my coworker asked why he wasn’t invited to my wedding, company PTO buy-backs, and more

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

1. My coworker asked why he wasn’t invited to my wedding

I got married recently, and it was wonderful. The next Monday, one of my coworkers texted me asking why he (Matt) and his girlfriend (Lisa) were not invited to the wedding, when two of my other coworkers were.

Backstory: I work in a cubicle and I have two coworkers (Rachel and Sally) who are my work buddies. We hang out outside of work sometimes, and they are the two I talk to the most at work about non-work-related things. Two weeks before my wedding, I was complaining to them about how some people canceled on coming to the wedding when we had already paid for them, and we were going to be out that money. Then the idea just came to my head and I asked them on the spot if they wanted to come. They were both free and said yes. They were the only people I was inviting from work, but I didn’t think anything else of it.

My now-husband and I have a dog, and we have asked Matt and Lisa to watch the dog a couple times, including during the wedding. So they knew we were getting married and were fine until they found out coworkers were invited and they were not. Also, Lisa used to work at the same place, but she had a different job and we only talked every other day or so. However, six months ago Lisa got a new job at a different company, and I haven’t talked to her since. Matt works in a different department and I only see him about once a week. We asked them to watch the dog, because they have done it in the past and they seemed to really enjoy it.

I responded to the text apologizing and saying it was a last-minute thing that Rachel and Sally came, and he never responded. Now there is this awkward thing out there, and I don’t know what to do. I feel like the ball is in their court, and I am willing, but I don’t want to, go talk to him in person and apologize, but what am I apologizing for?

I can see why, without knowing the full context, they might have felt a bit hurt that you know them well enough to have them watch your dog but they didn’t make the “coworkers invited to the wedding” list. (And as much as they enjoy your dog, that’s still a big favor they were doing you, especially if you didn’t pay them.) Matt’s text wasn’t a great move, but the dog-sitting makes his feelings somewhat more understandable.

I do think you should talk to him! Not to apologize — you didn’t really do anything wrong — but to try to smooth it over. Don’t use text for this though; go talk to him face-to-face and say, “I wanted to say more about what I mentioned my text. We weren’t having coworkers at the wedding at all, but Rachel and Lisa ended up taking the place of some guests who canceled at the last minute. It was an impromptu thing when I was complaining to them about our cancellations. I’m sorry if that seemed weird!”

(If there were no dog-sitting involved, you could rely on the time-tested “it was a small wedding” or even be candid that you didn’t invite other coworkers either, just two people you consider outside-of-work friends. But the dog-sitting does mean you should handle it a bit more delicately.)

2. Should I let my company buy back my PTO?

I work for a company that offers a very generous PTO benefit. Our unused days roll over and there is no limit to the amount we can accrue. Each year around this time, our company offers to buy back a portion of our unused PTO. The buy back must be done in weekly increments and we can “sell” up to three weeks of our PTO. The only stipulation is that your remaining balance must leave you with at least one week of PTO. The hours sold are paid out at 50% of your hourly rate.

In the past, I have sold back one week and last year I sold two. I’ve been here long enough that I accrue new days at a very rapid rate, and I very quickly re-gain the days that I sold back. I do sometimes wonder if this is a good thing to do. I usually carry a balance of 6-7 weeks accrued PTO. I’m not shy about taking PTO when I need/want to do so. I usually take at least two week-long vacations each year, as well as the occasional long weekend or added days to holidays. If I need to take PTO due to illness or personal appointments, I do that as well. I’m a generally healthy person, although I know that unexpected illness or accidents can happen at any time. Our company does provide an extended illness benefit, and I have both long- and short-term disability insurance on my own.

It seems silly to sit on days that I realistically won’t likely use when I could cash them in. While a little extra spending money is always nice, I definitely don’t need the money to pay bills or make ends meet. On the other hand, it seems that I am shorting myself by accepting 50% of their value. And, I know that there is always the possibility of something unexpected happening that might make me wish I had the days to fall back on.

Does your accrued PTO get paid out when you leave the company? If so, that’s the best of both worlds — you keep the PTO in case you need it at some point, and if you don’t it gets paid out when you leave (generally at 100% of the rate, rather than the 50% they pay if you sell it back now). So you’d get the safety net and more money.

If it doesn’t get paid out when you leave … well, I don’t think carrying a PTO balance of six or seven weeks is excessive. Things happen — accidents, serious illnesses, etc. You might be very glad to have that amount accrued at some point. That said, you can balance that against factors like how your company’s extended illness benefit works, and when disability insurance would kick in. Basically, imagine a catastrophe happening, and game out what you’d want/need from your PTO at that point, and I think there’s your answer.

3. My boss tells us to shut up

My boss is temperamental, to say the least. Often she will ask me and other employees questions, which is fair enough, but if she feels you aren’t directly answering (for example, giving a bit of background or trying to shed light on a bigger issue) she will interrupt and say loudly, “Just stop” and start repeating her question. She does this in private and in front of other employees, which I find embarrassing. One time we were discussing an issue while she was upset with her boss, not me. She told me to use the “correct file” and when I asked for clarification as to which file was the correct one, she told me to “just shut up.”

I realize that often she is stressed, but I find this extremely disrespectful and rude. Am I being oversensitive?

No. That’s incredibly disrespectful and rude. Frankly, I’d even saying that coming from someone in a position of power, “shut up” is even abusive.

4. Dealing with snarky comments from patients after being gone for major surgery

I’m a primary care physician and I am about to go back to work after taking a 4.5-week unpaid leave for major surgery, which I had a couple of complications from. My patients were given plenty of notice that I would be away and I have good coverage for them from my colleagues.

How do I handle the comments I know I’m going to get when I’m back? Patients assume I’m taking vacation any time I’m away, and before I left got some “must be nice to get a four-week vacation” / “must be nice to make enough money to not work for a month” comments. Unfortunately, my chronic depression has flared up a bit after surgery and I’m worried I won’t cope with those comments well.

I’ve considered just telling them I was actually away for surgery (and I did tell a few patients who I know well and who have good boundaries about that sort of thing), but I’m worried that will invite personal questions about my health that I’ll have to find some way to dodge. I think what I need is a script to defuse the comments and change the subject, but I’m a little stuck on what to say. On a side note, one of my colleagues had a family member die earlier this and had to go away for about two weeks, and a patient said to them when they got back, “Your relative died and you were gone for two weeks? What took so long?” So there’s a bit of a history of some of our patients really being unkind about us being away.

Wow, your patients.

How to answer it depends how much you’re comfortable sharing. The easiest and most direct response is probably to say, “It was medical leave, actually, but I’m doing much better now.” (That has the side benefit of possibly making the snarkier people feel a little bad about their snarkiness.) If you’d rather be vaguer, you could say, “Oh, it wasn’t vacation. I wish it had been! A four-week vacation sounds nice to me too!” and then quickly change the subject.

5. Is this employer not receiving my emails?

I had a quick phone chat with a company I am very interested in and it went well. The company is located in a nearby state which I was in the process of moving to. Shortly after our call, I got in touch with them to see if we could meet in person, which we were able to. They mentioned there were no current openings but they were very eager for me to keep in touch and to email once I was settled after the move so they could arrange another meeting with a different team member.

All of our emails until this point were on one email thread. I sent an email the day after our meeting and started a new email thread for this, but I did not hear back from them. I sent another email the week before I moved and a follow-up after I moved, but I have not heard back. I’m wondering if it’s possible they may not have gotten the emails on the new thread or if it’s normal for an email to go unanswered after almost a month, especially since until now I’d always heard back almost immediately. I almost want to hop onto the original thread to check if they’ve received my other emails, but I know that would be pushy so I’m a bit stumped with what to do here. Should I just accept and move on, or is it worth finding a way to follow up?

Well … it’s really common for employers to ghost people after interviews. And it’s pretty uncommon for people not to receive your emails simply because you started a new thread (although not impossible). So the most likely explanation is that they’re not responding because they don’t have anything they want to move forward with right now.

You’ve now sent three emails without responses, so normally I’d say any more would be too pushy — that the ball is squarely in their court now and they’ll be in touch if they ever want to be. It sounds, though, like it would give you some peace of mind to try one more time from the original thread … which will be a lot if they got the first three, but if you want to do it, I’d wait at least a month from the last one you sent. Or alternately, you could even call at that point instead. But definitely after that, it’s time to move on.

{ 497 comments… read them below }

  1. ZucchiniBikini*

    LW #4, ugh. I’m with Alison – wow, your patients! I get that people are very attached to their doctors, but …

    I got those kinds of comments from one of my more obstreperous clients when I was out with flu for almost two weeks last (Australian) winter. She’d assumed I was on “one of those freelancer endless holidays”, and was quick to say so, at length. To be completely fair to her, I actually had been on a long holiday only 3 months before that (I went to Japan for 3 weeks), but I gave scads of notice to everyone for the holiday and arranged coverage while I was away.

    If you wanted to, you could do something like I did with my client – smile sweetly and sigh wistfully, and say “If only I *could* take a holiday! It would be so nice after all those medical shenanigans”. That set my client back on her heels, but I’m not sure how is would play with your patients.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      I think an ounce of prevention might work even better here than coming up with responses for these comments.

      OP, how do your patients all know you were out for a specific amount of time? Is your scheduler telling them? Can you have the scheduler instead just say that you’re unavailable for an appointment during that time and that Dr. So and So is covering your patients during that time? Most will only see that as you being out a day here and there rather than long periods of time. I think you and your staff deserve more privacy than you’re getting here, and it seems quite fixable.

      1. LW 4*

        My schedulers do just tell them I’m not available that day, but we also have this online booking system where they can look for weeks at a time and see how long I’m away. And they’ll also sometimes ask the scheduler for my next available appointment so they find out that way (because usually I keep on the day bookable spots open, so if there’s nothing for 3 weeks, that tips them off). The online booking is actually a real problem in a number of ways and there’s an ongoing battle about it with my clinic manager, who loves it (and is not a physician).

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          Well, as a patient, I love online booking too, because its so much easier than trying to get through to a busy office, getting put on hold and having the call dropped, or leaving a voicemail message and never hearing back, etc., because the practice hasn’t hired enough people to answer their d*mn phones!
          If patients are using it to “police” their doctors, then that’s really objectionable. But I wonder if it might actually be something else —
          Many years ago, when I worked as a receptionist in a doctors’ office, the senior partner had a heart attack and was gone for several weeks, and when his patients would call for appointments, I would tell them that he was away due to illness so they had to see one of the other doctors in the practice temporarily. I was astounded at the rude reactions I would get sometimes — one was “well, I’m sure he’s not too sick to see ME!” — as though he had some sort of obligation to crawl in from his sickbed because THEY wanted an appointment. Or, sometimes people were annoyed rather than sympathetic, “well, what am I supposed to do NOW?”– as though their problem should be the office’s only concern.
          But being older now, and unhealthier, I think these types of reactions from frustrated patients were mostly due to anxiety about their own health problem, combined with a feeling of abandonment about not being able to see the doctor they had come to depend on so much.
          So I wonder if the comments you are getting about being away are actually just patient anxiety because they like you so much as their doctor.

          1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            Your last couple of paragraphs are pretty much the thoughts that went through my head when I read this question and answer.
            While I’m happy to see any doctor, I do know people who have experienced real panic over having to go through their medical history with someone new – not because it isn’t all there on the computer, but because the computer doesn’t contain all the nuances and other bits of personal history that a person says to their GP. (My most recent visit was to a locum doctor, who took one look at my notes, where the previous (locum) doctor had written that my job included data entry, and before I’d even opened my mouth, asked if I was here about Tendonitis – no, I was there because I was suffering from stress, anxiety and sleeping problems because my useless coworkers were incapable of doing the levels of data entry that were putting me behind in other areas of my work – he’d made all the correct conclusions based on the written notes, but the relevant information for this visit was missing)

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I get this *all the time* at sick visits. “You’re not sick, you’re having an asthma flare, your asthma is poorly controlled.”

              Interestingly, you know what causes asthma flares? Having viruses and bacteria lodged in your lungs. Funny how that is.

          2. Koala dreams*

            Yes, it can be very stressful to see a new doctor and some patients take it out on you. I suggest a short answer, like “Yes, it’s nice”, or “Okay” and then changing the topic. After all, your patients don’t need to know if you have vacation or medical leave or whatever.

            As for the booking system, I think it’s a good thing when it’s posted if the doctor is away for a longer time, like: Dr X, on leave, back (date). Dr Y, available Monday-Thursday.

            However, if there is just the schedule, and you have to click on every day to find out, it’s annoying.

            1. Veronica*

              As an anxious patient I don’t think I’d be comfortable with this. The primary I saw for 18 years would tell me when she was on vacation, or maternity leave. I don’t remember any extended medical leave.
              I liked this because it was straightforward and helped us bond. An evasive answer like “Okay” or a lie indicating you were on vacation when you weren’t would make me wonder why you’re being secretive – do you not like me? Are you hiding something from your patients?

              How can I count on a physician who doesn’t like me and is hiding something?

              I did sometimes get frustrated if I was sick and she was away, but I don’t take it personally. If anyone needs vacations, it’s doctors!

              1. Rugby*

                “How can I count on a physician who doesn’t like me and is hiding something?”

                That is taking it way too personally. Your doctor is not obligated to like you or share personal information with you. They are obligated to provide you with care in a professional way. For doctors and other care providers, part of being professional means maintaining personal distance.

                1. somanyquestions*

                  I very much agree. This isn’t a family member, this is a person you have a professional relationship with. Doctors aren’t required to perpetually share the private details of their lives with their patients. And the idea that if they don’t share those details they dislike the patient bothers me. It just seems so invasive.

                2. Veronica*

                  Have you ever had a doctor treat you like an imposition? Dismiss what you say about your needs? Not make eye contact? Give the impression in every way they’re not interested in you as a person?
                  It’s not good. I can’t count on such a doctor because they clearly don’t care whether I’m ok or not. They’re just going through the motions. That might be ok for something straightforward like a cold or broken bone, but my medical problems usually require the doctor and I to work together and I’d much rather have a doctor who is interested in doing that and cares whether it works for me!

                3. Rugby*

                  @Veronica, there is a huge difference between not making eye contact with a patient and not wanting to share personal information about yourself with a patient. Do not conflate the two. A doctor can and should provide professional care while maintaining personal boundaries.

                4. PollyQ*

                  @Veronica — Doctors like that, while unfortunately not rare, are inexcusably rude & unprofessional. Any doctor, whether she’s seeing you for the first time or the hundredth, should treat you with respect and kindness, and be engaged in working with you, not “on” you.

                  But as @ruffingit said, that’s a very different thing that them having to share their personal lives with you.

                5. Anonymouse*

                  Bedside manner =/= liking you as a person. I honestly could not care less how my doctor demonstrates her like of me, just her respect for me as a patient would be plenty. And that respect goes both ways.

                  Rude doctors are missing an element of their professionalism. Has nothing to do with whether they like you or not.

              2. Rectilinear Propagation*

                But the response is only being suggested for the patients who are being rude and say things like, “Must be nice…”. As you say, you don’t take it personally when your doctor is away so you wouldn’t get the flat, “Okay”.

              3. Blueberry*

                Are you really entitled to your doctor’s medical information, though? Do you need to know that your doctor, say, broke her leg in a car crash and right now her doctors aren’t sure how long she’ll need to be out of work? I do know from when I was a medical secretary I wouldn’t’ve been allowed to tell you that!

                1. Veronica*

                  No, of course not! Just say they’re on medical leave and not sure how long. Then I would have the info I need to know whether to wait for her or see someone else.

          3. Jay*

            This. It’s not about you. It’s about them – which is very difficult to remember when you’re already stressed and depressed and primed to feel bad anyway. I hope you feel better! I’m a doc and I took five weeks over the summer for a knee replacement (luckily I’m employed and had PTO and STD so I got paid). When I got back and got the “must be nice!” comments, I said “I’m sorry, I know it was disruptive and difficult for you,” or some version of that. It kept the visit focused on what was going on with the patient and not my issues.

            There were a couple of people who directly asked me and I said I was on medical leave, and that was as far as I went. One of the reasons I stayed out for five weeks was so that I’d be able to walk without a cane when I returned – I didn’t want to have to answer questions about that or have patients fuss about me.

            1. CM*

              I love this approach — it doesn’t justify your time off at all or tell the patient anything about your personal life, and it acknowledges the underlying human feelings of the patient (even though you have to dig deep to get past the rudeness of “must be nice” comments).

              1. Jay*

                This is why self-care is SO important. I can get past the rudeness when I’m well-rested and have eaten lunch and have a good support network (among other things). It’s also why I am now working in a job where the productivity expectations are manageable and I don’t have to chart in the evenings, and I’m actively resisting efforts to help me “advance.” I don’t want to “advance.” I did that before and it was not good for me. I’ll stay here, thanks.

            2. Poppy the Flower*

              Oooh, I really like this response. I think it gets at the anxiety or other feelings that may be behind the comment.

          4. Flash Bristow*

            To be fair that was my thought, although not in that selfish manner!

            More that, as someone with many complex health needs, it helps to see the same person each time. They would know that, say, my vomiting is a side effect of X, which is essential because of Y… Etc. They know what’s “normal for me”. And when appointments are strictly limited to 10 minutes, you don’t want that to be taken up just explaining your history, nor for what you’re presenting to be taken at face value rather than considering me as a whole.

            But I’m not going to take it out on my regular doctor if they’re away – I expect them to have needs and a life too! It just leaves the ball in my court as to whether I must urgently see a doctor, any doctor, or would rather wait until my regular GP returns.

            Getting angry won’t solve anything! But we know that. It might be harder to think logically if you’re in pain and frustrated, I suppose…?

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, I’m dreading changing doctors when I eventually move, because all my long term health concerns reinforce each other.

            2. LW 4*

              I’m also a patient with complex needs myself so I definitely get that. But interestingly, the patients who don’t react well to me being away actually tend to not be my complex patients. Although that’s probably because I see them often enough that I tell them I’m going to be away and make a plan with them and even get my covering colleagues in at the end of an appointment to meet them so they feel more comfortable.

          5. Tammy*

            I agree with this too. For me, as a woman of transgender experience, I put a lot of time and effort into finding healthcare providers who are not just knowledgeable about my history but who I know will be supportive and affirming and not terrible to me when I work with them. (Sad that this is necessary, but we live in the world we live in.) As a result, when my doctor isn’t available for a prolonged period of time, it definitely produces some significant anxiety. I personally wouldn’t take this anxiety out on the provider, but I’m sure some people do. It’s unfortunate that you’re having to deal with it, LW4, and I hope you can find better systems that don’t exacerbate this effect.

          6. Name Required*

            It doesn’t matter if it’s a matter of patient anxiety or not … these are really inappropriate and rude reactions. The doctor has every right to be treated respectfully, even if their (unplanned, surgery-related) absence caused distress for a patient. Their feelings are understandable, their behavior is not.

            1. Jay*

              This is true, and the best way to curtail the behavior is to address the emotion behind it. My relationship with my patients is my most valuable therapeutic tool. I will set limits on behavior when I have to, which is when it starts interfering with my ability to do my job and/or is abusive to me or someone else. “Must be nice” doesn’t rise (or fall) to that level.

        2. Beatrice*

          I am sure the online booking system saves a lot of phone time with office staff, if people are able to self-serve their own scheduling, but if you have coverage while you are out, can you make the online booking tool show that appointments are available? Can it just show overall provider availability in your practice instead of your personal availability? Can you make a rule that appointments requested in the next X business days may be covered by someone other than the patient’s usual provider?

          When I call my doctor with urgent symptoms and ask for a quick appointment time, I am not usually given information about Dr Jones’s availability, I am told that the next available appointment is with Mary Smith, the clinic’s PA, tomorrow at 9 am. The conversation is patient-focused, on how urgently I need to be seen and when someone can see me. I only hear about Dr Jones’s availability if I push to see Dr Jones and not Mary Smith, or if I push for a specific appointment date that doesn’t work for Dr Jones. But even then, the reason is both vague and final (Dr Jones is scheduled to attend a conference that day, Dr Jones will be out on medical leave, Dr Jones is on vacation.) Then the conversation is shifted quickly back to finding a date/solution that works for me.

          1. TheCommenterFormrlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

            It never occurred to me to wonder why my doctor might not be available at a given time. I figure she has other patients/appointment…not just me. I mean ok when she was out on maternity leave I did know why, but she was pregnant, it was obvious she was gonna be gone at some point. Also, she emailed her patients saying she would be on mat leave from X to Y. I’ve seen her PA often for minor but still need to be seen stuff and I love her as much as I love my GP, so either one is fine with me. I would never think that a doctor needed to reschedule stuff, much less come in sick just for me.

          2. blackcat*

            Right. This is how it’s worked at every practice.
            “The next available appointment is at 10am tomorrow with Clinician B. If you want to see Clinician A, the soonest available appointment is next Thursday at 11am.” It’s no big deal. I have gotten heads up from doctors about being on leave, but that’s really it.
            The only time I felt a bit silly about a doctor’s leave was making an appointment with my dentist. I asked for a specific week, any time, because I was off that week. I asked if I couldn’t possibly be squeezed in. I got the response “Oh, she’s taking off since it’s her kids’ spring break.”
            Well, d’uh, of course I knew that. I WAS TEACHING HER CHILD. Then I felt like an idiot and said “Oh, of course, let’s find something else.”

