can you put firing someone on your resume, I know who’s clogging our toilets, and more

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

1. Can you put on your resume that you fired a poor performer?

I’m in a senior leadership role, and when I took over one of the teams in my organization I identified that the direct manager of that team was a great individual contributor but wasn’t really successful in her manager role. I worked with her to figure out her real interests and strengths and helped her to realize that management really wasn’t for her. Then I helped her find a more appropriate role in the organization and hired a great replacement. Happy ending!

I’m applying for a new role in a different organization now, and I want to refer to this as one of my accomplishments, especially because my industry is kind of known for not being good with people (think engineering but not) and I think my strength in that area makes me stand out but it feels wrong to put that on a resume. Should I leave it off or is there a way to say it that won’t feel so *icky*?

I’d leave it off. It’s assumed that as a manager you’ll at times need to coach people out or fire them.

To be clear, actively managing the makeup of your team (which includes not only hiring well but also acting when someone isn’t well matched with their job and managing them out in a respectful way) is a key part of managing well, and a lot of managers are negligent in that area.

But the difference between “handled a normal part of managing with average competence” and “handled a tricky firing with skill and finesse” is hard to to convey on a resume where your space for details in limited, so this is something better saved for an interview.

That’s not to say you couldn’t write something fairly broad like, “Built and managed a high-performing team of seven, including hiring, coaching and developing, and managing out when needed” — but doesn’t really get at what I think you’re trying to convey.

2. I know who our toilet clogger is

For years, there has been a guy on our floor (shared by several departments) who uses ALL the toilet paper every trip to the bathroom. This clogs the toilet beyond what you can even plunge. I mean the bowl is filled with paper, and you have to wait for it to disintegrate in its own time.

No one has done anything official, because we get a lot of outside traffic and it could easily have been a visitor. But I now have firsthand knowledge of who this is, and he is in my department.

What can I do? Put an anonymous “how to wipe yourself” flyer on the stall door? Corner this guy and be like “that was me in the other stall after lunch today; you’re busted, buddy!”? Gossip around the (small) office until he is humiliated into improving his behavior or at least going to another floor? Loudly psychoanalyze the anonymous clogger in the hallway: “Can you imagine being so afraid of your own bodily functions that you need six inches of paper between your hand and your effluvia? I bet that guy wasn’t held enough as a child.” What is there to do? What can any of us do?

If you’re not in management (of people or of the facility), there might be nothing for you to do here. You don’t have to bring this guy to justice. On the other hand, if there’s been a public effort to get this behavior to stop and/or it’s causing real inconvenience to others (it sounds like it might be), you could discreetly bring it to the attention of whoever is unlucky enough to be charged with dealing with this. Not in a “Bob is disgusting” way, but more like, “I know you’ve been trying to figure out the source of our chronic clogs, and I happened to witness it firsthand the other day.”

But no to the anonymous flyers (they don’t work) or humiliating gossip (will make you look unkind) or any kind of vigilante justice (can backfire in ways you don’t anticipate, and just isn’t yours to pursue). If you do anything, bring it to the attention of the person most equipped to address it.

3. My coworker keeps asking for large amounts of money

I started my job in August. Every month since then, my coworker (who sits in my office with me, and it’s a two-person room) has asked me for some money. Now, if this were “Can I borrow €2 for coffee” or so, I’d be fine with it. But it’s significant amounts of money. Once she asked me to transfer her €350 as her rent needed to be paid **today** and she didn’t have it in her account.

Just today, while she has been off sick with a while, I got a message from her: “Hey, you bank with (name of institution), right?” When I told her no, I wasn’t going to give her anything as I have an expensive bill to pay already, she said, “Can’t it wait until Monday for you to pay it?” I found that particularly rude and didn’t respond.

She has also tried it with other coworkers, and has asked a coworker if she could use their car when hers was in the mechanics. However, it’s now making me really uncomfortable to work with her. How can I (gently or otherwise) knock this on the head?

€350! That’s a lot of … audacity.

It sounds like you’ve been telling her no on a case-by-case basis. Try giving her a blanket no: “Jane, please stop asking me for money. I am never going to be able to lend you money, and it’s really uncomfortable having you ask every month.”

If she continues after that, let your boss know this is happening (and that it’s widespread). I’d want to know if I had an employee who was regularly hassling coworkers for money.

4. Should I put voiceover work on my resume?

I currently work as a copy editor for an academic publisher and while I enjoy my role, the publishing cycle is repetitive and having been here over two years I’m editing the same books for the third time running. I think it’s time to move on, as there is no opportunity for upwards progression at my current company.

I’m usually quite confident in my resume-writing skills, but I am wondering whether to include mention of a project I am currently working on, where I ended up doing the voiceover for some digital assets. For context, the company is trying to improve its offerings by producing our content on a digital platform. One of my colleagues is in charge of taking pieces of text and developing them into interactive assets like short videos, infographics, etc. They had a third-party company produce five videos, but the accompanying voiceovers were awful! Knowing I had some experience in acting (prior to my publishing career), my colleague asked if I would lend my voice and I obliged.

Is this the sort of thing I should insert into my resume to show teamwork and adaptability? Or is this something I should only include if it is relevant to the role I am applying for (i.e., an audio book publisher)?

There’s nothing wrong with including it even for roles where it’s not strictly relevant, and you never know where it might end up being relevant in ways you can’t predict from the job ad. But I’d look at it in terms of what you might be bumping to make room for it — if you have much stronger or more relevant qualifications, don’t be afraid to cut it. Or if you already have 10 bullet points of accomplishments for that job, you probably don’t need an eleventh. On the other hand, if your resume isn’t crowded with text and you can keep a pleasing amount of white space even if you add this, it might make sense to.

All that said, I don’t think it’ll show teamwork and adaptability. It’s not that those things weren’t involved, but on a resume it’ll mainly show the ability to do voiceover work.

5. Should I send an email praising my very helpful coworker to her boss?

I started a new job several months ago at a huge company. One of my colleagues (a peer in title, though more experienced than me) has gone above and beyond to help me feel settled, understand processes, and navigate company politics in a candid, respectful way.

I’ve already mentioned to this person how much I appreciate their onboarding help and overall teamwork. Would it be appropriate to take the compliment a step further and let her supervisor know? If so, do you think it’s better to email my colleague and CC her supervisor, or email her supervisor directly (with or without my colleague CC’d)? Is this a thing that’s even done?

I work remotely and am almost never on site, so I can’t mention this feedback to her supervisor in an informal, in-person conversation.

This is indeed a thing that’s done! People pretty much always appreciate it, and it can end up being something that’s mentioned in performance evaluations, etc.

You can do it either way — email her with her boss cc’d or the other way around. Go with whichever feels the most appropriate for the specific message you want to send. (If she were senior to you in role, I might lean toward emailing her with her boss cc’d, but really, either is fine.)

Just don’t tip her.

{ 472 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Y’all, LW2’s comment about Texas is obviously a joke. I’ve removed it since it led to a bunch of derailing, and I’ve also removed a bunch of derailing threads about it, along with irrelevant (and frankly gross) info about people’s own toilet habits. Please stick to giving advice to the letter writers.

  2. Aphrodite*

    OP #3, I am astonished at the apparently limitless nerve of your co-worker. I mean, you’ve been there since August, and it’s only mid-October now? So she started asking you for money after only about a month? That must mean she has run out of other co-workers to ask. Have you discussed this with anyone else there to find out if you are merely her latest “lender”?

    With her latest demand you shouldn’t have justified your “no” with an explanation. Just say “no” without JADEing (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain) your answer. Personally, I’d go straight to her manager or maybe HR. That woman is unbelievable.

      1. CoffeeforLife*

        For sure, they are always *always* borrowing money. So many words and feels about this whole industry (of which I was a part of).

      2. ENTPrme*

        This is rampant in the painting industry as well. Painters are a “special” lot of individuals.

        I had one hit me up to co-sign on a $10K car loan a month ago. Called me up in high-emergency like his house was set to burn down. I work in the office, make a good clip less than he does, and am on a friendly, but very marginal acquaintance-level with him.

        It’s not just in my company. Painters tip the scale when it comes to asking for advances on their pay, borrowing money in general, stealing items, being mired in drugs or alcohol, asking for underserved raises, and / or living above their means. They’re exhausting to deal with.

        A good, stable painter is either a unicorn or company owner.

        1. Nom the Plumage*

          What type of painters are you referring to, because I feel grossly insulted by your assessment. I paint and have never done any of the things you claim.

          Actually, I don’t think it matters what type of painter. You haven’t met us all, regardless.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I wouldn’t use “no”. I would use “absolute not” and “it’s not possible”. Put on repeat.

      This person cares more about their self than others. The fact that they expect you to put her needs above your says it all

      And yes, tell your boss. Anyone that tries to shake down others probably has other issues as well.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s not possible leads to “Why not?” If this person is pushy enough to tell someone to pay a bill late so they can give HER money, anything other than a single word No is going to get pushback. The only longer thing you should say is “I am not loaning you money now or ever. Stop asking.”

        1. Veronica*

          If you do say “I am not loaning you money now or ever. Stop asking.”, be prepared for her to get upset and possibly retaliate. Someone who’s that self-centered might have other issues too.
          I would tell your boss first so if coworker gets upset or tries to undermine you, boss will know what’s going on.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Please don’t live your life tiptoeing around in case unreasonable people overreact. Always be clear and concise.

            I’d love this kind of known fool to try to retaliate. She’s doing it to everyone. Nobody is on her side.

            1. Veronica*

              I’m not saying to tiptoe! I’m saying be prepared in case, and CYA with the boss.
              I would absolutely stand up to this person, and first I would take steps to protect myself in case she retaliates.

      2. Just Elle*

        Yeah, I’d remove “its not possible” because… even if it were possible, I’m still choosing not to. Its not like, oh, maybe next month I’ll have cash left over which I’ll choose to give to you.
        I do like the “absolutely not” because it has that whiplash feel of admonishing a small child, which apparently she is. And conveying your shock at being asked might help her get the memo.

        1. Snuck*

          “I can’t, I have other more pressing priorities on my money”

          And if they ask what… or complain theirs is more important…

          “Oh, I don’t discuss my personal finances with coworkers” and just walk off.

          If they ask again….

          “I’ve already said I won’t, please don’t ask again”.

          And be done with it. If they have the gumption to ask again (did you know Gumption is a bathroom cleaning/scrubbing product… remember that! LOL)…. say “If you don’t stop asking, I’ll need to raise this with management” and then do so.

          1. Snuck*

            Don’t tell them WHAT your more pressing priorities are. Maybe you are saving for your retirement and are only in your 20s, maybe you are saving a house deposit and it doesn’t really crunch to not have that cash for this week so long as you get it back soonish… whatever. NOT THEIR BUSINESS. Your money, your choice.

            And… any money you ever lend to someone… do it either because you really know and can trust them, and are prepared to manage that through your friendship/relationship into the future… or lend it, without knowing the person that well…. and be prepared for it to be a gift and never repaid.

      3. smoke tree*

        I would be inclined to say that I never lend (significant) money to coworkers and hold to it. That’s as much of an explanation as she gets. Just because this coworker is so pushy doesn’t entitle her to any kind of excuse or explanation. What she’s asking for is ridiculous.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Yeah, this is an example of Captain Awkward’s “reasons are for reasonable people” guideline. This woman is not reasonable, so you don’t have to give her any reasons when you turn down her cash grabs.

    3. Observer*

      I agree. “No is a complete sentence” gets over-used here I think. But if there were ever a case for it, THIS is it.

    4. Anonomoose*

      I like using the Bartleby approach. “I’d prefer not to” is somehow more aggravating to people. Particularly when they ask again, and you use the same line. You can drag it out a bit too, pretend you’re mulling it over.

      My goal, because I get people pushing me to do things that are well outside my job (“hey, can you fix the screen on my phone, or “hey, my home computer has died”) is to make the interaction irritating enough that I don’t get the request again.

      (Note, I don’t do this to reasonable people, who take the first “sorry, I work on servers only” as an answer)

      1. London Calling*

        The trouble with ‘I’d prefer not to’ is that it lays you open to ‘Why not?’ and you’re into defending yourself; and when that starts, there’s a chance that you’ll weaken. Which the person asking you for money is well aware of, as it’s highly unlikely that this is their first turn at this particular rodeo.

        1. Construction Safety*

          Eh, ANY negative response is going to lead to “Why Not? for a person with gumption.

          1. juliebulie*

            I think it’s perfectly acceptable not to answer a question like that, though. Or to answer it by repeating the “no” or “I prefer not to.” (Or, “hmm…. nope, I really prefer not to.”)

            BTW, is she paying anyone back?

          2. Mephyle*

            “Why not?” from an unreasonable asker can be countered with the Broken Record (in this case, simply repeating “I prefer not to” without embellishment every time they ask “why?” or any other related question.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              This is totally my technique. Repeat the same thing over and over, with the same intonation each time. The message is “This is all you are going to get.”

        2. aebhel*

          Yeah, you can draw it out (‘why not?’ ‘because i prefer not to.’ ‘you could xyz though.’ ‘mm, yes, but i prefer not to’) but it takes a certain level of comfort with making the *other* person uncomfortable, which OP may not have.

          My spouse is really good at this, but I find it *wildly* uncomfortable to do, so I use the blunt, direct approach.

          1. Anonomoose*

            I think that being willing to make the other person in the conversation uncomfortable is a skill that you practice, though. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and took a couple of jobs worth of unreasonable users before I got it down.

            It also serves you in good stead for negotiations, management, dealing with other departments, unreasonable neighbors etc.

        3. Clorinda*

          That’s the beauty of Bartleby.
          I’d prefer not to.
          Why not?
          I’d prefer not to.
          But tell me why.
          I’d prefer not to.
          And so on, forever, or until you die staring at a wall.

        4. D'Arcy*

          If you go full Bartleby, you just keep replying, “I prefer not to” like a broken record no matter how they press.

          I’d probably get annoyed enough to start enthusiastically detailing all the wonderful things I’m spending my money on. No, I’m not going to help you, have you SEEN the new Lego Star Destroyer set that just came out, I absolutely have to have one of these for my living room, and I’m going to build an overhead rail system to hang it from. . .

        5. Burned Out Supervisor*

          “Why not?”
          “Because why”
          “Because I don’t want to.”
          “But why don’t you want to?”
          “Because why?”
          “Because I don’t want to.”

          LOLOLOL *headdesk*

        6. Bartleby’s Officemate*

          I disagree that the Bartleby answer gives an excuse for more question. “Because I prefer not to” is the ultimate, bedrock reason.

          Would I give/loan a colleague a semi-large amount of money that is all my discretionary income for the month if, say,
          we weren’t getting paid until the following week and her apartment water pipes catastrophically burst, ruining all her professional clothes mid-workweek? Yes! Not because I’m required to, but because ultimately, I want to. That’s the kind of random bad luck that insurance may not cover (at least pay out right away), we have jobs that don’t allow sudden absences unless there’s an illness or death but do require professional dress, and I can’t help with goods-in-kind. It’s money, but it’s not my kidney. I’d prefer to help.

