my boss wants me to microblade my eyebrows, company blocked all streaming, and more

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

1. My boss is pressuring me to microblade my eyebrows

My boss has been pressuring me and the other two employees in our division to get our eyebrows microbladed by her friend. She comments on our eyebrows. She tells us it would be the best thing for us to do. She will show us photos of women with microbladed brows and say we should want to look as good. Since she’s the boss, there is no easy way to tell her to knock it off and I know my coworkers are as tired of it as I am. Personally I don’t think microblading looks good on anyone, and trends change (remember the over-plucked eyebrows of the 90s?). No one knows the long-term effects since these things are so new, and I have read many articles about the orange and green left behind when it fades. But besides all that, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a boss to pressure people under her to have a permanent alteration done to them.

She gets offended if we don’t show enthusiasm for her ideas in general, and this eyebrow thing isn’t any different. She mentions weekly how she can’t understand why none of us have gone. Her own eyebrows are thick and overdone like the trend is nowadays and none of the three of us want to look like that. Do you have any tips or scripts as to how we can get her to stop when she is our boss and won’t listen to a thing any of us say?

Yep, totally inappropriate. And weird! Who is invested that much in someone else’s eyebrows?

If you haven’t yet told her directly you’re not going to do it, start there: “I’m not interested in changing my eyebrows. It’s not something I’m going to do.”

If you’ve already done that, then say this: “I really don’t want to keep talking about my eyebrows! I get that you like it, but it’s not for me and I’d rather not keep discussing it.” And then if necessary: “You keep pushing me to change my appearance when I’ve told you I’m not interested in doing it, and it’s making me uncomfortable. I’m not sure how to get you to respect my ‘no.'”

That said, someone who continues after the first or second “no, it’s not for me” is someone who isn’t the playing by the same rulebook as most people, and so you might need to resort to just changing the subject and/or tuning her out every time she brings it up.

2. Our company blocked all streaming media on our wifi, including music and podcasts

I work for a very large company, 500 or so employees in my location, and they recently made an adjustment to the office that wouldn’t push me to quit on its own but is making my day-to-day work at the building more miserable, and I feel like I can’t be the only one. Our wifi was reconfigured to block all streaming media. Period. Which I understand in principle (no reason to be browsing Netflix on company time), but it’s cut off all music streaming options too. We have an (ugh) open office plan, so without an option for something to listen to, all the ambient noise is incessant and can be very distracting, especially now that have fewer options to drown it out.

This has previously been a very headphones-friendly environment, and there’s no good reason we wouldn’t be able to use them (think lots of data entry and email answering, very little face to face conversation). No major communication went out about the change or any issues with headphone usage; it just became apparent as we found blocked stuff. Someone else on the team brought it up to our manager and she agreed it was a pain, but she didn’t even know who to raise the issue to.

I can see this being something to push back on as a group, but I don’t want to be seen as overly focused on something so trivial and I feel like organizing a group to ask about the Spotify would be seen as a little obsessive. And I don’t know who to approach with it. It’s driving me insane and all it seems to be accomplishing is pushing me to work from home more often, even though I know I get less done there. But I’m so miserable in the office when I can’t choose to listen to a podcast over my cubicle neighbor chewing with her mouth open. Any ideas on what to do here? Am I doomed to just grin and bear it?

(And I’ve tried downloading Spotify playlists to listen to offline, but that takes a heck of a lot of pre-planning, not to mention a Spotify Premium account, which really doesn’t feel worth it if I’m limited to the stuff I thought to download in advance.)

The easy answer is here is to download content to your phone so you don’t have to stream it. You say that would take pre-planning, but it doesn’t take that much pre-planning, and you’re upset enough that it sounds like it would be worth it since it would solve the problem. And you don’t need a paid account to download podcasts — they’re mostly free if you use something like iTunes rather than Spotify. (You can download a month’s worth in the amount of time it took you to write to me!)

3. Should I tell my manager that I’m face blind?

I have prosopagnosia, otherwise known as face blindness. This is different from just being bad at faces — I can’t recognize my parents if they’re not speaking or walking. I can recognize loved ones by their gait, and most friends from their voice. Everyone else, I memorize by physical characteristics like their hair color or build.

This is my first job out of college. The problem is that my workplace has a lot of people, and I worry that I’m coming off as rude to them. One example is a coworker who I sat next to and talked to for six months. I couldn’t recognize him outside of that, though, so I never acknowledged him outside of our desks unless he said something first. I also can’t say who I’ve talked to at lunch or build friendly relationships with anyone because I don’t know who they are.

Luckily, this doesn’t affect my work. Starting a year ago, I’ve been working remotely as a programmer and only come in for team meetings. And through pure luck, I can recognize most of my team by sight. So it’s not a problem in my work, because everything else takes place through IM or conference calls.

I still live only 20 minutes away and I would love to come to the office more, but I don’t know how to handle this. I’m afraid people outside my team think I’m rude or standoffish because I never initiate conversation. When I was just starting out, I’d ask “getting to know you” questions and stuff like that. But now people know a lot about me, but I can’t remember which medium-sized white man I talked to yesterday at lunch or which tall man with the grey hair is our department head. And I could ask, but unless they have a distinctive physical feature, I won’t remember them tomorrow when they change clothes.

Is this worth bringing up with my manager? It’s affecting whether I feel comfortable coming into work, but I can work just fine remotely. And there’s not really anything I can do about it. In my personal life, I tell everyone that I’m face blind on our second meeting, when they remember me and I’m clueless. My script is something like “Don’t take it personally. I’m just face blind — my brain can’t remember faces. I can’t even recognize my partner when she changes her hair.” Is that something that I could say at work, or is the fact that I’ve been here for a year and a half too long to speak up? I was hoping that I wouldn’t have a problem with it, because everyone has lanyards with their names, but those are usually obscured by clothing/furniture.

That script is absolutely suitable for work. It’s a good one because the detail about your partner really emphasizes that this is more than just having trouble remembering people you don’t see often.

And yes, tell your manager! You can frame it as, “I haven’t raised it because it hasn’t affected my work, but I’ve been hesitant to come into the office more often because I don’t want anyone to think I’m being rude to them. So I wanted to fill you in and will probably fill in others as well.” And since she might wonder if you’re asking her to do anything in particular, you could add, “I’m not asking for any accommodations; I’m just letting you know since my inability to recognize people could seem odd otherwise.”

4. My coworker can’t remember my name

A coworker, Jane, who’s in a different department but same division within a university, can’t seem to remember my name. Not only does she call me by various wrong names but she also announces pretty much every time I see her that she can’t remember my name.

This would probably slightly annoy me in any situation, but this one is especially weird. A few months ago, my boss (who is casual friends with Jane) was supposed to drive her to and from a minor surgical appointment that required anesthesia and prevented her from driving. Jane has been in town for about a year but hasn’t made many friends yet, so she didn’t have many options. Then, my boss got invited to a meeting he couldn’t miss and asked if I would pick Jane up and drive her home, after making sure this was fine with Jane. I empathize with living away from family and friends, so I was happy to help. I waited at the clinic for at least 30 minutes, went in and got discharge instructions from the doctor (which was awkward!), and then drove her home.

We don’t work closely together and maybe see each other once a month or so, but it seems truly bizarre that my name is the only one she can’t seem to remember out of my small team. I am wondering if (1) there is something else going on here other than just forgetfulness and (2) if I can say anything that doesn’t sound rude? She just came in and did it again and I can tell I am losing my patience and wanting to generally avoid her.

This is an interesting juxtaposition with the letter about face-blindness above. Who can say what’s going on with Jane … but it sounds like your annoyance is stemming from feeling like Jane isn’t bothering to remember your name. And that’s possible! But it’s also possible there’s something else in play — which could be anything from a neurological condition to you looking like someone associated with trauma in her life. Who knows!

But someone deliberately not retaining your name in order to signal “I do not find you important” would be pretty unusual. Not impossible, but unusual — and with so many other possibilities, it’s better for your peace of mind (and certainly kinder to her) to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume whatever’s going on isn’t an intentional slight.

5. When people ask for networking help I can’t give

I work at a desirable employer in my field, where openings are few and far between and competition for jobs can be fierce. I have been here for a little under one year. I recognize that I am extremely lucky to work here, and would happily support any trusted former colleagues in getting hired at my institution if I had the influence to do so. People do come knocking from time to time to see if I can put in a good word for them. I don’t mind this generally, but my workplace is enormous (thousands of employees) and I often do not have a direct connection to whatever area they are trying to get hired in. My scope of influence is pretty limited to the area I currently work in, especially considering I’m relatively new. But all of my former workplaces have been much smaller, so some of these folks might think I have more pull than I actually do.

To add to this, I have one former colleague who I’m afraid might be forming a habit of “intro’ing” me over email to people I don’t know who have applied for jobs here to see if I can help them get hired. Both times it’s been departments I have nothing to do with, so I can’t provide help, but I feel very put on the spot to have to respond to someone I’ve never heard of to let them know I can’t help them.

I feel like any way I respond to these inquiries, it will come off that I’m not doing enough to help. How can I deal with these inquiries, and should I be doing more to pass along people’s resumes? What is my obligation to former colleagues (and their friends) and how can I kindly let them know I don’t have the connections needed without damaging my professional relationships by seeming unwilling to go the extra mile? Am I just being too neurotic about this?

Let the person who’s done it multiple times know what you can do. For example: “If you ever know anyone who’s applying in the X department, that’s something I might be able to help with. But it’s so huge here that I don’t really have influence outside of our team — and even within it, I’m not involved in hiring and so am limited in what I can do, although I might be able to answer questions the person has.” Or you could be more blunt: “We get a lot of competition for openings here and I can’t recommend someone I haven’t worked with. I can answer questions if they have them, but that’s the extent of my influence right now.”

And even if you could help someone get hired, you shouldn’t do that if you don’t know the person’s work firsthand and can vouch for them. You’re putting your own reputation on the line when you recommend someone, and that’s not something you should do as a favor for a mutual contact; your recommendations need to be based on truly thinking someone would be a strong match. Even if you’re just passing along resumes without any particular recommendation, it doesn’t make sense to do that unless you think the person is strong, because if you develop a pattern of passing along mediocre candidates, (a) your future recommendations will have much less weight and (b) it can reflect on your judgment in general.

You can offer to answer questions about what it’s like to work there if you want to, but there isn’t a lot to offer beyond that.

{ 780 comments… read them below }

  1. Sara M*

    Hi! I also have prosopagnosia, though not to the degree you do.

    You’re not alone! There are more people like you. You definitely need to explain this to your manager and closest coworkers. Be very, very clear about your situation, and that you don’t intend to be rude.

    If it helps, you can ask some of the kind ones to help a little. I say, after explaining the basics, “If I’m talking to you, and you think I don’t know who you are, please tell me!” (If you’re lucky, someday you’ll work somewhere with security badges/nametags…) Good luck!

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I wouldn’t be embarrassed by it. Most people get it. I have a friend that is red/green color blind. It isn’t a big deal. Sometimes I forget and he would remind me. Oops. Sorry.
      I have another friend that is blind in one eye. Another is deaf in one ear. You learn to accommodate. Sometimes you forget and get reminded.
      If you treat it as a matter of fact thing then I don’t think a reasonable person could be offended.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, one of my friends growing up was deaf in one ear and it took me a while to train myself to not *always* walk on the right side of people so they could hear me. You may already have people attempting to help, LW, and some direction or clarity will help them help you!

      2. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

        I had a subcontractor ask me to send graphics in certain colors so they could see them better. I believe they were also red/green color blind, they had asked me to send charts and whatnot in blue if I was able. I started doing almost everything in blue because of that – so I wouldn’t forget on items meant just for them and because it looked nice :)

    2. river*

      I have it too. It has led to a lot of mild misunderstandings over the years, and a few embarrassing mistakes. However, these days, I find it has helped to just tell people up front when you are introduced to them. I find the majority of people are accepting of it, and many are much more considerate about telling me who they are. People don’t like to feel that you have forgotten them, or that they don’t matter to you, so a little reassurance in that area can go a long way toward building relationships.

      Thankfully conditions such as these are much easier for people to learn about now than they used to be.

    3. Elmer Litzinger, spy*

      I have a mild case of it, and just cheerfully announce that I don’t always recognize faces. Most people just nod.

      At one job when the head chef – who I saw almost every day – came in wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt instead of chef’s whites and signed out keys. I asked him who he was that he was getting those keys. Him “uhhhh….Chef. I’m the chef.” Whoops !

      1. NYWeasel*

        I’m in the same boat and have more than once walked up to a coworker only to realize as I said hi to them that I’d gone up to the wrong coworker. (Think “Jack” instead of “Jason”). LOTS of quick scrambling to think of a reason I needed to talk to Jack instead of Jason at that moment!!!

        I’m pretty good once I know people at work about being able to recognize them anywhere, but six months out of a job, and I can’t remember what 90% of the people I used to work with look like.

        1. Quill*

          I might be mildly faceblind, because I seldom recognize actors or anybody who fits a narrow sphere of “mainstream attractiveness,” especially if they change their hair, contour, etc. Yet if you’re old, have distinctive facial features / a distinctive figure, I recognize you right away!

    4. Avasarala*

      I had a coworker who was blind and noticed that when people would come up to him, they would announce who they were like they were on the phone. “Hey Jimbo, it’s Felicia, I have a question about…” I imagine it was helpful since he couldn’t see who it was and it’s not always easy to tell people apart just by voice. He also worked with headphones to hear the computer so I imagine it was less startling.

      Maybe that’s a cultural practice that can start at OP’s workplace if that would be helpful. Whenever you start talking to OP, just throw in a “It’s me.”

      1. Malthusian Optimist*

        I use that at parties, I assume they don’t remember me as it’s usually been a few years and constantly introduce myself. it’s only blown back once twice (“yes. we’ve met.”) brrrr.

        1. Carlie*

          I usually follow that up with “Oh yes, but I never expect anyone to remember me. *chuckle*”
          That seems to work, although much of the time it actually is that I don’t remember meeting them…

      2. Allypopx*

        We have a visually impaired volunteer who asks us to do this! It’s a very simple accommodation that OP might consider asking for in the future, if they’re comfortable doing so.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I also have prosopagnosia,and what I do is tell people up front – for instance, when someone new starts I will explicitly tell them, and usually explain that if they see me and I appear to be ignoring them, it’s not that I am ignoring them, it’s that I will not have recognised them. (and to help people understand what it is like, I explain that I failed to recognise my own sister when she dyed her hair)
      Most people seem to accept and understand this, and I think that when people know that there is a reason, and it isn’t that you are just stand-offish.

      While it is perhaps easier to do it at the start, I don’t think you’ve left it too late – I think you can still say to someone, now, that you can’t recognise faces

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        An example helps a lot, people get it after I explain that in college my now-wife, then-girlfriend and I would walk past each other every day on the sidewalk because of our classes and I wouldn’t recognize her because she was wearing a hat.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes, I think it helps people to ‘get’ how bad it is and also using a family member as an example highlightsd that it isn’t down to being unintereested or considering the person as unimportant.

          Trying to recognise people in phtos is even worse, as you don’t get any of the cues from voice, gait or facial expression. For the longest time my brother’s partner had a photo as her facebook profile where my reacction was “Well, I have to assume that the man in that photo is [brother] because it’s so unlikely that [partner] would have a picture of herself kissing another man, as her profile picture” but I couldn’t recognis it as him just by the photo. My sister recently posted a pciture which is similar – I accept it is of her, as she has tagged herself and the woman in the picture is hugging her partner, but I couldn’t pick it out of a line up as her, without those cues.

          1. LQ*

            Agreed about using a close family member as an example. It’s something that is becoming more well known but that means it’s also starting to suffer from the “well I know someone who has it and they can recognize people if they just work at it so you should just work at it too” thing.

            Family member story is especially evocative if it is something like “every time my spouse gets a hair cut they have to announce themselves when they get home or I think there’s an intruder.”

      2. Another Faceblind Person*

        I’m also face blind, and I’m very open about it personally and professionally. Maybe it’s the science-y circles I run in, but I find that when I tell people, most folks are pretty interested and want to know more! Almost everyone is respectful and understanding. I like to tell people sooner rather than later, because I’m aware that it can make me seem a little distant and detached.

        Occasionally, acquaintances get miffed that I don’t remember them or mistake them for someone else. (At a conference recently, I greeted a stranger by the name of a close friend who I knew was at the conference, and she looked mildly offended even after I apologized.) I find a little bit of self-deprecating humor mixed with honesty sometimes helps with those people. Like others here, I like to give an example of the difficulties I have recognizing even people who I’m very close with—like the fact that when my best friend straightens her hair, I don’t recognize her in photos, or that I’ve mistaken strangers for my sister when searching for her in a crowd.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I think the fact that OP works in software will work to their advantage. We’re expected to be kind of weird.

    6. Marmaduke*

      I have it too, but in my experience, as long as I explain it matter-of-factly my coworkers and employees have never been bothered. My partner and parents, however, needed a lot more reassurance.

      1. Micklak*

        I’m curious how it works when dating. I guess you make a plan so you know who you’re meeting, but it seems like it would have a big impact on the dynamic. Physical attraction can be so visual.

        1. Code Monkey*

          Dating works mostly the same with face-blindness, but I couldn’t tell you how because it’s just my life. I guess I’m attracted to people’s voices and movement patterns more than average because that’s how I tell people apart. My datemate moves like a dancer.

        2. Snuck*

          I treat meeting new people the same as everyone else… if it’s someone I’ve not met before then prosopagnosia isn’t going to be anymore an issue for me than someone else… if it is someone I have met before then I have a wide range of other ways to remember them, such as sound of voice, style of dress, hair style and way of walking. I will often arrive early somewhere so people arrive and find me, rather than me hunting them down… With concerted effort I can find people in a cafe/restaurant/somewhere people arne’t milling around too much if I want to but I look for these other things rather than face…

          As for physical attraction? I am attracted to someone across many markers – intellect, humour, scent is a big one for me and ability to find common ground with me in conversation all come wellllll before what their face looks like. Physical appearance does play a (significant) part, but it isn’t overwhelming – plenty of pretty but daft people around that I’d rather not spend three hours drinking a bottle of wine with let alone any substantial portion of my life. (I’m married FWIW and no longer date people, but this same applies to making friends in new circles too with zero dating element.)

    7. Fikly*

      Propopagnosia folks unite!

      I have it so severely I cannot recognize my own face, so that’s the example I use. Most people are willing to accept it once they understand via example, and some are a bit curious. I love your example.

      (I worked in a hospital where everyone wore IDs once, and sadly, it seemed like they were inevitably flipped the wrong way, so they were rarely any help.)

    8. Green great dragon*

      I agree this will be no big deal – you or your manager can let people know, and ideally what they should do about it (remind you of their names up front? remind you if you’re looking blank?). Should be on much the same level as George has a nut allergy: don’t bring peanuts into the office and Harris has mobility issues and can’t access meeting room 4.56b.

      I’ve had a very senior colleague who on being introduced said he wouldn’t recognise us out of context and if we saw him out and about we should come and say hello. And I have a much milder version which I haven’t mentioned and thinking now I really should …

    9. Ruth (UK)*

      Ahh! more faceblind people! I am also faceblind – not as severe as the OP but not hugely far behind. I did not recognise my brother when he cut his hair, and walked past him at the train station even though I was expecting him to meet me. Close friends/family will hold a sign for me when meeting me sometimes (like taxi drivers do at the airport) even though I know them… Luckily it has been very understood in my workplace as I work administratively in a research psychology department. One of them actually did their face-recognition in humans study on me last year (apparently I performed the worst out of everyone she’s tested…).

      Anyway, as you mentioned recognising people by gait, how they move etc, I have discovered recently-ish that I am in fact way better than most people at doing this. When camping / at festivals etc, I will recognise someone in the dark, in the distance and be like “look! there’s Jane! We should join her” and others will be like, “there is no possible way you can tell that’s Jane from here [in the dark]. It could be anyone!”. When it’s people I know well, I can also tell it’s them from the sound they make as they approach (eg. if they’re coming down the hall but I can’t see them yet).

      However, I cannot recognise still photos of people at all unless there’s some sort of obvious clue (eg. they have a distinct hairstyle or something). I never tag facebook photos for this reason – I’ve too often got it wrong…

      1. NYWeasel*

        When we were dating, I didn’t register that my husband had shaved his beard. He was waiting to hear what I thought and getting upset that I didn’t acknowledge such a big change, while I had no recollection that he ever had a beard before!

        1. Bagpuss*

          oh yes, I do that. My dad is similar. When I was living at home after Ifinished university, I went away for 48 hours to go to a job interview and visit a relative. While I was aaway, I got a new hair cut (relative offered to pay for it as a birthday gift, as I’d mentioned I was planning tocut it)

          So having left home with hip-length hair, I returned with a shoulder-length bob.
          After about 20 minutes, my dad aske me, very hesitently, if I had got new glasses.
          He was fairly sure that *something* was different, but couldn’t identify what it was!

        2. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

          Ha! The opposite happened for me! My dad had a full bushy beard the whole time I was growing up. When I was in high school he shaved it. He said he needed to see what his chin looked like, he hadn’t seen it in 20 years. He came to pick me up from a basketball game and I had no idea who he was. Freaked me out!

          1. river*

            Yes! When I was a child my mother got a hair cut from a bob to a pixie, and came to pick me up from school. I thought she was trying to abduct me! It was scary. I thought she had stolen my mother’s voice to trick me (I was six).

      2. knead me seymour*

        I wonder if it’s possible to have a mild case of this. I find that I’m much more likely to recognize someone based on their hair colour/gait/clothing/context cues rather than their face, and it continuously throws me off when even close friends change their hair. On the other hand, I can generally recognize people from photos if I have enough context.

        1. Code Monkey*

          Yeah, it’s possible to have a mild case of face-blindness. Especially if it takes many context clues to figure out who’s in a picture.

          If you know celebrities, you can find a face-blindness test online. I don’t know celebrities, so my partner made her own test. She grabbed a bunch of old pictures of herself and friends, and had me guess which pictures she was in. I only missed one, but it took me a full minute per picture. Other friends could tell instantly.

    10. Lexin*

      I also have prosopagnosia. I have told my colleagues (some of them more than once!) and they are accommodating – telling me who they are if I appear baffled. There’s one lady I don’t see much of, and she’ll always say, “Hello Jane, it’s Angela” which is hugely helpful.

      It may be worth noting that I have particularly massive problems with blonde women and men in grey suits.

    11. Snuck*

      Another prosopagnosia here!

      I pre apologise to people I need to “I just wanted to say Jane, if I ever ignore you it isn’t personal! I just have a weird face blindness that means if I don’t see you where I expect to I won’t recognise you until I hear you speak, I’m really sorry if that happens, please don’t take it personally!”… and people generally are pretty cool with it… then if it happens I can shrug and say “Yeah, that was that thing I mentioned – super annoying, now where were we on this other thing?”

      Mine isn’t as profound as the OPs, but it’s still pretty bad… I cannot recognise family members even out of context, and even struggle at times with my own kids… until they speak… I recognise EVERYONE by their voices… and hair cuts.

      I would bring it up with your manager proactively for sure… if you have other quirks then present those, and if they are a combination that adds up to a label that is then covered by a disability (for example Autism) then I’d consider sharing that too… so you are protected. The people with the highest social functioning and who still have social interaction challenges are those most persecuted usually by our society… they don’t appear to be obviously challenged, and aren’t quite ‘right’ so get the short end of hte stick, and so much emphasis is on social interaction that this can be very challenging even if your work doesn’t directly get affected by it (for example you work as a coder in a team, and don’t actually need to remember most faces, but if you aren’t seen as a team player it could affect your employment). So yeah… consider bringing it up, and if you have enough to qualify for legal protection then it’s worth putting it in writing, while not asking necessary for ‘special considerations’ – but more as a ‘cover your butt’ thing so if there’s social interaction complaints later they know why.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        A friend’s father has it, and since I’ve only met him a few times – basically if we’re both vacationing to visit her at the same time – I only knew when he announced it at a gathering before her wedding. He was sitting listening to a group talk near him, and when one of the women finally spoke, he jumped up and delightedly greeted her, then said that he has face blindness. Since I’d read about it, I understood it and told my husband, and he made a point to greet or otherwise speak to her dad each time he entered the same room. My husband has a pretty distinct voice, so it seemed to help and her dad seemed pleased.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Wouldn’t it be fantastic if badges had our names&faces ON BOTH SIDES!?
      Even “just” for security, it seems obvious to me…

      1. Okie Dokie*

        That’s so smart and now sounds so obvious it doesn’t make sense that it’s not the norm. Anyone here whose job it is to print badges, just start doing them double sided (or print 2 and put them back to back) . Maybe it will catch on.

        1. Lissa*

          my badge sits in an RFID blocking holder for security reasons. It has a little thing at the top that I squeeze to open the holder but keep the badge in place when I have to waive it in front of the door readers. When there are group photos at work we are instructed to turn our badges around so they won’t be in the picture.

    13. Sleepless*

      Hi, my face blind tribe! I am able to learn people’s faces over time, but I have to speak with them multiple times before they stick. Name tags are common in my field, so when I’m in a new one I request that people wear them *all day* for the first couple of days. I spent an awful day as a locum with three staff members who all looked exactly alike to me…one would leave the room and somebody would come in and I didn’t know whether it was the same person.

      My coworkers who know me are a big help with talking to clients. “She’s up front waiting. Over toward the right, younger lady in a brown jacket.” I am insanely grateful they understand how to help me.

      1. Lexin*

        In my new office there were three ladies with shoulder length blonde hair. For the longest time I thought there were two of them, because I never saw all three together. Imagine my surprise when I went into a meeting in which there were all three present for the first time.

        I couldn’t tell them apart, even when they were together. I knew they had to be “Susan”, “Sarah” and “Sami”, but which one was which defeated me. I dealt with taking minutes at these meetings by never attributing anything to anyone.

        1. Code Monkey*

          At my high school, there were around 8 girls out of 100 in my grade with shoulder-length blond hair who wore heavy makeup. I was sure there were only 4 until I got a yearbook. In my defense, it turns out most of them were named Madison. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

      2. Buttons*

        Thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences with prosopagnosia. I have only read about it in passing, but your stories are leading me down a rabbit to hole of research :)

    14. blackcat*

      It’s definitely better to tell people! My husband worked with someone who was faceblind for more than a year before she explained, and suddenly things made SO MUCH SENSE. And it was very easy for him to say “Hi, Sally, this is Mr. Blackcat” rather than just starting off on a conversation.

    15. Okie Dokie*

      I recently read an article about this condition and think it is fascinating. I’m not sure why anyone would hesitate to explain this and you should feel comfortable to do so. Rather than say that you have “face blindness” I think it’s better to say something like “I have a condition called prosopagnosia which means that I can’t recognize people’s faces. For example, I didn’t recognize my own brother once. so please don’t take it personally if I don’t seem to recognize you. It would be super helpful if I’m able to see your name badge faced in the right direction or if you remind me at the beginning of the conversation the first encounter on a new day. Because then I’ll be able to recognize you by what you’re wearing.”

      I think just referring to ” face blindness” sounds made up or like you just have a hard time remembering people and are being dramatic. But referring to it as prosopagnosia feels very different to me and it’s actually a great conversation starter and way to get to know new colleagues or friends. I don’t think there’s anything embarrassing about it it just sounds so interesting. Said as someone who is terrible at remembering faces and wishes I could explain it away prosopagnosia ;)

      1. Koala dreams*

        All words are made up. :) Face blindness is easier to remember, so it’s used more than the scientific name. I’ve only seen the pros-word a few times written and even less heard it spoken. However as long as you add a short example or explanation either name is fine.

      2. Close Bracket*

        Now that you know it is not made up, don’t you think you should start using and accepting the term instead of insisting that an entire population of people change to suit you?

        1. A*

          I didn’t read this as “insisting that an entire population of people change to suit you”. I actually had the same thought, that ‘face blindness’ sounds more informal. Given that this is a condition that is already often assumed to be less debilitating than it is (or more in control of the individual than it is), using the full name helps to convey that it is a medical condition vs ‘oopsies, I’m bad at name!’ kind of thing.

          I want to be clear that I’m not trying to get anyone to change anything, just my 2 cents. Seems to me like the most important thing is to convey the accurate severity of the situation.

      3. Avon*

        I’m less sure that people will understand – I have a middling degree of this and as a teacher thought it would be good to let my new crop of parents know why I will double check which child they belong to. Admittedly my boss was a turkey but I got called into the principal’s office as a parent had complained. I wasn’t – and still am not – sure *what* I was supposed to do about the complaint. I dealt with it by not ever telling again.

    16. Goldfinch*

      Please do explain, LW 3, to prevent impressions of rudeness. When you’re new-ish is the best time to do it. My husband worked with a man who was deaf in one ear, and he constantly complained to me about the guy ignoring his friendly overtures in the hallway. Three years later, he finally found out the truth, but his opinion was so cemented at that point that it was hard to let it go.

    17. Fish girl*

      I have borderline prosopagnosia. I need to meet people at least four separate times before I can begin to distinguish their faces. And then, I need to continue to see them on a weekly basis for their faces to remain somewhat familiar. I usually can recognize loved ones faces, but I have a hard to visualizing them in my head. I find it easier to remember a specific PHOTO of a person’s face than try to remember their actual FACE, if that makes sense. I even struggle to remember what my face really looks like. For some reason, my go to vision of my own face is from when I was 14 with braces. No idea why.

      Even once I know someone’s face, I can’t retroactively assign their faces to my memories. For example, I’ve been at my current workplace for 2 years and can recognize everyone at work, but I can’t tell you who was at my interview panel to get this job. In my memory of the interview, I remember what we talked about and the questions I asked, but visually, all the faces look blurred. I know my boss and my grandboss were there, but other than that, I can only guess at the five other people, although they are all people that I still work.

      I’ve found that when I tell people “Oh, I’m terrible at remembering faces”, it doesn’t get the point across. Every says something like “well, I’m bad at names, but I never forget a face!” and proceed to completely miss my point. I think using examples and different wording is a much better idea. I’ll have to try that some time.

      Anyway, if/ when I get a new job, I think I will ask my coworkers to always introduce themselves again when they see me. Just a simple “Hi Fish Girl, it’s Kathy. How was your weekend?” would be immensely helpful.

      1. Sleepless*

        Oh, I get so tired of people saying that! “Oh! Ha ha! I never forget a face but I’m terrible with names!” Yes, okay. I know that’s how most people are. Thanks for sharing. I’m telling you something important about myself and I need you to listen.

      2. KatieZee*

        We’re the same! I can visually see and process faces when they are in front of me, and could describe a face I was looking at right then. But they don’t make it into memory. I can’t picture my face, my brother’s face, my dad’s face, any face in my head. I would be terrible with a sketch artist! I can recognize people pretty ok, though it does take me longer than most people to learn names, particularly for people I see rarely. But if you wanted me to describe someone not right in front of me, I would only be able to talk about stature and hair color and other non-facial things.
        Oddly, just like you, I also can remember a photo of someone better than their general face! It is still hard and it doesn’t “stick” but I can sort of briefly look at the photo in my brain, whereas attempting to visualize someone’s face, the best I get is a single facial feature.

