being a bus could have used dedicated bus express lanes that a passenger car could not to make each way shorter.

      I don’t think a 3 hour drive would be inherently bad if the tour was only 2 hours and the commute was part of “work time” so for instance the shuttle leaves at 9 am the regular start time and the shuttle returns to work at 5 pm regular end time. If my job wants to pay me to sit on a shuttle bus for 6 hours while I watch netflix/read/twirl my thumbs that is fine by me.

      I once had to make a trip to an off site for my job. The commute to the new site was about 2 hours by public transit each way. My regular commute is 1 hour each way via public transit. So instead of heading into work I went straight to the off site. But I left at my regular time, so that the first hour was part of my usual unpaid commute to work, but the second hour commuting to the off site was “paid work time” but I could’t do any work on the train so I just watched netflix. I did the same on my way home.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I assumed they’d meant an airplane shuttle — a three hour drive would probably have been an hour’s flight, max. That’s manageable. Three hours though? I’d go crazy.
      Patricia belongs in sales if she’s persuasive enough to convince a co-worker to drive 6 hours instead of flying two.

      1. Jamey*

        But the coworker was an intern so it makes total sense that they would feel like they couldn’t say no to whatever Patricia told them. Which also makes it particularly egregious.

      2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        But it wasn’t quite a co-worker. An intern is usually taking their cues from the employees they’re assigned to work with. And if the shuttle meant the intern would have arrived hours before Patricia, they might not’ve felt they had a choice, if Patricia was supposed to take the lead in dealing with the logistics/people at the destination

    6. Op*

      OP/Updater here: Yeah, it was a shuttle bus. The trip takes about 3 hours on a bus but they could have plugged in their laptops (company provides them) and watched Netflix, listened to music, etc. They were supposed to take the shuttle bus, have a tour and do some other team-building activities with our team in the other city. It was a pretty full day but the shuttles were paid for and they were getting lunch and dinner and time with the other office members. Due to the fact that they missed the shuttle and drove, they decided that they didn’t want to stay and do the team-building activities and tour our other office so they ended up heading straight home after the tour was done.

      1. Holly*

        Someone really should have looked out for the intern and had them stay and join them for the shuttle. Sounds like the intern really missed out on networking opportunities because they went under the wrong person’s wing.

        1. Lance*

          No kidding. I was figuring they at least were there for the whole thing; hearing that they weren’t makes me feel even worse for the intern. They should definitely at least be pairing them with someone who’s not Patricia.

          1. Holly*

            Yes, completely agree. They should be paired with someone the company wants them to learn from! I think it extends to a company failure as well as just Patricia that they let the intern leave with her.

          2. Mainly Lurking*

            I agree – and I really don’t understand why the poor intern was doomed to driving BACK with Patricia (and thereby missing planned activities) when the employer had already bought the return ticket on a comfortable shuttle bus with wi-fi which would leave at the end of the full day.

            Will there be another chance for the intern to make up for them missing the full experience they had been promised?

      2. Observer*

        That makes this actually a big deal.

        Why didn’t someone tell the intern to stay for the whole event and take the shuttle back?

        I also think that someone needs to have a serious conversation with Patricia. She missed the shuttle and therefore had to leave early? Not good, but not terrible (as long as she hadn’t asked for reimbursement.) Causing someone else to miss activities that could be useful to them? REALLY bad move. That’s something that should be flagged. And she should not be in a position to supervise, guide or in any way advise others. Because she’s either inconsiderate of others or really, really, REALLY doesn’t get workplace norms.

      3. kittymommy*

        Wow, I feel really bad for the intern. Not only would I probably not re-reimburse Patricia gas money, there would be a serious conversation with her about her actions/influence over her handling of the situation and of the intern. As the more senior staff in the party she should not be blowing off these activities. While a lot of times they might be ridiculous, it’s probably not the impression an intern needs to have heading into the working world.

      4. Mr. Shark*

        I think this changes everything. If they actually missed all the team-building activities with the other team, which it sounds like was the main purpose of the trip (not just the tour), then Patricia’s decision to drive and then leave early seems like it destroyed the whole purpose of the trip.