        3. Asenath*

          That’s probably the source of the problem – the online booking system gives out too much information, and that gives fuel to the (hopefully few) patients who make snarky personal remarks. I wonder if it can be re-configured or something? I know when my family doctor is away, the only reason I know is that her secretary tells me she’s not available on X date; I can get an appointment on Y with her or Z with her locum, so with no online booking system, I have no way of knowing how long she’s going to be off. And, to be honest, it didn’t occur to me to ask.

          1. LW 4*

            Our particular online system really really sucks unfortunately and I have a long list of things I hate about. But it’s also really cheap so the clinic manager won’t change to a better system.

        4. Robin Sparkles*

          As someone who works in healthcare and is part of projects that implement exactly these types of tools – I have to say the issue isn’t the tool at all (yes I am biased here but I have experience with push back from physicians and clinicians whenever I am implementing a change that improves how they deliver care and often times the issue is rarely the tool but the change in process, mindset, and culture). So I would dig into the root problem here -which is how your patients are “tipped” off that you are on vacation just because an appointment isn’t available for 3 weeks. When I try to book appointments with my PCP, all it tells me is that the next available is a few weeks out. For all I know, my PCP has booked appointments that entire time with patients. I wouldn’t have jumped to vacation unless the front desk told me so. So your patients are somehow getting trained that it is OK to know about your personal life and make rude comments. It’s time to start training the office and modifying the booking tool to provide minimal information necessary and politely shut down rude comments from your patients.

          I am sorry you are experiencing this.

          1. Lizardbreath*

            It sounds like the OP typically offers some urgent same-day visits, and the lack of those are what’s signaling to her patients that she’s out for a longer period. From her reply above it sounds like you can’t actually book the same day visits through the online system but that they’re getting the information from her scheduler on the phone. I have my own issues with online booking (namely that you have to be very careful about settings or it’s surprisingly easy for patients to book visits incorrectly, but that’s usually the office manager and not the technology).

            It’s not unreasonable to let patients know that you’re out for a while, especially if they’re used to being able to get in for urgent visits–I definitely have patients that will hold out for a few days to see me for semi-urgent things rather than see one of the other people in the practice, but a few weeks is not feasible, and it’s not good practice to make people keep calling back day after day to see if you have availability, as some of them would.

            The snarky comments are par for the course, unfortunately. I got a LOT of commentary about my maternity leaves, which of course would have been difficult to disguise as anything else for patients I see often. Most patients were lovely, of course, but there were always a few who treated it as a personal imposition. When you’re seeing 20 patients a day, even a 1 or 2% bad apple comment rate means you’re getting at least one a week.

          2. OhBehave*

            I wonder if patients call the office when they can’t see their doc in a week. I can totally see them calling to ask why they can’t get in to see their doc. It’s on the staff to keep their mouth shut and say only that he’s booked.

            1. Blueberry*

              As someone who used to have that job I absolutely agree. Staff should know better than to give out excessive information about the providers’ lives.

        5. LD*

          Oof. I’m a PCP too and I hear you. When I’ve had to handle those kind of comments in the past a couple of things were really helpful to me:
          1) looking inward and seeing why they were hitting such a nerve. It turned out I was feeling a lot of guilt and inadequacy about the leave and coming to terms with it was really helpful and freeing. Byron Katie’s The Work was great for this.
          2) I literally counted up the number of patients I saw per day who DIDN’T make a comment. Having 20+ patients a day who didn’t say anything helped me realize it was a super small amount.
          3) I’m still working on creating healthy boundaries but I did realize I was kind of training my patients not to have them. Paperwork and refills are done the next business day. I don’t “squeeze people in” if my partner has an opening or it can wait until the next day etc.

          I hope that helps! You’re in my thoughts and I hope you feel better soon.

      2. TootsNYC*

        actually, I wonder if there’s a benefit to officially saying something about “medical leave.”

        And then if people pry, the OP should say, with a smile, “Patient privacy applies to everyone, no matter how serious or how minor the medical issue. Let’s focus on your health.”

        Is that awkward? Sure–but you’re a doctor, you need to be able to have difficult conversations. Time to bone up.

        1. Veronica*

          I like this much better than a non-answer that gives the impression the doctor is hiding something.
          If I knew my doctor had been on medical leave I would just say “I hope you’ll be ok” and move on.

          1. Allonge*

            Would it be an idea for you to think a bit more why it matters to you? Your doctor does not owe you information on their private life… and not sharing a reason for being unable to take appointments is not hiding things, its maintaining normal privacy.

            1. Veronica*

              It matters because if they’re taking several weeks at a time for medical, that’s unavoidable and could happen to anyone.
              If they’re taking several weeks at a time, several times a year for vacation, that sends a message they don’t want to be at work, and tells me to look for a doctor who’s still engaged with their work.

              1. serenity*

                This is very much not a patient’s business to know or to feel entitled to ask about. Whether a doctor is on vacation or on leave occasionally (medical or otherwise) has no connection to how “engaged” they are with their work and your comments on this subject are a little odd.

              2. Anonymouse*

                “If they’re taking several weeks at a time, several times a year for vacation, that sends a message they don’t want to be at work, and tells me to look for a doctor who’s still engaged with their work.”

                Let’s be mindful that doctors are also professional workers who are entitled to a respite from their chosen occupation however brief or otherwise. It can be hard to square away the urgency of one’s own medical needs with the labor rights of doctors but please don’t say that taking weeks or months off is indicative of one’s drive and dedication to their chosen line of work. That is a toxic line of thinking that AAM and AAM commenters have worked very hard to dispel. We need an environment where there are more doctors to go around so that they can feel free to take whatever leave they need to be refreshed. A burned out doctor probably cannot work to the best of their abilities and their quality of care will show that distress.

              3. Allonge*

                If you want to have a doctor who is available at all times, that of course is your decision. Please know though that doctors need time to unwind like all of us, on top of having medical issues and other emergencies.
                I am not a doctor, but if any client of mine would insist to know why I am away at any time to see if this measures up to their standards, I might decline to do business with them, or if that is not feasible, then lie about why I am away cause they are still not entitled to know. So your demands may well cause a more specific breach of trust than the theoreticals you come up with.

    2. Aphrodite*

      My PCP takes every August off probably for vacation) but as I recall the staff at the clinic just tells patients he is unavailable for appointments until September. Is that phrase workable for you?

    3. MK*

      I dislike this, because it basically indulges the attitude that one shouldn’t take long vacations, unless there is a “good” reason. I always enthusiasticly agree with “must be nice” comments, and if the other person is being obnoxious, I tack in an explanation of how I deserve this after my hard work or how I made it happen by saving. People shouldn’t have to justify taking time of.

      A nurse I know shut these comments down by having a big picture conversation with her patients, explaining that she would be taking time of for holidays, vacation and personal reasons, and asking them whether they might prefer another nurse, if they really needed someone who would be available all the time. But I understand most people could not afford to make that stance.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        Yes, a long vacation is nice, and there’s nothing wrong with taking one (especially with coverage for your duties)! My hair guy takes the majority of October off to go camping with his girlfriend. I found this out the first year I started working with him and was looking for an October appointment, so I just found someone else for a trim that time and make sure to schedule for September/November now.

        A doctor is more vital than scraggly hair, of course, but I usually have to wait a month for specific doctors anyway so I don’t see an issue when there are other doctors available.

      2. Atalanta0jess*

        I don’t know what type of patients you mostly have, but I’d find it pretty insensitive if my doctor made a comment about deserving a long vacation because she worked hard or saved her pennies….so many of us work hard and save our pennies and still don’t have access to that kind of break.

        On the other hand, if my doctor said, yes, I’m very fortunate that I’m able to take an extended break to really care for my wellbeing. I wish our culture supported everyone’s ability to do that! I’d find her much more sympathetic.

        Talking about desert feels pretty messed up most days, you know?

        1. Delphine*

          If you’re the type of person to make comments like those the LW has received then I think you’re the type of person who can deal with a doctor saying she deserved a vacation because she worked hard.

        2. Grapey*

          People in glass houses of being sensitive to their own poverty shouldn’t throw stones like “must be nice” to those that can afford it in the first place.

          If it’s something you’d like to have, ridiculing other people for it makes you look petty and jealous.

    4. Fikly*

      Seconding the wow, your patients! This happened to me recently with a specialist right when I was trying to get something tricky diagnosed. I was told she had a family emergency. The leave kept extending, then eventually it turned into her being gone for at least a year because a child is ill. I’m guessing it’s something terrible like cancer.

      And you know what? I’m horrified and sad for her. And I went and found another doctor. If I hadn’t ended up moving, and she does come back, I would never dare say anything other than best wishes.

    5. Anon Here*

      So, this is arguably pathological. I sometimes have doctors commenting on my “depressed mood” because I’m not super bubbly and happy when I have the flu. If that’s acceptable, it would be even more acceptable to treat insulting comments as symptoms of a health issue. I don’t mean reasonable questions. I mean when patients are inappropriately angry and accusatory about it. Consider conditions that could cause that kind of behavior and ask them questions to suss out a possible cause. “How’s your mood? How’s your energy level? How are your medications working for you? How is your life in general – any major sources of stress? Are people treating you ok? Do you have any chronic pain? Anything you haven’t brought up?” I bet you would end up helping some people. Some could be depressed or have untreated medical needs they weren’t talking about, they could have a difficult family situation and need extra support for that, etc. You’re seeing symptoms and they are in a place where they can get help.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “You seem particularly upset by this. That’s not a common reaction–is it an indicator of something we should be alert to? How are you feeling lately?”

        Though I’d think a doctor should focus less on trying to embarrass them out of the emotion and more about things like, Are you feeling particularly worried about your health? are you extra tired lately, and is that something medical?

        or maybe don’t actually ask them that, but just do that exercise mentally without letting them know that you’re doing it.

        1. Anon Here*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t put them on the spot. I would bring it up very compassionately when they had calmed down. Just ask questions to make sure there’s no underlying health issue, or even a life circumstances issue that you could offer some help with (referrals for counseling, support groups, or whatever was relevant).

          It would also be good to ask how their care was while you were away. Being upset about the “vacation” could be a way of expressing that they didn’t have a good experience with whomever was covering for you.

    6. Mama Bear*

      I think less is more in these situations, and I agree to use just a simple “it was medical leave” type comment. That actually gives them more than they need to know, but doctors are human, too, and deserve time off for their own self-care, be it surgery or grief. When a doctor of mine (who is booked months in advance) had to reschedule due to the death of her FIL, I absolutely understood. It’s not like you left them without options, even if they prefer you. In my case, I was also offered the option to see other doctors in the practice and the staff knew which doctors had a similar bedside manner. I have paid out of pocket to see a preferred doctor, so I get the anxiety, but if I like a doctor *that* much, I ought to also be able to sympathize with them when necessary.

    7. Door Guy*

      I used to get that from my direct reports. We all worked in the field so phone was the only mode of contact. They were all given a copy of the supervisor schedule, but none of them ever read it (or so it felt). They’d call and call and then complain I didn’t answer my phone. I was working 6 day weeks with Friday off typically, and I got so many “Lucky, you have Friday off” comments.

  2. Nini*

    I’m having trouble understanding the point of a PTO buyback at 50% when you could just… take the day off and be paid 100%.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      Sometimes it’s just not feasible to take that much leave. OP earns a ton from the sound of it, and may find the money to be more valuable to them at this point than regularly trying to catch up from being out. And even though it’s earned time, let’s not pretend that taking all the accrued leave (if you earn months of it a year) won’t affect how you’re seen by bosses and co-workers who have to cover for you. It could really impact career trajectory.

      1. Mockingjay*

        My husband accrues more leave than I, so a portion of his tends to go unused when we plan vacations. Just how it is. He can roll over some of it until he reaches a cap. He also takes occasional trips to see his parents without me.

      2. anna713*

        Can companies refuse you leave if you have it owing to you?
        At the company I work for (in Australia) people regularly take 2 or more months off, as long as they give enough notice its not an issue.
        One guy in my team is only working 10 weeks of next year

      1. Gaia*

        It isn’t really a scam. Sometimes you really do accrue more time than you can (or want) to take off.

        I worked at a company that, by my last year accrued 6 weeks of PTO plus 20 sick days plus unlimited flex time. I managed a new team that year and my own personal preference meant I had no desire to take six weeks off. They didn’t offer a buy back option but I would have taken it if they did, even at 50%.

        1. Niedźwiedź*

          Agree. I earn more than I can usually use in a year. My personal days don’t roll over the way PTO does. I’m trying to figure out where to take two days off before the year’s end. My conference travel also limits my ability and need to take big vacation time. I add a couple days of PTO for sightseeing. Done.

          If PTO wasn’t paid out if I leave I’d cash it in too.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Yeah, I have more PTO than I can use due to the nature of my work, but it doesn’t roll over and there is no buy-back. I’d love to sell a week or so.

        3. Lyudie*

          Ditto. We have more work than people to do it and I usually end up losing a couple of days PTO at the end of the year, even with rolling over 40 hours. We might not be able to meet our deadlines if we all took all of our PTO. I’d love to get 50% of my pay back for those hours.

        4. Turquoisecow*

          My mom is about to retire in a few months and has accrued like 200 sick days. I think she gets 15 a year or something like that? Until the last few years, she often took zero days, and then would get a $200 bonus for “perfect attendance.”

          Recently she realized that the $200 bonus wasn’t worth it, and also when she retires she’ll get some complex percentage of sick days paid out – like 1/4 paid at 50% then another quarter at 25% or something like that. It’s overall better to take them all and get full pay, but her employer also looks down on people who take their full allotment of sick days – which is another messed up thing entirely. She’s glad to be leaving.

          1. Brett*

            One thing to look out for in that situation, is that some retirement benefits are based on your final pay in some way (often an average of your last 36 months).
            Taking those 200 sick days as payout can be an enormous boost to your retirement benefits. One of my prior bosses added tens of thousands of dollars to his pension because he paid out 40 years of sick days at retirement and got to add them into his last month’s salary.
            Not many jobs have benefits like that any more, but some do (and pensions are the benefit most likely to be affected).

        5. Quill*

          50% still sounds like a bad deal, but then again I’m someone who probably has more potential for needing to take the days off medically than the average commenter.

          (also where is everybody getting 6 weeks PTO, the only place I’ve ever worked that even had it gave 12 days total between sick and PTO…)

          1. Mama Bear*

            Most places I haven’t had sick leave per se, it was just PTO. I have only PTO now but being a sandwich generation family, the allotment goes fast. I try to roll into every new year with a few days in the bank, though. This is the most I’ve ever had – typically it was more like 3. Downside is we have fewer paid holidays.

            1. CupcakeCounter*

              Mine is also in one bucket but when I joined this company they broke it down to 2 weeks vacation, 3 sick days, and 3 personal days for a total of 3 weeks and 1 day PTO accrual rate.

            2. Niedźwiedź*

              I receive 32 PTO days plus 3 personal days. The only distinctions are the personal days don’t roll over and everyone gets them regardless of their PTO amount.

          2. Not Yet Looking*

            Quill: I’m getting six weeks in an Association Management company, and I’m not quite at the top yet. Our company starts at 23 PTO days/yr and caps at 35 PTO days/yr (VPs and up get 35 to start, of course).

          3. Kiwiii*

            i’m really curious about how much pto workplaces give in general. The largest, similar-industry employer in my city does something like 10 days between PTO and sick leave. My position and my last position both had at least 12 each/year as a starting employee.

            1. MamaJane*

              I get 6 weeks PTO. I blow through it pretty quickly with three week long school breaks and then summer vacation. Plus I like to keep at least a week in there for sick and emergencies. (We have STD that kicks in after 5 days).

            2. PrgrmMgr*

              I get 5 weeks vacation and 2 weeks sick time (it used to be 2.5), plus one personal day.

              If I remember correctly, I previously received 5 weeks off and 3 weeks sick time at my previous employer. I also had 3 personal days there. I know new hires at my current organization max out at 4 weeks vacation.

              I’m in the non-profit / community development & social services sector.

      2. MK*

        I don’t see how it’s a scam when they are being upfront about only giving 50% of the PTO’s. It’s up to the employee to make the call whether they prefer getting some money right now, or take days off to do nothing, or keep acruing PTO.

        1. Mommy M*

          Right. I know quite a few businesses that do this. It’s not a scam. It’s a decision. Some people would rather have money up front.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        It would be perfectly legal in most places in the US to not allow rollover, or to cap the amount rolled over, and have them forfeit the rest.

        It sounds like a pretty reasonable system to me, actually. They get plenty of time off, don’t seem to have issues being able to take it, are allowed to roll-over and accrue as much as they want. They also can’t sell back more than three weeks, or deplete their reserves to less than a week (by my estimation, the OP is getting at least five weeks of off a year excluding sick time and appointments).

        It also allows them to offer enough PTO to cover people with high needs (family emergencies, a lot of appointments) without making it hard for people who don’t need that much time off.

        1. Natalie*

          Yeah, I’m really perplexed that people seem almost offended by this system? Most American businesses at least aren’t this generous with leave, cap accruals, and don’t have buyback. This employer has also enacted some pretty reasonable limits to protect people from management or financial pressure to cash in all their vacation by limiting how much you can cash in and requiring you keep a week. And there’s zero indication from the letter that anyone is being incentivized to not take sufficient leave.

          If you wouldn’t like it, don’t do it! But the employer is hardly acting shady or scamming anyone just for offering this option.

          1. Josie*

            I know – I would LOVE to have this option! Where I work, you can only roll over one week and you certainly aren’t going to get paid for any leftover leave when you quit.

          2. Jadelyn*

            I think it’s the 50% buy-back payout rate that’s getting a lot of us. It feels like a way to get out of paying for a piece of someone’s compensation package. Like, if you get 3 weeks a year of PTO, and then you cash in 2 weeks of it at 50%, functionally speaking your total compensation was reduced by the equivalent of 1 week’s salary. That feels really off, to me. I’m not against PTO buyback in general, but the fact that they’re doing it at 50% is what starts feeling weird.

            1. Natalie*

              If you buy back at 100%, you’re running the risk of many more people feeling pressure/incentivized to cash in more of their PTO and take less actual time off, which ultimately isn’t good for your workforce.

              But ultimately, if people don’t think it’s worth it, just don’t do it? Problem solved.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I disagree that buying back at 100% incentivizes anything – I think at that point it’s more of a messaging and internal culture issue.

          3. Door Guy*

            I’ve noticed that it seems almost any plan has detractors, whether it’s earned or not. My current location pays out 100% but only for 3 days worth, the rest are lost if you don’t use them by the end of the year. My last job paid out only 80% if you didn’t use them, and didn’t pay out at all if you were salaried (I lost 3 days worth that way).

        2. Mama Bear*

          I’ve had companies buy back over x amount in lieu of a rollover. I guess if I wasn’t going to keep it at the end of the year and couldn’t use it, I’d be inclined to sell it back. But otherwise I’d just plan to use it, even if it was something like 3 day weekends for the rest of the year.

      4. Bilateralrope*

        They are up front about it. So the only way it could be dodgy is if the employer is pressuring employees to cash in their PTO instead of taking it. Which doesn’t sound like it’s happening to the letter writer.

        My advice to the letter writer is to keep banking up leave unless you need the money now.

        1. LW2*

          Several people have mentioned the possibility of my employer pressuring the employees to sell back the PTO. I can 100% say that is not the case here. They literally send out one email with the form attached saying that if you would like to do this, complete the form and send it back. I don’t even recall ever seeing any follow up emails sent. If you chose not to, you simply don’t send back the form and its never mentioned again. There is no pressure at all involved.

      5. Lily in NYC*

        Yeah! Not a scam in the true sense of the word but not cool. We have a buyback program every December and we get our normal pay rate. Nor do we have to have a week left in our vacation bank- we can make it go to zero if we want. If I were OP, I would just take the vacation days or wait until I quit and get their full value paid out.

        1. doreen*

          That assumes the OP will get the full payout when she leaves – most states only require payment for unused vacation if the employer has a policy of paying it.

      6. SMH RN*

        I’ve often wished I could sell back or cash in some of my PTO. Even at 50% it would be a nice option when I accumulate a fair bit and can’t use all of it because of part time hours.

    2. mark132*

      I’m with you, take your vacation. Though they actually are getting more money. They continue to be paid plus receiving extra for the buyback.

      1. Teapot Project Manager*

        I agree, I would use more of my vacation. One two week vacation plus a few long weekends doesn’t sound like much to me if you have 6 or 7 weeks. I have 7 weeks PTO, we can’t carryover, it’s use it or lose it, and I use every bit of of it.

        I do always schedule a days in December that are “just because” so if I get sick towards end of year I will have them to use, plus if we do end up needing more PTO at end of year due to illness my manager will basically tell me not to worry about it. I have 4.5 hours left to schedule and I’m going to schedule if for a half day Friday in December, that we the last of my 35 days of PTO that I have/will take in 2019

        1. SigneL*

          Am I the only one who gets sick in December? All that holiday cheer and stress seems to make me very susceptible to every single germ out there. (Sorry if this is OT.)

          1. Veronica*

            Taking extra vitamin C helped me with stress-related susceptibility.
            Yes I know it’s not proven, let’s not derail on this, I’m just trying to help SigneL.

    3. Beatrice*

      Mine gets paid out 100%, but I’d still consider it a benefit at 50%. I have worked for my employer for long enough that I now earn more vacation than I can reasonably use, and I get unlimited sick time. We do have a cap on how much we can accrue…it’s a high one but it’s there. I have sold vacation back to avoid hitting the cap, and probably will again. It’s nice to be able to sell a week back to get some Christmas shopping money, or combine taking vacation time with selling vacation time back to finance a little trip.

