open thread – November 1-2, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,661 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber Rose*

    I need to pin down our new CEO for two important meetings, but since he’s our new CEO, he’s constantly in meetings already. I asked him and he said to email invites and he’d check his schedule, but then he doesn’t answer my emails.

    Should I ask my boss to try and intervene, or how do I do this?

    1. Bird Person*

      I’m guessing he doesn’t have an executive assistant and/or isn’t sharing his calendar? You may need to bring in your boss. Depending on who is in your meeting, it may also be helpful to go to the top ranking/VIP who most needs the meetings and ask them to intervene with him, and/or explain the importance of them. Good luck!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Definitely not! We don’t have online calendars to share, and we don’t employ assistants.

        Everything is on this big white board, and by everything I mean whatever people remember to put on it which is usually just vacation.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Is this 2003? What is this craziness?! Yikessssss.

          I would loop your boss in at this point. It’s not like the CEO is going to get into trouble but the boss can help advocate for you to get some frigging attention you deserve.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I know right? -_-
            There have been some recent attempts to bring us into the nearer past, at least, but it’s slow going.

            I’ll talk to my boss on Monday, she’s been in a pretty lousy mood this week.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              I send you my sympathies. I’ve been in places that are technology resistant…I loved them but good God it was miserable doing everything long hand in that kind of way.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Ugh, yes. As I told my boss a few years ago while we were working on building our HRIS processes and supporting practices, “I will single-handedly drag this company kicking and screaming into the 21st century if I have to. We’re too big to operate this way.” We were still doing everything on paper and then entering it into multiple separate systems, sending paper forms to IT for people to get set up or removed from things, our recruiting was run through a shared email address for people to send resumes to instead of an actual ATS, etc. Which is fine if you’re a small company with a single location, but we’re closing in on 1k EEs and have 20+ locations in my state alone, plus a couple dozen scattered over a few other states.

                It’s been slow going but we’re finally getting momentum up. We got a new EVP over our function a year or so back and she’s been a fantastic champion for us at the executive level, very focused on scalable practices, it’s awesome. I have so much sympathy for those who haven’t been able to get that far though.

              2. Kat in VA*

                We’re technology advanced, but due to my unit being Federal (with .gov restrictions) and the main office being Commercial, we cannot see each others’ calendars (not even Busy/Free). Makes for a huge PITA when scheduling has to be done between Federal and Commercial execs, but at least my company employs EAs for them.

                Whether they’re responsive is a whole ‘nother rant…

        2. Lana Kane*

          Bring in your boss. You’ve tried all the avenues your company currently gives you, and it’s not working. At this point it’s ok to escalate.

          Also, might be a good time to advocate for a better calendar system.

    2. Now in the Job*

      Hrm. Have you tried sending him an email invitation, and then standing in his office and asking him to check it? It might take a few tries to find him in his office, but sometimes that physical presence helps.

      1. Amber Rose*

        He’s never in his office. Every time I see him he’s running somewhere else. I feel bad for him, I think he greatly underestimated how much he was taking on when he agreed to be CEO, and I hate that I need to be one more drain on his time, but these two things have to be handled by him.

    3. Lisa*

      What kind of email system are you using? Outlook, or Gmail or something else? I’ve never heard of an email system not having a directly associated calendar – he may be hoping that you’ll use that and not understand that your office doesn’t have that system in place.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We were using Thunderbird. We switched to Outlook around three or four months ago.

        And when I say new CEO, I mean recently promoted. He’s been with the company for like a decade, which means he’s one of the many upper levels who refuse to use technology for anything ever, and don’t really understand how it works.

        Changing that is a slow process.

        1. Angelinha*

          You mentioned you don’t have online calendars to share, but if you have Outlook, an online calendar is included in that! He might be using his Outlook calendar and asking you to email a calendar invite directly through the Outlook system.

          1. Larina*

            Agreed! If you have outlook, you can also view his outlook calendar from your own. You might not be able to see the details of what his meetings are, but you can absolutely see when he has meetings.

            I always end up adding my boss’s calendar to my own outlook, to make it easier to catch him in his rare moments of free time. The same is true for colleagues who are often busy as well.

          2. Amber Rose*

            Trust me, he is definitely not using Outlook calendar. I did send him an invite, but it was ignored as well.

        2. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          As someone who works in a company where most people are printing (from Excel!) and then typing data into another spreadsheet, I feel you. Sometimes I feel like I’m dragging people into the 90s, let alone 2019. Since you have Outlook, do you think you can just start using it to schedule meetings and maybe others will follow? Send the meeting request from Outlook and even though people aren’t used it perhaps in a few weeks or months they’ll realize it’s nice to have the reminders?

          As for the current situation, I think your boss is about your only option. Someone has to be able to pin him down and get a time and that’s probably your boss.

        3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Every time I hear a story like that, I’m grateful for the “old fogeys” at my co. who are techno-whizzes.

    4. Miz Behaven*

      Is it possible the CEO doesn’t understand the meetings are as important as you have indicated here? He may just not get it.

      1. Kes*

        I think this is actually a good point – he may be ignoring the invitations because he doesn’t think they’re high enough priority. You may need to talk to him (or get someone he’ll listen to to talk to him) to get his buy in on why he needs to be in the meetings, so that when he sees an invite he’ll accept

    5. Is it Friday yet?*

      Who is arranging all of the meetings that he is constantly in now? I’d track them down and ask for their suggestions/how they’ve been able to get on his calendar. They might have some inside tips like, “Oh I just catch him first thing in the morning with two possible times and force him to choose.”

      1. Amber Rose*

        He arranges them for himself. With people I don’t know. Lots of busy people running around here lately.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          You’ll know best if this is feasible… I think what I might do is,
          1. Boil down the key questions to one or two lines.
          2. Decide which one to prioritise.
          3. Next time you see him in the corridor, instead of asking for a meeting, get straight into the topic – as if that _was_ the meeting.

          If he can’t give you an answer straight away, and can’t spare the time to talk further then, at least you’ve loaded into his brain the substantive bit of what you need from him.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you emailed a text-email? Or have you set up an MSOutlook meeting ASSUMING he’s going to use his calendar? Might get someone started using it if you do.

  2. Now in the Job*

    At what point should I go to my manager to ask about potentially taking unpaid leave several months from now?

    I got married at the start of September and started a new job in mid-October. (My new company gives 3 days of “wedding leave” to be used within 30 days of your wedding, which I missed out on the window for, womp womp.) However, we planned and booked our honeymoon before this new job was even on the horizon…for March of next year. It is a 12-day cruise which has been fully paid for, so we can’t really change it.

    Originally it had looked like I would have enough PTO for the time off, but on closer look this week, I realized that is not the case. If I use both personal days we are granted for the year and all the vacation time I will have acrued by then, I will be a little over 13 hours short if I come back to work the next day after arriving back home on a Thursday.

    If only I was able to use those 3 days of wedding leave…. xD

    Anyway, I need to discuss this with my boss–would now be too soon since the holidays and end of year are coming up first? Or is bringing it up sooner better?

    1. Not Me*


      I’d say sooner is better. It’s not uncommon for people to have vacation plans made when they take a new job. I’d even ask if the wedding leave days could be used for it. The worst they can say is no, but they might say yes.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I was just about to say this: ask to use the wedding leave. Your individual manager may be able to make that happen for you, especially if you work somewhere like my last company where our time off wasn’t tracked in an official system, but rather was kept on our manager’s calendar.

    2. Adlib*

      If it were me, I’d go ahead and ask about it now. Since you’re only a few hours short, they may be okay with it or even advance you some PTO, depending on how they handle similar situations. Just give your manager the explanation here about your PTO calculations. It’s probably not as big of a deal as you may be thinking. :) Good luck!

      1. hamburke*

        This – one of our clients advances up to a month’s accrued leave without owner approval – it goes on the report we send him. For 80 hrs/year, that’s 6.6 hours.

    3. Jane*

      I would first check with HR what their PTO policy is. For example, my company allows us to go “in the red” on PTO on occasion with the understanding that it is for special occasions only and that if we leave the company, that balance will be taken from our last check. Or another company I worked for allowed leave without pay (with management approval) for times like these. You’ll still need to talk with your boss, but if you are armed with some additional information it might make it a bit easier.

    4. Antilles*

      As soon as possible, like today if it’s feasible. The quicker you do it, the more likely it is that they go “oh yeah, we realize sometimes people have pre-made plans” and find a way to work it out.
      Also, I would not start by suggesting the idea of unpaid leave. I would first lay out the situation apologetically and ask them what can be done. Since it’s a unique situation, they might instead go to letting you drop negative in PTO balance temporarily rather than unpaid leave.

    5. LGC*

      Did you disclose that you were taking two weeks off in March at the time you were hired? It might be easier to bring it up if that’s the case. In that case, it’ll probably be more casual.

      If you didn’t – I’d still definitely go ahead and talk about it now! You know it’s coming up, it is a fairly large amount of time (two weeks), and it’s not too long after you started. I think a reasonable employer would be a bit irritated, but not significantly so (unless it’s during a peak time – like, let’s say you work at a tax filing company in the US – and even then, like…it’s more like you should have said it at the time they made the offer, not like it’s a dealbreaker.)

      And yeah, I’m in on asking about the wedding leave, although I’d make it clear that you’re okay with a no. I don’t think you have much to lose by asking.

    6. CAA*

      Congrats on your marriage! Yes, bring it up with your manager now. The best time to mention prepaid vacation plans would have been when they offered you the job, because some companies do limit the amount of PTO you can use during the first 6 months, but since that didn’t happen, the sooner the better.

      I don’t think you should ask about wedding leave though. Let them offer that if they want to. You’re not actually entitled to that benefit because you weren’t working there when you got married, and I suspect you would have gotten some side-eye if you’d started this job two weeks after the wedding and tried to use it then.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Agree with other commenters – ask for the time off now! I recommend you put the request for the time off in writing, even if that is not required by your employer, so that when the time comes there is no question that you raised this in a timely manner, and got approval. Block the time off on your work calendar that is visible to others to ensure those planning meetings and events are aware you won’t be there. And rather than ask for the wedding leave, which might be subject to rules and restrictions, ask the more general question of how to cover the time that is outside of your earned leave. They may not have the flexibility to give you the wedding leave, but might be able to give you some other sort of administrative leave, or allow you to flex your time – come in on a couple of weekends or stay late to make up the hours.

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      Go in as soon as you read this.
      Your manager is hopefully aware that you have this vacation planned (if not that is a bigger problem addressed below) so just say it straight out that you thought you had that vacation covered with the PTO accrual but now realize that you will be short the accrued hours. Then ask how best to proceed-unpaid, PTO advance, etc…. Make it clear that the cruise has been fully paid for and can’t be changed so that isn’t an option.

      If you haven’t talked to your boss at all about this and were just planning on putting in the request closer to the vacation…that is potentially a huge problem. A lot of companies are not prepared for their employees to take off that much time at once and it takes a lot of planning. This should have been brought up to your boss in the offer stage to protect your time off. What are you going to do if they refuse to grant the time off?

    9. Quill*

      Do it now, there’s only 2 months left of the year and people are going to be out for decent portions of each.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I agree, ask now, and ask whether it might be piossible to use the wedding leave (or 13 hours of it!0 notwithstanding the fact that it was not used in the right time frame.

      A lot of companies will honour arrangments for things like pre-booked holidyas, although ideally you’d raise it during the final stage of negotiating / accepting your offer.

    11. Kuododi*

      Congrats on the new marriage!!! I’d also recommend telling your boss ASAP. The quicker you tell, the more time you will have if the answer is no and you need to organize “Plan B.” Blessings to you and your beloved.

    12. LifesizeLawyer*

      You may even be able to purchase PTO. My company allows us to buy vacation days (IIRC, the purchase rate is the equivalent of 1 day of salary). Not an ideal solution, but a possible alternative if all else fails.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Isn’t that functionally the same as taking it unpaid? That doesn’t sound like a great benefit.

        1. Clisby*

          I would have considered being able to buy vacation days (yes, it’s the same as unpaid leave) to be a GREAT benefit.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I can only see it if you are not allowed to take unpaid days per se so you have to buy them. Otherwise … companies should either let you borrow ahead or take unpaid days instead of jumping through that hoop.

        2. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          If I could over the course of a year have a small amount deducted to have an extra vacation week the following year, I’d jump at it! Buying a day one week to take it the next doesn’t make any sense to me as that’s the same financial impact as taking a full day unpaid in one check. But if I could spread it out so I wasn’t taking all the financial hit at one time, I’d definitely do it. We get two weeks a year until we’ve been here 7 years and I’d love a third week. We’re not allowed to take unpaid time off here or I’d take some unpaid and just budget for it.

        3. Mr. Shark*

          My company allows us to buy PTO at the beginning of each year. They pro-rate the amount you would get paid and deduct it from your paycheck. So basically, you get a week of unpaid leave, but it doesn’t hit you all at once. In that way it is a benefit.

    13. Public Sector Manager*

      Ideally you would have brought up the honeymoon cruise when you were hired, but that ship has sailed … (Thank you! I’ll be here all week!)

      But definitely ask now. I’ve found that as an employee and now a manager, it’s easier to get time off well in advance as opposed to closer to the day you want to leave. Today you will probably get a “yes” because the honeymoon is so far out. The downside of waiting is that between now and then, a big project might come in and the office won’t be able to have you out at all.

      Also, even though your office has a 3-day honeymoon policy, you might want to ask if you can get that benefit anyway. Your company is discriminating against people because of their marital status. They should offer all their employees a one time-three days off benefit. Since you’re new, I think it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    14. A Poster Has No Name*

      Bring it up now, but if your company is anything like mine, you can borrow against accrued PTO (particularly early in the year), with manager approval.

      My company is generally happy with people taking vacations early in the year, as we already have problems with nobody in the office near the holidays, so I would hope it’s the same with yours!

    15. Now in the Job*

      Thanks for the input, folks. I did generally mention it on a call during the offer stage around when I was negotiating for extra PTO/money and we were talking about how she handles time off requests. The context was something along the lines of, we have a couple weddings to go to over the next year or so and our own honeymoon as well, and she rather hand waved any worries about time off requests. Which I can understand now–this department is pretty lax about most things so long as there’s EOM and EOQ coverage. Fortunately I’ll be back from my honeymoon before the EOQ rush, so I don’t think coverage will be at issue.

      Formally/according to the employee handbook, there’s no borrowing against future PTO, and I haven’t seen anything about “buying” time off. (I did work somewhere that allowed you to float holidays–if you worked on a day that was otherwise an office holiday, you could use that time off elsewhere. Great for people who don’t celebrate religious holidays that are observed, or people like me who are EXTRA productive when the office is empty and I can wear a onesie.)

      She doesn’t work Fridays, but I’ll talk to her first thing Monday. Good to know this isn’t too early! I *am* very tempted to ask for the wedding leave, but I’m not sure how I’d phrase it. I’ll think on it. P:

    16. LilySparrow*

      I’d bring it up now, with the natural opening that you just discovered the miscalculation.

      We’re far enough out from the holidays and the trip that it’s not a crunch. But since it’s your first year, it’s an unusual situation/special exception.

      Bringing it up early acknowledges that it’s not an ordinary expectation. It’s the type of request that good managers would want to keep an eye on and not see abused. But not unreasonable as a one-time thing.

    17. MoopySwarpet*

      We have had people take vacation when they did not have the amount accrued. In one case we let them borrow ahead because they were 2-3 days short. In the other, we had them take it unpaid because they were 8-10 days short.

      It definitely doesn’t hurt to ask and I would personally do it now rather than later so you have more time to figure out your alternatives if they actually say no.

      Typically, I think this would be something that is brought up with the offer, which was what happened in my first example. I think about 50% of the new hires we’ve ever had had something already planned they were going to need a certain number of days off for. That’s the way life happens sometimes.

    18. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Other people covered the “borrowing additional PTO” aspect above, but I just wanted to caution that as you have been there all of 3 weeks, presumably didn’t discuss it at the interview / negotiation / offer stage although it has been booked for a long time — I would suggest you tread carefully how you word this with bosses. You are already asking a favour here (and they are within their rights to refuse the time off altogether) so I would wait for them to offer using the days of ‘wedding leave’ and not suggest that as an additional “non-standard” thing you are asking for. I worry that you will be seen as someone who ‘pushes boundaries’ ahead of being known for your actual work product… because as a manager, your boss presumably has to balance that request against the rest of the team’s requests.

  3. Mop Head*

    Hi Everyone,

    The holidays are fast approaching and I’m looking for opinions. In July I made an appointment with a medical specialist for December. I was looking for an appointment where I would not have to lose any time from work, so it’s at the end of the day. Just found out that is the night of my employers’ holiday party. What would you do? To clarify, this is not a life or death situation, but to get another appointment at a time I would not have to lose any time from work would probably mean waiting another 4 months or so, meaning it would probably be March before I get an appointment. Thanks.

    1. Liz*

      I’d keep the appt, and if anyone questions you, you have an appt that you cannot reschedule. you have to take care of you; and the party is second. Just my two cents.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I would ask the doctor’s office to put you on a wait list for any other appointments at a similar time but otherwise keep the appointment if it’s something you’d need to wait 4 months for. I’d also probably go late to the party if I could manage it.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Can you go late to the party? Or just not go? Parties are fun and all (depending on where you work anyway) but your health is more important even if it’s not life or death.

    3. Yorick*

      I’d keep the appointment and go to the party late if possible or just skip it. You can explain that you have an appointment to anyone who would hold missing the party against you. Unless you really WANT to go to the party and it’s a minor enough issue that you don’t mind waiting, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. I had a medical appointment that was too tough to cancel during my last company’s holiday party. I wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to attend this party anyway, so I kept the appointment and didn’t attend the party. But maybe you don’t have to skip the whole thing like I did – I like the suggestion to come late if that’s allowable (my former company’s holiday party closed the doors after a certain time, so no latecomers would have been granted entry).

    4. ytk*

      Personally, I would just skip the party. I’m not fond of these types of events generally, plus with my colleagues, and work environment this would be totally non-issue because they understand with life, family, other commitments, etc that it’s really an optional event – but you have to know your workplace. The optics and politics may differ.

    5. RandomPoster*

      What’s the impact here – you would miss the party all together? Be late to the party?

      In general your health needs to take priority, especially if this specialist books up that far out or your schedule is so hard to work around.

    6. Shocked Pikachu*

      I also recommend calling your specialist office to ask if by any chance they have an opening that might work for you. They probably will not but you might get lucky – sometimes they have cancellations. I think it’s worth a phone call.

      1. rayray*

        I agree. It doesn’t hurt to at least try this. Maybe try calling once, and calling back a week or two later to check again.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Is it an appointment that you can go to an event afterwards and feel okay about it? I would inquire about arriving late. We have two parts to our parties usually, a meal and an activity. So arriving for the first or last one is fine with us if it means someone gets to enjoy at least part of the festivities! But of course it depends on how your company works.

      Otherwise I think that medical appointments like this take the front seat. So only if you really want to attend the party do you need to even be thinking of this as something that needs to be shuffled around. That’s the thing, people have lives and lots of people simply cannot make it to a holiday party. We have people who have family coming into town who can’t come to ours and we say “Darn we’ll miss you but we get it.” but we’re also not monsters like some weird employers can be.

      1. NW Mossy*

        Exactly! Most people who have even a passing familiarity with the complexities of medical care understand that appointments with specialists are especially inflexible. Even if they’ve been fortunate enough to never need one themselves, someone they care about likely has and they can relate.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes. When my dad has follow ups for his cancer screening post-remission, they literally don’t give you an option except “this date or wait until the next opening and we don’t know when that’s going to be until it happens!”

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            I once called for a specialist appointment and was told, “Take this cancellation next week, or we can get you in for early April.”

            It was November.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              This happens with dentists too! I suppose they are specialists of course but yeah, if you aren’t classified as an emergency, take a seat, take a seat for a long DMV style wait.

              I was able to be rushed into an eye doctor appointment earlier this year only because I had signs of a possible emergency [false alarm but even then it was two weeks of “is my retina attached or not…” stress.]

    8. TooTiredToThink*

      Which is more important to you? (I am assuming you’ve already decided for some reason you can’t do both – although if you can go to the party but just arrive late, I don’t see why you can’t do that).

      Also, who knows; the doctor’s office might have cancellations – could you call them and ask them to put you on the cancellation list for the last appt of the day and then you might be able to get in sooner?

    9. Delta Delta*

      Keep the appointment. So many specialists have months’-long waitlists that a) you’ll have to wait a long time to get in again, and b) people understand how hard it is to get in.

    10. Zephy*

      Would it be possible to make an appearance at the holiday party after your appointment?

      I would keep the specialist appointment and just make an extra effort to wish your coworkers happy holidays/be visible to management/whatever other benefit you would get from attending the party, but during the workday.

    11. Mop Head*

      Wow, the thought of showing up very late never crossed my mind. Doctor is near home, about an hour away on public transportation. Appointment is at 6:15. If it is half an hour, and I got lucky, I’d be showing up at the holiday party halfway through, the party is from 6 to 9. I don’t see the point. I’ve already called and I’m third on the wait list, so if 2 people cancel before then I might get in a week or 2 before the party. They know to call me if there is a cancellation. Thanks for all the opinions!

      1. LilySparrow*

        Keep the appointment. Don’t postpone healthcare for 3 months over a party.

        You had a pre-existing conflict before the date was announced. If you had planned a vacation or were hosting a big event yourself, you wouldn’t move it. This is even more important.

        Nobody at work is indispensible, triply so for parties that aren’t actual work time.

    12. Bagpuss*

      Do you want to go the the party or are you just worried about how it may look if you don’t?
      If you want to go, I’d go late if you can
      If you are simply worried about how it will look, I would go with explaining that unfortuantely you have a pre-exisiting appointment (and if you want, can add that you’ve ben waiting for several months so can’t cancel)

      1. Mop Head*

        I’m concerned about how it will look if I miss it. It’s an hour away, I don’t want to even entertain the thought of spending an hour on public transit to go after the doctor.

        1. CL*

          Then all you need to do is explain that you made this appointment long before the party date was announced and, because this specialist books so far out, you can’t reschedule it. If you’re required to give an RSVP, explain that you’re on the cancellation list and ask if you can change your answer if you manage to get in to see the Dr. earlier. Given those circumstances, no one at work should give you a hard time about it. Most adults understand how hard it can be to get in with specialists.

          1. Mama Bear*

            Agreed. Keep it simple, “I had to make this appointment in July, so unfortunately I can’t change it now. I hope it goes well.”

    13. anon1*

      Is there going to be any political damage if you don’t go? At my company the holiday party is definitely an Event – promotions announced, face time w/ the c suite, prizes and raffles – and skipping it would definitely get some negative attention from management. But if that were the case at your company, you probably would’ve mentioned it. I’d probably try to go late if possible just to show face, but if you can’t make it, you can’t make it.

    14. The Rat-Catcher*

      If it were a checkup that I could reschedule within a week or two, maybe. I would not reschedule a specialist with a wait list over a month.

    15. Database Developer Dude*

      All these mandatory holiday parties really confuse me. This is really a thing? No one cares at my firm if you do or don’t go to the holiday party.

    16. Alex*

      Well *I* would be delighted I had such an excellent excuse to miss the party….lol. But I can’t read what it is you want to do here so I’m not sure what YOU should do.

    17. The Other Dawn*

      Keep the appointment and go to the party late if you can. I wouldn’t cancel any kind of appointment for a work party unless it was known to be a fabulous party I was looking forward to attending. I don’t hate work parties, but I’m not rearranging my schedule for one, especially if the appointment was made months in advance and I’d have to wait months for another opening.

    18. Cartographical*

      I’d tell your manager and also be specific that it’s a specialist appointment. Almost everyone is familiar with the specialist struggle. Doctor’s appointment can sound more like it’s a choice if they assume it’s a general practitioner. Some of my specialists book 12 months out, it’s maddening. I’d also plan to skip the party after — I’ve had a couple appointments where I was surprised by new information and needed time to process. Good luck!