    18. AndersonDarling*

      My husband has to shave while I’m watching otherwise I don’t recognize him when he is done. It’s a strange world I live in!
      As for the workplace, there can be awkward moments, but I haven’t found it too debilitating and I haven’t needed to officially bring it up. I’m just friendly to everyone. It may sounds ridiculous, but I treat everyone like I know them personally (because I might). Everyone in the world is a friend I haven’t met (or have met but I don’t remember). I think this friendliness has given me the reputation of being a good collaborator and being trustworthy.

    19. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      The man that’s the most active in my local group of a social org I belong to (for my fun activities) may have a bit of it. After 10+ years of running into each other at events, he knows who I am. But for the first, I’m not kidding, 4-5 years he’d walk up to me at every event with a cheery “Hi, I’m Fergus, and what is your name?” while his wife stood there looking embarrassed. He explained at one point that he had a hard time remembering faces, and I was totally okay with it. I just saw it as a cute story to tell at parties and nothing more sinister than that!

      PS I have trouble keeping track of names (I’m the one that is always going, “this person looks familiar, who the heck are they and where do I know them from?”) and nametags/badges are a lifesaver!

    20. Alex*

      I wonder if I have a mild version of this. I’ve struggled to recognize people in some contexts, even people I’ve been living with at the time! Once I went to pick up my roommate at the airport after she’d been away for two weeks and even though I’d lived with her for months at that point, and we were friends and spent time together, I wasn’t 100% sure it was her until she called my name. Like, I *thought* it was her but couldn’t really feel confident about it.

      I have trouble following movies where a lot of the characters look the same (to me).

      I totally recognize people by the way they walk, though! In fact, I can recognize people by the different sounds they make when they walk. If they wear a perfume I can recognize that as well.

    21. kali*

      I also have prosopagnosia, though fairly mildly (I *can* learn faces, it just takes me a ridiculously long time, and any serious changes to hairstyle or makeup will make it so I don’t recognize those people anymore).

      I teach at a university, and you better believe I tell my students right away in the first class. I do learn everyone’s names, but it takes me forever and to be honest most of them I’m not ever learning to recognize their faces; I’m just learning “blonde girl third from the left in the second row” and if she changes seats or comes up to me after class or comes to my office hours I no longer know who she is. It *really* helps to have a good excuse as to why I have to ask names in those contexts; I don’t want my students to think I don’t care about them enough to remember names.

      1. AGD*

        Exactly the same. I also teach college and explain this immediately – because otherwise I’m going to have no idea who most of the people who show up for my office hours are. I need to encounter someone 9-10 times before my memory has any grip on what they look like. So if I’m out in public and I happen to be in the same place as a student, I usually don’t realize that I know them. So I apologize in advance and tell students to reintroduce themselves to me if they want to say hello later on! I usually talk about it when I go over disabilities and accessibility in the classroom, because this is my own accessibility need.

    22. BethDH*

      A senior person at my institution has it. He’s quite open about it, and there seems to be a standing thing where people know to introduce themselves like they’re on the phone when they walk up to him, and to expect to initiate the casual wave greeting.
      I think it really helps new people realize it’s not about them when they hear the head of the institution walk up to him and say, “Hi George, it’s Emily, about that project …”
      So I actually recommend not just telling your boss, but also asking your boss to help set an example for others.

    23. Lee*

      I am pretty sure I have a minor case of prosopagnosia, as it takes me awhile to memorize people’s faces (and something like a drastic new haircut can throw me off if I’m still working on remembering it). My brain mixes up people that look similar too. I’m also bad with names, which is a bad combination (though it might also just be linked to the face problem).

      I tell my coworkers and boss often that “I’m bad with names and faces, which is a horrible combination *insert laugh*. I try really hard to fix it but it takes me time”. I currently have a coworker I didn’t realize I met before during a tour my college did of this place (I work at a publication company, I had a required class for my design major about magazine publication and since said coworker is one of the teachers of this class, my teacher and her do a field trip of the office every semester). It was really embarrassing when I found out 6 months into my job that I met her before.

      I’m sure people get hurt I don’t recognize them, but I try my best to let them know. It really sucks for 2nd interviews and when I get hired…

  2. bunniferous*

    Re number 4-I deal with that. For some reason some people’s names are very hard for me to remember. Some of these are people I have known for decades! It is embarrassing but I have learned to cope with it somewhat. Brains can be weird.

    1. Not A Manager*

      People’s names will escape me, randomly. Someone whose name I have no problem with, someone I am good friends with, in fact – I’ll be chatting with them and I’ll want to say their name, and suddenly… it’s gone! Even worse is when we bump into someone else and I have to make an introduction. It can take a long time for the name to come back, too.

      One time – literally years ago, in college – I was walking with my friend, and I needed to introduce him to someone, and I just GUESSED. I said a name that sounded right. And he looked at me funny but didn’t say anything. And then I worried about it for a really, really long time. Like 20 minutes. But I still couldn’t remember his name. So I asked him, and I HAD in fact said the right name. Who knows what he thought was going on with me.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        If I am talking to an acquaintance and another person comes up to talk to her, I will usually introduce myself just in case she doesn’t remember my name. I don’t stand around waiting for an introduction and hope they will do the same for me. The older you get the more likely names will escape you. Sometimes I will remember someone I haven’t seen in years but will temporarily blank on someone I work with almost everyday.

        1. Ronnie*

          I think name badges at work are good and everyone should wear them. I don’t find it hard to recall names most of the time. I work with over 200 staff and casual staff change a lot so it would be great to see the name on the badge and then take it from there. But I definitely have had staff say hi to me by name (I wear my badge) but I am also a manager so they may know me from that too. But I have been in the situation where I definitely never met the person saying hi and have to just play along, ‘oh it’s you – how are you?’ I wish everyone had name badges on!

      2. many bells down*

        I am also bad with names – but only with adults. Kids I can remember. All those years of teaching, maybe.

        Anyway my trick is to introduce the person whose name I DO know. So I’m chatting with Sally, and someone comes and greets mmr.r but I don’t remember their name, I’ll say “oh do you know Sally?” and usually person #2 will then introduce themselves.

        1. Humble Schoolmarm*

          So it’s not just me? I can memorize about a hundred kids’ names in about 3 days, but adults… I also find that my skills are very context dependent, so every year I have about a week where I know their names perfectly in class but as soon as they step out the door to their lockers I’m going “Yes, Jane…or Molly…or Elizabeth… or maybe Sophia…?”

        2. Quill*

          Names are one of the first things to go when I’m under stress so… sorry, everyone I went to high school or college with! (Especially if they’re common names. If your name was Jake, Zach, Ashley, or Lindsay and you grew up with me, I 100% no longer know who you are, especially if you changed your last name or your hair color.)

    2. Avasarala*

      I wonder if OP could discreetly ask boss since they’re casual friends if it’s accidental or “accidental”.

      I suck at names but I try to be properly ashamed and embarrassed if I get someone’s name wrong repeatedly. I had a boss who never messed up my name until we got another worker of my demographic, then he would refer to me by her name by accident. It was clearly unconscious and not intentionally malicious, but it still made me feel uncomfortable and devalued. I had been there over a year but I guess all of us look the same.

      I think this is one of the few situations where a discreet “does she have a condition that makes a good excuse? Because her behavior upsets me and I want it to stop” could be helpful. If you know she means well and is doing her best it’s easier to forgive the repeated errors.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        It can be a mind association game when someone is distracted and the association links get muddled – my mum gets the names of her own children wrong! I’m a female, and have a younger brother. Due to throw back genetics, one of us has ginger hair (inherited from a grandparent on either side as it happens). Come on mum – there’s not a lot Fergus and I *do* have in common! And my name was more unique than expected when growing up – in my class there were 3 Rachels, 2 Sarahs, 4 Claires, etc. – I was 12 before I met another Abigail.
        But she has a complete block on names – to this day, Fergus and I are referred to by pet names to make it easier for her.
        Pet names are definitely not the way to go at work, but nicknames can sometimes help – I once worked with a guy who self-nicknamed himself TubbyGummi because he spoke like the guy who voiced Tubby Gummi in the 80s cartoon.

        1. Yvette*

          I totally get the association thing. There are certain names that for me, whatever reason, I put in the same “category”, names like Tom and Bob, or if when I was a kid I knew brothers who were inseparable named Bob and Tom, I will associate the names together and as a result will use the wrong name, at least in my head. Fortunately, the real name kicks in when I have to open my mouth and use it.
          But it does seem strange that yours is the only name she appears to have an issue with. It is probably unrelated to you on a personal level in terms of how she feels about you, I mean it probably is not a sign that she dislikes or does not respect you.
          There could be a lot of reasons. Maybe you look like/remind her so much of someone she used to know that the name of that person pops into her brain and obliterates anything else.

          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            No, it’s as simple as calling me Fergus and him Abigail! We used to have fun with it on the phone with her when we were younger (she worked odd hours so we would phone her at our bedtime so she could say goodnight to us before dad put us to bed), but now we’ve mostly just grown used to being called “Sunshine” and “Petal” because for some reason those were the nicknames that stuck with her.

          2. Butterfly Counter*

            I do the same thing too! But I don’t know what causes the association in my case. I had a hard time reading a novel recently because in my brain Julian and Francis are the same person. They were two very different characters, but I sometimes had a hard time following the plot because I was thinking, “Why doesn’t Julian know this? Wasn’t he there that night? What is going on??!?!”

        2. Kim*

          Abigail is such a gorgeous name! (Of course, as it’s bearer, you might think otherwise).
          My mother has the same problem. I’ve been called by my brother’s name, by one of my aunt’s as well as her own XD

          I unfortunately inherited her lack of knack for names, but I find just repeating “Sorry, I’m superbad at names!” all the time to people to help. If you want to be offended, I can’t help that.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            My dad’s side of the family has a tendency to rotate through every single kid’s (and often pet’s) names before getting to the right one. It’s pretty entertaining, and why I now have a tendency to at least look up to anything that sounds like it ends in -y/-ie.

            1. Eukomos*

              My dad’s family does that to. They go through the kids, pets, and also people of their own generation; I think I must have looked like my aunt did as a child because my dad used to call me by her name all the time when I was a kid.

        3. Quill*

          Mom’s side of the family was mostly girls for years. So, her much older brothers, my uncles, will just go down the entire list when scolding children, in more or less birth order except you always lump the younger sister in with the older one. “Carol, Cathy, Sarah, Teresa, Laura, Jackie, Rosie, Quill – ”

          My much younger cousins, still in high school, got spared from this list, but because they’re the children of my mom’s younger sister and they’re a girl and a boy three years apart like me and my brother, they get called my brother’s and my names a lot.

          At home, my mom always calls me by her sister’s name after she gets off the phone with her sister, but my brother had the indignity of always being confused with the dog, partially because I unknowingly named the dog something that had been on mom’s short list of names for my brother before he was born. :)

        4. knead me seymour*

          Sometimes my brain will assign someone a completely inaccurate name that has nothing to do with their real name or anything logical, and I find it really hard to shake. But it would also be hard to explain that my brain won’t accept their real name.

      2. Nica*

        Nooooo, don’t ask the boss to disclose a colleague’s medical status to you. That is SUPER inappropriate and unprofessional!

        1. Avasarala*

          It’s not about disclosing a medical status. It’s as simple as saying “Yeah she’s bad with everyone’s names, she doesn’t mean it” or like in letter 3, “She has face-blindness, that’s why she never remembers your name. Don’t take it personally.”

    3. CynicallySweet*

      Yeah I was just about to come in here and say something like this. At if she remembers things about you, if she can it’s probably not deliberate. I’m literally horrible at remembering names! I have collegues who I can tell you their recent personal history (up to a couple of years),but I can’t tell you their name. I’ve asked the same person her name at least 6 times and really try ty remember it each time, but nothing. So if say if she remembers things about you it’s probably that she’s just really bad w/ names

      1. Working Mom*

        I’m curious if Jane remembers things about the OP, like you mentioned above, and just NOT her name. Does Jane recognize the OP visually and acts as though they know each other? Does she acknowledge their shared history of the dr appointment? If so, then I’d agree that Jane just has a really hard time with names. I’m not quite as bad as Jane – but I do struggle with names quite a bit. I’ll meet someone, say their name out loud and make eye contact with them (which usually helps me, to repeat their name right away), but sometimes I still can’t remember! I *never* forget a face though. I will remember your face forever!

        If Jane shows zero recognition of OP at all – I’d wonder if she struggles with memory loss.

    4. File Herder*

      I have migraine dysphasia. For people I already know, I just consistently use the wrong name or blank (to the point where friends and colleagues tell me I have aura and go and take my meds). If I’m introduced to someone while I’m in the middle of dysphasia, I will not be able to retain their name – even if I’m told again once the migraine is over. It’s not just wiped but I sometimes can’t even re-record for months. I tell people up front about this, but other people might be uncomfortable doing so, especially if the reason is a condition they don’t want to disclose.

    5. Daisy Avalin*

      Yeah, I’m bad with remembering names!
      It’s possibly genetic or learnt or both – my dad is hopeless at it as well, and I grew up being called either a combo of the three kids’ names (all girls which made it worse I’m sure) or as nouns (Child, Dog, This Cat/That Cat/etc).
      It doesn’t help that most of my Child’s friends tend to have long blonde hair, and seeing them only in passing on the school run in uniform means I don’t have much of a visual cue to differentiate between them!

      I do my best with people I see regularly/friends, although I often default to ‘darlin’ or another generic placeholder name, until something sticks to remind me which name matches which face!

    6. PhyllisB*

      I also have a mild case. My son used to have a friend that I never recognized when I saw him, and if he wore a cap, well….luckily he had a since of humor, and got to where he would say, “Hi Mrs. B. It’s me, Jason.” I don’t know why it was just him, usually I can remember people’s faces. Maybe that’s what Jane is dealing with. I never called him by the wrong name, though.

    7. Free now (and forever)*

      For two years I taught a class of Hebrew school students who mostly came from one town. Two girls came from a different town across the river. I constantly mixed their names up. For two years. What was most embarrassing was that one was African-American and the other was Caucasian. Insert triple face palm emoji here.

    8. MCL*

      This is way less direct, but if all else fails you can say you can’t get them because your skin won’t tolerate microblading. I was chatting about it with my esthetician and apparently it is not safe for certain types of skin. Ideally though, you could be more direct per Allison’s suggestion.

    9. Ada*

      It might have to do with the WAY you’re exposed to a name, too. For example, I need to see a name written – preferably a few times – for it to stick. At my church, we have name tags, and sure enough, the one person whose name will not stick in my head is also the one person who never wears their name tag.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know why, but I sometimes have trouble remembering and learning names (might have something to do with my LD). I might get one person’s name right off, and the next one, nothing.

      There was a woman in my sangha I thought was named *Sue* but her real name is *Mary* and for MONTHS, I wanted to call her Sue. I just refrained from calling her anything until I was sure I had it right.

    11. Butterfly Counter*

      I also have a problem with some names. I think part of it is that I associate the first letter with a person in my memory and my brain catches up by the time I have to say their name out loud. Where I get in trouble is if it’s a common first letter of a name.

      I have a problem remembering men’s names when they start with J. They can introduce themselves to me and I’ve gotten to the point, unless it’s a more unusual name, I internally just groan because I know it won’t stick. It isn’t personal against the person whose name I can’t remember, it’s just men’s J-names never seem to attach to the person I know unless I know them for a long time. Case in point: My husband has a J-name and when we started dating, it was pretty serious right way. Even then, itt was maybe 3 months before I could remember his name without a significant (5 or 10 second) delay when thinking about his name to myself and maybe 6 months before I didn’t have a hesitation about saying his name out loud.

    12. Choux*

      I regularly forget my coworkers’ names if I’m not interacting with them on a daily basis. It’s awful.

    13. DogWithMemoryProblems*

      I dog-sit as a side business.

      I can reel off dogs names that I meet regularly walking and make a good guess if someone mentions a dog by specific characteristics (the red lab, the brown and cream spaniel, the rottie cross). Can I keep their owner’s names straight? Not on your life. Every dog related contact has the name of their dog in brackets next to it so I know who I’m talking to.

    14. O'Bunny*

      Anomia, the inability to bring names to the fore, is something I’m explaining to people as well. And yes, some folks I can remember names for, and others are out of luck. For instance, I have a pair of cousins who are sisters, one a little older than me, one a little younger; I can tell you either one’s life story, they don’t look a whole lot alike, but it’s even odds that I’ll assign the other’s name to each. Frustrating and embarrassing, but kind of funny too; you’d think that after 50-odd years I’d remember.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, this is so odd. She’s basically asking you to get semi-permanent tattoos (which require regular maintenance every 12-18 months) to satisfy her perception of cosmetically “nice” brows. This is more invasive (and permanent) than getting eyelash extensions, which feel pretty up close and personal to me.

    This is probably more aggressive than Alison’s scripts, could you just fully ignore her when she starts ranting about eyebrows? Like, cue a Stepford-style blank look (glassy eyes a plus) until she returns to a substantive topic?

    1. many bells down*

      … all this thing I’ve thought “microblading” was hair REMOVAL. Like threading.

      I guess we can tell that I basically ignore my eyebrows!

          1. MistOrMister*

            I have a coworker with the eyeliner tattoo!! I asked her once how she managed to get her eyeliner looking exactly the same every day and she told me it was a tattoo. Could have knocked me over with a feather. It is well done and tasteful, but I don’t think you could pay me enough to let someone at my eyes with a tattoo needle even for perfect eyeliner.

          2. A tester, not a developer*

            I’m actually planning to get it done – not in a particular style, but just to darken up my lash line a bit to make my lashes look fuller. I think it’s like a lot of ‘surgical’ procedures – if it’s done well you never notice. :)

            1. Hiya*

              I have my nearly non existent eyebrows microbladed. I’ve had them for about 2 years and it’s literally the best thing I’ve ever done cosmetically. You have to find someone really really good but it is as safe or safer than tattoos if done by a qualified tech. I’m so happy to not have to draw on my eyebrows every day. They’re just perfect all the time.

              1. Ain’t Miss Behavin’*

                Seconding this; my eyebrows didn’t grow back very much after chemo and I love seeing them in the mirror even when I don’t have any makeup on. They look like my natural brows, not heavy or thick at all.

                Not that any of this is relevant to the OP’s question! I just had to throw in with the microblading love.

          3. Lost in the Woods*

            At the doctor’s office I work at we occasionally see people with tattooed eyeliner. It’s not great; it can actually cause pretty bad dry eye because if it’s done badly it interferes with meibomian gland function (which produce the oil based part of the tear film – and prevent tears from evaporating).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          AND IT’S NOT EVEN PERMANENT. I just googled and it’s $700 to get perfect eyebrows for 3 years.

          1. MOAS*

            jeez. I mean…even if I were to go to the Benefit Brow bar and pay $30 every 8 weeks…that’s $540 a year. The two minutes it’ll shave off on my routine isn’t worth it. To each their own….I just think it’s such a bad trend/fad and so so sooo bizarre of the boss to be pushing it.

          2. boop the first*

            It doesn’t look the same even 6 months later. Probably everyone’s experience is different, but on some people, it’s just a faded stencil to show you where to fill it in. You still have to put makeup on it, so it’s hardly saving much time.

            1. Hiya*

              Mine last well over a year, closer to 18 months before they need touching up. They look completely natural. They are nearly the exact same shade as my hair. I get compliments and people are super surprised they are microbladed.

            2. Masha*

              It really depends – mine look pretty amazing and do not need touching up, even months later. Worth the price to me, especially since I don’t really go out to get anything else ‘done’. However, I certainly would never pressure someone to get that procedure done, particularly not a coworker! I assume the boss gets some sort of discount for ‘referrals’ – thus her pressure.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Ha, me too! I’ve never done anything to them ever, and they have never sought to avenge themselves upon me. Unlike my eyelashes, one of which periodically turns around and tries to stab my eyeball for no apparent reason.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I also had no idea! I figured it was shaping of some sort, and wondered what the big deal was. Tattooing never occurred to me.

        1. Malthusian Optimist*

          yep, permanently change your appearance for a job? much less a deranged boss’s idea of aesthetics?
          “I’m sorry this is a highly personal issue and I refuse to have this discussion”

          1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

            And have it done by the boss’s friend, which adds a whole other level of pressure. No thanks.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              I bet the boss is getting kickbacks for referring business to her friend and that’s part of why she’s so aggressive about this.

      3. Silvercat*

        I thought the same thing. I guess that’s what my mom got recently? She’s got extremely light eyebrows and is a big fan of permanent makeup (she got eyeliner and recently her lips done). They all look natural. Not my thing, but it makes her happy (and now we don’t get lipstick stains on things!)

    2. PollyQ*

      Not to mention that the very “done” eyebrow look has peaked, and the style is shifting back to a more natural look.

      OP#1, this may be more aggressive than you want to be, I don’t think you’d be out of line to very gently ask, “Aren’t there more important things I bring to this job than my eyebrows?”

      Also, I very seriously doubt your boss would be leaning on a male subordinate to do anything like this. Just because your boss is a woman doesn’t mean she can’t be sexist. (Again, that may not be a tack you want to take with her, though.)

      1. Quill*

        Every time I see an eyebrow trend I double down on keeping mine natural and just not straying anywhere outside of the average eyebrow zone. Natural will always come back. Slightly darkening with pencil will always come back. Tattoos, and ones that aren’t even the fun kind, may or may not ever come back.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same. Mine are nice and thick and I’ve always been happy to just keep them that way. Neatly shaped and trimmed, of course, via waxing, which I have to do or I look like a werewolf.

          I would just say “I’m glad you’re happy with it, and it looks great [if it does], but I have no interest in changing my eyebrows. Please don’t ask me about it again.”

        2. Ella Vader*

          Sooner or later, I’m thinking, the kind of eyebrows my siblings and I have have got to become fashionable. Wide but sparse and covering up chicken pox scars.

        3. Choux*

          My eyebrows are so blonde they’re basically translucent. So I can play with a lot of different styles with just some brow powder and a brush. I’ve thought about getting them microbladed darker so I don’t have to use eyebrow powder every damn day, but the cost is terrifying.

          1. Figgie*

            I am also blonde with the same color eyebrows. I go to the local cosmetology school every 6-8 weeks and have them dyed. Takes about half an hour and I no longer have to mes with brow powder and a brush. It only costs me $6.00 plus a tip.

        4. Ophelia*

          Yep. I’m lucky enough to be the owner of some decidedly average eyebrows, and I feel like we have a nice détente going: I don’t screw around with them, they don’t decide to aggressively take over my face; win-win.

      2. Linzava*

        Agreed, I have so many friends wanting me to get this done, but my eyebrows are normalish, one arches more, but that’s the shape of my forehead. This look has peaked. During the rage, I was often able to make my brows look on trend with eyebrow pencil, the trick is to use a fine point and add short lines mimicking brow hair. Looks good, pain free.

    3. BeeGee*

      Not to mention, it’s not like a service that is under $30 for most brow services…it’s like over $500! I can’t imagine pushing a coworker or friend to commit to a $500 semi permanent tattoo brow service…

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Does the Boss have a financial stake in the friend’s business?

        A TV programme I once saw was one where a team of beauty experts dealt with people’s hair and facial problems. (Bodged hair extensions, bad dye jobs, ill-advised tattoos etc.) The permanent make-up artist who did the semi-permanent tattoos (I think she restored eyebrows to people who had lost them due to illness) explained that micro-blading was quite difficult to repair.

        1. MicrobioChic*

          Yeah, if microblading were something I was interested in, I’d definitely have a more stringent selection process for picking the person to do it than ‘my bosses buddy.’

          That’s not something you want to have someone potentially inexperienced doing.

        2. Free now (and forever)*

          And one of the contraindications is if you keloid (form large raises scars.) Imagine having large permanent raised scars where your eyebrows are.

    4. Taking The Long Way Round*

      Uh, so she’s basically harrassing OP to get a semi-permanent tattoo, which is very difficult to repair if it goes wrong, and which is very expensive?

      Until I googled it now after reading your comment, I too thought it was like threading… which would be inappropriate too, but this is a whole other level!

      1. TechWorker*

        I also just googled it for the first time and tbh it sounds terrible – super expensive for something you have to redo every 18 months, plus it sounds like the first month of that 18 you will get scabbing and flaking whilst it ‘heals’ literally what.

        (Apologies to anyone who has it and loves it – it does look nice! Just beyond inappropriate to force on an employee…)

        1. artifex*

          Yeah, so I just had combination ombré/microblading done. The “scabbing/flaking” is not that visible and lasts only a few days. Here’s the thing: I have dark hair and eyes and have basically no natural brow left thanks to spending a long time uninsured and unable to get my hypothyroid managed, because America. I did not ever leave the house, ever, without “doing” my brows. Having microblading done has been a life changer for me in terms of my confidence.

          I do agree that it’s not appropriate for this boss to keep going on about, obviously, as would be any persistent unasked-for comments on personal appearance. But maybe people can exercise a little sensitivity re “ugh that looks so stupid and out of date and expensive and gross” comments.

          1. Roller*

            Yes my mother has had them after extensive cancer treatment left her with no natural eyebrows. A lot of people get it done if they suffer from alopecia. These comments are striking me as unkind.

            I completely agree that pressuring your employees to get it done is out of line though.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              A friend who is both a cancer survivor and has alopecia had hers done because she had no eyebrows left at all, and they look fantastic. But it was her choice and she was quite selective about by whom she had her microblading done.

            2. Starbuck*

              It’s great that it’s available for those who have medical issues or a really exceptional amount of insecurity about their appearance, but it’s unkind of our society and OP’s boss in particular to place so much pressure on women to maintain a certain aesthetic often through painful, time-consuming, and expensive procedures, especially where there’s zero expectation that men do anything remotely similar. It’s worth pushing back on, hard.

              1. Ain’t Miss Behavin’*

                How about you rephrase “a really exceptional amount of insecurity about their appearance” to something that’s not really exceptionally insulting?

              2. Chidi Anagonye*

                Changing your appearance doesn’t mean you’re insecure.

                Whether people are microblading or getting tattoos or saving up for an avant-garde jacket or Air Jordan 3s, fashion is about telling a visual story that reflects something true about the wearer. It can be about showing your “team colors”: what elements of culture are you down with, and what are you rejecting?

                Choices of materials, colors, and other design elements form aesthetics that can also articulate sublime truths about someone’s individual spirit, beyond femininity or masculinity to elements like thoughtfulness or risk-taking, urbanity or an affinity for nature, neatness and precision or chaos and wildness, nostalgia or futurism, spirituality or scientism, warmth but distance, an emotional core of joy or melancholy or sharp-edged cold fury.

                And these choices, these personal fashion narratives, each exist in their own context: the context of an individual’s body, a social group, an immediate and global culture, with other cultural pieces (music, art, religion) constantly bringing in new themes and reinventing old ones. People might bring a motif from one context into another and expanding its meaning. It’s a dance among all of the pieces, all the stories, all the time.

                Often, when someone is averse to an aesthetic, they’re actually averse to the element of spirit or the affinity with a group the fashion choice communicates. (This is probably most obvious in debates about what clothing and hairstyles should be considered “professional.”) It’s easy to dismiss an aesthetic choice like microblading as the result of “an exceptional amount of insecurity” or the result of our “unkind society,” but it’s also inaccurate.

                What’s more accurate is to say people chose a style that best represents their personal spirit of femininity, precision, and pragmatism, and might have also wanted to communicate what “team” they’re most at home with, whom they feel connection and solidarity with (i.e. “all my friends, whom I absolutely adore, microbladed *their* eyebrows”).

                And when someone is outside of that group and has a closer affinity for a group that’s all about natural eyebrows, or pierced eyebrows– or when someone’s individual spirit is more carefree, spontaneous, furious, or masculine– then any pressure to microblade would be painful. Because, for that person, it’s pressure to misrepresent one’s own spirit, or pressure to reject the group you most love in favor of the dominant group.

                But that’s true of *any* pressure to conform to an aesthetic– even a physically painless, inexpensive one. Singling out microblading as particularly destructive isn’t useful.

                We should push back, hard, on anyone in a position of power pressuring people to change their appearance (as long as they’re hygienic, non-hateful, and meeting safety regulations). Natural hair, saris, leather jackets, cargo pants and sensible boots, visible piercings: we should all work towards inter-cultural spaces where differences of individual spirit and group affinity are accepted without judgment. But, until then, focusing on microblading might be missing the forest for the trees.

                1. Starbuck*

                  “We should push back, hard, on anyone in a position of power pressuring people to change their appearance ”

                  Yes, exactly!

          2. QCI*

            After a short google search I’ve concluded the only people who should do this are ones without eyebrows to begin with. On most of the before and after pictures I preferred the “befores” to the “afters” on the woman with perfectly normal eyebrows.

            1. Bree*

              This is exactly the kind of thing the comment you’re replying to is asking you not to do. We can talk about the boss’ inappropriate behaviour without judging people’s aesthetic choices, no matter their reasons.

            2. Observer*

              Why is this remotely relevant to the issue. The boss could be 100% “correct” that the OP would look better, and it would STILL be 100% inappropriate.

              What is relevant is that the boss is pushing an expensive and potentially invasive procedure that is completely not work related. THAT would be inappropriate even if she were pushing something that were objectively good for the OP, much less something that’s purely a matter of taste.

          3. PJs of Steven Tyler*

            Thanks so much for sharing this; wishing you good health and very much appreciate that you said this.

          4. Dahlia*

            I would add the comments about how bad thick eyebrows look could stop, too. There’s nothing wrong with thick eyebrows, thank you very much.

            (I follow a youtuber who has microbladed eyebrows and hers look great. Very natural and pretty.)

          5. Observer*

            I imagine this wasn’t easy to share. And thanks for putting both sides to clearly.

            Yes, Boss should shut up.


            No, people should not be passing judgement on people who decide to do this.

          6. Pamplemeow*

            These comments were coming off as unkind to me as well. I’ve always had very sparse eyebrows, and I personally think my whole face looks 100x better with darker, fuller brows. Plus, I go to someone who does a more “natural looking” microblade than you typically see, so that’s an option for people who don’t like “perfect” brows

          7. Brizzzy*

            Same. I’m going to be getting my brows microbladed (and top eyeliner) at the end of February. I do NOT have a medical issue, but my brows are naturally very fair…I’m genuinely excited! I’m looking forward to waking up and not have to worry about the time and effort of applying brow pencil and liquid eyeliner (which I tend to constantly mess up and have to re-do). The practitioner I booked exclusively does this and is at the top of her field – she’s local to me, but people fly across country to have her do their brows. She is booked 6 months in advance; I had to go on a waiting list. Her portfolio is amazing and the results heal to look very natural. Plus, there are different “levels” of microblading…you can get individual hairs or a soft powder brow or combo-brow look; something classic…not everyone goes for the trendy, heavily made-up ombré “Instagram brow” look. But it’s definitely a procedure where you should do your homework, search long and hard for the right practitioner, and be aware of the upkeep involved (it’ll have to be touched up every 1.5-3 years) or what’s involved in reversing it if you end up hating it (they have to blade back into your brows and use a saline solution to remove the pigment over several sessions). It’s not for the faint of heart or to be undertaken lightly.