      1. Ivy*

        By the way, if it’s paid at the comp rate when sold back, rather than the comp rate when accrued, it’s a very strong argument to keep banking until you need the cash. Assuming your salary increases over time of course.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I had one job where I accrued one day of sick time per month. I was allowed to carry over 10 weeks of sick time from year to year.
      To take 12 days of sick time, plus weeks of vacation time each year would almost feel like I was never at work.

      Once I started really getting up in weeks of sick time there was no way I could even think of taking all that time off from work without being super sick.

      I think I was up to four weeks of paid vacation and I did not really use that either. The culture was such that taking time off was not a good thing. Where I landed was I had 10 weeks of sick time and a little more than four weeks of vacation time. When a person accrues that much time, it’s pretty much useless especially if the place is toxic about time off.

    5. Natalie*

      If you get a ton of vacation, you could take 7 weeks off and get paid whatever your annual salary is, or take 5 weeks off and get your annual salary plus an extra week’s pay. I’d be fine with that.

    6. Goldfinch*

      This letter is making me realize how far below average my PTO amount is…yikes.

      Alison, if you’re ever so inclined, a Thursday “ask the readers” regarding amount of time off compared to years of tenure/industry would be super interesting.

      1. Construction Safety*

        No kidding, having to meter out my “generous” 12 days of total PTO is exhausting enough to have to take a PTO day to recover.

      2. Qwerty*

        +100 to this! I’d also request including information like company age/size (ie: small startup vs long-term corporation), country/region, and whether the culture at their company encourages using the time they’ve earned.

      3. Sophie Hatter*

        I’m interested in this too. I don’t have a lot of working world experience yet so I don’t know how much PTO is normal!

        1. Veronica*

          For a long time in the US the standard was 2 weeks vacation, 3 or 4 sick days, and 6 paid holidays.
          The holidays were Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving (usually 2 days), Christmas and New Year’s Day.
          This was entry-level at most employers and if an employee stayed a long time they would be awarded more vacation days.
          I think this has been eroded over the last ~20 years though. I hear more about companies that offer less or no benefits.

      4. Bilateralrope*

        Do you want to be really jealous?

        I’m in a country where 4 weeks PTO per year is the minimum amount allowed by law. No cap in how much can be accrued, accrued leave doesn’t expire, and it must be paid out when your job ends. The only tool my employer has to reduce an employees leave balance is by forcing them to take time off. But only if they have more than 4 weeks available.

        Which is why I got told that I had to take 7 weeks off last year, when my employer only gives the legal minimum amount of PTO.

    7. Anon Millennial*

      I have a huge problem with employers who give x amount of PTO per year, but do not set things up so employees feel free to actually use the full amount of PTO.

      1. It’s deceptive when you learn about your benefits.
      2. It’s essentially theft, because you are giving them PTO as compensation, but setting up an environment where they feel they can’t use it, and not compensating them equally in recompense.

      1. Gaia*

        To be fair, all the companies I have worked for have actively encouraged me to use my PTO (except one that was horrible in so many ways). It is my preference that has me taking less than my allotted amount.

      2. Daisy*

        I agree, it’s a weird way of employers twisting what words mean. Statements like ‘I have 6 weeks’ PTO, but I can’t possibly take that’ come across as weirdly Alice in Wonderland to me. You can’t ‘have the time off’, but you ‘have’ the day off? (Even if you get paid for not taking the time off, you still don’t have actually have 6 weeks off – you have 4 weeks off and a slightly better-paying job).

        1. Amy Sly*

          But what happens when the employer truly can’t give you the time off?

          At one point, my dad was the only person in his department of 15 who wasn’t a woman growing her family. He went almost two years without the ability to take more than a three day weekend because all the maternity leaves had to be covered. It would have been illegal for his employer to not hire women wanting to become pregnant or to deny their maternity leaves. The only real option would have been to hire a locum to cover his vacations, and I don’t know if the employer ever even considered that so long as Dad accepted his PTO in cash.

          1. Koala dreams*

            The employer could hire a temp. It’s the same cost, more or less, and less risk of the one important person getting burned out or just changing jobs. Or taking paternity leave, for that matter. Plus, when you hire short time temps you might find your future recruits among them.

          2. Fikly*

            You answered your own question. If the company is giving PTO, it is the company’s responsibility to figure out how to make it possible for the employee to take that PTO.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        In my situation, the average employee is able to use their full PTO amount, should they so choose. It is generous, but many do use all of it.

        Management is another story. I fight to keep my PTO bucket below the annual carry-over threshold (around a month) at the end of each year so I don’t lose time. When all your employees are taking all their time off, someone has to cover that time (particularly around major holidays when everyone asks off) and that person is me. It seems petty to tell my folks, who work very hard, that they can’t take holiday time off because I want to and we have to have coverage.

        1. Quill*

          Might be slightly OT, but maybe take more time in spring / early summer? Though that possibly runs afoul of people who have kids and are trying to fill school vacation gaps…

        2. Eleaner*

          We just went through this with our management team. What option seemed to work best was a communal PTO calendar and the manager specifying coverage level. You’d be surprised how much more considerate and understanding people are when they have more clarity and personal connection to who can’t take PTO if they do.

        3. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Myself as a non-manager, I think it is reasonable for you as a manager to take some of the prime time off around the holidays provided that you don’t hoard all of it. While I think it is very nice/generous of you to sacrifice taking time off during the holidays so your employees can enjoy it, I don’t think it is necessary. Honestly I don’t most employees would truly understand appreciate the sacrifice. If my manager did that, I would assume it was because they don’t want to take time off during the holidays.

          I am a person who actually prefers not to take time off during the holidays, I like being one of the few people in the office, because I can catch up on work that I normally don’t get to do because of other issues that pop up.

          Again just don’t hog all the prime holidays, but it is okay for you to take some days off around the holidays.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            My experience has generally been that people simply expect to be able to take the vacation time that they want without a ton of regard for what others are doing. They only care when you deny THEIR request, which I have had to do, and it creates hard feelings and led to at least one person resigning over it (who, I might add, submitted a time off request on 12/23 for the week between Christmas and New Year’s and was shocked to learn that we couldn’t accommodate it based on minimum staffing requirements and others having asked off already weeks and months prior).

            And my issue is not with my staff, it’s with covering the work that needs to be done. Attorneys do not personally care if you don’t take your time off as long a their work get done, and I’d imagine this problem exists in a lot of professional services businesses that are at client beck and call.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              You know your employer/situation best.

              What I was trying to say is that you should feel free to schedule yourself off on thanksgiving, or 4th of July etc… and if that means denying another staff person’s last minute request, or telling a staff person you need to work this holiday to maintain coverage that is okay. I understand the need for coverage, but don’t just bear the brunt of always covering the holidays just so you don’t have to deny PTO requests to others. I don’t know all the details maybe the person that quit was a great employee. But to me a person who quits because the request they submitted on 12/23 to have off between xmas and new years is unreasonable and I would say good riddance.

            2. mdv*

              You had someone who actually thought it was reasonable to ASK for a week off only 2 days in advance, and then RESIGNED when it didn’t get approved? That peson had NO clue, did they?!

      4. Earthwalker*

        You said it, Anon Millennial! I got a big cash bonus for selling PTO fifty cents on the dollar when I retired, and I felt cheated. I would have given anything to have taken those vacations instead of slogging through no-breaks years over and over again. But there was always the broad hint that employees who took vacations were lazy and disloyal and would be remembered in the next layoff. Companies that promise time off should give time off, period. Reduction in any form, including buy-back, should considered as serious a matter as cutting someone’s salary. (To OP, who can’t change the company rules: see if the return upon leaving is 100% or 50%. It may affect your decision.)

      5. Koala dreams*

        I agree with you. If the employer gives out 6-7 weeks of PTO it should be possible for the employee to take that amount off. 4 weeks vacation and 2 weeks for a bad flu or something like that. It’s still plenty of weeks left for work.

      6. Liz*

        I agree. Alhtough my company is pretty good; generous PTO, and doesn’t have to be accrued. I get it all upfront Jan 1 each year.

        My BFF was just telling me about changes to her benefits for 2020. SOOOO generous! they’re giving them an extra floating holiday, BUT, since the 4th of July is on a weekend I believe, its essentially for that. Where my company gives us either Friday or Monday off, if a holiday falls on a weekend.

    8. MeTwoToo*

      I’ve been in my position for 10 years. I get way more pto than I can ever take and it only rolls over a portion each year. I sell back 200 hrs every year at 50% and still have more than that left. It’s better than just losing it.

    9. Half-Caf Latte*

      So it’s not take the day off and get 100% pay or do buyback and get 50%.

      It’s actually:

      A) Work all week and get paid normal pay (100%), and have PTO balance decrease by 40 hours, and receive an additional 50% pay, for a total of 150% pay for a week of work.


      B) Be off all week and get paid normal pay (100%), and have PTO balance decrease by 40 hours, for a total of 100% pay for a week of no work.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, I’m not sure how people are coming the the conclusion of getting less money, it’s definitely more money!
        (Assuming they are in a state that doesn’t pay out leave when you quit, which I am assuming otherwise I don’t know why anyone would take them up on this.)

        With some rough numbers if someone makes $20/hr with an annual salary of $40,000–whether you take the PTO or not, you’re getting $40,000 for the year. If you sell back a week of PTO at $10/hr for 40 hour then you get an extra $400.

        If you get so much PTO that you have accumulated more than you know you will use this seems nice to have as an option if you’d like a little extra cash.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      When my husband wasn’t working, I cashed out almost all my PTO to have the cash. We didn’t have money for a vacation anyway. Our cash out was at 100%, but it seemed like there were an excessive amount of taxes taken out.
      When things became financially better, I was used to not taking vacation days and accrued a lot of time. I checked my companies policies and if I left, I would be paid 3 weeks of my PTO at 100% and the rest would be 50%. So I always kept 3 weeks in my PTO bucket and cashed out the extra.
      I had a flexible work from home policy so I generally never had to use a sick day, and we had a separate emergency bank that could be used for major illnesses.
      It was a great perk. Especially for shift workers who could easily switch schedules instead of taking PTO. They generally cashed out all their PTO.

      1. Natalie*

        it seemed like there were an excessive amount of taxes taken out.

        You weren’t wrong – withholding tables use the face value of that particular check rather than your overall annual income. If you receive a one-time check for a very high amount, your withholding scales up. Or, if they cut a check separately from your paycheck, they had to use the high supplemental withholding rate.

        It doesn’t change your overall income tax, so you will get any excess withholding back when you file your tax return, but that doesn’t help much in a situation like yours where you needed the money immediately. :(

        1. Liz*

          Yes! I get a very generous bonus each year, and the tax hit is huge. Much more than my normal paychecks, but i’m not complaining. Thanks for explaining this, alhtough its kind of what I figured.

    11. Junior Assistant Peon*

      If you have a large amount of PTO saved up, it might be wise to take the money and run. Some future management team might decide to eliminate the program.

    12. Autumnheart*

      I get a pretty generous amount of PTO (6 weeks), and I’m at the point where it’ll be a challenge to use all of it. Just trying to schedule it all around everyone else’s PTO, projects, and our busy season is difficult. It’s a nice problem to have, but it can be a little frustrating to be continually managing each other’s coverage, and to have someone out of the office when you have a question about a project that’s under deadline, etc.

      It doesn’t mean that management hasn’t hired enough people–it’s a big team. It’s just a tougher challenge to keep track of who’s doing what on a given day.

    13. CocoB*

      Agree… we have a buyback, but it is 100% and we have to leave 2 weeks available for use. Wondering if it is legal to buyback at less than regular rate of pay… at least in some states. ???

  3. Zombeyonce*

    For OP 3, how do you even respond to a boss telling you to “just shut up”? Do you bring it up in a one-on-one, respond in the moment with something besides shocked silence, or what?

    1. Renata Ricotta*

      I may have a greater sense of job security (or less common sense) than others, but I would say “I understand you’re frustrated/stressed, but I will not be spoken to like that.” Either in the moment if I had the presence of mind or later if I couldn’t find the words due to shock. If an apology wasn’t immediately forthcoming, I’d leave the room/area until the boss is willing or able to resume the discussion without stooping to that level, like telling a tantruming toddler you can’t talk to them while they’re screaming.

      I cannot wrap my minds around people who think they have the right to speak to other human beings like that. Basic respect and human dignity apply no matter how many levels of corporate hierarchy exist between you.

      1. BeckySuz*

        I have generally had great success calling out bad behavior publicly. Not in a angry way but a matter of fact way. Often bullies like this are counting on the shocked silence of other people’s more polite or reserved demeanor. So call it out for what it is. Unprofessional and inappropriate. Now if it was unusual for the boss to behave this way I’d probably address it in private, but for someone who behaves this way regularly it’s happening in front of whoever is in the room. Both bully boss and the other employees need to hear that this isn’t ok. I know I’m more outspoken than others so I don’t mind being the one to say it out loud.

        1. BeckySuz*

          Btw I realize not everyone feels comfortable doing this. So it’s not for everyone. But it has worked for me. The trick has been staying calm so It’s not two people yelling

    2. CastIrony*

      I tend to shut down and keep my mouth shut as I leave and carry on when people aren’t happy with me like that.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      I think that would get the full “Ex-CUSE me? I realize you’re stressed but that does not excuse that sort of language. If you need some time to calm yourself, we can meet later.” The “Ex-CUSE me” is probably not the best way of handling it, and if I was being better it’d be “I’m sorry, I realize you’re stressed….” but that sort of behavior brings out the Karen in me.

      1. DataGirl*

        I’m pretty sure I’d respond with a shocked ‘EXCUSE ME?!’ followed by long silence. But I honestly can’t imagine even my worst boss actually telling someone to shut up in a professional setting. LW, you need a new job, or a new boss.

    4. Orange You Glad*

      If it’s a pattern of behavior, I’d be quiet in the moment (especially if it was in front of colleagues) and then on another day find a private 1-on-1 moment to talk to my boss about it.

      Something like, “Recently you’ve been telling me to “shut up” when you don’t want me to continue speaking. I’m not ok with being spoken to that way and it’s damaging our working relationship. Can we come up with a different way to communicate when you need me to be quiet?”

      Trying to take the same tone as “When you fill your water bottle it flicks water onto my desk; let’s find a solution so that stops happening?” or “We are out of the binder clips you like; do you want me to use paper clips or staples?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is a good script, OP.

        As a reference point, keep in mind that you do not speak to people that way BECAUSE you do not expect to be spoken to in this manner. This thought might help you to feel on firmer ground in addressing this issue. It’s basic human decency.

        It’s also wildly unprofessional of her.

      2. Tupac Coachella*

        I think this script is about perfect, but the cynic in me is skeptical that a boss who acts this way will receive any pushback at all gracefully. My guess is that calling the boss out, even privately and with professional language like Orange offers, will only make OP’s work life very unpleasant. I think OP’s boss sucks and isn’t going to change.

        Now the disclaimer: I’m taking this as angry snapping rather than some vocal tic, and it’s possible from the letter that I’m wrong here. Using “shut up” to mean “hold on” or “I’m getting there” is common enough that some people don’t fully register how insanely rude it sounds to people without that particular habit. In that case, a pointed “excuse me?” in the moment or a “you may not realize this…” discussion might get OP somewhere.

        1. JustaTech*

          I do wonder if it’s the angry-snapping kind of “shut up” or if the boss has just gotten in the habit of saying it, but without so much heat.

          Here’s an example: Stacey London of the TV show What Not To Wear used to say “shut up!” all the time, as in “shut up, you look amazing!”. And then one season it became “shut the front door, you look amazing!” Because while she wasn’t actually telling the participant to stop talking, it was still a rude phrase that could easily be taken badly.

          No, in this case it sounds like the boss really does want people to stop talking, but the question is, have they forgotten how rude those specific words are?

    5. Orange You Glad*

      From the other side of it, I had an important meeting with my boss and grand boss and outside vendors when we were transitioning to a VOIP phone system.

      And my boss kept interrupting every 2 minutes to ask questions that were literally the next slide of the presentation!

      Like I said “We’ll need the main line to split to three different desks if the receptionist is gone.”

      Him: “Who are the three different desks?”

      Me (clicking to next slide): “The three different desks are Kay, Jill, and Thomas.”

      After the 3rd time in a row, I *really* wanted to just yell “SHUT UP UNTIL I’M FINISHED!!” but he was my boss and that’s not a professional option.

      What I did do was pause the slides and turn completely to him and say calmly, “It seems like you have a lot of questions that are being answered as I go through the slides. If it’s ok with you, I’d appreciate all questions be held until the end and if I miss anything, I’m happy to answer them then!”

      He got the point and let me finish without interruptions. And my grand boss told me later they were impressed with how “professional & put together” my presentation was so I think my boundary setting with my boss was well received.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        On the bright side, you probably looked semi-psychic, being able to answer all his questions with slides.

      2. workerbee2*

        I have this happen to me on a semi-regular basis when I’m presenting (though not by my boss) and my go-to is to act impressed that the interrupter is paying enough attention to ask questions that are pertinent enough that I was just about to get to it – a pleasant, “wow, we must be on the same wavelength, because… *next slide*” That usually gets the message through that I’m likely to have already thought of whatever questions they have. It’s also very important to me to not alienate my particular audience – my job is 1000x easier when these folks like me and feel that I’m approachable and kind.

      3. Amy Sly*

        When I dealt with appraisers, every so often you’d get someone calling in to complain, well rant, about a lender request. (In fairness, loan officers are often not the brightest bulbs and would ask for the stupidest things.) One of my techniques was to let them just rant themselves out. “Well, aren’t you going to say something?!” “I’m waiting for you to finish.” *embarrassed silence*

        I would try for a bit of malicious compliance here. “Just stop.” So you stop. And you wait. And you wait. And you let that uncomfortable silence drag out until the boss finally breaks down and asks you to answer the question. “As I was saying …”

    6. EinJungerLudendorff*

      Start communicating in sign language?
      Okay probably not, but I would probably just sit there kind of stunned.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I think I would go with a simple “wow” in the moment, and then bring it up during a 1 on 1. I don’t care how stressed you are, as a manager you need to be able to speak to your employees respectfully. Yes we’re all human and you can have an off day, but this seems to be her MO and it is not even a little bit okay. And if a discussion doesn’t make her change, I’d go above her head to either grand boss or HR.

    8. Archaeopteryx*

      The boss getting impatient when you try to give context in your answer instead of barking out a one- word reply brought back bad memories. It really makes someone seem like an impatient child. I’m prefacing my reply with additional content for a good reason, which will become apparent if you can muster the patience to pay attention to three sentences instead of one!
      … is what I often wanted to say.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        This happens to me a lot as well. My boss will get impatient sometimes when an answer isn’t short and he’ll let his attention wander, but then in the same day be frustrated that he doesn’t understand what’s going on. I realize that it’s really his problem of having too much on his plate, but it still affects me and my job satisfaction.

      2. MysteryFan*

        I was Staff Assistant to a boss who was Very Impatient. He never said “shut up” but it was obvious that he was often impatient with almost any explanation/background etc. I started responding to his questions with Minimal answers.. “Are we going to handle X in this way?” “Yes. do you want to know why?”. Sometimes he wanted to know why.. sometimes not, but it helped ME feel that I wasn’t being shut down or dismissed when he Only needed an answer.

      3. Veronica*

        I’ve had good results with a one-word or minimal answer with such people. Then they want to know why, and I tell them.
        I also like this better if I’m the frustrated impatient one. If someone starts with background, I’m afraid they’ll go on forever when I urgently need an answer. If they give the answer first, I can ask clarifying questions about what I need to know.

    9. Shut Up, Wesley*

      “coming from someone in a position of power, “shut up” is even abusive.”

      NOt always, username is case in point

  4. Heidi*

    Hey OP4: I wish you a speedy recovery. Even if you were taking a 4-week vacation, you’re well within your rights to do that as long as you have coverage. I’m guessing that most of your patients will be very understanding. Don’t let the comments from a few jerks take up too much of your energy.

    1. Mommy M*

      You’d be surprised how abusive patients can be. It’s getting worse and more common. It’s so demoralizing.

      1. Lucky black cat*

        What OP talks about isn’t abuse. Rude yes. Abuse no. I don’t think it’s helpful to characterise it that way.

        Better to try to empathise, hmm?

        1. Fikly*

          “Your relative died and you were gone for two weeks? What took so long?” That’s abuse, not rudeness.

          1. Librarianne*

            I actually had a library patron get mad that a children’s librarian I worked with was out for 2 weeks when the grandmother who raised her died. “Two weeks is a very long time to be gone for a grandparent’s death.”

            Not only was this person not the only children’s librarian on our staff, your kid missing her favorite storytime person for two weeks so the librarian can grieve and deal with logistics is sooooo not the end of the world. I can only imagine how angry people get at someone providing their medical care for being gone. The public is generally awful and feels like they can say anything (whether to their care providers or to their librarians.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Lucky black cat. I think someone with “MD” in her username could well be commiserating, with vague reference to things that have happened in her own workplace.

        3. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          There are various campaigns (in Canada) pointing out that abuse is not part of the job of healthcare workers, and it is for sure on the rise with an aging population and patients with multiple health issues. Nurses, for example, have been told for so long to suck it up and they get serious physical abuse. I’m sure many start out trying to empathize but when you’re home concussed, it’s harder to feel that empathy. One patient being verbally abusive could be rationalized away with empathy but one after the other over years can wear you out.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I didn’t realize how bad it is for nurses until I had my own medical issue. I had an adverse reaction to an IV anti-nausea medication and I became really belligerent. It was 100% caused by the medication. When I came to from being sedated, I was so apologetic. I even wrote them an apology note. Everyone told me that what they saw was nothing compared to what they routinely deal with. I can’t imagine my type of reaction being “just a normal day” at work. Wow.