        That is bad form all around on her part. I don’t think I’d be willing to provide reimbursement when the company already paid for the shuttle.

    7. Wintermute*

      Especially because the intern potentially needs to be PAID for all that time, in her boss’ shoes I would absolutely engage in formal disciplinary action for dragging the poor intern along.

    8. FairPayFullBenefits*

      I was initially horrified, but maybe if the tour was 1-2 hours and they weren’t expected to do any other work for the day, it’s not totally unreasonable?

  2. Artemesia*

    #4 — that is great. My daughter had a great job that came subsequent to being ‘second’ in a job search similarly. They first asked her to do a part time free lance gig and invited her to the Holiday party and then when the business picked up, brought her on board full time where she ended up as the COO before moving on. Sometimes they mean it and it does pay to keep in touch without of course overdoing it.

  3. Zephy*

    I love good updates!

    I do hope someone has a chance to talk to the intern from #2 and let her know that Patricia’s behavior is atypical and not to follow her example, though.

    I was a tiny bit worried about #4 being either an empty promise or a bait-and-switch, so I’m glad it worked out for them.

  4. 2 Cents*

    Yeah, when I read the tour would be of the other facility, I thought it would be up the road (I work for a major healthcare provider with a very spread out campus, so the shuttle is a daily part of life). But a 6-hour round Trip? OP, that’s a heck of a 1-day commitment.

  5. Observer*

    #2 – Patricia’s behavior is NOT “just a personality thing”. It’s behavior. In theory, it can be changed, but whether it’s a realistic expectation is a good question. But when you think about it, it’s worth framing is as behavior and looking at that, rather than her (possible) personality.

    She’s not only scattered and unprofessional – she has really, really bad judgement. Asking for reimbursement for an expense that she incurred due to being late is not a great thing to start with. Convincing the other intern to not take the shuttle? I can’t imagine why she thought that was appropriate.

    I agree with Zephy – someone should talk to the intern to explain why that was the wrong move.

    1. KWu*

      I agree with this–I think “scattered and unprofessional” is not really a personality type, so maybe “that’s just her personality” only means “she isn’t going to change.”

    2. Cat*

      I don’t think it’s that weird to “convince” the intern not to take the shuttle? They were presumably traveling together to do the tour together. So saying “I’m going to be five minutes late and miss the shuttle; let’s just drive in my car” seems pretty normal. Maybe it’s less pleasant for the intern, maybe it’s not. But it hardly seems like bizarrely irresponsible behavior to me.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        I disagree. The company paid for the shuttle and expected them to ride it. If Patricia decides not to take the shuttle, that’s on her. But she shouldn’t convince another employee to be insubordinate. If the intern could take the shuttle, they should have taken the shuttle.

        Patricia has terribly poor judgment.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s not weird, it’s unprofessional and inappropriate though. Those are different things.

        It’s a huge liability to have your employees in a personal car. What if the company doesn’t have the right insurance in place because they don’t do this kind of thing? Traveling on company time in a personal car without the right insurance in place is a huge deal if there’s a wreck.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          And yes — if Patricia is as flaky as she’s starting to sound, I wouldn’t want my employee to be riding in her car. Especially not at the end of a full day of work + 6 hours of driving.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Yes, and as much as we think it isn’t parents’ place to be involved in their adult child’s workplace, an intern is likely young enough to have parents who still feel protective of them and thus there’s a higher likelihood of them reporting the company to regulating authorities or being litigious if the intern is harmed, versus a fully-fledged adult.

        3. Anne Elliot*

          My sister’s last place of work was a satellite campus (rural) from a large academic institution (urban) where enough people had to go regularly that they set up a shuttle service in order to avoid paying out the wazoo for mileage. But people preferred to take their own cars because they were more comfortable, you could arrive/leave when you wanted, and you could drive straight home from the urban campus (evening) or go straight to the urban campus from home (morning). So people “forgot” or “missed” the shuttle all the time.