          If she needs sudden cash because [any reason besides completely unavoidable likely-once-in-a-lifetime bad luck for which cash is the only realistic solution] or no explanation… I could give my colleague money, but I prefer not to. I might offer to refer her to organizations that could assist if our jobs didn’t pay enough to allow her to manage this with reasonable financial planning, but I prefer not to give her my money.

      2. Linzava*

        My fiance works on servers too, you guys get it from both ends, lol. He has a slew of “no” phrases that get longer and more obnoxious to match the obnoxiousness of the requests. My favorite is, “Poor planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”

        1. Mama Bear*

          I’ve always liked that one.

          My spouse has a story about friend where he got lost getting back to base as a young soldier. He got in trouble for being late and tried to blame it on bad directions from a local. The officer’s response was that he should have done better prior reconnaissance. We use that anytime a situation could have been avoided with a little more legwork.

          Bottom line here is that the OP owes the coworker nothing, especially not that much that often! To suggest that the OP wait on their own bills is…some kind of brazen. Time to talk to the boss, I think.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I used to know a former submariner. The way he expressed this thought was “P6.” This in turn was short for Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

        2. Shadowbelle*

          I have wanted to put that slogan on my cubicle wall for about 40 years. The problem is, I can’t, because I am in IT, and it actually is part of my job to deal with emergencies caused by other people’s lack of planning. Sometimes it’s an oopsie on their part. Those I don’t mind so much. Other times, it’s month after month, same team, same last-minute problem. That really gets annoying. But I remind myself that this is what I get paid for, and my boss definitely appreciates my work.

          1. Anonomoose*

            Yeah, that’s my issue too. There’s also a certain amount of “if I’m too difficult to deal with, then users won’t come and talk to me when they’ve clicked that link they shouldn’t have”

            That said, personal gadgets, unless we’re like, outside work friends, is where I draw the line. Mostly, because if you’re an actual friend, you won’t be too mad when there’s a sad ripping noise from the soldered on ribbon cable in your phone, that I forgot to disconnect..

          2. AnonANon*

            I used to be in IT and I DID have that phrase on my cube wall! Even better, a vendor gave it to me :)
            I have a new role at my company and still keep it up.

        3. Cactus*

          Damn, I wish I had had the strength of will to use that about a year ago….an entire unplanned out-of-the-way road trip could have been avoided.

    5. Quill*

      We continue to get stories about people hitting up their coworkers for money and I start to wonder if it’s the same few people, presumably let go for pestering other people about loans constantly, rotating through workplaces.

      That said my sympathy turned off at “can’t your bill wait until monday?”

      1. Parenthetically*

        I confess I’m beginning with precious little sympathy for someone who is badgering a new work acquaintance of a few weeks, tops, for 350 euro! But “can’t your bill wait until Monday” was SO beyond the pale that I went straight to, “Right, manager time.”

          1. Anonomoose*

            I don’t think so. But it should be something a manager wants to shut down, and there’s some risk for the company here (i.e, a coworker who is this out of touch about borrowing money probably shouldn’t have a company credit card, or be in charge of any petty cash, or possibly not be in charge of the traditional leaving present whip-round

          2. TootsNYC*

            in the colloquial sense, yes, it’s harassing.

            But in the “legal work issue” or “legal criminal-court issue” realm, it’s not.

      2. Tabularasa*

        I’m beginning to think that someone like this is the reason why, according to my work’s employee handbook, employees are not allowed to loan each other money. (We still do it sometimes, for small things like lunch and such)

      3. Massmatt*

        You’re making me think of a joke about the Grateful Dead, that they didn’t actually have a huge fan base, just the same 50,000 people following them around.

        I question whether these are even LOANS, when do people like this ever pay anything back except to set the stage for another, larger “loan”?

        I would definitely not be shy about saying NO and refusing to get drawn into an argument where I had to justify and explain. I would also probably talk to the manager, the coworker is setting off some warning signs re: inability to handle money or follow general norms.

    6. aebhel*

      Yeah, I get the impulse, but this isn’t the kind of thing where you owe her an explanation for a refusal. That is an absolute *bonkers* request. I understand it maybe once, in a desperate situation, but she’s regularly asking you, a relative stranger, for large sums of money and getting pissy when you refuse; that’s a level of entitlement that’s off the wall.

      Suggested script:
      “I will not be lending you any money, now or in the future. Please stop asking.”

      And then escalate if she doesn’t. Asking coworkers for minor favors from time to time is fairly normal; asking someone to essentially financially support you is really, really not.

      1. Benign Henchman*

        I can’t help you. (on repeat)
        Ask someone else.

        It is not a debate, it is not a discussion. There should be no back and forth. Pick your response and just keep repeating your line. No new content – it is not a debate. AND WALK AWAY. You do not have to clarify your response, justify it, or listen to the question again. Give your response, walk way. done.

    7. Witchy Human*

      A lot of the people who do this sort of thing are dealing with addiction of some kind (substance abuse, gambling). Addiction definitely skews your perception of acceptable and normal.

      1. aebhel*

        MTE. Still not the LW’s problem to fix, though, and even if it was lending money ad infinitum to an addict really doesn’t help in the long run.

        1. BadWolf*

          It’s not the OPs to fix, but it can be helpful to know that this money requesting is sort of an impersonal can of worms that the OP just happens to be in the orbit of.

          1. TootsNYC*

            even if it’s not addiction, it’s still an impersonal can of worms that the OP just happens to be in the orbit of.

            (nice phrasing)

            But I suppose if you have trouble being firm, it might be easier to stay firm if you now it’s something like that, and not just someone who’s habituated to mooching, or someone who simply cannot handle her financial life.

            (though for me, the sympathy level would probably be higher with an actual addiction, since I see those as illnesses and sources of suffering, no matter how self-inflicted. Doesn’t mean I indulge them, but I pray harder for them. Someone who’s habituated to mooching pissed me off big-time.)

        2. Witchy Human*

          I would never suggest loaning someone suffering from an addiction money. But if she doesn’t think what she’s doing is at all unreasonable, and if management is ineffective in putting a lid on it, then I think LW’s tactics in shutting it down should be different.

          And while I my heart would break a little for someone with a disease, I think it would actually call for a much firmer no. No “my budget doesn’t allow” or “it’s making me uncomfortable.” Even “please stop asking” is probably not going to help. There will always be a “but…” because LW’s needs/wants are just not going to register much.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Yeah, I’m actually surprised the advice wasn’t “go immediately to her manager or HR,” because this level of pushiness and audacity absolutely merits it. It’s wildly unprofessional and her manager needs to issue a strict warning to her never to ask her coworkers for money again.

    9. staceyizme*

      “SURE I can lend it to you! What collateral can you offer? I accept gold, certified gems and car titles for models less than a year old. I’ll need it back in forty eight hours with a thirty percent interest rate and a $50 processing fee…”.

    10. Benign Henchman*

      Agreed. The coworker is asking a Yes or No question. You get to pick your response. Not accepting a NO means that the coworker isn’t asking for money, it isn’t a question , it is a demand because Yes is the only response she’ll accept.

      JADEing doesn’t change your response – it is still a NO. Say your NO, walk away.

    11. TootsNYC*

      the apparently limitless nerve
      Moochers know no limits. And they have no shame.

      This is a definite category of person. And until they get some negative reaction, there is no reason for them to stop.

      But you are totally right–never, ever give these people any sort of reason. That is just something for them to argue against, and they won’t care how they look when they do it. You can’t give them a ride because you’re driving your brother to his cancer treatment? “Can’t he take an Uber?” or you can’t give them money because you’re paying for your beloved grandmother’s nursing home? “She’s going to die soon anyway.”

      Say, “I don’t want to.” Or just “no.”

      And if you want anything more, make it be about how it’s completely inappropriate for her to ask.

      but I think we all could stand to get used to sometimes just saying fewer words. In a normal relationship, you don’t really want to use “no is a complete sentence”–it’s too harsh. But here, it’s completely appropriate.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        People who won’t take no for an answer are among my least favorite types of people, especially if they pride themselves on it.

  3. Sovereign HR*

    I wrote a letter to my boss about a supervisor who went so above and beyond for a guest that it warranted more than just a “Great Job!” submission.

    During her review the following month she asked about it. The boss said he had no idea what she was talking about, made her sign her review without it, and a day later admitted he forgot about it and forgot to notate it. She left crying.

    1. Mary Richards*

      That sucks. But I’m also baffled by the boss “making” her sign the review and then acknowledging that he didn’t notate it. This is where the boss should’ve added a note to the file or an addendum to the review. Or given himself time go to through his files before having her sign it!

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Is this…a story about why not to do it? The situation you described is not common, and I think it’s still good practice to praise someone publicly/ to their manager.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Even in this scenario, the take-home is that it’s still important to share praise (copying in the praise-ee, because while it was upsetting, it gave the supervisor solid evidence that the boss was an ass, and was evidence to either take higher/to HR, or a push to leave a toxic workplace. So it should be “with a great to neutral boss, it’ll help; with a terrible boss it’ll give you a valuable sign”.

          1. Jules the 3rd*


            I always email the person and cc the boss, so that the person can walk into their review with it as part of their backup for what a great job they did. For my reviews, I usually forward the notes I’ve gotten from others shortly before, so that he’s reminded. It’s usually only 1 – 3 / year, but my job is cross-functional, so it really helps that he sees feedback from other functions.

          2. pleaset*

            Yeah – we can’t stop doing appropriate things because in the near-infinite possible reactions a small number of those reactions will be bad.

          3. Shhhh*

            Also, having been a praise-ee with a boss that didn’t acknowledge it…it still made me feel good. It gave me confidence in a particular aspect of my job that doesn’t come naturally to me.

        2. Sharkie*

          Exactly. I had a boss who would delete those emails because the ” Person sending them has no idea what it is really like to work with you”. Then he would accuse the person that the email was about of bribing their coworkers.

            1. Sharkie*

              No. I just think that once he thought you didn’t have the “it” factor he wanted to cultivate he was done trying to develop you as a professional- which was funny because it was a professional development program…..

    3. Colette*

      I don’t think a manager is obligated to mention every bit of praise she’s heard in a review – nor should she, if the praise is not significant to the picture of the job the employee is supposed to be doing. For example, if someone is being coached to spend less time with each customer, getting a letter praising her for the time she spent with a customer isn’t a positive thing.

      When I was in technical support, I had a coworker who ignored input from the rest of the team that the issue needed to be solved by another group. He stayed on the phone for another 2 hours trying to fix the issue before calling the group who did indeed fix it. If the customer had written in talking about how he took ownership of the problem and supported them, that still wouldn’t have changed the fact that he extended an outage for 2 hours in an industry where that matters.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        Maybe that’s why I’m actually shying away from immediately praising to her boss. My instinct was that OP was too new and might not really know the culture/environment/preferred procedures and it could make the OP look out of touch.

        I might be overthinking this…

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I encourage those with these forgetful jerk bosses who are sandbagging your reviews to find a new job. These examples aren’t so much of “know your audience” as “if your boss is a POS and throws away your earned praises, you’re in a nowhere job with an abusive ogre. Paper the town with your resume.”

    5. TootsNYC*

      this would argue for making sure both of them get a copy of the letter, so that it’s not all on whether the boss remembers.

      One month! And he didn’t even remember it when reminded?
      What a shitty person.

    6. Kendra*

      See, if I, as a boss who sometimes has a bad memory, had gotten a note like this about one of my reports, I’d be very grateful, as it would be one less thing I would have to try to recall on my own when I was writing up their review. (One of my goals for this year has been to get better about documenting things, good and bad, for this very reason! Maybe they need to start teaching journal-writing in management classes or something…)

  4. Awesome*

    #4 I’d include it since it’s publishing related and really cool, but it’s not pertinent to include. Lots of publishers seem to be exploring the audio side more now, i can see how it could end up being a nice boost or at least relevant

    1. Clarity*

      I don’t understand “it’s not pertinent to include” as it sounds like you’re saying it is pertinent to publishing.

      1. awesome*

        Well if they are applying for a copyediting job, they’d want to prioritize their copyediting and editing skills. I don’t know how much space they have on their resume, if it’s a fight for space on there this is potentially something that could be dropped, even though it would be of interest if it was on there.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I’m also a copy-editor and have voice training. It’s been a huge advantage at the places I have worked. It’s expensive to hire voice actors on top of everything else so having the possibility to use a staff member makes some things possible that wouldn’t be otherwise.
      I’ve also been offered that I could take leave and be paid the same as the other voice artists on bigger jobs, which may be something you want to ask for, although that might only be attractive with European PTO allowances.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Maybe I should pursue this…

        I do wish sometimes that I’d taken training on how to appear on camera. I had a job where it could have become a thing. (but I also have a chronic cough and thought that would get in my way)

      2. Rachael*

        This is a true statement. I had a coworker at my last job (at a bank) who had a job that was nowhere related to voice work (but previously worked in the industry), and she was asked to be the “voice” of the company and do all the voicemail and phone tree recordings. (this was a small company). She was delighted to do it and we all got a kick out of hearing her voice on the line when we called.

    3. Karou*

      I second that voiceover experience might be surprisingly relevant for some publishing jobs. I work in digital marketing for a publisher and they’re always pushing us to do videos with staff or voiceovers and it’s such a struggle to find people willing to be filmed—and even harder to find people who are comfortable and good at it—plus we pay for freelance voiceover work. Having someone with experience on staff would be great…though we often lack the technology to do much production work in the office. Do you have samples of your voiceover work you could share if asked?

      1. Writer At Large*

        Agree that it can become relevant in publishing. I mostly write, but it’s known around the office that I’ve done voiceovers. I was asked to watch a video, write a script and then do the voiceover. It turned out great! I think it might be a good way to pivot into another kind of job if I want to. (And many editorial jobs now require video work!) I’m glad I have it on my CV and LinkedIn.

    4. Sloan Kittering*

      My only drawback would be, I’d wonder if it would look like that was what you really wanted to do, and were hoping that editing would get you that opportunity (which would make me nervous to hire you). On the other hand, if part of the role might be to work with the audiobook side, it could be a bonus to understand the business from the inside.

      1. smoke tree*

        In my experience, in-house editing positions are generally sought after to the point that it probably wouldn’t occur to a hiring manager that any candidates would be trying to use one as a springboard to another career.

        1. iglwif*

          Yep. The more usual situation is that people apply to non-editorial positions they aren’t actually interested in, in hopes of getting closer to a future editorial position.

  5. mark132*

    @OP3, with someone this brazen I think it’s difficult to ever be too blunt. I would literally be tempting to say something a bit more polite than “eat shit and die”.