  4. michelle*

    I’m looking for input on what to anticipate when considering applying for government jobs when you’ve only ever worked in the private sector.

    My spouse is active duty Air Force, and we are preparing to move to his next assignment. The base where he will be stationed is big, but the surrounding town is considerably smaller than where we are currently. Luckily, a few options exist in my career field (accounting/finance) in both the government (on and off base) and private sectors. I’m currently in a well-paying, flexible job at a not-for-profit organization, but I have worked previously in both public accounting and for-profit organizations in various industries and capacities. My spouse has an acquaintance whose spouse has a GS job at this base that she likes, which is what prompted us to investigate this as an option.

    Looking at the government jobs, there are currently some openings on base (and according to the website, additional openings at almost every base where my spouse could be stationed), but the pay is well below what I’m currently making. I know there are going to be some tradeoffs, but I’m having a hard time putting a dollar value to them. A government job would have more time off than I currently have, a better commute for us as a couple, perhaps an easier time finding a job at our next duty station (?), etc. but I’m struggling to quantify these benefits against the loss of income.

    1. Yorick*

      Some benefits do have a tangible monetary value. For example, I’m a state employee and my health insurance premium is like $40 per month. You can learn those once you get into the offer stage (or maybe before – you may be able to find this information if the government contracts are posted online).

        1. mananana*

          Since her spouse is AD, she is fully covered by Tricare and wouldn’t need healthcare through a GS job.

          1. michelle*

            Yes, you’re correct. Sorry, should have clarified – I am on my spouse’s health insurance, so that’s not a factor in my decision.

      1. CL*

        Active duty military gets free healthcare already, including for all dependents. One of the benefits that I can think of is that, unless you really screw up somehow, you are guaranteed to stay in GS for however long you want. And if you move again, you will most likely be at the top of the list for the same type of job at the next posting.

        Oh, something you can put a price on is if you get a security clearance for the job – the government will pay for everything (with private companies, they used to pay but a lot are now requiring the employee to pay). You can check the pricing, but I believe it can run into several hundred dollars. And that clearance stays in place even if you leave your employer during the time it is active. That is a VERY marketable asset if you are searching for a job with a federal contractor of any sort, and can often mean a higher salary.

    2. Tiny Magnolia*

      Government jobs pay way, way less than private-sector positions. It’s just the way it is, but there are some benefits: typically your benefits are the benefits. Everyone I know (and I work in public, too) has amazing health care, public pensions and longevity benefits. Personally, I have a ton of flexibility at my job, but I also work late or weekends if needed but I’m completely OK with that if it means that I can leave at 2P some days “just because.” Plus, for the most part, you have great job security.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. The rational part of me knows this – my spouse and I have had many discussions about the pros and cons of him staying in until retirement vs. taking a higher-paying job as a contractor, and the end result is always (barring any extreme change in future circumstances, of course) that it’s worth it for him to stay in. The other part of me just has a knee-jerk reaction to the perception of taking such a pay cut when I’ve worked so hard to get where I am. Obviously it’s not that simple, but that initial reaction is hard to shake.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Is it possible for you to continue in your current job as a teleworker? I presume you are changing states during the relocation, so your organization would have to look at new state’s taxes. You’d keep your current benefits and seniority.

      Keep in mind federal Government hiring can be slow, especially if you need a clearance. Also look at base contractors – salaries tend to be higher with good 401Ks, but the leave is not as generous as government.

      Your skills might also be useful in local or state government agencies. These offer benefits similar to federal, but the hiring process can be quicker. These positions aren’t widely advertised; look online in the state or county website.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for your input. The telework option could exist, but I’m not sure I want to pursue it (or at least, pursue it exclusively). I’ve found having to leave the house and repeated interactions with coworkers has helped me integrate to new areas more easily. State and local governments are definitely something I will look into.

    4. TooTiredToThink*

      Adding on to what others have said – I have a friend that went from Private to Government because as she was getting older, having that job security – even though she was paid much less – was much more important to her. Of course she’s at a level where she still lives comfortably (imho); but it also took her a few years to get there too.

      With your husband being active; I’m not sure if that’s as big of a deal for you; but here’s the other thing – a lot of government jobs are becoming much more telework friendly. If you found one that would work with you to telework the next time your husband gets a change of station; then you get to keep the job as you move.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. I’m fortunate that the stability of his job allows me a lot of leeway in my next steps – it’s just trying to figure out what those next steps should be. Telework is something I’ve considered, but with a few moves already under my belt (with and without him), I’ve found that having a physical space to go to and face-to-face interactions with coworkers has really helped me integrate into new areas.

    5. Jane*

      Government jobs come with job security and excellent benefits (depending on your agency/manager, some combination of excellent low-cost health care, paid time to work out, pensions, paid holidays, etc.), some frustrations (a lot of red tape), and as with any job, the work culture can vary widely. In terms of putting a dollar value to it, a lot of the benefits you’ve mentioned (commute time, easier future job transitions, etc.) are personal – i.e. only you can assign a dollar value to them. I’d recommend sitting down with your spouse, running the numbers (i.e. can you afford the decrease in pay as a family), and talking through priorities. If budget doesn’t rule out the government job, why not apply there and a few other places you’re interested and see where it goes from there? If you got an interview, you’d be able to get a better feel of each and make a more informed decision.

      1. michelle*

        Yes, we absolutely plan on sitting down to hash it out. My husband is a AF “brat” turned service member, so he doesn’t really have any concept of working life outside of the military. I’m just trying to come to the conversation with as much information as I can.

        Thankfully, the money isn’t the end all, be all in the conversation for us, so I will probably do what you’ve suggested. I’ve just worked a lot longer than I’ve been married, so it’s hard to look at the potential pay cut and not have a bit of a knee jerk reaction to it.

        1. Jane*

          I certainly understand the knee-jerk reaction. I’ve worked in private industry, non-profit, and government, so I’ve had quite the spectrum of salaries. Since money wasn’t the “end all, be all” for me either, I was fortunate to be able to find the best fit for me. For me, the red tape + longer commute I had in my government job was not worth the benefits, so I found another job elsewhere, but I know a lot of people who would have made a different decision in the same situation. Best of luck to you!

    6. De Minimis*

      I used to work as a federal employee and worked with the budgets, so I saw the assigned monetary value to the benefits packages. If I remember correctly, they usually were valued at around 15k or so, possibly more if the employee had been there a long time.

      Health benefits are often less expensive than the private sector [but not always.] You can get some sort of pension after 5 years of service. Their 401k=type plan is excellent. The places where I’ve worked, it’s usually fairly easy to get time off. I’ve seen telework utilized more and more [sometimes too much…]

      Workplaces can really vary between agencies. I had a pretty good job at my first agency, then had a job later on elsewhere that was really terrible. I work in accounting as well, and it can be pretty frustrating at times because it often takes several people to work together to just pay a bill, record an asset, or post revenue. Like any workplace, it all depends on how people form relationships with other team members, and between departments.

      I’m not sure, but I believe military spouses are a special preference hire group with the federal government.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. I’ve worked at some pretty toxic workplaces, so as long as the office environment is pretty stable, I think I can handle (most of) those frustrations. The potential for a pension and 401k plans are definitely the leading consideration in our situation. It’s been great to hear about the flexibility – that’s something I really value in my current job and would hate to lose out on.

    7. Sister Spider*

      I would also keep in mind that in my experience, hiring in the government takes forever, generally over the course of a few months – one job took 5 months from submitting the application to accepting the position, including a wait long enough to be contacted for an interview that I assumed that they just weren’t interested. I haven’t worked in your sector though.

      I can also tell you that as someone who went from government to private sector, you cannot beat the work-life balance or benefits of a government job. If you stay 15 or more minutes past your 8 hour tour, you get credit time for the future (up to 24 hours). You can carry over unlimited sick time and 240 hours of vacation time from year-to-year. If you have to travel, you get comp time if you have to travel on a day off.

      If you’re someone who’s motivated by accomplishments and rewards, it might not be the place for you. People who come in and do the bare minimum to get by will receive the same ratings as you, because the structure of performance reviews is quite frankly bizarre to me. It’s very difficult to fire toxic employees.

      Ultimately, I wish I could have made my government job work but the commute for me was soul-crushing and I was at a point in my career where I couldn’t move up any more without transitioning into management (which I didn’t want to do because of the reasons in the previous paragraph). Good luck!

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. Since we get about 6 months’ worth of notice for the move, that’s why I’m starting to think about it. The long wind up could potentially work in our favor, but it’s definitely something we’re prepared to deal with.

        Vacation time is our only real sticking point with my job now – he has a ton of it and I accrue (and probably always will, since we’re moving every 3-4 years) at what feel’s like a snail’s pace. Accruing and carrying that much time would be a definite perk.

        1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

          Hang on, you don’t accrue 240 hours a year! That’s just how much you can roll over. For your first 3 years of federal service you get 4 hours of AL per pay period (13 days/year). Then at 3 years you get 6 h/pp and 4 extra in the last pp (20 d/yr), and then you get 8 h/pp after 15 years of service (208 hours of 26 days/year)

            1. michelle*

              Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that I thought I’d accrue that much – just accruing at a rate more like my spouse’s (adjusted for time in the position, of course) would be a huge perk.

              1. Sister Spider*

                Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate – if they really want to hire you, they can move you up steps within a GS level, although this will affect your in-grade raises over time.

    8. Hooray College Football!*

      USAJobs has resources for Military Spouses –

      The benefits now are less than when I started with the Gov’t in 2000 – in that you now contribute more to your pension than I have had to. I took a fairly large pay cut to move to Gov’t work, but do not regret it. The job stability (except the furlough, where we did lose about 2 weeks of pay in 2013), benefits, pension, TSP, health insurance, but mostly quality of life and work.

      When applying/interviewing, be certain to request that they adjust your leave granted per pay period to account for your years of service in private industry. Brand new hires generally only earn 4 hours of leave per pay period, but if you have 10 years of outside experience, they can start you at 6 hours per pay period (you get 8 hours per pay period at year 15). Add to that the federal holidays you’ll get off, and it isn’t terrible (4 is rough, 6 is doable).

      If you want into the student loan repayment program, you also need to request it as part of your hiring package. I don’t have experience with that, however.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for your input. The thing I like most about my job now is the flexibility, so it’s nice to know that exists elsewhere (as it definitely did not at some of my former jobs). I’ll be sure to ask about adjusting leave if/when the time comes.

    9. Madeleine Matilda*

      As a military spouse you may have hiring preference. See
      A few things to keep in mind: 1) the hiring process can be months long, 2) You can negotiate your salary based on your current salary. They may not be able to exactly match it, but can ask for a higher starting step based on your experience, 3) you can also negotiate your leave depending on your years of experience, 4) government jobs have excellent benefits so it may be worth a lower salary. Research the TSP and the FERS pension, 5) here is another resource for military spouse employment Good luck.

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      I would say the biggest benefit for someone married to active duty would be the potential for future employment at the next duty station. There is a security there that should help in the long run as well as the possibility of have it look like a longer job on the resume (instead of 2-3 years in the private sector at various bases you would have a 9 year stint at 3 different locations of the same “company”).
      If your partner’s assignments are generally longer term that probably isn’t as big of an issue though – a lot of letters to AAM from people with partners on active duty write to ask how to explain multiple short stints on their resumes so that’s what I was going off of.
      Also think about what several months of lost income looks like if you have issues finding a job at this or the next assignment because you are looking for something equal to or greater than the last job. Cost of living is big too – is the new assignment location a lower cost of living area where the pay cut would equal out due to less expensive general costs? Or is the new area more expensive so everything would be double the cost. Factor that into your commute calculation too.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. We’re fortunate that money isn’t the end all, be all in the decision. Continuity of employment (particularly employment with access to 401ks/retirement plans) is more important to our long-term financial goals than me making as much money as possible wherever we go, which is why I’m considering changing tracks.

    11. Kix*

      Another thing to factor is that I believe you have hiring preference as the spouse of active duty military at the base where the job is located.

    12. texpat*

      My partner is at the beginning of a career in federal govt jobs. Benefits to him: the cheap healthcare is great, he accrues a ton of sick time (and it’s accepted in his office that occasionally people use sick time because they need to go do things during business hours that aren’t medical-related or just don’t want to come in the day after coming back from travel, stuff like that, so he can actually use that for last-minute issues), he’ll continue to earn time towards his pension years even if we move and he switches jobs (within his current agency or if he switches to a new agency), he knows that he will continue to get raises periodically based on the GS levels, and his office is very flexible for telecommuting–everyone works from home 2 days per week. Basically, there are some short-term benefits like telecommuting and cheap healthcare, and some career benefits, like he has more flexibility to switch jobs, even fairly dramatically, while building tenure with the “company.”

      Downsides: Getting a promotion is very difficult/there’s a lot of red tape, and he doesn’t know yet in practice if it’s easier to get hired for another govt job after you’ve had this one.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. Healthcare isn’t really a concern for me (as I’m on my husband’s plan), but all those other benefits are definitely making me lean towards attempting to make the change.

    13. Policy Wonk*

      The military has programs for spousal employment that can give you a leg up on getting a job on base. If the job requires a security clearance those programs often allow you to hold on to the clearance between posts, so you will have an advantage in hiring at his next post as well. If you remain in the United States working off-base is often doable, but if your spouse is posted overseas the track record of government employment and the bonus of having a clearance will be a definite advantage in getting a job at that post.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for your input. For better or worse, my spouse’s career field isn’t likely to take us out of the US, but it’s good to have that option just in case.

    14. Senor Montoya*

      My sister works for the federal court system. She has a lot of health problems and her partner is a freelance artist with health problems — her health insurance is stellar, her partner is covered, and they could NEVER afford premiums on insurance even half as good, they could not afford the out of pocket expenses…she figured the insurance alone is worth over $20K annually in premiums and out of pocket. Once she retires (in 8 years) she has an excellent pension and health insurance, and will then work part time at something she likes.
      Our family was deeply relieved when she got that job.
      You can put a $ value on the insurance and on the pension/retirement, commuting costs, housing costs. Possibly other costs such as housing, being able to use the commissary? ask your acquaintance about it.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for the input. I already have many of those benefits (insurance, housing, commissary permissions) from my spouse’s AD job, regardless of if I make the switch. The pension, however, is something I could quantify.

    15. Stornry*

      local gov’t HR here — a quick glance at our salaries and benefits budget for my department shows that the benefits are just about equal to the salary; so, there’s s quick and dirty monetary equivalent. for me, it’s not just the job security but the pension. thanks to the retirement plan and deferred comp, I’m looking at a comfortably-funded retirement much earlier than my parents could achieve under social security alone.

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for your input. The option for comfortable, early retirement is something that is important to us, which is why my spouse is aiming to stay in for the full 20. We’ve discussed and worked my retirement accounts to align with those goals, but that’s definitely something we’re heavily weighing.

    16. Kiwiii*

      As a previous state employee, my favoirte things were the amount of PTO (2.5 weeks + holidays + 3.5 “personal holiday” days + 2-3 weeks sick leave as a new employee) and the employer-matched 6.5% retirement fund. A good commute helps a lot in ways you don’t realize, too. And once you’ve done government work it’s much easier to get another government job, though not necessarily actually easy.

      As for the $$$, it won’t be great, but it might be worth considering like. Cost of living in the area and things.

      If your non-profit job is flexible, could you do it remotely?

      1. michelle*

        Thanks for your input. The telework option could exist, but I’m not sure I want to pursue it (or at least, pursue it exclusively). I think my sanity through relocating like this (every 3-5 years, at a maximum) will rely on being able to leave the house and having consistent social interaction with coworkers.

        The PTO is definitely something we value – vacation time is our only real sticking point with my job now, as he has a ton of it, and I accrue at what feels like a snail’s pace in comparison. My current industry doesn’t lend itself to having a separate holiday bank, so that alone would be a huge, positive change. Access to good retirement account options is also important, even moreso in our specific situation than maxing my income potential.

    17. Mama Bear*

      Another benefit to a fed job is that your time in office can accrue at different agencies. My spouse has worked for at least 4 agencies, but it all counts toward his time of service for retirement, benefits, leave, etc. That might be handy since your spouse is likely to be moved again. Many people I know take a pay cut to get into federal service for the stability and benefits. Obviously choose your agency carefully (the IRS is frequently used as a scapegoat and keeps getting budget cuts), but it may be a good option for your household in the long run. Like any other job, it is unlikely to hurt to put your hat in the ring and see what comes of it.

    18. TimeTravlR*

      For a military spouse, one of the best benefits might be the potential for moving from one position to another as your active duty spouse is transferred. Not always a give, but if you’re in accounting/finance, it’s probably a very high chance you could get something at the new location without a break in your service. If you decide to ultimately go back to the private sector, such as when he separates or retires, that’s always on the table too.

    19. Venus*

      A few thoughts:
      Government jobs in my part of the world tend to have reliable yearly raises (cost of living as well as performance-based) so the starting salary might be substantially lower than what you might expect to make a few years later. This may not be true for you, but the info should be easily available if you are in an interview.

      With lower salaries I find that it becomes much more tolerable if the people are good. My suggestion would be to apply to government and local, and see what you get for a response. If you only get one or the other with openings then it’s an easy answer.

      I have known military spouses who worked for the government because they were prioritized in hirings at each move. Hopefully that would be an option for you too, as that reliability was a big factor for them.

      Good luck!

      1. Venus*

        I was thinking that – if you are keen to think this way – you can put a monetary value on that reliability of employment. If you think it would take you 6 months, or more or less, before you found another job, then those months of unemployment would subtract at each move from your higher salary. Also, would you spend a lot more time looking for a job before each move? How much of your time would it take?

        I don’t know if I would bother thinking about it this way, but I mention it as an option. People who rent out their homes think this way, because if you price the place a bit lower then you get less money per month but you also don’t have it sit empty and losing money, so there is a balance with that calculation. It’s harder for you, but it is a concept to consider.

    20. Fikly*

      It takes some math, but a shorter commute can usually be quantified monetarily. First there’s the time = money thought. Second, what is the actual cost of the commute. If car, think of both gas and wear and tear on the car (there are website that calculate this). You can do this with mass transit too.

    21. quintk*

      One thing to think about is whether, and how much, pressure there is to work overtime. I do not work for government but I do work for the defense industry. For most of my colleagues, the salaries are lower than what we could get doing the same thing at a non-defense job. But, with few exceptions, I’ve experienced very little pressure to work overtime and am not expected to respond to emails or calls after hours, so the pay I get is for 40-45 hours a week, not for 60+ hours a week. I don’t think the government guys I have contact with work a lot of overtime either, but I could be wrong. It is just one more factor which may (or may not) balance lower salaries.

      Also, my humble opinion is commute time has a HUGE impact on quality of life.

  5. Hazy days*

    Job shares!

    I’m planning to propose turning my current full time role into a job share – has anyone previously gone through this process? Do you have advice to share on what works and what doesn’t? Thank you!

    1. Zephy*

      What is a “job share,” exactly? I’m not familiar with the term. Is it basically turning one FT role into 2 or more PT ones with schedules that don’t overlap? And if so, what makes “job sharing” different from just being changed to PT and hiring someone to cover the days/shifts that you don’t, are there benefits involved?

      1. College Career Counselor*

        It means two (or more) people split the hours of a job. This often saves the employer money because they don’t have to offer health benefits (or they offer pro-rated health benefits). The work schedules may or may not overlap. Can also be nice for people who are family caregivers, or who can’t or don’t want to work 40+ hours/week. The downside is that you have to know when your co-worker is around (what days they leave early) for scheduling purposes, and sometimes the people who work full time get asked to do more because “X isn’t here on Thursdays” or whatever. Of course, sometimes the job sharer gets expected to cram 40 hours worth of work into 28 hours (and only paid for 28).

      2. Hazy days*

        The connotation is often around senior roles where there needs to be full time coverage and oversight of the issues – so it’s one role, but the face doing that role is different on different days. The idea is that you keep people at senior levels by offering part-time opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Both people ought to be able to deal with all the job, but you might lead on different areas.
        It might be that one person does Mon-Weds, and one Weds-Fri, with handover on Weds.
        So there shouldn’t be a loss of effectiveness from the role – there are higher costs for in the UK, but you get two people’s experience and insight, vacation coverage, two people’s energy in the role, etc. It shouldn’t mean that other roles are asked to do more, because it’s still a full time role.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I was actually hired for my current role for a situation like this. My coworker wanted to go part time and an entry level person was leaving. They combined the entry level role with a lot of the part time person’s duties to make a higher level role that I was hired in for. Its worked out well since the part timer is still here for backup and vacations. She will sometimes work an extra few hours here and there in order to build up some flex time since she now accrued PTO at a lower rate.

    3. OperaArt*

      According to a friend who did this (two people doing one mid-level admin role), the keys were teamwork and rigorous communication. It worked great for her.

    4. Doug Judy*

      Two of my coworkers did it. Both were full time and had the same role already and both wanted to go part time for different reasons. They both were also good employees so that helped their case. They job shared and then the boss hired someone FT sice they needed the equivalent of 80 hours a week in that position. Coworkers each did 20 a week and the new hire 40.

    5. quirkypants*

      As a manager, my willingness and ability to approve this would depend a lot on the role.

      Not every role can easily be handed off between two people. Customer service Jobs are quite easy to hand off but project based jobs or strategy roles in a fast paced office can be harder. I might begrudge time spent to constantly bring the other person up to speed so the other person can be ready to handle issues in your absence.

      Is this an easy to hire for role? Is this a role where I’m likely to find people willing to work part time? (I’ve always found it more challenging to recruit part time staff and also had higher turnover as some have taken the role when they really preferred to work full time so took the role on a temporary basis).

      Think about, and be prepared to discuss all the ways this might benefit the employer and strategies to deal with any issues your boss might have. Be forewarned, this will be an easier sell if you’re a very valued and high performing employee. BUT even if you are it could still give your employer pause if they don’t believe they can find an equally amazing person to share your role.

      Job sharing has worked really well for a couple friends of mine. I wish you luck!!

  6. AnonToday!*

    Just offered wild opportunity- do I take it?
    Short version – A woman I just met a week ago asked me if I wanted a job managing one of her small businesses. She knows that I’ve only been in this field for a couple of months, though I am planning to get more education so I can continue in it. The job would give me a real hands on education and she would give me access to all the training she’s gotten for her staff. I’d also have to move & she has a place I could stay temporarily. Do I take the job?

    Long version:
    I’m changing careers, after having been out of work for over 2.5 years due to mental health stuff. Once I started thinking about going back to work, I realized I couldn’t do what I had been & not get sick again. Even more, I couldn’t go back to working in the city & commuting every day.

    The career I came up with has two things that are necessary for me – it’s needed everywhere and the schedule can be more flexible. The closest equivalent I can think of, while remaining anonymous, is working as an assistant in a daycare & planning to become a licensed early education teacher.

    And what she’s offering me would be like me becoming the manager of her daycare. But in the actual field, generally people do start their own businesses, so learning how to manage her business would be a huge asset, beyond all the other training she gives her staff.

    She also mentioned possibly selling it to me in a few years. It’s not a field she really has an interest in running. She heard a lot of the customers in her main business asking for this service. But there weren’t any places she felt comfortable referring them to, so last summer she started her own.

    The location is only about 2 hours from where I live now. It’s a beautiful area with lots of outdoor activities, but not much else. It’s very rural & I’ve always lived near at least a small city. I think I’d like it, but I could also be romanticizing it.

    I don’t particularly like where I’m living now, especially as I had to move back in with my parents over the summer. Which was mostly fine while they were away for 95% of the summer/early fall. But they’re going to be back here full time soon. And beyond them being home most of the time, as my father’s retired & mother’s a homemaker, they take care of my twin 3 year old nieces 3 days a week. I’ll go back to being a guest in someone else’s home, with no autonomy over any of it. And I imagine it will be loud.