          So they quit paying mileage, period. We have a shuttle, that’s what it’s for, if you miss it and have to make alternative transportation arrangements, that’s your trouble luck.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            The good news is that if they’re itemizing their taxes, they can still write off the mileage that way! So they could double-game the system if they wanted to.

            I’m glad they put their foot down though.

            I hate feeling trapped anywhere but when it’s business, it’s a different thing entirely. So I do get their point but yeah, if you’re offered the shuttle option the choice is “free shuttle” or “pay to get yourself there yourself”.

      3. Asenath*

        I think it is a bit odd that she convinced the intern to change her plans, particularly as said plans involved the use of a pre-paid ticket. I admit I tend to be a bit obsessive about punctuality, but honestly, if I get a phone call at the last minute saying someone can’t meet me at the station or airport or whatever, but she’ll give me a lift, and I’m there with my ticket, I’ll say that it’s more convenient for me to go ahead as planned, and I’ll meet her on site. She’s already running late, I really hate waiting for late people who might end up making me late, and I’ve had too many experiences where “I’ll give you a lift” means “I’ll keep you kicking your heels for a few hours while I run errands and you’ll get home later than you would if you’d taken the slowest shuttle around”. Maybe when I was really young and naive I would have gone along with someone offering me a lift (although she was running late) when I had a pre-paid ticket in my hands that fit exactly with my plans. But even then, I would have been dubious about the suggestion.

        1. Mainly Lurking*

          But it can be really difficult for an intern to push back like that against an established member of staff.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          But the intern is young, they are both early 20s from the post. So she is probably not firm in boundaries given her limited experiences and the power differences involved. An employee verses an intern, where the intern may not feel like they have the right to say “no”.

          But I do agree. I’d be all “LOL nah, I’m on the bus right now, see you there.”

        3. Asenath*

          Yes, the intern is young, and as I said, I do think I’d have been a bit more hesitant to go against what my work superior suggested when I was young – particularly before I’d had various bad experiences with chronically late people and shared rides. But I also think that one of the often-underestimated skills that the young worker learns is how and when to do what they think is appropriate instead of what they’re told to do. The intern in this case could (and did) simply go along the employee. Maybe she was intimidated; maybe she liked that suggestion of the lift for her own reason. But that’s not her only option. She could have turned down the offer politely and gone her own way (assuming her ticket was in her possession) or she could have taken the lift, and mentally noted that this didn’t suit her and worked out how she might get out of a similar situation in the future. This story doesn’t focus on the intern, but the intern does have options other than simply going with the flow, and if the intern had written in, that would have been an important point to make. The lower status person isn’t entirely without power or options.

          1. Tinuviel*

            Good point. I would have done same as the intern when I was young. Now I’d say “see you there.”

      4. Cat*

        I have never been in a workplace where employees don’t take their personal cars to events, including car pooling with other co-workers. I don’t know how the insurance works everywehre, though I’m fairly sure my company does have insurance to cover that, but it’s the farthest thing from weird in my experience. Micromanaging how employees get somewhere, on the other hand, is kind of weird.

        Like, sure, deny the request for reimbursement. But characterizing it as insubordinate seems incredibly weird to me.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          If you’re in a travel heavy industry, they should have the right insurance! So it wouldn’t be an issue.

          However check with your personal insurance carrier about their requirements if you use your car for work. For your own safety. Seriously.

          It’s like if you get hurt at work and try to use your own personal insurance, it’s a mess.

          I just had a check up because I was in a car accident and they straight up told me that they needed specific paperwork because my personal insurance would kick it back when they saw it was in regards to an auto accident, it has to hit the auto insurance first.

        2. Close Bracket*

          I have never been in a workplace where employees don’t take their personal cars to events, including car pooling with other co-workers.

          Your own experience not withstanding, it’s a huge imposition for an employer to expect employees to drive 6+ hours round trip in one day for a work event. Yes, it happens, but it’s not a reasonable expectation. One might even call it weird.

          If Patricia was interested in driving herself, this option should have been discussed upfront and arrangements made for that. Expecting an employee not to blow off prearranged transportation isn’t micromanaging how she gets somewhere. I wouldn’t go so far as to call her insubordinate bc that is quite an escalation. She did waste company money with her carelessness, though, and that is a big deal in and of itself.