    And IMO telling them you had an expensive bill to pay yourself is a bad idea. It just gives them an in to try and come up with some ridiculous reason to talk you into doing something you really have no intention on doing. The answer is simply ‘NO’, and the answer to the follow up “why” is also ‘NO’. This of course only applies to unreasonable people, reasonable people accept reasonable explanations.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yeah, I’d say something expressing shock if a coworker did this to me, like: “Did I hear that right? Did you really just ask me for €350 out of nowhere? *if she confirms* Why the hell do you think your new coworker would give you that much money?”

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Is there an assumption that it’s a loan to be paid back, or a gift?
        (Been off sick and watching Judge Judy reruns)

        1. Tallulah in the Sky*

          I really doubt coworker would pay OP back, since they’re out of money all the time (and their attitude is also a red flag for me).

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Either that or she’ll try to lend money from someone else to pay OP.
            Repeat cycle.
            But I agree “you’ll never see that money again” is the much more likely option. Never loan money if you want to see it again (and if you do want to see it again, have them sign a contract. Yes, even family and friends. Hell, ESPECIALLY family and friends.)

          2. aebhel*

            Yeah, I’m sure they’d frame it as a loan, but IME people like this basically never pay back loans.

            1. londonedit*

              Yup. You really shouldn’t lend any money to anyone – friends, relatives, co-workers – if you actually need to see that money again. Plenty of people will pay you back, of course, but a significant number of people won’t, so if you’re going to lend someone money without it potentially ruining your relationship with that person, it’s best to think of the money as gone for good as soon as it leaves your possession.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                I agree. I never lend money that will cause me hardship if it isn’t paid back. Also, if I loan someone money, they don’t ever get a second loan until the first is repaid.

                1. aebhel*

                  Yeah, I basically don’t loan money. I’ll give it as a gift, but I’m just not willing to deal with the potentially relationship-destroying headache of trying to get money back from someone who can’t or won’t pay me back. I’d much rather just give them an amount I can afford and stop worrying about it.

          3. TootsNYC*

            they would claim they’ll pay it back, but they’ll take forever in the hope (expectation?) that you’ll forget about it eventually, or it’ll become so awkward you’ll stop asking.

          4. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah someone who is 350 euro short on rent on the day its due doesn’t inspire confidence that she’d pay me back unless I hassled her about it, and I don’t ever want to be in the position of hassling people to pay me back.
            I would only lend an amount of money I’m willing to never get back (a dollar for the vending machine, I’ll cover your lunch, etc.).

        2. Dust Bunny*

          It’s never a loan. Even if it’s a “loan” the LW will be back here next year asking how to get her perpetually-broke coworker to pay her back.

          1. Amy Sly*

            I’ve known some folks who think of the “loan” they gave to an obnoxious family member as the price to ensure that they never had to deal with that person again.

            OP, I totally understand if you don’t want to go this route, but you could try loaning this person something you could easily part with — say a 20 — and then using that money that will never get paid back as the perennial excuse why you can’t loan them any more. “Can I borrow 350?” “You never paid me back 20, so no.” You could also go further and be so obnoxious about that 20 that they constantly avoid you. In which case, money well spent.

        3. san junipero*

          After being burned several times, I don’t lend money at all anymore. Either I can give money or I can’t. If I can, it’s nice if I can get paid back, but I’ve let go of any larger expectations about it.

          In this case, not in a million years, with someone else’s wallet, would I give this woman money.

          1. A CAD Monkey*

            I can think of a few wallets i would give her money out of, but i would also be giving money to myself and quite a few others out of that wallet.

            I would probably laugh in her face if she asked me for that much, of course i’m an arsehole about money.

        4. smoke tree*

          Whenever I hear about this apparent legion of people who are constantly grifting coworkers for money, I just assume that any money given to them will never be seen again. As someone mentioned upthread, there’s probably a good chance they have a financial black hole that they’re constantly feeding, such as an addiction.

      2. pleaset*

        “Why the hell do you think your new coworker would give you that much money?””

        Would you actually want to know the answer to this? I wouldn’t.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’m genuinely curious about the thought process of someone who does things this ridiculous. Like…why does she think this is OK? How does she think other people are going to react? What does she think they feel about this? Or does she just see other people as money dispensers without thoughts, feelings, or needs of their own?

          1. TootsNYC*

            “it’s OK to ask”
            “they’re a nice person, I’m doing them a favor by giving them a chance to do something good for someone else”

          2. smoke tree*

            My uneducated guess is that she’s so deeply entrenched in the cycle of constantly needing money that this kind of thing has become a habit, like rummaging through couch cushions for loose change. Once in a while, a coworker or other acquaintance may give her some money in a moment of weakness and that’s enough to keep her asking.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          Maybe it really is ask vs. guess culture, but I feel like even amongst ask-people this would be outside the norm.

          1. aebhel*

            Ask culture here: the flip side of ask culture is that it only works when it’s completely socially acceptable to bluntly refuse and have that respected as a possible outcome and a normal part of polite conversation, which is the part that often gets ignored when this comes up.

            Otherwise you’re just pressuring people, which is of course the whole point for people like this coworker.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Way, way too many people ignore this, which is much of why I am a vocal proponent of Guess culture.

              1. Coffee*

                This coworker would be rude enough to continue to ask in Guess culture, though. Rudeness knows no limits.

        3. pretzelgirl*

          I know someone that would probably do this, maybe not to a brand new co-worker. This person is just incredibly, incredibly naïve and doesn’t always under societal/workplace norms. She’s also one of the most kind-hearted people I know. That’s just “how she is”. I hate to make that excuse, but in this case its true.

          I know this isn’t the norm, but I just wanted to give my 2 cents.

    2. Tallulah in the Sky*

      Yep. “No” is a complete sentence, and in this case the less you say the better.

      And since this coworker asks everybody and not just OP, I wouldn’t wait to go to the boss. Like Alison, I would want to know if this was happening. This is just not ok to do.

    3. Zip Silver*

      ”I would literally be tempting to say something a bit more polite than “eat shit and die”.”

      I would probably mention something about £350 being less than the cost of a call girl.

    4. MistOrMister*

      The two times people have asked me for large sums of money (one not terribly close friend and one cousin) I happened to have renovations or repairs going on with my house and used that as an excuse for why I couldn’t loan the money. The friend accepted it and moved on. The cousin went through this whole rigamorole of how I had embarrassed him by saying no and this that and the other. I think how the person responds just really depends on them and how entitled they feel to your money. The one downside of using your own expenses as an excuse is that if they keep asking you either have to lie or have them do the “well you dont have any big expenses NOW so you can give me the money” thing. It is really mindboggling to me that this coworker had the nerve to ask for rent money from anyone in her office, much less someone who had been around only a month or so. Honestly, I wouldnt even be ok with someone regularly asking me for money for coffee! Budget your own money or go without but dont as coworkers to finance your life!!! The exception would be if the person forgot their wallet and needed money for lunch or if they were going through a horrific financial time and couldn’t afford necessities like that one guy who couldn’t even afford the gas to get in to work. I dunno, maybe this coworker is going through a rough time, but her responses make it sound like she is just a user.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Cousin: I would like to borrow some money from you.
        MoM: No.
        Cousin: You jerk, you’re embarrassing me about my behavior!

        This really takes me back. Ah, family. It’s why I moved 1500 miles away.

    5. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

      When I was an intern making $25k one of my supervisors asked to borrow $500 for something really important and promised to pay me back next pay day. He made over $80k, but I found out later he was drowning in debt from some really bad decisions with his ex GF.
      Stupid me agreed and had to practically beg him to repay me over the next several months. I didn’t even get cash- I logged into some of my bills online and he paid them with his credit card.
      It was completely inappropriate for him to ask and really dumb of me to agree, though the power dynamics made it hard to say no.
      These days I don’t loan anything to anyone. I can’t get people to return books or DVDs basically ever so that train has stopped.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          He didn’t give her cash or a check like a normal loan repayment, from a person who has the money. He had her sign onto her bills and put in his credit card number, so it was slowly added to his credit card debt.

          Which, good on Beatings for holding firm on making him repay somehow.

        2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          He didn’t have access. OP logged on while scumbag stood there. Scumbag then gave OP his own credit card numbers to type in and make payments on $500 worth various bills.

        3. Jaybeetee*

          Ah – I totally read that as she logged in one day and just randomly saw he’d paid her bills. Lesson for me to never comment before coffee…

      1. Quill*

        I’ve had enough books walk away that you must live in the same city as me and see me at least once a week to get a book from me these days. (Exception: my brother, but I know where he lives and 90% of the time our book exchanges are just flinging things we don’t plan to reread at each other…)

      2. Massmatt*

        That stinks, asking a subordinate for that much is beyond the pale. And then the long hassle getting paid back! He’s lucky you didn’t report him to HIS boss, though who knows how that would’ve gone.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, asking a subordinate for that much should be an instant firing offense if you ask me.

          1. Kendra*

            Particularly an intern!!! It would be terrible enough to do this to an employee who at least knew for certain that it wasn’t normal, but it seems especially egregious this way.

      3. Bartleby’s Officemate*

        You got 100,000 Good Place points for that, Beatings, even if it was also an unpleasant lesson in human nature.

        I honestly can’t imagine giving $500 to a *supervisor* earning $80k unless he needed to pick up his monthly insulin supply from the pharmacy before lunch and his wallet had been stolen that morning.

    6. Nesprin*

      The converse of “reasonable people accept reasonable explanations” is that only reasonable people get reasons.
      Your coworker is beyond the pale and does not deserve anything beyond “no, I’m not going to loan you money again, please stop asking”, and if necessary, “this is really unprofessional and I’m going to have to raise this with our boss if you keep asking”.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And IMO telling them you had an expensive bill to pay yourself is a bad idea.

      Yes to this! Never give a reason if what you really want to say is “no, no way, no how”. The other person will see it as an opening to a discussion on how you can work around your reason to still give them what they want from you. In the several years on and off that I did online dating, I noticed the same thing. If you tell someone that you don’t want to meet, don’t want to meet a second time, etc and follow that with reasons why, you’ll get detailed explanation why your reason is not important, what the other person can do to make your reason go away, etc. Which can then evolve into days of back and forth with the person if you don’t nip it in the bud. I quickly developed a habit of saying “thank you, but I don’t think it is a good idea for us to meet again”. No one can argue with that. With a coworker asking for obscene amounts of cash, you can skip the “it is not a good idea” part, because she already knows that it isn’t, and just go straight to the “no”.

    8. Helena*

      Yep, “hahahaha no”, is perfect, as is “are you on fucking glue Jane?”

      No need to overthink this.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – Why all the BS passive aggressive attempts to humiliate the guy? Either talk to him about the problem or talk to his boss. This is work, not Jr high.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        It sounds like the problem is excessive toilet paper, not… bodily output, so he is doing it because he doesn’t care or doesn’t know better, or even possibly to troll people (it has happened before) so it sounds like behavior that can be fixed.

        1. MK*

          I am assuming the OP isn’t monitoring his output, which probably cannot be seen under the paper. I can believe it is possible, if unlikely, that he is doing this as some weird form of vandalism. It’s more likely that he has some trouble that makes him need to use a lot of paper, or makes him think he must do so.

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

        My brother has a step grandson (I think he’s about 11) that does this. He’s done plumbing and flooding damage to his grandparent’s house and his mom’s apartment. He’s been talked to plenty of times about the appropriate amounts of paper to use, and if he needs to keep wiping, he should flush in between. I’m not even sure it’s from actually wiping. The adults think he sometimes does it out of spite if he’s mad (because it does coincide occasionally with getting into trouble), but mostly it’s like an obsessive behavior thing. Toddlers go through a period where they are fascinated by the toilet and love to throw stuff in — it’s like he’s stuck in that stage.

        I doubt this man is going to stop even if confronted or passively shamed by coworkers or a manager. They can’t be in the stall with him, time him on his use, or ration out an appropriate amount of toilet paper for him to use — things that are marginally OK for an adult to try with their child, but absolutely not OK at work. I think the OP is just out of luck on this one unless the guy gets fired.

      3. TootsNYC*


        There’s probably something behind this, and while it’s not OK that he does it, a little bit of empathy is not misplaced.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I did consider hyperbole. But I also know that there are a lot of people out there that would do anything other than have an honest open conversation about the problem.

      2. Ruth (UK)*

        From the way it was written I also assumed comedy and not serious suggestion. As in, I gathered they’re asking for serious suggestions but are joking about the potential outrageous ways they suggest handling it in the letter.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I think it was a comedic suggestion/secret fantasy borne out of frustration. I know people have their bathroom issues, but if you use up ALL the toilet paper in the bathroom and clog the toilet EVERY TIME…you need to figure something out. Unless this guy saves all his poop for public places, I’m pretty sure he must have figured out how to handle this at home at least.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Yeah, does he do this at home? Either he lives 24/7 with a perpetually clogged toilet, or he has something going on that he can, in fact, control when he chooses, and is acting out for some reason.

        2. ChimericalOne*

          That’s how I read it, too — comedy born from frustration. Like, “I obviously can’t do these things I want to do, so what *can* I do?”

      3. PB*

        You’re probably right, but I found it deeply cringy. Loudly mocking someone for a possible disorder? Ick.

        1. Ethyl*

          I think probably a lot of people with various GI issues still somehow manage not to stuff the entire toilet bowl full of paper, though. So mocking for being a gross, inconsiderate bathroom user rather than any possible “disorder” or whatever.

          1. Washi*

            Right! Take as long as you want in the bathroom and use all the toilet paper you need. But don’t leave it for someone else to clean up on a regular basis. After 1-2 instances max, you should know the capacity of the toilet and act accordingly.

          2. Shan*

            Exactly! I’m someone with IBS who was married to someone with Crohn’s, and let me tell you… our toilets were always in perfect working condition. The clogged toilet is the result of this dude’s behaviour, not his gastrointestinal health.

            1. Mel2*

              Yes! I have some fun gastric symptoms from fibromyalgia, and the secret is simply multiple flushes. I have no shame or embarrassment over this, because I know I’m doing right by preventing any toilet problems.

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              This. I have IBS, and old cranky plumbing. I need the plunger regularly, but I never overflow it onto the floor.

              Using an entire roll of TP is eyeroll-worthy, and the guy needs to be stopped, or made to plunge his own mess.

              Seriously, put a plunger in that bathroom.

        2. Parenthetically*

          The poo is not the problem. The ENTIRE ROLL OF TP for EVERY POO is the problem. I also thought it was pretty obviously humorous hyperbole, because the undercurrent is “seriously I have no good ideas, please help.”

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree that that was the intent, but unfortunately, it landed badly with me because it sounded like it was mocking someone who clearly has issues. That said, I wasn’t offended by OP’s humor, and I’m sure others found it tongue-in-cheek funny. I suspect folks who find it unfunny are reacting to the idea that bullying is not funny to joke about.

      5. The Other Dawn*

        That was my take on it, too. He’s trying to lighten a frustrating situation. I highly doubt he really meant that he wants to do those things.