            On the funny side though, “must be nice” to be able to just sedate your belligerent patients in the ER.

            1. Rexish*

              In the hospital I work for most nurses have covered their last name in their badge cause they got so much abuse and people would stalk tehm in SM and send busive comments and try to find out where they live. It’s not pretty.

          2. Grapey*

            +1, I have a black friend that works in elder care and she said many older white patients with dementia call her the n word and she has to ‘deal with it’.

        4. Sylvan*

          “Abuse” covers a very wide range of behavior – it’s not only the extremes. And yeah, a lot of people are verbally abusive towards professionals.

          I actually experienced a lot of it in an entirely different role that involved customer service. It’s nowhere near doctors’ experience, but it’s enough for me to know that verbal abuse on the job really sucks.

      2. Seacalliope*

        I’m really suprised that anyone at all is surprised that, within the American healthcare system, patients are increasingly resentful of their providers.

        1. moql*


          If I have to fight reception to even get on a schedule and the office sends my blood-work to a lab that always messes up the billing and the office was running half an hour late none of the doctors I have ever seen are in favor of moving to a different system that would help with any of those things then of course I’m going to be resentful. You don’t get to sit in your exam room and pretend that all the stress that patients take on to get that appointment made and paid for has nothing to do with you.

          1. Rexish*

            Yep, it’s universal. I’ve worked in private and public hospitals in 3 different countries. Same thing everywhere.

          1. Iain C*

            Of course they are paying to see you. Unless you take no pay for your work?
            Granted, people who are sick a lot are much more likely to be receiving more benefits and lay less tax, but just because you’re in the (equivalent of the) NHS does not mean you have zero cost for the end users of your services.

        2. Lehigh*

          Frustration with the American healthcare system does not entitle patients to be assholes to providers. What kind of thinking even is this?

          That would be like like me noticing that the U.S. lacks paid maternity leave and being a jerk to my non-pregnant coworker. What the heck did she do wrong? Dare to have a job in an imperfect system?

    1. Grand Mouse*

      I agree, I think returning the favor for them somehow for the dogsitting would do a lot to smooth things over and be a gesture of goodwill.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        I think, given it was a social event which they feel narked about missing, Matt and Lisa would probably enjoy a meal more than a card. Sometimes your time & energy means more than the amount spent.

      1. Puggles*

        Agreed. The ball is not quite in their court. An apology is not enough given that they did you a solid by taking care of your dog, especially during your wedding. Give them a solid apology in return, like a nice gift or dinner, along with a face-to-face heartfelt apology.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I think that does change things and you’d be seeing very different responses if you’d included that in the letter.

        Assuming you’re paying them a market rate, then the dog-sitting isn’t a favor, it’s work they’re doing, which suggests less closeness than dog-sitting as a favor (which is really something that most people only ask of close friends and family).

        1. Surly*

          Dog-sitting can still be a favour, even if you’re getting paid. I love dogs and dog-sit for friends often, but it is a pretty big responsibility and change to your routine. So I would say yes to dog-sitting for a friend because I care about them, but wouldn’t say yes for a stranger or a casual acquaintance — even for the same amount of money. The “favour” is accepting the job.

          I’m assuming dog-sitting isn’t their primary means of income, of course, which changes things a bit.

      2. Batgirl*

        I think it’s definitely another weight on your side of things and makes his reaction a bit more of a surprise. It also makes it really clear that they’ve been kind of compartmentalized in your mind as ‘service we will pay for’ rather than ‘friends’ – even if he didn’t pick up on that and maybe saw it more as ‘my friend reimbursing me because they’re great!’ (Also, at the end of the day you were allowed to fill a couple of last minute spaces with whomever you pleased even if you did have a friendship with him).

        Buuut… that’s weddings. Surprising misunderstandings about relationships do get washed up by the wedding tide. If this is the only ‘but I thought we were close/why wasn’t I invited’ you are doing very well indeed.

        Every couple I know (except the elopers) have at least three of those post or pre wedding. I think the key is to be very kind about their disappointment (which is real!) while realising you actually can’t have the relationships other people assume for you.

      3. Pam*

        I think, since they are coworkers/acquaintances, the situation feels more like favor than transaction- at least to them.

        Even though you paid, I still recommend treating it as a favor and doing something for them, particularly if you want them to dog sit in future.

        1. Anon Here*

          I agree. Since you work together, smooth it over. Don’t go out of your way. Just stop by, talk in person, and offer some cookies or something. Go get a coffee. Something easy.

  5. mark132*

    LW4, while the parents reaction is wrong I can understand some frustration. Especially if you are a specialist that they waited months to see, it’s going to be frustrating, even with coverage from your colleagues.

    FWIW, I’ve had appointments moved by medical care professionals before, for various reasons, and one thing that made me more sympathetic/understanding is when I got a little explanation why, like a death in the family, or as simple as the professional has a cold, why I have to wait 2 more months for my dentist appt. In your case simple explanation of medical leave preferably delivered by the front office staff when confirming appointments.

    If you want a script, might I recommend, “I was on medical leave, but we’re here talk about your problems not mine, so let’s do that ” or something to that effect.

    1. LW 4*

      Thank you. I’m a family physician, not a specialist. And it was a planned surgery, put on the calendar back in July, and I told patients who need to see me monthly or weekly about the time I would be away as soon as I knew and made transition plans with them and introduced them to the colleagues who would be covering for me. So no appointments were cancelled. And I don’t have much wait time to see me – usually I can fit people in same-day if needed, as long as I’m in clinic.

      1. Maggie*

        LW4, I’m a teacher of many high-needs high school students. It’s not quite the same, but sometimes I will find my students seem disproportionately hurt if I’m absent. When a kid really pushes my buttons and boundaries, sometimes I reply quietly/privately with, “Do you have a big support network?” It is kind of a magic question.

        Some kids balk. They snap back they have plenty of friends so I kind of roll my eyes and say “well then no big loss that I was out, huh?” They realize they are being self-centered (AKA, normal for teenagers) and we move on. Others look like crying or look supremely validated–there’s this look of, “No, I don’t! I needed you!” Some times they tell me about something big that happened outside of school while I was gone.

        If you’ve told your patients you’ll be out and have planned ahead and they’re still making it about them, well… keep it about them! Asking questions has helped me feel less hurt/baffled by their seemingly callous or greedy nature. Maybe you are a bigger piece of their safety/support network than you know.

      2. Maggie*

        I guess what I’m trying to say is when students don’t like their teacher, they NEVER complain when there’s a sub. They cheer. If your patients are griping, you’re doing something right. Some people who are really struggling with daily coping skills complain as a way of paying you a compliment, however backward it feels.

      3. mark132*

        BTW, I know this is a late reply, but based on this response and others you’ve made elsewhere, I wonder if being a little more brusque with your more complaining patients might help. Sounds like you did the notice thing as near to perfect as is possible.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      While I can see that making some patients more understanding, I don’t think it’s fair to push anyone to forgo privacy for this reason. OP and their staff deserve time off and the reason they take it is their business, not their patients’. The real problem us that patients aren’t seeing them as real people with real personal lives. Instead, they’re just a service that “should be there when I want it, no matter what.”

      1. mark132*

        If it’s scheduled so that no one’s appts have be rescheduled. I think this works. If patients are rescheduled as a result. I think short explanation would be useful.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        I do think that saying “medical leave” and “family emergency” Are important pieces of context that don’t really violate privacy unless you expand on them. We never give patients details about the providers, but if it’s either last minute, involving rescheduling people, or for an extended period of time, being able to say the category of absence helps head off some of the nasty comments. People sometimes honestly forget the doctors are human beings to, and can have health problems of their own. Obviously don’t tell them any details, and if they ask further questions after being told you were out for medical purposes, definitely shut that down. But otherwise, even though people should be just as respectful of long vacations, especially in a profession where people need to re-charge quite a bit, it’s more understandable that people would make jokes about being jealous.

        1. mark132*

          I really think not giving some short of explanation is somewhat disrespectful to patients who have to reschedule. It can be a big pain for them. I’ve had to schedule work off for appts. So a non explanation would annoy me.

          1. Doreen*

            There are a couple of doctors that schedule my appointments up to a year in advance . Every now and then , I get a call to reschedule about a week before, with the only explanation given is “we won’t be in the office that day” . Although I don’t say anything, it annoys me because of the timing and explanation – I’ve already scheduled my life around keeping the appointment and it seems like the dr just decided to take a day off on short notice. (When they call to reschedule weeks in advance, it’s not an issue to me) I would not have that impression if I was given a general reason like medical or a family emergency.

            1. Lucette Kensack*

              Right. The real problem here is that folks are profoundly frustrated with the medical system, and take that out on the doctors. We’ve all had the frustration of consistently waiting 40 minutes past our appointment’s start time (while at the same time being charged if we’re 10 minutes late); the same frustration applies if we juggle our lives and work to make an appointment but get the sense the doctor canceled “just because.”

              None of that makes the doctor’s private life (or medical care!) the business of patients. But the LW wrote in about what to say to try to prevent rudeness from patients, and sharing a little bit of information (“I was out on medical leave,” not more detail like “I had a prophylactic
              mastectomy”) will help.

              1. Leslie Knope*

                Agreed! You’re right, their private life is none of our concern, but you also hit the nail on the head with saying a little bit of context can help a patient feel less frustrated.

                My specialist who I see once a year booked my next appointment for 12 months out. I got a call about 2 weeks ahead that she was going to be out on maternity leave so would I mind seeing a colleague instead? Well a year ago when I had my last appointment she wasn’t pregnant, so I couldn’t reasonably be upset about having to change my appointment. Other patients of hers who see her more frequently would have noticed her condition by then, so it didn’t seem like a secret. I understand that it was really none of my business, but I appreciated the context.

                My only complaint was that they could have called me a liiiiiiittle sooner than 2 weeks out. I had the added scheduling difficulty of needing bloodwork completed ahead of the appointment. I had trouble finding another appointment that fit my work schedule and was timely enough that I wasn’t going to run out of my prescription. I understand that they’re busy and scheduling can be difficult, but that challenge was really stressful for me.

                It sounds like the LW’s office was more respectful of their patients’ scheduling and those patients are being unreasonable.

            2. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I have had similar things happen to me so I understand your frustration. I usually schedule my next appointment before I leave my current one, that is often 6 months to a year out. So it is completely understandable for doctors to not have vacation planned that far in advance yet, or for other issues to pop up. But the issue isn’t so much rescheduling, that issue really comes down to is rescheduling on such short notice. Rescheduling a week before or the week of, means if you really need to see the doctor, now all your preferred time slots are taken up, or you have to push your appointment out another month or two to get a time slot that works for you.

              I get it doctors are human too and have emergencies that pop, so being given a heads up why does help, even a vague the doctor had an emergency helps people

        2. Oxford Comma*

          I think this would work for me as a patient–not that I think I am ever as rude as OP #4’s patients, but it would give me some context.

          OP: I don’t know if this is the case for your practice, but what’s your office staff like? What’s your phone system/online system like–from the patient side? I recently left a practice because the staff were characteristically nasty and unsympathetic. They had a patient portal but it was a mess. The phone system was garbage. By the time, I got in and actually was seeing the doctor, I was already very unhappy. Could something like that be at play here? Not that it excuses rudeness, but it might explain the situation.

    3. Gaia*

      I don’t think anyone should be obligated or pressured to give up their privacy (especially medical privacy!) for someone else’s comfort.

      LW4, your patients are a MESS! You did everything reasonable to ensure their continued care. You owe them exactly nothing else.

    4. Grand Mouse*

      Hm, I think it is nice but not necessary. Doctors should still be able to keep their privacy. Something just like “Dr. X will be on leave March 3-18th” would be fine. My main concern as a patient would be continuation of care, and as long as that’s taken care of I don’t need details.

      I wonder what is up with your patients though? The remarks about vacation could just be thoughtlessness but the response to the staff member taking leave for a death is… shocking.

      1. Mommy M*

        Sadly inside health care it’s not shocking. My employer now has signage that you cannot yell at or be abusive to staff. And finally there are some consequences for abusive behavior. The plan can drop you if it’s repeated. It’s getting worse. For some reason some people feel it’s ok to yell, demand, spew obscenities, call names, and be physically threatening to health care staff.

        1. KinderTeacher*

          I don’t know that this should be that surprising, sadly. People in service professions (waiting tables, working retail, etc) have long had to deal with the subset of customers who feel it’s ok to do everything you’ve listed above. Maybe there’s some sort of shift occurring from people seeing themselves as subordinate to doctors/doctors having all the expertise to viewing doctors as a service worker (you’re working for me and I can take my business elsewhere if you don’t do what I want the way I want it) below them on the pecking order the way they view waitstaff or retail employees? Or at least a shift among the sort of people who would ever think it appropriate to treat anyone that way ever just because they are working in a a service profession. But anyway, as long as there are people willing to treat anyone they interacted with by yelling, name calling, swearing, threatening, etc there are bound to be people who were willing to spread that kind of behavior to their interaction with health care staff.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            It might even be part of the ‘less respect for expert knowledge’ that’s been increasing over the last decade or so. It’s cyclical, and we’ve been here before (know-nothings), so I have hopes it will reverse soon.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            I always suspected it was a result of for-profit hospitals increasingly treating people as customers rather than patients.

    5. brushandfloss*

      The problem with offering an explanation is some patients won’t find it acceptable or justifiable.
      When I had to fly out quickly because my father was hospitalized, I had hoped my office gave my patients a general “ she’s not in” but they didn’t. I will always remember that one patient who would not accept “ I’m fine” and kept asking questions until I finally had to admit my father had passed. She replied yeah the office had mentioned you had a family emergency. I don’t know if it was a test or if she was just nosy.

      1. mark132*

        One the flip side of course is a lot will (most?). So it may be worth it anyways. And I’m not surprised the front office mentioned you had a family emergency. I wouldn’t want to call dozens or more patients without any explanation.

    6. Mimmy*

      A big YES to this!! More than once, my primary doctor would move previously-scheduled appointments with no reason given. Most recently, my husband and I had appointments changed because the doctor was going to be away for two weeks; IIRC, we were only told a couple of days before her departure. I’m not even sure we were given any information about coverage for urgent needs.

      I completely understand the need for privacy, but a little transparency goes a long way with me.

  6. Aphrodite*

    OP #2, we get very generous vacation time (in addition to 15 holidays and 12 sick days per year, the latter to be accumulated at an unlimited rate). Our vacation can be saved up to two years’ worth, but you must be slightly under your maximum every June 30. I save it almost religiously because there was one unexpected time it really came in handy. It was actually shocking to me to find out that many of my coworkers do not save more than a few days’ worth of their vacation time. I am always at my maximum and like being there; it’s like having an emergency savings account that you can access immediately if you need to.

  7. CastIrony*

    OP #3, I feel for you. This cook I’m not on good terms with and am scared of told me, “That’s enough; I was only asking a question” when I was trying to apologize to him for not doing a task (because I’m scared of him disrespecting me).

    Grr. People should respect the people working for them. Period.

  8. Dan*


    I actually do take four-week vacations. It 1) is nice to be able to do so, but also 2) very exhausting. When I get those comments from my coworkers, I just tell them they get the same amount of leave that I do, so what’s the BFD? (It’s true. Nobody I work with gets less than me. And most of the old timers get way more.)

    So in some ways, I think it’s inevitable that you will get some “must be nice” comments in response to “Dr. X will be out on personal leave for the month.” I do think you can go with “sure is!” and change the subject because your patients are not entitled to “the truth.”

    What I am curious about is how your patients know (or why they think) that you’re not getting paid for the time you’re gone? It doesn’t seem like that should be stuff they should know about.

    1. LW 4*

      Actually a 4 week vacation does sound nice and I should take one sometime. Like 2 weeks to do vacationy stuff somewhere and then 2 weeks to have a staycation and recover.

      I think the reason they know I’m not paid if I’m not there is that I’m in a province in Canada where physician billing has become a very hot political topic so the structure of how we get paid is very much on most people’s radar screens right now.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Most of my best vacations have been at least two weeks. You really get time to enjoy it without so much rush!

      2. Agnodike*

        Don’t worry, OHTs will solve all this by prioritizing front-line workers and eliminating administrative waste…somehow ;)

        For what it’s worth, I had to take a leave for cancer treatment and I was up-front with some, but not all, of my patients about it. People who I knew would feel abandoned or have difficulty transitioning to my replacement got a sanitized version of the real story, and everyone else just got “Agnodike will be on leave until March, you’ll be seeing Herophilus instead.” When I came back, I did get a bunch of questions from patients who weren’t in the loop, and I just said I had to take an unexpected medical leave.

      3. hi*

        Ah then I wonder if some of the grumbling has less to do with you and more to do with the politics of it?

    2. Poppy the Flower*

      Yeah, this is probably what I would do. I think agreeing or even just acknowledging with “hmm” or something like that will throw them off bc they won’t get the reaction they’re going for. Then just immediately change the subject. While I haven’t been in this specific situation before, I’ve encountered plenty of rude patients and usually just ignoring and changing the subject to getting the history from them works. Occasionally I have been more blunt/firm. A lot of those times I’ll just say, “we’re not going to talk about that anymore” — it’s not rude back, just way more blunt than I typically am, but is effective.

    3. hbc*

      In my experience, the “must be nice” doesn’t assume that you’re being paid. It’s either nice that you can be off with pay or nice that you can afford to be off without pay, the assumption for the latter being that you’re paid a ton for your working time, independently wealthy, or in some way have bypassed what they consider to be normal financial obligations.

      Frankly, in this kind of situation, I wouldn’t let patients/customers/whoever know that the provider is out for X length of time. Just, “Dr. LW4 has some schedule constraints for this month and has no open appointments.” How exactly that happened is immaterial, whether LW4 is saving lives in a remote Ugandan village, accidentally overbooked, is on the lecture circuit for a major breakthrough treatment, or is spending that sweet, sweet doctor money on a round-the-world cruise.

    4. stampysmom*

      My co-workers and I all have about 4 weeks vacation time but it would be BFD if they took it all at once. 1) most people want to take close to the same time periods off – July, Aug or December. We can’t all have the same time off so it seems considerate to break it up a bit. and 2) because I frankly don’t want to have to do your job for 4 straight weeks while I do my own.
      If you’re in a role that doesn’t impact others with time and effort then have a seriously great long vacation.

  9. Dan*


    OP, I think the key here is whether your company pays out PTO when you leave. If they pay it out at full price, then sit on it.

    Also, something to game plan for: It’s entirely possible that your company may change the accrual policy in the future and start capping what you can keep in the bank. Unpaid PTO can be a financial liability for the company, and some CFO in the future may decide he wants to clear the books.

    1. texan in exile*

      Unpaid PTO can be a financial liability for the company

      Which is why some companies went to unlimited PTO. It’s not because they are nice. It’s because they don’t want it on the books.

  10. Mommy M*

    I would apologize to the dog sitter. Watching your dog, especially for free, is a big deal. If anyone from the office should have gotten invited, it’s him. We have letters about coworkers get hurt feelings or upset about pet watching. I don’t think people really realize what a big responsibility it is. I’m for people hiring pet sitters. He’s obviously upset about it. I would clear the air. Also I think you just lost a dog sitter.

    1. brushandfloss*

      I agree She basically said while I trust with my dog I don’t consider you a friend to be invited to my wedding. Matt probably feels used and unappreciated especially if he dog sat for free.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        OP says further down that Matt & Lisa got paid. Also, they had watched the dog once before & had been asking when they might do it again.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m not sure how Matt could have gone to the wedding given that he was dog sitting at the time – isn’t that the whole point? In his eyes, LW got him to save the date for the wedding in order to have him work it, marking him as a supplier and not a friend.

      I hope that explaining the precise details of how it came about would smooth things over, but a certain amount of awkwardness is inevitable because the situation is actually awkward.

      1. No Name*

        Dog sitting does not prevent you from attending a wedding. As brushandfloss said, Matt is the sucker OP asks favours from but doesn’t like enough to have at the wedding. Even if they like dogs and even if OP paid them to do so, lets not pretend that asking them to dog sit is not an imposition. If OP didn’t pay them, that ups the situation from being a little thoughtless to mind bogglingly self absorbed.

        Your best hope is to smooth things over is to apologise in person ASAP for being thoughtless. Text messages only seem flippant. Also, find a professional dogsitter.

        1. No clue*

          The whole point is that Matt and Lisa were dogsitting DURING the wedding: “we have asked Matt and Lisa to watch the dog a couple times, including during the wedding”. So yes, it prevented him from attending. That’s WHY this all happened.

          1. No Name*

            The dog is alone for the whole day while OP is at work. I am pretty sure OP leaves the house for a few hours on weekends without getting a dog sitter. Which means Matt could attend the wedding and the dog would be fine. If the dog has special needs and requires someone home 100% of the time, that is NOT a favour you ask of a coworker you are not close to. If anything, it makes the situation worse.

            1. TheCommenterFormrlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

              “The dog is alone for the whole day while OP is at work.”
              We don’t know this. Maybe she uses doggy daycare.

              Even if it is true, Matt and Lisa were engaged to watch the dog during the wedding so couldn’t have attended because they were specifically to watch it during the wedding.

            2. Patty Mayonnaise*

              This is such an odd comment! Aside from the fact that we don’t know if the dog DOES stay home alone for a whole workday, weddings can be a much longer time commitment. I just went to a wedding where the bride and groom stayed for a long weekend at the wedding venue, even though it was local – that’s very common and you’d definitely need a dog sitter in that circumstance. I think we can take the LW’s word that a dog sitter was necessary.