        3. Oh So Anon*

          It’s one thing to drive your own car if it’s within your company’s policy to use personal vehicles as is, but it’s insubordinate if you company policy disallows it completely or requires you personally to have additional coverage if you’re driving for work purposes. Having pre-arranged transportation probably means that they’re not down with people driving their own cars for work events without prior approval.

          Insofar as it’s about liability issues, it’s absolutely neither weird nor micromanaging to have requirements around this stuff. Every employer I’ve had has had different requirements around transportation for work duties, but all have expected their employees to follow their rules.

          Depending on her company’s policy, Patricia may have not only wasted money but also opened the company and herself up to serious liabilities if she got in a car accident. That could easily go into worker’s comp and Patricia’s insurer dropping her policy territory.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We’re all working on different assumptions — I’m hoping OP comes back and says if it’s a short airline flight between the two cities. Or a train or express bus — ie the shuttle would take significantly less time than the personal car did.

      6. Leela*

        I do think there’s an issue where the intern must have felt enormous pressure to comply with Patricia even if she felt really weird about it (I would have felt very weird in her shoes, but would not have felt that I could push back all that much and that it might reflect really poorly on me if I texted management/someone else to ask about it)

      7. Close Bracket*

        The other thing about the shuttle is that the tickets were already bought and paid for. That’s what makes missing it and convincing the person who didn’t miss it to blow it off irresponsible. If the arrangements had been, “Patricia and coworker meet at the shuttle station and buy their tickets,” then carpooling in Patricia’s car instead would not be a big deal (assuming that they still got to the other site on time, that is).

      8. Observer*

        I didn’t say it’s weird. I said it’s inappropriate. I also didn’t mention whether it was more comfortable for the intern or not. Because that’s also not the issue.

        There are a number of possible reasons why they were supposed to take the shuttle. It’s bad enough that Patricia wasted the money for her ticket and didn’t take the shuttle because she was late. Convincing someone else to join in that waste, is easy to understand, but it doesn’t make it appropriate. If nothing else, I’d be willing to be that they both wound up coming later than they would have, which is a problem on its own.

      9. Jaydee*

        If it was actually only 5 minutes it might have been worth it for the intern to ask the shuttle driver if they could wait for Patricia. Like, if she was just a couple blocks away from the shuttle stop. I suspect that she was much more than 5 minutes late.

      10. Jaydee*

        If Patricia was actually only 5 minutes late, maybe the intern could even have asked the shuttle driver to wait. I assume she was significantly more than 5 minutes late.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah. There are “quirks” we can easily write off as “That’s just who she is” and there are things that are unprofessional and unacceptable. Time management is hard for a lot of people but in the business world, you figure it out or you don’t get to screw other people over due to your tardiness.

      That kind of behavior gets you fired from most places.

      Quirks/Personality that you shrug off are “she has to write notes on that yellow pad, she hates all other message pad colors” or “It has to be Folgers coffee. When they bought Boyds the last time, he was not pleased.” Or “He eats carrots all day long at his desk like an angry rabbit.” Not “They can’t arrive on time to client locations and makes bad decisions.”!

      1. emmelemm*

        And yet so many letters from people who can’t just shrug off the carrot-eating because the noise is too loud! (This is a bit in jest.)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I thought about that after I hit submit. But if it’s one of those things, barring you having the condition where the noise actually causes pain, most offices are going to say “That’s just Jim. Jim likes carrots.” ;)

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        “He eats carrots all day long at his desk like an angry rabbit.”

        Gotta watch out for those killer rabbits. They’ve got a vicious streak a mile wide. ;)

    4. Close Bracket*

      Well, it’s still worth framing as a personality thing. Behaviors don’t crop up in a void, and people who are neuro atypical will have behaviors that can’t entirely be brought up to societal norms. Note that I am not diagnosing anybody here. I’m just pointing out that the “behaviors” framing has limitations. Sometimes it’s best not to frame it at all and to just observe that Patricia doesn’t meet certain expectations and instead of whittling a square peg into a round peg, try to find a better fit, which is exactly what happened!

      our boss decided to move her to another area within hour department where her job would entail more “grunt work” and less creativity and responsibilities. This seems to be a better fit for her

      1. Fikly*

        Being neuro atypical is not a personality thing. It’s being neuro atypical.