    If I take the job, there’s a sort of apartment attached to the facility which I could stay in for free. But would that mean I’d essentially be on call all the time? Unlike a kid daycare, it’s open 24/7. Though she said that I could stay there as long as I wanted, she also me ruined that she knows the owner of the apartment building next door to the facility & he usually has vacancies for a decent price. And buying a house in that area is a lot cheaper than where I am now.

    I tried to make this as coherent as possible & those are the big things that have come up when thinking about it (since she offered me the job Wednesday). I am luckily going to see my therapist today (Friday), before going up to meet her again – partly for something different but also to talk about this more.

    Oh, two more things that I need to consider: 1)health stuff – insurance, since I’d be moving to a new state, finding a new therapist & a doctor to prescribe meds. 2) moving will mean that I’ll be able to do the one thing that I know will help my mental health – get a dog. I’ll be able to where I am now, but it will take awhile & be overall more difficult.

    What do I do? Am I missing any things I should be considering? (I have a whole list of questions to ask her but I’m sure I’m forgetting something!)

      1. AnonToday!*

        Yeah, that’s what my therapist & I decided… I just keep thinking it’s too good to be true. Or that I’m being impulsive (I have ADHD so sometimes I jump without thinking about reality instead of just my expectations) and missing something major that I should think or ask about.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Impulsive isn’t a bad thing necessarily! That can do a lot of good for your career in the end at times. I would just make sure you have a fall-back plan in place in the even that you get there and it turns into a big ol’ do-not-want! I am assuming you could go back home and 2 hours away isn’t a huge moving expense. I would think about moving in ‘waves’ so that you don’t just take all your stuff with you in one jump. Give it a little time to settle in before bringing all your stuff over if you have storage options, I’m assuming that your parents are okay with it of course which may or may not be the case.

          1. Senor Montoya*

            Agreed. I’d think that you might have limited options for health care and other employment in a rural area? That depends on where it is, perhaps a larger town is within a reasonable commute.
            (BTW, The Man Becky Lynch, I always look for your comments! and love the name)

    1. Yorick*

      In a rural area, being able to find a new therapist and doctor might be a big deal. Do some research on that to help you decide.

      I’d also think about whether you’ll be able to/able to afford moving back if you end up hating the job. Would quitting put you in a worse spot than you’re in now?

      Besides those things, it sounds like a good opportunity that you might as well try out.

      1. Mid*

        Yup. That’s my only concern with this. Unless you’re willing to drive a fair distance, or have digital therapy (phone, video, etc), you might struggle more than anticipated. Or there might be only one or two options for a therapist, and they might not work well for your needs. (In my small rural hometown, there is one therapist, and she tries to be a jack of all trades kinda lady, and is very lovely, but really isn’t that great with youth, and is best at divorce/adult relationships/career things rather than chronic mental illnesses. I had to find a therapist elsewhere to get the help I needed.)

        OP could see if her current therapist would be willing and able to do digital sessions! Or a combination of digital and in-person (meeting once a month in person and having the rest of the weekly sessions digitally)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Well if you’re going to be running the business, you will be “on call” in some fashion even if you’re not attached to the building. It may be nice to be so close so you don’t have to worry about scurrying to get there if something happens at an odd hour. I have a person in my life that lived above work for awhile, it worked out fine enough for him but yeah, you’re there a lot and that’s a thing you need to be comfortable with, especially as the manager.

      So I would take into consideration how much time it’s going to take you and how much you’ll invest in working. Is she putting you on salary? Make sure you check how much you’ll make if you’re working over 40 hours to feel better about your compensation package there. That’s crucial. Think about working at least 50 hour weeks to start and how that shakes out salary wise!

      Also do some research about the area and go visit it if possible. Rural areas are…great if you like being alone in the world. They’re also pretty prickly towards outsiders sometimes. So it takes longer to really sit down your roots if you want to stay there long term and don’t have it in you to travel to see your family and friends 2hrs away! This is just from my own personal experience with rural life and my preference for cities, so take that with a grain of salt.

      In general, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity and I’d jump at it but I’m a hermit and a workaholic. This is right up my ally of what I personally do, so I wouldn’t flinch.

      Have you researched this lady’s businesses? To see what their reviews look like? How much is she involved? I would ask to look at her financials and to get a sense of what your cash flow and operating expenses/overhead looks like to get a picture of the heavy lifting on that side of the business you’ll be dealing with along with knowing her financial security in the place. I would hate that this is a precarious small business on the verge of closure and you move to find this out and have to re-relocate back to your folks! If she wants you to run the business like this, she shouldn’t flinch at wanting to know these important details. If she flinches, then she doesn’t want you to really run it in a traditional sense.

      1. Mid*

        I would also worry about work-life balance with mental health.

        As someone with mental health issues, I like to throw myself into work, and then I’ll burn out and not recognize it until it’s too late. This is my personal experience though, and OP’s MMV.

        I’d ask about coverage, so OP can make sure they can take days off, and be truly off. And working hours. And realize that if the current owner says they do 60 hours a week, they likely do 70+, because there’s probably more time going into things than they realize. I thought I was doing 50 hours weeks for a while, and it was closer to 65, plus the brain space that was taken up by work even when off the clock.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This is good to think about as well.

          It depends on each person’s mental health.

          Mine is the opposite. My mental health suffers drastically if I’m not working and I have no interest in real time off in most cases. It really matters that my authority is firmly in place, I’m not constantly navigating getting permissions or having to deal with people who tell me to make decisions…then getting mad at my decisions.

      2. annony*

        Also, if getting a dog is important to you, make sure that you would be allowed to have one in that apartment.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      Is this a job that is recession proof? That would be my main concern at this point. It sounds like this business was started by someone with no real passion for it, so if the economy takes a nosedive sometime next year, will the owner keep this business open or will she close it to save money?

    4. Sleepy*

      To me, the biggest issue may be that you planned to go into one field for your mental health, and you are now looking at something totally different. To use the examples you gave, there is a huge difference between working as a daycare assistant and managing a daycare business. One comes with a lot more potential stresses and demands on your time, and I would assume it would come with more potential mental health triggers than the other.

      However, your mental health triggers are unique to you, so only you know whether you’ll face more of them in one role than another. It’s great that you’ll have a chance to explore this with your therapist.

      Good luck!

    5. Purt's Peas*

      This sounds like a cool opportunity! Two things that come to mind are making sure you have support, and making sure you’re not stuck in the rural area if this falls through.

      Support being: professional support from her since this is a big step up of a job, and personal support from a therapist, friend circle, etc. For the personal support, just making sure you’ll feel ok about the remote-ness and feel prepared to start anew.

      For making sure you’re not stuck…it’s notoriously hard to find jobs in rural areas. Would your parents be able to help you to move back if you need, are there other job options in the area, would this be enough of a resume boost that it’s worth it?

    6. CAA*

      From what I can discern, I think you should go for it. What’s the worst that could happen and what would you do if it did? Suppose you hate it there, decide you hate the work/business, or find out the owner is an insane micromanager? It sounds like you could quit and return to your parents house where you’d be in the same situation you’ll be in if you do nothing. So why not try?

      It’s a small business, so I assume you’ll be on ACA for health care. You can check in advance what kinds of plans are offered in that area and what providers are on them. There’s no penalty for moving back and forth between states, even multiple times per year. You just enroll in the new state’s plan when you get there.

      Don’t get a dog on day 1 though. Give yourself at least two months to settle in and get a feel for the place and the job before you add a pet into the mix.

    7. Joielle*

      This reminds me of a job my husband was offered a few years ago – running an assisted care facility for people with dementia. He ended up not taking it because the pay wasn’t high enough to justify being on call 24/7. It would have been a great career move and worth the temporary low pay (and never seeing each other) if he really wanted to get into the industry and own a facility someday, but since he wasn’t super invested in the work, he decided to take his career in a different direction.

      In your case, though, it sounds like it would make a lot more sense! It IS the industry you’re interested in, it could be a good change of pace, and living near the facility might actually be a bonus. I agree with Yorick that you should think about what you’d do if it turns out to be a bust – can you move back in with your parents if necessary?

    8. cmcinnyc*

      I’m going to be the nay-sayer on this thread, sorry. This woman is jumping in to giving you a job, a place to stay, and talking about selling you her business. You say you “just met a week ago” but it’s not clear that the context was a job interview. It sounds like someone you met socially. If it WAS a job interview, and one week later this woman is offering someone new to the field a job, a home, and potentially a business deal… why? Is she having a lot of trouble finding someone? Why? Is it the location? Is the business in trouble? Is it her?

      This could be a great opportunity but I would talk a big step back for a minute and take a cold, cold look at the situation.

      1. Forkeater*

        I’m with you, it sounds fishy to me. You just met her a week ago and she expects you to move and be on call 24 hours. First of all she should do way more screening of you, but secondly you really need to ask around about her. We hear so many horror stories of nightmare small businesses and their owners. I’m seeing a lot of red flags.

      2. MissGirl*

        Yeah, especially where you’d be moving and your housing is tied to the woman. Why you when you have no experience? Are you going to be set up to succeed? What does success look like? Running your own business is a huge responsibility with lots of hours. What about your last job negatively affected your mental health? Do you have interest in business and not just the type of business?

        For instance my friend loves books and publishing so she took out a loan and opened a bookstore. It lasted three months because, while she knew books, she knew nothing about running a business. There wasn’t time for her to learn on the job.

        Verify the woman and the business. Ask for financial statements, talk to the clientele. If you do move forward, get a contract with a lawyer.

        1. annony*

          Definitely have a conversation about training. Will there be any or are you just expected to figure it out. Also, make sure you are not being put in a position where you have all the responsibility but no power.

      3. Persephone Mulberry*

        This. The speed that all this is happening, and the tenuous connection to your potential new boss, gave me a BIG pause right up front. I would give serious consideration to cmcinnyc and The Man Becky Lynch’s comments.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Sadly it’s on par for casual business owners, those who buy-in to businesses that they think are just going to be their little cash-cows. So I’m not too shocked by the behavior itself.

        Which is why I suggest really digging into the business itself and feeling it out. It sounds like a franchisee setup to me. Which is easy to get sucked into and having zero passion. They change hands all the GD time. People think they’re easy because they come pre-prepared for you…they forget about the fact you have to actually run them or find people to run them. Throwing people at them, hoping they stick is pretty standard procedure for those with limited business skills.

      5. TCO*

        Yeah, I’m also surprised that so many people are enthusiastic about this idea. It’s easy for what feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be so exciting that you overlook a lot of potential risks. I see a lot of them here.

        Alison has written extensively about the unique challenges of working for very small family businesses with essentially one boss above you and no one else. If things get hard, as they probably will in a challenging 24/7 business with what sounds like some kind of vulnerable client base, there’s no one else to help you, no one to appeal to if you boss mistreats you.

        The idea of being in charge of a 24/7 business, living on site, again with vulnerable clients (right? this isn’t like an emergency plumbing business or something) sounds like a nightmare for most people. It doesn’t sound likely to facilitate a good work/life balance and low stress. And that rural area won’t be peaceful at all if your staff/clients are knocking on your door literally any time of night or day.

        Also, buying the business down the road isn’t easy. You would need financing and you would need to demonstrate that the business is reliably profitable and well-run. And then 100% of the burden of operating that business and meeting all of the needs is on you. Your duties, even now as manager, are likely to be heavy on administration and light on the service you actually wanted to do in your new career.

        I think you’re taking a lot of financial risk here to move away from your free housing and your support system to take a challenging and risky job. Maybe it’s worth it, but I’d encourage you to really listen to what your therapist and loved ones have to say before making your decision.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Meanwhile, small businesses thrive and aren’t all a bunch of beehives of angry bees. So really it’s about doing your due diligence and having a safety plan to remove yourself from the situation if necessary.

          Some of us have built our entire careers in the small business world and have seen very few really abusive nonsensical setups come to light. It’s all about knowing your own skills and boundaries in the end.

          It’s crucial to go in with open eyes but to just swat it down isn’t ideal either. You don’t become a business owner without a huge amount of risk, no matter what the setup or buy out is. Every business is a risk, every job is a risk. It’s about analyzing the risks and knowing yourself, what you’re capable of and what your life goals are in the end.

      6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yes this sounds incredibly shady. All of your spidey senses should be tingling. This is weird.

        Also, why does she need to sweeten the pot this much to hire someone? Does she have a poor local reputation and no one wants to work for her, and she’s looking for a naive outsider to trap?

      7. WellRed*

        Yes, I’m surprised at all the “go for it” comments. This woman doesn’t know you from a hole in the wall, wants to give you this job AND an apartment? Sounds like she’ll own your life, even if she turns out to be otherwise OK to work for. Definitely don’t plan on a dog until you see what the hours are like.

      8. CM*

        +1 I’m suspicious of this helpful stranger. She’s making a lot of vague promises about how she can give you everything you dreamed of way more easily than you expected to get it while also manoeuvring you into a situation where you’re extremely dependant on her. Plus it sounds like you’re in a vulnerable place with your mental health and living situation, which is when these people strike.

        If she WERE legit… what would her motivation be to make such huge commitments to a stranger? Why would she be so invested in helping you?

      9. Cartographical*

        Yes, I completely agree with this concern. This isn’t just a job offer, it’s a whole relationship outside of work as well. It’s like a marriage, almost. You met a week ago and suddenly you’re entangled in this woman’s life plans? Are you going to be beholden to her desire to retire if you don’t like the work? This is not someone with great boundaries — or it’s someone without great communications skills. Neither is good.

        This sounds like care home work and it’s a very fraught industry. Working for someone who isn’t invested and devoted to the facility, being the person there 24/7, is going to make taking care of your mental health very difficult. You’ll be responsible and she can just… not show up? Ask you to take a cut in pay when money is tight (and you wouldn’t want the clients to suffer, right)?

        I would disentangle yourself from her for a couple weeks at least if possible. If she accepts the boundary, maybe you can have some further conversation. But this is all a red flag to me.

    9. The Ace Tomato Company*

      I was once in a similar situation and realized at some point that the woman that owned the business had some pretty serious issues, then I realized that my whole job and living situation were under her control. So just make sure that you have support (family, friends) or an exit strategy if needed. And yay on getting a dog! But I agree with someone else that said to wait a bit before you get one. Good Luck!!

    10. AnonToday!*

      Thanks all for so many great comments! I don’t have time right now to reply to each, but wanted to add a couple of things (and I think this is far enough down to not worry about anyone involved seeing this!). The business is a dog daycare & boarding facility, & the way I met this woman was because she has a dog that I’m considering adopting – so the dog thing is built in! I’m going to be studying to be a trainer and am working in a dog daycare now.

      I can just go back to my parents if it doesn’t work out, and I’ll probably be paying rent there soon if I stay, so this housing will be cheaper than staying. But I am a little worried about the living situation- I’ll have to get a full tour next time I go there.

      And thanks especially for the suggestion from the Man, Becky Lynch to get a clear picture of the finances of the business. I’ve never really worked for a small business before & didn’t even think of that.

      I’ve looked at some therapists & there are some options not too far away, plus I might be able to stay with my current one just not as regularly (though at the moment, it’s sometimes weeks between appointments because she gets booked fast & I can only schedule a few at a time).

      Will add more later!

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        I’d also recommend doing some research into the business’ safety measures for the pets and the employees (and what the industry standards are), check out the insurance coverage, and look into legal issues with boarding animals.

        Think worst case scenario – what happens if an animal is hurt, gets sick, or dies while in your care? (Because this happens no matter how awesome the facility.) What happens if an employee is injured? (Ditto.) Does the business have an existing relationship with a veterinarian or clinic in case of emergency?

        I’d also have a lawyer review your boarding contract, even if your contact tells you that has already been done.

        Most of this is advice more geared toward someone looking to buy the business – but I think it would be good to look into this regardless, if you will be managing it.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials makes excellent suggestions and I echo that as well.

        When you’re dealing with something that involves being in care of anything that’s alive, you want to really dig into the regulations and insurance coverage. Along with their processes.

        I work with safety regulations and was tossed in head first in a lot of ways, that sucks and thankfully it’s just adult human safety and adult humans typically talk at least a little. But when you’re dealing with animals or children, you have to be even more diligent about these things I say.

        This isn’t to scare you because honestly, it’s doable by many people out there. You just need to be aware that these things exist and to be knowledgeable about the specific business. Leave no stone unturned.

        It makes me feel better knowing how you met this person though it’s still a little weird that she’s jumping out of the gates with “oh and I have a great opportunity for you!” but meh, I know a lot of eccentric business owners [really, the majority of business leadership high enough up is very much cut from their own cloth]. So be ready to deal with a bit of a weirdo and have boundaries but again, eyes open, analyze the risks. Trust your gut.

    11. LilySparrow*

      It’s worth exploring, but you should not take it without doing a lot more due diligence on this person, the role, the business, and the general area you’d be living.

      I’m very concerned about a business owner who offers a management job to someone they met socially after knowing them such a short period of time. Especially someone with no prior experience in the job or the industry.

      This makes me suspect that the business is not well-planned or well run, and may have high turnover, financial problems, and/or other serious issues.

      Moving like this would be seriously putting all your eggs in one basket. And you don’t know how strong the basket is. And a stranger is holding the basket.

      She may be totally awesome, and this opportunity is an incredibly rare fluke of perfect timing.

      Or she may be shady, and runs her business by exploiting inexperienced people that she can overwork, underpay, generally screw over and toss aside.

      Or (statistically the most likely situation) she could be flaky and not entirely competent, who creates messes and chaos with the best of intentions. There are more of these folks in the world than the other two put together. They mean well. But you don’t want to be dependent on them for your livelihood, your housing, and your entire personal network in a new town.

      Ask a lot of questions – not from her, from other people. Don’t settle for vague answers. Get all agreements in writing. See everything with your own eyes (especially the housing) before you commit.

      If anything fails the smell test, or you can’t get straight answers, say “thanks but no thanks.”

    12. Not So Little My*

      Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I’m really paranoid any time anything starts out with “someone I just met offered me an opportunity”. Especially since you don’t have a lot of background in this field and would be dependent on her both for training to learn how to do your job and for housing as well. I’m afraid that she is trying to take advantage of your inexperience and of other vulnerabilities she might be perceiving in you. Please make sure that you are protecting yourself emotionally and financially and that you are not going to become trapped in a precarious situation.

    13. EJane*

      I had a similar situation! Sort of. I was laid off this time last year, which was the last straw after three progressively harder years of declining income, temping, and worsening mental health. I had a massive nervous breakdown; I ended up moving home for six weeks, and spent about four of them on the floor in front of my parents’ fireplace.

      I got connected with a job opening via an old friend’s boyfriend, and ended up leaving my big, glamorous city for a tiny college town. It wasn’t easy–I was barely functional; my mom visited me every other week for about six months to make sure I was eating/my apartment was clean/I was doing okay emotionally; I was having panic attacks at work regularly–but I’m now healthier than I was in a very, very long time.

      I was worried about the move–I’d defined myself as a “big city” person for a while–but it ended up being one of the best things I could have done, and my job has morphed into a technical writing position that exactly fits my interests–and areas where I need to grow, too.

      Couple pieces of advice:
      1. I strongly recommend looking into online therapy resources. I use betterhelp and communicate with my therapist over text multiple times a week. I used to be a big proponent of traditional therapy, but it really, really worked for me.
      2. Give yourself a good window of time to find a new doctor by asking your current doctor to write a new rx for 90 days of your meds, ideally with 1 or 2 refills, and forward it to an online pharmacy like honeybeehealth. That will get you through the open enrollment period for the public insurance exchange and give you a solid window of time to find a doctor you like.
      3. EYYYY DOGGO
      I’m biased because I have a service dog, but I’m super pumped for you to get a dog and reap the benefits. Furry friends are best friends.

      tl;dr GO FOR IT

    14. Emilitron*

      To be the downsider… There are a lot of real cases in which this could be great, and I’m not saying it isn’t in one of those realities. But there’s another type of scenario in which this isn’t as awesome as it looks. You’ve met this person once, and she offers you a major job with a lot of responsibility, basically on the spot, and I can’t quite tell if this came up socially, or through a professional network, or if there was kind of a job discussion in which you handed her a resume. I have known people who were amazingly charismatic, you’d definitely enjoy meeting them; and they’re very dynamic, always exciting projects on the horizon, you’d definitely want to be involved in things they were planning; and very capable, you can tell they’re not just making crap up and talking nonsense, this is their income and they seem serious; yet somehow they’ve got no staying power. They’ve got a huge list of spectacular projects in their past that were neither failures nor ringing successes, which just sort of lost momentum because they got distracted by something else shiny; and they’ve got a lot of former business partners, because they start a project and hand it off to somebody else when it gets boring; and somehow very few of those former business partners are on really good terms any more and have a lowish opinion of this person, who is a great dynamic project-started and a terrible business partner. Writing this out it sounds like I’m on a rant or personal vendetta, and I swear I’m not – it’s a social/business pattern that I’ve seen play out a couple of different times with a couple of different people who fit a vaguely similar mold, and I bring up this cautionary tale because your story about your new friend sounds (in a brief description) like that dynamic I’ve seen before.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Well said. I know exactly the type of person you’re talking about – I’ve met my share, too, but you expressed it better than I did.

  7. BECkey*

    One of my coworkers keeps trying to “helpfully” take over the projects I’ve been assigned, when they can’t even complete their own work. Like yeah, I’m getting shiny, interesting stuff to do; it’s because I finished the boring work quickly and to a high standard, while you’ve been working on it for weeks and are still producing mediocre content.

    I’m worried bringing it up seriously would come across as being overly possessive or controlling of my work, so I just quietly stew in annoyance. It feels petty to be so bothered by this, and I know I should take the high road and let my work speak for itself. Ugh.

      1. BECkey*

        We do have the same manager, who has reprimanded them for getting off-task before, but that seems to address the individual problem, not the pattern. (Which Alison talked very eloquently about earlier this week!) It feels like bringing this up to my manager would be akin to telling my manager how to do their job, somehow; if they don’t think it’s a larger performance issue, who am I to say it is? Maybe they’re handling it, and I’m just not privy to the process? (Rightfully so!)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Bring it up to your manager. You’re not telling her how to do her job if you say that you realize that she spoke to your coworker about this before, but also realize that the coworker probably didn’t interpret that conversation to be apart of a broader theme of her not butting in on your work at all, and it would be very helpful if the three of you could have a quick team meeting where she (the manager) explains the exact breakdown of who gets what and how requests for help will come directly from her moving forward.

        2. OtterB*

          It seems to me you could bring up the pattern to your manager. It’s true they may be handling it without you seeing, but it’s also true that you may be seeing more of a pattern than they do. The next time it comes up I’d use a script like, “I’m concerned that Coworker has a pattern of getting overinvolved with projects that are assigned to me. I want to make sure the lines of responsibility are clear, and also I’m excited about working on Project X and don’t want to miss out on it.”

        3. SarahKay*

          Could you go back to your manager and say something like “I’m really grateful that you’ve dealt with individual instances of co-worker getting off-task before, but they’re still doing it and it’s starting to feel like a real pattern here. Would you be able to address it with them again?”
          That way you’re not directly telling your manager to address the pattern, but you are making it clear to them that there is a pattern there to be addressed.
          Also, good luck!

        4. Bagpuss*

          Have you specifically spoken to the coworker about the pattern? While I think you would be fine to go back to your manager and explain that unfortunately their first conversation with coworker doesn’t appear to have worked as the coworker is still behaving in the same way with different projects, and ask if they can speak to her again about the pattern of behaviour, I think it would alos be OK for you to speak to your coworker directly, give specifc examples and say that you need for her to not try to take on any work that has been assigned to you unless you explicitly ask for her help.

        5. cleo*

          What about asking your manager for advice or help? Ask them how they want you to deal with this ongoing pattern.