    1. some dude*

      There is a guy on my floor who uses all the toilet paper every time he goes to the bathroom…and he does it because he has pretty severe OCD. His OCD bathroom habits are inconvenient, but I try to be patient with him because I don’t think him washing his hands for five minutes several times a day and having elaborate bathroom rituals is much fun for him either. I’m not saying don’t address it, but keep in mind that there is probably some extenuating circumstances driving his behavior.

  7. Don’t get salty*

    #3, I knew it wouldn’t be long before coworkers started asking again for money!

    I had an instance years ago where someone approached me for money and I simply said “no”. They responded “so, you don’t have any money either?” I replied, “I have plenty of money; none of it’s for you.” I was never asked again after that.

    1. D'Arcy*

      I’m actually not a huge fan of trying to let someone down nicely by saying you *can’t afford* to help them out financially. Frankly, it’s inherently pushy and incredibly inappropriate for a coworker to put you on the spot by directly asking for financial assistance as opposed to setting up something like a GoFundMe, and it crosses even more lines when they do so aggressively and repeatedly.

      Frankly, I’d make a complaint to my supervisor and HR that this coworker is harassing me with aggressive panhandling.

      1. WS*

        +1, I tried letting a co-worker down nicely (we were paid the same pitiful wages at the time) but then she just hit me up again on payday!

      2. Avasarala*

        Honestly I’d think it inappropriate if a coworker set up a GoFundMe and “indirectly” begged for money. At least in person they have to look you in the eye and feel the awkward and the embarrassment instead of pretending they’re a charity fund or a kickstarter. I don’t think it’s appropriate to beg coworkers for money electronically either.

      3. ellex42*

        The company I work for set up a GoFundMe for a coworker I don’t know and have never met (I’m not sure they even work in the same office as me) who has some family medical issues. While I’m sympathetic – I’m aware of how medical bills can easily lead to bankruptcy here in the US – the company offers a pretty decent health insurance package, donates a lot of money to various charities/charitable endeavours/local community projects. I kind of feel like the company could put some money towards the employee’s problem, or at least offer to match donations. As it is, I feel like I’m being solicited at work, and that makes me resentful – I’m paid relatively well but nowhere near enough to have no money worries of my own.

        Girl Scout cookie order sheets or Tupperware catalogs left in the breakroom are fine – I can ignore those (well…the Girl Scout cookies are hard to walk past). But being directly solicited for donations at work, even for a good cause, feels intrusive.

        As for a random coworker asking for money – well, I tend not to carry cash anyway (that $20 in the pocket of my purse is for legit emergencies and does NOT come out otherwise), and will happily tell someone to “neither a borrower nor a lender be”. I’ve learned how to let a silence hang long enough for the other person to become uncomfortable.

        1. TimeTravelR*

          Work setting up the GoFundMe is particularly odd. Because then will they do it for everyone? Where is the line drawn? Company should stay out of it, unless they want to give the co-worker a pay advance or something.

          1. Kendra*

            When I ended up with a huge medical bill beyond what insurance would cover, our incredibly helpful HR person pointed out that I had enough PTO saved to cash some out, and that if they did it as an HSA contribution it would be pre-tax. She even did the math for me so I wouldn’t go over the annual contribution limit. THAT is how you help your coworkers/employees out, along with making it easy for them to take leave for medical emergencies (thank you, boss!), because it’s pretty easy to be equally accommodating to every employee that way.

            1. RecoveringSWO*

              Sounds like she deserves a complimentary email with her boss cc’d! :) Seriously though, that’s fantastic.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I absolutely DESPISE GoFundMe pages. It’s the equivalent of begging for money on a street corner. If I had a friend or family member in need, I’d organize some sort of fundraiser. But just asking me for money to help a virtual stranger is never okay in any situation IMO.

          1. Veronica*

            I agree! I know someone who set up a GoFundMe for legal bills because her horrible ex was giving her and her daughter a hard time again…
            And later I learned her ex started up because she was openly cheating on her husband, along with poor parenting…
            Conveniently not mentioned in her narration of her life, of course. All that was just the tip of the most dysfunctional iceberg I’ve ever seen – and I have abusive parents.
            I’ve also heard from friends about GoFundMe’s where the recipients turned up with expensive new hairdos, etc. … obviously taking advantage…
            The internet has given such people a new way to beg and/or take advantage.

            1. Jennifer*

              Is it really that terrible that someone having money trouble went and got their hair done? Maybe they used the donated money for its intended purpose and had some left over to pamper themselves? I really hate how people overly scrutinize the spending and actions of people in need. It harkens back to the whole “welfare queens in fur coats buying caviar at the grocery store” trope.

              We have no way of knowing if the hairdo was “expensive” at all. Maybe a friend offered to do it for a discount or free.

              1. Veronica*

                The anecdote I heard mentioned an expensive color job, they cost hundreds of dollars. The person who told me this knew they didn’t have any friends who could do that.
                Also manicures, etc.
                There needs to be a balance between respecting people’s needs and not enabling unethical people to take advantage. Because they will.

                1. Jennifer*

                  I still don’t know how they would know how much it costs. Nails can also be done inexpensively. It all sounds incredibly judgmental, not to mention classist.

                2. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Sometimes I have very purple hair – bleached and then purpled. It would cost $200 at a salon. I do it myself for the cost of materials. I don’t need a friend to do it. Good hair coloring can be a DIY item.

                3. Veronica*

                  The point I’m trying to make is there *are* people who take advantage of people they know, and GoFundMe gives them another way to do this.
                  Closing your eyes to it and saying it’s judgmental and classist enables them.

        3. Sara without an H*

          I’ve learned how to let a silence hang long enough for the other person to become uncomfortable. Ah, yes, the ability to say, “no” followed by an ever-lengthening silence is an indispensable life skill, and one that too few people learn.

          Of course, if everyone could do it, Alison would lose about a third of her questions. (Captain Awkward would lose at least half.)

          1. ellex42*

            I meant to come back earlier but what I thought was going to be an easy day turned into…well, not hard, just busier than I hoped for.

            Learning how to NOT fill a silence was a hard won and hard learned skill, and I’m not always successful at it, but I highly recommend practicing it!

        4. Cookie Monster*

          But can you imagine if they HAD given some money toward this employee’s problem? They’d never hear the end of other employees coming to them with their own problems like “but you gave so and so extra money, why not me?”

          That could happen with the GoFundMe too, though. Either way, it’s not great.

        5. Jennifer*

          I hate when billion-dollar corporations ask their employees making pennies to help an employee in need when their executives are making millions. It’s gross. A company I worked for had money set aside to help employees in need. For things like huge medical debt, natural disasters and the like.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Damn straight. Especially those food donation boxes for fellow employees that sometimes get put in the break rooms at low-wage retail and food service jobs.

      4. Catsaber*

        Agreed, saying you can’t afford it just gets interpreted in the asker’s mind as “So that’s a yes for when you can afford it!” If it’s not a blunt, full-stop “no”, they’ll take any response as negotiable.

      5. Allison*

        I agree with not saying you can’t afford to help. Telling someone you can’t afford something may lead to them scrutinizing (or trying to scrutinize) how much you have, how much you spend, and whether you actually can afford it. “Oh, so you can afford ____ but you ‘can’t afford’ to help someone who really needs it? Nice.” You don’t want this.

    2. What The Fork Is A Chidi*

      Wow… When I grow up, I want to be like you xD that was a very beautiful answer

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yesssss! Slay the beast.

      I’m the same way. I’m from Panhandling USA and therefore I’m well versed in “No. I’ll keep my money for my own use.”

      That’s not saying that I don’t actually actively give out change if asked for it on a day I’m feeling generous but I’m not going to lie or shy away from telling someone who’s being bold enough to ask again or pushback on a “no”. You take no or you get the horns.

  8. Lionheart*

    Many of us (like OP 4) have trouble with wording accomplishments or parsing an accomplishment from a job description for our resumes. Alison would it be possible to have an open thread or ask-the-readers where we can ask resume specific questions?

  9. Edwina*

    I agree with Alison that mentioning your audio work doesn’t show “teamwork” or “flexibility.” It shows that you do audio work and voice over work. HOWEVER: I feel that Alison may be giving short shrift to how interesting or valuable this skill actually is!

    To me, it seems like you’re showing them that you represent new media and new avenues for their business. In publishing right now, digital and audio is HUGE. Also in retail. Especially if you might be able to do actual work in front of the camera. Retail sites –even clothing, such as Nordstrom–often offer video on their products, with normal people (not actors or models, obviously just their own staff) presenting the product. And almost every publishing company would be branching into audio books, audio presentations, voice overs for slide shows, etc. It seems to me that any company that you are applying to, if there is any part of their business that would involve video, digital presentations, internet presence—-even these kinds of short videos on their website–would be interested in this skill.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Not just publishing and retail, either. I work at a large engineering firm, and we have an annual meeting every year that has a lot of video production. The main videographer is an employee with a normal engineering-related day job and does this part-time during that part of the year. With writing and voiceover experience on her resume, I could see our marketing and proposals group being very interested in the OP, even though you wouldn’t see the exact mix of skills requested on one of our job ads.

    2. Help Desk Peon*

      I’m in IT – the last time I was job searching, the fact that I was comfortable doing any kind of public speaking was seen as a HUGE plus, and was what got me the job. I get tapped to do new software presentations, demos and training sessions, which I find I enjoy and have led to more visibility and promotions in my org.

      So I’ll +1 that if OP enjoys this kind of work, they should include it on their resume.

    3. Marissa*

      My first thought was that voiceover work shows that you can speak clearly, confidently and in a way that’s engaging, which is a widely desirable skill. I would be happy to see it on a resume.

  10. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – technically, what you did wasn’t a firing. It was a realignment of mismatched job skills.
    If it was a true firing they person would be without a job.

    You can’t put it on a resume but you could certainly use it as an example during an interview.

    You could state it as “Successfully managed staff by proactively realigning skill sets and job duties. This resulted in an xx increase in productivity and a % drop in error rate.” That way you have an assertion with the evidence.
    Using the word “proactive” means you instituted the change. Realigning job duties shows that there was movement in jobs.

    1. Chaordic One*

      There are a handful of positions for “hit men” whose main thing seems to be firing people. This doesn’t seem to be what you really do, and I don’t think you want to known as one.

      1. LW#1*

        I really hadn’t considered that it could read that way, so thanks for that example. I wanted to convey “knows when and how to make the tough calls and does so with as much kindness as possible while still protecting the organization”, not “really into firing people”.

        1. Just Elle*

          Lol at “really into firing people”.

          I think you can still convey that by having a line about “Led organizational realignment to capitalize on talent of team” or “Focused on balancing employee empowerment with business needs, leading to X increase in survey scores / productivity”

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I also think this is a perfect talking point for an interview, when you get one of those “tell me about a time when …” questions – and those are great to save up and deliver well. So you WILL get value out of this experience, but it’s probably not the kind of thing you put on a resume.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        oh jeez and then I scroll down one more response and see that this point has already been made. Sorry!!

    3. LW#1*

      That’s a good point to remember. I suppose I think of it that way because for the majority of the time I was working with her on the performance issues, that seemed to be how it was going to have to end. Then she had an “ah-ha” moment and we were able to turn it around. But you’re right, I should re-frame it in my mind.

      1. Just Elle*

        You’re not giving yourself nearly enough credit here.
        What you did is give her time and space to explore the best career move for her, gently prompted by direct, open, and honest communication.
        …as opposed to what most managers do, which is nitpick little points without ever actually saying “we have a problem” until they become so frustrated that their little queues aren’t being picked up on that they blindside the poor sap with a firing.

  11. Marzipan*

    #1, I agree with Alison that this doesn’t belong on your resume, but it’s the sort of thing which might make a good interview example in response to various questions that I can imagine being asked in an industry that knows people skills can be a bit of a gap in their candidates. In that context, you’d be able to explain the nuances a bit more and I think it would come across better. So it may still be a relevant thing for applications, just at a different point in the process.

    1. londonedit*

      That’s what I was thinking. I’d keep the ‘Built and managed a high-performing team of seven, including hiring, coaching and developing’ bit for the CV, and then save the example of reassigning this person to a different department as a good example for a ‘tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation’ question. Then you can talk in detail about how you realised there was a problem, you worked with the employee, established that she wasn’t a great fit for management but would be excellent in another role, and helped transition her into a role that was a much better fit for her.

      (By the way, I also don’t think ‘helping someone move into a better-fitting job in a different department’ counts as firing! She wasn’t fired at all!)

      1. Marzipan*

        Yeah, I agree. It’s a good example of creatively handling an issue but actually quite a bad example of firing someone (if such an example ever happened to be needed) on account of nobody being fired at the end of it!

      2. annony*

        I agree. I think it is much better as a “tell me about a time when” type of question than actually written out on a resume.

      3. Just Elle*

        I agree with this.
        And yes, its the exact opposite of firing! You helped someone find a better fit for her and the company. Remove firing from your lexicon!

        1. LW#1*

          Thanks, everyone. That’s about where I landed. It’s just so hard to come up with examples of some of these harder people-oriented skills.

          As for it not being a “firing” you’re absolutely right and I mentioned above that I think of it that way because it seemed like where it would end until it finally turned around. Like always it wasn’t one “hey….you’re struggling with this….you should do that instead” conversation but many smaller conversations of varying emotional responses that ultimately wound up resolving positively.

    2. Just Elle*

      I actually just had this conversation with my husband, who wanted to put something to the effect of “coached, and when necessary fired” on his resume. I get why he wanted to, but I don’t think its the right focus for a resume.
      In his example, as manager of a fast food chain, firing included for reasons like ‘they wrote Nazi slang on another employee’s car’ and ‘showed up high on molly… to work as a delivery driver’ and ‘sent inappropriate texts to an underage employee’. All of which required really careful legal consideration and documentation and is definitely a skill.
      But, there’s just no way to put it on a resume that conveys that correctly. If I received a resume like that, I’d seriously question if the applicant was a power hungry maniac who got off on ruining people’s lives. In an interview, you can get to the core of ‘willing to make hard decisions’ in a more nuanced way.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, I’d see firing on a resume as a possible sign that the person was power-hungry or cruel.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Depends on the level of person. Senior people sometimes have to clean house, but they should talk to it appropriately.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I wonder if this might make a good cover-letter point.

      “I’ve tackled some tricky management challenges, including helping a valued employee transition out of a management position in which she was struggling into a client-service position that capitalized on her follow-through skills.”

  12. Avasarala*

    What about, not an anonymous note, but a sign on the stalls:
    “Toilets clog easily. Please refrain from flushing lots of toilet paper at once.”

    I seen these kinds of signs all the time, from “Please only flush toilet paper; dispose of sanitary items in the trash” to “please do not stand on the toilet seat” to “please don’t press the handle too hard, it will break. Signed, Building Management.” Frame it as a facility requirement, not a deficiency of the user (though it often is, but this lets people save face and sometimes it is genuinely a finicky toilet).

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The problem is that people feel free to ignore signs, which would just give OP one more thing to be frustrated about it. I agree that if he’s in a position to talk to the facilities manager about it, he should. But there’s not much else he can do.