            People don’t need to be jerks about microblading or the people who choose to get it. This boss is definitely a problem, but there’s a dual issue that has nothing to do with microblading itself or the merits thereof…it’s her commenting on her employees’ appearance, as well as the power dynamic of her using her position to try to pressure her employees into a procedure that will benefit her friend. Both of these are wrong and need to be shut down. But please leave the rude comments about folks who get their brows done out of it. :( Not all PMU turns out ghastly. If done correctly, nobody will notice it’s PMU.

          8. A*

            First off, hey there hypothyroid buddy! *high five*

            Secondly, I know many people who have had it done and it looks GREAT on. Most I had NO idea they weren’t 100% natural until they pointed it out. My guess is that most of the reactions in the comments here are in relation to more obvious ones, as chances are they have other people in their live that have had it done – they just don’t know about it. I certainly wouldn’t had I not expressed interest a while back (luckily once we got my thyroid meds back in order my brows recovered on their own).

    5. Lynca*

      I’d probably be very blunt. “I do not want to change my eyebrows. Stop bringing it up because it’s not going to happen.”

      But I went through a lot of unkind comments about my eyebrows being too thick growing up. I think they look nice but in the late 90’s/early 00’s when I became a teen? People would not shut up about how I needed to thin them out.

      So I am kind of sensitive about people pushing for “aesthetically pleasing eyebrows” in whatever trend is popular.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I have thick eyebrows too. I let a friend pluck them in college. ONCE. Never again. Love me, love my eyebrows.

        Quite frankly, if the boss will not stop about this, I wonder if a chat with HR, if they are decent, might be in order. This is a boss trying to get female employees to change their appearance while doing favors for their buddy.

      2. Amy Sly*

        Yes … I was so happy when thick eyebrows came back in fashion and my benign neglect got me compliments.

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        I have super thick brows too! I call them my Frida Kahlo brows. I do go to get them waxed on a semi-regular basis just to shape them up, but I’ll never ever thin them out even if the trend swings back to pencil thin eyebrows. I suppose it helps that I’m now 30 and very confident in my own skin.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I think OP has met a relative of a former boss of mine.

      Ya know, OP, if you go get those new eyebrows, then it will be something else that she wants you to spend money on. This does not stop. Maybe if you think of it as she is going to keep doing this it will be easier to say that hard, finalizing NO.

      My thoughts:

      1) “I don’t think we should be telling people what to do with their bodies.”
      if that doesn’t work,
      2) “Is this a new company policy that I missed?”
      if that doesn’t work
      3) “I was not informed of this policy/practice when I was hired.”

      I have also gone with, “Are you saying that this is something the company expects from me?”

      Stuff like this is my hill to die on. So yeah, I pushed back hard.

      Remember you can win this one, but it’s trade offs as the boss can turn nastier in the long run because they did not get their way. BTDT.

      Some bosses just have a huge disconnect about how much territory is actually under their watch.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I could be wrong but it seems like this boss is mostly just focused on this particular thing because it’s her friend’s business. But I suppose once you lose sense of normal boundaries it could go on to other things as well…

    7. RecentAAMfan*

      Is Boss doing this to boost buddy’s business??
      That would (partly) explain her weird obsession, but obviously make it even more inappropriate

      1. It's Me, Margaret*

        Yes this seems most likely to me–surprised Alison didn’t address that aspect. Maybe if it was a peer you could say something like “I’m not comfortable receiving what seems like a sales pitch for body modification in the office.”

      2. Witchy Human*

        It definitely makes it worse, but it may also offer a way for LW to make her refusal less likely to offend her wildly boundary-challenged boss. “I’m not ever going to be interested in microblading, but it sounds like your friend does really good work. If I find out that anyone I know is ever interested, I’ll pass her name along.”

    8. Brows on Flerk*

      Yeah, I would be inclined to say “Please stop pressuring me to get a body modification.” to make it clearer that this isn’t some preference about personal grooming — it’s a pretty invasive procedure.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      I think she’s pushing it because it’s her friend’s business, not aesthetics.

      HARD no for me, and big ol’ ‘wow, are you seriously asking me to get a semi-permanent tattoo? Seriously?’ and a trip to HR if she doesn’t stop immediately.

      I also thought it was just some thinning technique, but no. Wow.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Clarification: The issue is the boss’s push, not body mods. Body mods are fine if they’re a personal choice, not ok for others to push on anyone else.

    10. Ann Perkins*

      Re: OP1 – This seems like a very appropriate situation for approaching her as a group with the other two coworkers, or approaching HR as a group to ask for help in getting the comments to stop if she continues even after using Alison’s scripts.

    11. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      If the boss is nagging people to get tattoos, that’s an even bigger problem than if it was shaving/waxing/threading. Tattoos are against some people’s religion, and are contraindicated based on some people’s medical histories. (not all tattoo inks are MRI safe, for example.)

      So she is potentially engaging in discrimination, not just pestering, based on who she advertises this service to.

    12. Cartographical*

      I find that a brisk “So you’ve said. [Subjet change.]” is quite effective with some people. And, if you’re ready to be even more blunt “I won’t be doing that./That’s not going to happen./I’ve decided not to do that./I’m not comfortable with that idea.”. Brought to you by incredibly pushy family members. For the much older ones, I’m more polite and use something like, “Thanks for the suggestion but I won’t be doing that.”

    13. IHerdCatsForFood*

      OP#1 your boss is ridiculous. This is YOUR FACE!! Allison’s script is perfect for the start–If boss won’t back down I would definitely be more aggressive about it. I have microbladed brows due to medical condition plus heredity. I did a ton of research before having it done, asked for client references from my top three contenders, and chose a very high end, well-regarded place where that is all they do–It’s not a place where a random employee took a weekend class in microblading. And I paid $1000 for them. They look amazing and natural. I get compliments on “how well put together” I am without makeup because of them, but I did all my homework first. This isn’t something to take lightly.

    14. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      If I was the OP I would merely say my “ophthalmologist and dermatologist do not think there is enough research to prove microblading would be safe for me and have recommended against it.” Which is true! Especially if you have any concern with eye problems or rosacea or sensitive skin around your eyes — microblading as a procedure itself is not FDA-approved, and there are tons of cases of allergic reactions. Personally I think it’s a disgusting overreach to ask employees to potentially open themselves up to blood infections, vision damage other dangerous or irreversible side effects (that can worsen their appearance anyways!), all for something that does not affect their job performance. This is akin to asking the OP to sign up for a medical trial against her will.

    15. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      I’d look her straight in the eye and ask: “How many of the men on staff are you pressuring to get this done?”

      1. Starbuck*

        Exactly. “Thanks so much for trying to enforce sexist beauty standards on me, boss, but I think I’ll pass.”

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I worked at an employer like this for three years. We downloaded music and curated podcasts in advance, or we brought in small personal radios (larger than Walkman-sized) and plugged headphones into those. It was very 1994.

    1. voyager1*

      1994? Seriously? This isn’t a serious answer right? Having a radio is pretty normal before streaming technology.

      I spent a many a day listening to NPR. My days revolved around Talk Of The Nation, Diane Rehm and Science Friday. Now it is podcasts. Progress marches on.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m not saying it happened in 1994. I’m saying that without access to regular streaming, many of us used media formats we had last used in 1994 (despite it being the 2010s).

        1. voyager1*

          I guess. What changed isn’t streaming, it is the ability to have all your media on your phone… at least for me.

          I must be peak Oregon Trail Generation. I used a radio till 2013 or 2014.

              1. starsaphire*

                Side B, “Starving near Independence Rock” ;)

                I miss my iPod. It died, and I can’t replace it. I had more than a month’s worth of excellent music on there. Great for road trips when there’s no radio or satellite signal!

                1. Workerbee*

                  Do you still have your iPod? Mine wouldn’t hold the battery charge anymore, and then a friend said you can get replacement batteries off eBay. I did and my friend fixed it up, and it’s better than it was before. 5th gen 30 gb video pod. Mind you, I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself even with video tutorials.

                2. Torgo*

                  Mine is my Precious, an 80 GB Classic holding 13,000 songs. I also have an external hard drive to hold it all, just in case. You just don’t know when it all becomes 8-tracks.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ah, it may just be experiential differences, then :) My friends and I all moved from a discman to MP3 players during college (early to mid-00s), so a non-car radio felt like more of a technological throwback for us.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I still use an obnoxious “Hits” radio station to wake up to, because it makes me wake up and shut off the alarm — I can’t just lie there listening to those morning DJs! I should use my phone to listen to NPR streaming during my commute, as a lot of times I only get part of the show, or I hear about a show coming up that I want to hear, but my commute isn’t that long. I do have a lot of audio tracks on a home server; all of my CDs, plus a lot of stuff I collected in my short tenure as an internet DJ. I could easily download a bunch of it to my phone or a laptop.

            2. PhyllisB*

              On a related note, I had to rent a car a few months ago, and apparently, new cars don’t have CD players!! Well, I don’t know if ALL new cars don’t, but this was a Toyota and it didn’t. I was complaining to my kids because when I travel I like to listen to my CD’s. They were laughing at me and basically telling me to join the 21st century and download music. I reminded them who they were talking to. I don’t know HOW to download music and don’t really want to learn. And yes, I know about Sirius, but didn’t want to pay extra to use it in a rental car.

              1. Clisby*

                My car doesn’t have a CD player either. I do not consider this an advance. However, if yours is like mine and has USB ports, there are free programs to load the CD tracks onto a USB drive. I take those along on long trips.

              2. Liz*

                that’s me except its MY car, my 10 year old Toyota. no way to stream, so i HAVE to listen to CDs. I just started seeing someone and he’s reallyl into tech, etc. HIS car has Sirus etc and he laughs at my old school CDs. hey, you do what you gotta do!

                1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                  @curly_sue: 2002 Toyota here. Tape deck and CD player. To listen to stuff on my phone I have an adapter something like this:

                  Funny thing is I haven’t had tapes since maybe 2004 when I decided my collage mix tapes could go and haven’t had CDs since 2007 when I burned them all to MP3, so most of my car audio is pretty useless. I can still get super cheap books on tape or CD if I want, though, so road trips are not terrible

              3. Code Monkey*

                If you’ve got a friend who’s good with technology, get them to help you “download” the music off of your CDs. It’s not too hard if you’re comfortable with computers. (I did it for my mom, and she has her whole music library stored in her phone now.)

                1. Filosofickle*

                  I still have a physical CD collection but don’t use them because I transferred it all to my computer & phone. It really is very simple, and fast!

              4. AlexandrinaVictoria*

                My newer car doesn’t have one either, which makes me so sad because I have one of the greatest CD collections on the planet!

                1. AnnaBananna*

                  Aww, see. I have a CD player but never use it. I bought my cart used and it came with a DVD player in the backseat and so I’ve hooked at RCA cable to my phone and listen to my music on it instead.

                  Also, you don’t need a Spotify Premium account for their podcasts since they’re paid for with outside advertising.

                2. Maria Lopez*

                  I still have almost all the 1960s Motown LPs AND 45s. The LPs still have their jackets with the cellophane.

              5. Al*

                We drive a 2001 Honda Accord, and my (21 year old) son LOVES that it has not only a CD player but a cassette player! He likes to pick up cassette tapes from thrift stores to play in the car

              6. Door Guy*

                My newest vehicle (it’s a 2018) has a hard drive in it! You can put your CD in the player, and copy it over to the internal hard drive. Or use the USB port built into the face and load your music that way.

                Personally, I use Amazon Prime for music. I had a job about 7 years ago where I was going to be on the road a lot, and when I was training, we had to listen to whatever radio station came in. We also didn’t have cell signal in a lot of places (we went out into rural bluff and valley areas) so streaming wouldn’t be reliable (on top of I only had 1 gig per month data at the time split between my wife and myself). I could download the music straight to my phone and play it regardless of signal. Still use it to this day for my daily commute, although the selection seems to have gotten really poor as they’ve been pushing their monthly “Music Unlimited”. There are definitely times I’ll go to look for a song and find it grayed out, and then find out it’s not even available to purchase anymore as they cycled it off the server.

                1. Veronica*

                  That’s why the only way is to either download and save what you want to keep, or buy it on physical media.

              7. A*

                I’ve had my car for ten years, it has a CD player, and I have used it exactly once. And it was solely at the encouragement of a friend after I realized six years in, I had never used it.

              8. Burned Out Supervisor*

                It depends on the kind of car. I have a 2019 Kia, but it’s the base model that doesn’t have the fancy pants radio console. I have just a regular stereo with a CD player. My husband has a fancier Kia with the upgraded media/stereo package and it does not.

          2. Working Mom*

            Fellow Oregon Trail Generation here. I have a very expensive Bose in my kitchen right now… playing FM radio. Because that’s what I like. Rock on :)

        2. Quill*

          Hey! I had CD’s in 2005! (Probably because I was in middle school and an ipod was firmly, in my parents’ minds, in the category of “too much to spend on a small electronic device likely to get broken, stolen, or confiscated if quill uses it at school.” XD)

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I did, too, and I didn’t switch to an iPod until around 2008. :)

            But by the mid-2010s, were you carrying around CDs and a Discman? (I wasn’t, although I still have all my CDs, and my car at the time had the CD deck fully loaded).

            1. Quill*

              No, because I was in college by then & I think discmen were slightly before the days in which I had any money to buy one. :)

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Last year, in 2018, I bought music on record, cassette, CD, and usb stick. To be fair, the cassette was because one of the vendors at Worldcon had some old stuff that was never re-released on CD available on cassettes. The rest was all new releases. (I usually listen to music either on CDs or as files ripped from CDs. I don’t do streaming because I like to be able to find the same songs again later.)

        3. Micklak*

          I worked at a museum near the dawn of the internet and we once got an all staff email asking whoever was downloading “Soul Plane” to stop. It was taking up all the bandwidth. I don’t know how they could tell the movie but not the person. I didn’t even know that you could download movies at the time.

      2. Timothy (TRiG)*

        Radio is also so much more environmentally friendly than online streaming. You use a lot less power.


      3. Paperdill*

        Is it possible you’re misunderstanding Princess’s accusation of the workplace being like “1994” for “1984”?

      4. Graflex01867*

        See, I found out something funny about our local NPR station in Boston. If I was running late to work, the show that I heard on way way TO work. . . .was the exact same show I heard on my way home FROM work.

    2. Cobol*

      I do this now at my work. It’s really not that bad. I am so caught up on my podcasts, and if you’d rather listen to music, you can usually download entire playlists in next to no time at all.

      1. voyager1*

        The only issue I have had is downloading things can be tough if you are in the interior of some buildings. But stepping outside solves this.

    3. Jen S. 2.0*

      My work WiFi is utter shyte. I use Overcast, and I have it set to download the zillion podcasts to which I’m subscribed only while on WiFi. I always have lots of podcasts sitting in the app already loaded, because they load when I’m at home / overnight. I thought every podcast listener did this!

      It required a bit of setup at first, but now I never have to think about it or plan. I just counted and I have about 60 episodes backed up of the shows I try (and clearly fail) to listen to weekly. In OP2’s shoes, I’d make a playlist for work listening, add my favorite shows with long episodes, and call it a day.

      1. Properlike*

        I am middling in tech ability and have an old iPhone, yet I have downloaded (and put in preferred order!) multiple sets of podcasts for trips and playlists. I also create and reorder playlists for different situations.

        This can be done, and after you initially learn how, requires little thought or planning. I’m old enough to remember needing stacks of cassette tapes for a road trip. It sounds like LW#2 is more annoyed with having the thing taken away and so resists the easy solution.

        1. Avasarala*

          You can also set iTunes to automatically download new episodes of your favorite podcasts and delete them when you’ve listened to them. Zero management.

          You could even have it do so over mobile data. It’s not like you’re going on an airplane.

        2. Filosofickle*

          I think that you are old enough is key. So am I. We had to know how to plan for tapes/discs. And early on I ripped all my discs to mp3s and made playlists, so I have my collection everywhere I go. But if the OP is younger and skipped straight to the streaming era, this is not a skill they have already.

          My BF mainly listens to music via streaming and owns little (zero?) music. It’s so weird to me.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        My desk is located in my office’s WiFi dead zone, so streaming isn’t possible for me. I do a combination of podcasts (Overcast is my podcatcher of choice), music I downloaded to my phone from iTunes or the library website, and audiobooks. It does take preplanning, but you don’t have to do all the planning at once. Start by downloading enough for a day or two, and then just keep collecting songs or podcasts that are interesting to you.

        I get that it’s super frustrating that your workplace blocked all of these services without letting staff know about it. They could have made an announcement so you guys could plan ahead. But you can start planning now and get some good content loaded. If you’re looking for ideas, try going to a few of the weekend posts here and searching the comments. We do podcast recommendation threads from time to time, and the commenters here have started me on some really interesting shows.

      3. sam*

        yes – I use overcast too, and as someone who commutes by subway, I always download podcasts at home on wifi rather than rely on streaming. I have a “current” playlist that I’m about a week behind on, and a “backlog” playlist that has over 1,000 episodes of older shows (these I leave set to stream until I move them to my current list, interspersed periodically within the current stuff). I am usually more worried about falling behind on current events stuff than ever running out of things to listen to.

    4. Bilateralrope*

      I work security, where clients usually don’t give us internet access. For what little internet we need for work purposes, we have the site mobile phone. Which is strictly for work use. I could pay for a plan for my personal phone that comes with unlimited data, but that’s a bit of a squeeze on my budget.

      So I’m relying on podcasts that I download to an MP3 player in advance. Easy enough to do for an iPod. Since iTunes knows which podcasts I’m listening to, it automatically downloads them to my desktop, then syncs with the iPod when I plug it in.

      One coworker uses the radio app on the work smartphone. Which uses the phones built in FM receiver, not the internet.

    5. April*

      I currently work for the government, this is how it is at my job. I download stuff on my phone and I have a CD player and headphones. Yes, that’s right a CD player and headphones. I own A LOT of CDs, it would probably take a year just to listen to them all.

      1. Mongrel*

        I have a ton of CDs as well (I prefer to own things, not pay the same to license them) and have been ripping them to MP3 since the 2000s, so my whole collection is currently running at about 4.5GB, some collation on a bored weekend and you can generate loads of playlists for whateer you want to listen to.
        Grab a phone that has a MicroSD slot and you’ve got as much practical storage as you could ever need (Amazon UK currently has branded 128GB cards fro £15), and most podcasts can be downloaded directly if you don’t want to get an app that does it.
        Windows can rip your CDs from within Media Player and produce the playlists and iTunes used to let you do it.

        I also had a DAB radio when I was in the office (streaming was disallowed there) as that was a better way to get the more specialised stations.

          1. Donkey Hotey*

            Given the choice, I’d rather drop a single book in the tub than drop a library-full on a kindle.

          2. Quill*

            Stick a pencil in it and rewind!

            (I once read a scifi novel where the “big twist” was that they had to rewind the tape of the spaceship to make it go back to earth. I laughed until I fell on the floor. Upon reflection, I think the book had been published in about 1960.)

          3. Mongrel*

            Right now, I’m normally buying CDs off Amazon when they come down in price which often come with the ability to download the MP3 files at the same time, so I can stash the physical media still sealed, otherwise it’s 5 minutes to rip and then stash the CD.
            MP3s get stored on a folder on my PC, that whole folder is copied to both my phone and a cloud folder.
            Besides Veronica’s valid point, I’ve also had a friend lose all their ‘purchased’ items after his Amazon account was hacked & blocked (iTunes have done similar things and Steam have blocked accounts at country levels).

            Corrupted data is an easy thing to compensate for, if your account gets blocked you’re generally shit out of luck.

            1. Working Mom*

              Cleaning our basement recently, and we found a huge bin of old CD’s. I was very excited to unearth my old CD collection and promptly put them in my car.

      2. Veronica*

        I also have a CD player in my office. I’ve never found time to make playlists and load CDs into a device. I have a boombox I bought on Amazon for $16 (it was a 2-year-old model), and I brought in some of my most familiar CDs.
        I have to have familiar music at work because I find new music distracting, but that’s just me.

        Netflix has taught me never to rely on streaming. It had several of my favorite TV shows when I first subscribed, and now it has dumped all of them. The only way to be sure of having something for the future is to download and save it on your device or own the CD/DVD yourself.

    6. Malthusian Optimist*

      I have to wonder if the company recently received a highly secure contract and hasn’t figured out if the whole place is a SCIF and if so how to advise employees of procedure.

      1. Susie Q*

        If it was actually a SCIF, they wouldn’t be allowed to even have their phones in the room. Plus SCIFs don’t magically appear. They cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build with lots of government oversight. All the employees would have to have security clearances and training so they would know. This is 99.99999% not a SCIF.

        More than likely the company wants a cheaper WIFI services and banning streaming services will allow them to downgrade speeds without impacting work.

        1. Natalie*

          Or just reduce their overall data usage – even non-mobile internet* comes with data caps these days.

          *Terrestrial? Landline? Not sure what the generic term is for wired connections.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I’m going to start calling landline-esque connections terrestrial and wifi-esque connections extraterrestrial.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            I like terrestrial, but it’s just ‘wired’ or ‘home’ (vs ‘wireless’ or ‘mobile’), nothing fancy.

          3. Chinook*

            Every place I worked in Canada hd the rule about no streaming for that reason – it affects the internet speed. Even in major cities, companies figured it is more efficient to ban personal streaming rather than pay bigger bucks to ensure no lag time for business programs and I can’t say that I disagree with thism especially since every smartphone can play music or podcasts and radio programming just costs the price of a radio.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Apparently if you’re Matt Gaetz you’re allowed to tweet from your phone in a SCIF without consequences. :-/

        3. IT bad guy*

          Sometimes the company isn’t being cheap – we are in an extremely rural area and rely on microwave internet – we need every bit of it to, you know, run the business.

        4. Burned Out Supervisor*

          Audio streaming uses much less bandwidth than video…although, I don’t know how you would block one over the other.

        5. Malthusian Optimist*

          Susie – you’re prob. right, but I’ve worked in offices where only small areas needed to be secure. and exceedingly low-tech – architects doing plan checks at one place = a door a lock supervised entry and exit, but then in another it was at the client’s very secure site so no phones, just an approved ipod and all the outlets you can check.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I had to google that acronym, so here it is for the next reader who gets baffled.
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced “skiff”), in British and United States military, national security/national defense and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information.

        1. Malthusian Optimist*

          it can mean all sorts of things, some are just latchkey – privy only to those with clearance who lock each other in and out, others have double redundant power sources, transmission blockers, massive firewalls and mandatory forfeit of everything from a laptop or cell to a flash drive upon entry.

      3. ItsAllFunAndGames*

        It was most likely due to bandwidth issues and those who needed the WiFi for actual work things were having issues due to slow connection. Where I work they block just about all non internal streaming video and audio (you can stream from the HR or training website, or if you are taking a class somewhere for work training they can unblock that site for you).

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Where I worked, they blocked all streaming video. Which meant that all of our internal training websites were blocked, so people couldn’t do any of their training webinars at work, and we had to run mandatory staff meetings without the required training videos. You had to go do them at home (and possibly not get paid for it, because you were punched in at a time you weren’t on the schedule, which often got deleted.)

          Meanwhile, all of the part-time teenagers knew workarounds for the filters, because their high schools had similar ones, and were watching Netflix, YouTube, Twitch in their downtime.

        2. Mockingdragon*

          This is what I’m thinking – I wasn’t allowed to stream music at any company I’ve worked for because everyone doing it would slow down the internet for actual work. I have an iPod full of music and never saw it as an imposition.

      4. ArtK*

        Both WiFi and wired connections in the company likely go through the same main connection. This is almost certainly a bandwidth issue. The company is paying for that bandwidth for business purposes. Folks who can stream non-work stuff should feel grateful for the perq, and not feel entitled to the company’s money.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I worked for the feds in a non-SCIF. We were all on wired internet, and streaming just destroyed our server bandwidth in a way that significantly impeded folks’ ability to do their job.

    7. Feline*

      My employer went from unimpeded Wifi to blocking streaming years ago. OP2, a VPN will bypass this. If your IT reads logs to monitor what you are doing, they will hate that and eventually lock your WiFi away. Ours did. We now must sign in with our user ID so activity is tracked back to us specifically. It has been like this since before the rise of Spotify, and I have never used the app. Listen to offline music. This is unlikely to work pushing back against an employer because it’s IT will, assert it is a security matter. WiFi isn’t a universal right, unfortunately.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Op2 This is a bandwidth/cost problem for them–or someone was abusing the privilege at the expense of their work.
      My own productivity benefits from background music, and I survive without streaming media. (Partly, I’m GenX, partly my company allows very little media.)
      Try a radio–many phones have ability for that. Get an ipod. Go retro and find a Walkman. Download audiobooks. You’ve got this!

      1. Cat*

        Yikes, had to scroll pretty far to find this. OP, I am 99% percent sure this is the reason without knowing anything else about your company.

        Streaming services are bandwidth hogs and WILL impact business services, especially as more business functions are moved to the cloud: O365, file collaboration, VOiP phones, etc.

        Use your data plan for streaming or plan ahead, this will not be a good hill to die on.

        1. Lynn*

          My husband is a teacher and his district blocks all streaming services (along with a lot of other things, of course) both to save bandwidth and for general “don’t let the kids get to bad things” purposes.

          When I worked in an office, streaming sites were blocked due to bandwidth issues. Many (though not all) of the client offices that I worked in regularly also blocked these things. It just isn’t that uncommon and should not really present a problem-download some stuff to listen to and move on.

          I understand that it is annoying, but I would not even begin to ask about this one, let alone try to get a group together to push back on. It just isn’t worth it to complain about something that is well within business norms.

          If they were trying to get rid of headphones and music/podcasts altogether in your situation, I would argue differently. But they aren’t, they are just not willing to pay for/take the risk of having folks hooked up to a specific type of site. One that isn’t needed for business and can easily be worked around.

          1. Quill*

            The fact that your husband works at a school where the tech staff is competent enough to actually block streaming services rather than having a short list of “approved” sites surprises me, as a child of the early 00’s. It wasn’t until I was in high school that our district learned enough about the internet for it to actually be worth using in a school building… even though most of this was before the widespread use of wifi.

            1. Lynn*

              Well, I do have to be honest here. They blocked all of the main streaming sites, and seem to be pretty intent on blocking the others as they arise. They also block everything that they even begin to think might be an issue. His opinion is that they got lists of “sites to block” from a Cracker Jack box somewhere-because it can be pretty capricious and is often completely wrong-headed.

              If a teacher finds that information needed for their classroom is on a blocked site, it takes three weeks, an act of the FSM and threats from the Dread Pirate Roberts to get them to unblock something. The time my husband needed to access one of the ancillary NASA sites (they managed to not block the main site, at least) for a physics lesson in his class was an ongoing saga for almost a month. I mean…NASA. Sheesh.

              That said, given that schools don’t really pay tech folks much means that they don’t get the best folks out there, so he figures he is lucky that they at least manage to do as much as they do-and dealing with allowing internet access while mitigating risk with a large district is not an inconsequential amount of work.

              1. Quill*

                Now that sounds more like a school district!

                I sympathize, my mom’s school (approximately 300 students) shared a tech person with 2 other schools and once decided to use their tech grant to purchase new macbook airs… but save by not buying any of their cords, because “any old power cord should do!” and they already had regular macbooks.

                Schools, first and foremost, use your tech grants on maintaining what you’ve got, not buying a shiny new e-board that will break within five years, or deciding that every kindergartener needs an ipad to drop on the concrete floor!

        2. BB*

          Also scrolled looking for this. With smart phone capability now, I think it’s a really bad idea to push back at all. Back when my company blocked streaming stating the bandwidth problem, I was certainly displeased to lose Pandora since I work much better with music in the background. For a while I brought in CDs instead. Or downloaded music to whatever my MP3 thing was at that time. If you don’t want to do the leg work for offline listening, then you pony up for a good phone data package. This isn’t a business expense and trying to convince corporate that streaming access to your favorite podcast is a necessary use of their valuable bandwidth is going to make you look out of touch.

        3. Bertha*

          Yes, bandwidth! My boss at my last job was the IT director and she was always telling me about how all the streaming was sucking up all the bandwidth and making things slow.

      2. Anonomoose*

        I think it’s worth one email to IT, and then drop. I’ve worked in places where we’ve got a new firewall, and been like “ooh, this blocks streaming! That’s probably a good idea, don’t want people taking down the network by watching Netflix!” And then totally not realising that it, say, blocks Spotify. But, be polite, and as other commenters have said, not a hill to die on.

        1. Bree*

          Agree. Can’t hurt to ask, once. I think it’s possible they meant to block some things (for either bandwidth or distraction reasons) but could let other things through. Block Netflix, allow Spotify, etc. It’s possible a blanket setting got switched by accident or without being thought through (which might explain the lack of announcement or explanation).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ours isn’t even an IT issue — it comes from upper levels of corporate management. It cycles on and off.
          More than once, management has talked up YouTube because of new publicity and/or training videos, and had it pointed out that it’s behind the corporate firewall. YouTube became available for a few months until someone decided it was unproductive.
          Wash, rinse, repeat.
          The technology jump that blew minds around here was when laptops started coming without CD players *AND* we were no longer going to be allowed USB drives. (TPTB quickly backed off on that because sales & training couldn’t demonstrate software updates or pull up manuals from the officially distributed corporate flashdrives. Embarassing…)

          1. Veronica*

            There are lots of work-related training videos on YouTube. I’ve watched at least three. No, four and counting.
            Management is shortsighted not allowing access.

            1. CheeryO*

              For every person who uses YouTube to watch work-related stuff, there is someone (or more likely multiple someones) who uses it to goof off. It’s completely normal and understandable to restrict streaming on company internet.

              1. Veronica*

                Well, I’ve also used it to play music while I work. That’s not goofing off. Management should have a little faith that most of their employees are trying to get their work done.
                Treating people like they’re a bunch of irresponsible jerks who are just waiting for an opportunity to slack off doesn’t lead to anything good. It would be better to handle the *occasional* slacker on a case-by-case basis.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Honestly, I would leave the IT department out of this. A total block on streaming is unlikely to be a technical error, and while OP sending one email about it doesn’t sound like much, everyone in her large company sending one email is going to be a total waste of IT’s time. When they get the 400th, “Hey, what’s up with streaming?” email, someone’s going to snap and be like, “Gee, sorry we can’t give you access to your entertainment feed while you’re supposed to be working?”

          Management should have announced this – ours did when the blocked certain non-work-related content that was posing an issue for IT both on bandwidth and on risk (malware, ransomware, etc.), and one of the C-level people sent an organization-wide email about it.