        6. gsa*

          Repeat after me..

          “No thank you, I don’t need your help.”

          “No thank you, I don’t need your help.”

          “No thank you, I don’t need your help.”

          When your manager asks,

          “No thank you, I don’t need any help now, I will let you know when I do.”

          “No thank you, I don’t need any help now, I will let you know when I do.”

          “No thank you, I don’t need any help now, I will let you know when I do.”

          Good luck,


    1. FallingSlowly*

      Ugh, the office magpie!

      Have they been succeeding in taking over the projects they’ve gone after, or is it more like they keep trying and you have to fend them off?

      1. BECkey*

        Really just fending them off. As I mentioned above, it feels like our mutual manager is aware of the issue, and I don’t think I’m in danger of losing projects. It feels more like swatting a kids hand away from the candy jar. (Topical!)

    2. Senor Montoya*

      “overly possessive or controlling of my work” — why *shouldn’t* you be “possessive” of your work? It’s your work! presumably assigned to you by your manager. Does your manager think your co-worker “helping” is a good idea? What happens if you let co-irker “help” and it goes poorly? who’s going to be held responsible? what happens if the “help” is non-existent, you get it done well, and then co-irker claims to have assisted?

      BTDT. You can start by putting up boundaries with a nice tone of voice: Oh, Griselda, thanks for the offer, but I’ve got it under control! Hey, Griselda, I appreciate that you wanted to help, but I had already planned/done X, so it wasn’t necessary at all.

      Absolutely do NOT just “take the high road and let my work speak for itself” — you must address this or you (you, not Griselda) is going to get in hot water.

      BTDT. Address it and do it right away. If Griselda pushes back or continues to “help”, take it to your manager. In fact, I’d let my manager know even if Griselda says she’ll stop; loop manager in with a matter-of-fact summary of the problem and the conversation.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Have a conversation with your boss. It sounds to me like your co-worker finds the “boring work”, well, boring… and wants to usurp the interesting parts of your own job in its place. Your mutual manager needs to shut that down.

  8. indigo64*

    Does anyone have any experience working as salaried temp?

    My husband has worked with a reputable temp agency in the past and had a very good experience. He’s currently interviewing for a salaried position with the agency- set paycheck, full benefits, with 2-3 placements a year. Placements could be up to a year long, but most are 3-4 months. He’s excited about getting diverse experience in the field and beefing up his resume. I have a lot of reservations about him changing jobs so frequently and not being able to put down roots. He also hasn’t gotten any details on the salary or benefits yet (and I’m concerned those won’t be competitive).

    What are the pros and cons with this arrangement? Did you feel like it was a good career move?

    1. Brett*

      Which industry? Salaried temp work varies widely from industry to industry.
      In IT, the salary tends to be very good (some of the best in the industry) but the benefits non-existent. The work is normally pretty interesting and the job hopping is not much of an issue. It is common to end up getting offers from the client to hire on full-time; though many people don’t take it because the full time jobs are a pay cut over the temp jobs. The instability can be a problem though, and you functionally apply for a new job with interviews etc every time you move to a new client.
      But that is only the IT industry. Other industries can be very different.

    2. Natalie*

      I haven’t done it myself but I worked closely with a salaried temp we had for many months (accounting). She really liked it. The pay and benefits were comparable to other staff accountant type positions. As far as career benefits, she wasn’t really in a growth phase in her career and had chosen the salaried temp position for the variety.

    3. 867-5309*

      Keep in mind that he isn’t job hopping – he’s a consultant who is taking on different assignments. This is very common in many fields so in and of itself, it not cause for concern.

      My resume says “Marketing and Communications Consultant” and then I list successes/results, like I would if I were with just one company.

      1. Mama Bear*

        This. I would see it as win-win if he has a steady check/employer but just goes to a bunch of different offices as-needed. Many companies do this (short term details, working onsite with client, long term/full time school substitutes) so maybe think of it that way. If the company likes him, they may request him back.

      2. Indigo64*

        Right, my concern about changing jobs every few months is the stress of effectively starting a new job. Thanks for the resume suggestion!

    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      Yeah-when there’s no increase in salary accompanying the additional responsibility that comes with the promotion.

      1. pumpkin on da shelf*

        I was asked once to take a paycut, to go from a non-exempt/hourly position to an exempt/salaried promotion. I respectfully declined.

    2. Jamie*

      Only if they are limiting themselves by doing so. If they have internal candidates who are qualified and a good fit for the position it’s great to promote from within. But if they don’t have a great fit internally and they keep it inside at the expense of filling the role with someone better qualified then that’s a terrible idea.

    3. Cat Fan*

      if I’m understanding the question, I’d say when promoting someone into a management position based on their technical skill when they have no prior management experience and the company is not not giving them any management training. That can be a problem for the new manager and the reports.

      1. MOAS*

        Yeah, I do wish that all management positions came with management training; my boss was really good mentor but there should be a system in place.

    4. Michelle*

      Yes, when it really means “we pretend it’s open to all qualified internal candidates, even though we know who is going to get the job and if there were more qualified external candidates, too bad, we hire our friends!”

      Sorry- this has happened recently and it’s driving me bonkers. So many positions filled with people who can’t do their job.

    5. CastIrony*

      Sure, when they hire the grandboss’s sister, and people are talking about how they’re always reporting things to the grandboss, calling them a spy and a nepotist.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ve found it to be a negative when the promotion is based on the assumption that being able to successfully do a job translates to successfully managing others to do that job.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      Yes, it can be negative when it means that the company never hires external experienced people so all that anyone knows is how Acme Inc does it. I work with a company like that right now where the company as a whole is wildly out of step (and about ten years behind the times) with respect to regulatory requirements and industry norms and expectations. Unfortunately, everyone is firmly and irrationally convinced that they are doing it correctly because no one has any exposure to anything different. This is despite the fact that the regulators are specifically saying that they are doing it wrong — change is impossible to implement because everyone is so tied to what they have always done. It is like trying to explain the sun to someone who has always lived at the bottom of a cave and has never seen light.

      1. Natalie*

        Yep, I recently left a place like that. The only new hires they made were low- to mid-level positions, and frankly their super backwards systems meant a lot of those people declined to stick around. It’s just going to get harder and harder for them to compete for talent in our field.

      2. zora*

        This is exactly what I was going to mention. I worked in a nonprofit where I was the first mid-level outside hire in many years, all of the management had started with the org as entry level and while in some ways that is great that there was a path for people, it was every single member of management.
        So, there was a lot of dysfunction that was baked in because none of the management had ever worked for another company in their entire adult life. It was really hard to change or improve things because of the mindset that “This is just how you do things. Full stop.”

        I think promoting from within is good, but like in many things, I think your management should be diverse in their tenure with the organization. So that you have a mix of people who have a deep understanding of the company, and people who have seen how other organizations do things.

      3. strudel*

        Ugh, yes. I work in higher ed. The university promotes from within, and people stay here *forever*– lots of people have been here 10, 15, 20 years and beyond. We’re so behind in terms of technology, processes, systems, etc, and everyone is very set in their ways and does not want to change or learn new ways to do things.

    8. MOAS*

      Thanks guys, I know it’s kind of vague; it wasn’t spurred by any one incident or person, but just something I’m curious about. From what I’ve read on this blog over the years, it seems that if the goal is to move up, they may need to find other companies as there’s not a lot of room for growth at some companies.

      I was having a conversation with a coworker, and we were talking about turnover etc. Looking at it from the outside, you’d think there’s high turnover in the junior/admin role, but majority of them actually get promoted to accountants (after getting their license/degree/experience). My company is very much a “promote from within” but raises are included with the promotions. Admin get promoted to accountants, accountants get promoted to senior, then supervisor/manager if they show the skill. We have lots of senior workers who are not in mgmt. However, admin and accountant/sr accountant are open to external candidates, while I have yet to see someone from outside come in as a supervisor/manager.

      I have yet to see a “nepotism” promotion (but side note — I was paranoid in my own position that I was seen as a nepotism hire so to speak).

      I’ve always thought promoting from within was a good thing, and I still think it is, but these other points are really interesting to read. Thanks all!

      1. Qwerty*

        This sounds like a really great system! I think one of the most important points in what you describe is that your company seems to be *training* people for the higher positions. By investing in their employees, they are making sure that they always have a pool of qualified applicants for the senior/management positions. You mention that senior accountants are promoted to supervisor/manager “if they have the skill”, which is the big distinction to make from a place that just blindly promotes from within.

        It’s also worth considering if this plays into the hiring process for the junior/admin roles. When I worked at a place that had successful internal promotions, we looked for junior people who were eager to learn that we thought would be a good fit to eventually grow into a mid-level or senior role once they were fully trained/had more experience.

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      And in addition to all of the other things mentioned, it can lead to significant pay inequality since outside candidates are usually much more expensive. At my last company if an internal candidate is promoted, the salary increase is capped at 10% of their current salary even if the salary band for the position is considerably higher.
      When it happened to me, I got the full 10% pay bump even though the person I was replacing made about double my salary. They had a ton more experience than I did as well as an outside certification so while I didn’t think I should be where a 20 year person was as I was entering year 5, the job advertisement listed a salary about $10k higher than what I ended up with. When I left, the person who was hired got that higher wage even though they had less experience than I did. I looking now and appear to still be $10-$15k underpaid.

    10. Middle School Teacher*

      Yes. Especially when it’s obvious someone will get the job but the company advertises and interviews to “make it fair”. It’s always obvious.

    11. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      It is if they don’t consider the qualifications or interpersonal contexts. A few of the worst situations I saw involved someone who was not really qualified and also on the young side (very early career) get promoted. They promptly got overwhelmed with the job duties and navigating the social aspect of managing their former peers or peer age group. Two got canned for sexual harassment, two got canned for authoritarian behavior that led to accidents, ex: Do as I say or you’re fired!! when what they were asking the person to do was in violation of safety rules, OSHA, etc. One of the latter two ended up with a teenager in the ICU due to his negligence.

    12. WellRed*

      I’m sorry for you and her family. This is a reminder to take time off once in awhile, take that vacation, buy the shoes, eat the cake.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another downside–companies that give a promotion but don’t fill the former role so people are doing two jobs. I’ve seen places where management includes in the promotion email that “Lucretia will continue to help during the transition” but doesn’t have anyone to transition tasks to. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do 2 jobs, and Lucretia gets a bad rep for not doing her old job… on top of poor results coming up to speed on her NEW job because she doesn’t get to do it all day.

  9. Goldfinch*

    One of my colleagues unexpectedly passed away this week. She was planning to retire on 12/31. She had less than 40 days of work left in her entire life before she was free.

    I’m so angry on her behalf. All the time spent in a cubicle, all the money sacrificed to a retirement account that will never be used, all the travel she won’t get to do.

    Just wanted to say it here on the anonymous Internet, because talking about it IRL would make me self-absorbed.

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      That stinks, so sorry for her and her family. I hear of that happening really too often.

    2. Libertine Agrarian*

      That’s really sad…

      I empathize so much. I really hope I get to retire one day, but it does worry me that I won’t because my health is not great.

      The irony is that if I only knew when I’ll die, I’d budget to retire before that you know?

    3. rayray*

      I’ve seen people in similar situations, and I agree- it’s awful. It’s really too bad that people don’t get to have a nice retirement when they’ve worked so hard.

    4. ytk*

      I’m so sorry, such devastating news.

      It doesn’t make you self-absorbed – to me it sounds like you’re a thoughtful colleague who is processing the impacts and thinking how unfair the situation seems .

    5. TooTiredToThink*

      I am so very sorry. I’m sure you miss her too. Vent away; we are the appropriate circle for that!

    6. Rebecca*

      This happened to my sister in law, she made it to retirement age, and passed away before she could retire. She was looking forward to spending time with her young grandchildren :( It’s so sad when this happens. Every day is a gift.

      1. Ama*

        I worry this will happen to my father, who is approaching retirement within the next 2-3 years. He’s already a cancer survivor and has had a bunch of health problems recently (he’s had 5 surgical procedures this year alone — all but one were minor, outpatient things but still). I’m glad that he and my mom have always been good about taking regular vacations (he is who I learned my strong work-life boundaries from) so that if the worst happens at least it won’t seem like he spent his entire life at the office.

      1. Miz Behaven*

        I don’t see how that would be self-absorbed either; I interpreted that as being very empathetic, and appreciating the sad randomness of life.

      2. Goldfinch*

        Well, she isn’t here to care that she got cheated out of retirement, so it would kinda make it about me and my personal fears, I guess?

        1. Office Gumby*

          That’s not self-absorbed; that’s reflective, and it’s normal in the face of something like this.

    7. Yorkshire Rose*

      This same thing happened to a colleague of mine. It was several years ago and still makes me sad.

    8. Gidget*

      Oof. I am sorry for the loss of your colleague. You are not self absorbed. This is the exact type of moment where you are allowed to be angry at the universe.

    9. Damien*

      Somehow it feels more devastating when it happens right before someone was due to leave a place, doesn’t it?

      I worked with a lovely young woman who passed away out of the blue earlier this year. She wasn’t even 25, and it turned out that she’d been jobhunting and doing interviews before her death, and the day after she died her partner got a call from one place to offer her the job. It feels so disgustingly unfair.

    10. WellRed*

      I’m sorry for you and her family. This is a reminder to take time off once in awhile, take that vacation, buy the shoes, eat the cake.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m so very sorry. I’ve been through something similar with a co-worker and I don’t wish it on anyone.
      All the best to you & yours, and your co-worker’s family.

    12. Mama Bear*

      I have experienced coworkers dying unexpectedly. What I try to take from that is that life (and retirement) is never guaranteed. Take that vacation. Use that PTO. You never know if you won’t have another chance.

      Does your company have an EAP? If so, call them for counseling if you need it. It’s hard when someone dies without warning.

      1. Loubelou*

        Yes, this. If we save up all our living until retirement, we are missing out on living in the now. This kind of story makes me sad but also encourages me to appreciate and enjoy every single day.

    13. Fikly*

      My mom had a coworker, a doctor, who was terrified of retiring, because he’d seen doctor friends of his retire and then die within a year or two.

      What he never realized was that they all worked until they physically couldn’t, essentially worked themselves to death, and then died after they retired. And because he didn’t realize it, he did the same thing. Don’t be him!

    14. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It can make one feel as if one’s lifelong efforts are futile.

      Depending on the kind of retirement account, it may go to her beneficiaries so it would be used for good.

    15. Millie*

      How sad. Today I attended a memorial service for my boss’s wife. Cancer ended her life at 42. They were married for 23yrs. This year their son and daughter-in-law had a baby boy, and their daughter graduated high school. They all have strong faith and will be ok, but this is so unfair.

  10. Brett*

    I was so waiting for this thread…
    I have talked before about the rather blatant discrimination in hiring and promotion that went on at previous job. Basically, the job was very cliquey, with the clique centered around what high school people went to. People who went to elite all-boys private catholic schools received better offers at hiring, regardless of qualifications. Since we had no merit raises, that cascaded into pay and promotion opportunities throughout people’s careers.

    Someone finally sued (over LGBTQ discrimination) and won!
    For a judgement of $19 MILLION!

    I know the plaintiff and I am happy he won, and the victory is triggering a massive cascade of changes throughout the agency. The entire governing board is being replaced, and there is going to be a huge shakeup in leadership.

    (For those curious, statute of limitations for lawsuits has already passed for me. I’m fine. I make more than double now that I made there, and I make more than the people in my unit who were the beneficiaries of that discrimination.)

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I read about that, assuming it’s what I’m thinking of. As someone writing a dissertation related to discrimination, I found it very interesting. And very happy for the decision.

      1. Brett*

        If the details line up (especially the part about the board getting replaced), it is probably the same case.

        If you have read some of the detail articles about the various people who testified, both of the women who testified about discrimination against them were in my unit and were some of the people who were obviously being discriminated against in pay.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        As someone in the area, I, and everyone I know, was happy with the decision. Hopefully, it will be stirring up a lot of changes.

    2. Shocked Pikachu*

      I am sorry the statue of limitations have passed for you but glad to hear you are fine and making good money :) YAY for the lawsuit and changes :)

    3. fposte*

      Oh, they have been asking for that for years–how wonderful that it finally happened. I was so happy when you finally got out of that horrible place.

    4. Sleepy*

      Fantastic to hear that there have been changes…and that you went on to make so much more money. Good for you! The best revenge… XD

    5. OperaArt*

      I read about that! The discrimination and the blatant retaliation. They didn’t even try to hide it. Glad the board is getting replaced.

  11. ITGirl*

    I just want some other opinions on this: People have a tendency to call me, because my job requires that I answer the phone for Support questions and they know I’ll answer, to ask if other people are in the office. I am not the secretary, we don’t have one, and I’m often busy doing my job when these calls come in. I usually answer this question with a simple “I don’t know, I haven’t seen them around today?” but I’m worried I seem un-helpful, or rude. I also happen to sit across from a manager’s office (not my manager, just A Manager) and people tend to pivot from his door to mine “Hey, is Joe around? Where is he? Can you give him a message when he gets back” again, I don’t want to be un-helpful but I do want to do my own damn job.

    1. yay november*

      Since you have to answer the phone for support calls, I’d use that to address the calls directly. “I need to keep this line free for support, so if you need to reach someone, please call them directly or e-mail them.”

      As for people doing it in person, I wonder if the fact that you sit near a manager makes people think you’re that manager’s secretary. Just say you aren’t taking messages (because you don’t know if you’ll be able to pass them along, because you might be on the phone with a support call, you might not see the person, etc) and that they should e-mail or call that person.

      Also, does your office have instant message? If so, redirect people to that. That will let others know more information than you have. (Don’t check it for them. Tell them to check it themselves.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this is what I would do, especially notifying people who ask where the manager is that you’re not his secretary. You don’t even have to say it harshly. When someone asks where he is, you could laugh and say, “I’m not really sure since I’m IT support. You might want to check his calendar or send him an IM.”

    2. Jamie*

      Think of it this way, it’s unhelpful to contribute to an inefficient system of messaging, which is asking people to tell others things.

      In person just say pleasantly, “I don’t know where he is, the best way to get him a message is [postit, email, carrier pigioen, whatever is common for your office.]”

      For the phone, “I don’t know, if they aren’t at their desk why don’t you shoot them an email.”

      Said nicely with never, ever offering to intervene it should stop.

    3. CatCat*

      It’s fine to seem unhelpful on answering on people’s whereabouts and you can do so in a way that is not rude, which sounds like you have. If they call you on the support line and ask if Joe is around, you can say, “I don’t know. Do you have a Support question?”

      Also, I think you should say you don’t know even if you do know. Because you’re training them that calling you is never going to get them an answer they want on whether Joe is around.

      If they stop at your desk, act puzzled and a but like they’ve interrupted you in the middle of something. “Huh? I don’t know if Joe is around.” If they ask you to take a message, “No, I have to focus on Support work and I have no idea if I’ll even see him later. I suggest you shoot him an email or leave him a voicemail.” Then turn back to your computer or writing something down or whatever. Doesn’t even have to be real work, it just has to look like you’re busy. Do not take messages for Joe or people will never let up.

      I had one particular person who used to do this to me ALL THE TIME. I was super unhelpful in terms of answering that question, but I was not rude about it.

    4. Michelle*

      I feel this so hard. Our managers will not answer their phones or walkies, even when they are sitting at their desk. I will hear the phone buzzing and know that they will buzz me next because I apparently have a reputation for getting managers to answer their calls. I don’t know why. But it’s annoying to be interrupted. Why don’t they just walk to that person’s office/cube instead of bothering you?

    5. Lana Kane*

      On the message thing: it might help to frame the no as “I have other tasks and can’t reliably get him a message in time. Sorry! Here’s a notepad if you want to leave him a note.” And then after you give this answer a few times you can shorten it to, “I can’t, but the notepad is over there!” (If you want, you could wait a couple of seconds before prying your eyes away from your computer and then distractedly say that.)

      On the phone calls, don’t be afraid to just say you don’t know. Don’t even say you haven’t seen them around today. Just with a confused tone, “I don’t know?”

      It’s also ok to see if your manager can help curb this behavior. Presumably they don’t want your support line tied up for this stuff.

      1. ITGirl*

        Thanks for linking to this, I could have written that entire email! That is 100% what I’m dealing with. From the feed back I’m getting, and from that post is that I’m on the right track. It’s not rude or unhelpful to not jump at helping these. It just re-enforces people coming to me, and it’s frustrating!

    6. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      There is an AAM post (with update) called “People think I’m my boss’ assistant but I’m not”, you may find it useful. I tried to post the link but I think it got quarantined.
      I just hope your coworkers are not as bad as the ones in that letter!

    7. Yorick*

      People will ask me about people nearby all the time. I find it super annoying. I don’t know where Jessica is, I can’t even see her desk so I didn’t even know she wasn’t sitting at it?

    8. NotAPirate*

      Oh man I have no solution but so much sympathy for you!! I sit in an open office with a glass wall + door then a little hallway directly to another glass door. I sit tragically closest to the door. People get stuck outside the outer door and will bang and wave at me without stopping until I get up and go talk to them. I’m not the door person, I’m not the admin, I’m never the one they are working with. So then I have to escort them until we find their person. It’s so dumb. I’ve started wearing headphones just to be able to pretend I don’t see them pounding and waving. The door has 3 contact numbers on it for if you can’t reach whoever is supposed to let you in to the secure lab. I can’t leave them unescorted because of safety stuff. I’ve tried bringing it up, and everyone else thinks it’s not a big deal since it only takes a couple minutes but they aren’t the ones getting up all the time to deal with it. Also it’s not so much the lack of time working, it’s the mental disruption. Curse whoever created open floor plans!

      1. yay november*

        “everyone else thinks it’s not a big deal since it only takes a couple minutes but they aren’t the ones getting up all the time to deal with it. ”
        Ask them if they want to switch desks?

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

      Perhaps be a bit more all purpose in your answer. When you are too specific about “I haven’t seen them TODAY” they’re not getting that it’s just not something they should EVER ask you. You could say something like: “I don’t have access to their calendar,” or “I don’t have access to Fergus’ schedule,” “I’m not the person to ask for that information.” Your tone of voice is what will keep it helpful and not rude. You ARE helping them, by letting them know they contacted the wrong person, the same as politely telling someone, “I’m sorry, I think you’ve dialed the wrong number.”

    10. Donna*

      ‘Oh gee, I really don’t know’ with wide eyes and a smile – each and every time. Don’t divert, no matter what. BTDT. ;-)

    11. LilySparrow*

      I cheerfully say, “Oh, I’m the wrong person to ask, I wouldn’t begin to know.”

      If people want to leave messages, I say, “You’re better off leaving a voicemail or emailing her. She wouldn’t check with me.”

    12. Emilitron*

      My response to in-person questions/messages for my neighbor desk is to keep a pad of Post-Its and a pen ready to go. “Here, leave a note on their desk”. (see look how helpful I am in 10 seconds or less, now go away)

  12. A Simple Narwhal*


    I’m so excited! The last 7+ months have been a lot of hard work but it all paid off! This is my first ever promotion (I’ve always had to leave companies for higher titles elsewhere) and I’m so jazzed! On top of it all, my department is famously hard to get promoted in – my new peers took five years to get it but I got it in just under two! It’s getting announced later so I haven’t been able to tell anyone except my husband but I wanted to share it with all you lovely people!

    Take that impostor syndrome!

    1. Minocho*

      Awesome! You worked hard for it, and you got it! That’s so amazing!

      That’s a great feeling to take into the weekend! Yay!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      (Pretend I inserted a gif of narwals dancing for joy. less work for Alison that way. ;) )

  13. LGC*

    Bit of a new situation at work this week – I just got a legally blind employee. (So, they can see somewhat.) We’ve already got some things set up for them, like a 60-inch TV for them to use like a conventional monitor and some disability settings turned on in Windows. (Plus, I’ve slightly adjusted their workflow so that they don’t have too much time pressure, since they need to work slowly.)