        I really cannot stand the whole “it’s their personality” justification. It’s like when someone says, “well, I’m just an asshole, nothing I can do about it.” No, they are responsible for their behavior. And they can not act like an asshole.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Exactly this. In the workplace, we can’t manage diagnoses (although we can make accommodations), but we can manage behavior. If someone doesn’t have an accommodation and is just being an asshole every day, then repercussions should ensue, or that’s just bad management.

        2. Close Bracket*

          Neuro atypical people have personality traits related to their neurology. Neurotypical people have personality traits related to their neurology. Personality is not wholely separate from the brain that it resides in.

          1. Tinuviel*

            Yes but the list of “acceptable behaviors” is something we agree on as a society that shifts based on context. It is impartial to neurology or personality, it is based on culture and human interactions. If your behavior cannot be brought within the list of “acceptable behaviors” for the context that you’re in (work, walking down the street, at a funeral, at a dance club) then socially you will be punished for it… that’s the agreement we all make when we go out in society. It’s why parents take their screaming baby out of movie theaters–there’s no discussion of “fault” because certainly the baby doesn’t know better, but that behavior is inappropriate for that context. We can discuss widening the list as a society, but neuro-atypical people don’t get a “free pass” on being a jerk because “that’s how their brain works”…

  6. Trek*

    OP3 I would set up a rule in your email that emails from this company are automatically forwarded to prior boss and/or grand boss. When they get sick of receiving them they will take you off the list.

        1. OP 3 doesn't work here!*

          That is very tempting even though I don’t see the emails normally :)

          The text came in a week or so ago and the manager (a new one since I quit 2 years ago) did reply back saying something along the lines of “oh wow! That’s crazy. I’ll get you off the list.”

          But checking my filtered emails right now… I literally got an email about 3 hours ago from them. And yesterday. And the day before.

          SO strange!

          1. MayLou*

            I recently got an email from a cleaning agency I joined nearly 10 years ago. I never got any work through them, haven’t heard a peep out of them in over eight years, and have moved out of area four times in the interim. You can imagine my surprise when they emailed to tell me they had shifts available in my area for good staff like me!

            1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

              I joined a temp agency out of college but after I turned down the first job they offered me, (Already had a T/Th job), they never called me back for anything else. Eventually, I found some retail work and then moved to another city.

              10 years later, I got a text from the temp agency. “Hey! We have openings for your preferred shifts and skillset, please call the office for details.” Shockingly, I didn’t respond.

          2. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

            Can you set an autoresponder for their domain so whenever they email it just shoots back “your email will not been read as I have not been employed with x since x date. Please remove me from your list.” That way they get a response every time but it will become clear this is futile.

  7. Yuan Zai*

    As soon as I read “they both missed the shuttle” in #2 I thought, “I bet Patricia caused the intern to miss it”.

    Patricia’s co-worker, I don’t mean to sound like a scold but it’s not “no big deal” that they ended up driving. If Patricia was an otherwise reliable worker who managed to miss a shuttle that one time but was able to drive herself, that’s no big deal. If the intern had some sort of unexpected delay getting to the shuttle – being newer to the workforce and maybe not quite understanding their own level of responsibility in contingency planning – that would be no big deal, either. However, someone who has already demonstrated a lack of responsibility doing this…it is a big deal.

    I can’t fault the intern for giving into Patricia’s pressure, though if they were my intern I would clarify with them that the better choice would have been to get on the shuttle. They shouldn’t have been put in that situation in the first place – Patricia’s behavior – calling them up and pressuring them into missing the shuttle they managed to show up on time for – wasn’t okay and she should be held accountable for it.

    1. Mainly Lurking*

      OP2 wrote:

      “it leaves me scratching my head and wondering if we’re ever going to be able to give her more responsibility in the future.”