        4. Hats Are Great*

          Yes, worth asking IT once. My employer blocked a big bunch of “recreational” sites (like reddit), not realizing that our department used one of those sites very extensively for tracking social media chatter about one of our key tasks. A couple of us went to the IT head and said, “Hey, I know all these sites were blocked for a good reason, but our department uses to track social media chatter about teapots — would it be possible to unblock that one? Right now we’re all sitting there with our phones open all day to keep up!” And, yeah, it was no problem, they unblocked that domain and we went back to our normal workflow. I assume it was either a prebuilt blocklist, or they blocked the 100 most accessed non-industry websites, and IT didn’t realize that our department used a hobbyist social site to keep up with what people were saying about the industry at large — they did such a great job sorting all the twitter chaff to find the interesting stuff! We showed IT the site and what we used it for and IT was like, “Oh, wow, that IS useful!”

          I might ask, “Hey, was streaming blocked because of bandwidth issues or because of people wasting work time? We really miss having Spotify to tune out the office noise, but I understand if the bandwidth is an issue!”

      3. snowglobe*

        I was just coming to say this as well. One person streaming won’t affect much, but if every employee is streaming something that can cause serious bandwidth issues, which means that actual business use may be negatively impacted. It is perfectly normal and reasonable for employers to not allow streaming on their internet connection.

      4. Just Elle*

        Yes, this. My fortune 500 company finally banned streaming and we all breathed a sigh of relief because the internet sped from snail to sloth pace, better allowing us to do our job.

        I ended up just shelling out the extra cash for unlimited data on my phone. And I’m really glad I did in general – its so nice not having to agonize over the datas. I just chalked it up to a cost of doing business, kind of like professional attire or packing work lunches.

      5. Systems Administrator*

        Very much this. I had three hundred employees behind a 50Mbps internet connection (non-profit, long contract they re-upped without looking at it right before I started) and I got complaints of slowness. Looked at the bandwidth, and people were watching Netflix rather than doing their jobs. It took one email to the higher-ups to approve it and blocked all streaming throughout. People that asked me what happened, I was very honest. I can’t have you taking up all the bandwidth for Netflix while a very cloud-heavy application you should be actually using at the time is getting bandwidth starved.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I just want to push back on the idea that people were watching Netflix “instead of doing their jobs.” I’m a person who works better with some background noise, and I’ve frequently downloaded episodes of shows I’ve seen a million times to listen to while I work. If it’s something I’m familiar with, I don’t actually have to be *watching* to know what’s going on.

          That’s not to say that work should provide people with access to Netflix, just a reminder that brains are different and it’s possible to work and listen to the TV at the same time.

          1. GigglyPuff*

            This. Came here to say this.
            I have ADHD that I can’t take medication for (haven’t found one that doesn’t give me side effects that send me home from work, the opposite of what I need). My first professional job was so rote and boring, my manager was amazing and after 8 months of listening all the music I could think of, started watching re-runs on streaming apps. My productivity went through the roof. Music actually makes my mind wander more, I write stories in my head, and music can trigger that, but my entire life I’ve had TV on in the background and it makes me so much more productive.

        2. Observer*

          Two things. There is no reason that a company, much less a non-profit, should be required to pay extra for an internet connection that allows people to stream person stuff.

          Also, sometimes that slower connection is STILL the best you can get. We didn’t get FIOS till Sansy force Verizon to run fiber all over NYC. And we’re far enough from the DSLAM that we still can’t get the highest connection, even if we had reason to pay for it. I also manage sites where fiber is not available and cable is meh, speedwise.

          On top of that, even if you have a GREAT internet connection, wifi can be a real choke point. Getting your infrastructure to a point where multiple people can be streaming heavy media without hitting performance too badly, and doing that with secure access points can be an expensive proposition.

      6. Environmental Compliance*

        Yup. This is why we had streaming technically banned on the work wifi when I was gov’t. It wasn’t a security issue, it was straight up one of you asshats is streaming things that are so. flippin. huge. that none of the rest of us can get anything done in a timely manner (as all of our required programs were also internet based).

        However, how they solved it was putting in two different wifis – one for work only, and then a “public” one that really just gov’t employees used. Had a much lower bandwidth cap and internal enforcement of the Don’t Be That Jerk. I actually used an app to download (automatically) on my home wifi and then listened to it at work.

        1. It's Me, Margaret*

          I thought the government forbids streaming media because it would be a misuse of resources.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Some do, some don’t. Even Feds have different policies in different departments, and state / local are hugely variable. And that’s just the US…

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            Streaming music was one of the only ways us little data entry peons stayed sane.

            FWIW, neither state agency I have worked for cared if we streamed music. Neither banned YouTube, either, given all the times I pulled up tutorials for some goofy Excel formatting thing I wanted to do and couldn’t quite remember how to.

          3. Elise*

            I’m a public librarian, and we are a part of a municipality. We were the first to have public wifi, but now it’s available in almost all city buildings. For one thing, it’s nice to offer to visiting citizens, and having a guest network allows external presenters to get access without a network login. So on the guest network, streaming is allowed, though the speed at any given time depends on the number of people using it. But yeah, “The Government,” is a big sweeping reference to many organizations with varying policies.

      7. BankNerd*

        This. We block streaming with a few exceptions, but those are to be used for business use only. Why? Because in the past our entire network for a bank with branches spanning across five states has been taken down by employees streaming news, sport events, etc. One person streaming may not take much bandwidth, but when everyone is doing it, it can shut business down.

      8. kittymommy*

        This is exactly why my organization does not allow it. I can get away with playing live radio from NPR or a news station, but that’s about it. Now we have about 1400 employees, though not all are on the same server at the same time, it is still a lot for our IT to deal with and would slow our operations down a lot.

      9. ArtK*

        I agree. Folks were using too much bandwidth (which costs the company $$$) for non-work things. It’s great when the company can afford to do that, but it’s a bonus not an entitlement.

      10. A*

        Exactly. I never expect to be able to stream at work for this exact reason. The few times I’ve had employers that allow it, I still don’t because it makes the indirect services side of my business mind twitch. It’s so easy to work around, and then you don’t have to worry about anything – including employer having access to your history.

        1. Veronica*

          Employer having access to my history is the reason I never use the “Guest” wi-fi at work. I don’t stream, but Facebook, internet and such…

    9. MsMaryMary*

      Yeah, it’s super common for employers to block streaming services because they use so much data. You could try some less popular streaming sites. My last job blocked Spotify and Pandora but or streaming directly from a station’s website would work. My current job blocks everything. Depending on your data plan and how good your reception is at work, you could just turn off your phone’s wifi while you’re at work and stream whatever you want.

      1. Gyratory Circus*

        I work for one of the major health insurance companies and all streaming services, file sharing, personal email, etc are blocked. Basically the only things we can get to are work-related sites, which I completely understand based on the amount of highly sensitive data we handle. I WAH now, but when I still had to go into the office I used an Ipod to listen to music while I worked.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Worked at a Fortune 100 insurance company as well and it was the same. Very normal to do.

          I have T Mobile which doesn’t charge against your data plan to use streaming music apps – I Heart Radio, Pandora, Spotify, etc. I would also just download podcasts and audiobooks at home more often. I can only do so much music when I’m listening to something 40 hours/week. If I forgot to download enough for the day, I would walk to the Starbucks across the street on my break to download a book or something.

    10. Dahlia*

      I have a very small, very cheap MP3 player. I think it cost 30-50 dollars like 10 years ago and all it does is play music. Love that thing.

    11. Yellow*

      I guess I’m showing my age (almost 40), but I cannot believe that it’s a “burden” for people to have to download a podcast or a playlist.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Ayup. OP was on my lawn, too.
        I had to explain to a co-worker why I exclaimed, “REALLY?” when I read the letter.

      2. Observer*

        Eh, I don’t think it’s an age thing.

        I had a similar conversation with someone at a time when wifi wasn’t even a thing, and unlimited internet was still something that most adults had “graduated” to, from dial up. “But “I’m” SPECIAL. I shouldn’t have to take extra steps.” (Yeah, they used a different word than special, but that was the gist of it.)

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think it’s an age thing. I’m under 40, and downloading in advance isn’t a burden. :)

        1. CMart*

          Yep. I’m a full blown millennial and download a bunch of podcasts every couple days while my coffee brews in the morning. I don’t have unlimited data, and I like to listen to them on my commute. It takes maybe 30 seconds to tap the “download” icon and I can still sh*tpost on Reddit while the episodes download in the background.

      4. Kelsi*

        Yeah, I was really surprised so many people are of the attitude of “yeah, this sucks, company’s being kind of unreasonable but not enough to push back” vs. “why is it that hard to download something ahead of time or use your data plan to stream, they don’t owe you streaming access.”

        I have to acknowledge that attitudes on this are changing, because my reaction was clearly in the minority. But still–not a hill to die on.

    12. Smithy*

      In sharing retro options, I still use a 160 GB iPod that houses most of my music and updates podcasts. Still available on Amazon for anyone wanting to go that route.

      I will say that this issue as well as asking an employer to cover a holiday party work outfit…there are certainly ways to ask the question at work, but provided there’s not a serious work need to stream or the expected holiday party hosting clothing expectations are red carpet formal – it’s not where I’d want to spend my capital at work.

    13. Cartographical*

      I’ve been happy with Google Play Music to let me listen offline when I’m up north where my data use would bankrupt me. The monthly fee is reasonable for the convenience. Our public library has audio books and classical music available for free, as well.

    14. lemon*

      Also wondering, is streaming on your phone not an option? My last job also was very strict about blocking most streaming services. I switched to a cell plan that allows unlimited Spotify/Pandora streaming that doesn’t count against your data, and it was awesome.

      Also, other services allow you to download for offline listening without requiring a premium account, like Google Play or Amazon Music (if you already have Prime). Download what you need at a home, and if you get the urge to listen to something you haven’t downloaded already, you can download it on your coffee/lunch break on the restaurant’s wifi.

    15. Richard Hershberger*

      There is where being a classical music listener really pays off. I would do just fine with just a radio, tuned to my excellent local station that has a minimum of chit-chat, and most of what it does have is on point. Indeed, I often pull it up to stream through my computer, though given the capability I like to mix things up with other stations. I also enjoy listening to the Rochester, NY station, partly because it is good but mostly to hear to the weather reports and gloat.

    16. La Framboise*

      Over here living in 1974. If my car had room, my son would bring in a turntable. We have bought ONLY vinyl this year.

    17. Graflex01867*

      I have a few thoughts on this one.

      First, I’m not happy with OPs mannagers response of “I’m not sure who to ask.” Unless you work in an office of total tech anarchy, you know who to ask. Start with the person you ask when the printer jams, or your email suddenly doesn’t want to load. There’s someone in the office you ask, designated or not. Ask them. If you don’t want to bring it up, there are other ways to say “no” – perhaps “This is the new office policy, I can’t really push back on it.” “I don’t know who to ask” just sounds like a total cop-out to me.

      Second, if the office can provide coffee, then the office can provide wifi. Wifi is, in a lot of ways, like a digital version of coffee. It keeps everyone happy and productive. Even if you bought a direct wifi connection solely for employee streaming, you’re looking at $50-$70/month. That’s not a lot to keep an office happy. The example in particular is even an open office – and as far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to try and argue away the concept of walls, cubicles, and privacy, then you need to throw your employees some other bone instead. Office norms change – smoke breaks are out, free coffee is in, and wifi should be too. If you have employees abusing the system, then they should be dealt with on an individual basis. (The nice thing about computer systems is that they can usually tell you EXACTLY who the problem is.)

      Its also highly unfair to expect people can just buy unlimited data plans, or cell phones with enough storage to download an entire music collection. At $14/hr in a fishbowl of an open office, not everyone can spend that extra money. Not everyone has the extra time to remember to try and pick what music they want, and what podcasts they want to download in the morning, at home, on their own wifi, before going in to work. Putting me in a noisy fishbowl, crammed in with 20 of my closest “friends” at work, and not allowing me any peace and quiet or tunes to listen to while I work is an absolutely lovely way to try and retain employees. I may well be looking at it with a bit of a generational gap, but I value access to my music/tunes/podcasts as much as I do access to office supplies like pens and post-it notes.

      We need to stop looking at Wifi like we’re subjects in the book 1984, and admit that we’ve moved past the technology of 1994.

  5. Too Cheap for Spotify*

    LW2: If you have Amazon Prime, Amazon Music has a fairly good selection of music you can download for offline listening, if you don’t want to pay for Spotify Premium. There are also lots of good music podcasts you can download so you can listen to music for free, like All Songs Considered from NPR. Downloading podcasts is very easy, finding free-ish music to download slightly less so, but those are a couple of workarounds I use to get music. It also seems worth it to poke around other streaming apps to make sure there’s not a loophole with your new wifi (Pandora, IHeartRadio, etc. – maybe they weren’t as thorough as you thought!)

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I’d advise against looking for something that gets past their filter. Mainly for how it looks if IT notices, contacts your boss, who then asks you questions about why you violated their “no streaming services” policy.

      That is unlikely to go well for you.

      1. Sarah*

        LW says there isn’t a communicated “no streaming services” policy, and LW’s boss agreed it’s a pain. Plenty of plausible deniability for a possibly easy solution – seems fine to me.

      2. MayLou*

        I think since the new policy (if indeed there is one) hasn’t been announced, it’s fairly innocuous to use anything that isn’t blocked on the assumption that it’s okay. It’s not like OP wants to find a loophole to allow her to gamble company money or download child porn.

        1. Antilles*

          I think it really depends on what exactly you’re doing to “get around the filter”.
          Using a different service when you notice that Pandora isn’t blocked while Spotify is? Sure. Different streaming services use different amounts of bandwidth, so it’s reasonable to assume that IT folks chose to block one and not the other. Worst case, IT eventually decides to add Pandora to the block list.
          But if you discover that, say, the web address for Spotify is blocked *but* the Spotify extension on the browser is not? That’s pretty blatantly an attempt to circumvent the auto-blocking and not going to look great.

      3. Lexin*

        Agreed. I knew someone who was escorted from the building for exactly this kind of thing. I was his union rep. and though we won his case, and a gob of money for him, it took over two years and caused difficulties in his subsequent job search. I’d advise against it.

        If you have to listen to music at work, what’s wrong with using your own phone/iPod? My colleagues do.

    2. ohforchrissakes*

      I’m surprised to see many folks on the ‘grin and bear it’ side. In an open office plan with little acoustical control, individual methods to control noise can make HUGE differences in productivity. While taking away Netflix is probably a no regrets move, taking away Spotify from employees is not so clear cut.

      I’d reach out again to the manager in time with something like ‘Hi Boss, Thanks again for listening to my concerns about access to music and white noise in the office. After giving this some time, my productivity has taken a bit of a backslide due to the noise here. I am doing my best to have content prepared on my personal phone and I am using my personal data to fill in. Do you think it would be possible to engage some stakeholders on how we might revisit this policy?’

      It’s not a hill I would die on, but politely persistent employees can drive change.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        It’s just hard to imagine having any success pushing back because it is *so easy* to supply your own music or podcasts or audiobooks or whatever without streaming. Sure, Spotify is convenient and great but if they haven’t issued a ban on headphones then there really isn’t a problem here–just a minor annoyance.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, there is a difference between banning headphones/music and removing the ability for people to use the company’s internet bandwidth for streaming. There are so, so many services that allow you to download things you want to listen to with very little effort – I have about 1,000 songs on my iPhone, and the Podcasts app automatically downloads episodes of those to which I’m subscribed when I hit a wifi connection.

          I’m just kind of flummoxed by the complaint that it requires too much pre-planning and effort to load your phone up with music or podcasts. If streaming is so important, too, disconnect from the company wifi use your own data plan for it.

      2. BB*

        They didn’t take away Spotify; they just said that company resources can’t be used for it. This is a pretty normal standard since any streaming service, used by multiple people, can throttle bandwidth and impact legitimate work projects. The op has plenty of options for still listening to podcasts, music, or whatever off their personal device.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        They didn’t say “you can’t control your acoustic environment.”
        They said, “you can’t use company bandwidth to control your acoustic environment.”
        There are -plenty- of options OP can use to control their acoustic environment that don’t use company bandwidth.

      4. Observer*

        After giving this some time, my productivity has taken a bit of a backslide due to the noise here. I am doing my best to have content prepared on my personal phone and I am using my personal data to fill in.

        You’re “doing your best” to plan ahead and can’t manage? I’d be worrying that you don’t know how to manage basic technology and, worse, that you can’t manage the most basic level of planning.

        Seriously. Working around this take literally minutes of planning.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          The internet at my workplace is very slow. Therefore, I have podcasts download automatically on iTunes. I have almost a thousand songs downloaded on Spotify that I can put into shuffle mode. I even have my old CD’s downloaded onto iTunes and can put them into shuffle mode too if I get tired of the Spotify songs.

          OP2, I strongly urge you try these approaches before asking your company to re-establish streaming access. Right now, you are asking for the company to provide a resource that they almost certainly cut for all of the good reasons outlined in the comments above (slow internet connectivity, cost, etc.). That may not go over very well, especially since–as pointed out by many commentators–it is very easy to have content automatically loaded onto your phone.

        2. ohforchrissakes*

          If the employer puts you in an environment where it’s difficult to work, it would be nice of them to provide you will the tools to manage around that. I do not work for a Fortune 500 company and we are able to do this.

          It’s not criminal to challenge our employers to make the employee experience better. Good employers do this – sounds like you don’t work for one.

      5. Bilateralrope*

        I work security, night shifts. Often in places that don’t have any internet beyond what’s on my smartphone and the work site phone. For example, that site deep in the bush behind an abandoned prison I mentioned in open thread discussion about spooky things happening at work. So I’ve had to deal with that for years now, though to combat boredom instead of distractions. I know how easy it is.

        The only differences between what I do and what the letter writer would do are:
        – I can use a portable speaker. The letter writer needs noise canceling headphones, which would be needed even if streaming was allowed over the wifi.
        – The letter writer has more reliable access to electricity.

    3. MissMonsoon*

      Check and see if your local library has Hoopla. You can download audiobooks and music for free. And it will run as long as you want it too!

      I haven’t really explored Freegal to see how that works too.

  6. Phoenix Programmer*

    #1 Is there a reason you can’t stream using your own data? I never connect to work wifi on my phone. A lot of work networks do block streaming to keep the network speeds up.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        Or their data plan is very limited.

        Not in the US, here, but my plan has 2GB per month. I do just fine with them, but that’s because I mostly used them for email or social media. I’m not streaming music/videos every day, or for long periods — using Spotify, for example, would eat them up in a heartbeat.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I did a quick calculation, and if you’re streaming Spotify normal quality for seven hours a day, that’s 5.6 GB a month. So you’d need a pretty good data plan to cover that and have room left over for other use – I use < 500 MB a month of data.

          Downloading music for offline use on Spotify requires a premium account, which is $10 a month. I'm not sure which would cost more – the 10 a month for Spotify or upgrading the phone plan.

          But it could be that the data usage is the issue for work, rather than the idea of streaming. If they've got 500 people streaming most of the day, it adds up, particularly if the work isn't streaming intensive.

          1. Natali*

            I haven’t worked at a place that has allowed streaming for years, and yes, it was always because of the huge data load. Apparently it’s affected my frame of reference since a 5gb data plan seems paltry.

            There are a lot of discount carrier options that are more affordable if the LW has a legacy carrier with expensive data. But yeah, I think you just have to figure out how to make do with your own resources.

            1. Low Data User*

              I pay only for data I use so suddenly starting to stream 5 GB a month would add $50 to my monthly bill, more than doubling what I’m currently paying for phone service. I really don’t think using data is a reasonable alternative.

              1. Natalie*

                Plenty of people, I’d wager the majority, do their streaming on their own data. Downloading is always available to you if you don’t want to, I suppose, but expecting your job to provide that much data to every employee is likely a complete non starter.

                1. Veronica*

                  They must have those plans that have unlimited data.
                  I don’t have one myself, but I see them advertised all the time.
                  I have a plan where I pay a certain amount and it’s charged back by the minute/text/meg. I save a fortune compared to a monthly plan.

              2. Observer*

                Expecting the company to pay for it certainly is not a reasonable alternative.

                I’d feel bad for the OP is a significant bump in cost were their only option. But it’s not. There are plenty of other options.

          2. TooTiredToThink*

            Which is why I have Spotify Premium and have downloaded a ton of playlists so I can still listen to some music on the go. Or if I do audiobooks; I pre-download them; etc…

          3. Observer*

            You know, spotify is not the only game in town. The OP and their coworkers need to spend a few minutes exploring their options.

            The environment still is “headphone friendly”. What’s changed is how they get their sound.

      2. aett*

        I have unlimited data but the service around my office is garbage, and I work on the outskirts of a fairly large city.

        I’m lucky to get two bars when I’m outside the building. Inside the building, it goes between no connection at all and one bar.

    1. Rexish*

      Same. I don’t want to connect to work wifi cause I’m paranoid. But I’m under the impression that in the US (and some other places) having a lot of data is expensive.

      1. Cat*

        It’s not paranoia, it’s an awareness the IT department can see everything you’re doing. Because, spoiler alert, they can.

        I’ve had coworkers in other departments get mad at me for not knowing the WiFi password. My response, “It’s one thing to know IT can see everything I’m doing on my phone. It’s another when I’m sitting next to them and they all know me.” (Because I work in the IT department)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          It’s not paranoia, it’s an awareness the IT department can see everything you’re doing. Because, spoiler alert, they can.

          An office legend at my previous job was a guy at the corporate HQ, who’d gotten fired for trying to access p.rn sites through something like 70 different proxies in one day. He’d try one, get locked out, try another, and so on until he was escorted out.

          How he didn’t understand that the IT was on to him, I will never know. And I really don’t want to know why he needed to access those sites from his office desk so desperately.

          1. Cat*

            NetOps and InfoSec were playing around with some reporting packages in summer 2016. They threw a graph up on the main screen and we were oohing and ahhing over it a’la #DataIsBeautiful. Everyone looked right past the biggest usage chunk, assuming it was our core business process. Then I looked closer…one guy using nearly half the bandwidth of the entire office. Streaming the Rio Olympics.

            After changing the firewall settings, the user was obviously locked out. Then he actually put in a help desk ticket to get it “fixed”!

            Not nearly as entertaining as yours, but also not as frightening!

          2. Shocked Pikachu*

            “An office legend at my previous job was a guy at the corporate HQ, who’d gotten fired for trying to access p.rn sites through something like 70 different proxies in one day. He’d try one, get locked out, try another, and so on until he was escorted out”


        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Unlimited everything for $37. However, I’m in a relatively big city now, and this particular carrier was a crapshoot when I was more rural, so it is pretty location dependent on what’s available to you.

          (Virgin Mobile, who for some reason absolutely cannot handle some of the slightly more rural places that I drive past/through in southern Michigan.)

        2. Bree*

          This can vary dramatically by location, and sometimes in weird ways. Canada, for example, has astronomical data pricing compared to the US.

        3. Rexish*

          Well, I consider $50 to be a lot. I guess it comes donwn to perspective. I’ve set myself a limit that I won’t pay over €20 for my phone bill. This needs to include unlimited fast data, calls and texts.

          1. Natalie*

            From the euro symbol it seems safe to say you’re not in the US – we overpay like crazy for internet, compared to most of the rest of the developed world. For $22 USD (which is €20 as of today) you’d be lucky to get any data at all.

          2. Mill Miker*

            I pay $40 Canadian (after taxes), which is about €27, according to google. I get Unlimited nationwide (not carrier does that) call & text, and 600MB of data.

            It’s an old plan, and I’ve tried shopping around for a new one, but I’m either looking at carriers that don’t work in even slightly rural areas (where I live), or I’m going up at least another $10 a month to keep both calling and data.

            The plan you want doesn’t exist here.

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Eesh, my husband and I pay $16 for two phones and 2GB of data to share. We also not stream a lot of music while working (but he has an office radio tuned to BBC/NPR, and I have a 20GB collection of music (when I had to bounce back to my childhood home after college dad let me rip to MP3 his music collection).

    2. Mockingjay*

      Wonder if OP 1’s office has guest wifi? I connect my phone to my office’s guest system (it’s secure).

    3. Koala dreams*

      On slightly older phones there’s often a radio receiver, you can check if your phone has radio and listen to a music station. The newest models usually havn’t, but many slightly older (and cheaper) smartphones still have it. That way you don’t need to use data or wifi.

      1. Observer*

        Plenty of current phones have FM receivers as well. I just went to one of my favorite cell phone info sites (gsmarena dot com) and did a search for android phones released in 2018 or 2019 that are actually available and have an FM receiver. It told me that it found 577 phones.

        When I made the filter more restrictive – Only 2019 releases and either Android 9 Pie or Android 10, I still got 214 hits.

        I can imagine that the OP may not want to buy a new phone just now, but for anyone who is in the market anyway, you really can use this as a filter. Or just buy a radio. They really are cheap.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I could never afford to stream my own data. My 24yo son and I share a data plan and we are at the max option, the next one being unlimited, and we go over limit at least once or twice a year. We looked into unlimited plans and apparently the quality of the sound and video is significantly lower for those.

      With that said, both my current and (especially) last employer relied on file transfers and data transfers for a lot of their business. At the old employer, we were told that streaming anything over the work network would lead to immediate termination. So I just never got into the habit of streaming things on my work computer. I have a ton of Spotify playlists downloaded to my phone (that I mainly use on long road trips), which work great for me – I update them about once every 1-2 months and I’m good to go!

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I see no sound/video quality between my capped work phone and unlimited personal plan btw.

        Also I pay 80 per month for unlimited talk text amd data with 2 phones on cricket in a rural Midwest state. This included 2 free phones.

        It’s really affordable on the discount networks to do this.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      My question was (and haven’t seen it raised yet) but if the OP has cable? I can connect to my cable’s wifi in the area and use that at work. I figured this out when they went to password guest access and wouldn’t allow non work issued tech on the network.

      I could have gotten a guest password once a week, but that was just a pain, so I noticed one day that my cable company had wifi that I could connect to. Problem solved.

      My company finally relented and now allow personal tech on the network with password, which is separate from our main wifi.

    6. skunklet*

      You can download podcasts to whatever app is on your own (I tunes, Stitcher, etc) on your own wifi; same with your own music.
      I work for an employer that allows ZERO non work phones on their Wifi network. ZERO. Given that there’s plenty of other non streaming options, I’m thinking that you do the download thing, because this is not really anything that’s even worth bringing up.

    7. Lx in Canada*

      The place where I work doesn’t even have Wi-Fi. I download all my stuff in advance using Google Play Music when I’m at home. I would love to have work Wi-Fi though..

      1. CheeryO*

        Same. This whole debate has me shook. It takes almost no effort to maintain offline Spotify playlists or podcast downloads.

  7. Not A Manager*

    LW4 – I would introduce myself to her, every time I see her. Not in a mean way, almost in a “we share an in-joke” kind of way. “Hi, Margot! It’s Petunia.”

        1. Carlie*

          “Hi Jane, I’m Petunia! You may remember me from such interactions as ‘driving you home from the hospital’ and ‘asking why I’m the only person whose name you can’t remember'”.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am almost laughing here. As I have gotten older I found that I need people to do this and I need to do it for other people. Part of the problem is that the longer we go the more people we meet. What is surprising to me is how gracious people are in either giving or receiving this information. When I found that I had to start doing this it was so awkward. My suggestion, OP, is start this habit now. Get used to reminding people or being reminded.
            At some point it becomes more important to know who we are speaking to and less important that we don’t remember their face.
            My friend is 81 years old and she is very hip/ very active. She goes to family funerals and sees her 40-50 year old nieces and nephews and she draws a blank. They have changed so much since they were 8 or 15 years old. She loves it when they volunteer to identify themselves for her. (Super large family.) Many of these relatives are grandparents, so yeah, they have to explain, “And this is my Susie’s youngest child.”

            I really regret my own awkwardness about identifying myself or asking others to remind me. I am a fan of starting to get comfy with this process sooner.

            1. Quill*

              Lol, my mom’s massive horde of cousins know me as “Angie’s Carol’s oldest” (my grandmother was the second youngest of seven, had my mom at 38, so most of my mom’s “cousins” are actually once or twice removed.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m not faceblind, but I sometimes have difficulty connecting the faces I see at regular events and the names of people I work with over email. I truly appreciate when people provide me context to make the link.
          -If you have a common name, try saying “Ann from Accounting” or “Mary, I work for Marissa”.
          -If you’re at work and there’s only one Petunia there, just use your name.
          -If you bump into that co-worker OUTSIDE of work, say “Petunia from CorporateOverlord” to restore context.

    1. Ellen*

      I have, from time to time had the worst time remembering a particular person’s name, often because they somehow strongly remind me of someone else. One little boy STRONGLY resembled my brother, as I remember him, 40 years ago. A woman that I currently work with looks almost exactly like an old friend of mine- down to gait and body language. *knowing* I’m going to get the name wrong is seriously anxiety inducing!

      1. Allonge*

        Oh, this, so much!

        We have a company doing some marketing stuff for ours. We are in contact with two people: John and Tony. John looks exactly like a character named Tony from one of my favorite TV series. Every time we meet (the real people), I need to check myself beforehand not to mix them up!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh god yes. The worst case of this for me was when two mothers at my daughter’s school were doppelgangers who had the bad luck of liking the same style clothing & eyeglasses & hairstyles. Problem was, I’m white and they’re not. So at one point I called the wrong name and she replied “You know there is more than one Indian woman in this room, don’t you?” I blinked and said “Oh sorry, (name), (doppelganger’s name) is wearing the same shirt and has her hair the same way tonight. I couldn’t tell from the back. Have you seen her? (Third specific Indian woman’s name) needs her to take over at the activity booth early.” And then I moved on.
        It’s one time I’m glad I was oblivious, because I still don’t know how else to respond if that ever happens again.

    2. Mookie*

      Yes, this is exactly the tack I’d take, particularly if the LW continues to feel, correctly or no, that this is intentional. You take the lead rather than stay stuck being Ms No Name and push the awkward back to its epicenter. If this irritates her, there is a solution at her disposal. If it doesn’t, it lets the LW get some control.

      1. Mookie*

        Also, it redirects attention back to Jane. If Jane regularly refers to the LW in this fashion when the LW is not present (“go ask Ol’Was’Er’Name about those TPS Reports”), she is creating a kind of identity for the LW the LW has no control over, and their colleagues may grow accustomed to thinking of the LW like this. Whereas “introducing” herself to Jane reinforces for their colleagues that this is weird. Hopefully they then follow suit when the LW is not around and say “no, Jane, you mean [LW’s name].” We all know unflattering and unwanted work nicknames can stick unless nipped promptly.

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

      In college I was in a study group and one guy could just.not.remember my very common name but would keep calling me different almost rhyming alternates — like Wendy, Becky, Debbie, Jenny, Kelly… He seemed genuinely confused too when I would correct him. Don’t know what it was. He only did it to me. Most of the other people in the group had less common and I guess more memorable names. Maybe the OP is in a similar situation — her name is common and has many sound alike alternatives and Jane’s brain just can’t pick the right one.