    Is there anything else I should be doing, or that I can suggest? They’re great at advocating for themselves, and I know well enough to mostly let them take the lead. (I did try high contrast on my workstation, and it actually caused issues with our document management program. But I’m not sure if that’s my settings.)

    1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

      There might be a need for greater or lesser lighting to view the screen. Best to ask for your employee’s preference on this. My Mom prefers less lighting so that she can see the contrast betw. the type and the background.

      How about the lettering on the keyboard keys? Is there good color contrast or is the letter large in font size? There are products that go over the keys to provide larger font size on the keys.

      What about the other office equipment? Like the company microwave? My Mom put some stick-on ‘bumps’ to raise the surface of the numbers she presses the most for microwaving her foods. Makes it easier to find them when it’s hard to read the keypad numbers.

      1. LGC*


        One thing I didn’t note is – the employee is actually really good at advocating for themselves, which is a nice change of pace! (Usually, I’m trying to figure out how to help people, while being somewhat hamstrung.) It’s great because I’m less worried that they’re just going to suffer in silence.

        I didn’t even think about the keyboard, but that actually is something we have on hand. All of our keyboards are black with white lettering, but we do have a few large-type keyboards. (And a couple of left-handed ones.) They didn’t say anything to me over the first couple of days, so I’m probably going to let them take the lead.

        I put the employee’s workstation right by mine – so it’s fairly close to the windows, but not quite up on it. Unfortunately, we have fluorescent lighting, which is…not great! I’ll try to dim the blinds a bit, although it’ll be less of an issue this time of year (since I’m in the northern US).

        I can suggest some things as general accommodations as well. Generally, we have employees with mental health issues or mobility issues – people with sensory impairments are an area we struggle (and okay, I’ve struggled) with a little. So I’ll definitely consider getting bumps/stickers for the microwaves. But I’m “just” a supervisor.

        1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

          Your first instinct- let them take the lead on what they need- is right on!

        2. Grace*

          You can get specific braille stickers, if your employee can read braille.

          Molly Burke over on YouTube is a blind advocate and motivational speaker, and she’s done a bunch of things about how people can help, questions you probably shouldn’t ask, etc – one thing she’s said multiple times is that if someone reads braille (or even if they don’t and it’s for the future) braille everything. The numbers for every meeting room. Every office plaque. Coffee machines and microwaves. It normalises it.

    2. Shocked Pikachu*

      The biggest thing I suggest is to let them have the lead. Sounds like you have it covered and they are good advocating for themselves. If anything, you can simply ask “everything working out all right “ I mentioned here before I have legally blind friend back in Europe and the biggest problem she is dealing with is people helping her without actually asking her if she needs/of what kind of help she needs. It can get downright scary, when people just approach her (she uses a cane for walking), and without saying a word grab her and starting to drag her across the street or whenever. She had that problem at work at first, coworkers trying to be helpful just grabbing her shoulder and hand and leading her around. Anyways, again, sounds like your employee is on top of it, so don’t worry about it. You can always do brief check in to ask if they are settled in all right ( which btw is nice and useful thing to do for new employees who don’t need accommodations )

    3. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      Be guided by them. Spend plenty of time with them as they learn the job, and make sure they know they can suggest things.

      There will most likely be things that you can do that you won’t discover until they are doing the job.

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        Being approachable is such a great asset in general. Often people (and their work productivity) can greatly benefit from tweaking their surroundings.

    4. Not really a waitress*

      My dad was legally blind the last few years of his life. (Again he also had some limited vision) We worked to accomodate without babying him. For example. When watching college football I taught my son to read the score ticker outloud without looking like he was reading it to my dad. Hey look at that! Kansas St is upseting Oklahoma.
      I would recommend just being aware of how much visual you depend on (ppts in meetings etc)

      1. Shocked Pikachu*

        I have always had great vision, better than 20/20. Unfortunately the past year I developed myopia. Not young anymore, I guess. Sigh. I have fairly mild prescription but still, it’s been kinda weird adjustment and I still resist wearing glasses. I wear them for driving every time, but otherwise I have hard time to. It’s silly and I don’t know why it bothers me so much. We were getting food at the mall, giving our orders and I looked and realized their menu was posted on the wall on the left (we were standing by the cash register all the way to the right). I couldn’t read it, it was all blurry. And they were all looking at me and I panicked thinking I have to tell them I can’t see it. But then one of the young people serving said “do you like it spicy or hot ? And chicken or beef. You can either have plate or bowl, side noodles or rice” It was so nice of her. Anyways, I hope it’s not too much OT but yes, I so understand about helping in a way that feels like not helping :)

    5. Llellayena*

      Run everything past her before implementing because suddenly changing the environment for someone who is legally blind can be even more confusing, but…
      1) Large visual cues for the various conference rooms, copy rooms, bathrooms, rooms-employee-would-use (colors, large numbers painted on doors…)
      2) Raised buttons and/or braille (find out if she reads it first) on standard office equipment like copiers/printers (Printer company probably has disability modifications available)
      3) Adjustable light levels in her office and all conference rooms
      4) Clear instructions to staff and cleaning service that walkways need to remain clear
      5) Allow the employee to record meetings or take notes with a laptop (raised keys)

      There’s a short-lived tv show about a blind police detective that hits a few of these blind-in-the-workplace issues. At one point he memorizes the layout of the room so he can get around without the cane but trips when someone leaves a drawer on a desk open (deliberately in that case, but could happen accidentally too).

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think the key is to listen when they tell you what they need – and then make sure that things *remain* implemented – for instance, if making sure that other employees leave walkways free from obstructions might need to be monitored and people reminded over time.

      It might also be worth asking your new employee – for instnace asking specifcally whther having larger / different labelling on doos / office equipment etc would be useful and if so, whet would work best (I would imagine that some people might prefer bigger font, others brigther colours and others gain, braille)

    7. LGC*

      Thanks for the advice!

      I left out a couple of things: the employee is actually doing data entry work, and we’re a social enterprise for people with disabilities. So…my office usually is free of obstructions. (I mentioned that we have people with mobility limitations, so it’s required.)

      I tell the rest of the team to keep pathways clear and they’re good about it. So I’m not to worried about it.

      Generally, we don’t really have meetings for the employees very often, and most of those are announcements. (They don’t have company email because Reasons.) I actually prefer to just hand out memos and stuff, but I’ll try to be more considerate of them.

    8. BlindChina*

      One thing you may want to do is let other workers know not to “help” with out asking. I can not begin to tell you how many people either assume incompetence, or do the grab and drag thing. Project a confident air with other workers “oh Suzie has got this” Assuming you are in the US, ask her if she wants the Commission for the blind to do a walk through of your office The commission can make little adjustments, like raised dots on the copy machine buttons Follow her lead though, my local commission stinks, I would never want them in my office. In most the country they are a good resource. Also be aware that using the term “legally blind” or emphasizing that she can see some can be insulting. It can make her feel like you think she is just pretending, or that blind is such a dirty word you must excuse it. Follow her cues on this! This is some thing many of us hate! By definition blind is blind. Give her the ability to come to you without looking incompetent. Say “you know what you need better than I will, I am willing to work with you to accommodate what works best for you anyway I can. Please tell me when/if you need things done differently, otherwise I will assume it is working.” Then follow though with that. Checking in lots, when there hasn’t been an issue with her work, makes it look to her and her coworker that you don’t think she can do the work. Once a year in one on ones is enough.

      1. LGC*

        Thanks for the heads up! I wasn’t even aware that was an issue. I’ll make sure to not use it going forward.

        (I did use the term because the job requires reading text on images – it’s clearly printed text, but it’s checking the OCR against the actual text.)

    9. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

      I’m not sure how your employee is legally blind but mine deals with having a small field of vision on the sides while my center is good with glasses. So, for me, it would be the smaller things. For example – leave all walkways clear of obstructions, make sure that you’re telling them that you’re there, say how you’re handing them things, don’t be a jerk with the handing them things and taking them back (I had a co-worker do this and I had to walk away so I didn’t blow up at them in front of customers), and ask if they want an elbow instead of just automatically grabbing them.

      Also, and this trips people up, I can pass for normal until my cane comes out. If (big if here) your employee can do the same away from their cubicle, keep an ear open for gossip about how they might be faking it and shut it down. Please. I had to deal with that BS in high school – I came to my visually disability late because I am insanely good as passing for able – and the worry about people thinking I’m faking pops up in my head all the time.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I was a year ahead of a legally blind student in my junior high. The bigt thing I remember was making sure she’d have someone to be an escort in case of fire drill or emergency evacuation, when everyone’s supposed to walk faster than is safe for her.
      The really cool thing they did, when she first started at the new school, she was given time to walk around the building after hours with other students with them chattering about what she didn’t see. Obviously she’d need to know her classrooms, restrooms, the nurse, etc… but the chatter let her know what else was there. Lots of people give directions by things that aren’t obvious: murals, three different display cases, the colors of the lockers in different wings, the teacher’s room, etc.
      Thanks for thinking ahead!

    11. WalkedInMyShoes*

      If you search on Job Accommodation Network, you will find all the accommodation recommendations. Hope this helps.

  14. GigglyPuff*

    I need some help on how to ask my reference/old manager about applying for their old job.

    I worked for them almost five years ago, and have been in my next position since, but have been looking for 3 years. It’s a very specific field (so not too weird, but getting there), but I know they’ve been contacted multiple times as my reference. I know that’s a regular part of job searching but I still feel bad that it’s been so long and they might’ve been contacted so many times.

    A few months ago during a conversation about a reference, they mentioned they were moving to a new job. Their old job just got posted and it’s actually not asking for that much experience and is willing to work with people who are new managers (which is one of the main things holding me back, I have no management experience), and is only asking for a few years experience with everything else.

    But my guilt/anxiety over whether the job would be good for me (moving back home)/shortcomings is making it difficult for me in figuring out how to ask about/letting her know I was interested in applying. Also I know a few other people left around the same time and I’m wondering if I should ask if something happened? (But I know all of them had been there 3+ years, so it might just be the timing.)

    So does anyone have any wording/tips/suggestions on how to frame the email? I really appreciate any help. And I know I’m totally overthinking this, but the anxiety isn’t really letting me sit down and hash it out coherently.

    1. CAA*

      Hi Old Mgr, I’ve been thinking about our conversation a few months ago when you told me you were leaving Company X, and have decided I’m really interested in applying for OldJob. I think it could be a great next step for me and I was wondering if I could use you as a reference. Also, if you have any insight or things I should know about the application or hiring process, or the current situation at X, I’d love to have your input. I really appreciate your advice. Thanks, GigglyPuff

  15. FallingSlowly*

    I need to vent somewhere that people will understand:

    There is a temporary worker in my office who thinks it’s funny to deliberately call me by a nickname I’ve asked him not to use, to stand right behind me so I can’t move, and put his hand on my shoulder (refusing to take it away even after I’ve jerked away from him and tried to shrug his hand off me), and to interrupt my work to demand help with his work as if it is my role to assist him, which is is decidedly not.

    I’m in an awkward situation in that I’ve only been here a few months myself and haven’t had opportunity to build up a lot of capital with the owners, and this guy is a friend of one of the owners who is doing him a favour (supposedly) by stepping in while we are short-staffed.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is an older man, and I’m female, but I’m not junior to him in experience or qualifications, and I am probably only 10 years younger.

    I can’t get into specifics too much, but this office is much less formal than my last employer, and while that works out in some beneficial ways, there is also much less awareness or concern about the kind of professional boundaries I would consider appropriate. I have the sense that were I to call him out more directly, I would be seen as overreacting, “can’t take a joke” and so on.

    Because he is only here until the new hire is fully trained, I may be able to sidestep him until then, but it makes me so furious that this kind of behaviour can still be considered ok in the workplace!

    Thank you for the vent.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Blechchchhcchch there is so much shudder-inducing material there, but I can’t get over that he won’t remove his hand even after you’ve jerked away and tried to shake him off. I think there’s nothing wrong with firmly saying “Stop touching me” (You could even start with a “please remove your hand” or adding in a “thank you”, not that he deserves that.) and then escalate in terms of volume and exclamation.

      I think physical touching is a pretty safe thing to address, there’s no real room for thinking that it’s a joke or an overreaction if you start off clear and calm. Oh and my favorite stand-by when someone claims that you can’t take a joke is to ask them to explain it to you so you can understand the humor in it.

      Uggh I’m sorry about this, I hope he’s gone soon.

      1. Jamie*

        I was stuck on the same point. Start with “Please don’t touch me.” as you jerk away. If he doesn’t move his hand an alarmed, “why are you touching me when I’ve asked you not to?!” in a louder than normal voice is totally appropriate.

        Backing up fast even if you bump into something also totally fine.

        Don’t assist him – demands don’t get rewarded. Ask your boss, if you don’t know, who should be doing the tasks hes asking you to help with and point him there.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah, I have called people out (not coworkers) for touching me without my permission and there really is no way to weasel out of “I have asked you not to touch me, why are you still doing it?”

          1. Shocked Pikachu*

            I’ve read post on – I think it was Delta’s – FB wall. Complaint from someone because fellow passengers (elderly woman) attempted to get flight attendant‘s attention by putting her hand on FA’s shoulder. Flight attendant turned around and said “please don’t touch me” which in OP’s opinion was very rude. I was pleasantly surprised pretty much all of the commenters were on the flight attendant side :)

        2. AndersonDarling*

          There is a point where this behavior crosses a line and you are allowed to react in an equally bold fashion. If it happens again, tell them to remove their hand. If he puts it back again, you need to respond loud enough that it will be embarrassing for him. I would go with something ambiguous so that anyone hearing your statement can interpret it as something worse… how about, “I told you to stop touching me there! What do I need to do to make you stop touching me!?”
          Unfortunately, someone who is trying to dominate you won’t back down if you are uncomfortable. They want you to be uncomfortable. So you need to make them uncomfortable by calling them out and embarrassing them.

      2. Eeether Eyether*

        That’s awful!! We had a temp older male (I’m female) with us for several months who was about 15 yrs my senior. He called me honey, said love in an inappropriate context a lot “I just sent you a little love note” (email)–very mild compared to your experience. I told him to stop it–that it was in appropriate. He didn’t like it–he thought it was funny and harmless “oh, come on,” but he stopped. Be. Firm. He was in a profession that should have known better.

    2. yay november*

      Go to your bosses and tell them. If they won’t do anything about it, that’s very important information to have.

      I’ve dealt with people calling me by the an insulting nickname and grinned and beared it because I couldn’t get him to stop. But touching? Abstructing your path? Those are deliberate things that you can point to. Those are deliberate actions. Those aren’t “being friendly”. Those are giving me a full body shudder just reading about it.

      This guy is pushing boundaries. This guy is an harrasser. This guy needs to stop. That he’s friends with the boss means this is hard mode. So it’s on them. Will they have your back or not? If not… that is important information and I’d say you need to find an exit strategy if you can. Because this guy might go away. But what happens if there’s another guy?

      1. Mama Bear*

        I agree. Even if he’s the boss’s best friend evar, it doesn’t give him a free pass. I would start with saying loudly and clearly, “Do not touch me” and “You need to move.” I would also talk to my boss/HR because if he won’t stop (nevermind that he’s a friend of the owner), that’s inappropriate and you have the right to not be harassed at work. If he says you can’t take a joke, remind him that it’s not funny and he needs to stop. Don’t let him getting offended keep you from speaking up for yourself. The name thing can be annoying, but the rest of it is physical intimidation and/or harassment. He’s a temp. You are not. This is not OK.

    3. ElizabethJane*

      The continued touching falls pretty squarely into the realm of sexual harassment and I’d file a complaint immediately. The fact that you’ve only been there a few months is actually irrelevant.

      I realize that’s easy for me to say from the other side of my keyboard but also – no. This is not OK.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. I’d notify my manager, tell him to stop (again), and if the touching and path blocking continued, I’d skip on up to HR and file a formal harassment complaint.

    4. BadWolf*

      Gross. He keeps a hand clamped on your shoulder? How do you feel about a loud and blunt, “Stop touching me.” If he’s a clueless (probably not) or medium jerk, this may embarrass him into stopping. He may play the “No fun” card, but honestly, no one will think you’re not fun because you don’t want him grabbing your shoulders.

      And he’s standing right behind you? Does he sneak up? Can you “accidentally” tread on his feet? Probably you should do something adult here, but it’d be awfully tempting to accidentally step on his feet and elbow him in the gut or fling a mug of coffee all over in surprise, “Oh gosh, what were you doing right behind me.”

      I think AAM has addressed the nickname thing in a couple letters. There’s also a lot of power “Nope, I’m not fun. Don’t call me Honey Bunny.” Unless the whole office is full of jerks, normal people are going to read him as jerk if he starts complaining the things you’ve described.

      1. BadWolf*

        And the “stop touching me” is a one time warning, if you want to give one more warning. There’s enough that you’ve laid out to start with HR.

    5. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Non-accidental unwanted touching = assault. Take this harassment up with management now. Or HR, if you have one (my impression is this is a small company because mention the owners.)

    6. Michelle*

      Anyway to “accidentally kick him in the shins? Like when he puts his hand on your shoulder, turn around in surprised way and your foot swings a bit too much? Oh and I would not answer if he called me by the nickname. If he makes a scene, just say that’s not your name.

      Touching someone and blocking their way is not OK, even if they are the boss’s friend.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think you can manage this without overreacting.

      If he calls you by the nickname, refuse to acknowledge he is speaking to you. If he stands too close, say “excuse me I need to get past you” and give him a cold stare until he moves. If he touches you, say “don’t touch me”.

      The key to all of this is to do so in as neutral a way as possible. I’m related to guys like this and they think it’s hilarious to get you “all riled up”.

    8. Anon for This*

      Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. Not okay. The Readers of AAM give you permission to put a stop to this bullshit ASAP. He touches you? Jerk him off and say in a surprised tone “Please don’t touch me!” He says “you’re no fun,” you say “It’s not fun to be touched when I’ve asked you not to.” Same for the nickname. “Please don’t call me Marty, my name is Martha.” He calls you Marty again, you say “I’ve asked you not to call me that. What’s going on?” He asks for help for something that’s not your responsibility? Pleasantly say, “Sorry, I can’t help with that. Ask X if you need retraining.” Rinse, repeat. Don’t let his rudeness get in your way. All of the above responses are perfectly professional.

    9. Crackles*

      I think I’d act as if I didn’t know he was behind me and get up abruptly pushing my chair directly into his crotch.

    10. Quill*

      A rule my mom taught me at five that I wish more adults apply to people: if someone touches you and you don’t want them to, say no the first time, the second you are allowed to whack them EXACTLY hard enough to make them stop.

    11. Em*

      Honestly, I would give it a loud “Take your hands off me — that is inappropriate and unwelcome.” And make sure everyone can readily hear you.
      About the BS of trying to turn you into his assistant, try “you should probably ask one of the assistants for help with that — I’m afraid I’m busy with my own [insert higher level task].”

    12. EinJungerLudendorff*

      Yuck, what an absolute creep. That behaviour is outright harrassment and threatening. He’s trampling so many boundaries, and he knows darn well what he’s doing.

    13. Lora*


      I have a Thing about people touching me. Handshakes and high fives only. The first offense gets “I don’t like people touching me,” second offense is “keep your gross hands to yourself,” third offense is an official complaint and a YELLED “I told you to keep your fking pervert hands to yourself!”

      You’re allowed to have zero sense of humor about this. Honestly, if someone was this aggressive with me there would be loud complaints all the way up the hierarchy and I would be asking my old job if I could come back because new job is full of handsy perverts.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I am a touchy person – with my people. Who are also touchy people. For my people who are not touchy people, I do not touch them. Example – one of my sales reps is very huggy. We hug when we see each other. No big deal. Another one of my reps is most decidedly NOT a huggy person. We do not hug when we see each other.

        This is super simple. He’s using the hand clamp on the shoulder, blocking your path, calling you by a name you don’t like as a means to dominate and control you (outside of making you “his” assistant). You do not have to tolerate these creepy, sexist, low level dominance tactics. There are several good options in the comments section about what to say so I won’t repeat them – pick one that you are comfortable with and proceed.

        You are not in the wrong, you are not “making a mountain out of a molehill”, you are not being hysterical / no fun / shrill / bitchy / any other term a man will use on you to make you submit. You are an autonomous human being and you should not have to put with this crap from anyone at all, from the CEO on down.

        Hard to believe it’s nearly 2020 and women are still putting up with this $hit.

    14. Blue Eagle*

      It may not work for you but a female co-worker in a former workplace got a man who kept touching her to back off by louding yelling “back off – – stop pinching me!”

    15. Bagpuss*

      I agree with everyone else – it is totally reasonable for yout to make this official, regardles of how long you have worked there.
      Be clear and unambigious.
      e.g. “Harvey has repeatedly touched me, and refused to take his hand of me even when I move awayu or explicitly tell him not to touch me”
      “Harvery has continued to call me by a nickname which I don’t use [and find offensive / demeaning, if that is the case] after being repeatedly told that is not my name and I do not want to be called by it”
      “Harvey has repeatedly stood so as to trap me so I can’t pass him or move away from him, and has refused to move even when asked directyl to do so”
      And then be clear – “This is sexaul harassment. I would like you to address it and make sure that none of this, or anything simialr, happens moving forward, to me or anyone else here”

      If you don’t want to do that (or even if you do, I would alos go wuith being loud and clear whenever enaaything happens. When he puts his hand on you, don’t try to shrug it off, say, out lod “Stop touching me” or “take your hands off me”. If you wnat, the first time you can say it in a conversational tone, and even say please. After that, say it loud and angry.

      Same with the blocking you in – 1 polite request then “Step aside, I need to pass”

      With the nickname, ignore it.

      With the assisting, I would deal with that separately, as it is a work issuie rather than a harassment issue.

      I’d sugges that each time he tries, redirect him. e.g.if he is trying to get you to do things outside your remit, say “I don’t actually deal with [thing], you need to do that yourself / ask [appropriate person]”

      Where it is asking for help / explainations I would go with “It’s disruptive when you interrupt me to ask me for help with your tasks. If you have an issue, can you check your trianing materials / ask boss (as apporioate0 first. If you still can’t work it out, e-mail me and I will get back to you when I am available.” In other words, set appropriate boundaries about what you can help with, and for anything where it is reasonable for you to help, do it on your timescale, not his.

      Good luck.

    16. Jadelyn*

      Ugh, so much sympathy. Re the touching, folks have already offered plenty of advice. Re the nicknames, absolutely categorically do not respond when he tries to call you by that name. If he does it mid-conversation, conversation over, walk away. If he tries to say something about it, “I just assumed you were talking to someone else, since that’s not my name [so I figured our conversation was over].”

      Re the standing behind you, I’d just bump into him anyway. Elbow-first. Step on his feet or roll over them if you’re still in your chair. Act as though he’s not there, take up the space you need without feeling like you need to avoid him. He’s the one in your personal space, not the other way around, so have no qualms about bulldozing over norms around avoiding touching someone unnecessarily.

      Why are so many guys Like This? So frustrating.

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

      He’s counting on you to be a nice girl and not call him out directly. Make him very uncomfortable and get descriptive when you do call it out, “Stop pinning me against the wall” “Stop grabbing my shoulders.” “Ouch, why would you grab me?” say it all real loud. As a positive side effect, the nickname and demands for your attention will probably stop since you are no longer “his friend.”

      1. Kat in VA*

        Ah, yes – the old, “If she’s not making a scene about it, then she’s OK with it”.

        Not to be confused with, “Why are you making such a big deal about this?” when you do decide you’ve had enough and are most assuredly not OK with it.

        Can’t win, either way. The game is rigged like that.