              1. londonedit*

                Yep. I mentioned below that my sister and BIL asked a friend of mine to dogsit over their wedding weekend, and they got married less than two miles away from where they lived. But the family all stayed overnight at the wedding venue, and my sister and BIL were away from their house from 10am on the Saturday until 4pm on the Sunday, so yes they did need a dogsitter. Of course, in theory, someone could have popped back to the house a few times to let the dog out, but who actually wants to do that during a wedding weekend, especially as everyone was drinking and having a nice time? From the dog’s point of view it was far nicer to have someone staying in the house all weekend rather than someone turning up at odd intervals and rushing the dog out into the garden for a quick wee.

              2. hbc*

                I don’t think anyone is questioning the need for a dog sitter. The question is whether Matt’s dog sitting precluded him from attending the wedding. Since it was local enough that a couple of coworkers could be invited last minute, chances are he and his SO could have come for 4 or 5 hours and celebrated.

                And even if he couldn’t based on logistics, I think it’s fair for Matt to feel hurt about how it looked from his perspective.

                1. fposte*

                  And it’s not better to say “Well, I won’t invite Matt and Lisa because they’ll be too busy doing me a favor during that time.” Invite them and then say “It’s okay to leave Fifi for the day” or “I can arrange backup doggie care” or “Let me know if you need suggestions about how to handle the evening feed.” But on the recipient end a noninvitation because you’re presumed to be busy looks the same as a noninvitation because you’re insufficiently important.

                2. snuggly doob*

                  Exactly – the bride and groom probably woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready, take pictures, then they may have stayed overnight in a hotel. They were likely out of the house for a good 4-6 hours prior to the time that the wedding actually started. A guest, on the other hand, would probably be out of the house for 4-6 hours max.

                3. Patty Mayonnaise*

                  Eh, I don’t think we have enough info from the letter to judge whether or not Matt would have been able to dog-sit AND attend the wedding. I’ll side with the LW’s judgement that a person attending the wedding could not also dog-sit (evidenced by the fact that she hired Matt in the first place).

          2. brushandfloss*

            Matt didn’t have a problem with dog sitting when this was a no coworkers event. But once OP had extra space to invite others OP never considered inviting Matt/GF. This incident highlights how differently everyone viewed the friendship level.

            1. annony*

              I think that is the crux of it. Matt felt like they were close and therefore had no problem doing favors for the OP. Then Matt finds out other coworkers were invited to the wedding but he wasn’t which showed him that they were not as close as he thought and he felt used. I think the best thing to do moving forward is to not ask Matt for favors and make sure to give him a nice gift to thank him for his help. Let the relationship reset naturally, which may mean he keeps a bit more distance.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Yes. “It’s a small wedding with just close family” worked when she asked for the dog-sitting, but fell apart when she asked two other coworkers to attend.

                I suspect OP, as with the last pet-sitter letter, is underestimating the inconvenience of pet-sitting. It’s a big ask, even if they like your dog and tell you they were happy to do it and Rover was such a good boy.

              1. Rugby*

                That’s really unfair to the OP. It’s not unreasonable to be annoyed at guests canceling after they’ve RSVPed. The letter just said that she was complaining about it to a couple of coworkers about it, nothing about “how dare they…” That doesn’t indicate that she has a skewed version of friendship.

              2. Chili*

                Part of the reason weddings bring out the worst in people is that the costs related to having a wedding have skyrocketed. People have to cancel plans sometimes and hosts should be gracious about it, but venting to friends (who don’t know the cancellers) about the cost is understandable— that could be a couple hundred bucks wasted.

      2. CM*

        I agree that the key point is asking him to dog sit on the day of the wedding. All four of these people are part of the same social circle, even if it only exists at work, and, from his POV it looks like he was asked to help facilitate everybody else going to a party they didn’t invite him to.

        I do think it makes a difference that the original intent was not to have any coworkers, and then two dipped in at the last minute because of cancellations — before he was told that, dog-sitter probably believed that they had always been planning to go and kept it a secret. But, if you value this relationship, I think it’s important to acknowledge how it would look from his POV and that it makes sense for him to feel excluded.

    3. Just no*

      The LW’s comment about how much Matt and Lisa *just love* watching the dog set off alarm bells for me. It made me think LW didn’t pay them for dog-sitting and/or that LW doesn’t view it as an imposition. LW, even if they love your dog, it’s still a big favor for you to ask of them, and I can understand why they feel like suckers now.

      But for those castigating LW for complaining about people canceling at the last minute…it really does suck when you’ve already spent a substantial amount of money on a wedding and people cancel, and it’s not fair to judge her for complaining about that. Caterers charge per head. We don’t know who paid for this wedding, how many guests there were, and how much LW earns. It could be that it was a relatively small affair, LW and her spouse paid for it by themselves, and the $100 per head that they spent on people who decided not to come at the last minute was actually a financial sacrifice for them. Even if it wasn’t a burden, though, I don’t think it’s *that* odd for someone to complain about last-minute cancellations to their friends.

    4. Manana*

      Yeah, I’m a little confused as to the hostility towards the coworker who, it seems, has watched their dog (for free???) multiple times. I would think I was closer friends too! I would never dream of providing free pet sitting to someone who I didn’t think was at least “invite to an in-town wedding” close to me. I don’t think this makes the LW a bad person, but I definitely think Matt has a right to feel hurt and LW was careless (understandable, weddings are stressful). Give a sincere apology, and honestly ask yourself why, if these people aren’t really friends as the painstaking evidence you’ve tried to provide to absolve yourself, you’re letting them into your home and caring for your pet.

    5. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      I don’t know why people think it’s a good idea to ask coworkers to do these things! Wasn’t there a letter on here earlier about someone who asked a subordinate to watch her cat, who then proceeded to F it up, and it caused a whole lot of drama? I sometimes see announcements/messages in my office asking to cat/dog sit and I delete those immediately!

  11. Mommy M*

    OP 4 I feel for you. Just say “I was out for a medical procedure” and move on to the reason for the visit. I’ve been screamed at for going to the bathroom, having the audacity to take a lunch break during a 12 plus hour shift, and much more. Try not to internalize it. Most patients are polite but entitled patients are a night mare. I make myself feel better about it by telling myself they are like this everywhere. The bank, grocery store, etc. Hang in there. You don’t owe them any lengthy explanation.

    1. LW 4*

      Thank you for this. Yeah honestly I have a lot of great patients, but the ones who are rude and demanding and abusive just take up an inordinate amount of mental energy and I try to keep reminding myself that I’m not doing anything wrong by having human needs.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Patient here (though probably not yours, my regular’s a PA): You are not doing anything wrong by having human needs. You are doing something *right* – you have to be functional before you can effectively help others.

        I like Alison’s scripts, and practicing them to yourself, out loud, in front of a mirror, will actually help you pull them out in the moment instead of freezing. Good luck, and good health to you!

      2. blackcat*

        This was the case when I was a teacher. 5-10% of parents took 95% of my emotional energy. I worked hard to remind me that I wasn’t hearing from most because they/their kids were happy with me!

    2. Flash Bristow*


      And this is why I try to be nice. Took my dog to the vet; she was running late. About an hour late she went to the receptionist, clearly stressed, saying “I need to take my break now” and they just said “but your three o’clock’s here and she’s been waiting a long time”.

      Vet almost explodes “no, I haven’t eaten in 8 hours and I NEED a break!”

      I’ve never seen her like this so I just stay quiet.

      20 minutes later she comes out, and sees the patient is me. I get profuse apologies and “Flash if I’d known it was you I would have seen you right away!”

      But the poor lass needed a break, and I’d rather she took one, refreshed, ate, destressed, in order to give my dog her full attention.

      Why don’t patients (and customers) understand that you’ll get better service if you treat people with respect? You’re there because you need their help or skills, after all…

      OP4 I really hope you find a way of communicating to your patients which makes them either stop and think and be considerate, or at least promptly move on! Good luck.

      (And I hope the outcome of the medical procedure is good.)

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        It could very well be because the medical field is well known for treating patients with contempt. A recent study showed physicians give 11 seconds for a patient to explain why they are they. Add in the medical field is widely known for dismissing legitimate issues (especially womens’ medical issues), continually make people wait, frequently misdiagnosing (sometimes for years), etc,, and people paying huge amounts and having little recourse when their doctor is rude or flat out wrong. Physicians are well paid, highly regarded, and in many clinics simple 8-5 M-F. They have no late nights nor weekends unless they are hospital staff.

        1. LW 4*

          I get all of this, and I get that you don’t know me, but I actually very consciously don’t practice like that.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            Yes, I see you’re in Canada and not all doctors do this but enough do so that is very, very common, especially in the US.

    3. Jaybeetee*

      Yeah, it seems to be the same vein as people who go hard on teachers and lawyers. This idea that you have some easy, cushy, well-paid professional job, and any moment you’re not seeing patients, you’re surely playing golf or smth.

      Also, for some reason – perhaps because of the proliferation of WebMD and similar – there seem to be a weird number of people who think doctors don’t actually know anything? I’m not a doc, but even when I read articles about difficult diagnoses and such, there are always these comments that doctors are incompetent, screw up constantly, and are overpaid to Google things? I honestly don’t know where that comes from.

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      As another MD, I’ll add my sympathies. Most patients are great, but some are a nightmare. I’ve started keeping a book, when I remember, of the best compliments I get from my patients to pull out after a particularly bad one so I remember why I’m doing this. Everyone has different levels of acceptable privacy, but I’d probably say that I was out for a medical procedure and everything is squared away now. Just as you say, keep reminding yourself that you are human and have human needs, because it’s so easy to forget in this profession.

  12. I heart Paul Buchman*

    I suspect Matt and Lisa think you are better friends than you are. That explains why they pet sit for you – that’s something you do for a friend. I think that you do owe them something – if not an apology a thank you gift and an overture/ explanation.

    Also, lots of people pet sitting (or baby sitting!) will tell you they had a great time and that your dog (kid) is great. That doesn’t mean you are doing them a favour. They are being polite. Cute dogs are still an inconvenience.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yes it’s so odd how when two people are asked about the same relationship, how different their perspectives can be. To OP, its “We only see each other once a week at work” and the pet sitting is seen as an incidental enjoyment and to Matt it’s “We are her closest work friends; close enough friends for us to dog sit”.
      I think it’s just going to be awkward because he’s hurt.

      1. Mommy M*

        And pet sitting is always a chore, even if someone does it good-naturedly. Especially if they did it for free.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think that’s a good breakdown of the two perspectives.

        Upthread suggested taking them out for a nice meal in thanks for pet-sitting, which I think is a good idea–personal, requires an effort. This is not a texting fix, or a giftcard fix.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          The LW mentions in a couple of different threads that they paid Matt and Lisa. That changes things since the dog sitting is a paid service, not a favor. If someone were paying me to dog sit I would take that to mean they don’t think of me as a friend, but more like a friendly acquaintance. That doesn’t rise to the level of gratitude that requires much effort, just the agreed payment in full and a friendly verbal thank you. I think Matt and Lisa’s expectations were too high, but the LW needs to be delicate if they want to continue to have them dog sit in the future.

    2. Dog sitter*

      I love dogs, absolutely love them. I dog sit for friends a ton. It’s always a pain, I have to change up my work schedule sometimes, I have to change my animals feeding habits, I have to clean more, etc. My friends would say I love dog sitting their pups, because I love the dogs so much. I promise it’s a pain for your coworkers to watch your dog. I really hope you are paying them.

      1. Sally*

        I don’t know my co-workers well enough yet to ask them to take care of my dog, but if I ever do, I will make sure to pay them the going rate. I think before reading AAM, it might not have occurred to me to pay someone I know to take care of my dog. Growing up, I didn’t learn some of the more common sense, polite ways of relating to people, so I’m always glad when this kind of topic comes up in AAM.

        1. Quill*

          When my dog was alive, my neighbors and I operated dogsitting on an exchange basis, since then, I’ve been paid if I have to watch their dog (and have always been paid if they need someone last minute to watch their kids, who I usually just plonk in front of some old legos.)

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            In a close community where favours are often exchanged, I think payment sometimes isn’t obvious or necessary. I’m thinking of two neighbors who routinely watch each others cats while the other is on holiday, or my friend who alternates hosting a play-date with another mom so they each get a night off every other week. Or how some friends babysat my daughter a few weeks (gratis) a few weeks after I helped them move. No money exchanged, but also plenty of value given/recieved.

            My grandparents definitely operated like that within their church community as well…but it only works if everyone participates in good faith, otherwise it can fall apart. And I think it’s a dangerous game to play in the workplace.

            1. boo bot*

              Yeah, I didn’t realize it was something you should pay for until relatively recently – and I wouldn’t expect my friends to pay me to look after their pets now, actually.

              I think when you’re asking someone you don’t already have the existing relationship with, you’re replacing the social currency (the assumption that I’ll do a favor for you at some point) with literal currency. And in the workplace, where we all get paid to go, it’s a good idea to stick to literal currency.

            2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

              Yeah – I come from such a culture/community. I agree it only works if everyone operates in good faith. It’s very easy for selfish people to take advantage of. I definitely wouldn’t introduce this dynamic to a formal culture like the workplace.

            3. Third or Nothing!*

              Yeah I’m from a small farming and ranching community in the southern US and my neighbors would have been insulted to be offered money in exchange for their help. It’s just simply Not Done there.

          2. Lucette Kensack*

            Different cultures are so different about this.

            In my culture — I’m talking a microculture here, a mix of nationality/region/socio-economic level, etc — asking for favors is reserved for only your very closest relationships. Like, the people I would be comfortable actively asking for help from are my husband, my parents, and my sister. We pay for help when we need it. (I’m a nice person; I offer help freely. But I’m never going to be comfortable asking a colleague to watch my dog.)

            I’m so in love with my friends whose cultures are more collective. They give and receive help all the time. They ask for help when they need it. They happily take in a friend’s cousin who needs a place to stay, ask their neighbor for a ride to the airport, host GoFundMes for colleagues, or ask their friends to start a meal train when they have a new baby. It’s lovely, and I wish it were something I was comfortable with.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              I think I’m the same way! If you were to ask me “are you ask culture or guess culture?”, I don’t think either one fits. I definitely consider some requests unreasonable, so I’m not pure Ask…but the idea of people proactively offering things based on what they think you need, without your asking, seems invasive and panopticon-ish to me, unless you’re super close.

              The closest I come to asking favors from non-close friends is making a Facebook post like “hey, does anyone in $LocalArea have a $Thing I can borrow?” That way, I’m not putting pressure on anyone in particular to say yes or no.

              1. Spencer Hastings*

                (I explained that badly — what I mean is that I generally follow the “only ask if you’re in desperate need” rule of guess culture, unless I’m close with the person or I can diffuse responsibility between multiple people)

            2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

              I grew up in a city where people don’t hesitate to help you with something even before you ask, and genuinely don’t expect anything in return. It’s amazing. I try to be more like that, but not get taken advantage of at the same time.

          3. Batgirl*

            This wouldn’t happen in my community (poor, big families) either and it would be seen as being rather eccentric and quite precious about one’s pets – but honestly it’s highly preferable to the reliance we have on favours.

        2. Batgirl*

          Sally this cultural angle you’ve hit on could really explain the crossed wires and mutual bafflement.
          Matt believes dog sitting is something you ask of someone close and makes you part of their support circle.
          LW believes dog sitting is simply a service you pay a trusted person for.
          Matt may not have even considered himself a friend before he was asked to do some dog sitting!

    3. The Original K.*

      Especially if they weren’t paid (which IMO they should have been). I can absolutely see how “we’re close enough to watch your dog for free but not close enough to go to your wedding” became Matt & Lisa’s POV. Working for free is an imposition, and something you do for people you’re close to (if then!).

      I don’t think OP has bad intentions, but I can see why Matt & Lisa were hurt. I would apologize, take them to dinner or give them a gift card to make up for past free dog-sitting, and not ask them to sit again.

    4. LQ*

      Absolutely! Pet (or baby) sitting creates upheaval. You have to change parts of your life (small or large depending), get up earlier, go for more walks, bundle up more, clean more, change work schedules, go out less/differently. And if anything bad happens, dog pees on the carpet, chews up shoes, damages doors, whatever, then you have to deal with that too.

      You can enjoy the dog AND have it be an inconvenience. Sometimes folks miss how much of this has to happen or assume since it is already happening some (oh you’ve got a dog so no big deal!) that it isn’t a problem.

      And I’d say that Matt and Lisa are better friends than you think they are, they do all this for free. Yeah, I’d be a little miffed. Yeah, you want me to do your dirty work for free but can’t be bothered to invite me to the wedding. Pff.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      This explanation makes the most sense. Even with payment, pet sitting isn’t generally something you do for people you’re not that close to. It’s a pain, and there’s no real price that can be put on re-arranging your life around an outside critter, no matter how well behaved and cute they are. Personally, I would think it weird for a coworker I didn’t interact with much to ask me to take care of their dog, and vice versa. It’s the kind of thing you do for friends and neighbors, not acquaintances. I can understand why Matt and Lisa are miffed; they appear to have you in their Friend Circle, while you have them in the Warm Acquaintance/Coworker Circle. It hurts to find out that you’re in a less intimate circle that you thought you were, or that your own idea of the relationship isn’t reciprocated. We normally think about these things in the context of romantic relationships, but they apply equally to platonic ones.

      So OP1, while you did nothing wrong, if you’d like to maintain a relationship with Matt and Lisa, reaching out to them in some way beyond a text is warranted. If you enjoy their company, I like the idea of taking them out to dinner or something like that.

  13. Lucky black cat*

    #4 Your patients won’t be thinking about this conversation for days or weeks before or after they have it. It’s a moment in time when they express something that is totally about them, not you. They are telling you something about themselves. It’s not actually about you at all, believe it or not.

    And the only person you can control here is you.

    So I wonder if you could try not to let them rent so much space in your head? So they might comment. And maybe, just maybe, that will be ok – do you think you could try to let it matter a little less?

    I’m not saying your feelings aren’t valid. But honestly I think the best thing you can do is try not to see this as a comment on you, and see if that can diffuse things for you a bit.

    In a doctor-patient relationship, you are the one with most of the power. You have the power to decide how much to share, the power to change the subject by asking the patient how they’re doing, and the power to decide that they will not be the arbiters of your self-esteem. You also have the power to decide to be interested in what the patient is really telling you – and yes it might just be that they’re snarky and judgemental, but if you try to be interested in that, it’s easier not to take it personally.

    Also, I would look up encounter stress – it sounds like this is how you’re experiencing these types of exchanges.

    I wish you a speedy recovery.

    1. LW 4*

      Thank you for this, I hadn’t heard of encounter stress and that’s a really helpful concept. Definitely going to do some reading about that.

    2. juliebulie*

      I just clicked the imaginary like button. This is very helpful. (I have no patients and am not a doctor, but I have a lot of interactions where I should remember that most of what people say is about them and not about me.)

  14. Don't get salty*

    #1: If I were Matt and Lisa, I would be under the impression that the only reason you didn’t extend an invite was because you needed someone to watch your dog. Petsitting (and extending a wedding invitation) is something you do for a friend. They just found out that they were wrong about where they stand with you.

    1. Mommy M*

      Yes. And I can see feelings being justifiably hurt.

      I wouldn’t ask for anymore pet sitting. That Matt was doing it for the wedding puts that extra sting in it. I would just own it and apologize. I think Matt feels taken for granted and dismissed. This isn’t just another coworker. This is someone going out of his way to do a big favor multiple times for OP. For something that has nothing to do with work.

      1. Don't get salty*

        Exactly! Reading her letter, I get the impression that #1’s relationship with Matt and Lisa is a relationship of convenience. She knew for sure that they’d be available for the wedding, and she had more than enough advance notice at that point to invite them both. Hell, once she found out that there were no-shows, she could have even called them. On top of that, if she sees Matt at least once a week, that means she had at least two chances to invite him in person. She doesn’t think of them until she needs pet sitting. Period.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That may be how Matt feels, but there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that’s how the OP feels, and I ask that we give people the benefit of the doubt here.

          It’s okay that she didn’t feel close enough to Matt to invite him to the wedding. You’re not required to invite coworkers to your wedding, even coworkers who dog-sit for you. And she wasn’t planning on inviting coworkers, period. It was just the last-minute inviting of the two others combined with the dog-sitting that made this an issue. If either of those factors hadn’t been present, this wouldn’t have been an issue.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, OP even says that Matt and Lisa “were fine until they found out coworkers were invited and they were not” (which is understandable, if not a given – I personally wouldn’t feel slighted by this at all, for example). That doesn’t actually read to me like Matt feels much closer to OP than she feels to him (like others speculated above) – it sounds like he, too, feels like they’re friendly coworkers but not good enough friends to attend each other’s milestone celebrations, or else he would’ve expected to be invited from the get-go.

            The situation only changed when he found out that apparently coworkers have indeed been invited, and it’s fair for him to wonder about that – the dogsitting makes it so that he and his girlfriend have more contact with OP than any regular old coworker would and it’s entirely possible that he doesn’t know the intricacies of OP’s relationship with Sally and Rachel, so he only sees two coworkers who OP gets along with well attending the wedding when a third coworker who OP gets along with well (he himself) wasn’t invited.