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, after gently correcting her a few times or asking her if something’s amiss, there’s my favorite petty, passive-aggressive comeback: calling her by names that are not Jane. However, this approach should be deployed only if the other person is being a jerk, which seems unverified at this point (it would be cruel to do if the lack of recall were due to a medical or other issue).

    1. Maria Lopez*

      You can get around the appearing mean by calling her something close to her name, like Jean or Jen instead of Jane.

      1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        No, that still appears mean, because it is mean if you’re doing it deliberately. Please don’t do this.

    2. brushandfloss*

      That would be extremely petty and an unnecessary escalation. I don’t remember names but can recall people faces. I’m not doing it on purpose. I have patients that I’ve been seeing every three months for years and I can’t recall name but I instantly remember them when I call their name and see them. Eventually some names stick but some just don’t.
      The patients I do remember instantly are my PITA.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s why it’s only appropriate if the person is being a jerk. There’s a world in which Jane is bad at names, full stop, and a world in which she’s being malicious. It’s best for OP to assume good intent and that it’s not personal, unless there’s additional information that would lead OP to believe Jane is being deliberately careless or rude with OP.

        ***But*** if Jane is being malicious, then I vote whole-heartedly for calling her any number of names that are not hers, or conversely, loudly announcing that OP can’t remember Jane’s name.

        1. brushandfloss*

          But you wrote after a few gently reminders if she still doesn’t remember then it’s ok it to be petty. What I’m trying to get across is that for some people even after “gentle reminders” the name still won’t stick.

          1. PVR*

            But she also suggested directly asking if something is wrong. Jane could at that point say, oh I have the worst time with names, it takes years to learn them if I ever do! Or, I don’t know why I mix up your name, I’m so sorry! Or whatever may be going on.

      2. ijbouv*

        It’s not that she isn’t good at names. The only name Jane has a problem remember is the LW’s name. So Jane is not “bad at names”.

        1. Observer*

          That’s not necessarily true. There are a lot of potential non-jerk reasons why she doesn’t remember.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My go-to is, “I will be Not So NewReader today.” I say it with a little grin.

      For me the biggest problem is if I let it go on and on. I have to speak up the first time I hear it. It’s too awkward after they have called me Jane a few times.

    4. Jennifer*

      I’d go with “Sure, Jan,” Marcia Brady style. I’m getting a Mean Girls vibe from this whole thing. She can remember everyone’s name but yours. She’s not bad with names. You went out of your way to do her a favor, plus have reminded her of your name many times. This is shade, plain and simple.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      I can speak to this from the other side.

      The frog lab across the hall was clearly upset I kept forgetting their names. I was apologetic and explained it’s a problem I have with many people and nothing personal.

      Well the frog folks made this huge show of always saying my name wrong in any all staff meetings or other lab mixers.

      I … still don’t remember their names. One was John? Josh? J-something like that. But I and everyone else from that year spent a lot of time talking about how the frog people are bizzare and kind of jerks.

      So go on with your pa self but it may not have the desired results.

  9. GS*

    #1 – this is awfully extreme but I would totally do this. I actually still love the tiny 90s brows – I think the current youngsters obsession with huge painted on brows is so ugly! So why don’t you and your coworker give yourselves 90s eyebrows? The bladers response would be hilarious. You would have to really sell it – like tell her all her eyebrow talk really got you thinking, and don’t your eyebrows look great? Then direct her to this site:

    1. KitKat*

      Because not everyone wants to look like they took too much speed and sat in front of a mirror for two hours

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Eh, my mother’s brows look that way naturally. (Her side of the family is very hairless.) Mine were bushy. As a 90s teen, I plucked a lot. I think the plucked trend looked fine on teenagers (except the sperm brow shape–those were bad), but it’s ageing on middle-aged women. See the pic of Kate Middleton at the Elle link.

        I think the best thing is working with your natural shape and making small adjustments towards the trends. . .maybe you pluck a little (in the 90s) or fill a little now, but going to the extreme trends is too much maintenance.

      2. ACDC*

        And not everyone’s hair will grow back! Think about how many people we all know who still have thin eyebrows from the ’90s and early ’00s because it never grew back.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          +1 This was a trend (that I will never understand) when I was in college, and I have a number of friends with really sparse brows from plucking them into tiny lines for so long. No, thanks.

          God, I hope brown lip liner with no lipstick doesn’t come back, too.

        2. CanuckCat*

          My cousin actually just got her eyebrows microbladed for the first time because she plucked them down so much when she was in her teens in the 90s that they have stayed super skinny for all the years after and she finally got fed up.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      Agreed. It looks like a filter on Instagram, the way they do their eyebrows.

      I definitely like how eyebrows are natural now. Strong eyebrows like Brooke Shields has are back in, thankfully.

  10. voyager1*

    LW2: I have seen people disciplined for streaming stuff on work computers in two workplaces. Where I work now doesn’t seem to have an issue with it however. It isn’t hard to preplan this. I would never consider taking this up with management. They have told you by blocking stuff how they feel about it.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, it eats up a lot of bandwidth. Just go into iTunes and download some songs so they live locally on your phone.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes—this is definitely a solvable and plan-able problem that doesn’t merit escalation. It’s inconvenient, but it’s not a significant burden in the grand scheme of “really frustrating but necessary workplace policies.”

    3. Bilateralrope*

      It occurs to me that, had my workplace installed something on the site phone to block streaming sites/apps, one of my coworkers would still have his job. Instead, my employer got very angry when they saw the huge mobile data bill he had caused them. Then had to figure out which of the 4 of us sharing that phone was responsible.

    4. hbc*

      Yeah, I was thinking that it might be harmless to ask if music streaming could be opened up while video streaming continued to be blocked (given the different data usage), but there are just so many solutions to this problem that it’s not a good look. Download elsewhere, use your own data, actual radio, cheaper service, white noise recording…none of these are acceptable? It will seem a bit entitled to say, “Sorry, the only thing that lets me do work is if the company pays for my personal media consumption.”

      OP, I get that it’s difficult to step back from a convenience, but I think you just have to adjust.

  11. Princesa Zelda*

    Gosh, I see myself in OP4’s Jane. I have such a hard time remembering names, especially if there are multiple similar common names (eg, James/Jamie/Jameson/Jason, or Karen/Katherine/Carrie) or my brain has hit critical mass on People I Know Named Jessica. It’s really unlikely that she’s forgotten your name on purpose! I go to medium lengths to avoid using names if I’ve forgotten them, rather than announcing it every time I see the person, but I can see why Jane might be doing it if she’s a nervous chatter. It must be super annoying for you and I am sorry! I hope she figures out a trick to remember your name. If you think of one, feel free to tell her when you next speak to her (eg, “My name’s Princesa Zelda, like F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife.” Or, “It’s Cathryn with a C and a Y.”)

    1. Maria Lopez*

      I would believe that, except from the OP it seems that Jane remembers everyone else’s name but hers.

      1. Agnes*

        Sometimes you just get a block on a name. With my students, I’m good at names, except often there will be a pair of students who I can never correctly match to their names. Not intentional, and usually there’s something broadly similar about the two, but just one of those things.

      2. Princesa Zelda*

        When I started my current job, I basically got everyone’s names… except one, who I worked with every day, and I couldn’t figure out their name for months. She told me, other people talked about her, she *wore a name badge*, but I still couldn’t remember her name. I had hit my critical mass of People Named Veronica, and my brain was refusing to accept more entries. It took 5ish months for me to be sure enough that her name was Veronica and not Vanessa or Verona or Vera or Cathy (the name of another coworker with the same haircut). And I worked with her every day! I rather like her! So I am sympathetic to Jane because I’m like that, and it’s definitely a “me” thing for me, not some Mean Girls high school shenanigans.

        1. Delphine*

          But I’m sure you can understand how disrespectful it can feel that a person can remember everyone’s name but yours? Your reasoning may be legitimate, but from the other side, I’d have to assume that there’s some reason you can’t make an extra effort with my name–especially if I was wearing a name badge and you still couldn’t get it right.

          1. Princesa Zelda*

            Yes, I do understand that, but it’s also well out of my control. With Veronica, I work closely enough with her that I could replace sentences like “I’ll need to ask Veronica” with “I’ll go ask, be right back” or simply say “Good morning! How was your weekend” instead of “Good morning Veronica.” Jane sounds like that’s not the situation, that she doesn’t interact with OP very often, and that makes not knowing harder to obscure.

            Nobody’s telling OP that their emotions are invalid. We’re telling OP that it’s probably a “Jane’s brain is weird” thing, not some weird middle school popularity-contest shenanigans.

    2. Ashley*

      I had a hairdresser that I saw a number of times over about a 1 year period. His name was Chris. I know his name was Chris. But he looked almost identical to someone else I knew whose name was Mark. Every single time I saw him, my mind immediately went “Oh, it’s Mark!” I’m pretty sure one time I even called him Mark to his face by accident. I no longer see him, but whenever I think of him, I still think of him as “Mark! No… Chris.” I’m not like this with anyone else. It’s so bizarre!

      1. Maria Lopez*

        I worked with a Chris, but to me she looked like a Michelle. I know, but there you have it. I did tell her though, so that she would understand if I happened to call her Michelle I wasn’t losing my marbles.

    3. CarolineChickadee*

      I have a hard time remembering names from other cultures than mine. It’s easy enough for me to remember all the Jessicas and Brians I meet, but I have a harder time remembering Yoon-hee or Taekyung. I think it’s because I have to learn a new pronunciation and spelling in addition to remembering the name itself.

      However, I know it’s my responsibility to learn everyone’s name, so I spend extra time practicing unfamiliar names. Maybe OP’s co-worker is less self aware?

      1. ACDC*

        I’m with you Caroline. My dad instilled to me as a kid how important people’s names were to them, so I am very conscientious about learning people’s names. But I also recognize I am in the minority with this. Also, when I lived abroad and encountered someone with a name that was “foreign” to me, I would always have them spell it for me. Visualizing the spelling always seemed to help.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I went to a medical appointment for my daughter yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised that the doctor pronounced her name correctly the first time (after only reading it, I believe). Most English speakers pronounce it another common way, and I accepted that when we chose it, but we prefer how it’s pronounced in Spanish. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t believe that the doctor’s first language was either English or Spanish… and she has an unusual-to-English-speakers name as well, so maybe that factors into it. I bet she makes a point of pronouncing and spelling names correctly!

          1. Ophelia*

            I have a relatively unusual name, and I’m definitely more conscious of mispronunciation of others’ names…but honestly that doesn’t prevent me from forgetting names sometimes! (I once, in a moment that still baffles me, completely blanked on the name of my roommate–with whom I’d been living for YEARS–when introducing her to a friend. Thankfully, she thought it was hilarious.)

  12. Lucky black cat*

    #1 Is this really about the eyebrows or the friend? I feel like the fact it’s her friend doing it adds an extra dimension.

    1. Lisa*

      Yup that was my thought too. “By her friend” takes it out of “My boss has strong opinions about me modifying my body” territory and into “My boss is using the power dynamic to drum up clients for her friends.” Whole ‘nother level of nope.

    2. PollyQ*

      Hmm, now I’m wondering if boss makes a commission for referring people? Maybe not, probably wouldn’t be more than $50 a head, and that doesn’t seem like enough to be that much of a pest, but who knows?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Even if she is not getting commissions it still can be inappropriate to use one’s power/authority as a boss to help a friend’s business thrive.

        1. PollyQ*

          Absolutely, it’s 1000000% inappropriate regardless. But it’s also such a weird thing to be fixated on, I was just trying to figure out if there was some other reason she cared so dang much.

      2. Allypopx*

        I definitely got MLM vibes from the way the boss was acting and this would have a similar motivation.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I definitely think it’s more about the friend, which makes this more not okay.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yep, this was my immediate thought. Boss is trying to build business for her friend, and using employees as a captive, pressurable audience.

      This is hella inappropriate. If it keeps up for long, I might consider it something to talk to either Grandboss or HR about (depending on your workplace structure/culture) because of the power imbalance. Your boss should not be pressuring you to spend money on services performed by a personal friend of hers.

    5. Joielle*

      I think OP should get microblading done by someone other than the friend and watch the boss have to pretend to be happy about it. (And just to be clear, I’M KIDDING, I know OP doesn’t actually want it done, but it is funny to think about.)

    6. Okay*

      Yes, I read this as less about eyebrows and more about getting business for her friend. Also inappropriate, but a different issue.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      100% about the friend IMO. She probably doesn’t give a rat’s arse about what OP’s eyebrows look like, but her friend’s bottom line is another matter! Can you tell I’m very angry at OP’s boss right now?

    8. The Original K.*

      Yep, totally agree. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressure doesn’t stop with the microblading – Boss may have other friends who sell Thirty-One products or candles or whatever.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oooh, this. Or Boss is going to start selling them that crap herself, or pressuring her subordinates for loans (or “loans”) as has happened with previous AAM letters.

  13. Sleve McDichael*

    LW #4, my Mum has name issues, perhaps a little like your colleague.

    She is friends with a couple, Mel and Helen. If you say their names quickly it sounds a lot like ‘MelonHelen’, and they specifically request that people don’t call them that. My Mum was meeting them one day and as she went to greet them she was thinking ‘Don’t say MelonHelen, don’t say MelonHelen.’ Of course, when Helen greeted her she responded with an enthusiastic ‘HI MELON!’. Embarrassed, she turned to Helen’s husband and said ‘Oh, uh HI HELL!!!’.

    Also, she used to work with a man named Geoff Bradley, who she sometimes accidentally called Brad (which is bad enough). One day, she saw him approaching in the hallway and was thinking ‘Don’t say Hi Brad, don’t say Hi Brad.’.
    ‘Hello, Sleve’s Mum.’
    ‘Hi Grabley!!’

    Some people just struggle with certain names, and I can totally see my Mum loudly announcing to someone that she just CAN’T remember their name as a way to assuage her embarrassment and maybe hopefully inject a bit of humour into the situation. If your colleague doesn’t seem to be standoffish or dislike you, then I’d say it’s 100% about them and 0% about you. I hope that helps you see a funny side, dear letter writer.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      This. Further anecdata: I have two colleagues who look vaguely similar, one with the first name Steve and the other with the surname Irwin. Every time I see either of them, my brain insists that they are actually one person called Steve Irwin. (FTR, neither of them even slightly resembles Australian wildlife presenter Steve Irwin.) Every time I see either of them I have to buy time until I get past the “Steve Irwin! His name is Steve Irwin!” impulse in my brain.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      A trick that might help is to repeat what you do want to say instead of what you don’t – the repetition locks it in your mind, so if you keep repeating the unwanted name, it makes it more likely to stick. So instead of “don’t say Brad, don’t say Brad” repeat internally “say Geoff, say Geoff”.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that negative instruction can really backfire. I see why mom is having so much trouble.

      2. BadWolf*

        I had a remote coworker who was regularly calling me by a similar sounding coworker’s name. He got corrected by other people a couple times and I think got flustered and it got worse for awhile (I assume because he was trying to remember “Not BlueWolf, don’t call BadWolf, BlueWolf…”

    3. WellRed*

      I think Mel and Helen should just roll with it. No one’s mispronouncing their names and it’s kind of funny. Of course, “Hi Guys,” or “Hey, you two!” could also work.

    4. Tuppence*

      I’m REALLY having to suppress my guffaws at work reading this. I can totally picture the scene – and the mortified expression!

    5. Electric Mayhem*

      I’m sitting at my desk giggling uncontrollably at “HI MELON!” So glad I don’t have an open plan office.

  14. Borne*

    #1 Regarding eyebrow microblading, I found a spa page that shows and describes eyebrow microblading.

    Of course, they downplay the pain and discomfort, but the sample of someone’s eyebrows that had just been microbladed looks rather tender and painful.

    Perhaps the LW can just say that her eyes are very sensitive and she would not be able to endure having her eyebrows microbladed.

    1. Kendra*

      $450??? Good grief; that just makes it even grosser that the OP’s boss is trying to push them into this (not that her friend is necessarily charging the exact same price, but if that’s what’s considered “normal” for this…yikes. That could easily be a car payment, or a good-sized chunk of a month’s rent).

    2. MistOrMister*

      Or OP could point out that this is a tattoo and that they are not interested in tattooing their face, even if it’s not permanent. (Granted, if OP has a tattoo of a daisy in the midde of the forehead, that argument might not hold water.) Also, if the job isn’t done well, now OP might have 5 eyebrows and need to try to get the extras removed, which would potentially be costly.

      I am really flabbergasted that the boss is pushing this. I had to google microblading….I thought it was just the next trendy hair removal thing like threading. This is much more invasive and not at all something the boss should be pushing. And why can’t she fathom that this is something that a lot of people would be uncomfortable with and just drop it?? Weird.

    3. MicrobioChic*

      As Captain Awkward says. reasons are for reasonable people. If the OP brings up specific objections such as pain or cost, the boss is just going to try and use that as another opportunity to try and push it on her.

      She would be better off just shutting that line of conversation down.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I suspect this is a boss that will argue whatever rebuttal OP comes up with.
      I would however use the pain and discomfort to motivate ME to blurt out that hard NO. No how, no way, not ever, stop discussing it.

      1. Just Elle*

        I think, in this case, “Hard Pass” (and then walking away) would be an entirely reasonable response.

  15. frystavirki*

    I have trouble with faces too, to a possibly milder degree, OP3. I definitely have had issues with losing my dad in crowds (he wears similar clothing most of the time, but if he’s changed his clothes, which of the 65-year-old white dudes with white hair is he?) or one particular time a few years ago where I received a new college roommate, who was a complete stranger to my knowledge, and both of us were super confused — I didn’t recognize her but she thought I should have. Turns out I’d spent the last six months in a five-person class with her and the only difference was that she dressed differently and wore her hair differently out of class. I wish you luck in telling your coworkers and manager about it. Hopefully they’ll be understanding and you can go in to work more often if you want to!

    1. AGD*

      I did this too. I went to a concert in college where an acquaintance ran into someone and said she lived in the same dorm as I did. I brightly introduced myself to her. She looked at me and said, “I…sit across from you in media studies?” Which was a seminar with six students in it, and it was three months into the semester.

  16. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    OP #4, it sounds to me like the real issue is Jane announcing that she can’t remember your name. You can’t make her remember it, but you can say, “Jane, I know it’s hard for you to remember my name, but would you please stop bringing it up? You don’t need to use it often. If you recognize me as that person whose name you can’t remember, it’s fine to just not use a name for me—you can say ‘the person who handles the TPS reports’ or ‘the one with the blue-green hair’ or whatever you do remember. I won’t be bothered by that.”

    If you have a good rapport with her and feel comfortable doing this, you could try working with her to come up with a nickname she can use for you that’s work-appropriate and easier for her to remember. The downside of doing this is that it might become your work nickname that all your colleagues use. But the upside is that Jane will call you by the same name consistently, everyone will know who she means, and you’ll never have to talk about it again.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      This 100%. Even if Jane is not being a jerk and really has trouble with names, announcing every time is basically saying “Yeah I can’t remember your name and I’m not willing to even try to act like I remember it.” Which is a little insensitive.

    2. Lana Kane*

      Yes, this is where I’m landing too. Having a problem remembering? Fine, it happens to a lot of people. Announcing it every time? This makes things awkward and messages that it’s just not important enough to remember (even if it’s not true – it’s how it comes across).


    #2 — it’s annoying and a bit weird that they would do that, but I’ve always considered it my company’s prerogative what to allow me to do with their resources. I’ve been lucky enough never to work anywhere that had such a draconian internet use policy, but if I did I would just use my personal phone’s data plan for such things, or (as Alison suggested) download things in advance — hardly that much of an imposition. I think there’s a reasonable case to be made that at least audio streaming can have productivity and morale benefits for the company’s workers that would benefit them too, but if they don’t see it that way, I don’t think you have room to complain.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      +1 I made a ticket for IT to update my browsers so I could use Spotify. But I’m also millennial trash who constantly needs streaming music. I think it’s a bit rude of the company to not warn people. I pay for Spotify premium but if I had a different music service I’d be annoyed I couldn’t stream from it when I bought it mainly for work. Data is expensive!!

      IMO if the company makes makes you woken in an open plan office, the company should pay for noise-canceling headphones and enough damn WiFi that you can stream.

      1. Colette*

        Data is expensive for the company, too. In my career, I’ve worked maybe one place that allowed you to connect to the wifi (I’m not sure I could, but it was a small company so it’s possible). Millions of people manage to get by without streaming on the work network.

        1. Mr. Tyzik*

          I work somewhere with six-figures of employees, and another five-figures of vendors. We have streaming and podcasts blocked. Imagine the data costs! The only exception is YouTube for business videos.

          Even on AAM, I can’t listen to the podcasts from work. The embeds are blocked.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Which of the six-figure employees did you want to fire so you can stream your music on the company dime?

            1. Mr. Tyzik*

              I’m sorry? I didn’t say anything about getting rid of anyone. Just imagining the data costs to support streaming for ~400K people. Maybe I missed something?

              I stream music and podcasts from my phone and listen to those when not on conference calls. I use Spotify and Stitcher.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Sorry – that was entirely a reading comprehension fail on my part! Definitely needed a second cup of coffee this morning. Sorry about that!

      2. CheeryO*

        I don’t understand this at all. I’m a fellow millennial and Spotify user, and I listen at work in offline mode. I download stuff once on my WiFi at home, and all of the playlists that I follow automatically update when I’m on WiFi at home. It takes no effort whatsoever.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Why is it weird? You’re at work to WORK. Streaming music is not part of your work. Maybe there are so many people streaming that it’s taking up too much bandwidth. It’s a minor inconvenience and not something to push back on.

      1. annony*

        There is also the option of using data on the phone plan instead of wifi. It might be worth looking into how much data it would use and whether upping the data plan is worth it. There are some plans that have free music streaming for certain apps (I don’t remember which). For the longest time I just went old school and downloaded music and audiobooks to my iPod. I switched this year because I got on an unlimited plan.

      2. knead me seymour*

        Personally, I find it much easier to concentrate on a boring work task if I’m listening to music. Particularly (as with the LW) if the music is drowning out distracting ambient noise. So maybe some people were just watching movies at work all day, but I imagine that at least for some people, it’s an aid to productivity. It feels pretty draconian to me to insist that workers must sit silently at their desks thinking of nothing but spreadsheets for eight hours straight to be optimally productive. For many of us, that’s just not how our brains work.

        That being said, I don’t think it’s a terrible imposition to ask people to download music rather than stream it, but I am a bit of a luddite.

  18. MistOrMister*

    OP2 another option is an MP3 player. I never did get into streaming on my phone as I prefer keeping my devices separate. I haven’t looked into pricing lately, but I assume you can find an MP3 player that’s not too expensive and could store whatever you wanted there. It’s got the added plus of not taking up any storage space on your phone. Of course, I realize many people are rabidly anti-separate device, but it’s an option.

    1. MarsJenkar*

      Alternatively, if you have a smartphone and don’t want another device to mess with, see if you can add a microSD to the phone and store music on that.

      1. MistOrMister*

        That’s a good suggestion! Given that most people really don’t seem to want to carry multiple devices that would work well. Plus, if you end up somewhere other than work with no internet acess, you already have a bunch of stuff saved.

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, I think the mp3 player I have is less than $20. I wanted something cheap enough that I could leave it lying around places and not worry about it being stolen. Paired with cheap headphones, it’s less than $30 of stuff that’s easy to replace, so I don’t have to worry about whether it’ll disappear if I leave it on a table and wander off for a bit.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’ve got the ipod classic which cost me a hundred or two last time I needed a replacement. I used to have a sandisk as well but i have no idea where that one went. Since most people don’t tend to want a separate music player, I’m not usually too worried about the ipod getting stolen….people are more likely to stare like I have 3 heads when they realize what it is. I also do the cheapie headphones. More for comfort – I hate earbuds and the big noise canceling headphones make my ears hurt.

  19. Ludo*

    4-if I was in your situation every time I saw her I would just say “hi Jane! It’s me, Dick”

    Just beat her to it

  20. Jules the First*

    I have aphantasia rather than full blown prosopagnosia, but I’m upfront about it and people are very understanding. I do end up fielding a lot of questions about how it works and what it’s like, but most people are pretty understanding. My company has a seating directory so I can look someone up by where they were, and a couple of my coworkers who sit nearby are good about piping up to identify the people who come past my desk too quickly for me to recognise. Mostly I just ask people to remind me who they are until I’ve got the hang of their voice (although we’ve got two guys in our department that I literally cannot tell apart, even after three years, so…)…I’ll say something like “could you just remind me your name, because I’m face blind and I often get this wrong”

    1. MistOrMister*

      I am afraid I would be that coworker asking a bunch of logistical questions. Face blindness is something that doesn’t seem to come up much and it is quite intriguing. Although, living with it, you probably don’t feel the same way.

      Don’t feel about about the co-workers you can’t tell apart. I have 2 that look nothing alike, their names are nothing alike, and I have no issues remembering faces, and yet I still get them confused all the time! Whenever I see one of them I have a 50% chance of mis-identifying them. It is absurd. Sometimes I think our brains just refuse to cooperate in certain instances, no matter what we do.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Aphantasics unite. I work from home, so it doesn’t come up often but when it does it’s like everybody on my 28 person team all runs together. I always preface in-person meetings with “I have no visual memory, which makes me terrible at matching faces to names, I apologize in advance and please don’t take it personally.” Then I find my boss and wait for everyone else to come find us. :-P

      (And I LOVE talking about aphantasia. People usually have really entertaining reactions – I described it to a friend’s colorblind husband once, and he was quiet for a minute and replied “man, you can keep purple, at least I have mental images.”

      1. Jules the First*

        I love the way the colour purple sounds. He can keep his boringly literal mental movies :)

        Do you dream in sounds or in feelings? (Most aphantasics I’ve met do one or the other – I dream in sound and have always thought that getting pictures must be terribly limiting)

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      I had no idea aphantasia was a thing.

      I can recognize people no problem, but I can’t actually think of people and ‘see’ their faces.

    4. Close Bracket*

      “Rather than?” I didn’t know they were connected. Face blindness is very specific to remembering faces, not to picturing them. Aphantasia is the inability to picture *anything*, not just faces.

      1. Jules the First*

        Yes, but if you can’t picture a face, it’s impossible to form a visual memory of the face, so recognising people takes longer. I’m not face blind in the sense that I can’t recognise people close to me (I can identify family and close friends and partners pretty reliably, though all bets are off if they get radical haircuts or fashion makeovers), but it takes a long time to make an entry in my memory when it’s related to a visual cue. I also can’t recognise people in photographs unless they are stood next to me because I have nothing to compare the image to…

        Basically, aphantasics are facially impaired rather than face blind – we display some of the behaviours associated with faceblindness (inability to consistently identify people by their faces or visual cues), but others that aren’t (we sometimes struggle to identify facial expressions, or we can, with practice, reliably identify faces belonging to our nearest and dearest).

        1. Close Bracket*

          But that would be true with everything — houses, horses, cars. I get what you are saying that not being able to picture something makes visual memory tough, but I still don’t see why you would have more trouble telling about two people apart than, say, two cars of the same model but different trim packages, or two orange and white tabbies. Are you sure you don’t have both conditions?

      2. kali*

        I don’t think they are connected- and it’s definitely not true that prosopagnosia is a more developed form of aphantasia (though from the comments here, I guess aphantasia does interfere with the ability to remember faces as well?).

        I have a very vibrant visual memory generally, but it is true that I can’t see faces in my “mind’s eye” as I do other things. I can pull up images of small parts of peoples’ faces, but not the face entirely.

  21. MistOrMister*

    OP3, i sounds like you are having a good rapport with many of your coworkers, but I have to assume at least some of them are baffled by you seemingly running hot and cold with them. And it also sounds like you’re experiencing some unneeded isolation because of your condition. At the very least, please tell your boss and team members. I bet it will give a lot of people an “ah-ha!!!” moment as they realize that time you didnt speak to them in the hall for 3 days wasn’t you being rude. I cannot imagine they will react in any way other than to try to be helpful. Honestly, if you were comfortable with it, I would say even a firmwide announcement could be helpful. I could understand if you didn’t want to go that far though. But at least filling in your team would help you be more comfortable there and you’d have people who could advocate for you. We’ve all had someone tell us about THAT person who is always so rude to them,in the hallway, and in your case, your teammates could point out that, no you aren’t rude, you literally do not recognize this person! Also, there is nothing at all wrong with telling people as you meet them at lunch or whereever. No one who is not a flaming jerk is going to hold this against you in any way.

    I had a deaf coworker once. I was completely unaware of deafness and thought he was just rude as heck to always ignore me when I’d say hi in the hallway. When he transferred to my team it was announced to us that he was deaf. Turned out he was one of the nicest people in that office and we got along great.

    Just knowing what is going on really can help and a lot of people will be in your corner.

    1. April*

      I am HOH and the first year I had my job one of our very soft spoken members thought I was a total b*tch because she was saying good morning to me and I walked right past her oblivious. Finally one of my coworkers happened to be with me and said “you know she can’t hear you, right?” or some variation and after that we got along great. And it was a good lesson for me because now when I walk down the hall every day when getting to work I say good morning to everyone myself so I’m making eye contact.

      1. MistOrMister*

        Yeah, for me, I do not do well when people say something to me as they’re passing by. Some people are loud enough amd obvious enough about it that I catch it. But at lot of them, by the time I realize I’ve heard something, they’re 10 miles away. I likely have offended plenty of people by supposedly ignoring them. Also, anyone who talks to the back of my head… I’m not going to register that it’s directed at me and won’t respond. And then some people do get mad and it’s like why are you mad that I didn’t realize that breeze on my scalp was you telling me about your weekend? Ha!

        1. Project Manager*

          Yeah, one of the benefits of cochlear implants is that now I know people are talking to me in the hall. I didn’t even know that was a thing people did at all (I certainly didn’t do it myself) until these last couple of years. If it didn’t happen in the cone of my field of vision, I didn’t know about it. I have no idea how many people I’ve apparently ignored over the years.

          1. MistOrMister*

            I always get a kick of out how people freakout when I get startled if I don’t realize they’re near me. Doesn’t matter whether or not I hear them coming, if I look over and see someone I’m not expecting I will yell out GAAAAAHHH and flail comically every time. Sometimes they tell me they were talking to me and I say yes I heard you but you weren’t where I could see you so I had you playing as background noise.

            And then I think I also seem like I am ignoring people because my brain and mouth are not connected when I see someone in passing. They say hi, I HEAR them say it, but I cannot respond quickly enough while walking to say hi back. I just smile and hope they realize my brain is too slow to walk and talk at the same time!

      2. JustaTech*

        I’ve had this happen at my work even without hearing challenges. Many people on my floor tend towards shy and so don’t make a lot of eye contact in the hallway (or they’re thinking and looking at the floor).
        One newer coworker decided that several people didn’t like her because they didn’t make eye contact in the hall.
        “*I* don’t make eye contact with most people in the hall.”