      Based on that story, I would say no.

    2. Pretzelgirl*

      I can’t fault the intern either. When I was that young I would have done, just about anything a more senior co-worker told me to do. So I probably would have not taken the shuttle either. Now on the other hand I would have told Patricia “see ya there”.

      1. Surly*

        Also, riding in the front passenger seat of a car is probably a *lot* more comfortable than a shuttle bus, so I don’t see the problem with the intern catching a ride with Patricia. The intern probably didn’t know about the reimbursement situation and figured as long as he got to the event, it was fine.

        1. Filosofickle*

          That’s how I imagine it. A lot of people, especially social ones, might choose a ride in a car with a friendly colleague over being alone on a bus for 3 hours. A LOT of people don’t like being alone very much. It takes the same amount of time either way. Personally, unless we were friends, I’d prefer the wifi bus so I could watch Netflix or whatever, but it might not have taken much to convince the intern that sticking together would be more fun. “Come with me! It will be like a road trip! So much more fun and neither of us has to go alone!”

          Missing the 2nd tour and activities, though, is ridiculous. ESPECIALLY after being stuck driving for 3 hours, I’d get all the value out of it I could.

  8. Phony Genius*

    I’m a little confused on #1. The OP says that they are a little annoyed that they missed the party, even though the performer was somebody whose music they really don’t like. I’d be more glad I missed the party in that scenario. It sort of sounds like “I missed my chance to hate it!”

    1. CB212*

      It sounds like there was socializing and dinner and probably drinks, and then a musical performance. Since the transport-delineated span was 4 to 11pm I’d guess there were a few good hours of fun before the concert portion of the event.

    2. Lance*

      Going by the letter, it sounds like that was later in the event, which reads to me as the event otherwise had things the OP would’ve enjoyed (never mind a very convenient location for them).

    3. Anne Elliot*

      With due respect to that OP, that’s how it read to me as well — “I’m annoyed I didn’t have enough information to go to this event I would have left early.”

    4. SimplyTheBest*

      I read it as OP is annoyed because if they’d known it was as close by as it was, she could have attended the parts she enjoyed (socializing with her colleagues and whatnot) while leaving early to avoid what she didn’t. Instead, because she had no idea about where it was or what they were doing, she skipped the whole thing entirely.

  9. Kimberly*

    LW 1 – this might be a difference in cultures. (Your bike comment pretty much means you aren’t in the US. )But giving someone my food restrictions does NOT mean things are taken care of. When my cousins got married – I was given the caterer’s number and asked to call to make sure things were safe. The poor caterer thought we were nuts – until we got to the chocolate fountain. My cousins who have grown up with these restrictions even missed it. The chocolate had a may contain traces warning. So I stayed away from it and people eating it. (My cousin had them put together a small basket of the fruit that was kept separate and given to me at desert time. He is a really sweet guy)

    I call caterers, I call restaurants and double-check or I don’t eat. I know all the weird things that have been missed and nearly killed me before. I don’t want to repeat any of them. (If you average out my ER trips for anaphylaxis it comes to one every 1.7 years. More than 30 in my life. I can’t do anything about the touch ones because someone grabs my arm while eating granola or opening a door after someone eating a Snickers. The ones from eating something I can control.

    1. Mainly Lurking*

      I’m so sorry you have been through this.

      I’m in the UK, and there is still a lack of understanding re food safety over here, going by conversations with coeliac friends and family. (It doesn’t help that gluten-free eating is also seen as a “fad”, and therefore not taken seriously).

      Too many examples, so I’ll just give one. A relative went to a catered party where the host had specially ordered gluten-free ham wraps. She carefully opened up the wrap to check it, and saw that the caterers had used breaded ham …

        1. SarahKay*

          I guess it must be, although ‘bread’ is usually a bit of a misnomer for the average piece of sliced pre-packaged ham. It’d be a whole ham, that’s coated in breadcrumbs, and then sliced.
          In my experience what that usually translates to is a yellowy-orangey coloured soft-textured fringe of stuff on the edge of the slice. It’s not actually as unappetising as my description probably makes it sound, but it’s not something I’d choose to buy; I’ve never seen the appeal.