      1. Avasarala*

        Could OP say that next time they pass each other in the bathroom? “Dunno if you’ve noticed that these toilets clog easily? So you have to flush a little at a time. Help me spread the word, I’m sick of clogged toilets, haha!”

      2. BethRA*

        Not always, though – a few years ago we had a problem with one of the stalls in the women’s room clogging on the regular. One day someone noticed the end of a tampon string in the clogged toilet, and had signs put up asking people to not flush poons/pads/etc. (wording was more polite than that). Et voila! The toilets stopped clogging. I think some people legitimately don’t get that large quantities of even flushable things can cause clogs.

    2. Airy*

      I remember hearing a radio panel discussion of a recent tragedy when someone mucking around on a seaside cliff had fallen off the edge and died, and whether the solution was to put up signs pointing out that the edge of a high cliff above big rocks is dangerous. One panelist summed it up succinctly: “The trouble is, sensible people don’t need telling and idiots don’t read signs.”
      The words “Idiots don’t read signs” have come back to me many, many times since then.

      1. Fikly*

        I once saw an episode of a show following lifeguards on a very busy beach in Australia. Tens of thousands of visitors a day. They have very dangerous riptides, and place signs every day clearly labelling where they are, and yet rescue dozens of people every day who ignore the signs and end up in the riptides.

        As an experiment, they put up a note on one of the signs, telling beach goers to approach any lifeguard and tell them they read the sign, and they’d get ten dollars. Over the course of a week, they kept increasing the size of the font. It ended up pretty big. Over a week, I can’t imagine how many thousands of people passed the sign. How many people went up to one of the lifeguards standing nearby? 5.

        1. ellex42*

          I used to wonder how people could somehow not see certain very obvious signs. Then I was talking to someone and realized that, for me, reading is something that just happens. If I’ve seen it, and it’s close enough/clear enough/big enough to read, then I’ve read it. For some – apparently many – other people, reading is an active effort that they have to decide to do. They may see the sign, but just seeing it is not enough to have read it.

          It’s nearly incomprehensible to me, but I’ve queried enough people about how they read to understand that it’s real.

          1. Asenath*

            I never thought of it that way, but you might have a point. I (and my family) are all such avid readers that it was a standing joke that we’d read the label on a tube of toothpaste if nothing else was available. To this day, I read everything, even notices of public events that are over or which I am not interested in. I work in a building with a lot of notice boards for the public to use, and I read it all. If I’m visiting a park, I read all the warning and informational signs. I know many people don’t read books, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t read signs and posters! I assumed that they did, and either thought that the rules didn’t apply to them, or that they were good enough swimmers to survive the ocean currents. No one else caught in those particular currents have survived, as far as I know, but these are visitors who might not know that.

            1. Filosofickle*

              When I was a kid I read the back of the Cheerios box at breakfast, day in and day out. (This was pre-phone/tablet/laptop.) That’s all I had to read so I read it. Over and over and over.

              A museum I volunteer at has a “please don’t lick the paintings” line in the art wing intro sign. I doubt many people have ever even noticed.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  Reading and all radio/TV/phone was strictly verboten during family meals (every dinner + weekend lunches) but breakfast would have been ok since we arranged our own. I think I didn’t read at breakfast because I wouldn’t have put it down and therefore wouldn’t have gotten out to school on time. I was notorious for being oblivious to all space and time when I had my nose in a book. Even now I know not to sit down with any reading material if I have limited time.

            2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

              I used to read the backs of shampoo bottles if there was no other reading material available. I, too, didn’t realize that this is abnormal behavior.

            3. Veronica*

              I read many of Louis L’Amours books about the American west. I remember one of the characters mentioned the cowboys and explorers would memorize the labels on food cans from lack of reading, and “penny dreadful” novels were valuable and passed on to friends.

          2. TimeTravelR*

            That is so interesting! I am obviously a reader, since I am reading the comments for something to do while I wait for something else! LOL And I read EVERYTHING! Even as a kid, I would read the shampoo bottle label while in the bath!

          3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Thanks, that sheds a useful light on things. I suspect it’s less “this sign doesn’t apply to me” than not reading the signs unless they actively want information. “Where’s the bathroom?” is a different kind of question than “I wonder if there are park rules I don’t already know about.”

          4. SarahTheEntwife*

            I also read automatically, but with things like store signs it doesn’t get “filed” unless it’s something interesting. So in a big public place with umpty-seven advertising and directional and caution signs I can easily miss the one sign that I should actually be paying attention to because there’s too much information to process properly.

            1. Chili*

              That is definitely also an issue! There are too many useless signs and ads plastered everywhere, so people are trained to ignore them.

              1. Wintermute*

                Especially when many of them are of the “high cliffs over sharp rocks are dangerous” type, completely obvious and useless.

          5. ChimericalOne*

            Same. (And this is why I get frustrated with friends who post spoilers for movies, even if they preface them with “spoilers ahead” — there’s a decent chance my eyes will glimpse it, despite trying to look past, and then I’ll know what it said… Just like if you preceed a photo of an apple with the words “don’t look at this picture,” I’ll still almost certainly see it & recognize it for an apple!)

            But for most people, it seems that reading is something they have to actively choose to do, not just a matter of instant recognition/comprehension on sight.

          6. Chili*

            Yes! That’s definitely something I’ve noticed. I don’t have to make a conscious effort to read a sign in English (my primary language) unless it is very long. Whereas people who have more difficulty reading English see signs more like how I see signs that are in Spanish (a language I know sort of, but am not completely fluent). And it is definitely a lot easier/tempting to ignore signs that require effort to parse.

          7. juliebulie*

            My eyes are not what they used to be (both for near and far). If I’m wearing my glasses I’ll passively read all of the signs whether I want to or not; but if I’m not wearing my glasses (e.g., if I’m on the beach) I won’t be able to and probably won’t be motivated to.

            OTOH if I’m at the beach I already assume that the ocean is full of deadly riptides, jellyfish, sharks, and broken glass, so I might not need to read anything.

          8. Aurion*

            Yeah, this is me too. I have very fast reading comprehension and a habit of reading everything in sight (with some limits, I wouldn’t read an inch-thick instruction manual cover to cover just because it’s there…but I probably would skim a few pages whilst eating breakfast). It’s a holdover habit from when I was learning English combined with loving reading since I was a kid.

            To even it out, I have terrible aural comprehension so I often miss dialogue in movies and TV shows if the subtitles aren’t on.

          9. ...*

            Wow I never thought of it that way. Huh. I think my parents actually taught me this though. Like when you get to a new location, you should look around and check for posted rules, danger, other people’s stuff etc. I think this type of awareness is taught. It kind of goes with the toilet letter. I’m BAFFLED by people who leave the toilet in disarray. But then I remember, my mom always taught me that the last step of going to the bathroom is turning around and looking at the toilet to ensure that’s in the same condition it was before you went.

        2. MarsJenkar*

          I wonder how many *did* read the sign, but either dismissed it as a prank or didn’t want to disturb a lifeguard ON DUTY.

          1. Jen2*

            Yeah, I would have probably read it, but then been too embarrassed to actually ask a lifeguard about it.

        3. Clorinda*

          That doesn’t mean only five people read it. I would read the sign, laugh, and not go for the money, because I would assume the money part was a joke.

        4. Curmudgeon in California*

          I can’t NOT read signs. If it’s text, I read it. I even try to read non-english, but don’t get very far if it isn’t western letters.

      2. Asenath*

        You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. We have a spot where many visitors go to see the ocean, and in spite of signs and visits by park employees warning about slippery rocks, large waves and extremely strong currents right off shore, some people drown there. A sign might help, but a visit from the person in charge might be more effective. No guarantees, though.

      3. Avasarala*

        Oh for sure, idiots do not read signs. Hope this guy isn’t an idiot, so far it sounds like nothing has been tried yet.

      4. londonedit*

        Even if they do read the signs, people in general have a tendency to think ‘Oh, but that sign doesn’t apply to ME, I mean I’m SENSIBLE, nothing bad is going to happen to ME! Those signs are for the OTHER idiots who don’t know what they’re doing. Of course I can swim here! I’m a good swimmer!’ And then they get caught by the tide or whatever.

        1. Quill*

          We have somebody drown pretty much every summer in my town due to undertow or pier diving. I think a decent portion of the problem is drinking on the water / pier, but the rest? We’ve got signs, we’ve got life rings, we’ve got the news and schools and everybody’s grandparents telling us where not to swim, but a lot of the people who drown here are from here, and a most are teens or adults.

          Humans are apparently just reckless.

      5. London Calling*

        The words “Idiots don’t read signs” have come back to me many, many times since then.

        Ain’t that the truth. I live in SW London near the Thames, and there are signs along the river bank – very large signs – saying Do Not Park. Area Floods. One of the minor amusements for people drinking at a nearby pub is watching the people who think that the signs don’t apply to them attempting to rescue their submerged-up-to-the-roof cars.

        1. londonedit*

          I regularly run along there! So far I’ve only had one ‘Oh crap…guess I won’t be going any further along the towpath today…’ moment!

          1. UKDancer*

            I gather from family in the NE that similar amusement is derived when they observe the number of people who don’t think the crossing times on Lindisfarne causeway apply to them and then have to vacate submerged cars as the tide comes in and floods the road. The information on the safe times to drive over the causeway is easy to find and check yet I understand about 1 vehicle per month is submerged.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Houston, Texas: We’ve lost count of how many people drive around “road closed” barricades during storms and drown in underpasses. What part of that seems negotiable??

      6. Quill*

        My mom has a similar saying, but it’s more along the lines of “You can fix ignorance, but you can’t fix ignoring it.”

        1. Quill*

          The other 1% was “recycled” by my brother and his college band because they really wanted a sign that said “Caution! Cicada Killer Wasps!”

    3. One of the Sarahs*

      The problem is, it sounds like he’s NOT flushing the paper, he’s leaving it in there (like the toilet clogger in my work, who leaves half a roll of paper in the bowl), so he wouldn’t necessarily see the sign as directed at him….

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      My favourite one of those, because it was written inaccurately, was

      Please don’t block the toilet with sanitary items – use the bin instead.

      1. Quill*

        *Tries to flush the garbage can*

        Then again when I lived in an all girl dorm some chick tried to flush 80% of a pizza so I’m not shocked by anything anymore.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        I’m not following what’s inaccurate there? I feel like that’s a fairly standard sign I see in bathrooms all the time?

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Ok, on re-reading I think I see what you’re going for. But I still don’t think the sign is inaccurate as written it just could potentially be interpreted in two ways (but since only one way makes any actual sense I think it’s fine)

    5. CheeryO*

      This guy has to know that he’s clogging the toilet – he just doesn’t care. He probably won’t care until/unless he’s caught and reprimanded by someone with authority over him.

    6. Quill*

      We have one on both sides of every stall door in the bathroom at work that says “NO FEMININE HYGEINE PRODUCTS IN THE TOILET” among other things but honestly, given the… coloration of the toilets in question I think it might be a problem with the force of the flush rather than the quantity of paper product.

  13. Jaybeetee*

    Who the hell are these people hitting up their colleagues for money all the time?? I’ve been broke af, and I hated even asking family for money, let alone colleagues.

    I think if someone tried this on me (even more galling in my present job, as I’m likely the lowest earner in my section), I wouldn’t be able to conceal my shock. It’d be a straight-up “wut?” reaction, followed by, “Can’t help you, good luck with that.”

    Yeah OP, bring this to a manager’s attention. She must be making people uncomfortable as hell.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I think most of the time when you get these questions, it’s from people whose coworkers think they are friends with the OP. And I can totally see how asking for a very small short-term loan from a friend at work would be reasonable. Back in the day when I worked at a restaurant, one of my tips got lost somehow, so one of the managers loaned me $4 until he got reimbursed by corporate (I know, it’s a ridiculous amount, but I was poor). It was no big deal because I’d been working there for a year at that point and knew him quite well and also I didn’t ask him, he offered.

      As for this poster…. sheesh, I have no idea what is going on. My reaction would be the exact same as yours.

    2. Luna*

      That’s what confuses me so much. She has a job, right? That she’s apparently getting paid for? If she were unemployed and/or this were a friend asking for some monetary help, I can see it in a more positive light. But… she has a job. It’s not anyone’s problem but her own if she lives beyond her income means.

      1. londonedit*

        I mean, some jobs are pretty poorly paid and it’s a struggle for people to get by, but I’d suggest that if someone is regularly asking co-workers for €350 so they can pay their rent, they’ve got a serious problem somewhere.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yeah, I would argue in this day and age of stagnant wages, high cost of medical care, student loans, etc. (speaking about the US here) that it’s easier than ever to work a lot and not be well-compensated; something like half the US lives check to check. I can envision lots of situations in which a person could be employed and still be hundreds of dollars short, and not all of them are nefarious. That still doesn’t mean that person should hit up her colleagues for cash, though.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I always find these letters interesting because I’ve never seen this happen. Covering a coworker’s $5 for bereavement flowers because they don’t have cash, sure (I did that; the guy never did pay me back), but “Can I borrow hundreds of dollars?” Never seen it. And the brazenness of it is shocking – this person is in what sounds like a fairly serious financial bind, and she has the nerve to be nasty about not getting money from someone she’s known for two months? What?

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, in general don’t lend people anything you can’t do without, so $20 is something of a hard limit for things that are reasonable to lend coworkers.

        1. Wintermute*

          I dunno, I’ve covered meals before, I was putting in a grubhub order and they didn’t have cash, and I think the total layout was like 50 bucks, spread among three co-workers, but we did this fairly often (late-shift IT job, we didn’t “get” lunch breaks so we had to have food delivered) and a different person shouldered it each time so it all evened out, sometimes you’d just be like “I got your burrito, get my falafel tomorrow”.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        I’ve never had a co-worker ask me for money, but I did have one who asked me for urine so she could pass a drug test. I’d actually just had major surgery a few weeks prior (before I started the job) and was taking some pain medication so I was able to tell her Well you won’t pass it with mine! But I would have told her no anyway. Some people just have no shame and will ask for anything from anybody.

      3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        +1 for never having seen this sort of behavior in an office and being appalled. The escalating requests violate so many different norms that I’d seriously wonder about this person’s ability to be professional, ever. I was surprised Alison didn’t advise the LW to raise the issue with the relevant supervisor immediately, regardless of whether she’s given a blanket “no.” (Which, LW, I also think you should do.) If I were a supervisor, I would want to know yesterday that one of my employees was doing this. If for no other reason than to review which company records and accounts she has access to.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, I would no longer trust her judgment on anything. And all the pluses to making sure she doesn’t have access to any company funds.

      4. TootsNYC*

        this is a way of life for her.

        And getting nasty to someone who won’t give her money is a tactic, not a genuine, rational reaction.

  14. Librarian of SHIELD*

    OP 3, you are now Meghan Trainor. Your name is No. Your bank account number is No.