    2. Carlie*

      This was a story on the British game show Would I Lie to You recently! The guest, Chris McCausland, is blind and got a new neighbor who was deaf. They spent weeks thinking the other was rude for not replying to their wave/hi until they figured out what was going on.

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        Just quick OT note, I absolutely love Would I Lie To You. One of my favorite panel shows. I wish BritBox would add all the older seasons. But they just added couple of seasons of 8 out of 10 cats does countdown and couple of new episodes of QI and Mock the Week so I am little less sad about that. If anyone wants to meet up in the weekend open thread and discuss British TV, I’d be so happy :)

  22. Diamond*

    Definitely tell them about the face-blindness! If I was your co-worker I would totally want to know, both so I could make it better for you and so I wouldn’t have to wonder if you just didn’t like me. It’s such a helpful thing to know. And it’s very easy for people to just mention who they are when they see you. But they won’t know to do that unless you tell them!

  23. Mx*

    “Perhaps the LW can just say that her eyes are very sensitive and she would not be able to endure having her eyebrows microbladed.”

    I don’t think OP should justify why she wouldn’t do it as we never know if the manager could find a counterargument.
    Simply saying she won’t do it sounds enough.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Yes, with pushy people you need to just shut it down. Some people like talking others into things and apparently don’t realize that it’s inappropriate. The boss and her friend might move on to something less physically invasive, such as nail product MLMs, and start pushing them.
      Men can be pushy too, but usually not with personal-care products. Unlikely to hear: “Hey, Fergus, my buddy markets this great aftershave. Here, try a sample! We’re having a guy’s day at my place Saturday to check it out. You should come!”

    1. April*

      I do, but as noted above it’s largely because I a. have a 7 minute commute to work b. have no wi/fi and no access to streaming sites at work. If I did I’m sure my habits would’ve gotten with these modern times.

    2. Renata Ricotta*

      Frankly … no, not many :) when unlimited steaming of nearly anything, plus downloading as much as you want, costs less per month than the price of an album, it’s hard to justify the cost!

      OP, planning ahead is annoying, but just think about it like getting ready for a plane ride. 5-10 minutes of work saves you a lot of hassle and there are a lot of free options. And although I know you’d rather not spend anything, <$10/month for a steaming service like Spotify is probably long term more cost effective than being known as “the one who put in a bunch of effort and used a bunch of political capital to spearhead a campaign against the office steaming policy.”

    3. Lynn Whitehat*

      Same. I want to listen to what I want to listen to, without worrying that I will lose access to it due to some dumb licensing stuff. I also have somewhat limited data and spend a good bit of time away from WiFi. Commuting, running, kids’ activities, etc. So I always have a decent number of songs stored on my phone. I’m surprised it’s so rare.

      1. Cat*

        This. I feel it’s more of a “I want to own my media” thing than a “back in my day” age thing. ;-)

      2. Sara without an H*

        +1. Given how content cycles on and off streaming services, I’ve decided that if I listen to something three times, it’s probably worth buying.

    4. MsSolo*

      I do, and put it all on my little MP3 player because I’m too cheap to either pay for enough data to stream on my phone or a phone with enough storage for my music collection

      The world is moving more and more towards temporary licenses and streaming (even when you buy a digital album/film/book, the T&C usually mean it can be removed remotely from your device if the retailer deems it necessary), and it’s great for trying things out, but I do prefer the guarantee that what I want is available to me when I want it, allowing for some physical media degradation over the years. We have a 300+ DVD hoard that’s 90% things you can’t stream, and though I’m sure most of our albums are available on spotify there’s a lot of bands and labels that are long gone we can still enjoy.

      And hey, the bands get more money from my buying the album than they do from me streaming it!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I am Old Millennial and also buy music! I hate things getting removed remotely and don’t want to have to worry about that. Also, I like making my own playlists of lots of rather odd and obscure stuff that probably wouldn’t all be on the same streaming service.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’m also an older millennial and buy my music. I still like about 75% of the stuff I listened to in high school, and more like 90% of what I listened to in college and more recently, so it makes sense to keep buying stuff since it’ll probably be the stuff I still want to listen to 20 more years down the road and I want it at my fingertips when I get a specific song stuck halfway in my head. Plus, it does a better job of supporting the musicians I like and, in some cases, the specific specialty vendors I buy music from when I’m not buying directly from the musicians.

          Plus, I enjoy how little data on my music preferences is floating around out there, since I’m doing most of my listening on devices that couldn’t talk to the internet if I wanted them to. No one but me and anyone hiding in my air vents knows just how many times I’ve listened to Barrett’s Privateers this month, and that’s the way I like it.

    5. Asenath*

      I buy music. I like owning it, I often like music that is old or unusual or otherwise hard to find, and I’ve never found a streaming service that plays a lot of music I like. I gave up listening to radio when I moved into a building with poor reception – yes, I could get the same stations on my TV, but by then the only time I usually listened to the radio was the period between the time my radio alarm clock went off and the time I turned it off. I think I did try an MP3 player, a cheap little model, years ago and found it very limiting. I also can’t fit a suitably large range of music on my phone, although there’s some there. So my solution was to install my favourite media player (Media Monkey) at home, on my phone and at work (fortunately our IT were OK with this, and the following steps). I bought a new portable hard disk so I had one that wasn’t already filled with backups and whatnot. Rip all my music to MP3 files, sort them all out nicely with, and copy them all to my portable drive. Do the same with any new music (or buy and download it electronically in the first place). Or with random strokes of luck like finding a second-hand CD by a long-gone and very obscure local performer to buy. Bring said disk to work and plug it into my work computer, and listen through headphones. Sometimes I listen to random selections from all my music, sometimes I listen to one of the playlists I’ve set up and sometimes I listen to a particular performer’s music. I rarely stream anything outside of home or work (and stream very little at work) because at home I have wifi with my home service, but on my phone if I run out of data, which happens occasionally, and have no access to free wifi, I have to pay extra. It’s usually not much, but I got caught out once when I thought an audio book from the library was streaming on my home wifi and instead it was using up my phone data very rapidly. I don’t particularly want a larger (and much more expensive) phone package, since mostly my methods work just fine.

    6. Violet Fox*

      It’s not so common anymore with streaming services, combined with things like Spotify’s free version. For people who listen to a lot of music, or a lot of variety depending on mood, activity, etc — streaming can be a lot, and I mean a lot cheaper. Granted I use Apple Music, which lets you download all the things for offline listening but that does actually cost me money every month.

      The funny thing is that where I work, we actually prefer people stream rather than that people download things, because downloaded things inevitably end up clogging up our storage, either on local machines or central home directories, which is more of a headache than the bandwidth from streaming. Our rule is more that people in shared offices don’t get speakers for their computers and have to use headphones if they want to listen to things. People in their own offices can get our cheap speakers, or bring their own better or headphones.

      Honestly I would also worry that the filters meant to block Netflix at work are also unintentionally blocking things people need for work, or that would be at least useful for work.

    7. Susie Q*

      Amazon Music is 7.99$ per month to nearly unlimited songs. If I were to buy, I could get 7-8 songs for that price.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*


        I consume a lot of music, about 10+ new songs a month. Why pay for each one individually?

        1. Asenath*

          Because if you like them you can keep them without losing them if you or the company changes. But for me the main barrier to streaming music is that the services I’ve taken a free trial on never seem to have the kinds of music I much like – and when I do find something I like elsewhere, I have more flexibility in its use if I own it.

    8. Alfonzo Mango*

      I only buy physical copies of music, not digital. They tend to come with digital versions anyway.

      Otherwise I just stream.

    9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m not paying a monthly fee to listen to music that I don’t own. So yes I will always and forever buy music. What others don’t seem to understand is that you’re at work to do your job – it’s not you’re company’s job to provide you with entertainment while you’re there. #getoffmylawn

    10. Tinker*

      I just buy music when I’m interested in that music specifically. When I want music to be playing in the genre of trance or maybe Goa, which tends to be the case when I’m doing certain sorts of work, it’s more convenient to stream.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I buy Spotify Premium so technically, yes I’m paying. It has all my bands and genres that I like. Considering the fact I lost a huge amount of cds when I totaled my car, it’s nice to just download them on my phone.

      And I literally listened to cassettes until my car went smash.

      Even this old cleaned up crust punk evolved. But it used to take days to download on Napster back in that day so I never did that. So I’ve always purchased music in some fashion.

    12. SomebodyElse*

      lol… I’ll share my story with you if you want company.

      My husband just bought us Lumineers tickets, he bought the fancy VIP ones that include the album… he had the choice of format and inexplicably picked the CD option. I laughed and told him that I was old enough because I prefer to buy/download the album, but he was ancient for choosing the CD option (we’re in our 40’s).

    13. QuinleyThorne*

      I used to pre-download all my music to my phone, and while it’s not a lot of pre-planning, it does take up a considerable amount of space on your phone after awhile. I finally just bit the bullet and got Spotify premium, and to me it was worth it. While they don’t have a whole lot in the way of podcasts (Highly recommend Pocketcast for that, 1x payment of $4.99 and access to pretty much any podcast you can think of!), there’s very little they don’t have in terms of music, and I have some singularly obscure tastes.

      The only issue I’ve had with Spotify is it’s hard to stream artists that aren’t known outside their country of origin. Spotify has Susumu Hirasawa’s ENTIRE discography, as well as his work with P-MODEL, but the only the Paprika soundtrack is available to stream in the US. If I wanted to access it, I’d either have to cancel my current subscription, change my country in the settings, and then re-subscribe, or open a separate account and pay for another separate subscription.

          1. Quill*

            Problem is when you skip the outro ads because if you hear an ad for the Ron Burgundy show ONE MORE TIME…

    14. Quill*

      Not really, I prefer to buy my games with my entertainment budget and only buy books or music when I know I’ll use them. (I do the library for books, mostly: can’t be bothered subscribing to any sort of service, want to be able to kill bugs with the book.)

      It’s actually pretty hard to get your hands on newly produced music without going through DRM of some kind that I don’t want to bother with. Gone are the days of just uninstalling itunes and forcing the files through windows media player so you could burn them to your own CDs.

      So my CD collection is mostly indie stuff or things bought before 2010. Without streaming I wouldn’t be listening to new music pretty much ever.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Not sure what you mean by DRM, so maybe this doesn’t help at all, but you can burn from iTunes onto CDs.

        I usually download songs/albums from iTunes and burn to CD as needed since my car has a CD player. If I’m just listening to someone casually, I might stream. But if I want to support the artists (like you mentioned, indie stuff) then I will purchase their CD from their website. Streaming and even iTunes and such doesn’t pay a lot of money to the artists.

    15. ArtK*

      Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are buying music. Which is great for convenience and for the streaming companies. It’s horrible for artists. Because of the way contracts have been written in the past, artists are getting a tiny, tiny fraction of what they get for a sold recording. This is why musicians who do movie and TV work have started #BandTogether, to demand better contracts.

      I will always buy my music because I have too many friends whose livelihoods are at risk because of the streaming companies.

    16. Eirene*

      I borrow CDs from the library and rip them onto my computer with iTunes so I can put the music on my still-functioning iPod! I like not worrying about licenses being pulled suddenly or having my phone battery drain faster by using it for streaming.

    17. Glorfindel*

      I still buy music! Either I buy it digitally from iTunes/Bandcamp or I buy CDs (yep, in 2019) and copy them to my phone via iTunes. I have several thousand songs on my phone :) Partly it means I never have to worry about data or internet connections, or whether something I want to listen to will disappear off the streaming site, but mostly because streaming sites are a really terrible deal for artists! Similar to why I never used Limewire back in the day, I figure if I like an artist enough to listen to them, then I like them enough to support them :) For reference, I’m in my mid-twenties so I don’t think it’s a generation thing!

    1. TechWorker*

      I also use my own data, which I pay for ;) but I don’t think ‘most plans now have unlimited data’ is true – plenty of people are still on cheaper, restricted plans. (Might depend who you hang out with :p)

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        Also, the unlimited data thing is sometimes ,well not quite ….. it is actually limiting. I have unlimited data with my plan with 2GB of fast and then it slows down. So while technically I still have data, it is so slow it’s pretty much useless. I got this plan mainly because of travel – no roaming, no other fees, you basically use your phone the same as you go, so no more carrying different SIM cards and switching around :)

      2. Natalie*

        In the US at least, the “unlimited” plans are actually not, anyway – once you hit a cap somewhere between 20-50 gb depending on the carrier, you’re throttled so extremely that you functionally do not have data. (AT&T just paid a fine for this, essentially for misleading advertising.) I suspect it’s the complete opposite – almost no one has an unlimited plan unless they’ve held on to their genuinely unlimited plan for the last 10-15 years.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t know about this- I have five phones on my unlimited plan, and although I won’t say the speed doesn’t slow down ( it absolutely might – every time I look at my account there’s a message that say after some amount of data use, speeds may slow down during times of heavy usage) it does not slow down so much that I would say I functionally don’t have data. It might be different if we did a lot of streaming on the phones, but we don’t.

          1. Natalie*

            The throttling is generally based on overall network traffic, not your individual traffic, so you may just be lucky to be in an area where your carrier’s traffic isn’t that high. AT&T was throttling people down to as low as 128-256kbps in some markets, which is ludicrously low. (And AFAIK they still do, they’re just more upfront about it.)

    2. Vet Student*

      There’s a regional affect of that too – most plans most certainly do not have unlimited data in Canada.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lots of people don’t. I learned this myself not so long ago. I never hook up to wifi but every few months someone asks me for the wifi password that I don’t know. (It’s one thing I keep meaning to obtain and forget to do only because it’s so unimportant my brain tags it as.

  24. nutella fitzgerald*

    Microbladed eyebrows almost always look like when Elaine drew in Uncle Leo’s eyebrows. Just me?

    1. jiminy_cricket*

      Just you. As said in another thread, there are many reasons people may elect for microblading (including cancer-related hair loss, for one) and there are a wide range of practitioners — just like with traditional tattooing. Something not being to our personal taste does not make it laughable.

  25. HannahS*

    OP1, there is, unfortunately, nothing as disconcerting as a woman who cheerfully likes herself. “Thanks, but I like my eyebrows the way they are!” “I’m happy with my weight, actually!” “Oh, I like my teeth, thanks.” If you’re not comfortable with head-on conflict, being visibly happy with yourself is its own weapon. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

    1. Joielle*

      This! Not a lot of people are rude enough to reply with “Well I think there’s something wrong with you.” Of course, this boss clearly has boundary issues, so it’s possible she would do that, but still a good tactic.

      Maybe OP could try “My new year’s resolution is to like myself just the way I am!” and then, as a bonus, she gets to stop engaging in any and all appearance-related negativity at work.

  26. Fikly*

    OP4: The next time she announces that she can’t remember your name, can you ask her if there’s a reason why? And then follow up with, is there something I can do to help you remember?

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      Yes! I sometimes have problems with particular people’s names and don’t even know why. (Or, worse still, my brain decides that that person “looks like a Ruth” but I know her name isn’t Ruth, and the Ruth/not Ruth thing keeps me from remembering that her name is Naomi.) It could be that she is so distracted and anxious about her inability to remember your name that it keeps her from figuring out strategies for how to remember. So addressing the problem directly may lead to a solution (and some relief).

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        For the first six months of my acquaintance with someone who became a good friend, I called her Sarah. Her name is Kim. I do have some problems with nouns, esp proper nouns, overall (as do my sister, dad, and dad’s mom, so we think it’s a wiring issue), but that was definitely the worst.

  27. Mookie*

    But someone deliberately not retaining your name in order to signal “I do not find you important” would be pretty unusual.

    Disagree with Alison a bit, re LW 4. For me, Jane regularly announcing she can never remember the LW’s name while the rest of the team is around strikes me as a touch performative, particularly if the tone is not apologetic or puzzled. It is, in fact, strange to default to different names each and every time rather than the same, incorrect one when getting it wrong happens this frequently. Also, “I can never remember you lol” can have a celebratory feel to it—like when people feigning self-deprecation confess to a weakness they’re actually proud of—even and often unintentionally, so I understand the LW’s feelings of being undermined or otherwise labelled as unimportant or unremarkable.

    1. MistOrMister*

      That strikes me too, that Jane is constantly using various wrong names AND announcing that she can never remember OP’s name. It would be one thing if she was consistently using the same wrong name (I once called a girl the wrong name for a full 2 weeks at camp b/c she reminded me very strongly of someone by that name at home. I didn’t mean to be rude but I just could not keep her name right in my head. But I only called her one wrong name, not multiple ones!). The fact that it’s a different name every time makes it incredibly weird. Plus, WHY is she always announcing that she has forgotten? At the very least it comes off as a play for attention. It doesn’t sound like she is having an honest block with this. In that case I would expect her to apologize and ask to be reminded of OPs name. But, I would not be comfortable telling someone every time that I have forgotten their name. It seems to me that more normal behavior would be to go to someone else on the team and discreetly ask for a reminder about OP’s name. The whole thing just seems fishy to me and makes me wonder how OPs relationship with this coworker is otherwise. And, really, the boss asked OP to help Jane after surgery when Jane cannot even remember their name and seems to take delight in telling them so? Pshaw! Boss should have sent someone else. I guess my petty is showing, but I very well might not have been willing to do it. Of course, if I had been Jane, I would have scheduled one of those medical transport companies rather than asking a non-family member to pick me up so I might just be projecting with that one.

      1. Platypus Enthusiast*

        I think that combination of using different names and announcing it is odd to me. I may be too sensitive about this because I was in a position where multiple employees I worked with refused to learn my name, because it “was too hard”, or “not worth it”, and that I “had one of those names”. If you don’t remember someone’s name, there are ways around it, like just not using OP’s name when talking to her, but still being polite/friendly. It also doesn’t sound like she’s apologizing for her forgetfulness, it’s just announcing that she can’t remember OP’s name. I completely understand blanking on someone’s name or being bad with names in general, but usually, people are in some way apologetic for that.

        1. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

          Yeah, it’s hard especially if you have a name that other people find “difficult”, because the level of perceived difficulty often seems to be tied to internal prejudices. My spouse has a name that people in their (predominantly white and middle-to-upper-class) work environment often read as being “lower class”, and it’s amazing the contortions that those people will go through to avoid actually using their name. When it happens so consistently, it really puts a bad taste in your mouth.

          1. Platypus Enthusiast*

            I’m sorry about your husband having to deal with that- the lengths people will go to avoid the effort to using someone’s name are frankly unbelievable. What really irritated me about my situation was the need to tell me they couldn’t/wouldn’t pronounce my name. Instead of saying “could you do XYZ”, they would say my name wrong, and get angry when I corrected them and tell me my name is too hard? What bothered me the most was the constant need to remind me that they couldn’t say my name. I have no idea if this is the case in OP’s situation, but I can imagine that either way, interacting with Jane has been incredibly frustrating.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, I am wondering if OP4 has a name of a different ethnicity from Jane’s or some such. Unfortunately a lot of people refuse to learn “foreign” names, even if they actually should be really easy. I know someone who’s been told her last name is too “difficult” for English-speaking Americans, and that name is… Patel. *all the eyerolls*

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        > The fact that it’s a different name every time makes it incredibly weird.

        It’s reminding me of Bewitched, where Samantha’s mother could not be bothered to say Samantha’s husband’s name right. Anything that started with “D” was as close as she’d get, and yes, it was hostility being played for a joke in that show.

      3. Bertha*

        The fact that she cannot remember her name *after she drove her home from a surgical procedure* is what kills me. I’d be.. quite annoyed if someone couldn’t remember my name after that.. maybe I’d be okay with that part, but calling me by a different name? After doing that person a major favor? I’d think it was a little personal as well, unless the person gave me the reason why they kept getting stuck.

    2. blackcat*

      Yeah, it seems odd. Maybe Jane is embarrassed about the entire situation and wants to distance herself from LW?

    3. Blue*

      Especially because it sounds like Jane is capable of remembering other people’s names. A lot of folks (including Alison) are making it sound like this is just a problem Jane may have and not to take it personally, but OP says she seems fine with everyone else in the office; it’s just OP she can’t remember. I can definitely understand why OP would feel a bit targeted, especially because Jane keeps making a show of not remembering her name.

      I saw someone recommend asking Jane why it was that she struggled with OP’s name and whether there was anything OP could do to help her remember it. Practically speaking, I think that’s OP’s best option right now, and it works regardless of whether this is OP-specific or a general Jane thing.

      Alternatively, next time Jane announces that she can’t remember OP’s name, I’d say something like, “Jane, I understand if you struggle with my name, but I’d honestly prefer that you just not address me by name instead of guessing or asking about it every time. It’ll save us both some time, and as long as I know you’re talking to me, it’s fine.” (That may just be me, though. I’m not offended if you don’t remember my name but I could live without the embarrassment of you stressing that I (and, specifically, only I) am not remarkable enough to remember!)

      1. Quill*

        I think that without some demographic information we really can’t tell if Jane is just awkwardly covering up her own memory blip or if it’s more likely to be deliberate.

        1. Sparrow*

          Ah, this is a fair point. I imagine OP would’ve mentioned if she thought there was something like that at play, but it’s certainly possible.

          1. Quill*

            Growing up with an unusual name, I noticed a huge difference between how people forgot *my* name and how people forgot the names of girls of color. Yeah, there were people who did it semi on purpose to me too, but it was a completely different format from “Oh, I keep calling Quill ‘Quilt’ because that’s slightly more common and I refuse to be flexible about names.” It wasn’t just authoritarian, it was also malicious and dogwhistle signaling “them other people with their weird names, am I right??”

      2. Budgie Buddy*

        The fact Jane only seems to have this problem with OP’s name stands out to me as well. This and the performative aspect make the behavior seem more targeted. It would be the same situation if she were always late when she needed to meet with OP and yet impeccably punctual with everyone else. “Some people just that way” doesn’t really address the situation as described.

  28. nnn*

    Being from the Napster generation, it’s so interesting to me the extent to which culture has shifted away from collecting your own music, to the extent that people are stuck without music when they don’t have connectivity. I never would have seen that coming!

    1. amanda_cake*

      I understand this. I often feel that I am an anomaly as I still purchase and download music. I also have a large collection of podcasts that I subscribe to and have downloaded on my phone. I buy an iPhone with larger amounts of storage space so that I can have all of these things saved.

      I live in a rural area with poor signal and we haven’t gotten unlimited data on our cellphone plan. I can’t stream even if I wanted to and had unlimited data.

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        I actually bought iPod touch second gen on eBay for $25 for when I am out and about simply because of the battery life. The six gen battery just absolutely sucks and iPhone meh, it’s OK but I still prefer to use the pod for music. I have there about 500 songs, some bought online but mostly just transferred from cd’s to iTunes. While coverage is pretty good there are still places that don’t have signal or the signal is iffy (trains etc) so I like to have downloaded content with me.

        1. Goldfinch*

          My husband’s 120 GB iPod just died, and I have no idea what to do to replace it. Nothing comes close on storage, and even that was too small for his tastes. We don’t do smart phones.

          1. nnn*

            They now make an 128 GB ipod touch.

            Also, a couple of people I know have had good luck with buying cheap off-brand Android phones with an SD card slot, then putting their media on a large-capacity SD card. (I know you said you don’t do smart phones, but it also serves as a general media/app device if you don’t put a SIM card in it, and can be more affordable.)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not and I grew up buying music religiously. Even my genX brother who has trunks of old music and took me to basement punk shows as a teenager just uses his phone and a bluetooth speaker there’s days.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I like the convenience of Spotify and thinking “hmm, what’s the one song I barely know?” and being able to listen to it right away.

      But I like owning music and I still have a large collection (though I think a lot of files got lost when I switched laptops a few years back–tragedy!) I also like supporting things I like. If the music brings me great joy then I want to pay them for it!

    4. Goldfinch*

      Same. Buying versus renting was drilled into me very young as a finance lesson. I only have bare-bones Hulu, but even at $6/month, seeing shows disappear when I’m trying to watch them makes me go on an Old Person rant. My DVDs have never vanished into thin air.

  29. Lost academic*

    This is what’s odd to me: why does the OP and for that matter most of the comments I’ve just read suggest that people feel entitled to stream on employer wifi all day, every day? It might be “what everyone does” and I’m sure people do it at my office too but I know that our IT policy prohibits it and I also know we don’t pay as am office for the best internet which is annoying when you’re working on the wifi in conference rooms and such. (We are all on laptops.) If IT changed it so people couldn’t stream at work (and I’ve done so at times) I would download something to my phone or another device. My employer didn’t agree to give me that much data for a non work reason after all.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, a lot of people concentrate better with music – especially when they need to drown out noise from other people.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        The issue isn’t about needing music to drown out other noises, it’s the entitlement that their company needs to provide them access to stream it.

        1. Witchy Human*

          I can understand being mildly annoyed. Something harmless that people liked was taken away without a good reason. It’s not about having it, it’s about losing it. But that mild annoyance would last about a day, and I would immediately look at my other options for listening to music.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            “taken away without a good reason” 100% disagree. Streaming takes up bandwidth, and if everyone is doing it, it could slow the network down and then people can’t get their actual work done. While the company should have sent something out to let them know of the change, you can’t say it was done without good reason.

          2. lost academic*

            It’s not harmless. Eating up a finite amount of bandwidth that I need to do my job and making my work slower is a real business problem, especially since I am on billable hours. Absolutely no one is saying you can’t listen to music, but there is a strong business case argument that the company isn’t going to provide you the bandwidth for it at a cost to the actual business. I can see in some companies building the cost into overhead, but not in many.

          3. doreen*

            I definitely got that impression that a couple of commenters felt entitled to stream , to the point where I wondered if they would turn down an otherwise great job because there wasn’t any wifi. ( Yes, there are still offices without wifi – if you don’t need to provide it for customers, and your employees don’t use laptops, there’s no reason to have wifi rather than a wired network)

            1. Tinker*

              I wouldn’t so much turn down an otherwise great job because it had no wifi, as much as I’m briefly baffled that “otherwise great job” (for that matter, somewhat “job”) and “has no wifi” could be used to describe the same thing.

          4. JustaTech*

            Maybe it’s more accurate to say “was taken away without an explanation”.

            If you’ve always had music streaming, and had come to depend on it for your productivity, then if it just went away one day, that would be somewhere between alarming and irritating.

            If the LW’s company had sent out an email saying “hey, y’all are streaming too much and it’s killing our bandwith, so we’ve got to turn it off”, folks would likely be more accepting. Or better yet, if they had been warned about the end of the streaming so they could download stuff beforehand.

            It’s all about communication.

            1. Tinker*

              Yeah, and I think it depends a lot on context. If I came to work and found I couldn’t stream anything, I’d assume it was an oversight or perhaps an outage. Even if I didn’t, uh, actually work in streaming media delivery, all other things being equal my expectation is that the Internet is fair game for relatively ordinary uses (of which audio streaming would be one).

              If I was working at, like, a camp up in the mountains where the job is not fundamentally online and probably they have some sort of horrifying satellite service though, I’d question whether I should download images in my email and such like.

              Also, the reactions here indicate the existence of places where the social expectation is that it would be obviously impertinent even to ask; I might not put up with such an environment, but nonetheless it’s a fact that exists and must be dealt with somehow.

          5. knead me seymour*

            I do think the company could have handled it better. If they found that streaming was eating up too much bandwidth, they could have put out a notice explaining that, and I think employees would have understood. It’s a small thing, but it’s that much more annoying to lose a privilege that makes your work life a little more pleasant without any notice or explanation. Kind of like if they used to provide free coffee and just stopped without saying anything.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Well, like a water cooler, it’s become something of a standard office perk, especially in open offices like OP’s. At my employer, we’re using Skype and Webex, which assume you’re going to speak through the computer. No one has a microphone for their computer, so my neighbor’s pretty much yelling into her computer in the cube next to me, and she’s got 4 hrs of calls on a *good* day. Some kind of background noise to help me tune that out is a huge productivity booster. My employer (fortune 500 tech co) seems to agree, I have no problems streaming iHeart Radio.

          Office norms are changing in response to tech changes, and streaming access is pretty normal.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            And for people saying it’s not harmless: Sure, it’s a cost. The business has to decide if it’s a reasonable cost of business or not, but it’s going to be a factor in whether people choose to work for you. I’m finding the constant meetings in my ear really frustrating, and expect my company to support me in finding solutions for it. Streaming’s probably cheaper than offices…

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          It’s not really “entitlement” for your boss to provide you with a reasonable working environment. If they’re too cheap to spring for your own office, the least they can do is mitigate it by making it easy to drown out other people.

    2. Daisy Avalin*

      I stream music from my Spotify via phone through the company wifi and a bluetooth speaker as I work, because I work nights, alone, and the radio selection is godawful overnight!!
      Unless England are playing cricket*, in which case that’s all that can be heard when I’m on shift!

      *Manager isn’t going to complain even though I’m the only person who likes cricket, because the radio currently in use is actually mine, loaned to the site after the required-by-Head-Office CCTV system upgrade managed to completely bork the installed radio system so badly we can’t even switch it on!

  30. Jcarnall*

    LW2: Even when I worked for companies that let me livestream, I rarely used it, because I didn’t care to let my employer know what I was listening to. (The only safe rule with a work computer or a work internet connection is to assume everyone is tracking everything you do all of the time.) Alison’s right: download is your friend. You can get a mp3 player and just download everything you might want to listen to at work to it – podcasts, audiobooks, music, everything. You can download more material you can listen to in a week at work.

    LW3; I am only mildly faceblind – I can learn to know what people look like in context. But it is difficult. Especially white men in office suits who all have the same haircut. Definitely have a conversation with your manager about this: it is difficult and embarrassing and weird for me, but objectively it’s like compensating for someone with any visual disability: I can’t “see” faces, so you have to tell me who you are!

    LW4: I have genuine difficulty remembering people’s names/faces, which is really awkward especially when I know I should know them. I wish I were more up-front about it sometimes – usually I just let it go by that I can’t remember.

    LW1: I think your manager probably won’t win Worst Boss of 2019, but definitely qualifies to be on the shortlist. What kind of person would tell their subordinates to make a permanent change to their appearance, even a relatively minor one?

    1. Code Monkey*

      White men in office attire are my weakness. And I work at a tech company. I can’t tell any of my coworkers apart.

  31. Rebecca*

    OP#2 – no streaming on WiFi or our network at our workplace, and it’s because there are so many users located in several states, and if everyone was streaming, we’d be at a standstill. I have a Sandisk .mp3 player with FM radio, plus an actual old school physical radio in my office complete with tape deck and CD player (woo!!). I can listen to the local classic rock station all day, or listen to audio books or the radio on my .mp3 player. I use my phone for podcasts, and just download a bunch at home. It works. I’ve never used streaming music services, so you may have to get used to commercials again! But there are work arounds. I always thought it was normal not to be able to stream audio or video at work (?)