    18. pumpkin on da shelf*

      This is so wrong, you deserve to be treated with respect. I would embarrass him as mentioned in many other replies and not respond to the other behavior. He’s counting on you not standing up for yourself, on his status of friend, on your being new perhaps as well… but this is harassment and abusive and you can and should stand up for yourself. POS… good luck!

    19. LilySparrow*

      Tell your bosses that there is a serious issue that this man repeatedly puts his hands on you after you have told him to stop. That it’s not a joke, and it’s not funny.

      Don’t make the whole laundry list (justified as it is), they may just nitpick it. He needs to stay out of your cube, and keep his hands to himself.

      Ask them what they intend to do about it, because you have told him repeatedly and directly to get his hands off you, and he’s doing it anyway.

      They have the ability to fix this immediately. If they refuse, you have to consider other options.

      This is not in any way an unreasonable or tricky or nuanced request. It is extremely clear, simple, and basic.

    20. CM*

      This is horrible. I know you know this already but it might help to hear other people say it too: this guy is doing this on purpose because he thinks he can get away with it, and standing in someone’s personal space and staring at them or blocking their way is considered threatening in pretty much every species of primate.

      As for what to do… I suggest deciding you’re okay with having a reputation as a killjoy, if it means this kind of thing stops. I’ve had good luck with loudly asking them what they’re doing. Usually they lie (I’m just standing) but you can pivot the lie into a loud request to change the behaviour (stand somewhere else; it’s creepy when you stand so close to me).

      But the key thing is to remember that he’s 100% threatening you on purpose. It’s not your responsibility to make him feel comfortable about it.

    21. M*

      There’s a lot of great advice in the replies here, but I want to focus in on something beyond the specific issue you raised. You say:

      “…this office is much less formal than my last employer, and while that works out in some beneficial ways, there is also much less awareness or concern about the kind of professional boundaries I would consider appropriate. I have the sense that were I to call him out more directly, I would be seen as overreacting, “can’t take a joke” and so on.”

      Here’s the thing. If it were just “this office is much less formal”, then no-one’s going to be angry at you for enforcing your own boundaries, even against the owner’s friend, even if you have to be loud or vulgar or angry to do it. Because this office is not a formal space with formal hierarchies and expectations that people go through the processes rather than calling out misconduct directly and however loudly is necessary to make it stop.

      But I’m going to guess, reading between the lines, that that’s not what you mean. What you actually mean is “this office is an office where people with power, formal or informal, can grab at and harass the staff and no-one does anything, but if the staff try to protect themselves from that, then *they’re* causing a scene, *they* can’t take a joke, *they’re* being unreasonable.

      You don’t have an “informal office” problem – plenty of informal offices are perfectly capable of ensuring that gropey bullies aren’t given free rein. You have an “office that is determined to ignore systematic harassment” problem, and it’s worth thinking about whether that’s somewhere you’re comfortable staying longterm, regardless of when this particular gropey bully leaves.

      If I’m wrong, then by all means, take advantage of the advantages of your informal office. Name his behaviour loudly and clearly. “Stop grabbing my arm.” “I’ve told you not to call me “sweetheart”, do we have a problem here?” “I need to get past you, move.” Ignore his attempts to turn you into his assistant. “I can’t help you with that project, I have my own projects to do today.” “If you think that task is going to take more time than you have, you need to talk to [manager].” “[New hire] is being trained to take on your role, why don’t you talk to [trainer] about her picking up that project?” If your office would see you doing those very basic things as you “overreacting”, then that’s a problem with them, not you.

  16. bassclefchick*

    Oh, man. My “Jane” is FINALLY leaving! She’s created such a toxic environment in our office and management won’t do a thing about her. In fact, our team has gotten hauled in front of HR twice because of her. The day I snapped and finally told her she gives off the attitude that the other 3 of us don’t do a thing while she’s out, disrespects us by duplicating our work, and is the cause of the discord on our team? I got hauled in front of our boss because I was “mean” to her. Sigh. NONE of the trades people want to deal with her. She’ll call them 15 times if they don’t answer her. She refuses to learn the new software and whines if you do the tasks she thinks are “hers”.

    She told us this week that she took a job in a different department. I know I should wish her luck, but I almost lost it when she said she was looking forward to learning new things. Yes, because whining about getting a new phone system and new software is helpful. After next week, she will not be my problem and I’m SO HAPPY.

    I know I shouldn’t be this petty, but she’s alienated everyone on our team, makes life difficult for the trades people, and refuses to ask for accommodations to help herself. I can’t wait until she’s gone. My other coworkers have assured me that if it doesn’t work out at the new position, she can’t automatically come back here.

    Has anyone else gone through this? I don’t want to be a bad person, but holy moly I can’t wait until she’s gone.

    1. Kathenus*

      I’m guessing many people have dealt with Janes, but not all get to see them move on. (one of) Mine was a bit different in that I was the supervisor, and he (Fergus, I guess) was great at his technical skills, but so negative that he exuded it around him like the cloud around Pigpen in The Peanuts. When he moved on I did a crazy happy dance as soon as I was out of view. He exemplified the Brilliant Jerk stereotype, but I totally get the feeling of relief to have them move on.

    2. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I have a co-worker who is due to retire in a few months. She badmouths everyone in the department; is a terrible gossip; and we’re starting to see more and more mistakes in her work due to her reluctance to use electronic documents.

      I have a countdown app on my phone for her last day.

    3. pumpkin on da shelf*

      When the head of our HR department was recently fired, I sang ‘ding dong the witch is dead’… quite a few times….

      A despicable woman, people who left years ago were coming out of the woodwork on Facebook talking about karma, so inspired were they with the news which apparently traveled quickly!

      Not sure what you are asking but I hope that makes you feel better! Sometimes you gotta embrace the joy!

  17. StuckInScranton*

    I’m a lower-level supervisor for a major department store. Our newest employee, Rob, identifies as nonbinary. However, their legal name, Roberta, appears on the employee schedule.

    I’ve informed my manager and grandmanager of Rob’s preferred pronouns, as they are reporting directly to me. In all conversations, the managers continue to refer to Rob as “she” or “Roberta”, even after I casually correct them by referencing Rob as “they”.

    Personally, I find this hostile and dismissive of Rob’s identity. I understand that it can take time to relearn preferred pronouns, but there doesn’t seem to be any effort or acknowledgement that management has misspoken. The fact that they deadname Rob is what bothers me the most.

    Should I be more direct with my corrections? Should I bite my tongue? I don’t want to be confrontational, but I also want to respect Rob and help them feel supported.

    1. LizB*

      If you have a decent rapport with these managers, I’d point it out to them a little more directly. “By the way, Jill, I noticed you keep referring to Rob as Roberta, and as “she” — I just wanted to make sure you knew that they actually use “they” pronouns, and Roberta isn’t the right name to call them!”

      If I give them the benefit of the doubt, they may just not have noticed your subtle corrections, especially if they haven’t encountered many people who use they/them pronouns before. And if they did notice but have a negative response to a more direct correction… well, that’s data for you to consider in your interactions with them.

      Also, any chance you can change the name that appears on the schedule? Even by just crossing it out and writing in the correct one? That’s gotta be frustrating for Rob and confusing for other folks in the workplace.

    2. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I think you should speak to Rob first. It is possible that, being the newest person, they don’t want to immediately risk a confrontation with the Big Bosses.

      1. LunaLena*

        This is what I thought too. Maybe they don’t want to risk a confrontation, but it’s also possible that it isn’t that big of a deal to Rob. I hate my first name with a fiery passion and go by my middle name, and while I cringe every time someone uses it (like at the doctor’s office; it happens often even though I have my middle name logged as my preferred name), it’s just a tiny blip on my radar.

        I would talk to Rob first, and then assure them that you are ready to go to bat for them if the name issue is or gets uncomfortable for them.

        1. quirkypants*

          I just want to caution that for folks who are trans or non-binary it often moves beyond just a name they don’t like.

          By using the wrong name and wrong pronoun it can feel like you’re constantly being misgendered, constantly being told you’re not “really” a man, a woman, or non-binary person. It can go far beyond what cis/non-trans folks can understand.

          It is possible they will not want to make a big deal out of it but it could be for their physical safety, fear of discrimination or harrassment, etc. Things that you wouldn’t even need to worry about if you corrected people to use a different name.

          I know your comment was well-meaning but I thought it was worth the OP and others reading about WHY misgendering is way different than just using a name someone doesn’t prefer.

    3. Not Me*

      I would definitely be more direct. Depending on where you’re located there might be laws protecting Rob’s gender identity and your managers could be running afoul of them.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Presumably you know this about Rob because they told you. I’d be more direct with the folks up the food chain and see about getting the schedule name changed. If this is also something that needs to be changed with payroll, then I’d find out how to do that, too.

    4. fposte*

      Is there a reason why Rob’s name can’t be Rob on the schedule? It seems unusual to have a “legal names only” policy. And if your pseudonyms are analogous, it may feel more to the other managers like somebody who’s moving to “Liz” from “Elizabeth,” where it’s a nickname thing, not a deadname thing.

      I do think you could correct them in the moment now and then by saying matter-of-factly that Rob’s pronouns are they and them, remember, and we’ll all get better at that with practice. But I think also you’re right to consider how much confrontation makes sense here, since there’s a risk to Rob as well as you if managers’ first thought about them is associated with friction. So make sure there’s plenty of other communication to balance it out–and understand that it’s not likely you’ll get complete success on this.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        It might be software related, if the scheduling software is part of the payroll software.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            One would hope. I know several women whose IT departments “couldn’t” change their email after they divorced & went back to their birth names. And some whose IT departments set up the email as hyphenated last names even though they weren’t. Having a screen-display name that doesn’t match your naming-convention email address is the pits.

            1. Clever Name*

              Funny how that works. I bet that same system has no problem changing a birth name to a married name, though.

              I had such a tough time reverting to my original name in many cases. Some places just took my word for it, but other places wanted a certified copy of my divorce decree. They wouldn’t accept my current drivers license!

              1. Qwerty*

                If it makes you feel better, I know of plenty of women who had the same issue going from birth name to married name.

                Then there’s the friend who got married a month into her job and tried warning IT to just set up her account under the married name. They couldn’t because the system had to use the name on her hiring paperwork and she hadn’t changed it yet. For months after getting married, she struggled with IT to get them to change her name in the system but they couldn’t. By the time IT fixed it, she was filing for divorce and had to start the name change process all over again.

        1. RetailManager*

          fposte, to That Girl from QAuinn’s House’s point, if their scheduling software is tied to payroll they will definitely not be able to change the name. I recently asked our HR department on behalf of a trans employee who has not been able to get their legal name changed yet. Because our scheduling system is tied to the one for payroll, and the payroll system uses the name tied to our SSNs, we can’t change their name. We have settled for whiteout and writing in their proper name, with said employee’s consent.

    5. Dittany*

      I’d be direct. For a lot of people, the concept of gender variance is barely on their radars; they might not know that what they’re doing is inappropriate. Be polite but matter-of-fact, as if OF COURSE they would never be so disrespectful as to deliberately misgender an employee.

      You might even present it in the context of updating Rob’s employee file to show the correct name and gender, which would kill two birds with one stone.

    6. Joielle*

      I don’t think you need to make a scene (yet), but start by correcting them every time they use the wrong name or pronouns.

      “Roberta said to me -”
      “It’s Rob. Anyways, Rob said what to you?”

      “She’s going to -”
      “They. They’re going to do what?”

      Don’t worry about interrupting – just jump in, make a quick correction, and get the conversation back on track. That might be all it takes… your managers might decide that using the correct name and pronouns is easier than being corrected ten times a day. And if/when Rob overhears this, I think it’ll mean a lot to them that you’re trying.

      And yeah, there’s gotta be a way to get the schedule corrected. I’d push pretty hard on that to whoever makes the schedule. It’s a software issue and we don’t know how to change it? Great, what’s the tech support number so I can call and figure it out? Or, like LizB said, can you physically cross out, or white out, the deadname and rewrite the correct name?

      1. Qwerty*

        If it’s a software issue, there’s seems to be a correlation between the start of a new year and name changes. I think it may have something to do with open enrollment for healthcare gives them a window when it is safe to delete and recreate an employee profile if the software doesn’t allow for changing the name.

      2. quirkypants*

        Great suggestions.

        Another approach I’ve used is to play dumb… Harder to do with a superior but when they say the wrong the name, stop them and say, “Roberta? Who?” Or if they say “she”, say, “Wait, she? I thought we were talking about Rob?” “Oh, you meant Rob? I got confused when you used the wrong pronoun/name.”

    7. quirkypants*

      In terms of the employee schedule, I’d see if you can directly call the folks who manage the schedule software and ask them if there is a way to change the display name.

      I’ve worked places where this was done when legal names don’t match up to people’s chosen names, the most common example has been employees who use a different name after immigrating, i.e. adopting an “English” name in daily life.

  18. Eukomos*

    So I made a real rookie mistake yesterday in the job search. Applied for a job that is outside my current industry, and sent them my normal resume…which says I’m looking for work in my current industry. The cover letter has the right business/industry/job title on it, but the resume was clearly not tailored. Would emailing them and saying “I uploaded the wrong resume, please use this other one instead” help, or would it just draw attention to the mistake?

    1. Ditherr*

      I think a quick, matter-of-fact correction that explains the reason (“please refer to this updated resume; I inadvertently submitted an older version that doesn’t reflect my interest to switch industries. I regret the error.”) can’t hurt, if you think it really looks *wrong*, like in your statement/objective line or something.

      1. Eukomos*

        Yeah, it’s part of the profile section. Probably better than looking like I didn’t notice. Attention to detail was never going to be my strongest argument for my candidacy anyway, I guess.

  19. Anon for this*

    Can a person learn how to bill Medicaid from scratch – with no previous insurance billing experience?
    Our biller left without notice, and my boss thinks I can learn to do all the billing. I will try but am doubtful.

    1. Antilles*

      I seriously doubt it. I do other government invoicing (not Medicaid billing) and it’s just a pain to pick up. There’s just too many finicky details, specific formatting, back-and-forth discussions, etc that needs to be done. If your boss was cool with a steep learning curve and getting bills rejected regularly for a few months while you figured out all the paperwork, maybe, but I kinda doubt that.
      Especially not if (as I’m interpreting this), you will just be doing this as an additional duty. If you were directly shifted into billing, could have the company send you to training, then spend 40 hours a week trying to figure it out, then maybe…but not if you’re just trying to squeeze it in. Why do you think your company was previously employing a billing specialist in the first place?

      1. yay november*

        I agree with this. If the boss is fine with not getting the money, then by all means. But otherwise, this is something that is a skill that you’ll have to learn and that will take time, and it would be better if your job hired someone who already knew how to do it. And if you’re just going to do it along with everything else you’re doing, thus not giving you time to gain expertise? Uh.

        1. The Blue Marble*

          I do Medicaid billing and I agree that there is a steep learning curve and TONS of billing rules that you will need to learn. Compound that with the fact that you have to have knowledge of general insurance billing such as the billing forms, medical coding, revenue codes, provider information, individual patient insurance coverage detail, secondary insurance billing (which can be different for each individual payer), and learning a brand new software including how to work denials, send appeals, corrected claims. I would be very leery of this. In fact, my new Medicaid billing staff are often on extended probation for 6 months just due to all of the above.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I mean, not quickly, and probably not without a trainer. There’s reasons we’re specialists with certifications.

    3. Art3mis*

      There are classes you can taking on medical coding. Usually doctors offices want people with certifications and experience for those types of jobs though. Messing it up can cause problems and delays in claims being paid. As someone who processes claims for a health care insurance carrier, I would heavily advise against not having a trained coder/biller do this. We sometimes get claims that are clearly done by an independent Dr (usually a therapist it seems) trying to save money and they are often not done right and have to be denied or returned.

    4. Dittany*

      It’s doable? The main skills you need are:

      – Knowledge of the major code sets – ICD-10 and HCPCS – and basic billing concepts. A good memory for really, really similar-sounding acronyms also helps. You don’t need to know all of that by heart, but you need to know enough about them to know where to look for answers.
      – Being willing to ask stupid questions, and not taking it personally when the Medicaid rep you’re talking to sounds like your idiocy has made them lose the will to live.

      That said, it’s going to be a VERY steep learning curve, especially if there’s no one else in the office with insurance billing experience. Your boss needs to suck it up and hire a new biller.

      If that’s not possible, get them to spring for a training course on billing and coding. (If they push back on that, politely remind them that there’s a reason why most billing jobs require a CPC certification or similar.) Check out your local community college or trade school; you can also take supplemental training courses via AAPC (American Association of Professional Coders) or one of the other trade organizations, like AHIMA. I’d also go into the forums and see if you can connect with someone who’s familiar with whatever state’s Medicaid you’re dealing with, since it can vary wildly from state to state.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thanks to all for confirming my suspicions. I would be doing it as overtime on Saturdays. I will see what plays out, do what I can, and start looking elsewhere the first of the year. It’s a well-meaning but dysfunctional place. We don’t even have an EMR system.

      2. Antilles*

        The most important skill check is the boss: His willingness to have claims go unpaid (i.e., no money coming in!) for weeks and months while Medicaid keeps rejecting your invoices since you didn’t do it correctly.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My friend is an educational intervention therapist (PT/OT/SLP) and her district bills to Medicaid. She and all the other therapists have to learn how to do this on the job, though she’d only be billing the services she provided so that might be different than running billing for someone else.

    6. WellRed*

      If you mess up billing Medicaid, your company can be on the hook for thousands in the event of an audit.

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

        I’d also be afraid of accusations of fraud if they just even suspect you’re billing for services not rendered — which would be easy to do if you aren’t aware of codes and procedures.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          Yes. Proceed with caution, OP, for all the reasons above. Industries vary, and some might not be that complicated. If, however, you are in the long term care business I would not touch this with a 39 and 1/2 foot pole.

    7. HRAssist86*

      I learned from scratch. There are plenty of free online materials- even Medicare has a step by step guide on how to submit CMS-1500 claim forms.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        “How to submit forms” and “how to complete forms in a manner that is accurate, will stand up to audit and will get you paid” are totally different beasts. I’ve been doing this professionally for fifteen years and there’s still aspects of it I’m not 100% positive on.

  20. Ditherr*

    Dual-career academic couples: I want your tips! My spouse and I are considering making a big move out of a major city to somewhere closer to our families, that still has a lot of universities nearby. How do you time who applies to which position(s) first? What makes it “worth it”, in your opinion, to upend your life for a much-desired change of scenery?

    1. Hope*

      Honestly, you just both apply everywhere. Whoever gets something worth moving for first is what you go with. If you’re lucky, maybe the university has another position open they can refer the spouse to. Given how long academic hiring can take, there’s no way to easily time your searches together.

      Exceptions: –If one of you is a rockstar in your field, maybe let them be the first applying.
      –If one of you has tenure and can have that tenure confirmed in a new position, go with that.

      My spouse and I were very lucky that a practically perfect position for me opened at spouse’s university a year after we got married, and I was able to apply and get it (before that, I had an hour commute). We’re insanely lucky it happened that way, and it did help that we’re in different fields, because no way would two positions have opened up at the same location in either of the fields we’re in. If you’re going to a place with multiple universities, the odds are definitely more in your favor.

    2. deesse877*

      If one of you is or presents as a woman, that person should go first, regardless of other factors, because otherwise the institutional and social forces pushing her into “trailing spouse” status are nigh irresistible, ESPECIALLY at smaller and regional schools. If both of you are or present as women, whoever has the rougher job market should go first.

      The principles behind this advice are (a) general liberal feminism, obviously, and (b) a strong sense that the smaller and less metropolitan an institution gets, the more socially conservative it is. In my experience, (b) holds true even for high-prestige schools and ones with strong countercultural vibes.

      For what it’s worth, obviously; good luck in any case.

      1. deesse877*

        To be clear, I’m pretty sure my advice holds even where spouses are employed at different institutions. THe cultural programming is that strong.

  21. Anxious Anon*

    Interactions of work and personal: my friend got fired yesterday, and it’s really freaking me out.

    We work for the same company, but in totally different departments, locations, job duties, etc. We were friends before this job, and I encouraged her to apply to this company. She hasn’t actually told me what happened, but it might have something to do with an accusation of harassment? And I’m just super anxious about it, for some reason. I’ll see her tomorrow (we had a girls day planned anyway) and hear more then, but it’s really hard to get out of my head. It is VERY hard to fire someone in this company, so either the accusation was founded (which would be shocking to me given all my experiences of her), or she was well down the progressive discipline path already and didn’t tell me (which would be her right, obvi). I’m just spiraling a bit. It’s a weird day.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m sorry you’re feeling awful and that your friend got fired. Since you already have a planned get together, I think the best thing you can do right now is to not allow yourself to speculate and beat yourself up with worry. You are going to get more information tomorrow, so in the meantime there’s no use in borrowing trouble.

      I know that’s not always easy and you can’t just logic yourself into feeling better, but here’s a silly technique I like to do when something I can’t do anything about is bothering me. I visualize putting the intrusive thought/feeling in a box, closing the lid, and putting that box away on a shelf. If I start to think about it, I tell myself “nope, that feeling is packed away. I will take the box down and address it later, but right now it is on the shelf so I’m not going to feel that/worry about it right now.”

      It’s super silly but I’ve found it helpful. I hope everything is ok with your friend and that you have a calm rest of your day!

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I’m sorry your friend was fired. Maybe texting her before your day out would help you.
      A ‘girls’ day’ sounds good but plan ahead of time to end it early if you have to. In the end, this is her problem to deal with. You can support her but not past the point it’s affecting your health or peace of mind.
      I hope things work out in the best possible way for you both.

    3. Kathenus*

      Not meaning to add to your stress on this, but be cautious about how you balance being a friend to her related to the firing (not the being her friend in general) and being an employee of the company. You can be a friend and be there for her, but it’s easy to fall into the trap that being ‘for’ her means being ‘against’ your company. Try to keep your work life and friendship as separate as possible right now so that you don’t inadvertently end up in a bad place with your management – to avoid a perception that you are taking sides in any way.

      1. hermit crab*

        This exactly – but it can be so, so hard. A couple years ago my long-time friend (who I had recruited to come work at the company years before; everyone knew we were BFFs) was laid off from the firm where we both worked. It wasn’t a firing, but the message from management was “Hermit Crab and Friend have very similar skill sets; we can only keep one of you and we’re choosing Hermit Crab.” Talk about survivor’s guilt, especially since I was already planning to leave.

        My advice is to be kind to yourself! Of course it’s best to support your friend while also remaining professional w/r/t work – but don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard to strike that delicate balance.

    4. Qwerty*

      Some people don’t realize that they are on the path to being fired. Be aware that you likely won’t be getting the full story from her, just as much of her perspective that she’s willing to share/vent about. It can be hard to find the middle ground of being supportive of your friend without turning against your company.

      It may also be a good idea to text her to see if she still wants to meet up for the girls day? Allow her the option to back out if she needs to be alone right now, or to hang out and talk about it or hang out and *not* talk about it.

  22. dealing with dragons*

    New project manager keeps scheduling meetings after 5pm for the next day’s morning. Last night he scheduled a 9:30am meeting at nearly 7pm. My first normal meeting is at 10am, so generally after 5 I assume no new morning meetings. None of them are urgent or make or break the project.

    I am addressing it but just want to validate that it’s not normal lol

    1. rayray*

      Poor planning and communication is definitely common, but should not be the norm, nor should people be expected to just smile and go along with it. I think it might be a good idea to say something, and be sure to point out that when it’s scheduled that late, people might not see it till they’re just getting in for work the day of that morning meeting and won’t be prepared.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I try to avoid it, but sometimes I (a PM) get contacted late in the day by some other project stakeholder who wants a meeting at a certain time, or it’s the only time that works the next day for the whole group of people that need to get together to discuss a new hot issue. 9:30 doesn’t sound terrible, unless you have a special schedule. If it was 7 am, I’d be annoyed, but I assume you get there at 8 or 8:30 and have time to see the notice prior to meeting time, and they aren’t asking you to prep something new for the meeting. My most recent project sponsor liked to start things at 7:00 or 7:30 am and would text you if you had not joined the call by 6:59.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I usually show up at around 9 or 9:30, which most of his office (he is in Toronto) does as well due to the trains. It’s mostly that the email came after business hours for a first thing meeting for something non urgent.