            But none of that means that OP only sees Matt and Lisa as a convenience or doesn’t have a friendly relationship with them otherwise.
            (One factor in this, which we know nothing about, is also how the dogsitting arrangement came to be in the first place – are MattLisa huge dog people and Matt offered to watch the dog when OP mentioned her lack of a sitter once? Do they have a dogsitting side gig and OP hired them officially? Did OP approach them randomly? Have they done it once out of the goodness of their hearts and OP now takes it for granted? All of these scenarios shine a different light on the situation as a whole.)
            It was a bit of an unfortunate combination of situations where, in my opinion, neither party was in the wrong, there were just mismatched expectations/understandings.

          2. Lucette Kensack*

            I do think she should have avoided inviting coworkers, given that she’d asked another coworker-friend to watch the dog.

        2. Qwerty*

          It sounds like you are implying that OP1 was obligated to invite Matt & Lisa and spend the last few days before her wedding rearranging the guest list. Even if there was room for two more people at the wedding, sending a last minute invite to Matt/Lisa would have also involved scrambling for a dog sitter during a time that is hectic for a host of reasons.

          I get why Matt feels miffed – he doesn’t have the whole story. If he had previously been told that no coworkers were invited and then learned that a couple attended, it probably feels like he was lied to. But this can be cleared up really quick by explaining it was a spur-of-the-moment change to fill in some unexpectedly empty seats.

          1. fposte*

            The OP has already made that explanation, and it hasn’t been sufficient for a repair. Matt and Lisa will be reasonably wondering why, if they’re good enough to do a big favor for the OP on the regular, they’re not good enough to be invited when seats opened up. (I’m also wondering about this additional co-worker who texted the OP, because it sounds like this might be turning into a bit of workplace drama.)

            I think the OP maybe succumbed to the Invitation Blurts, which affects a lot of people around weddings. And that’s understandable, but it’s also understandable that it hurt Matt and Lisa. This is a little bit like being dumped because the other person just “isn’t ready to be in a relationship” and then they turn around and get engaged, but with the added joy that they’re still asking you for rides.

                1. Caliente*

                  But what do you and everyone else think now that we know that she OP1 was indeed paying for the dog sitting?

                2. brushandfloss*

                  @Caliente. Can’t reply anymore. It’s still a big ask and obviously on Matt’s part he thought it was an indication of a closer relationship. I never watched anyone pet but I have babysat it’s not something I do for everyone even if I’m paid.

  15. Cheryl*

    A disconnect I see often in this forum, as well as in real life, comes from what you should do vs. what you must do. Person 1 takes an action and asks (even if indirectly) “Should I have done this?” and Person 2 says, “You didn’t HAVE to do that.”

    OP1, of course you weren’t required to invite Matt and Lisa to the wedding. But you really should have, and I suspect you know this now. As others have said, Matt very likely considered himself a close friend of yours – close enough to be trusted to watch your dog – and yet to you he was a functionary assigned to complete a task – for free – while you enjoyed yourself with your real friends. That’s the only reason a person would be bold enough to ask you directly why he wasn’t invited to the wedding – he was clearly deeply hurt.

    I’m confident that relationship is permanently damaged, essentially destroyed. The best you can do is to give him and Lisa something really nice, apologize again, and expect nothing more from him.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Well, honestly I’m a bit confused. If he was dog-sitting for the wedding, he couldn’t be at the wedding himself, could he? But if he couldn’t be at the wedding because he was helping it by dogsitting, she should have definitely invited him and his gf to a nice dinner or lunch and given them a favor bag from the wedding, along with lots of thanks for how they helped to make the wedding happen. If the dogsitting didn’t preclude attending the wedding, then yes, Matt should have been invited.

      1. Cheryl*

        But he didn’t have to dog-sit during the wedding – she could have easily asked someone else. Isn’t that the worst kind of cover story (if intentional) – “Will you watch my dog during this date/time?” … “Oh sorry – I couldn’t have invited you to the wedding because you were watching my dog then.”

        Plus, as others have said, the dog watching could have easily come before or after the wedding. Weddings are only a few hours long – realistically, the dog is only visited once or twice a day while Matt is working. He could have visited the dog before and/or after the wedding – assuming the couple weren’t coming straight home.

        I really don’t think there was a timing conflict.

        1. Goldfinch*

          So LW should just kick that can farther down the road, upsetting whoever s/he DID ask to dog sit instead of attend? This makes absolutely no sense.

          Way, WAY too many assumptions going on through these threads. We don’t get to decide how often the dog needed tending, whether the LW could have managed it alone, or what part of the day Matt should have fulfilled his dog-sitting duties.

          This is the kind of thing that infuriates LWs. People are just straight-up inventing stuff.

          1. fposte*

            Huh, I see that very differently. Dogsitters aren’t automatically unpaid friends; boarding kennels and services like Rover don’t care if they’re coming to your wedding or not. The OP had two roads here: one was to be willing to find some alternatives for dogsitting for the wedding; the other was to likely lose Matt and Lisa as both dogsitters and friends. Whether she saw it that way or not, she chose the second; maybe that’s still an okay decision by her, but I think she’s hoping for a third where she gets to stay friends and have them still dogsit despite the wedding situation, and I don’t know that that’s a viable possibility.

            1. Mystery Bookworm*

              Yeah, we use a paid dog-sitter. We’re friendly with her (we’ve even had her over to dinner before our vacation once, and she dog-sat for free while I was hospitalized) but overall it’s primarily a business relationship.

              I also have a friend who ‘exchanges’ cat-sitting with her neighbor, which works well as long as both of them don’t have overlapping vacations.

              But all the friends whose animals I’ve watched (or apartments I’ve checked on) without payment are all also close enough friends that I’ve been invited to their weddings.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              This is where it would help to have a local teenager who is thrilled to be paid to dog-sit but doesn’t want to come to your boring wedding.

              I think you’re right that that third option is looking pretty charred around the edges. I think LW might pull it back with a “we are friends in ways that go far beyond asking you to dog-sit” push, but it has to be sincere.

              I wonder if what to Matt and Lisa was “we aren’t seeing them for friend stuff because they’ve been so busy with wedding planning the last 6 months” was to LW “we are work friends who see each other only when work requires.” (If it’s the latter, this is not someone you ask to dog-sit for free, even if your dog is really really cute.)

          2. hbc*

            If your dog sitter’s willingness to dog sit is mainly based on your friendship, then excluding them from a friend thing *because* of the dog sitting is a really, really delicate matter. I mean, I pet sit for my brother, and if I agreed to it and they turned it into a sibling vacation without me because I was busy, I would be livid, and I have zero background of drama with my sibs. I think most people would be. Whereas I have some acquaintances that I’ve traded favors with because it’s mutually convenient, and I wouldn’t be put out if I ended making it possible for them to hang with closer friends.

            I would probably go with something like, “Matt, I’m sorry, this was all spur of the moment and just a brain fart by me. Other work friends were in front of me while I was complaining about cancellations, in the moment it seemed an obvious solution, but of course I should have invited you. Can we take you two out to dinner or something to try to make it up to you?”

            1. SomebodyElse*

              I agree with everything you said here.

              Honestly, I can see how the OP got themselves in this pickle and it’s totally something I would have done. But now’s the time to make amends to Matt and Lisa (and yes I do think the OP needs to). OP made a bonehead move (It happens to the best of us) by inviting the two coworkers and not thinking about Matt and Lisa. It was a hurtful thing to do (even if unintended from the OP’s perspective) and I get why Matt and Lisa are not happy.

              So, OP, it’s in your court to fix this. Go talk to Matt.

              1. fposte*

                Oh, I totally could see doing this myself, and I feel for the OP. But yeah, it was a misstep, and I think the OP needs to let go of ways of which this made sense to her and focus instead on ways in which this was bad for her friendship if she’s going to keep trying to mend fences.

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Well, going to a wedding is a lot less work and time than being the main characters at a wedding. It’s entirely possible that OP had to be gone for an entire day while the guests were away from home for an evening.

        1. Qwerty*

          This is really dependent on the faith and traditions of the wedding, Most of the wedding I went to this summer were full day events – church service, picture-taking, cocktail hour, dinner + dancing. The local ones still involved being away from home for 8hrs. Then you have to add getting ready for the event (many women need more time to do their “fancy hair” for formal events) before hand, and unwinding into to casual clothes post-wedding. Even for wedding with ceremonies that were only 10min still involved 4-6hrs of being at the venue, plus time to commute.

          This also ignoring that the dog needs dinner! Or do you think the dog should go hungry so Matt can dance at the reception? While some dogs can handle having food in their bowl all day and just eat when they are hungry, many dogs eat the moment food is served therefore receive dinner around dinner time.

          If the OP felt comfortable with a guest taking care of her dog during the event, she probably would have asked a guest to do it. There’s a reason she had a sitter who was not attending the event.

          1. Academic Addie*

            “This also ignoring that the dog needs dinner! Or do you think the dog should go hungry so Matt can dance at the reception?”

            Is Matt the only other person on the planet? This is the exact situation the phrase “Sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money” was invented for. OP could have just paid a sitter off of Rover, or paid a neighbor or something, now they’re paying with awkward at work.

            1. Leslie Knope*

              The OP clarified in the comment threads above that they did pay Matt for dog sitting. I think that was a pretty important detail! It definitely changed my opinion on how the OP should proceed.

          2. Just no*

            Okay, but even assuming the wedding is 8 hours long…if the dog can’t be alone for 8 hours, what does the LW do with the dog while she is at work? I’m assuming the dog is left alone at home during the day because if she had a regular dog daycare, she probably would have just used that instead of relying on a friend.

            (Also, factoring in the amount of time it takes people to do their hair and change clothes post-wedding doesn’t make much sense because they are at home when they are doing those activities, so they are presumably watching the dog…?)

            I also think it’s pretty safe to assume that the wedding wasn’t an elaborate 12-hour affair because if it had been, OP’s response to Matt’s text would probably have been something along the lines of, “it was a 12-hour wedding, and Fido can’t be left alone for that long.” And then Matt probably wouldn’t have been quite as upset.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              The LW has a spouse, who maybe works from home or is otherwise home when she isn’t, if the dog needs constant care.

      3. Batgirl*

        Matt has assumed that the other two were invited from the get-go and is probably wondering why he wasn’t too – as in being offered an either/or: “You’re welcome to come to the wedding but we’d love it if you could dogsit”.
        The way it happened, unfortunately makes it look like she takes his help for granted.

      4. neeko*

        I’m assuming that he was wondering why he was asked to dog sit instead of being asked to come to the wedding.

    2. Sand Dollar*

      This is a very good comment. I’m living through a version of this right now (though it doesn’t involve dogs or weddings) and it is killing me to learn that someone I saw as a real friend saw me as someone good enough to hang out with, but definitely not as a friend.

      1. Cheryl*

        Yes, we’ve all been there. I do event photography at times and I’ve been asked to photograph weddings of people I thought were friends, but in the end they just wanted my services – for cheap and often for free – while pretending to invite me as an actual guest. I always decline, and after that, the “friendship” is kaput.

        1. Quill*

          My mom did wedding photography for a few friends on the understanding that *that* was their wedding gift: the professional grade photography.

          Overall though, prior to digital photos it was a ridiculous amount of work, and it’s not necessarily a lot easier these days.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t agree that OP should have invited Matt to the wedding. I invited the people on my team at work that I considered friends, which was not the entire team. If people got bent out of shape because of it, I honestly don’t care. You are never “required” to invite people to your wedding if you don’t want them there. It’s the pet sitting that throws a wrench into the situation, because if she had invited the other 2 co-workers last minute and not invited Matt (and he wasn’t doggy day care) that’s 100% okay. I’m guessing she used to be closer to Matt and Lisa, but now that Lisa has moved on and she only sees Matt infrequently, they’ve drifted apart as anything other than colleagues. It happens. And based on Matt’s reaction, it’s clear he thought they were still close.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, when I read the title I thought “Well, not everyone gets invited to weddings.” I had a coworker marry and invite a couple of people from work to her wedding that she was close to, and that wasn’t the whole team. That was fine with me – I was actually relieved because we weren’t friends outside of work (we weren’t even really work friends, just friendly coworkers) and if I’d been invited, I’d have felt like I had to go, and going to a wedding when you don’t know anyone except coworkers kind of makes it a default work event. But the dog-sitting thing throws a wrench in, especially if it was free (if Matt and Lisa were paid, I wouldn’t think they had a as much of a leg to stand on).

        1. Tisiphone*

          That was my first thought as well.

          Weddings are stressful and expensive and people find fault with everything from the flower arrangements to the fact that the thank you note has an address label. (Seriously. Look around some etiquette sites and prepare to be entertained.) Invitations to someone to fill in for cancellations has been a major bone of contention with some people saying why not and others huffing about guests shouldn’t know they’re not on the first wave of invites. And on the topic of guests invited to dinner and guests invited to come after….

          What’s done is done and time travel is not possible. Upthread someone suggested treating Matt and Lisa to dinner and I think that’s a great idea. Might even be more enjoyable than attending a wedding where the only people you know are the couple and your companion.

        2. Qwerty*

          That was my thought too. I’m always surprised at how many people feel entitled to invitations to their coworkers weddings. You wouldn’t believe the number of coworkers who invited themselves and/or demanded invitations to my non-existent wedding when I was younger. I wasn’t even engaged – they decided based on my age and the length of my relationship that a wedding was inevitable (it wasn’t) and they deserved to be there. Unsurprisingly none of them said a word when that relationship ended…

          It also seems to affect women a lot more in the workplace. The same coworkers I see demanding invites to women’s weddings rarely expect to be invited to the men’s weddings.

      2. Cheryl*

        “You are never “required” to invite people to your wedding if you don’t want them there.”

        That’s very different. I’m pretty sure LW1 didn’t not want Matt and Lisa at the wedding.

    4. Anononon*

      Yes, I agree with this. On the subreddit, “am I the asshole?”, there’s a great sticky thread addressing this issue, where people online love to be very black and white about these types of moral dilemmas. “It’s your wedding – you can do whatever you want.” “Your house, your rules.” Etc.

    5. L*

      I don’t think they ‘should’ have. Weddings are extremely expensive and what many people who are acquaintances don’t realize is if they invited them there are 20 other people you know at the same level of closeness who want an invite.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I disagree. They should not have. The original arrangement was Matt and Lisa dogsit DURING the wedding. That was established before the cancellation and the 2 work friends became replacements. And Matt and Lisa were totally cool with the arrangement up UNTIL the latter happened. Nothing about this situation merits: change plans, invite Matt and Lisa to the wedding and now find a short-notice replacement dog sitter.

  16. TimeTravlR*

    #4 – Maybe OP and their staff need to not share so much. When my docs are unavailable, they are just unavailable. I have no idea for how long or why. If patients press, staff and OP should just keep repeating “unavailable.” No need to even put a time stamp on it.

  17. Jcarnall*

    LW1: I don’t think you did anything wrong, but surely you can see why Matt’s feelings would be hurt? He’s the co-worker friend who you trust enough to ask to look after your dog, even during the wedding. He would therefore justly think “If there were co-workers being invited to the wedding, why wasn’t I invited?” And the answer “because I needed you to look after my dog” isn’t going to work: indeed, I don’t know what would.

    I’m not saying you should have asked Matt and Lisa, knowing you had two places to spare. If you didn’t want Matt and Lisa at your wedding, you shouldn’t have to ask them. But having not asked Matt, the saving grace of second thought should have warned you not to invite any other co-workers.

    I don’t think you can fix this, in that you can’t unhurt Matt’s feelings and you can’t retrieve the central issue – that you wanted him to dogsit for free during your wedding but you invited two other co-workers to the wedding. But you can acknowledge how it happened – that your thoughtlessness hurt him, not direct intent to exclude.

    And I wouldn’t ask Matt to dogsit again.

    1. Myrin*

      A few comments have mentioned that Matt dogsat “for free” and I was wondering where you got that from – am I missing this piece of information from the letter? Or does that come from Alison’s “especially if you didn’t pay them”, which I took to mean “in case you didn’t pay them (which I don’t know from your letter)”?
      Now watch someone reply to this with an exact quote from the OP’s letter which I somehow missed despite reading it five times.

      1. Jcarnall*

        If Matt and Lisa ran a dogsitting business, then the issue of why Matt was asked to dogsit but not to the wedding, wouldn’t arise. The LW doesn’t specifically say she didn’t pay Matt, but this does seem at least from Matt’s perspective to have been a dog taken care of for friendship rather than money.

        I don’t think it makes a lot of difference to the central point.

        1. Quill*

          Or just for below market rate… A lot of people will sit for a pet infrequently for a very low rate because “we’re friends” or they consider it an exchange of favors.

          1. Leslie Knope*

            Agreed, it’s a matter of perspective. Personally, when someone who’s a friendly acquaintance (but not really a friend) asks me to dog sit, I ask them how much they would typically pay a service. My rate will be lower because I don’t have the overhead a full-on boarding service would have, but I still wouldn’t consider it a favor since I’m being paid in cash (versus something more personal like them taking me out to dinner or bringing a gift).

    2. londonedit*

      This is what I was thinking. Even if OP had told Mark and Lisa that she’d ended up inviting the other coworkers to take up the spare places at the wedding, I don’t know how they’d have managed to have that conversation without it being awkward. ‘I know we said we weren’t inviting coworkers to the wedding, but we had a couple of dropouts, so I invited Rachel and Sally. You’re still OK with dogsitting, right?’ Even if they were slightly more diplomatic than that, I can’t see any way around it that wouldn’t have left Mark feeling like ‘Oh, right, so I’m good enough for dogsitting but not good enough to go to the wedding, not even as a last resort so you don’t waste money’. That said, I think if I was Mark I’d probably just have vented to family and friends about it and not actually brought it up with OP, but at this point I think the best OP can do is follow Alison’s advice and apologise for hurting Mark and Lisa’s feelings.

      1. Hope*

        Mark *could* have “just vented to family and friends, and not actually brought it up with OP”, but if he and Lisa still wanted to try for a real friendship with her, openness about their hurt and confusion (“we’re good enough to trust with your dog, but you didn’t give us a second thought when you had two spare seats at the wedding?”) might have been the way to go – or at least, Mark might have thought it was the way to go. If so, I respect his attempt to clear the air.
        At that point, I don’t think the relationship was irreparably damaged – now, after her text response which was explicit about not thinking of them for the two spare places, and apparently said nothing else, I don’t know.

        1. londonedit*

          I mainly wanted to come back to say I have no idea why I’ve insisted on calling him Mark when it was clearly Matt in the letter. Reading fail.

          And yes, I can totally see why he might have wanted to clear the air (but I’m British and our default is to stay the heck away from potentially difficult conversations). I agree that if OP had explained a bit more about the situation then they might have been able to smooth things over. There’s nothing in the letter about whether OP gave Matt and Lisa anything in return for dogsitting (my sister had a friend of mine – who definitely wouldn’t have expected/wanted a wedding invite – dogsit for the weekend of her wedding, and left food in the fridge, a nice bottle of wine, flowers and a gift card to say thank you to my friend) but maybe OP could repair things by giving a full explanation and offering to take Matt and Lisa out for dinner to thank them properly.

        2. TimeTravlR*

          I am always telling people to use their words, so you are right on point! Being honest about the hurt was the right thing for Matt to do. Being apologetic is now the right thing for OP to do.

  18. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    This PTO buy back at 50% is completely new to me.

    Is the PTO buy back at 50% only because you’re working instead?

    Is that legal?

    Is it taxed at a different rate? Do the taxes on it make the buy back worth it?

    My employer’s collective agreement states that vacation should be used in the year it was earned and approval is needed to roll over. It was never enforced and we now have staff with up to six months’ worth of vacation rolled over (being saved for pre-retirement vacation). With this huge financial liability, the employer said, hey, we’re going to enforce the collective agreement so please take your vacation and if you have over X amount, we’ll pay out 25% of it…but I’m pretty sure it’s not paid out at 50% but at 100%. In a huge panic, a lot of staff took one to two months of vacation this summer to avoid the pay out but will now also have to chase directors for approval to roll over their balances with no clear direction from HR on the best procedure to do this. I don’t object to the employer asking for vacation balances to be reduced but we all objected to no clear direction on it.

    1. Natalie*

      Assuming US, only one tax bracket is applied to all earned income, regardless of the source or how it appears on the employer’s books. The 50% buyback is likely because they are trying to save some money on reducing their vacation liability. (Earned, unused vacation is carried on the books just like money owed to a supplier would be, for as long as the employee is entitled to use it.)

        1. Natalie*

          Not really, any income you receive is “less tax”, the same would be true if the OP took the vacation and received vacation pay, or got a vacation payout upon separation.

          1. Meunakker*

            Yes really: if you are putting a $ figure on the value of a day off then you need to consider the post tax amount.

            1. Natalie*

              All of your income from your employer is taxed, at whatever effective tax rate you land in, period. If you’re trying to compare the relative advantages of the value of the vacation day, a 50% payout, or a 100% payout either under a different schema or at the end of your employment, it’s not an accurate comparison unless you’re using all gross values or all net values. But your original comment is only worrying about tax with one of the three values, so apples to oranges.

          1. Faith*

            Well, if you are salaried, you get the same amount paid to you per year whether or not you take vacation. So, there is no additional tax cost to you to take vacation. If you cash out your vacation day, and it’s treated as additional income to you, then you will have that additional tax cost. Therefore, by cashing out, you are losing 50% of actual value plus you are incurring additional taxes.

    2. Qwerty*

      The buyout money works like receiving a bonus (some states tax bonuses at higher amounts when they are paid), but at the end of the year, the IRS looks at all the money you earned regardless of if it was salary, bonus, buyout, etc. (assuming this is the US)

      All the places I know that used to do buybacks discontinued that option because employees were just cashing in on their PTO days instead of actually taking vacations to avoid burnout. The 50% buyback rate is likely to reduce the appeal of hoarding all of your PTO days in order to sell them at the end of the year. That way the people selling their days are more likely to be like the OP where its a nice bonus for days that they don’t feel inclined to use, and she is still taking vacations throughout the year. Other places may do a 100% buyback, but limit it to X number of days.