    1. TimeTravlR*

      It is totally normal. Actually, I’m not sure everyone streaming their own choice of music is a good option anyway. Maybe a white noise machine to drown out the talking would be a better option for OP.

      1. Natalie*

        I doubt anyone’s listening to their music out loud, people in open offices typically use headphones.

        1. lost academic*

          We have an employee who listens to music so loud ON her headphones that I can hear what she’s listening to across the office! They look like nice headphones (Beats) so I don’t know how she isn’t deaf. We have white noise cranked through officewide ceiling speakers that cuts down on regular noise affecting us too much (open floor plan, lots of calls on headsets)

    2. Asenath*

      Mine had (probably has) some restrictions on streaming – I think broadcasts of particularly popular sports broadcasts caused problems. I’ve never run into difficulty with the extremely minimal streaming I do through their systems – once in a long while I might listen to an audio book.

      1. DipPlated*

        You don’t say!

        -me, in Africa at this *very* moment. (With an employer who blocks streaming on their network because it is their prerogative and in order to not clog our limited bandwidth)

    1. thatoneoverthere*

      I have a very similar job to OP, there is no way I could do my job without listening to something. I cant listen to most things out loud, because of the nature of my floor plan. I would go absolutely nuts. I also get so much done with my head phones, in. Please don’t be dismissive to those of us who do lots of computer grunt work. It can be soul sucking and dreadfully boring.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Nobody is denying the need for music – it’s the entitlement of expecting your company to provide access for you to stream it.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          How is it entitlement? The company is going out of its way to block streaming, not being asked to pay for buildingwide subscriptions.

          1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            You’re using company bandwidth to stream things and if everyone is doing it, then it’s going to slow stuff down so people have trouble doing their actual work. So yes, it’s entitlement to think your company should provide you with a service that isn’t free and is 100% not related to your job.

            1. Bree*

              This is unnecessarily harsh. Sure, the company isn’t obligated to provide streaming access – but there are lot of things companies aren’t obligated to provide but do anyway, because it improves employee productivity or experience.

              This used to be a perk the LW had at her office, and then it went away without explanation. We don’t know that it was slowing down the network, in this case. So it’s reasonable for the LW to wonder, and to ask once, and to try to find a solution. That doesn’t rise to the level of entitlement, yet.

                1. Traffic_Spiral*

                  They aren’t “obligated” to provide chairs either – but not having them is gonna make the office work a little more clunky, isn’t it?

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                Like I said above, they’re not required, but it is becoming a standard business perk in open / hot desk / agile office situations, so expecting it is not entitled or unusual.

                You’re being really harsh, and it looks like it’s because you’ve not kept up with changing business mores. Very much a ‘get off my lawn’, but it’s not actually your lawn, it’s business’s ‘enhanced green space’.

                1. it's me*

                  Nope. They aren’t required. Expect it, sure. No one is entitled to the company providing entertainment.

                2. Natalie*

                  I don’t know, in my experience at least it’s been going the other direction – companies that used to not care now block streaming. The popularity of streaming has risen at the same time more ISPs are capping data usage (wireless or wired), which presents an actual problem to a business that has dozens or hundreds of people using the network.

                3. MNH*

                  “It’s me”– Jules literally agreed with you that it’s not required, and, in fact, you basically summarized their first paragraph beat-by-beat, but in like… a weirdly aggressive tone. Why the aggression?

              2. Old and Don’t Care*

                It’s the “I know there are perfectly reasonable solutions but I just can’t be bothered” attitude that flashes “Entitlement” in big letters.

                1. PollyQ*

                  +1. You can store a LOT of music on a smart phone, and no, it’s not that hard to just pick a bunch and download it.

              3. Observer*

                *ASK* and *ONCE*. But the OP is going a lot further and making an issue out of this, to the point of seriously considering organizing a group to push back on it.

                I’ll give the OP credit, though, for asking here and recognizing that it could really make them look bad.

          2. LQ*

            The bandwidth is there for work. Not your personal stuff. Sorry, but it really can slow down networks and make it hard for folks to do what they are being paid to do which does often require network access. You aren’t entitled to stream something you don’t need for work at work. And no you don’t actually need music to do your job (*assuming your job isn’t music reviewer). It may be very preferable, but sometimes you need to find another way to manage that and a lot of folks have given good ways to manage it.

            1. it's me*

              The primary reason so many companies allow it is that speeds now usually allow for streaming, not because companies are trying to provide for their employees’ enjoyment over the needs of the infrastructure. If speeds don’t allow for it, or really for whatever reason, the company is within rights to stop people from streaming.

          3. Observer*

            The company is being asked to pay for the cost of allowing people unrestricted streaming. That cost can be very significant. On the other hand, if you have decent filtering in place (which you should have anyway), it’s trivially easy to block most streaming.

    2. JimmyJab*

      This is the most useless response possible. Most of the problems Alison addresses are “first world problems” as most of them are not about meeting basic physical needs. I don’t get why there are so many comments like this (ok, it’s not that many but they stand out to me) about this particular letter.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Looking through it. it’s more like three people commenting the same thing in multiple places. Most everyone else is ‘well, it’s their call, here’s [tips / how I deal].’ No place is free of conflicting mores.

        Not to derail, but I suspect the last two weeks’ discussion of inter-generational conflict may heighten some awareness of / reaction to the terms being used here.

        I would wish we could discuss the concerns (eg, is streaming a legitimate business expense) without calling names (eg ‘entitled’).

    3. knead me seymour*

      I feel like you could say the same thing about 95 percent of the letters on this website, or most advice columns for that matter. I’m not sure what it is about this letter that seems to be rubbing people the wrong way–the office used to provide a perk that employees appreciated, then removed it without explanation. I don’t see why that feels like a more frivolous question than which is the most annoying thing to microwave at work.

    4. OhBehave*

      That’a a rather dismissive comment, DipPlated.

      An open office plan would be horribly distracting to many people. We often read about those who are desperate for a way to make it through the day as they listen to: people eating loudly, conversations, work and personal, coughing, sneezing, sniffling, general office noise.

      What’s worse is that there was no official announcement about this.

  32. Jaid*

    My phone service (Virgin) has unlimited streaming Pandora and iHeart Radio. LW#2, check your mobile plan to see if you got similar benefits!

  33. Elise*

    With regards to Jane who can’t remember names. I totally empathize with her. I al horrible with names. I forget or mix up the names of close friends and family on a regular basis.

    If you introduced yourself to me and told me about your life, your job, your experiences I would remember all of that in slightly disconcerting detail… but not your name….

    It is however amazing how you can formulate sentences that never call for it.

    1. a1*

      Jan can remember names. In fact she can remember everyone’s name except the LW’s name. So this is not the same thing at all. She also announces she can never remember LW’s name as if she’s given up on trying and doesn’t find it worth it. There are so many ways you can talk to someone w/o using their name that it’s coming off as intentional. Again, not the same thing at all to what you’re describing.

  34. TimeTravlR*

    Re: streaming at work…. my workplace did it because people were sucking up so much bandwidth with non-work things that it would sometimes slow down the real work. From a business perspective, it makes total sense.

  35. TimeTravlR*

    Ltr #1 (eyebrows) really crosses a line. Boss needs to stop. OP needs to shut it down (with Allison’s script ideas). If this were a guy telling the women in his office this, would this be the same conversation??

    1. Auntie Social*

      Or the reverse—“Would you go tell Bob in accounting that he’d look better with hair plugs? No??” People don’t tell guys they need to change their look. But women get “helpful suggestions” about highlights, brows, permanent lashes. . . ridiculous.

  36. Asenath*

    I’m bad with both faces and names, although I don’t think my difficulty with faces is bad enough for a diagnosis of face-blindness. I’ve gotten in the habit of almost never calling anyone by name. To compensate, I try to greet anyone I meet or pass in the corridor with a friendly smile, even though I am not by nature a particularly outgoing person. It seems to work reasonably well to avoid offending people by being unfriendly, although I have ended up with having regular conversations with people and learning a lot about them without ever knowing their names. There comes a point in an acquaintanceship when it’s awkward to ask. I did ask about someone I was curious about – she came to my office for a conversation which left me with no leads as to who she was – and when I eventually found out who she was, I could say “Amelia Mugglesworth! She must have changed her hair! I didn’t know her”. Once I heard her name, I did have a vague memory of her with very dark hair, quite unlike that of the woman who came to my office, and fortunately she really had changed her hair colour so I could blame that for my lack of recognition.

  37. Taura*

    LW2, is blocking the streaming causing you to be unable to access work stuff too (training videos, webinars, etc.)? If so, I would gather up your coworkers and try to find out who to ask about it, because that will negatively affect everyone in your office once people realize none of you are getting your training done or attending online meetings. I realize this may not at all be the case, but they just made a similar change at my office (no access to the internet, except to approved sites through a jumphost) which would be fine if it weren’t also blocking my training, my “voluntary” webinars, and oh yeah, my program that I do ALL my work on.

    1. The Original K.*

      I used to work for a company with really rigid firewall restrictions that included blocking all social media. I work in marketing and communications though, so we needed social media to do our jobs. Our team was constantly asking IT to lift the restriction so we could do our work. There was a lot of turnover on the IT team, so somebody would leave, someone new would come in and block us again, and we’d have to re-submit the requests. It drove us crazy.

      1. Taura*

        How annoying! Ours just isn’t thinking things through – this is apparently to increase security by minimizing what’s allowed to come in, but they’ve not bothered to clear their own sites, much less any third party sites that are necessary for work. This isn’t the first time either – when we first moved in, the firewall blocked everything but company intranet, and then they were surprised that no one could do any work.

  38. it's me*

    “by her friend”
    Well there’s the core issue, she’s trying to badger her employees into generating business for her friend. This probably isn’t actually about her caring about your eyebrows.

  39. Falling Diphthong*

    *googles “microblading” while instinctively shielding eyebrows*

    Gah! No, in addition to leaving your employees’ eyebrows strictly alone, you should never try to convince them to allow your friend to inject them with needles. I want to hop around like a preschooler reading a book about snot and doing the Yuck Dance.

  40. Falling Diphthong*

    LW 4, I drove my daughter home from wisdom teeth removal. She has no memory of this–she went to the clinic, and later she was home in bed. Even though it was a big personal favor for your coworker (or boss, depending how you view it), it involved drugs that clouded up that memory.

  41. Lusara*

    LW2 has to be a joke, right? Every podcast app I have used automatically downloads the ones you subscribe to. And if listening to music is so important to you, pay for the spotify premium and spend a few minutes one evening or over the weekend loading them up. It doesn’t take very long. How is this an issue?

    And you could even go old school like me and buy songs/albums and download them. But if you’re too cheap to get spotify premium then I’m sure you’re not going to be willing to actually buy music.

    Or another thought is there are these things called radios that let you listen to music, talk shows, and such for free and you don’t need to use the internet at all. You could try getting one of them.

    1. The Francher Kid*

      Use of a radio would depend on reception, which might not be good where the OP works. And since we don’t know the OP’s phone capabilities, data plan, financial situation, or comfort level with technology, your comment comes across as unkind and unhelpful

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s fine advice. Since it has options.

        The company isn’t going to reverse their no streaming rule so what else besides “sucks…sorry?” would you prefer people say about this issue?

      2. Laura H.*

        At the very least, the comment is condescending.

        The suggestions are somewhat reasonable but it’s so couched in what I perceive as snark and superiority that it’s very uncomfortable.

        For music, an MP3 player would work?

        But not everybody is a… tech pack rat likeI am (And may not have one readily available) so I understand if it’s not feasible.

        1. Quill*

          I have a lot of still working tech, but I swear one of my best friends has dresden disease. Can’t leave a laptop or mp3 player near them for more than 1 year without it breaking in a very concrete and cost-inefficient way. If LW doesn’t come from a family of fixers and recyclers like me, or just regularly breaks tech, streaming is probably the only way they were getting their music.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            but but – can your friend animate a skeletal T Rex? I would find them constant tech forever in exchange for a ride for my family…

            Waldo Butters is my hero…

            1. Quill*

              Polka that thing!

              (Also I found that hilarious because I grew up going to see SUE once a year and I know exactly how much of that giant bone critter should be animated… I imagined the actual head on display hopping across the floor towards Butters… all the way down the stairs because it’s displayed on the second floor…)

    2. knead me seymour*

      Maybe the LW can take up playing the spoons loudly and enthusiastically to drown out the noise of coworkers.

      I feel like this letter is attracting so much ire just because it has to do with streaming, which is a fairly recent phenomenon. If it was any other minor perk the office stopped providing, I’m not sure it would attract this kind of condescension. Just brew your own coffee at home! They have these things called coffee pots, you know.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Heck, I remember when my workplace (a major bank) blocked access to personal email account sources, like Yahoo and Hotmail.

        I’m old. I remember when mobile phones were these big honking things. Heck, I kinda remember when mobile phones were actually *car* phones, because you needed the big battery.

  42. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – Just because she’s your boss doesn’t mean you can’t push back. She can’t take a hint so you need to be direct. Alison’s scripts are perfect. You’re not being rude by asking her to stop, she’s being rude by insisting that you alter your personal appearance in a way that she finds acceptable.
    #2 – Listening to podcasts or music is not something required for your job. Pretend it’s the 90s and find another way to listen to something without streaming. You can’t push back on this just because it’s inconvenient for you to plan ahead.

  43. LGC*

    LW1: regardless of what your boss says, your eyebrows on fleek

    (I never thought I’d have occasion to say that on AAM, but here we are. Life is truly a rich tapestry.)

    I think you answered your own question, though. She’s a pushy person and she’s trying to help her friend (and maybe herself, if she gets compensation for referrals) out. It’s not really about the eyebrows – if her friend was doing Mary Kay, she’d probably be commenting on your complexion and stuff. Basically, it sounds like your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. I’m petty, so I’d just say, “Thanks for your concern, Karen. Do you need me to do the TPS reports?”

    (Apologies to any Karens here.)

    LW2: going through a similar thing at my job. I think Alison’s response is a bit dismissive – open offices are hellacious, and while podcasts are great (by the way, if you’re a runner – or hell, if you need some motivation in your life – you NEED to listen to the latest Citius Mag pod episode), they don’t work for everyone.

    But I can also see why they blocked streaming wholesale – it’s likely causing network issues if they’re at that point. (Or your office is just that petty. Not that I’d know *cough*) If your desktop/laptop is wired, I’d almost consider using that for Spotify listening. I’m not sure if it’s blocked for wireless streaming only or on the network entirely, so that might be a solution.

    1. Observer*

      I think Alison’s response is a bit dismissive – open offices are hellacious, and while podcasts are great (by the way, if you’re a runner – or hell, if you need some motivation in your life – you NEED to listen to the latest Citius Mag pod episode), they don’t work for everyone.

      Please, Allison didn’t say that the OP needs to switch to podcasts only. She said “download content” and suggested podcasts as ONE *free* option that needs next to no preplanning.

      1. LGC*

        Hm. I did misread that – I’d read it as LW2 preferring music, and that not being an option. So I got it a bit wrong there (although I think your response was a little harsh).

        That said, I’m still not too keen on telling LW2 to spring $10 a month (in the US) she doesn’t want to just because of her job. (And yes, I know that’s not exactly what the answer says. But also, I use Spotify myself, and that’s how you get downloads.)

        1. Observer*

          There are literally dozens of other free options, though. The OP’s problem is that they don’t want to take the time. Characterizing the few minutes it would take to set this stuff up as “ a heck of a lot of pre-planning” really comes off as over the top.

      1. LGC*

        Honestly, you’d be surprised how much of an impact it could have! Especially with bad IT infrastructure that they don’t want to invest in upgrading! Ask me how I know.

        (I have a ton of baggage associated with letter 2, if you can’t tell. Not the LW, but LW2 I FEEL YOU.)

  44. Pretzelgirl*

    OP2- I work for a large company that blocks most things even over Wi-Fi, as well. Its quite frustrating. I cant even access Facebook on my phone (if my Wi-Fi is on ) at work. From my experience complaining will likely get you no where and its just a shut up and deal, situation. Luckily they don’t block downloading podcasts, and you tube. (I listen to a lot of ASMR videos to help with anxiety, I flip my phone over so I am not tempted to watch). I will say they have unblocked some things for me, but they are mostly work related. Once I had a training to take and it was a blocked site. I was like you all want me to take this… uh but you blocked it…so….

  45. Buttons*

    I don’t know anything about prosopagnosia, but I am wondering if you can make yourself a cheat sheet? When I first started at my huge company and was having meeting after meeting after meeting from various departments with 20-50 people at a time, I couldn’t keep it all straight. Before a meeting I would look to see who was on the invite list, and then from the company directory, I would take a screenshot of the person’s name, their title, and who their boss was, then paste it all into a word document, and have it discretely inside a notebook.
    I know this wouldn’t help when walking down the hallway, but it might help while sitting in a meeting. Just a thought! I think your script is perfect, I also think people won’t take it as seriously as it is. They may think you are using hyperbole and making fun of yourself.

    Good luck!

    1. Code Monkey*

      A cheat sheet’s not a bad idea. Now that I’m thinking about it, I guess I use Facebook for this purpose everywhere else in my life.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        No “probably” about it. There are. Off the top of my head, several Jewish & Christian denominations either prohibit or strongly discourage tattoos.

  46. Mike*

    RE #4:

    I too have a great deal of trouble remembering names. In my personal and professional life. I do what I can with tricks to remember names, but often they do not help. It takes many MANY times being around someone to remember their names.

    It’s honestly very embarrassing. I can’t speak for this person who does not remember #4’s name, but I can guess that it is not intentional, and it is probably embarrassing for this person as well.

    Try not to take it personally. Be happy you don’t have to deal with this constantly in your life.

  47. Emily B.*

    As a point of clarification, you can download podcasts for offline listening with the free version of Spotify, you just can’t download music. (Sorry if someone already said this, I tried to check the comments and didn’t see anything.)

  48. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    #1 – This is incredibly inappropriate. I get the strong feeling that the microblader in question being her friend is a significant portion of the issue here — she is trying to drive business to her buddy, and that’s flat-out not okay when you add in the power imbalance of her being your boss. And then having your boss commenting on your appearance is its own flavor of unacceptable. This is a giant steaming pile of no.

    Do you have concerns that she might retaliate for your continued reluctance to go let her buddy stab needles in your face? Then this might be worth escalating. Things like withholding raises, reducing your performance ratings, or treating you as “not a team player” or “not motivated to advance” because you want your eyebrows left alone would be grounds to escalate this either to your HR or your grandboss, depending on your company culture and structure. If you don’t think that’s a risk, ignoring her might be a workable option. Overall? This is gross and your boss sucks.

    #3 – Oh man, I feel you. At OldJob, I couldn’t tell my boss and her boss apart — they were both tall, thin white women with shoulder-length brown hair, and I just could not internalize details beyond that. It took a lot of very fancy verbal dancing for me to avoid embarrassing myself, and I’m still not 100% sure that I succeeded in that endeavor. And there are two guys with dark hair and beards on my current team, and — yep, I’ve been here for two years and still no clue which of them is which.

    I have no advice, just commiseration. Face blindness blows.

    1. BelleMorte*

      This is exactly what I was going to mention in terms of OP#1. To me, it’s less about being obnoxious about microblading (seriously WTF?) which can be a whole issue relating to sexism if she is focusing on women’s appearances only, but the fact she is pushing you towards her friend specifically is where it is veering into inappropriate boss pressure.

      You shouldn’t be pressured to change ANYTHING about your body, but insisting that you spend money at her friend’s business is HR-worthy, especially if you feel there will be retaliation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the friend was giving her referral bonuses (hence the amount of pressure). I’m surprised Alison didn’t touch on that aspect as well.

  49. Rebecca Deborah Rachel*

    OP 4 – Our minds are funny in the way they process and remind us of facts. If you can I would just remind her of your name when needed, but don’t hold it against Jane. My name is Rebecca but I periodically have people call me Deborah or Rachel. I guess one Old Testament name is as good as another. A close relative called me Rachel for the first 5-6 years of my life. No one ever knew why but I came to love that it was our thing. One coworker years ago knew I was Rebecca but had accidentally called me Deborah once and then it was stuck in her mind. Every time she saw me I could see in her expression that she was thinking “Deborah? Rebecca? No, it must be Deborah.” I would just gently say my name to remind her. It became a joke between us.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      I always ask other Jennifers if they get called Stephanie, and the answer is *always* yes. (Jessica is also a common mistake.)

      I often ask Stephanies if they get called Jennifer, and they answer is almost always yes there, too.

      All’s I can figure is: 3 syllables, n sounds and f sounds, and not paying attention.

  50. Kenzi Wood*

    OP#4: People would forget my name all the time! It got so bad that some days I would actually answer to the wrong name (not my finest hour, but if you’re trying to get work done, it happens).

    I finally got traction by telling people, “My name’s Makenzi. You know, like Spuds Mackenzie, that dog on the commercial?” After that, no one forgot my name.

    Depending on your name, you may be able to help Jane remember you with an analogy. I know how annoying this is; sorry it’s happening to you!

  51. Laurelma_01!*

    Reference: 1. My boss is pressuring me to microblade my eyebrows
    I’m wondering how many people she is pushing this on at work. There might be a statement in the employee handbook about selling, promoting products at work. I had never heard of micro-blading, looked it up. It’s expensive. If you trust your HR, ask them to say something to her about it without bringing your name into it.
    2. Our company blocked all streaming media on our wifi, including music and podcasts
    Years ago when I was serving as the IT point person at a remote office of about 12 people I was getting complaints about our software and connection was being slow. I called and reported it like I was supposed to. Turned out 3 different people were streaming music through the office’s Wi-Fi and it was slowing it down. It was against IT policy. IT called each one individually and said something to them and one of the managers doing it got mad at me because I reported him. I didn’t report him, he was doing something that was causing an inconvenience to everyone. Then he got in trouble for saying something to me.

    Someone might have mentioned some of this, but I was skimming through, apologies if you’re hearing it twice here.

  52. Amethystmoon*

    #2 You’re probably not going to get your IT dept. to change their minds. You could always go old-school and bring an FM radio or portable CD player/cassette player to work, that’s what we used to do in the old days before everyone had smart phones. Some still do that. What you could do is push back in certain circumstances if you legitimately need access to do your job (I.e. For example, my friend’s company is so strict, they’re not even allowed to access Microsoft help files. You might be able to push back on something like that as a group.) Or like the company I work for, which does some advertising in addition to other things, and they had to push back on the blanket You Tube ban because some people had to view ads on You Tube for their jobs. Sometimes, people have to go to vendor web sites for their jobs as well. But it all depends on your industry.

  53. Patricia Britton*

    I have worked with non-sighted people who ask that co-workers quickly announce their own names when they come up to talk. It’s graceful and easy. Maybe once your face blindness is known to your co-workers, they can quickly announce their names when they are in your presence? Maybe your manager can help get the word out? It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest to say my own name when coming into the presence of a person with face blindness.

  54. Essess*

    After the first couple refusals to the boss for the eyebrows, I would flatly say that I have NO interest in changing my eyebrows and ask her to stop pushing me to do it. If it continued after that, I would be at HR asking for help because my boss is pressuring her subordinates to have body modification procedures done and will not stop. I would also report that she’s trying to force subordinates to spend money with the boss’s friend (if the friend is charging for this service).
    If you’re Jewish, you could also pull out the religious harassment charge. Since strictly observant Jews do not allow tattoos, and the description of this procedure is a tattoo, you could push back that you are being harassed to have a tattoo although it is against your religion. I know that one is a long shot, but if normal conversations to stop the pushy boss aren’t working, this could be a potential escalation.

    1. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Mormons also are not allowed to get tattoos. I’m an agnostic, but I think it would be fun to claim Mormom heritage, say that my childhood religion forbids tattoos (note that I’m not saying it’s my current religion) and see what the boss makes of that. If she continued, I’d mention religious persecution and see what she makes of that. I’d have a ball playing her in this way. Clearly the boss is a nut job, so I’d love to play with her on this. I think I could get her into a lot of trouble with this if she still won’t leave me alone. And she deserves to be in a lot of trouble for what she’s doing. It’s just plain wrong.

  55. SJ*

    LW2 – if white noise works for you, try the site Rain Today (googling it will bring it right up). It has escaped my office’s filters so far when few other things do, and it’s really useful for open-plan hell.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Second this – music distracts me when I work, so I’ve tried a white noise app for when it’s especially loud in the office, worked like a charm!

  56. Karo*

    #2 – I get that it’s different from what you’re used to, but I’d think of this more as them taking away a perk than taking away something you have a right to. I’ve never had a job where I was allowed to stream stuff on the company wi-fi. If nothing else, if enough people are taking advantage of it (which it sounds like they were), it can cause bandwidth issues that can make it hard to get work done. I know this kind of change can be rough, but you really need to just suck it up and download as much music/podcasts/shows as you can before work.

    1. it's me*

      This. I’d be pissed if they stopped allowing it here, but I wouldn’t complain officially to anyone about it because… the company isn’t obligated to provide streaming entertainment not for work and which uses their resources. People can use their phones for it instead.

  57. Dust Bunny*

    LW2 I have a flash drive in my car with 6,000+ songs on it, subdivided by (band, genre, mixed playlist, whatever) and can play it through my computer instead of streaming. Plus, no annoying ads!

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve been babying along my old ipod classic from college for just this reason. Additional bonuses, it’s perfectly compliant with our data security requirements to be used at my desk (no camera, no wireless communication), and it holds my entire library with room to spare.

  58. Quill*

    #1: Pressuring her employees in order to drum up business for her friend is not just tacky, but inappropriate. That said, if this is the only inappropriate thing, you’re probably better off attempting to ignore it.

    #2: Set up an auto-download for your favorite podcasts. I use podcast republic, personally, but there are way more pod-catchers out there than just spotify and iTunes. (Which, personally, I refuse to use anything that has any paywalled content – If I’m gonna pay for my podcasts that money should go to the creators rather than the podcatcher.)

    Heck, your phone will probably download the podcasts in the office if the block is only on streaming.

    #3 & #4: I have a swiss cheese of a social memory so I sympathize with you both, and with Jane… The number of times I haven’t been able to put a name to a face or a face to a name is rather embarassing. If I don’t spend a lot of one on one time with someone, SOMETHING is going to escape my memory sooner or later.

  59. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    LW1 – I had a boss (in my first two US jobs – I’ve mentioned the guy on here a couple of times before) who, at one point, was pressuring me to get a breast reconstruction surgery – I’d just finished nursing my youngest and boss was concerned about what that had might have done to the shape of my breasts – kept pushing it against my wishes to the point of giving me a plastic surgeon’s business cards. Same boss also once turned up at my apartment unannounced when both my sons (ages 2 and 4 at the time I think?) were in the bath. The doorbell rang, I went to get the door and both kids climbed out of the bath and followed – I was mortified. Next day at work, I was greeted with a pushy lecture from the boss on why I needed to have my children circumcised ASAP.

    I thought no one could beat that. Then I read your letter. What the heck! At least mine didn’t try to give my business to his friend. Say no and do not stop saying no. If she somehow retaliates at work (mine didn’t), go over her head. This is utterly unacceptable.

    PS. Evil me would be tempted to get my brows microbladed somewhere else and just show up to work one morning with my brows done. “Ah, yeah, I went to X, they had much better reviews, do you like what they did?”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I ended up blocking him on FB ten years later, when FB came out, after he sent me four invites in one day. I’d decline one and he’d send another.

        He’s just… not good with boundaries? He may be a changed man now for all I know, I’ve been avoiding him for years. He lives out in the sticks and likes to come to my neighborhood to do his shopping. Whenever I see him in a store, I hide. He hasn’t caught me yet, lol.

    1. Kate*

      Uhhh. What. The. Actual.

      Your story way, way, way tops today’s LW. No comparison. (And no offense, OP.)

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 Jaw. On floor. Even gave you a card. wow.

        And checked out your kid’s junk long enough to determine their foreskin status?! WOW. WOW.

    2. The Original K.*

      … No, your stories are SO MUCH WORSE. Good grief! If you had hauled off and clocked him when he talked about your breasts, and I were on the jury that caught the case? You’d walk. My God.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yeah, I mean I do think he is a creep, as evidenced by the fact that I have him blocked on FB and literally hide from him when I see him in public, 20 years after I stopped working for him.

          I guess it was a sarcastic “not good with boundaries”. I have this habit of sarcastically sugar-coating what I really think, that does not carry over well in writing. Like when a job candidate at an interview asked us what our offshore team was like to work with, and, while my teammates all sat in silence trying not to say what they really thought, I said “they are… *really fast*” (cue chuckles from my teammates). Hopefully the candidate got the message, which was “the offshore team is churning out a lot of terrible code at a high speed and will be a nightmare to work with”. Could not quite say that in an interview. I guess I tend to forget that this doesn’t convey my message as well in an online comment as it would in a face-to-face talk.

  60. Dust Bunny*

    LW4: I actually hope that your coworker has something going on that genuinely prevents her from learning your name, but, yes, sometimes people are too either self-conscious or lazy to learn names.

    My name is . . . we’ll say it’s Persephone. It’s not, but it’s a similarly established-but-not-very-familiar name. I’ve been called, we’ll say, in addition to every possible mispronunciation of “Persephone”, Pamela, Portia, Persia, Penelope (a lot), and Fiona (well, there is an F sound in it, right?). Even when I have spelled out (verbally and in writing), sounded out, explained, and corrected people repeatedly, I’ve had people mush-mouth it or tell me, to my face, that it’s too hard. I’ve also had people misspell it and claim they can’t tag me on Facebook *even when my name is right next to them in the comment*; at least two of these people were relatives who have known me all my life.

    I’m sure a few of these people had legitimate neurological quirks that made this difficult, but I guarantee you that not all of them did. Some people are just not willing to put in the small amount of extra effort it would take to listen and absorb.

    1. mcr-red*

      My oldest feels you, she too has an established but not common in today’s world name. I get more annoyed about it than she does at this point. She can literally say, “Hi, I’m (I’ll just go with Persephone)” and people will say right back, “Hi Personphony!” Her younger sister has a similar issue, but she gets annoyed.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        It took my high school three tries to get all my names right on my diploma (my middle name is even more obscure and my last name is phonetic and should not be difficult but is apparently uncommon enough that people don’t get it right away).

        I used to be really bashful about this but now I have zero problem telling people that it’s my name, I do not use a nickname, and this is how it’s pronounced. Period.

      2. Quill*

        Got named after my grandfather, turns out my name is rare 1) this century 2) for women (it’s an adaptation of my grandfather’s name, which is more common by far.)

        There are a lot of similar sounding names that are far more common and I’ve had a lifetime of people insisting that those are my “real” name, even when reading directly off official documentation.

        Not to mention my last name, which should be VERY easy but somehow gets mondegreened into a surprising variety of common nouns that share only one sound…

    2. a boy named sue*

      Ha, I feel ya, my name is actually one of your listed examples but spelled differently. I tend to class people in one of two ways upon meeting them: did you say something dumb about my name or not? You can guess which category most of the people I’m close with fall into.