    3. S-Mart*

      It depends on the working hours expectations of the company. Here it wouldn’t be all that unusual. We’re expected to be in the office as of 9:00 am. So long as the meeting didn’t require any prep work on my behalf, I wouldn’t even bat an eye at coming in to a meeting notice for 30 minutes after I start.

      1. yay november*

        Same. The only times it would bug me is if it were for my exact start time, because something my computer or Outlook has delays in starting up, so I might be 10 minutes late to a meeting I didn’t know about.

      2. dealing with dragons*

        working hours are 9ish-5 for this office, 9:30 to 4:30 for his office (toronto public transportation). It’s really less the time and more that it was sent with no warning or agenda at 7pm the night before, so even if I was in at 9 I would have no way to be prepared with the lack of context.

    4. yay november*

      This wouldn’t be abnormal here. If you’re already got a working relationship with him (you’re on a project together) and he can see your calendar that you’re free, and it’s during your working hours, putting something on someone else’s calendar isn’t a big deal here. But in my place, that meeting would be virtual or in the same building or campus, so it’s not like someone is putting on my calendar for me to go across town on no notice.

    5. ChachkisGalore*

      Really depends on the company/culture. One place I worked this would be completely normal, however that place was very clear that after hours connectivity was expected (and they compensated employees accordingly/provided appropriate benefits). Roughly – anything that came up via email in waking hours (6am-10pmish) would be expected to have been seen. It wasn’t expected that everything be addressed, but it was expected that emails were at least monitored for time sensitive items. The meeting content might not be time sensitive but the fact the meeting was scheduled for early the next morning, as long as it was within normal office hours, would be considered time sensitive (if that makes sense…)

      My current company – it would not be normal. If an early morning meeting was absolutely required, but not scheduled until after office hours I would expect a direct call/text message and even then, if I did not acknowledge or directly confirm that I would be at the early meeting I would probably not be “blamed” for missing the meeting.

      Sounds like your office is definitely in the not normal camp, but this PM might be coming from a place where it was normal. He needs to adjust, obviously, but this can be normal so I wouldn’t be too hard on them (at first – if they continue to do this, then they’re being obtuse or a jerk).

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      What I am caught on is the 10am start time . I wouldn’t give it a second thought scheduling someone for a 9:30am meeting even pretty late at night the day before because I would expect them to see the 9:30am meeting when they got in at 7:30 (or 8 or even 8:30am). If you have something very specific that means that your morning is blocked, that is unusual and I think you have to call their attention to that. Now, I do feel quite a bit differently when people schedule me for very early meetings (think 7am or even 7:30) late the night before.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        Its not that I *have* a 10 am start time, it’s that it’s my first meeting on Friday.

        And while I am a morning person, I use that time for exercise and dog-taking-care of, so I get in later than what is apparently the norm for you. I get in at a reasonable time for my office, and a lot of it had to do with it being Halloween.

        There was also no agenda for the meeting and as far as I could tell was just a whim he decided needed discussed outside of our already outstanding 1pm meeting every day.

    7. KR*

      Nope not norm in my experience. And it’s a pain in the butt especially with flex work hours. What if I’m not stressing about the clock this morning because as far as I’m aware I don’t have meetings, so I’m not in early enough to attend or be prepared? People like your coworker are the reason I put my work email/calendar on my cell phone and always bring my work laptop home just in case

  23. Sharkie*

    Just venting…… I finally took a personal day today. Yesterday my Boss came to me and told me I had to come in this morning because he forgot about a doctor’s appointment……. OYE

    1. rayray*

      That just doesn’t seem fair at all. What if your personal day involved important matters, just as important as a doctor’s appointment? I don’t suggest sassing your boss, but it would be nice to be able to use the line “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.

    2. Mop Head*

      That is not just unfair but completely unprofessional on the part of your boss. Is your personal day being replaced?

        1. WellRed*

          Did you ask for a different day? I wonder what he would have said if you had told him, “I have a dr’s appointment, too?”

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Channel your inner Alison and tell him you’re going to retake take it –or the # hours you had to cover — in a tone that reflects absolute ‘OF COURSE’ this is happening, because it’s so obviously the right thing to do to get it comped quickly. And I’d say “…this coming week, does Tuesday or Thursday work better for you?” , using a choice-of-tw phrasing.

  24. Matilda Jefferies*

    Looking for tips and/or resources on meeting facilitation, especially when the meeting members are at the senior management level.

    I did a presentation yesterday for a handful of SVPs. It went fine, but there was a lot of chitchat that I would have liked to control a bit better, as we ran out of time for some of the points where I actually needed their input. Their conversations weren’t necessarily off-topic, just that each of them went on a minute or two longer than I had anticipated – which adds up, over the course of an hour-long presentation.

    So I’ve already figured out that I need to revise the content (less overview, get directly to the questions), and allow more time for each point. I can figure out the content, and I have no problem with nerves or public speaking – I just need some help with the facilitation part. (For context, I’m a program manager, and I’ve been with the organization about two months. One of the SVPs is my grandboss, who I have a good relationship with, and I’ve met the others a handful of times.)

    TL;DR – how do I control the conversation during a presentation to senior management, while still keeping the tone friendly and informal?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Throw the agenda and the clock under the bus.

      – “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to stop you there because we’re a bit pressed for time.”
      – “That’s a good point, and we’ll be discussing that in a few moments during another agenda item.”
      – “Shoot, clearly I should have allotted more time for this agenda item. Can we move the conversation offline now, though, and get back on track, thanks!”
      – “I want to be respectful of your time and wrap up the meeting in schedule. Let’s move on to the next item. If we have more to discuss, let’s bring it to e-mail going forward.”

      Toss a couple of “sorry”s in there if you want to for social nicety, maybe. I’m sure you can see the line between being gently self-deprecating versus opening a door to allowing the attendees to blame you for failing to keep the meeting on track.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I am a senior person. It is helpful for me to know at the outset what the goal is, otherwise I’m left guessing and trying to answer questions and provide input, or worse, because I don’t know what the target is, I can’t pick out what is important and what isn’t. So start the meeting with a quick — “We’re here because we need to get a decision on the teapot size requirements.” Also — let the decision makers ask questions. Almost invariably people provide me with information that they think is important to the decision, but it isn’t and they drown me in irrelevant detail. If what you want is a decision — let the decision makers tell you want information they need.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Oh, that’s helpful – thanks! I did start with the agenda, but I didn’t highlight those key parts. If I had started with “I need your input on the size requirements and the glazing strategies I’ve developed, but first we need to take ten minutes to go over the project plan,” would that have helped?

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          Yes, start by very specifically telling me what decision you want from me. I note that as a senior person I pay zero attention as the meeting organizer rattles off the agenda. Instead say, my name and what decision is needed to grab my attention. All that said my next question would have been “why we need to take ten minutes to go over the project plan”? Again, tell me why we have to do that. My time and focus are being pulled in a million different directions and I don’t have time for a lot of presentation.

  25. Lana Kane*

    I’m a supervisor, with a manager who reports directly to a VP. We used to have a couple of layers between Manager and VP, but when those two people moved on to other roles the positions were not filled. Manager now is fulfilling all of these roles, which means they have a very full plate.

    I am one of 3 supervisors, and in terms of tenure in the dept, the most senior. Because of Manager’s schedule, there are gaps in operational oversight because they used to handle those. I have no problem with how Manager has been trying to balance all of this, and I like working with them. The issue is, the gaps are still there. I can handle some of them, but I start to worry I’m overstepping when I do just handle them (for my teams only, not other supervisors’ teams).

    I’ve brought this up and asked, “How can I help?” and “Am I overstepping?”I get vague answers about how they trust me, but nothing concrete. I’m still left wondering when I’m overstepping and when I’m ok to act. Since I can’t get an answer, any ideas on how to balance this so that operational needs are met, but I’m not wildly out of my lane?

    1. Kathenus*

      I’d suggest a more strategic approach. For the gaps that you can/want to handle, suggest to your manager that they become your responsibility so that it’s clear that you will be handling them versus worrying about whether it’s OK or not. That’s if you want to do so and can fit it into your workload (or re-prioritize other tasks to do so). So instead of filling the gaps on a case by case basis, try to establish task assignments for the gaps so that everyone knows how they are being handled in the new staffing reality.

  26. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

    I have a question about scientific writing. I hope it’s OK to post it on a Friday: at least for me, it’s work!

    I have been told a few times to avoid using semicolons, but the advice usually comes from other non-native English speakers, so I need a confirmation that this is true. I do use it quite a bit, both because in my native language is common and because, in scientific writing, sentences tend to become very long and complex; a semicolon* helps breaking the complexity. Opinions? Is semicolon really to be avoided at all costs? I will appreciate the input of creative writers also, even though scientific writing is a different animal.

    *see what I did there? :3

    1. fposte*

      I’m a native English speaker and I love semicolons. However, I have to be thoughtful about their use, because they generally make sentences really long, and if they don’t, they create a structure that can irritate upon repetition. So I try not to do two semicolon-ed together sentences in a row and I check to keep the length of those sentences down.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        This is what I have been doing, and I am also writing shorter and simpler sentences, since the subject itself is already complicated. But I was curious to hear the opinion of native speakers!

      2. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

        There are absolutely times when a semicolon is the perfect thing to use. As fposte noted, you have to be careful that you aren’t making your sentence too long and complicated, but I can think of no reason to implement an outright ban on them.

        I mean, I do mostly newswriting, a form of writing in which semicolons are fairly uncommon. But even in newswriting, they are still used.

    2. Sharkie*

      What format are you using?

      I found the semicolon helpful so it might just be a personal style preference.

    3. Sleepy*

      Avoid using semicolons? I’ve never heard that advice, and I’m a native English speaker.

      In some types of work writing, especially writing intended for the public, it’s good practice to avoid long, complex sentences in the first place, so there would be no need to use semicolons. I’m not sure this would apply scientific writing though.

      Overall, my advice would be to be sure that you are using them correctly; as long as you are, I see no problem.

    4. The Grammarian*

      It’s better to use shorter sentences that don’t require semicolons, unless this is scientific writing for a scholarly journal.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        I am indeed writing a paper for an academic journal! Which is what makes it so confusing, because I know different rules apply here. Also, since authors are from all over the world, reading many paper is not always helpful, as it is not always obvious to me who is writing with proper grammar and who is not. I personally find papers written in very short sentences difficult to read, because it makes causal relationships more difficult to see. But that could well be because it’s a very different style to what I’m used to!

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          When the causal links get confusing, or you’re unsure what the object/subject of a sentence is anymore, it’s typically because the author has used too many pronouns in consecutive sentences. For English speakers, long sentences get frustrating because we tend to think of a sentence as a single thought. If that thought goes on for too long, it’s hard to hold onto it and you can lose the meaning.

    5. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

      They’re not to be avoided at all costs, but they’re frequently overused imo. In a lot of cases you should just use a conjunction (which is what I would do in your example, personally) or bite the bullet and commit to a hard stop. It’s kind of a wishy-washy punctuation mark, I think, because you’re trying to tie two independent clauses together without going so far as to specify what their relationship actually is.

    6. yay november*

      Native English speaker: I love semi-colons! However, there might be an underlying issue where your sentence is already long and confusing, so adding a semi-colon might be a sign to just break the sentence into pieces for clarity.

    7. anonhere*

      Semicolons are perfectly good punctuation! When used correctly; that’s the tricky part. The previous sentence is an example of correct usage. I’m not sure I can explain very well; I don’t actually remember much of the technical terminology for grammar. However, using a comma instead of a semicolon in the previous sentence would *not* have been correct; that’s called a “comma splice” and it’s terrible grammar. Basically (if I recall correctly) a semicolon should be interchangeable with a period (full stop) but *not* a comma or colon.

      If it’s not presumptuous to offer another bit of grammar advice? “helps breaking the complexity” is perfectly understandable, but not correct for formal situations; “helps reduce the complexity” would be the way to put it in formal writing such as reports or dissertations, and “helps break up the complexity” is fine for less formal situations.

      By the way, this post has used a *lot* more semicolons in rapid succession than I would ever recommend to a creative writer, but I don’t know whether or not repetition is an issue in more technical writing.

      Good luck with whatever you’re doing! I didn’t appreciate how much of a pain English is until I started studying a *logical* language.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Your second piece of advice (much appreciated, BTW) is the core of the issue: writing an academic paper is a very specific task which requires very specific language. I read a lot of book in English, and I read a lot of papers too, of course. But I feel like I haven’t learned anything from those papers: there’s too many different styles, too many different nationalities, journals have different language standards, and sometimes perfect clarity can come with not-so-perfect grammar. I have noticed that my originally British English has been changed by the interaction with so many non-native speakers, and I am not sure of the rules anymore.

        As an aside, I also agree with your last sentence: it’s surprising, how English is easy if you stick to the basics, and becomes incredibly complex if you go deeper. I also recently studied a new language, which on-paper has a more complex grammar, but I found it so much easier to learn!

      2. Qwerty*

        A semicolon is not interchangeable with a period. They are for that awkward space when you need something stronger than a comma but without the full-stop that a period has. The Grammarly blog has a good explanation with examples.

        If your scientific papers are intended for an international audience, it is worth considering that your current usage makes it difficult for non-native speakers to read. At that point it doesn’t really matter what the threshold is for “proper” English. If it is too many for your readers to understand than it is obscuring your content, which is the more important item.

    8. Yorick*

      I’m a native English speaker and I write (social) science reports and do use semicolons. But I also try to keep sentences short (2 lines or less if possible), so I’ll often split it into 2 sentences instead.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I have randomly opened a copy of Science News and a Scientific American Special Collection: no semicolons. As others have suggested, I think it reflects an attempt to make the piece easier to read by breaking up long sentences.

      Who is giving you the advice? Because I expect it’s not random passersby–if it’s people who are supposed to give feedback on your writing, then this is akin to being told the house style is free of semicolons.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        It’s not the editors (yet), just some of my colleagues, including some senior ones, and I heard it around as well. But don’t worry: I have no intention of going off to war with senior scientists over the use of semicolon :)
        I have followed their advice and edited many of my semicolons, my question was more out of curiosity. I have encountered semicolons in other papers, but I am not sure if it can be an influence of the authors’ native language. Some American authors use them, though!

        1. The Grammarian*

          Perhaps you should check the APA style guidelines, or whatever style guide your workplace/school follows?

        2. Not a cat*

          I write technical (as in software) whitepapers, help files and other documentation. I use semicolons but not a great deal. Several years ago an editor on my team (who is also an adjunct english lit prof) declared war on the semicolon. Every peer-edit became an argument

    10. deesse877*

      This advice often circulates among second-language speakers, and as others have pointed out, it’s not really valid advice from an academic perspective. It can indeed be good advice in some business contexts, journalism, PR and so on, because it means the text will be clear even to inexpert or distracted readers. Your colleagues may simply be extending the advice from another context, or they may have internalized the idea that it’s somehow “foreign” (and indeed, you do note that it’s partially a carryover from your first language). But honestly, one main reason the advice survives is that it’s so simple to implement, and many writing problems are not that easy to fix. If you’re sure that your usage is within norms set by native speakers in your field, go for it.

      1. Queen of the File*

        I think the plain language advice is spreading because, even outside of fields that write specifically for the general public, we are becoming more inclusive of a variety of reader experiences. Avoiding long, complex sentences in informational writing is helpful if people are in a hurry, reading on a screen, etc.–even if the reader is an expert.

    11. OlympiasEpiriot*

      People who have had to rely on MSWord’s grammar suggestions for improving their writing seem to be mostly in technical fields. MSWord hates semicolons and the passive voice. I long ago turned off the grammar checker after it underlined about 80% of a report I wrote: It hated my compound sentences, my terminal commas, my use of the passive voice when describing what happened to soil samples (NO way to put that in the active, so sorry!), kept correcting British English in quotations, and didn’t like my industry-specific jargon. I needed to be able to distinguish the spellchecker notifications from everything else.

      Personally, I love semicolons; however, I also choose to read Henrys Fielding (18th C.) and James (19th C.) when I’m ill enough to be in bed but not ill enough to sleep for 24 hours.

    12. Liane*

      Native (USA) English speaker, Zoology BS. My lab TAs/professors didn’t say not to use semicolons when talking about scientific writing; nor did my English teachers/professors. ( But I don’t recall seeing them in the medical transcriptions I edited.) However, as others mentioned, it’s hard to know when to use them–even when you are a native speaker–because it’s not really taught beyond, “Semicolons are sort of used like periods but much less often.” That might be why your non-native colleagues suggest not using semicolons.

    13. texpat*

      Native English speaker with a bachelor’s in English and creative writing (but no scientific writing experience–except reading over my STEM major friends’ lab reports). Semicolons are fine. Some people have a bias against them, like the English teacher I had in high school who banned them from his classroom, but as long as you’re using them correctly, they are absolutely fine. You need to watch out for clumps of very long and dense sentences, of course, but you’d need to do that anyway, semicolons or not.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      Review Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” on semicolons to make sure you’re using them correctly. Then observe any additional rules that your boss/prof/editor/industry is demanding. Other than that, write as you please! ;)

    15. Goldfinch*

      I would base my writing on 1.) the style guide the journal follows, and 2.) some sample pieces from previous volumes of the journal. Can you look up old copies on JSTOR or Sci-Hub?

      I’m currently working on a white paper for ASCE, and I went straight to their website for the style manual put out by their codes and standards committee.

    16. Amy Sly*

      Semicolons are useful for combining independent clauses when you either don’t want the complete separation of thoughts caused by simply ending the clause with the sentence or don’t want to use one of the coordinating conjunctions — and, so, but, yet, or, for, nor — to combine the two thoughts. They tend to work best to break up a series of lengthy sentences with the occasional short concept. Used too often, they lose their punch, and so the rule I was taught was no more than once every double-spaced page; that’s roughly 250 words.

    17. Close Bracket*

      I am a scientist and scientific editor! I understand completely. My advice is that for scientific writing, err on the side of shorter sentences. I do use semicolons in my own writing and in editing the writing of others, but I think they are actually best used when joining two short-to-medium sentences. In fact, the way you used one is perfect! The first clause is long is and complex; the second clause is short and to the point. And look what I did!

      1. StillAChemist*

        Native Engliah speaker + chem PhD + currently also writing a journal submission: I love semicolons and my old advisor pushed hard for me to go to simpler sentences. I now use the semicolon in submission writing only when critical or when it improves clarity. Although scientific writing has been very sense/hard to follow, historically, I think for the newer generations the trend is to make it easier to understand.

    18. Platypus Enthusiast*

      I don’t think you should stop using semicolons altogether, but I think it’s important to be aware of how often you’re using them. I was proofreading a classmate’s paper (which was sort of a rough draft for her thesis project), and I distinctly remember looking at one “paragraph” that was actually just 2 very long sentences with semicolons. I think if it’s possible to use break it down into two shorter sentences, you should. But sometimes, semicolons just work better. Best of luck writing and submitting!

    19. msgumby*

      Technical editor in scientific peer review here. Semicolons are very useful and oh so common in the reports I read. Don’t hesitate to use a semicolon, if appropriate.

    20. lost academic*

      I’m a native speaker and have written in industry, policy, government and academia.

      If you’re using a semicolon quite a bit, the chances are good that your sentences are longer than they should be. Once you’ve written a paragraph, page, or section, revisit the text and look at those long sentences, especially when you have a semicolon there. Consider how to break the sentence into more than one. The semicolon is fine when used correctly but it tends to get overused and reduces clarity.

    21. Clever Name*

      I do a lot of scientific technical writing and use semicolons often. I love semicolons; they are my favorite punctuation mark. ;)

    22. LilySparrow*

      I like them and use them frequently, to the point that I have to take a few out to avoid overusing the same sentence structures.

      The general trend in contemporary writing is toward shorter, simpler sentences. This is a stylistic fashion or convention. It’s not a grammar rule.

      Using semicolons will make your writing sound more formal or slightly old-fashioned. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends what you’re going for.

    23. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I like semicolons, and use them regularly, or possibly overuse them, in my own writing. It isn’t always or inherently “wrong” to use them–or any established punctuation mark.

      That said, even if you agree to minimize semicolons, a “no semicolons at all” rule may get you in trouble, because one place semicolons are used is in lists, when some of the list items already have commas.

      For example, here is a list of cities: London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and New Paltz. It uses no semicolons. If someone flagged “New Paltz” with “where’s that?” the rewrite would use semicolons: London; Paris; Rome; Amsterdam; and New Paltz, NY.

      In general, I would trust native speakers of a language on questions of this sort, especially if the non-native speakers are saying things like “my teacher said not to use semicolons” or “it’s just ungrammatical” rather than “please don’t use a lot of semicolons, they’re confusing.”

    24. Uhtceare*

      Native English speaker here… I do a lot of writing at an intersection of law and science. I like semicolons. I also like short sentences. Both have their uses.

      In your example, I wouldn’t use a semicolon. I’d break the sentence up instead. And though it’s been my experience that scientific sentences can become long and unwieldy, it’s also been my experience that there’s always a way to edit them down. However, sometimes shortening individual sentences requires adding more words overall, or requires that you completely restructure your thought. (Sometimes that’s a good thing; flipping the subject and object can do wonders!)

      My rule of thumb: consider shortening a sentence if that sentence covers more than 4 lines (of a letter page with normal margins). If the sentence is five lines or more, shorten it by any means necessary. Very, very few readers want to read something that they have to think through before thinking about.

    25. Hamburke*

      I use semicolons but they aren’t used in a lot of American writing – I get called out for the novelty of using them. They are barely taught in American schools, to be honest. I agree with whoever said that they are wishy-washy punctuation – if you want to be more clear (which is often the goal of science writing), use separate sentences, a conjunction or transition words.

  27. Mouse*

    What’s a good title for an executive assistant moving into a more strategic, project-management, “support and drive the priorities of the business as directed by the CEO” kind of role?

    1. Kevin*

      I was hired as a contract technical writer and then offered a full-time job basically doing whatever tasks the CEO and COO wanted me to do and they gave me the job of “special projects coordinator.” Which I’m not sure means anything but okay.

      1. OtterB*

        I like this. I work in higher education, not business, but I have coordinated some projects with people who have titles like “Special Assistant to the Dean” and it carries the implication that the person will be actively engaged in the details of projects the dean wants to see accomplished.

        1. Dorothy Zbornak*

          yes, I work as a special assistant to a VP at a university and this is pretty close to what I do.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      At my office, that describes a Chief of Staff or a Deputy Chief of Staff (depending on seniority/scope/authority).

    3. Jadelyn*

      We have a role like that that we call “Special Projects Manager”. In the past we used to call it “Special Assistant to the CEO” or just “Executive Staff”.

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

      If the position reports to the CEO, it sounds like it could be a director level so:
      Director of Strategic Planning
      Director of Mission Integration
      Director of Special Projects

  28. Interim Supervisor*

    Next week, I know I’ll likely need to have a corrective conversation with a former peer who newly reports to me, and I’m nervous about it.

    Last week, “Susan” solicited negative feedback from clients who were working with one of our offsite employees, “Zena”, then shared the feedback with Zena via email. Zena is new to her job but working hard to get up to speed; from my perspective, we were lucky to get Zena in her role, as we had very few applicants for that job. Zena is now seriously demoralized. I knew that Susan had destroyed her own relationship with coworkers in the past, and now I’m seeing it happen before my eyes. We work in a small nonprofit, and I can’t afford to have Zena alienated or potentially quit.

    I know from working with her as a peer that Susan believes that behaviors such as this are a result of her “direct, East Coast working style” (we live on the West Coast), and something to be proud of.