  19. Blue*

    LW 4 – having worked for years in community pharmacy, which absolutely combines all the worst aspects of retail and healthcare, this is an attitude I really recognise. Patients would be outraged when the pharmacist wasn’t available to help them right that second because she was taking a half-hour lunchbreak – out of a ten- hour day! I think there’s kind of a perfect storm of attitudes and expectations going on here; there’s the “the customer is always right and I should be able to get whatever I want immediately” thing which I do think is getting more and more common, plus there’s the “this is about my health, it’s very important so my expectations of you are even higher, and people who work in healthcare shouldn’t have lives outside their work,” thing, plus there’s the unavoidable fact that people who are ill and anxious are just never going to be their best selves. And I think there’s a real change in attitudes towards health care providers, from “deference to a highly qualified expert” to “my doctor works for me and must provide what I want”. In some cases that’s a good thing – you should feel able to question your doctor!- but I do think it contributes to the kind of behaviour you’re having to deal with.
    And it’s not exactly the same situation, but I know for me sometimes reminding them as sweetly as possible that you are also a human with needs does help – I think something like, “Oh, actually it was a medical leave but I’m doing much better now, thank you!” is perfect. It’s going to make the ones who are remotely reasonable reconsider their behaviour, and honestly, the ones who aren’t generally can’t be changed.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      “Patients would be outraged when the pharmacist wasn’t available to help them right that second because she was taking a half-hour lunchbreak – out of a ten- hour day! ”

      Do your patients know that, and know that you only have one pharmacist? It may be obvious on your end — and even probably obvious to someone taking the time to look around — but in the moment, they’ve managed to find time in their own busy day to get to the pharmacy and now there’s no pharmacist.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Our pharmacy is small, so has only one pharmacist on duty. Her lunchbreak is set in stone in the published hours on the door, on the website, etc. If you want to come in and drop off a prescription or buy OTC cough mixture then feel free, but the pharmacist is unavailable 1-1.30pm every day, period.

        It helps that it’s the same time every day so you can plan around it.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            (should clarify – I’m not the poster you were originally replying to; it was a “Yes and”)

    2. Natalie*

      I wonder if the general dysfunction of the medical system is factoring in as well. We’ve had a ton of problems with both chain retail pharmacies in my area that have involved showing up and having an unexpected wait. There’s nothing (apparently) we can do – there are no indies anymore, so where else are we supposed to get drugs? It doesn’t make it right for people to yell at staff that also don’t control their corporate overlords dumb decisions, but I imagine many people aren’t thinking about that or are feeling somewhat helpless.

    3. BeckySuz*

      I wonder if the internet has made patients worse in that regard? Back in the day your doctor was the gatekeeper for all medical info. Now that everyone has Dr Google are people being more dismissive of actual Doctors? Idk just a thought

    4. Swordspoint*

      Man, you’re a community pharmacist and you get a half-hour lunch? I haven’t had a lunch break at the pharmacy I work at in ten years… (sigh)

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        Heck, our pharmacy at Wal Mart closes for their lunch. Yes, it is posted.

        1. Blue*

          SarahTheEntwife – Yes, there are signs all over the store, including one standing on the counter right in eyeline, it’s at the same time every day, and it’s a small local pharmacy where most of the patients are regulars. I know what you mean, and honestly I’m sympathetic to a point, but there really isn’t anything more we could do!

  20. Not So NewReader*

    OP4. I am going to go in a different direction here with the idea of showing a bigger picture. If you spend time talking to retail people this type of commentary is NORMAL and to be expected. I read this and said to myself, “Oh, dealing with the public!”

    I think if you try to tell yourself that some people just don’t “get it” and they never will this will help to lower your expectations and in turn, calm things down for you. It’s good to realize that some folks just don’t get it and probably never will.
    You are on the correct path by looking for go-to things that you can say when this happens. Practice these statements at home in front of the mirror if that is what it takes for you to start to feel comfortable/oriented to your chosen replies.

    Last, my one-off story of my own bad behavior. When my husband was in his final illness, we found a doc who was a gem. She was wonderful. She worked 20 hours a week and we busted our butts to keep appointments with her. (My husband had 57 doctor appointments in 13 weeks, this was no small accomplishment to get to see her. She was so worth it.)
    The she announced she was going on vacation. For a month. OP, I cried, right in the moment. See, my husband was so fragile I could see that he probably would not be alive when she came back. She was an ounce of hope in some very dark times. Well, because of crying, I was pretty tongue-tied and I could not explain to her why I was crying.
    Reading your letter here verifies in my own mind that I really laid a guilt trip on her. That was not my intent and my emotions were much larger than what I could contain.

    We never saw her again.

    That last interaction was not great. She probably has NO idea that I would recommend her to people in a heartbeat. But how would she know that other than ESP, right?

    As often as possible look for a bigger and bigger picture to try to fill in explanations of why people say what they say. It does not work every time, but it can help here and there.

    1. AnonoDoc*

      This breaks my heart. It is one of the worst feelings in the world to have to tell someone bad news and then hand off their care to someone else, or to have planned time away when a beloved patient is failing. We get attached as well.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t accept that this kind of commentary is normal. It’s rude. It’s none of anyone’s business why OP was out for so long. Just like it’s nobody’s business why someone who works in an office was out for a month. Boundary pushers need to be stopped. If OP is comfortable saying they were out on medical leave, a simple “I’d rather not discuss it” is all anyone deserves as a response. While your last interaction wasn’t great with your husband’s doctor, you weren’t rude to them. There’s a difference.

    3. Goldfinch*

      An overwhelming emotional breakdown is much different than rude prying demands. Please don’t let this weigh on you. If she was as wonderful as you say, then she no doubt had the experience to understand where you were coming from.

    4. Poppy the Flower*

      Yeah. I’m a doctor, but a relatively new one, and I tend to view rude comments as one of the perils of having a public-facing job. (I don’t have the insight to know what it was like years before and if it’s increased.) The hard part is that often we have repeated encounters with the same patients/families.

      I get a lot of one-off rudeness because I have a visible disability. I have definitely found that just giving a standardized reply or even straight up ignoring the comment/question works 95% of the time so definitely practice. (My reply does not involve giving the patient my personal information. I just don’t find it productive for either of us.) I also found more I did this the less one-off comments bothered me. Maybe because I felt like I knew how to handle it? Of course if someone is persistently rude or starts yelling or something like that you have the right to shut it down.

      I have found that even though there is a lot of public disrespect for doctors/anti-science media, I still have the social power in the encounter. Telling someone straight up not to ask me invasive questions or that we’re moving on from the topic of my personal life/health/whatever is VERY, almost TOO effective. So that’s a lot of why I lean towards something more standardized/cheerful and/or just the “hmm” acknowledgement (basically ignoring the comment) and moving on unless they’re persistent. It’s basically giving them the social grace and still allowing the opportunity to build a rapport. (A lot of these comments/questions are things I’d shut down directly if it was outside work or not a patient who was saying it.)

    5. Lora*

      This was my thought too, that this is a big part of working with The Public, in general: people are jerks. I actually am friends with a few doctors who started residencies in primary care and psychiatry, and then quickly lined up a second residency in radiology, pathology, anesthesiology – because they HATED that aspect of the job and needed to minimize it for their own mental health.

      Blessedly, I found this out as an undergrad shadowing doctors in a big medical center over a summer, but it really is tough on a whole other level – a great many of my clinical trial friends and colleagues talk about getting into working for Big Pharma because working in large medical centers and hospitals, they were often assaulted, bitten, verbally abused, harassed etc. My uncle ran a small family care practice and while he was very charming and funny and nice to his patients, my aunt said he would come home from a long day with a lot of frustration to let loose. He ended up re-training himself to be a computer programmer and was much, much happier. It’s just horrible working with the public in general, and you’re constantly dealing with people at their worst in particular – they’re not going to put on their best behavior for you, in particular. They’re in pain, nauseated, depressed, what have you, not in a generous mood to begin with. You’re the person who tells them to eat more vegetables and gives them flu shots, you’re not the person who is going to brush their hair and massage their feet and tell them they’re pretty.

    6. ChimericalOne*

      If you look her up, you can probably send her or her office a message via email! You obviously don’t have to, but that’s the kind of thing that would nag at me… If you want her to know that you valued her care & thought highly of her, you can still tell her, even if you have no need to see her again.

        1. Blueberry*

          I also encourage you to do so if you’re up to it. I used to love receiving (and prioritize delivering) such messages to the medical professionals I worked with. You’ll make her day.

    7. WordNerd*

      I second ChimericalOne. Let the doctor know you’d recommend her in a heartbeat. That said, I don’t at all think you behaved badly. You had a very understandable human reaction, which a doctor that good would recognize. So I don’t really think you owe her an apology. But telling her how much you appreciated her could ease your mind, and give her day a boost.

  21. Myra*

    This response seems excessive to what I thought was a normal observation. You’re comparing apples to oranges. The issue isn’t the amount of time the bride and groom spend at the wedding, but the guests. In your example it sounds like the bride and groom stayed for a long weekend but the guests did not. Weddings, unless they’re out of town, almost always require a commitment of only a few hours from guests. And yes, any dog can be left alone for a few hours unless it has special needs, and in that case it really would have been waaay too big an ask for a coworker.

    1. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I feel like this was maybe meant to reply to me but got out of nesting. My TL:RD is that the letter doesn’t give enough info to make all these assumptions and we should take the LW at her word. But to illustrate my point, at the wedding I attended where the bride and groom stayed for a long weekend, quite a few guests stayed at the venue and made it a long weekend despite being local, just because it was a VERY cool venue to stay overnight and people don’t necessarily want to drive 45 minutes to an hour home if they can make a weekend of it (some people who stayed the long weekend were only ten minutes away). People can travel an hour or more to a “local” venue; I rarely go to a wedding that doesn’t take up at least 8 hours of my time with travel, even if it is local. And I know quite a few dogs that can’t be alone for more than 3-4 hours – weddings are generally longer than that.

  22. Nicole*

    LW#4: Patients are the reason why I’m looking to leave healthcare. Your story reminds me of the guy that tore me a new one when we had to reschedule his wife’s visit due to a massive snowstorm. The optometrist was concerned about driving through ice and snow, but this dude was all “What, the doctor needs to go skiing?!” And then she no-showed for the rebook!

    “As lovely as a four week vacation would be, unfortunately doctors get ill and need time to heal just like everybody else. But now I’m back and eager to get back to my patients! Anyway, back to [reason for visit]…” would be my suggestion. Patients who make comments like that are typically pretty selfish so if you go back to making it about them they should move on easily. Hope you’re doing better.

  23. AnonoDoc*

    This question has me hyperventilating. Loads of memories come up, including the time I had just learned a family member was dying in the hospital in another state, I was trying to tie up loose ends so my patients were all covered while I was gone and the scheduling supervisor stood in the hallway outside my office SCREAMING that it was completely unacceptable that I was cancelling clinics with less than 60 days’ notice. In front of patients.

    And I have gotten plenty of that from patients as well.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      No offence but what if it had been you that had died? Being screamed at by anyone suggests they’ve lost control, but when it’s your scheduling manager, and you’re already trying to sort cover before you leave… They must be really desperate. And treating you that way when you’re recently bereaved? I hope you escalated that. *SMH*

      1. Flash Bristow*

        What I meant by my first sentence was really that if you suddenly disappeared or could not work again, they’d HAVE to deal with it, so not having a plan to cope when you need a break, and taking it out on you…just no.

        I spy a scheduling manager who is rather incompetent and has just been shown up…

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This shht is obscenely common in medicine and it makes me so angry. If it’s not the patients it’s the administers or other overworked exhausted personnel.

      It gives me hives thinking about it.

  24. Alex*

    #2: Unless you plan on investing that money, if your company regularly gives you even halfway decent COL raises, that PTO increases in value every year more than the interest on a regular savings account.

    Unless you need that money, I’d let it be. 50% of what it is worth isn’t a good deal.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Bingo. If I get a 2% raise this year, then the one week of PTO I cash out this year is worth more even if I just wait til next year to do it, let alone waiting longer than that. Plus – who knows – my organization just changed, last year, from the PTO cash-out being paid at 80% to a full 100%. So if you’re not going to lose it, holding onto it is only going to improve your situation, no matter how it goes.

  25. LGC*

    Hm. I’m actually going to disagree with the majority on OP4…in that I’m not going to presume that a lot of people are being overly malicious when they say that. (In that, they’re just being rude, not intentionally unkind – if that makes sense.) Given that OP4 1) is a doctor and 2) has a history of depression…I can’t help but think that part of the issue is how they’re framing the leave in their head, and how their patients frame it. They’re in a traditionally well-paid profession, and I’m getting a hint of “depression brain” here. If OP4 can pull this off, when someone makes this comment to them they can try to frame it less as a judgment on them than just obliviousness.

    And on the flip side – you’re not letting someone down because you had a rough surgery and don’t want to talk about it. You’re allowed to be a human and get sick sometimes.

  26. MatKnifeNinja*


    You need a thicker skin.

    Who cares what your patients think about you being off from work? When your patient pipes up some tackless gem, think “Aren’t you as cute as a button!” and move on. Think of them like 3 year olds when run their mouths on a situation they know nothing about.

    I have two physician friends, who had emergency surgeries, and lost about a third of their patients do to being off for over 8 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively. They are both in specialties that book out a minimum 3 months in advance. People didn’t reschedule appointments. People didn’t want to wait. People get their panties in a wad. People screamed at the front desk help. People were mad because it was a medical issue, and were worried their doctor wouldn’t be back. Their practices are back to full steam now. You can’t personalize other peoples crud behaviors.

    Also, you aren’t required to answer every question. If someone makes a crap comment or asks why you are off (and you don’t want to disclose), just smile, and ask them “How’s the blood pressure, diabetes, afib…?” etc

    Boundary stomping, unreasonable patients are bullets dodged when they don’t come back. I don’t know how long your office visits are, but when the questions start rolling, you can always say you’d much rather spend the time listening/taking care of whatever brought them there.

    Remember, your sandbox, your rules, you set the tone for the visit. Don’t let the drama llamas harsh your mellow, and take up space in your head rent free.

    1. Jamie*

      Those patients were unconscionably rude, of course doctor’s have medical emergencies, too.

      But as far as not rescheduling, I can’t fault them for that. I’ve seen a specialist for which you have to book months in advance and others of the same specialty aren’t exactly easy to get fast appointments. If I was able to see another doctor in that time and liked them as much might as well stay with the last one I saw as I probably made my next appointment for months out while I was there.

      There is no excuse for being rude about it, but I doubt it was about people not wanting to wait, but not being able to wait.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      The “you need a thicker skin” is kind of harsh.

      Not to mention, there’s research showing that forging deeper connections with patients, and showing true empathy towards them decreases burnout, and superficial scripting/”patient satisfaction” interactions increases it. Meaning, providers who care about their relationships with patients actually have higher job satisfaction and the ability to continue to do the emotionally difficult work of caregiving.

      1. LW 4*

        Thanks for this. I’ve actually got a pretty thick skin. I’m just feeling kind of vulnerable right now quite honestly. And I’m concerned that comments from patients, with the way I’m feeling right now, are going to start me spiraling about times I e been physically assaulted by patients and otherwise abused by patients in the past and get in the way of connecting and empathizing the way I know I need to. If I didn’t care about patients, I wouldn’t care what they said to me. Thankfully Alison’s advice and a lot of the comments have been pretty helpful.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          I hate that this is an added stress for you on top of recovery and getting back into the swing of things. My dad always had a good way of helping me see past things that caused me anxiety. “If ____ is the worst thing that happens to you today, then you’re still doing alright.” He wasn’t an overly optimistic man, but that’s still been some of the best advice he’s ever given me. He told me I could still be mad about what happened (or worried, or miffed at someone’s comment, or whatever), but to keep looking ahead. Best of luck!

    3. Alice*

      So you think the patients should have scheduled at least 8-12 weeks in advance, learned at some point that their appointments were canceled, and waited an indeterminate amount of time to learn that your friends were indeed going to come back to work at some point, and then rescheduled?
      Screaming at the front desk help is rude. (“Help”?)
      People getting their panties in a wad – well, my panties might be wadded in the circumstances, especially if I was getting the impression that the health care provider thinks my concerns are trivial.
      People not rescheduling appointments is not rude at all and I’m not sure why you think it is.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This depends on your practice and the rules set up, it depends on if you’re in high demand or not as well.

      Specialists get a way with a whole lot and can shrug off bedside manner. Surgeons also are highly powerful individuals in the ED. They make their own rules often times. They also see death on a daily basis, they are soldier minded in a lot of ways.

      If it’s a large enough clinic with multiple PCP, they have very specific policies in place and patients who want to crawl far enough up someone’s butt for their bedside manner can do so.

      So that’s something to keep in mind.

      But otherwise, it is true that there has to be a lot of conditioning and detachment. Boundaries are hard AF.

      I’ve seen doctors/surgeons burnout and leave their positions. I’ve seen medical students graduate and decide not to go into residency due to their experiences.

      I try to liken these folks to sick birds. They’re going to flail and squawk and peck at you because they’re hurting. It takes so much patience and understanding to dodge their beak of doom and give them care regardless of their response to trauma.

  27. Just Another School Teacher*

    I feel the doctor’s letter so much. I’m a teacher and was out for maternity leave three years ago and then last year to care for my father who was dying of brain cancer. I have worked here for 15 years and those were the only two times I took FMLA. I teach AP classes in a pretty demanding building.

    I had a parent email me, copying my principal, and superintendent, stating she was going to SUE me for not being at work and “adversely affecting her son’s education with a long term sub.”

    I had another parent show up at my house to tell me that it was unacceptable for me to miss work while her daughter needed tutoring for the AP exam and that I was to return to work immediately. (My district tried to write this off as a “cultural” misunderstanding. No.

    Had a parent comment to me at open house that “teachers need to have babies in the summer” after coming to my room from another teacher’s room who was out on FMLA.

    So yeah. I get you, Doc.

    1. 1234*

      LOL I would love to see that parent try to sue you for taking FMLA. I wonder what kind of response the parent got from the principal and superintendent.

      Why did that parent who showed up at your home even know where you lived?! And WTF to the district.

      And to that last parent, sometimes people deliver early/late/have complications etc. even if they did plan to have a baby in the summer. Sorry that teacher didn’t have a baby on a schedule that suits you? *sarcasm*

      Big eyeroll to all of these parents.

      1. Just Another School Teacher*

        My principal laughed, but that parent was a problem. Sad thing is, her kid was decent.

        The home visit parent…I have no idea how she found my address. I mean, I live in the district, and I’m on some neighborhood Facebook pages, but she still had to track down what neighborhood I lived in, plus the house number. I called the police on her. I felt I had no other options because she wouldn’t leave my yard. She said she would “wait” for me to come out so we could “talk.” When I approached the district about the incident, the assistant superintendent stated “it sounds like a cultural misunderstanding.” WTF is right.

        Yup, entitled is right. These are the same parents that text their kids during class!!!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’m relieved you called the cops. So many people would be afraid to bring in law enforcement in that kind of situation even though they were trespassing on your property.

          In what culture do you get to just show up on someone’s doorstep and demand they come outside?

          That response sounds like someone who’s afraid to be called racist/bigoted. Just brush it off as a cultural thing…yeaaaaaah.

        2. blackcat*

          I always felt so terrible for the kids in these situations. More than half of the time with terrible parents, the kid is actually really nice. It always left me wondering, if this is how they treat me, how does this parent treat their own child?
          I did have a parent show up at my house once, too, but fortunately my headmaster (private school) took it super seriously.

    2. Robin Sparkles*

      Wow…I am so so sorry. Telling you when to have your baby ?!?! Isn’t that precious?

      Entitled parents are the worst of the bunch and dollars to donuts they are also entitled patients.

    3. BeckySuz*

      Dear god some parents are just insane! My daughter’s biology teacher is currently out on maternity leave, and she HATES her sub. The sub doesn’t understand the subject materials and the kids are really struggling with her. My type A kid is not happy about it. Now I did have a quick conversation with her counselors office to ask when the teacher was coming back, and we did make a plan(daughter can ask biology teacher from another class questions if she really needs to), but at no point did it ever occur to me to SUE her teacher!! She deserves to recover and enjoy her baby in peace. What is wrong with people!?

      1. Banker chick*

        I graduated high school in the early 80’s. Small, rural district where only one teacher taught chemistry and physics. I don’t know how it worked but the usual, beloved teacher was out on maternity leave for year and a half. Just happened to be when I was taking chemistry and then physics.

        The chemistry sub wasn’t horrible and I passed the Regents. But we had a different sub the following year. There was only one physics class as most of the students who took chemistry choose not to continue . HUGE cultural differences and we had a lot of trouble understanding her. By January, half the class dropped out and we were left with 16. I begged my counselor to drop, but he told me to stick it out, the regular teacher was coming back February 1. The teacher did come back and she said she assumed we knew nothing and was going to start from the beginning. The school year was more than half over but we moved along quickly. Unbelievably 15 out of 16 passed the state Regents test. The teacher even came to my graduation party. She truly was as wonderful as we were told.

        I don’t/didn’t begrudge the teacher her leave. And neither did my parents. She has/had a life. And it worked out ok. But I, unfortunately, know many parents nowadays who would have a field day with that situation.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      God help us…

      I just realized how email has made it even easier to abuse our teachers. As if you weren’t always susceptible to this nonsense, now they don’t even have to say it to your faces and can CC everyone else.