  61. I'm A Little Teapot*

    #3 – I read an article semi-recently about face blindness, I found it interesting, but the thing I remember that might be helpful is that you have a choice. You can only smile and talk to people who you know who they are, or you can choose to smile and be friendly more broadly. Yes, there are downsides, but you don’t have to know who someone is to be outgoing. If you chose that route, then even if you didn’t know who someone was, you’re much less likely to offend them by ignoring someone whom you should know.

    1. Me*

      This makes it seem like not smiling and talking to all people all the time is some kind of fault. This person shouldn’t need to be some arbitrary definition of outgoing behavior to risk not offending people by their very real medical matter. I don’t think the OP needs to change their personality or be something they aren’t. Disclosing if they are comfortable, which it seems they are open to, seems a better option.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yikes. This seems really unreasonable. You’re basically saying that the OP should be engaging with every single person they come across, on the off chance that it’s someone who knows them.

      Outgoing is a personality trait, not a requirement to exist in public spaces.

    3. Colette*

      The OP didn’t say she’s not smiling or being friendly? And this wouldn’t solve her problem because she still won’t have any context for whether she’s ever talked with that person before.

    4. Close Bracket*

      Ah, the false positive vs. false negative dilemma. Believe me, Little Teapot, there are serious downsides to talking to everybody who you don’t recognize, as well.

  62. Thankful for AAM*

    Re OP#1 did anyone mention that microblading is essentially a tattoo and some religious groups do not allow tattoos?
    Maybe you can say, “we run the risk of sounding like religious discrimination by talking about microblading all the time.”

  63. Kate*

    Wow, lot of flak being thrown at OP #2. I don’t see this is any different from any other “My workplace took away thing X, which I don’t technically have a RIGHT to, but which significantly helps my productivity. What’s the best way to raise this as an issue?”

    We all have those things that we don’t have a ‘right’ to but which makes the 8 hours of our day not suck. Maybe it’s the coffee in the break room. Maybe it’s having your desk under a window where you can see your favorite tree. Without it, you just aren’t as happy or productive. We don’t need to pile all over OP just because we haven’t yet had our optional thing taken away.

    I also kind of understand not wanting to download 8 hours of content ahead of time. It’s one more way your work life creeps into time outside your work.

    1. Bree*

      This. Yes, the OP#2 shouldn’t push back too hard on this – but I think it’s reasonable to be a bit bummed out! And to ask IT about why they made the change, and then adapt from there with some of the solutions people have been suggesting, if necessary. Not sure why there’s so much scorn being directed their way.

    2. Quill*

      Yeah, for example: I’ve had many jobs where the desk setup let people walk behind my back constantly. Technically there’s nothing stopping my company from being able to set things up like that, but it is significantly worse for my productivity.

      I think a lot of commenters are mad about it *because* it’s a technology problem & because the thing being discontinued could possibly be used for goofing off instead of working, but neither of those are the issue here.

      1. Observer*

        No, a lot of people are pushing back because the solutions are pretty trivial to implement, but the OP doesn’t want to do it.

        1. PSB*

          Exactly. People are just trying to explain why the situation may be more complicated than it seems on the surface.

            1. Yuan Zai*

              Oops, premature send.

              I think a lot of people are reading the the OP’s letter the same way I am: this isn’t a “they took away ALL of the coffee” issue, this is a “they moved the coffee to the other side of the office and now it takes me a few more minutes to get there” issue. I do think that is very much influencing how people respond.

        2. knead me seymour*

          I think it’s pretty uncharitable to read this and assume the LW doesn’t know how to download music. I think they’re just annoyed at working in an open office, and doubly annoyed that their employer took away a small perk that made working in an open office a bit easier, and were wondering if it was worth bringing it up or not. I agree with everyone who says it isn’t, but that’s not an unusual type of question here.

    3. PSB*

      What people keep bringing up is that streaming may have been blocked because the bandwidth it used up was preventing people from doing their work. Streaming soaks up a lot of bandwidth very quickly, even music streaming, and it takes way fewer streams than you’d think to noticeably impact network performance. At the same time, more and more business applications are web-based, so a lot more work tasks depend on reliable high speed internet access.

      Another thing a lot of people may not understand is that business-class internet service doesn’t work like home service. It’s much more expensive for less bandwidth, that bandwidth is firmly capped at the level you pay for, and if you want to manage how it’s used you have to do it yourself. So while people may pay $100 for up to 1 gigabit of bandwidth at home and have a router that does some optimization of bandwidth so you can stream three things simultaneously and still surf the web, that’s usually not how it works at the office. In an office you can manage network traffic, but that takes routers and firewalls and IT people who know how to configure them. And if the company’s grown and a 100 megabit connection isn’t doing it anymore, increasing it may double the cost of the service, take time for the ISP to build out, and require extending a contract with the company that probably also provides the phone service.

      So it may seem like something as simple as coffee in the break room or the arrangement of a desk, but it may well be making it harder for other people to do their jobs. If that’s the case, whoever made the decision should absolutely have sent out an explanation and it won’t hurt anyone for the OP to ask once. But it seems like the push back to the push back doesn’t want to acknowledge that it isn’t as simple as how a desk is arranged.

  64. mcr-red*

    #4 – I have a bad time with names, the difference between me and your coworker is that I don’t announce it, I just don’t use their name. So it might be “Hello, how are you? How are things in your side of the department?”

    And when it’s an extended department, like what you’re talking about, I’ve worked with people in that capacity for years, and I still have no idea what their name is.

    If I have repeated contact with you, it’s like my mind can save the information: That is Jane. If it’s just I might see you in the hallway, then it’s That is the lady that works in Department B.

  65. AppleStan*

    OP#3 – I suspect the prosopagnosia is a much larger thing for you (because you have lived with it all of your life) than for those you work with. Most if not all people will understand this. Almost EVERYONE has gone without recognizing someone they SHOULD know, and most people would definitely empathize!

    Face-blindness may not be as common to people as color-blindness, but it is a thing that most people have heard of.

    If it makes you feel any better, do a wikipedia search for famous people diagnosed with prosopagnosia. Maybe join a facebook group of people with prosopagnosia who also do the kind of work you do, and you all can trade effective tips on how you navigate the work place!

    You’re gonna do just fine!

  66. AceLibrarian*

    #4 – If it helps, when I met my best friend in high school I spent and entire semester calling her a similar, but wrong, name. I knew it was wrong but by god my brain just did not want to store the correct one. She’s the only person for which I’ve ever struggled that long to get the correct name stuck in my memory banks. Maybe it’s a similar situation for your coworker? Sometimes brains are pretty weird.

  67. irene adler*

    RE: #1- Gotta ask: has the boss had the microblading procedure done to her brows? Otherwise, you go first, boss!

    (Not that this should change anyone’s mind about undergoing such a procedure.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      The LW says the boss’ eyebrows look overdone, so I’m guessing that she has.

      I’ll stick with my caterpillar eyebrows, thanks. They are the one thing I have in common with Brooke Shields.

  68. QuinleyThorne*

    LW#1 – Firstly, I do agree with Allison’s advice; you should definitely attempt telling her directly first, if you haven’t already. Secondly, if you have already, and she is still this preoccupied with your eyebrows, you and your coworkers may just want to go to either her manager or HR (assuming her manager is accessible, and your HR is competent).
    I’d frame it like this: “This is an admittedly weird thing to have to tell you, but Manager has been pushing us for some time to get our eyebrows micro-bladed. While we understand that she got the procedure and is happy with her results, none of us have the desire nor funds to have it as well. But when we try to communicate that to her, she gets upset*, and continues to bring it up, even after we’ve told her no. She may not realize it, but it’s coming across that she’s weirdly preoccupied with our bodies in a way that’s increasingly inappropriate, given how many times we’ve told her no.** I hate to ask you to intervene on something like this, but we don’t know what else we can say to get her to respect our boundaries.”

    * – Have some specific examples ready, since they’ll probably ask
    ** – This is KEY, because at this point, your boss’ behavior constitutes harassment; it needs to be framed as such so it can be taken seriously.

    1. Me*

      Only thing I have is that I would leave it at no desire and not mention funds because that doesn’t matter. Not wanting to do it is the only reason needed.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, don’t offer any room for workarounds, DO offer “and I’d like you to stop asking me about it” when you speak to a pushy person. Write the boundaries in stone!

  69. Bopper*

    Faceblindness: Honestly I would tell my coworkers too…”I thought I should tell you have have prosopagnosia, which means face blindness. . If you ever think I am ignoring you, then it is only because of that. It would be super helpful if you said something like “Hi, OP. It’s me, John Daily. Remember we talked about the TPS reports last week? I had another question…”

    Also maybe you could ask your boss if people could wear their badges where you could see them.

  70. SigneL*

    LW #1 – I’m very blonde. I have eyelashes and eyebrows, they’re just really blonde. I did once have my eyelashes dyed but had an allergic reaction – not a good thing. Sometimes people ask me why I shave my eyebrows (they’re there! They’re just blonde!), why I don’t darken them, etc. Can we please just stop commenting on other people’s bodies?

    Maybe I love my own look! Maybe I have allergies and can’t use cosmetics. Maybe….maybe…it’s not your business. (I’m also aware I need to lose some weight. Thank you for reminding me.)

  71. Bopper*

    Faceblindness: Honestly I would tell my coworkers too…”I thought I should tell you have have prosopagnosia, which means face blindness. . If you ever think I am ignoring you, then it is only because of that. It would be super helpful if you said something like “Hi, OP. It’s me, John Daily. Remember we talked about the TPS reports last week? I had another question…”

    Also maybe you could ask your boss if people could wear their badges where you could see them.

    Can’t remember Name:
    I was a lunch and a guy who we don’t normally sit with sat at our table. One person asked what his name was. He said “Just remember March 17”. which is St. Patrick’s Day and his name is Patrick. That stuck with me.

    So to this person maybe you can help them…. Are you Blonde John? Are you smart and are Brain Jane?

  72. Tom (no, not that one)*

    @OP #2 – My company also blocked streaming services – but at least has a policy about this, and a reference on our intranet where people can look it up.

    There are a few things that could have happened.
    – Someone triggered a default ‘block streaming’ setting without realizing it.
    – IT was asked to do this by some manager, being told the manager would send out an update to all, but manager never did (if i got $1 for every time that happened at my current place of employment.. i`d have about $5879 by now in over 11 years)
    – People were abusing it – to a level that it impaired network quality. (large company, many people streaming.. can happen, depending on your network/internet speed)

    I would – as someone suggested – ask your boss again. Explain your reason (helps focus and drown out the open chewing sounds) and ask if your manager can contact someone, or if there is a specific someone you could contact.

    We IT people are really, really not at all dangerous or unfriendly, and we respond well (generally) to chocolate, cookies or good coffee :).
    But, if there is a rule / policy or whatever about this – it HAS to be documented somewhere – otherwise it`s a rogue action.

    1. Quill*

      Throughout my professional life I’ve found that IT loves 1) a problem that is well explained with relevant errors documented thoroughly 2) food based bribes.

      But apparently “talk to IT / customer service” is considered a specialized skill by some. :)

  73. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Turning off the easiest source of music hits close to home. I burned up 3 discmans doing big copying and merging projects back in the days.

    Also RIP the countless walkmans that died while I was mowing pastures as a child.

    Sadly companies adopt these rules usually as a cost cutting measure and so they’re not worried about inconveniencing their staff. I hope you get in a groove to download your music or stories before work. Changing your methods is frustrating but you get used to it with practice! Make it part of a new routine.

  74. Brett*

    I know lots of people are giving advice and how to download or otherwise suck up and deal with the block…

    But please work with your boss to figure out how to raise the issue. Many corporations rely on third-party whitelist/blacklist providers to block potentially malicious traffic. Quite often, this results in allowable but not directly work-related traffic getting blocked. Streaming services are frequently classified as internet storage services, because you can also upload to them. Internet storage services are intentionally blocked because they can be used by malware to leak data. (Note: Spotify _is_ a storage service. So it is unlikely it would get unblocked.)

    The fact there was no communication at all about the change makes me think that this could be an unintentional block instituted by a third-party provider.

    IT departments are interested in blocking malicious traffic and might grant a whitelisting that would undo the third-party block of a service. Or, they might evaluate the request and decide the block should stay in place because of potential for harm (again, especially if the service allows data uploads). It will not hurt to ask. There is not some corporate IT permanent file that will have a big scarlet letter “They asked for streaming!” notification following you around. (Yes, they will keep your request on record, but no one is going to care.)

    1. Daisy-dog*

      The company definitely dropped the ball by not communicating this change. However, it’s possible that blocking streaming services was intentional. Those of us saying to deal with it have been at companies (many, many companies) where this is the standard for so many reasons.

      Overall, I really don’t think it’s a bad option to just download in advance. But that’s because I did it for years.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Nah, one of our old IT companies told us we had to block all streaming services, they deemed them unsafe. So there was no whitelist and it just made everyone more crotchety the more it was brought up and the more they were told “no it’s not possible.”

      Asking about it once shouldn’t be an issue but prepared for a hard “no, it’s not happening.” in the end. Since it can go either direction.

    3. Brett*

      Agree with both of you above.

      You can ask once, as a “hey, can this be whitelisted?” but that is about it.

      And give a reason for whitelisting, even if that reason is, “We work in an open office plan and being able to listen to streaming music is beneficial for focusing.” Even though it might seem like it is a small benefit, it is a benefit and IT will balance that benefit against the security and bandwidth risk of streaming services.
      (And, maybe they will send out communication on the change and why it happened, which is what they should have done in the first place.)

  75. Goya de la Mancha*

    #2 – I feel for the lack of streaming. I realize how sad it sounds in the grand view of things, but I work in a metal and cement building that means crap reception on phones and radios. My computer doesn’t have a CD slot and Podcasts aren’t conducive to our environment (a lot of being away from your desk), so I rely heavily on streaming music/radio to give some sort of pick-me-up to my day.

    As far as podcasts go, it’s not hard to download ahead of time. I have several shows going for this reason alone. That way if I do happen to come to the last episode of one, I can jump into another show if need be.

  76. CupcakeCounter*

    Yes talk to your manager and I would also use the technical term when describing your face blindness – for some reason in my head using that term initially gives it a bit more weight (followed by the face blind explanation) where as simply saying “I’m face blind” seems almost like a cop out. I know OP and others with this condition aren’t faking it at all, but there is just something about using the big words when describing these kinds of conditions that make me take it a lot more seriously especially for things like this that without the knowledge of the condition could come off as rude.
    (and that wording sucks since I do believe people when they tell me they have something no matter what terms are used)

  77. Observer*

    #1 – Do you have a reasonable HR department? Or does your boss have a reasonably effective boss?

    If the answer to either is yes, I would definitely kick this upstairs. What your boss is doing is nuts.

    Just one thing – totally avoid passing any judgement on how your boss’ eyebrows look, or on the trend as a whole. You need your focus to be TOTALLY on the fact that this is 1. TOTALLY not work related, 2. Very personal, 3. an invasive, semi permanent and expensive procedure.

  78. Lemon Squeezy*

    To OP2 and others in similar situations,
    If you don’t want to use iTunes, either because of an incompatible device or ethical reasons, there are a ton of podcatchers that you can use to aggregate your feeds. Some have their own built in discovery tools as well. The one I use and recommend is Pocket Casts, but I’ve also heard good things about Downcast. Best cure would be getting the wifi unblocked, but until you find out how to do that, hopefully a good podcatcher will help in the meantime.

  79. Observer*

    #2 –

    You have two options. One is to do a LITTLE bit of pre-planning and download what you like. It’s not THAT much work, so making that into a big issue really doesn’t make you look good. I’m talking literally minutes in most cases. If you’re talking about pod casts, it’s even easier, as most podcast apps allow you to set them up to auto-download when you are on wi-fi so once you have the casts you are following, your player will download while you are still at home (or at a place that has free wifi you can use.)

    You could also use your own data. I get that it costs. And that’s the thing – it really is possible that your IT people cut off streaming because it wound up being a real and significant cost to the company to have a bunch of people streaming over wifi all day. Of course, letting you guys know this would have been a good way to go in that case.

    As for you boss, I’m finding it very hard to believe that she really can’t figure out who to bring it up with. If she really agrees that it’s a problem (rather than just saying that to get you off her back), it is PART OF HER JOB to figure out who to talk to. She might not convince them, but she might or she might get more information that would at least give you some context for what it happening.

    1. thanks*

      If you subscribe to a podcast on itunes, it will automatically download every time there is a new episode. It will take up phone space, but will be worth it for your peace of mind

      1. Observer*

        Pretty much every podcast app will do this. And most of them will also auto-delete the ones you played, so even if you don’t have a huge amount of space, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Audio files don’t need to take up much space, especially if you are talking about standard streaming quality files.

  80. thanks*

    When it comes to passing in the hallways, one thing that can help is having a standard greeting, like nodding at everyone. That’s the same advice I’d give to someone needing to maintain confidentiality, if you treat everyone politely it can be key. I do think giving the real explanation would go over better than “I don’t do faces!” because it is not a choice or inconsiderate of you. In terms of why you waited so long, it used to be possible for you to do your job effectively without saying anything, and now you’re seeing that it would be useful information for your supervisor to have.

  81. Naomi*

    #5: I’m going to pull out a few phrases from your letter, because there’s a pattern here:

    “it will come off that I’m not doing enough to help”
    “should I be doing more to pass along people’s resumes?”
    “damaging my professional relationships by seeming unwilling to go the extra mile”

    It sounds like you feel much more duty to help than you actually owe! And it seems like you’re also worried that there’s some minimum standard of helpfulness that people will judge you for not meeting.

    Even if you had more influence than you do, you wouldn’t have any obligation to help friends-of-a-friend that you don’t even know get hired at your workplace. There’s a reason it’s called going the EXTRA mile; it means doing something more than you’re required to do. It is perfectly okay to let people know that a) your influence is limited and b) you can’t really vouch for someone you don’t know, beyond passing on secondhand recommendations (“My former colleague Lucinda has worked with Jane and says she’s great”).

    Now, will some people feel entitled to your help and get stroppy if you don’t do more? Of course. But that’s not about you not doing enough; that’s about them expecting too much.

  82. Amber Rose*

    Funny story, my company also recently blocked all streaming, and in the process managed to block access to our own website. I can’t see our company website at work at all.

    So ridiculous.

    But this is also why I don’t stream music. Too many influences in the world can block access to it. That sucks. But also it took me five minutes to download a whole album last week, so it’s not that big of a deal.

  83. Veryanon*

    I had to look up microblading as I am not up on all these beauty things – my standards for leaving the house are “clean and will not scare anyone.” LOL.
    It would never occur to me to tell anyone what cosmetic procedures they should or shouldn’t have done. Who are these people?

  84. Elenia*

    Jut posting my offense at microblading! A quick google search says it’s $350, minimum! I barely put $10 into my eyebrows! I am so offended that a boss would ask this of you. Is she paying for it? Don’t mention that, though, she might offer to pay. :eek:

  85. freelance philosopher*

    on the streaming media question – get a radio. sheesh. and just so you know, there is a good reason for them to block music. it eats up network bandwidth. if your organization is running near capacity on the network bandwidth, a few hundred people constantly streaming music or other content can make a difference in network performance.

    on the loony boss trying to get her employees to have their eyebrows done – note the line “by her friend”. the boss is trying to drum up some business for her friend – which makes this even more grossly inappropriate. stand up for yourselves and say no. it’s just like bosses selling their kids girl scout cookies to their employees – it’s morally wrong and very unprofessional (just hundreds of dollars more expensive).

  86. WantonSeedStitch*

    I wear a full face of makeup to work every damn day because I LOVE playing with makeup, and it makes me feel happy, confident, and creative. I do not microblade, though, and would flip my sh!t at a boss who tried to pressure me into it. It’s very pricey, and cheaper places are notorious for having really appalling results and sometimes equally appalling sanitation. No thank you!

  87. LinesInTheSand*

    LW5: I hate this practice. I had to ask a colleague of mine to stop sending out intros to people I don’t know without talking to me first. For me it’s a safety issue: it’s a small industry and there are some people I don’t want to roll out the welcome mat for. My colleague understood as soon as I explained, but he hadn’t thought of it.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s reasonable to ask your colleagues not to send intros without checking with you first to see if you can or are willing to help. It makes life better for everyone: your time doesn’t get wasted, and candidates don’t get their hopes up.

  88. Tomato Frog*

    Sometimes as a manager I’ll say or do things that I regret. Next time I’m feeling bad about it, I’ll remember that at least I’ve never persistently criticized my direct reports’ physical appearance and pushed them to pay my friend to give them facial tattoos.

  89. Retail not Retail*

    #2 – I always download podcasts ahead of time because I don’t want to use as much battery by streaming.

    #4 – I know Alison thinks it’s probably not malicious but I have a coworker who only mixes up or mispronounces women’s and black guys’ names. Repeatedly. It has even become a safety issue at times – he’s looking at me, saying my name, but he meant the other girl outside the vehicle.

    1. Quill*

      Yeah, if demographic information had been supplied I would have jumped to that conclusion too, but absent that… hard to tell.

  90. Jean*

    LW #2 – I don’t stream at work either because our wifi sucks and we don’t get much of a data signal in the building. Pandora premium is the business. Less than $5 a month, and your stations are downloaded to your phone and available offline. It does take up a lot of storage on your phone, but to me it’s 100% worth it to have my music with me always no matter what the wifi situation is. Highly recommended!

  91. Martha*

    A good free podcatcher is You can set it to download podcasts automatically and to remove podcasts when you have listened to them. And some podcasts are music and not talking.

  92. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    She’s not just trying to get you to microblade, she’s trying to get you to have her friend do it…that’s even worse. This is a level up from the bosses that try to strong arm their reports into buying their Essential Oils or their spouses MLM scam of the month. Yuck. Worse because this isn’t nail polish, it’s semi permanent ink…in your face.

    I wouldn’t waste more words that “No. Never going to happen.” on this person. Boss or no boss, declining someone’s solicitation is easy and staying short is indeed respectful behavior.

  93. Third or Nothing!*

    #2: research your library’s audio book options. My library uses Libby to check out audio books electronically. They download to your phone and you can listen to them without using data. It’s what I use on my trail runs when reception can be spotty. Super useful!

  94. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    #4 You could start answering her with something like “It’s Lucinda. Why are you so proud of forgetting that?” [and then wait for her to say something].

    The point isn’t just that she forgets (or pretends to forget) your name, it’s that she’s making that into some kind of weird joke. So, yeah, return awkward to sender: your name isn’t weird (even if it’s Rumplestiltskin), she’s being weird.

  95. Northerner*

    LW4, consider addressing the larger pattern the next time Jane calls you the wrong name—just once, to see if it gets you anywhere.

    I once had a friend who would frequently mix up my name with another friend’s not-at-all-similar name. I didn’t think it was malicious, but it suggested a general lack of attention that irked me a little. So the next time it happened, I said something like, “Friend, I find it so strange that you keep calling Other Friend by my name! We are pretty clearly different people! What’s going on there?” He stopped and apologized, and it hasn’t happened since. If Jane’s lack of attention isn’t deliberate, doing something similar could help her attach a new memory (“oh, that’s LW4, the one who gets annoyed when I don’t call her LW4”) to you.

  96. Hobbit*

    Op #1 – During my teen years sister would nag me about my “thick” eyebrows and how I needed to pluck them. Fast forward about 10 years later, I hear her complaining how people have over-plucked their eyebrows and thick eyebrows are in. I just rolled my eyes at her. Beauty standards change.

    They are your eyebrows and you have the freedom to chose what you think is best. Please take Alison’s advice and don’t cave. If your boss wins this battle, what will she complain about next?

  97. 42 towels*

    I have a podcatcher that downloads on wifi while I sleep. I set the time to do it (so the 5 AM releases are downloaded). My employer does not provide us with wifi, and I wouldn’t expect them to.

  98. SigneL*

    Re: letter #1 – am I the only one who thinks the bosses’ friend did her eyebrows in exchange for the boss bringing in some friends to have theirs done?

  99. So sleepy*

    OP#4: I know it’s hard not to take personally but it probably isn’t about you. I had a head injury a few years back and am mostly back to normal with a few symptoms that come up every so often (but I frequently enough that I don’t generally warn people). One is that I have immense difficulty with names now – even people I have known a long time and greatly respect. I can usually (usually!) push through it with people I see a few times a week but less often than that and I just can’t (and, in fact, am able to somehow lose names of people I’ve previously known well or worked closely with). It’s embarrassing and I’m sure bewildering to some but it truly has nothing to do with the person (and is 100 times worse if there are a few people with similar ages/hair colours or people have been changing roles). If it were really bad like this I’ll sometimes mention why it’s happening but sometimes you just don’t want to talk about it with someone you aren’t super close with and hope they just think you’re forgetful.

  100. Ginger Baker*

    Re OP4…given that Jane ONLY forgets OPs name but *also* makes a point to comment on this fact…all the time…I do wonder if it is malicious. It definitely made me think of the GLORIOUS twitter story about the black woman who, after her white coworker refuses to use her actual name because “all those hood girl names are” too hard to pronounce, she proceeds to call him randomly by assorted various Basic White Boy Names for six months+. So it did cross my mind to wonder if a) Jane is being malicious because OP has some name from another culture or if somehow b) OP had done something that…made it appear they did not respect Jane’s name in some way.

    As someone who frequently takes a long time to put names to faces, this would not have been a thought in my mind except for the repeated mis-naming AND drawing attention to that fact (whereas my own experience and every discussion I have ever had with folks who also struggle with names suggests that we try to avoid using names if we are unsure and definitely don’t try to draw attention to it unless we are explaining our crappy overall name recollection).

    The twitter thread btw is here:

  101. Gimicky*

    OP 4, I actually disagree with Ginger Baker. I have short-term memory loss, and it’s made a natural inclination to forget names even worse. If I was repeatedly running into the same person and couldn’t remember their name, I would probably also awkwardly over-announce it every time, in an attempt to be self-deprecating.
    It’s really difficult to know how to handle forgetting someone’s name repeatedly, especially because you don’t want to see it as a slight, but also… you friggin can’t remember their name.

    You could always preempt her when you see her by saying “Hi, how are you?” and then either saying “My name’s OP” or supplying a name when your coworker hesitates. Doing this with a genuine smile and saying “I know it’s hard to remember” will help keep it from being malicious.

    1. Platypus Enthusiast*

      Genuine question- wouldn’t it be easier to just not use the person’s name? Instead of greeting him or her by the wrong name, just say “Good morning”, or “Hey, how are you”? I’d prefer that someone not use my name, instead of repeatedly calling me by different, incorrect names. I’m curious to know if other people would perceive talking to OP without using her name as the ruder option.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        People usually call you on it eventually, but that is what I do when I can’t remember. It reads to me like she’s trying to play it off as a joke to avoid that awful “you don’t know my name do you?” call-out moment.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      I got some weird push when people decided to have their eyebrows permanently done by electrolysis as well. My response was exactly what the OP said “Trends change”. Guess what, I stopped waxing my eyebrows and just pluck them myself because finally it’s cute to have these full eyebrows. DONT DO ANYTHING PERMANENT EVER when it comes to fashion/beauty.

      And I’ve seen enough tattoo botch jobs, I don’t need to see them on the face *sobs* That link *sobs*

  102. Zolk*

    For the faceblind LW – I am faceblind too! I usually make a point of telling the people I work with that while I am pretty good at recognizing them inside the office, I wouldn’t even recognize my own mother out of context (IE outside without warning) and that I’m not trying to be rude but chances are I won’t recognize them outside our office. So far everyone has been very cool about it. Occasionally I link to one of the recent articles about faceblindness as a point of interest, which helps.

    You might also suggest something my office has implemented: an online directory on our intranet that has photos, titles, phone numbers, emails, and which office they work in! Sometimes I know someone via email but have no idea what they look like or how to find them. If I have a screengrab of their face and an office location, that helps a lot.

    And good luck! I’ve been in the workforce for over a decade now, and I would say it’s important to let people know you’re faceblind but also to not let it become your defining characteristic in the workplace. You want to be known for how good your work is, so treat the faceblindness the same as being, say, colourblind. It’s a fact, it can occasionally impact your work, but in general it’s just something for colleagues to be aware of. (Same as if you had strong allergies or a mobility issue.)

  103. This is She*

    All I can think of re LW4 is the famouos Ron Swanson quote: “When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care.” (Sorry.)

  104. PennyLane*

    #3 I’ve never head of this, but it’s quite fascinating (I’m sure not to live with). If you feel comfortable with it, tell your colleagues. I think the way you framed it works well so they realize it’s not just that you aren’t good with faces, you genuinely can’t identify even those closes to you by face. If my coworker told me this, I’d make the effort when I saw them to be like “hey, it’s Pam”, like you would with a phone call, to make their life easier and so we can interact. It’s not like there’s anything to be ashamed of; but if people don’t know, they can’t do anything about it. And it may not be affecting your work, but it could impact your work relationships which could matter if you want to grow or work across departments.

    #2, I got an ipod (yeah, I’m old school) I bring to work so I don’t drain my battery or take up storage space. I just download podcasts each week and then you don’t even need to worry about having wifi.

  105. Shoes On My Cat*

    OP#4: I also have experienced this, & it may not be her issue, but maybe it is….My first name is uncommon in the US, but is very common in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, & Mexico. I grew up with the Ukraine/Russian pronunciation, but a childhood friend’s parents COULD NOT get it right, & kept falling back to the German pronunciation. Rather than make a fuss, I just considered it their nickname for me & played with my friends. Then I went to college in the midwest and people I knew casually could not remember my name. Really could not get it, and would use other names, too! Then I had an epiphany and told people to use the German pronunciation and et voila! People suddenly were remembering my name. It was so odd!-but it worked. They called me Shoes with a funny accent But I was no longer Sara, Samantha, Swati, Shanon, etc. To this day, if I call an 800 number, I use the German pronunciation (most US call centers are in the midwest) and they remember my name during the call-if I forget, even odds they will ask my name four or five times. Perhaps she knows someone who spells their name like you do but pronounces it differently and her brain shorts a bit despite best efforts?

  106. Jennifer Juniper*

    I just read about microblading and went “Oh, hell no!” Blades are not coming anywhere near my eyes just for some cosmetic procedure.

    If the boss starts to retaliate against the OP and other employees for not giving business to the boss’s friend, time to talk a walk to HR.

  107. PersephoneUnderground*

    Wanted to chime in that memory problems (and remembering names is the most embarrassing situation for those) are a part of ADHD among other things. Not diagnosing since it could be anything, but considering ADHD is a relatively common condition it would be a kindness to shift your thinking around this to understanding that a lot of people have trouble with names for various completely legit reasons (People very rarely admit to ADHD at work because it’s badly understood and admitting to a disability brings in the risk of bias). It’s not only face blindness that causes this. I really wish the entire idea that it’s a personal insult if someone can’t remember your name would go die in a fire. Because it sucks to be treated like a you’re being rude for something you cannot control completely no matter how hard you try.

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