    I know it can feel rude or harsh to just say no to your coworker’s loan requests (are they loan requests? What kind guarantee is she giving that she’d actually pay you back?) without softening it by giving a her a reason for why you need to keep your money. But you get to keep your money. You did not put your coworker in her dire financial straits, and it is not your job to get her out again. And if she gets angry at you when you tell her you will not ever be giving her any money, that’s a reflection of her, not you.

    1. ssnc*

      Don’t feel bad for saying no. Dear Prudie’s general advice re: loans is to think of it as a gift because you probably won’t see it again.

      “No, I can’t.” Or, “nope, sorry! about those TPS reports…”

      I had a coworker who I had known for about a month ask me for around $100 to get her through a weekend because we wouldn’t get paid until Monday. I said I couldn’t, and she didn’t talk to me for a month (we didn’t interact at all for our jobs). Fine by me.

  15. D'Arcy*

    In this situation, I frankly don’t believe in softening it; if anything, I believe in hardening it in order to emphasize how grossly inappropriate the coworker is being. “Your financial irresponsibility is *not my problem*, Tywin.”

    1. Bagpuss*

      I wouldn’t use that wording as while the way that LW’s coworker is trying to manage their finances is clearly inappropriate, we and LW don’t know why she is is that financial position.

      I’d go with “No, I can’t give or lend you money, Don’t ask me again”

  16. LW#3*

    Hi everyone, I’m letter writer number three (the money-hungry co-worker).

    When I came to work this morning I spoke to someone a level above us.

    “Yeah. To be honest, I don’t really see her favourably. I barely know her, especially since she has been sick for so long. But I don’t see her as very trustworthy. I would absolutely not give her any kind of money like that. I mean, €1 or so for a coffee it would be ok, but this kind of thing is not ok. I would only do that with my very very closest friends. You’ve said no, and as far as I can say that’s what you should do and you shouldn’t do anything more about it.”

    She also looked at the message chain and was like “You’ve said no, you shut it down, and that is all you can do in this time.”

    I will be saying something to this girl when she comes back Monday, but if it continues after that I’ll be bringing it to our team leader.

    1. Observer*

      I wouldn’t bring back up to her. Just keep on saying no. But, if she does it again, speak to your team leader – and also either bring it to HR if they are competent or someone above whoever you spoke to (unless you went C-Suite level). Because she really IS untrustworthy. And given how much pressure she’s trying to put on people this could really create problems for staff with less status than she has.

    2. EPLawyer*

      This really bothers me. The person you went to is not taking this seriously. Just a “She is not trustworthy, you said no, so problem solved” is not really a good approach. Her boss needs to sit her down and tell her flat out to stop asking her co-workers for money. If she then continues, with someone they already don’t trust, its time to fire her. She can’t be that great an asset that they need to keep her on.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Me too! “She’s not trustworthy, you said no, nothing else can be done”?! Uhhhhhh…

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Seriously. As Observer pointed out, she may be asking people who are junior to her and afraid to say no.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Wait until she brings it up again. You probably won’t have to wait long, and it’ll be less dramatic than bringing it up yourself. ‘Again? Please, just stop asking, I’m not ever going to loan you money.’

    4. BRR*

      Something you said in your letter and again now is “€1 is fine for a coffee.” Id recommend you leave this out. With someone like this, you have to take a hard no policy. You don’t need to try to put into context what an appropriate amount might be because this really speaks for itself how inappropriate it is.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t give her a dime. She has “give her an inch, take a mile” written all over her. $1 for coffee will lead quickly to $350 for rent again, I am sure.

    5. Jaybeetee*

      Just because it’s so brazen, I’d be tempted to troll her a little – not in ways she could pin down as inappropriate. Like, if she’s emailing/messaging these asks, start sending her back links to payday loan stores, credit counseling services, “how to make payment arrangements” web pages…

      In all seriousness, if she does this again, firmly tell her you’re not going to lend her money, and keep reporting it up the chain. I wouldn’t worry about softening my language with someone that audacious.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think the person you spoke to handled it well – they don’t appwar to be planning to address it at all.

      I would speak to your actual line manager (if that is someone different) or to HR.

      Explain that while you have said no, you are concerned that she thought it was OK to be asking atwork and to be asking someone she barely knows, and you are concered that she may target other coworkers. This is partciualrly importnat if there is anyone who is junior to her.

      Be explicit about how much sheasked for and that she pushed when you initially said no, and say that you do feel someone neds to speak to her dirctly rathr than expecting you and other colleagues to have to seal with it.

      If she does ask you again, I would be very blunt – maybe something like “No, I won’t give or lend you any money. I think it is inappropriate, we are coworkers, not family. Don’t ask me again” ( I would put the bit about being coworkers not family in becuase part of the issue is that she shouldn’t be asking coworkers at all, and I think if you were to say ‘we’re not friends’ , then even though that is true, it opens up furthr issuesin that she might think it meant it would be OK once you knew her better / for longer, or she might see it as you being men to her by telling her you aren’t friends/friendly)

    7. CheeryO*

      I don’t love that response. This is unlikely to stop, and this person is clearly not planning to do anything about it. As far as they’re concerned, it’s handled by you repeatedly saying no, but that’s really unacceptable in the long-term. You may have to push for more action if it doesn’t stop.

    8. Not Australian*

      I don’t agree with the people who find this response inadequate. What the team leader said was that the OP had done what they needed to and shouldn’t take any more action – not that they wouldn’t be taking action themselves. A team leader shouldn’t be discussing any potential action with the OP anyway, but may well be reporting it up the chain of command. If the co-worker is already considered not to be trustworthy, it’s possible this is part of a pattern of behaviour that has already been observed at a higher level. Personally, I’d be trusting the team leader to do their job unless I had stronger evidence that they wouldn’t or hadn’t.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I agree that the manager shouldn’t discuss what action they paln to take, but for the same kinds of reasons, tey definitely shouldn’t have made comments about the coworker being untrustworthy.
        Plus, although it wouldn’t be appropriate for the manager to say what they were going to do, it would be appropriate for them to let LW know they are going to deal with it. Even if that is as vague as saying “Leave it with me, and let me know if it happens again”

    9. Michelle*

      LW # 3- have you actually given her any money when she asked? If you gave her the rent money or even coffee money she’ll keep asking even if the supervisor tells her to stop. She’ll just add something like “please don’t tell the supervisor I asked I’ll get fired”.

      I worked with someone similar. She didn’t ask for money but for rides everywhere. She was told to stop or her job was at risk, so she started saying “please don’t tell”

    10. blink14*

      Keep continuing to say no. Part of what is fueling her requests is that people keep lending her money, and she may think that because of that, it’s ok.

      $2 is one thing. Money for rent is entirely different. Do not lend her a cent!

    11. CatCat*

      Don’t even give her €1 for coffee. You want to slam this door shut, not leave it a crack open. No money. Ever.

      I am also surprised by all the people who are like, “Oh, €1-2 for coffee is fine, but not this.” I would never dream of hitting up a coworker for coffee money even if it is a small amount. I can certainly not have coffee if I forgot to bring it or bring money for it.

      The only time I have fronted or asked to be fronted money is in a group gift situation (e.g., for coworker who had a baby) because I work in a different location than most of the rest of my team and no one wants to send cash through the mail.

      1. Helena*

        I think the idea with coffee money is that it is reciprocal – and if they don’t pay you back in kind, you don’t pay for them a second time.

        I’d say there’s a big difference between $2 for coffee when I was buying one for myself anyway, and a coworker asking me to give them $2 just because.

        1. Jen2*

          Plus with the $2 for coffee, the problem is usually that you just forgot to bring cash, but you could easily afford to spend the $2 yourself. But there’s a big difference between that and asking to borrow money to buy something you couldn’t otherwise afford.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She’s shown you who she is.

      Do not ever allow her even the loose change in your pocket for a vending machine. She will then ask for a pound a day. And that’s 30 pounds a month! Out of your pocket. No.

      Any other reasonable person who casually asked for help with coffee money is just that, reasonable. They won’t take advantage of your kindness.

      You coworker is a leech. Not a single drop of blood from your wallet, my friend! Please.

  17. What the What*

    The toilet clogger in #2 could actually have problems related to going #2…..some folks have the issue of never being able to get clean Down There due to anatomical issues, explosiveness issues, hemorrhoids, etc. This could account for the copious amounts of paper being used. However, if someone needs THAT much paper to make things fresh down there or to have an effective barrier against an unholy mess, it would be nice for them to do a mid-business courtesy flush. Or they could invest in some—I kid you not—Shittens. Real product, hilarious reviews on Amazon. (Yeah, sometimes we never grow out of toilet humor.)

    1. Edamame*

      This is why Japanese toilets are the best. They wash and dry and make a courtesy noise. I’m not moving back to the US until these are a standard thing everywhere!

        1. londonedit*

          I’m fairly sure Japanese toilets are clean and safe to use, yes. It’s another example of the Japanese love for technology and automation. They have that sort of toilet in the Shard in London as well – we find them a bit of a novelty, obviously, but they are very common in Japan! They have all sorts of spray options for getting clean rather than/in addition to wiping, and a gentle blast of warm air to get everything dried off afterwards. Great fun.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      Absolutely. Some days we all need an extra flush. Pro tip: it also helps reduce the smell hanging around if you flush immediately after pooping and then again after wiping. Or even flush partway through the wiping if its taking a lot of time and paper to get clean.
      Those for whom this is an ongoing issue should consider carrying a travel pack of baby wipes but don’t flush them no matter what the package says (ask any plumber).

      1. I'll stay anon for this one*

        Good point. I started taking a medication a while back that initially led to a fair bit of toilet clogging. I picked up on the “flush twice” idea pretty damn quickly.

      2. What the What*

        Amen to that. I keep baby wipes in my bathrooms, bag, purse, car, etc. I always hide them when we have company because I don’t want anyone to flush them. The thought of having to plunge through other people’s poop is a horrifying scenario. The wipes are also handy to wipe down the hard surfaces in my car when I’m stopped in traffic. Is that weird?

        1. TootsNYC*

          I too hide the wipes I keep in the bathroom. And I’m so paranoid about them getting flushed, that when I put the toilet lid down before I even get them out, so I don’t auto-pilot them into the bowl.

      3. What the What*

        The Pro Tip reference cracked me up. Baby wipes are awesome. I keep them in my bathrooms, bag, purse, car, etc. I always hide them when we have company because I don’t want anyone to flush them. The thought of having to plunge through other people’s poop is a horrifying scenario. The wipes are also handy to wipe down the hard surfaces in my car when I’m stopped in traffic. Is that weird?

      4. ...*

        Right. If you have an issue in the bathroom that’s fine, but you need to come up with a plan/solution instead of just leaving a mess for everyone else. That is step one of being an adult.

    3. pleaset*

      Yes. If someone needs so much toilet paper they should flush some, then use more paper, then flush some, then use more paper.

      Really, it’s not that complicated.

      Think about it – what do they do at home? Just clog and toilet every single time? I doubt that.

      1. Chili*

        I have noticed that often toilets in offices are of worse quality/ less powerful than ones found in many homes? It sounds like this person is using an absolutely absurd amount of toilet paper that would jam most toilets, but it’s possible this person is used to more powerful toilets that can handle their business.

        1. TimeTravelR*

          Interesting… I have noticed the opposite but I work in a big office building and I would hope they size the plumbing system and fixtures to handle as much as possible or they’d be spending a lot of money on maintenance to keep it cleared! We still have occasional issues but it’s usually because someone did something really inappropriate like flush paper towels or actual towels!

          1. pleaset*

            I think flush power varies, and while I can understand someone missing the fact that the TP is not making it out in a toilet a few times, the fact that it happens many times suggests there is no way he cannot know.

            I sorta feel sorry for the person if he was some kind of neuroses related to this.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Interesting, I have usually seen the opposite! Most office/public toilets I encounter seem to have obscenely powerful flushes–I have always assumed specifically to help avoid clogging situations.

          1. Chili*

            I just realized I’ve always worked in older buildings, so that may be the reason I’ve noticed worse-quality toilets

          2. D'Arcy*

            They do, commercial grade toilets are pressure boosted rather than gravity fed, and also take advantage of the fact that commercial grade pipes are just plain larger. This allows them to produce a vastly more powerful flush while still using a low volume of water.

      2. TootsNYC*

        they may fill it up in the morning and flush when they get home and everything is soggy and disintegrated.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      Oh, this is lovely. I’m raising kittens right now and wet-wipes are SO helpful, but sometimes I wish they were a little more 3-dimensional. thank you, What.

    5. Melissa*

      OMG, those reviews and questions on Amazon are hilarious! Just what I needed on a Monday morning. :)


    6. CocoB*

      In addition to physical or GI issues, there is also a possibility of OCD type issues. We had a similar – albeit cleaner and more easily cleaned up – issue with an employee that used BEYOND EXCESSIVE amounts of the hand soap each time in the bathroom. Soap foam for days. HR did have a discussion with the individual and the problem was with OCD and not necessarily that she didn’t understand what a normal amount of needed soap was. Your clogger may just be compelled to use massive amounts of TP, so just saying stop using too much TP won’t help and jokes and snarkiness will only make you look bad. Discreetly pass the word to HR or facility management.

  18. cncx*

    Re OP3, I worked with someone who had chronic “cash flow” issues and it turned out she was helping herself from the petty cash and using company accounts to tide her over besides hitting us up for money. Once there was a new receptionist (reception holds petty cash) and 200 went missing; the new hire was about five seconds from getting fired until another person found a receipt in the cash flow issues employee’s office for something she paid for with a 200 note like five minutes after hitting one of us up for money.
    My point is, when people have problems like this they’re not just asking one person for money and if people don’t know this is a thing, there could be some collateral damage (like the new receptionist who almost lost her job, and in fact wound up quitting a few weeks later because she was upset about being called a thief).

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking about this. If this person has ANY access to anything money related, or anything that has cash value on “the street”, this is a MAJOR red flag.

      1. cncx*

        not in a US jurisdiction so legally a case had to be built, and yes thankfully the missing 200 was the first piece of the puzzle that led to the thief getting fired (but not until more was stolen unfortunately)

    2. Jennifer*

      I really don’t want every person who has money troubles to be characterized as some kind of thief or grifter. Many good people need help sometimes, financial or otherwise.

      That said, the OP can’t or doesn’t want to help, totally valid, so she just needs to give her a firm no.

      1. TootsNYC*

        the “grifter” aspect has nothing to do with money trouble.

        It has to do with really inappropriate requests for money.

        Lots of people have money troubles, but they don’t ask their new coworkers for substantial amounts, and they don’t argue with someone to pay their own bills late in order to help.

        No one here has said that anyone with money troubles is a grifter.

        1. Jennifer*

          No one has explicitly said it, no, but there’s always that implication when this topic comes up. People SHOULD feel comfortable asking friends and family for help when they truly need it and many don’t because of that implication.