      This is reason 2 why I didn’t pursue teaching despite my childhood dreams of becoming one. I realized after grade school how awful they are treated by parents.

      1. Quill*

        Even worse, my mom’s school got an app for “parent communications” called classroom dojo.

        A lot of parents try to use it to IM teachers with “Why did Jacob get a negative dojo? I INSIST that you explain.” and “Tell Emily that her grandma is picking her up after school” and “why haven’t you answered my previous message, what could you possibly be doing?”

        Teaching your child, perhaps?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          And yet they’re getting paid the same peanuts as before. They may as well be working for the parking enforcement, they’d probably get more respect…yuck.

        2. Rectilinear Propagation*

          “Why did Jacob get a negative dojo? I INSIST that you explain.”

          Yeah, telling a parent that their child did something wrong, but not what it actually was, is a terrible idea. Looking at the website for the app, it doesn’t seem like a good tool for delivering negative feedback. It also sounds like the parents get that information immediately, which is a worse idea.

          The app does teachers a disservice by referring to the messaging feature as “instant” messages. That’s technically what they are but it shouldn’t be implying that the communication is actually going to be instantaneous.

          Overall, it feels too similar to the apps daycares use which is probably why they’re also getting, “Tell Emily that her grandma is picking her up after school” type messages because that’s the sort of thing daycares want to know.

          1. Quill*

            See, they’re categorized already. A negative dojo for “running in the hall” is pretty self explanatory, and honestly? It’s not on teachers to constantly check an app for their messages, they’re supposed to be teaching.

    5. Quill*

      At your HOUSE?

      … something about how much information that parents get about you needs to change IMMEDIATELY.

      Also I’m laughing at the “have babies in the summer” phrasing because 1) you still get maternity leave in most places if the kid isn’t born during the school year, 2) anecdotally a lot of teachers’ children are born during the fourth quarter, in my experience with my mom’s coworkers.

    6. LW 4*

      Thank you. And that’s ridiculous that people teachers treat teachers that way. But I have some good friends who are teachers and from the stories they’ve told me, I’m 100% not surprised.

    7. Luna*

      “teachers need to have babies in the summer”
      Certainly, if you want to keep track of my ovulation times that closely, I would love to accomodate you. Oh, and *you* will be caring for the infant once the schoolyear starts up again, of course.

  28. MissGirl*

    OP5: You’ve emailed too many times. At this point they don’t even have a position for you to apply to. There’s nothing they can do about that. Keep an eye on their postings but apply to other places.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Second. It’s time for OP5 to move on. They’ve received the emails. They just have nothing more to say to you, and in all likelihood are doing you the favor of not stringing you along to make you believe there is more possibility than there really is. They know who you are. An occasional base-touching every couple of months until you find a permanent position probably wouldn’t hurt. But don’t send anymore emails now.

  29. Jennifer*

    LW1 I don’t think you set out to hurt anyone and understand how those last few weeks before a wedding can be. I think the problem is that you sent mixed messages about the kind of friend you think Matt is. Personally, I only ask very close friends and family to do huge favors for me. Basically the same tier of people I’d invite to my wedding. If he’s not good enough for your wedding, he shouldn’t have been dog sitting. You do owe him an explanation. Congrats on the wedding!

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I think it all depends on how Matt ended up dog sitting for LW. Did she ask him? Did he offer? Does he run a dog walking business on the side? Is he a Rover contractor? If she just asked him, then yes I could see how he thought they were closer than they were. But there is still the fact that he was fine not being invited until he heard other coworkers were present. I think this is a difficult situation, but it does really come down to the details of the start of the favor. But either way, I think it would be smart to apologize, explain the situation, and probably consider hiring another sitter.

      1. LW1*

        Basically, they dog sat for us one time before. Where I asked the Lisa if she wanted to. Told her I would pay her. Told her she could spend the night at my house if she wanted. We were still working together and I live 4 mintues from work. I told her, she could even have her boyfriend(Matt) stay too. Both have very controlling parents who won’t let them hang out alone together. I thought it would be nice to pay them, and give them a weekend to themselves. All while they are helping me out in a huge way. Since then, both have asked me a couple time if I need dog watching, and how much thet enjoyed it. I haven’t needed it until the wedding. I told Matt I needed dog watching for the wedding and if he and Lisa wanted to I would be so grateful. I couldn’t even ask Lisa (who I wascloser to, because I don’t have her number, because we do not talk outside of work). Everyone knew that it was for my wedding. At this point in time no coworkers were being invited. 2 weeks before the wedding to people cancelled. I got the text message at work, I was complain to my two work buddies about being out the money, and then just got the idea to invite them. I am more asking how to handle the awkwardness with Matt.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that makes it really understandable why you approached it the way you did!

          This is such a good illustration of a time when the details we don’t have end up really mattering, but where I can also see why you didn’t think you’d need to include all that detail in your letter and the sentence “they have done it in the past and they seemed to really enjoy it” would cover it. (And this is an illustration of why I continually ask commenters not to assume their assumptions/speculation are fact, because often it ends up being really wrong.)

        2. Bunny Girl*

          That clears it up nicely and makes a lot of sense! I can see how you handled everything the way you did then and I think you handled things really well.

          Yes then I would sit down with Matt and talk to him about it. He might be a little hurt, but honestly I wouldn’t fault you for how anything went. Maybe just get him and Lisa something nice. I still maybe would get another dog sitter instead though, unless after a time they approached you about wanting to do it again.

        3. valentine*

          I think it suffices to say, “It was no coworkers and, last-minute, I got the bright idea to invite the two while telling them there were two cancellations. It was serendipity.” After all, if there were three or four, you probably wouldn’t have said, “Any of you want to go?”

          I don’t agree about the favor or that there’s any need to apologize, because you don’t want it to sound like, if you had invited colleagues originally, Matt and Lisa would have been your top two choices. I see the paid dog-sitting and private space thwarting helicopter parents (they presumably still live with) as Matt and Lisa coming out ahead. Matt sounds entitled and, if he didn’t even want to go, just to be invited, that would be even more annoying. It’s worth reconsidering the dog-sitting if you think it’ll make things weird at work (again) that he thinks dog-sitting makes him closer to you than people you work with daily.

        4. Caliente*

          Glad to read this – I haven’t commented on this and have been very amused by the comments because I just do not see it the same way that everyone else seems to have and that’s even if you didn’t pay them – depending on the situation.
          I dog sat for someone because I love dogs, we don’t have one and my son wants one. Someone posted on a community website and I was like we’ll watch him and it was for a week btw. Do I expect them to be indebted to me for the rest of their natural lives? Um no! Come on people, just because someone does you a couple of favors doesn’t mean they’re entitled to…anything?
          I don’t think you did anything wrong AT ALL but these sound like people who you have to explain that you meant no harm to, but I honestly think they’re being pretty precious. I mean – you dog sat for me once with payment and had the use of my entire house, but I owe you an wedding invite..? No, noooo. My mind is kind of boggled and I’m someone who goes out my way to do nice things for people who help me even a little or help my kid or whatever…

          1. Jennifer*

            That’s interesting. I have just always thought of dog sitting as a big imposition if you aren’t being paid, even if you love dogs. Up there with asking someone to help you move or take you to the airport at 4 am. I wouldn’t ask it of someone I wasn’t very close to. Plus I don’t trust many people to do big favors like that.

          2. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

            That’s nice you love dog sitting, but for most people it’s a bit of a sacrifice, and sometimes the type of favor you do for someone because you care for THEM more so than the dogs. It’s also not okay to dismiss someone else’s feelings just because it doesn’t align with your own outlook. I don’t think the coworker was expecting a wedding invitation in exchange for dog sitting, but probably regarded them as good friends had a stop-and-think moment when he found out the other coworkers were invited instead of them. I mean, I personally would have let it go and not brought it up, since it doesn’t seem like they were that close based on the OP’s comment above? But it does suck to be left out of things, somtimes.

        5. Madame X*

          That sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation for how this series of events occurred. I think if you explained to Matt & Lisa how the 2 other coworkers were invited it might clear their confusion. If they are reasonable people, who genuinely like you and can give you the benefit of the doubt that you are generally a kind person then I don’t see why your friendship with them should be permanently damaged over a simple misunderstanding. I can see why Matt & Lisa might have made the assumption that they were closer to you then you actually feel towards them, but that still does not obligate you to invite them.

  30. Quill*

    #1 When it comes to wedding invitations, you overall can’t win. I think Alison’s script is the best for this situation, also consider a dogsitting situation where there will be a clear exchange of money or service for services, to avoid further awkward encounters with coworkers.

    #2 This sounds like you’re not in public service, but keep an eye out: some workplaces (some school districts, etc.) will absolutely cheat you out of accumulated PTO and other benefits when you leave or retire.

    1. fposte*

      On #2, do you mean that even in states where it’s legally required to be paid out, or that they do this in violation of a contract or benefits plan? How do you catch them at it?

      1. Quill*

        My mom taught in wisconsin.

        Health care and benefits plan gets changed pretty constantly, and most recently this meant that retiring / leaving teachers didn’t get paid for their unused pto, they didn’t get their continued health care eligibility, and since we’re in wisconsin, where we’ve had a decade of systematic workers rights destruction, especially in regards to teachers, very little has been done about it / can be done about it due to a bunch of crud about what the union is allowed to do these days.

        I know it’s a violation of their plan, possibly not their contract since this always comes as part of contract ‘renegotiation,’ but probably not state law, given whose been making state law.

  31. Jam Today*

    For the life of me I will never understand people who think they’re entitled to an invitation to someone else’s wedding, and get their nose out of joint if they aren’t invited.

    1) Wedding are *expensive*, and no you work-friend are not more important than someone’s cousin or grandmother or nephew or best friend from college and you’re on the B-list if not lower.
    2) Weddings are, with few exceptions, dull affairs with, other people’s relatives that you don’t know, mediocre catering, and the Chicken Dance.

    Get over it.

    1. Treats for Shelby*

      But it’s not being at the wedding that people really miss – it’s the idea of being important enough to be invited in the first place.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The catch is the pet-sitting. If people are close enough friends to be asked to pet-sit, but not close enough friends to be invited to the wedding, that suggests a very small wedding with only close family and no one from that particular friend group. As soon as you invite people from that friend group other than the pet-sitter, the pet-sitter is likely to say “Wait, I thought I was your friend?!? But I’m not?!”

      This is true even if your dog is the cutest little muffin in the world and does this thing where he raises one ear.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        I understand the coworker questioning why they weren’t extended an invitation, but if it were me, I wouldn’t be bold enough to ask why I wasn’t invited. I also have enough life experience that incidences like this are, unfortunately, normal to me. I’ve found myself left out of friend circles I thought I was a part of. I’ve also noticed a pattern where the same people who are most likely to ask you for favors (like dog sitting) are less likely to actually include you in any meaningful social/relationship building events. So I’m sort of jaded about society ha.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Which is why, in a way, I respect him for asking rather than just writing her off going forward. If you care about someone, giving them a chance to say “Gosh no, not my intension, I value our friendship and absolutely did not mean this the way it seems to have landed, and will work hard to make it up to you.”

            1. Mae*

              But I don’t think LW has anything to make up for. They paid Matt and Lisa for the dog-sitting. From all they’ve written, it doesn’t seem like they were close friends at all. LW knew them, they seemed nice and treated her pet well previously, so they asked them to dog-sit again and paid them. Maybe I’m in the minority, but dog-sitting seems much more enjoyable than attending a wedding, especially considering that attending a wedding can cost a bit.

  32. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’m sorry your patients are jerks. I’ve learned that the general population and especially those who are ill or prone to illness can be really prickly to say the least.

    I just smile and say “it sure is” when people try to give you the “must be nice” bullshhht. They’re trying to bring you down because they’re souls are heavy and misery doesn’t like company, misery needs company.

    Don’t engage or indulge these people. That’s key up getting them out of your face quickly. Take the conversation back to their medical care immediately. They don’t need to know anything about you or why you’re away.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I was thinking that while reading it honestly. Yes I am thrilled for you but I really don’t want to go pick a $50+ gift out for a coworker.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Same here. I don’t even want you to save me a piece of cake.

      “I will be thinking of you while I’m eating pizza and drinking a beer watching Netflix.”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Meh, I would agree if an invite requires you to attend. Instead I’d just decline the invite.

      But I know that a lot of people feel that if you’re invited, you’re indebted to the person and that you must send a gift. I don’t play that game though, nobody gets to extort me.

      1. Jam Today*

        Oh but then you get the inverse of being directly questioned about why you declined an invitation! #awkward

        1. Mae*

          Asking why someone declines an invitation is rude and I’d go with a something vague like “previous commitment”.

  33. Manana*

    OP 4, as someone who has worked supporting doctors in primary care, specialty care, emergency services, pretty much any setting you can think of: YOU set the tone of your clinic culture. YOU let patients know what behavior is or is not acceptable. The sales push by healthcare administrators (MBAs not MDs) has created this idea that healthcare is a retail good and the customer is always right. This is both untrue and undermines any safe and respectful culture that must be present in order to create a therapeutic environment. Patients who think they can say or do whatever they want in a doctor’s office are a danger to you, non physician staff, other patients,and themselves. You do not have to tolerate abusive, demanding patients in silence. Be honest, be respectful, but let there be no doubt that cruel assumptions about you or staff will not fly.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      This seems a little over the top. The comments cited are ““must be nice to get a four-week vacation” / “must be nice to make enough money to not work for a month”

      Now the teacher above who had people threaten to sue and show up on their doorstep has a case for abusive and demanding… the comments from the OP, well that falls under everyday interaction. If I had a quarter for everytime I heard those in the workplace.. well I’d have a lot of quarters. It’s almost a conversational response to hearing about taking time off.

      Seriously, what’s cruel about the statements? Off base, annoying, petty are all descriptions I’d use, but cruel and abusive… not so much.

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Ah, healthcare in the USA is retail good. It’s not like it’s being given out free! It’s paid for and many people die from lack of it. These patients aren’t abusive in the slightest. At most, they are snarky.

  34. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

    I don’t understand how people can have the gall to reprimand others for taking time off. Doctors need time off, too! We as a society have become so used to reducing people down to their professions/what they can do in service for other people, that we forget their are human beings with needs, too.

  35. E*

    My boss does the exact same thing as LW3’s!!! Especially the part with repeating the question in a (passive-)aggressive way. He also shushes you. I feel for you LW3. No amount of stress can justify that.

    1. Blueberry*

      So true. I’m pleasantly surprised I haven’t seen anyone in the comments justifying LW3’s boss’s rudeness, and I hope no one does.

  36. anon4this*

    OP#1…I think the relationship with Matt and Lisa might still be salvageable. I don’t think Matt would’ve said anything if he didn’t value your friendship.
    I would explain to Matt there a timeline issue and apologize (private ceremony with just family/extended family and Matt/Lisa had just agreed to watch the dogs, when 2 guests no showed; you learned about this at work and freaked out about catering being per head count, when your 2 cube-mates offered to show up so you accepted. You just flat out agreed but would have preferred Matt and Lisa of course, but couldn’t hurt your suites mates feelings). Framing this a monetary issue may help.
    I would also give Matt/Lisa a giftbag (or make one) from the wedding and not ask for pet sitting again.

    1. Birdlady*

      I think it matters that OP occasionally meets up with the other 2 coworkers outside of work, and they were NOT invited at work. I don’t think OP has similar relationship with Matt.

  37. CubeFarmer*

    Matt was out of line by asking about the invitation, but LW shouldn’t expect Matt and Lisa to dog-sit or socialize much anymore. That’s an acquaintance bridge burned.

    1. Amber*

      From the letter and additional comments from LW, they didn’t socialize with Matt and Lisa outside of work and paid them once before to watch the dog, so was paying them again. It seems much more like a business transaction than friendship and I wouldn’t have been expecting a wedding invite in that same situation.

      1. pentamom*

        Right, the natural assumption would have been, “Oh, I guess the two co-workers she invited are closer to her than we are.” I don’t get assuming you’ve been slighted in a situation where you really don’t know a lot about the people and relationships involved.

  38. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I’m a lawyer and I have encountered clients who behave the same way. I decided fairly early on that I would be transparent about things, because I worked with someone who was absolutely not transparent and it always backfired. Coverage would be arranged, but because of a shroud of secrecy about the fact the lawyer had to take half a day for a medical thing/chaperoning kid’s class trip/vacation, it always felt secret and clients sometimes felt distrust. As my practice has evolved I just warn people well ahead of time I’m not available on X dates because of Y reason (although not with great detail; nobody needs to know about my root canal. well, not unless there’s a funny story behind it, or something like that), and generally people respect that.

  39. Ann*

    I’m a little surprised at how brief Alison’s response is to the ‘shut up’ letter. I would’ve expected her to advise the LW to report their manager to HR or to their grandboss, and say something to the effect of “You can’t talk to me like that”. That is not OK at all.

    1. Ann Nonymous*

      I think LW should turn on her heels and leave the second she is told to shut up. I’m not a confrontational person, but I think that would be my first instinct. I don’t need that crap from another adult.

  40. Happy*

    Oh, #5! Please don’t email them anymore – you may be sabotaging your chances. If I were with that company those emails would have me worried that you don’t follow directions ignore social cues (at least in some cases). The phone call and meeting went well! Don’t give them reason to change their assessment of you.
    The company met with you even though they didn’t have any openings and said for you to email *after* you moved.
    You emailed them twice before you moved (and once after). If they had an opening that they thought you were a good fit for, they would let you know.

  41. Bookworm*

    #5: They’ve ghosted you. They may have wanted to remain polite or did have some interest, but at this point I’d suck it up and accept they’re not going to get in touch.

    I am sorry. Let’s just say I’ve been there, too. This is definitely them, not you.

  42. Observer*

    #1 – You goofed. Matt was rude, but on the bright side, he’s given you a chance to deal with a mistake you made.

    Look at it from the outside – You talk about how you’re not close and you don’t even talk that often, etc. Then you mention that they’ve pet sit for you in the past, and were pet sitting for you for your wedding. That’s the kind of favor one generally asks FRIENDS, not acquaintances or friendly co-workers. So Matt thinks “we’re friends, but OP is having a really, really small wedding and not inviting any work people. OK.” Then Matt finds out that you DID invite some work friends. So now Matt is thinking “Oh, so I’m good enough to do a favor but not enough to score an invitation? What’s that all about?”

    Now, YOU know that that’s not exactly how it happened, but Matt has no way to know it. If you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time for find a small *personalized* gift to bring to Matt, or to extend an invitation to lunch or dinner as a thank you for the favor of sitting your dogs, and use the opportunity to explain how the situation developed.

    1. Observer*

      I missed your responses. I still think that the basics remain the same.

      It’s not that you did something objectively wrong. But it’s very easy to see where Matt is coming from.

      Also, the fact this was in a way a big favor for them (because it gave them time on their own away from their parents) is not going to make it feel any better to them. From the standpoint of pure logic, it should. But, people’s minds don’t always work so logically and I’d be willing to bet that if they DO think about that, it would make them MORE sensitive than less. That’s not really your responsibility, but just don’t say “I thought you would ENJOY the chance.” or anything that could be interpreted that way.

  43. Caramel & Cheddar*

    #4 — You’re entitled to your privacy, obviously, but one of the things that frustrates me most about my own primary care doctor’s office is the selectiveness with which they communicate to their patients. They send out tons of emails about joint pain workshops or pelvic floor health seminars and all sorts of stuff but I only found out my own doctor was going on mat leave because I happened to have an appointment when she was eight months pregnant. (We’re in Canada, so she could be gone for a year.) I’m absolutely fine seeing another doctor in her absence, but it would have been nice to be told rather than finding out accidentally. Does four weeks out of office meet the threshold for needing to notify people? I don’t know that it does, but I don’t know that it would necessarily *hurt* to let people know in a non-privacy-breaching way.

  44. mdv*

    The only time I have ever been UPSET about my doctor rescheduling was the time my doctor quit his practice from one day to the next with absolutely no notice. I got a call asking if I wanted to reschedule to one of the other doctors (no, I’ve never met any of them) because my dr was no longer practicing medicine, as of this morning.

    Any other reason, I could care less. Heck, some doctors I know are only in the office 3 days per week, but in general, doctors are human beings, and need their own medical treatments, and vacations, etc. I do not understand why anyone feels entitled to be angry you needed to be off work for a month. I’m very sorry for everyone on here, and every doctor everywhere, who have such self-entitled patients who have hte audacity to be angry that you’re human.

    1. Poppy the Flower*

      I’ve had this happen to and it’s sometimes an issue of a non-compete that they won’t give any information. Although, most practices send out a letter to the existing patients when their doctor leaves the practice.

  45. Luna*

    #3 — I had a teacher like that in highschool. I kept complaining to the principal about her behavior, including that she has called us ‘too stupid to read’, and then denied it when he talked with her about it, and more. All I can say is, I graduated and got her out of my life.

    #4 — ‘Yes, I just *love* spending my ‘vacation’ lying under the knife and getting non-cosmetic surgery done!’
    Give the passive-aggressiveness back. Might not be the best idea, but it gets the point across. If they can’t talk with you any other way, you don’t talk with them any other way.

  46. Jennifer Juniper*

    For OP3: Maybe the boss thinks you guys are long-winded. That is a guess on my part. I don’t work at your office. And it’s still not acceptable to say “shut up” to your direct reports, of course. Have you asked her if she thinks that people go off on tangents or talk endlessly about irrelevant details?

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