          1. Mainly Lurking*

            I’d agree with your description. Unfortunately, even those few crumbs will cause a problem for coeliacs.

            1. Bryce*

              My mother has gluten issues and she’s complained about this. What’s frustrating is the reaction isn’t immediate so she doesn’t know how much is too much or what caused a problem. She’ll just have “oh, I must have had gluten exposure sometime in the past week” problems.

    2. Fikly*

      Yeah, this, as someone whose food issues have put them in the ICU, no, I do not trust anyone else to take care of arranging safe food for me. And for entirely justifiable reasons.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Even if they were stateside, the understanding of food allergies varies so drastically regionally. Even within the same states and within the same cities.

      I have never had anyone in my life with severe life threatening allergies and so a lot of us are ignorant due to that specifically of course. Others are crude and think that y’all are making it up and it’s “really not that bad”. Yeah, still to this day, if you say “It will put me in a hospital!” some people will say “Yeah right, you’re so dramatic.”

      I’ve dealt with chefs for decades now. Some are great, respectful and are careful about cross contamination issues and all the important details that can be really tedious. Some are still awful, ignorant, pricks =(

      We got a totally confused server when we asked about if their hamburger buns are dairy free awhile back. Dairy is one of the oldest allergies known and usually understood but yeah, nah not at some places. We’ve had people lie or shrug it off at times. While understanding respectful servers will go ask or even read the bag. I’ve had plenty of places hand over ingredient lists thankfully so you can check yourself even. Which helps in that case but doesn’t help for cross contamination issues.

      1. Bryce*

        Yeah, I’ve had enough close calls that I really prefer to know where we’re going and do my own legwork. Peanuts are pretty easy to dodge, comparatively speaking (in contrast one of my friends is allergic to strawberries, which sneak in as “natural flavors” pretty often), but even when I trust folks if you don’t usually need to think about it it’s easy to have blind spots. It’s just so much easier on my anxiety to know I’m in control.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          When it comes to your life and your ability to breathe or even if it just gives you the gut wrenching poops, anyone who faults you for wanting that control, well they can bite me tbh.

      2. Tinuviel*

        To be fair, the server might have been confused why hamburger buns would have dairy in them. It took me a second to think “oh maybe they used butter in making the bread?”

        It’s even harder nowadays to think logically about these things because gluten and dairy and corn and “flavorings” are snuck into all kinds of foods, so you can’t just logically think of the common ingredients and assume something would be OK (and that’s before you even get to cross-contamination). So the general public is not well informed about what kinds of things can have gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. and ask “dumb” questions like “is this latte gluten free” when in reality you don’t know what’s in it and you have to be careful. And some people just want to be picky about things, or have a definition in their minds that is different from everyone else (“I’m vegetarian, but I eat fish, but only when I want to”). It’s such a tricky topic.

    4. Rexish*

      I think OP was responding to the concerns about the whole event being a suprise and therefore employees with allergies not being able to know if they can eat there. In that sense it was taken care of since the risk would have been the same even if the location and activity was informed. Yes, it is unfortunately common that that caterers make mistakes and there are allergens even after they have been informed. It does suck when you cannot trust anyone else to make your meal.

    5. hayling*

      Ugh, same, I have to be so careful about catered food—I have a host of major migraine triggers that are in tons of food, including soy, raw onions, and chili peppers. I went to a work event recently that involved dinner Weds, and all meals Thurs. I got the names of the restaurants for dinner ahead of time, and knew I could find something at each that I could eat, even if it wasn’t on the preset menu. I asked about breakfast and lunch and was told that “they knew everyone’s dietary restrictions.” Lunch comes in, and it’s a taco bar—there. Luckily, it was at a corporate campus and they took me to the cafeteria and I got a salad, but I now know I have to be super persistent.

  10. Sun Tzu*

    Concerning OP#1, if really the company want to continue this tradition of surprise parties, I think it should provide full info (location / type of event / food / etc.) to employers who demand it (asking them not to spoil the surprise for the others!).

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