          I already said here multiple times that the behavior of the OP’s coworker is wrong. That doesn’t need to be reiterated.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            They shouldn’t feel comfortable asking coworkers for money, though. Especially if those coworkers would feel pressured because they’re junior or work closely together, and most especially if they’re asking subordinates, which is something AAM has had letters about in the past and as people upthread have seen. Asking subordinates is grifting in and of itself regardless of your financial situation, imo; it’s quite close to extortion.

            1. cncx*

              exactly. we all have money problems at some point …it becomes an issue when coworkers get asked. asking a friend or family member isnt’ the same as asking a coworker who might feel guilty for rightfully saying no, which was my point. it isn’t about money shaming- it’s about asking coworkers which is not on.

          2. Siege*

            Yeah, I agree Jennifer. I think we’re falling into some harmful stereotypes on thread, will the best of intentions.

  19. Tom (not THAT one)*

    OP#3 – I`m not sure what to think.
    The annoyance of the coworker repeatedly asking for money.
    (how? Just ‘can you give me amount X’ or ‘could i borrow amount X’?)

    And also that this coworker thinks it is okay to ‘ask the newbie’. After asking others.

    But to suggest you should not (yet) pay a bill??

    I would skip the harsh ‘no’ immediately to a more clear “Hell no” – followed with ‘you stop asking this, now, or my next stop will be management / HR’.

    1. MistOrMister*

      That jumped out at me too. I have never heard that people from Texas are constantly blocking the toilet. In that case the entire state would have to switch to bidets or something as no one could manage to get to the toilet for hours and hours.

      On a different note….how is this person mamaging to use up so much tp as to clog the toilet every single time? That makes no sense. Does he unroll it and drop it on top? Unroll huge swaths and place in the bowl as a nest and then put more on top? How does he not understand the basics of how tp works? Also, how do people like this live at home? Who has enough money that tey can afford to go through that much tp?

      1. MK*

        Judging from the tone of the whole letter, my guess would be that the OP is exaggerating. Possibly this person has some kind of intestinal trouble and is using a lot more paper than usual.

        1. ellex42*

          OP may not be exaggerating at all. My office had someone who did the same: managed to stuff enough tp in the bowl that all you could do was wait for it to dissolve enough to flush. Facilities wouldn’t even come to deal with it anymore. Whoever it was did it several times a week. Happily they had a “favorite” stall, so most of us just tended to avoid that stall.

        2. epi*

          Yeah, the entire letter had a humorous tone. I took this comment to mean that maybe the OP knew two people total who did this, and they exaggerated it into a trend for comic effect.

          I’m from a state that plenty of people in the area like to make fun of– Illinois. (We really do drive like jerks, and you can tell as soon as you cross the state line.) You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself, Texans. Getting bent out of shape over a really mild joke about your state isn’t cute.

      2. ChimericalOne*

        Ah, you just opened a can of worms! The Folders vs. the Wadders is a well-known controversy across the Interwebz.

        Then you have the rare Combos, like me. A little of this, a little of that makes the world go ’round…

    2. DJ*

      Yeah, it’s clearly hyperbolic and tongue-in-cheek. I found the entire letter hilarious. I can’t imagine anyone actually thinks the entire state of Texas is regularly putting their toilets out of commission due to excessive toilet paper use.

  20. Restiva*

    OP#5 – I’ve had quite a few co-workers do this for me. Most of them were senior to me, so they emailed my boss (their peer) and my boss’s boss. It’s made a noticeable difference to how I’m regarded in my department and definitely impacted my last performance review and subsequent raise. So yes, do it! They will likely be grateful!

  21. Luna*

    OP#3 – Forget being nice! Tell her to stop mooching off of you, and other people. What does she have a job for?

  22. Carlie*

    My practical thought for #2 is to install one of those dispensers where the roll is covered and the roller stops halfway around so it only gives out two sheets of toilet paper at a time. Make him work for it.
    But yeah, someone is going to have to talk to him directly.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      We have one stall that the dispenser seems to work like this. Because our cleaning staff leaves the seat up after they clean, I can tell that this stall is rarely if ever used. It’s a total pain!

    2. TootsNYC*

      two sheets is horrible!

      I’ve noticed that most of the messy look of public restrooms is the little schnibbles of toilet paper that get torn off as people are struggling to get some out.

      I have this fantasy of selling commercial TP that is a bit thicker and stronger, but that has really strong perforations every 5 sheets. So when you tug, it doesn’t just tear off at your fingers, but you get a substantial enough piece that most people won’t need more.

      It would save some cleaning, and maybe even some paper (since people tend to pull off a lot to double over when the paper is thin enough to tear like that)

  23. embertine*

    OP3, if you have a locking desk keep your wallet in there. This co-worker absolutely will steal from you.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Oh, very much this. OP3, keep your possessions locked up if you can, and keep your most valuable things (like your debit card or any cash) on your person if at all possible. I do not trust this person, and based on the interaction with the higher up at your office you describe above, I don’t trust them to keep your belongings safe either. Look out for yourself.

    2. I like my chair*

      Definitely. I worked with one of these people. She made exactly the same that I did but was awful about managing her money. Theft was the way we got rid of her. She ended up stealing from an admin.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Yes, this. Lock your desk drawers and keep an eye on your wallet, cell phone, or anything else that might be worth stealing.

  24. Quandong*

    OP3, if you can’t bring yourself to say ‘no’ to your coworker, ‘it’s not possible’ is something you might try.

  25. CoffeeforLife*

    I don’t understand all the sympathy for the toilet clogger and his possible GI issues. It really doesn’t matter if he had explosive diarrhea
    needs an entire roll to clean up. He has the option to flush at any time during the process yet doesn’t. Wipe flush repeat.

    1. WellRed*

      Agreed. There’s no excuse for this. Does he think it’s OK to leave this for others to deal with?

        1. pleaset*

          Amending my comment a little.

          I’m not sympathetic to the clogger not doing intermediate flushes. But if the problem is coming from some kind of neuroses, it’s sad.

          This statement from the OP is too harsh: “Can you imagine being so afraid of your own bodily functions that you need six inches of paper between your hand and your effluvia? I bet that guy wasn’t held enough as a child.”

    1. Heidi*

      AAM really does get a surprisingly large number of questions about bathrooms. It makes me appreciate my coworkers and our housekeeping staff more.

  26. A Friend*

    Hey OP#4, I don’t know if this is relevant enough to help, but my friend and I are Japanese translators and when she was in Japan, she took voice acting classes (totally in Japanese). She put it on her resume, and when she went to have an interview (related to Japanese translation), it came up and her interviewers were intrigued! Even if it wasn’t directly related to the role, it’s an interesting anecdote and skill. :)

  27. Anon for this*


    Please do what Alison said. Gossiping loudly would just be cruel. The line about “Can you imagine being so afraid of your effluvia…” made me deeply uncomfortable. As a former serial clogger (and no, not from Texas; what a weird thing to say), yes, I really was that afraid of touching my own body fluids. If you’ve never had this problem, then I’m sure it’s hard to understand, but that would changes a minute of washing my hands to several minutes of scrubbing, often until my hands bled. I’m well aware that this isn’t necessary, but trying to convince my brain of that wasn’t working. If I heard a coworker loudly gossiping about me that way, it would have been beyond humiliating. Like, run out in tears, quit the job and never come back, live with the shame until I die levels of humiliating.

    This is not me anymore, but if I heard a coworker talking about someone else that way, that coworker and I would be having words. It would be an unspeakably cruel thing to do.

  28. Lisa B*

    OP #5 – Yes, definitely include both the employee and their supervisor on the e-mail! I just did one a few weeks ago that I sent to the sup and had the employee cc’d. Of course the employee e-mailed me right away that they appreciated me passing along the kudos. But when the supervisor got to it, she replied back acknowledging what a rock star the employee was, and cc’d OTHER managers in that group along with the original employee. Then they chimed in too with their own “great job, Fergus!” The employee got SUCH a great boost from it, because every few hours someone new got to that e-mail and started the cheer up again. The employee said it was a super uplifting day. :)

    1. juliebulie*

      One time, another manager praised me in an email to my boss, and I got a $75 “night on the town” award for it.

      It costs nothing to praise someone, but it can really benefit that person.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and similarly–when i get a receipt with a “take this survey” thing, i will often ask if the staff gets bonuses. If the answer is yes, I do it.

        My niece got an extra $300 at a time she really needed it because she got three positive reviews in one month on the company website.

        1. Marni*

          Wow, I had no idea!

          I heard that anything less than perfect scores can be a “ding” on the employee so I only fill these out when I can give all “5s” (or 10s or whatever the top score is). I’d hate for someone to get yelled at because I gave them a 4 for doing a perfectly fine job…

  29. The Original K.*

    #1: At a previous job, our boss left a few months after I started (he’d been with the company about five years and got a better job somewhere else). The team was given the resumes of the final three candidates to review, and we met with them all. The person they ended up hiring DID put down that they’d fired a lot of people – it was one of the first things on the resume, and it wasn’t framed in a “built a high-performing team” way. It was pretty disconcerting, and we mentioned it to our grand-boss (who had herself built a high-performing team by firing most of the previous team) when asked.

    We of course knew that firing people is part of any manager’s job, but to have them mention it so boldly felt like they were bragging about it, and it made us wonder right away if they were going to come in and wipe us all out.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I’m trying to remember if years ago I put something like, “Managed staff through layoffs” or something. Because I felt that it was a positive that I’d navigated through that. I didn’t make any of the decisions, and i didn’t think people would assume I had, given how my industry works.

      1. The Original K.*

        Oh sure. I can see putting that on a resume, particularly if you work for a company large enough or well-known enough in your industry that layoffs are common knowledge. This person didn’t frame it that way though. I wish I could remember the wording (it’s been a good five years). It was very blunt – it wasn’t quite “I fired everybody,” but it was along those lines. (They ended up being very, very hard to work for and a bad fit with the company. They only stayed a year and everyone they interacted with that wasn’t senior leadership – they were good at managing up – was relieved when they left.)

  30. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

    OP #5 – Definitely do it. In my case, it was a email that a staff member from department A was raving about how great a trainer in department B ran a session. I forward the email to the trainer and cc:ed her boss and grand-boss.

  31. lobsterbot*

    As someone who is adjacent to facilities management, it’s well known that some people will clog toilets on purpose as a passive aggressive “gotcha” towards someone or organization who they believe is treating them badly. It’s not uncommon in the visitor restrooms of public service agencies for example. I would avoid confronting this person since it’s possible they have a beef with your company or someone(s) in it. I would let facilities and/or your management know what you observed and then just try to keep out of it. Most people with chronic digestive issues will go out of their way to not be obvious about it, so if it happens more than once in a while, my guess is it’s deliberate.

    1. Commercial Property Manager*

      “I would let facilities and/or your management know what you observed and then just try to keep out of it.” +1. But also, here on a forum where I can be somewhat confident that none of these facilities issues are for MY buildings, let me say this: I am really, really sick of hearing about office toilet issues. Smells, clogs, signage. I can ensure janitors keep your restroom well-stocked. I can have maintenance check to ensure the fans are working. I also can call out a plumber (although at most of the buildings I manage, tenants are responsible for their own plumbing, and I am clear I’ll be billing them back, so why not call your own plumber?).
      And boy howdy, you should see my phone’s photo roll. Kid picture, toilet, toilet, food, toilet, sink, kid, toilet.
      The glamorous life of facilities work… hug a property manager today!

      1. Grand Mouse*

        Oh no I read that middle part as “toilet food” and was horrified trying to figure out what that meant!

        1. Commercial Property Manager*

          With the things I see both within and outside of my buildings, It’s only a matter of time!

    2. OP #2, at which lol*

      That’s… that’s completely wild. Truly human experience is a rich tapestry beyond our imaginings.

  32. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #3 – gentle isn’t needed here. Direct and honest is…Next time she asks “No, and please stop asking.” It’s none of her business if you have a big bill to pay and honestly that’s not even the point. What’s she asking for is crossing a big line.
    And regardless of whether or not it happens again, I’d alert your manager. She’s asking not just you but others in the company, and I’m sure she’s been doing it for a while now. Her financial issues are not for you and your co-workers to solve.

  33. Horseshoe*

    Re: Co-workers asking for money

    Is this normal in some parts of the world / society? I recently read a British novel where the main character had a friend who was the “one who loaned her money” and it seemed like the character thought it was perfectly normal to borrow a hundred pounds from a friend every few weeks. Also seemed like she didn’t really expect to pay the friend back. I wouldn’t feel normal borrowing from friends (nevermind coworkers!) to cover my bills, but then again, I’ve always been lucky enough to have enough income to cover all my bills.

    1. Approval is optional*

      I never came across anyone like that when I worked (in the UK, Australia and NZ). I’ve no doubt they exist in those countries but in my experience it’s not a cultural norm. I don’t think it’s a normal friend thing either (as opposed to a coworker thing) in any of those countries. I’ve known social ‘moochers’ of course but they’ve been the ‘suddenly need to pee when it’s your shout’ types, not regular borrowers of large amounts.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      I read other advice columns, and have run across a few letters where people apparently routinely “loan”their friend money. One recently talked about helping their friend with their mortgage over the years. It never occurred to me to ask a friend to help me pay my mortgage!!

    3. Jennifer*

      I don’t mind spotting a friend a $20 here and there. And if a friend was having money troubles, like medical debt that was causing them to be behind on their mortgage, or a job loss, and I had the money to help, I’d help.

      This girl just sounds like a straight up user and con artist. There’s a difference between helping out a friend in need and getting conned.

    4. Lynn Whitehat*

      I think so. I’ve heard people refer to “loans that everyone knows aren’t really loans”. Apparently there are groups of people where asking for a “loan” is a way to maintain a shred of dignity, but it’s understood that it’s really a gift. It was a real light-bulb moment for me. I have loaned money to people like this, and they just seemed confused when I asked about repayment, or refused to loan them more because they hadn’t paid back the previous loan.

      1. londonedit*

        Hmm, OK. Now you’ve said that, yes, in most friendship groups/families that I’ve encountered in Britain it would probably be acceptable to say – occasionally – ‘Hey, really sorry but you couldn’t lend me £20 until Friday, could you?’ And both sides would probably know that money is never going to be repaid, but you wouldn’t ask someone to ‘give’ you £20 if you needed it, you’d definitely always ask to ‘borrow’ the money.

        However, the sort of situation Horseshoe mentioned, where someone just ‘has a friend who always lends them money’ and never even thinks about repaying them? Nope, that’s not a British cultural thing.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I have a couple friends that I sent money to when they’re in a tight spot. I don’t expect it back. I like being able to help.

    6. pleaset*

      I think it’s less rare with people in the “informal economy” – who often don’t use banks, are paid in cash or barter, etc.

      Also perhaps if people are poor and have no savings or credit, but are working so have very varying levels of money available. Borrowing to pay to fix the car because a paycheck or remittance from a family member will arrive too late.

      In an office environment nowadays I think it’s more rare.

    7. ...*

      It wouldn’t be normal in the midwestern USA. I’ve loaned significant money 2x to people I totally trusted and got paid back within the week. If I “loan” $5 I know i’m not getting that back.

  34. soon 2be former fed*

    Why is an annoying coworker who asks for money a management problem? Isnt this an interpersonal matter that should be handled between the people involved? I thought the guiding principle is not to escalate matters that don’t involve the work. I never thought to gotomy boss abut begging coworkers, and I have encountered them.

    1. Colette*

      Because someone inappropriately asking a coworker for money is likely asking more people, some of whose will likely say yes and lose the money.

      If the company wouldn’t allow a stranger to pressure their employees for money, they shouldn’t allow their employees to pressure their peers or subordinates for money.

    2. WellRed*

      If you are being repeatedly harassed by a coworker(give me money! Buy my MLM products! Go out with me!), yes, it’s a management problem. And, I can guarantee these coworkers are not otherwise rock stars who are otherwise wonderful to work with.

    3. Rainbow Roses*

      It sounds like it was more than one time. More than once is harassment and that’s a workplace issue. She even asked the OP to put off paying her own bill to lend her money!

    4. Kate R*

      To be fair, Alison does first suggest the OP give a firm no to her coworker first, and if it continues to go to management then. But given that it appears to be more widespread (since another coworker was asked to loan her car), I think it’s in a manager’s purview to address unprofessional behavior that is affecting the whole team. Also, if the coworker is asking people who are junior to her either in title or tenure, they might not feel comfortable saying no. Good employees will find employment elsewhere if they have a coworker with consistent, harassing behavior going unaddressed, so while it may not seem like it’s impacting work, you also need to think of the bigger picture.

    5. Chili*

      As with any interpersonal problem at work, when the behavior persists and/or involves multiple people, it’s time for management to step in. Having a employee persistently treating their coworkers like an ATM creates a negative work environment and should be taken seriously by management.

    6. juliebulie*

      An employee who is in such constant, desperate need for money that she doesn’t respect societal norms regarding its acquisition is an employee who should not have access to any sort of accounting or purchasing functions. So yeah, management needs to know.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        The problem isn’t so much her need for money as her willingness to do really inappropriate things to get it.

  35. Buttons*

    LW1 – What you described is what is expected of a leader. When I am interviewing a manager I ask questions to gauge their leadership skills. Your specific story is what I would be hoping to hear when I asked a question like “tell me how you have handled the development of staff in the past.” or “tell me about a time where you had to have a difficult conversation with someone about their goals/skills/abilities.”

  36. Mop Head*

    #3, put a stop to it now. Be firm, be blunt, state very firmly that you will never lend this person money, ever. I feel your pain, I had a coworker ask me to lend her $1,500. I made it very clear that was never going to happen. I knew she would never pay me back, that’s just the kind of person she is.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        Right?! I am really struggling to wrap my brain around asking for this much money from a co-worker. If I had a catastrophic issue not covered by insurance or something I might ask a family member or very good friend. Actually I did have to do this once. Borrowed a large sum of money from my dad but signed a promissory note that could at least be applied to my share of his estate if nothing else. I paid him back within 6 weeks because the money I was expecting came through early. I never went to that well too often though, because even dear old dad should not be expected to keep forking it over (except he knows I’d find a way to pay him back).

  37. Camellia*

    “Once she asked me to transfer her €350 as her rent needed to be paid **today** and she didn’t have it in her account.”

    OP doesn’t say if she refused in this instance or not (OP, if you are one, I’d love to know). If she did give in and give her money at some point in time, then any ‘no’ will have to be more firm.

  38. Jennifer*

    Re: Clogger

    Dude, you are sounding a bit like the Joan of Arc of toilet clogs and I think you need to dial it back a bit. Sure this is gross, but nearly every day I walk into the bathroom here and one of the stalls has a toilet that’s clogged. It would be more annoying if that was the only toilet, but clearly that’s not the case since you were in the next stall.

    Tell a manager discreetly that you know who it is and let them handle it. This guy may actually need all of that toilet paper but he may not know that he needs to flush more than once. Not sure why, but common sense a’int common anymore.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      I sensed a bit of hyperbole in the letter. An entire roll?

      p.s. hyperbole is the best thing ever!!!

      1. Jennifer*

        Oh I’m sure he’s exaggerating. Clearly this guy is using more than normal. I don’t want to think more about it.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        I’m not sure it is hyperbole at least not by much. I myself have witness toilets full of a solid three inches of wet toilet paper, do you know how much single ply it takes to make a layer that thick when thoroughly wet? It was clearly not used in wiping activities but was designed to provide a complete barrier. That would indeed take a quite significant portion of the roll or perhaps the remainder of whatever roll was present.

    2. OP #2, at which lol*

      You deserve better! All that clogging requires to thrive is the silence of its victims. We can be the mildly inconvenienced stones that begin the mighty avalanche of multi-stage flushing awareness.

  39. school of hard knowcs*

    Power flush toilets will solve your problem. My Mom uses so much toilet paper and we have old plumbing. The last straw was when the toilet backed up right before dinner on Christmas Day. They are noisy, I like it, because I KNOW the flush working….just sayin

    1. OP #2, at which lol*

      It’s the kind that’s bolted into the wall, no upper reservoir! He’s defeating the monster truck of toilets!

  40. always in email jail*

    I worked in a multi-floor workplace where the #2 issue was happening a lot, and we realized it was someone from a different floor. They keyed the bathroom and issued keys to people who worked on the floor, and visitors were welcome to request a key. That stopped the problem. It sounds like your workplace is maybe one floor, so issuing keys wouldn’t make a difference (because the offender would be issued a key). However, maybe an email or sign saying if the issue continues, the building will be forced to key the restroom and individuals will need to request a key before using?

  41. HailRobonia*

    I have a coworker whose supervisor is awful and treats him terribly. Whenever he’s been particularly helpful I make sure to send him a thank you and copy his boss. I would do this regardless, but knowing this gets under his boss’s skin makes me smile.

  42. nnn*

    I think any messaging in #2 shouldn’t be “don’t use so much toilet paper”, but rather should be “Our toilets can’t handle large amounts of toilet paper. Please flush after every wipe or two.”

    Nearly everyone would feel that they’re using the appropriate amount of toilet paper for the task at hand, taking into consideration the quantity and texture of the effluvia (great word!) to be cleaned up.

    If someone told you to use less toilet paper, you’d probably think “Dude, I’m using what I need. I’m sure you don’t want me walking around the office with effluvia smeared on my anatomy!” And this would make them seem non-credible in your eyes – they’re obviously unaware of the realities of wiping!

    Whereas if you frame it as “These toilets are a bit finicky. Here’s how to make them flush properly” you don’t have that loss of credibility.

    1. OP #2, at which lol*

      This is helpful messaging advice, thank you!

      (For the record, these are the big public building toilets, where there’s no reservoir, and it’s bolted directly into the plumbing. The flush is some-water-splashes-up-onto-the-seat aggressive. “The toilet can’t handle it” is totally still the right message, but evidently I really need people to understand just what a ridiculous amount of TP this is.)

  43. blink14*

    OP #5 definitely do it! You also may improve their standing with their boss, if they don’t have a good relationship with them.

    I had a situation at my old job where I was basically screamed at by my boss, at an event that was co-hosted with a community group that we did a lot of work with. This was becoming a more frequent occurrence in general, and I was several months (and really, years) into looking for a new job. The director and co-director made sure that I knew my boss’ behavior wasn’t ok, and the director sent my boss a letter, praising all of my help on that event and past ones. My boss seemed to come down a few notches on the crazy ladder after that. Fortunately I left that job about 2 months later, but that incident was the final straw for me. I will always be grateful to that director and co-director for making sure I knew my boss’ behavior wasn’t ok, and for pseudo confronting her through that letter.

    1. Hummus*

      Agreed. You never know how it can help.

      At my previous job, after I’d been in my role for a little bit, one of the higher ups asked how things were going. I said something about how helpful everyone was. I was so glad I mentioned that, because about a year later someone joined the team who immediately started complaining that no one was helping him.

      His complaints particularly irked me, because I’d spent hours training him, only to have him decline to write anything down and whine that he couldn’t remember things or find documentation.

      I have no idea if my previous comments about the team being helpful directly played a role, but he was the one managed out and not the rest of us.

  44. raktajino*

    Re #3: Alison and others are saying to let Facilities or another “appropriate person” handle it. But if signs don’t work, what should Facilities do?

  45. iglwif*

    LW #5, yes, go for it! Any good manager will want to know when one of their staff is doing an awesome job, and the person who did the awesome job also deserves to get the credit and the praise :)

    One single instance is not going to get someone a raise, but if it forms part of a pattern of outstanding work, every part of the pattern helps.

  46. Mrs_helm*

    #3 If you work in any business that handles PII or in finance or defense or that requires any level of security clearance, you may be REQUIRED to report your co-worker’s chronic money problems now that she’s made you aware. If that applies to your workplace, don’t hesitate, or it could affect your own employment.

  47. hayling*

    I have written several emails to people’s bosses about their great work. In fact, I did a few right before I left my last job as a gesture of goodwill. I also emailed the owner of a consultancy we used about how awesome our consultant was. The consultant confided in me that the timing was really great — he had another client that was really difficult and was complaining about him, so my letter really gave some balance to his boss’s perspective.

  48. kj*

    Re: the coworker asking for money, please take this as a cautionary tale!
    This happened to me years ago at my first job. A coworker from a different department who I only worked with occasionally called me up one Friday afternoon asking to borrow “a few hundred dollars” to pay her daughter’s daycare.

    Being very young and naive at the time, I probably would have helped her if I could… but I had such little money at that point in my career that there was no way I could part with that kind of cash. I politely declined and kept it quiet because I didn’t want her to get in trouble.

    Fast forward a year and a half and I found out that they let this employee go. It came to light that she had borrowed TONS of money from other colleagues and never repaid it, BUT that was not enough grounds to fire her because technically employees lending each other money is not a company-involved issue (it’s considered a personal issue). There were a lot of other performance-related issues that ultimately led to letting her go, but none of the employees who were owed money had any leverage to be repaid.

    I totally get the urge to want to help, but you have to be smart and protect yourself! I would not hesitate to very directly ask this coworker to stop asking.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Argh, I’m so over companies that allow their facilities to become breeding grounds for poor behavior under the cloak of “Oh it’s a personal issue, so nothing we can do anything about!”

      Bullcrap! We all have code of conducts that we can roll out when people are acting rude or inappropriately towards others, including things like asking for loans on company property and time, using their resources by actually calling your desk phone even! Weak excuse is weak!

      I’m glad they got rid of her but hate that they’re spineless and didn’t protect people from this con artist!

    2. Mrs_helm*

      When somebody asks once, it’s helping (maybe). But when they have to borrow repeatedly, it is just prolonging their misery. They need to learn whatever lesson (get a second job/smaller house, be better at budgeting, stop gambling/drugs/vacationing/shopping…lots of possibilities).

  49. another scientist*

    LW5, definitely do it! This is also a chance doublecheck your language to make sure your feedback is very concrete and business oriented (coworker has expert knowledge on all the relevant processes, generously sharing her strategic approach to getting stuff done, her efficient onboarding helped me to become productive faster than any other place I’ve worked) as opposed to the gendered feedback women typically get (warm and welcoming, made me feel part of the team), which is often not valued equally. That last part is unfair in my opinion, but that’s the way it is.

  50. grandzor*

    re: the toilet thing, I just wanted to reiterate how bad an idea shaming the person is, as revolting and annoying as their habits are. I have a friend who has OCD and she ends up layering the toilet with toilet paper because she is terrified of contamination. I’m not suggesting that your co-worker has something like this, but this kind of comment:

    > “Can you imagine being so afraid of your own bodily functions that you need six inches of paper between your hand and your effluvia? I bet that guy wasn’t held enough as a child.”

    could be really harmful if your co-worker or anyone in your presence does have some kind of issue. I think it comes across as unkind and potentially discriminatory towards people who do have these sorts of contamination fears. I definitely think that a direct conversation, however uncomfortable, is the way to go – and ideally from someone with some seniority.

  51. The Dude*

    Apologies if this has already been mentioned before, but has Alison written a “How to fire someone” guide? I’d love to read her extended thoughts on it if that’s available.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Coming in late to say: no, but some of the commentariat have recommended “Firing at Will” by Jay Shepherd, which is excellent.

  52. Yikes*

    Coming to say the same thing that a few others have said, that using such an excessive amount of toilet paper can be associated with Obsessive Compulsive spectrum disorders, as well as other psychiatric conditions. So, personally, I would privately alert whoever in management it makes sense to alert, and leave it at that, and keep it discrete, just like presumably you would do with any other workplace problem being caused by someone else’s medical issue.

  53. Anne*

    I would put “I facilitated necessary rotation of employees through hiring and firing” since it doesn’t convey that you enjoy it or not, nor does creepily scream I want adulation for it.

  54. ZucchiniBikini*

    Re the money request – I am with everyone who’s suggested that this is a circumstance in which “No” is not only a complete sentence, but is the best answer, as it is less likely to open the door to them trying to argue with your reasons. I tend not to lend even small amounts of money to co-workers. OTOH, I will not infrequently just buy people in general, colleagues or acquaintances or strangers really, a coffee if I have the cash and they don’t. I am not a big one for lending, but I am down with giving when I am in a position to.

    I have been asked four times for money by co-workers in my career. Once was a co-worker escaping a domestic abuse situation who asked me and another coworker to lend her the money for a moving truck. We didn’t lend it to her, we just paid for it as a gift. The second and third times were the same person, not soneone I knew well at all, and large sums for indeterminate purposes. The first time I gave a soft no and was pressed for days to change my answer. The second time I said “No” with a dead-eyed stare and that was that. Final time was just this year, from a contact at one of my client sites (I’m a freelancer now), and a simple “No” was enough to end it but I did have to inform their manager that they had asked (there’s a specific clause in my contract that requires me to report any offer or attempt to engage in off-book financial transactions, including loans).

  55. Kay*

    For OP1, I’d write it down as People Development, Mentoring &Coaching employees for professional advancement.

  56. Sara(h)*

    For OP2, perhaps this has already been mentioned, but I would guess it’s very likely that the toilet-clogging coworker is already ashamed of this behavior and not just doing it to be rude or because he doesn’t care. I know people have mentioned the possibility of medical conditions, but I wanted to add that I have a family member with severe OCD who does this exact same thing, and it’s a struggle, and something he is ashamed of.
    While I understand that the OP finds this issue to be an inconvenience, perhaps if OP was to try to view the co-worker’s behavior with more empathy and compassion, that reframing of it will allow OP to be less annoyed and less frustrated. The ideas of gossiping and trying to humiliate this person could be very injurious to someone who perhaps is already struggling with issues we know nothing about.

  57. Eric*

    Re: letter 5 — I do this a lot! If someone does great work, I want the people in charge of their raises and promotions to know. It’s my pleasure to take 5 minutes out of my day to send their boss a note like “Hi Shauna, I needed a hand on XYZ and Phil was very helpful, even though it’s not technically in his domain. You have a great team!”

Comments are closed.