    I’m in a new interim supervisory role (been in the role for less than a month), so I used to be peers with “Susan”. I’m struggling to step into my new role. It’s not my first time as a supervisor, but it’s my first time trying to supervise my former peers. Susan is a very high performer in terms of her core tasks, but I find her personality difficult. She seems unhappy that I’ve been promoted over her; I’ve tried to have conversations with her in my role as supervisor that were actually positive, praising her work, but whenever she seems to sense I’m acting as a supervisor she won’t look me in the eye.

    Any words of wisdom would be appreciated.

    1. Cat Fan*

      Tell Susan to bring concerns about her co-workers to you to deal with, and that she shouldn’t be addressing them herself.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yeah, it sounds like Susan was trying to manage Zena, which isn’t her job even if she does it right. And she’s definitely not doing it right.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah, I had a coworker in the past who tried to manage me (she didn’t bother to solicit feedback from others, she’d just tell me I was doing something wrong — even though I wasn’t, it just wasn’t the way SHE would have done it) and she would not stop until I told our mutual manager what was happening and the manager put a stop to it. So if you can head this off now, I would, because it’s only going to get worse if Susan isn’t told to stop.

    2. Bloopmaster*

      Going out of your way to solicit negative feedback about someone who is not your direct report and then ambushing them with that feedback (rather than, say, taking potentially legitimate concerns that actually affect you to that person or up to that person’s manager) is not an “East Coast” thing. It’s a jerk thing.

      Please step in to tell Susan to stop this immediately. She doesn’t have to like you (or even make eye contact with you), she just has to respect your authority in this role. Then, make sure Zena knows that you consider what Susan did to be unacceptable.

      1. just a thought*

        Yeah, definitely talk to Zena and let her know this has happened before and isn’t personal. Also, that she should let you know if Susan does more stuff like this

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yeah I was the person at work slammed for having a “direct, East-Coast working style” on the East Coast, and the sort of stuff I was slammed for was like, “Fergus, the class you’re teaching starts at 5, so you need to be here, dressed in your riding gear, and in the llama paddock with your equipment set up at 5, not walking in the door in your street clothes at 5:10” or “I’m sorry, we don’t allow riders to bring food from home to feed the llamas, since people food could make them sick,”

        Susan is just being a toxic drama llama bully.

      3. WellRed*

        All of this and she EMAILED the negative feedback. Even if it was her place to do any of this, that’s a face to face conversation. Not email, FFS!

    3. Me*

      I know you know this but as a east coast born and bred-er….that’s not direct, that’s being a jerk and has nothing to do with being from here.

      I think you just need to overall be clear and specific that x behavior is not okay and you need her to do y. If she is unsure how to do y, (since you know it’s just her style), you will work with her to coach her and perhaps even identify appropriate how not to be a jerk training.

      Short version – explicit instruction of what must stop and what must happen instead.

      Don’t get caught up in her personal difficulty reporting to you. It’s your job to manager her, not her feelings about you. If she looks at the floor this entire conversation, that’s fine. You’re only concern is that you are communicating what needs to change and she understands.

      Also, do not do the compliment sandwich or any other softening behavior. Which you also already probably know but in case it’s a helpful point to anyone else.

      1. Interim Supervisor*

        Thank you. I do *know* certain things, but I’m feeling overwhelmed in this new role, and it helps to get a reminder, honestly. Particularly that it’s my job to manager her work, not her feelings about me. And not to do the compliment sandwich!

      2. Parenthetically*

        Couldn’t agree more about managing Susan, not managing her feelings. Particularly when you’re dealing with someone who goes out of her way to be mean and then brags about her directness, it’s important to remember that she’s allowed to feel any kind of way she wants about you — she just has to behave in a professional way regardless of her feelings. And the behavior is what you’re trying to manage, not her emotions or motivations or anything else going on inside her head.

    4. Lana Kane*

      Susan is upset she was passed over for the promotion into our role.

      Susan is soliciting negative feeedback (!) and then delivering it to peers (!!)

      Susan may be thinking that this is how she should show that she should have taken your leadership role.

      If she is East Coast direct, she should not have a problem with you being direct with her. East Coast-direct presumably goes both ways, no? I’m not saying you should use her same tone, but rather that if she can give feedback, then she should be able to take it. As we all know, though, lots of people who pride themselves on being direct don’t always appreciate being on the receiving end. But this is good for you to have in your back pocket to help you be more confident in telling her to stop this behavior.

      What she did was extremely Not Cool, and she should be told to not do that again, and that any feedback needs to come to you. I also was promoted to manage my peers, and I had a Susan on my team. She liked to find people’s mistakes and give them feedback, in the guise of “wouldn’t you rather this come from me than from our boss?” Aside from how inappropriate that was, it was an attempt to make me seem unapproachable and punitive. It took a couple of conversations but she eventually stopped her behaviors.

      1. Interim Supervisor*

        Thank you for sharing. It’s encouraging to hear that you had a similar issue and you stopped it, even if it took several conversations.

        It’s upsetting and embarrassing to me that this happened on my watch.

        1. Lana Kane*

          Try not to see it that way! Pushy people will push because that’s how they find where the boundaries are. Set them for her!

    5. LQ*

      Susan, I understand that you want to be direct and want people to be direct with you. So I am telling you directly. This behavior is inappropriate. If you engage in it again we will begin down the discipline path. I understand that no one may have directly told you this, but you are damaging relationships with peers, part of your job is to have good relationships with your peers. Also your job is never to solicit negative feedback about a peer. If you do ever need to solicit feedback from clients I will clearly and directly work with you do do this. You should never engage in this behavior without clear direction from me. For now, and until you’ve clearly demonstrated that you understand this, if you have any feedback for your peers you should come to me and I will work with you to understand if that message needs to be conveyed to that peer. Do you understand this?

      (That may be a little strong, and my “I’m a direct East Cost” (aka jerk) person hated when I was direct with him so I’d guess yours may too, but this is what she’s asking of others.)

      1. Interim Supervisor*

        “Part of your job is to have good relationships with your peers” — an important point. And “if you have any feedback for your peers you should come to me and I will work with you to understand if that message needs to be conveyed to that peer.”

        Thank you.

      2. cmcinnyc*

        Yeah go “East Coast” on her, no softening. “You were out of line soliciting negative feedback from a client. You invited a client to find fault with our services. To me, that looks like you are trying to sabotage this business. Explain yourself.” And the second she says “Zena” you shut her down with “This is about you, Susan. YOU invited a client to dump on us.”

        Because what she did doesn’t fly here on the East Coast either.

      3. Thankful for AAM*

        LQ’s script is amazing!
        I said below that I am “east coast direct” and think this is both clear and deliciously direct.

        OP, use this script!!

    6. NW Mossy*

      Totally reasonable to be nervous – these are the “sweaty palms” conversations you get to have when you’re the manager! But the only way to get better at them is to have them and fight through the discomfort.

      When I had to have my first Very Serious conversation with a direct about a pattern of poor behavior, my then-boss (who’s a litigator by training) gave me a couple of great tips:

      * Talk a lot less than you think you need to. Get your point across in a few sentences and then shift to the point: what does Susan need to commit to doing differently in the future? Not soliciting feedback from clients about a peer is one; repairing her relationship with Zena is another.

      * You are under no obligation to convince Susan that you are right. This isn’t a debate in front of a judge who’s weighing both your arguments. Here, YOU are the judge. If what Susan is doing is ineffective and inappropriate in your organization, you’re her boss and that’s all the standing you need to tell her to knock it off. You don’t need to convince her that you have authority to do so – that’s a given.

        1. Auntie Social*

          And don’t forget “I manage Zena. You do not. Now, YOU have a relationship with a peer to repair, write me a memo of how you’re going to do it before you make any attempts.” She was trying to prove you’re a terrible manager so she gets your job, by picking on one of the weak ones in the herd.

      1. LKW*

        Agree with the talk a lot less than you think you need to. Outline the expectation once and then stop talking. Let Susan dig as deep as she wants with the explanations. At that point, you can ask questions, if you think it worthwhile use of your time, to challenge the assumptions she’s made:

        What outcomes were you hoping to achieve? Do you think you achieved those?
        What about this approach do you like?
        Do you think this approach makes a good impression with our clients?

        As someone who is fairly direct, I think she’s a shit-stirrer. Asking a client for feedback or talking to a client who has negative feedback to share – that’s expected. But you don’t seek it out. Being direct is fine. Bringing drama is not. Being cruel is not. You don’t have to be cruel to be direct.

    7. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Does Zena report to you also? In addition to dealing with Susan, I think you need to address this with her, give positive feedback about how she’s picking up the job, let her know that *you* will give her constructive feedback when she needs to change something, and that she basically shouldn’t listen to Susan.
      If she’s not your report, I think you probably need to let her manager know this happened and that you’re dealing with it.

      With Susan, that is a complicated situation since she’s already grumpy at you for getting the position and other people have said better things. But overall, this is a case of “Part of your job is playing nice with others.” If she does a good job but alienates all her coworkers, she’s not doing a good job.

    8. Jadelyn*

      You’ve gotten a lot of great advice already but I want to add one thing. If she tries to fall back on the “East Coast directness” thing, be prepared to counter it. I’d say something along the lines of:

      “I understand that you feel like that’s your working style, but that working style is causing problems for you and for your coworkers and harming your relationship with the team, and it needs to stop.” Keep the focus on the behavior, don’t let her brush it off with her intent (“I don’t mean it that way!”) because I’d bet money she’s going to try to. Repeat the same line if she argues. “Regardless, it’s causing problems and you need to learn how to tone it down/rein it in/dial it back/whatever.”

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Madelyn, thats a really good point and script!
        I’m “east coast direct” and no one ever says to me, regardless of your intentions, your behavior is causing problems. They soften things so much that they never make their point and I’m left wondering what the issue is. In this case, her intention seems to be to stir up trouble but the script is great!

  29. Kevin*

    In a similar vein to the disturbing zombie doll that was mentioned in a AAM question earlier this week, at my employer this year some co-workers decorated an empty cubicle like a murder scene. Marked off with crime scene tape, tons of (fake) bloody white rags, a headless dead body (clothes stuffed with newspaper or something). It’s actually somewhat disturbing when you come across it and don’t know it’s there beforehand. It startled me and numerous other people.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      I am big horror junkie, crime investigation junkie as well. Books, tv shows (Vera, anyone ?)… And I would find that decoration disturbing. The big issue with Halloween nowadays is we have come very long way. Decorations, make up and masks became very realistic. Like in some cases increasingly realistic. It’s not that slightly funny, pretend goofiness anymore. It’s awesome for people who are into it, who, for one day really want to pretend the stuff is real. Makes for awesome haunted houses, themed parties, etc. But it’s bleeding over into “general” areas and it clashes. I’d say quite a few people would have problem with realistically looking murder seen at work (or airport, or grocery store) no matter how much you know it’s pretend. It would be nice if we could keep that divide, goofy spooky for general public, gory scary realistic spooky for private venues.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I don’t know when Halloween scary turned into Halloween gross. Medical waste is not a decoration.

  30. Lx in Canada*

    IT SNOWED ALL LAST NIGHT AND THIS MORNING. Coming into work was a nightmare (I walk; it’s about 10-12 minutes). Also, the weather change has me exhausted and I haven’t been super productive today. I just want to go home and nap with the cats.

    However – I am also at the end of my current to-do list! (I’m currently working on the last task. Except there’s one that had to be postponed because I’m waiting for someone else to do something, so I’m not counting that one.) The way I work is that I select about 5-6 cases at a time to prioritize and I work on them until they’re done. It’s been working surprisingly well for me. Otherwise I get too overwhelmed and anxious.

    1. Shocked Pikachu*

      I moved from Europe to US and have been living in Southwestern desert for over twenty years. We get little snow every few years and it’s always so happy and cool. I sometimes miss wintery winter so much. I guess brain has the tendency to block the bad and remember only the good part ;)

      And kudos, sounds like you came up with work system that works well for you :)

      1. Lx in Canada*

        Oh god, we get like constant -20 Celsius temperatures in January and February… I used to drive to work and have a few minute walk from the back parking lot, but now that I live nearby and walk, I’m going to have to get used to it real quick! Hah.

        Yes, and it helps that I allow myself to “cheat” a little at times – if I don’t like anything on my current list I briefly work on a file that came in later (we do everything by order it came in). When I’m spinning my wheels on everything I have, taking a break to work on something different actually ends up being really helpful!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I knew someone who had once worked loading planes in Minnesota. On nasty winter days, she would wear her insulated protective gear as a coat over her office-appropriate outfit. Watching that come off in the lobby (we left the snow there) was like a reversed Superman change.

  31. Roja*

    Culture fit… how do you deal when you know you’re in an environment where you and the culture and a terrible fit? I can’t get out until June at the earliest–PLEASE don’t suggest that I leave before then as I’m on contract and breaking a school year contract is a really, really big deal in this field. Compounding the issue is the fact that I’ve recently been told by two people in the area who used to work there (both reliable) that they were fired without warning and without any given cause. I’m prepared for the same to happen to me, but it does make me much jumpier than normal.

    Anyways, the culture is super cutesy and cheerleadery (think preschool). Our timecards are decorated with pink figurines and multicolored playful fonts, for one example. I am… I’ll nicely put it as NOT a cutesy person. I’m trying to play along occasionally but I just can’t bring myself to do a lot of it. How do you deal??

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Alison has suggested pretending you’re an anthropologist observing a new culture before when it comes to difficult environments, I bet it might help in one that you don’t mesh with.

      It might also help if you mentally separate your work self from your home/true self. Like, I am putting on my pink work hat, work me can survive and thrive in this pastel world, and when I leave the office I shall remove my work hat and resume my real life and be my real self. I know that will probably be really hard to maintain until June, it might help to know that it is temporary.

      But also make sure you are really taking care of yourself in your off-hours. “Faking it” for 8+ hours a day can really take a toll on you, so make sure you’re doing plenty of self care.

    2. Sleepy*

      If you’re in a school environment, I totally agree that you should not leave in the middle of the year for anything less than harassment or a medical emergency. I’ve worked in those environments and you are absolutely correct, so I wanted to validate that.

      I’m not sure if this applies to your role, but if you are in a school, the best way to bear unbearable circumstances is to connect with students and focus on your interactions with them, not with the other adults.

    3. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I have no wisdom, just commiseration. The thought of your timecards made me meeeew and hisssss. Could you just say that you’re introvert and “this is your happy face”?

    4. Approval is optional*

      I had a similar problem early in my career, and I found some success in making my non-cutesyness a flaw that I regretted – if that makes sense. I didn’t feel great about doing it, but I was junior and really really needed to keep having my contract extended, being fond of eating each day and all. I practiced ‘oh how cute, I sooo wish I could think of creative things the way you do’ type scripts with my friends a bit to get it to sound right, and then pretended I was in a play at work. After a while I had to do it less – I got slotted in to a ‘poor Approval isn’t good at things like this’ place in the team.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Focus on the things in your life that are not work, so the irritation with work can recede to occupy less brain space. And–I read this here–frame staying in the job as a choice. “I choose to go to work today because the long-term cost of quitting is too high.” Getting out of the “I have no choice” mindset and affirming that the other options are worse, so you choose this for the rest of the academic year.

      Also second Narwhal’s suggestion of anthropology student.

    6. LQ*

      Maybe…Think Wednesday Adams. But delightedly. Your own kind of delight in being Wednesday. And if anyone gives you grief and shoves into you, just say you’re more a Wednesday kind of girl. If you try to match them where they are it’ll be so much harder. But try to match them where you are and it shouldn’t be quite so bad. Do you hard. Don’t try to do them at all. I think that playing along is the hardest part. But tell them with great delight that you’re glad they enjoy the things they enjoy.

      The other thing is to be boring as hell but lean into that.
      Come out with us!
      I have the most exciting plans to reorganize my bookshelf. (That’ll take 3 months because you’ll have to redo it twice, and do it once with a different strategy (aka you’re going to try to do it all in Dewey decimal)). No seriously, I love it, I’m having a great time surrounded by the smell of old books looking each one up and meticulously making sure I have the correct numbers delicately postited to the cover.
      Come out with us please! You’re so boring!
      But I’m so good at being boring and I love it so much.
      I know, but books!

      1. Queen of the File*

        > But I’m so good at being boring and I love it so much.

        I cannot wait until the next time I have an opportunity to use this.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I do something like this with spreadsheets. I’m a legit data nerd. It makes me happy to think of mass quantities of data I can get my hands on and work with. I know people find that weird, so I lean into it. After awhile, people come to see it as just an endearing quirk of yours and they don’t give you grief about it.

    7. LadyGrey*

      Is there anything adjacent to the cutesy that you do like? Cartoon dinosaurs, lego? If you can embellish your space with something that you’re comfortable with that doesn’t look too out of place it might reduce the pink glow, as it were. You’re totally taking part, look how cute this baby dragon is!

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

      Don’t insult the environment or your coworkers or roll your eyes or anything that indicates you hate it, but just do your not-cutesy thing cheerfully. So if you love science, then be the happy science nerd. I’m not a cutesy person either, but I just hate the type that poo all over something that others enjoy whether it’s sports, unicorns or Game of Thrones. Don’t be a pigeon. If I show them respect for their Thing, they usually give me the same courtesy.

    9. LilySparrow*

      This is one of those answers where I wish tone of voice would come through, because I can’t think of wording that doesn’t sound snarky. But I’m not intending it as snark. It’s just really the thing that worked.

      I get through situations like that by remembering that I’m getting paid to be there.

      I don’t have to enjoy everything about it. I don’t have to feel like I found my true tribe of life companions. As long as everyone is pleasant and the work is valuable, etc, that’s enough.

      Maybe it comes from growing up as a weird kid – I don’t expect to automatically fit in with people I didn’t choose. I can get along with anyone who is a basically decent person. But finding people I really “click” with has always taken some intentional seeking, and some luck.

      When I think of problems that would cause someone to leave over “culture fit,” I think of values conflicts like not prioritizing diversity, or philosphical disagreements over whether the business practices are aligned with the mission, or hierarchical vs flat structure, etc. Cartoons on the timecard certainly doesn’t seem worth quitting over, unless you just don’t need the money.

      Random sudden firings are a bigger deal and suggest larger issues. But I also wouldn’t consider them culture issues so much as bad management practices.

      In the meantime, I’d just smile and nod a lot, and be “the quiet one.” There’s usually room for a quiet one or two, as long as your work is good.

      1. Roja*

        Oh believe me, there’s a lot more than cartoons. It’s a parade of red and yellow flags. I may be picky about my job but I’m not silly enough to quit over the design of a timecard. I’m just trying to be as nonspecific as possible so I don’t dox myself. :)

    10. CM*

      Any chance of liking something cute in a gothic or otherwise personality complimentary way? Cute bats etc?

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So many good suggestions above. One thought to add: If the students are also treated to cutesy, you might give yourself another reason to persist by looking out for the not-cheerleader students who might also find it unbearable.
      I’m thinking of the junior high school librarian & tech teacher who let their shared back room be a haven for my band of misfit toys.

    12. Tater Tots*

      Any advice for someone looking to switch careers? I currently work in highered, I’m underpaid, I can’t get my work done in my regularly scheduled hours (I wouldn’t mind staying late sometimes or obviously our few weekend events but constantly having to stay late and be stressed sucks). I have a 1 year old that I want to spend more time with.

      Anyway, I was talking with family and when they found out how much I make they all commented that I don’t get paid enough for how stressed I am and how much work I do!

      I’m 30 and ready for a change. I’m willing to go back to school but have no idea what to do! Any advise on career to look into? I kinda of fell into higher ed and am doing a job I didn’t know was a thing until I started working here. Would prefer a flexible job as I’m interested in working part time while my kids are little.

      I guess I just don’t know where to start!

    13. Roja*

      Thanks everyone for the replies! Sorry it’s taken me so long to follow up; my husband and I were out of town this weekend. I’ll try the anthropologist thing and see how that goes, and also play up my strengths with humor. Here’s hoping I make it through successfully!

  32. Annette*

    Shoes for interview in the snow?

    The title says it all. My leather beauts = not going to make it. I need something that looks sleek and stylish. With a black pantsuit and ideally also nice with a dress. Must be able to survive 5-10 minutes walking in the snow. Brands or general style advice – all very welcome! Thanks all.

    1. ElizabethJane*

      I carry a large stylish (I think it’s stylish) tote bag that’s essentially empty but has a pair of dress shoes in it. Then I change shoes and shove my boots in the bag.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I’ve done exactly this, but with not even a super stylish bag. It’s gross out, people understand that you aren’t going to walk in the snow in your nice shoes, so unless they’re completely unreasonable no one will blink twice at a bag with boots in it.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          I mean mine’s from Target – it’s probably not super stylish. More along the lines of “Is an actual purse and not a trash bag”

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            Ah I see. I’m pretty sure I used a reusable shopping bag (wouldn’t be a problem to have snow and muck in it and would prevent most liquid from leaking out everywhere as snow melted off the boots).

            Either way boots in a bag gets my vote!

    2. yay november*

      I’d say bring a change of shoes, but if you can’t carry them with you, I like my Timberlands.

    3. Mimi*

      I have a pair of knee-high La Canadienne boots with a flat heel that I wear under pants and with skirts. They are stylish, waterproof, and good for the snow. They are an investment but I wear them at least 3 times a week during the winter so to me they are worth it.

    4. Mediamaven*

      I don’t know what your budget looks like but Aquatalia makes fab shoes and they are all waterproof. Very pricey but awesome if you can swing it. They have sales too.

    5. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      Rainproof shoes often work in the snow – Ugg has some nice rain shoes. I have a pair of Josef Seibel boots ($$$) that are great for street-to-work in bad weather.

    6. Cookie Monster*

      In general there are some really beautifully both high gloss and matte chelsea-style rainboots. They’d definitely work with a pantsuit, and maybe with a dress depending on the style. I personally think the high gloss looks a bit nicer, but the matte could also work depending on the boot. Nordstrom has some nice ones, especially the “Cougar” brand one that’s on sale right now.

    7. WalkedInMyShoes*

      I would bring the interview shoes in a nice bag. Then, walk through the snow with the snow boots. When you arrive, try to find the nears restroom to change. I did this when it was snowing and completely freezing in Chicago. I even put on my winter coat and changed into a non-wrinkle interview suit jacket. Ta-dah! Looked like a million dollars and you will, too! Good luck on your interview!

  33. Depressed and anon*

    For people who work remotely 100% (like data entry and similar), are there reputable sites/agencies for this sort of thing? I know there’s Flexjobs and they supposedly filter out scams and stuff, but maybe there are other things.

    Due to my anxiety and depression doing me in the last few months, I’m kind of toying with making some kind of a big change like that. I’m in grad school and changed careers a couple of years ago, but am kind of regretting it…not that I don’t like the work, but I feel like something more…I don’t know, straightforward maybe, would be good. But I don’t want to be in the situation of constantly having to track down new jobs/work either, freelancing is not for me.

  34. De Minimis*

    I had a gigantic Halloween surprise yesterday—I found out that my boss had been fired at the end of the day on Wednesday! She had been warned by HR numerous times after multiple complaints by her subordinates and others about insensitive comments she would continually make. The CFO was her main defender and was very upset, but I guess the organization went over her head and the decision was made to terminate.

    We’re a mid-size nonprofit with only about 4 accounting staff, and I’m the only person who is really capable of taking over most of the manager’s duties. I’ve been pretty underutilized in my job, which I’ve held for seven months. My boss was hoarding a lot of the duties, I think because she knew she was in trouble and was trying to make herself indispensable. I’ve already been told I’ll be the main person who has to take over a lot of her tasks. I’m excited but also worried that I may not be able to do it.

    Back in May I wrote because my boss had said she was giving me a “last warning” about work production and I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. She ended up just dropping it as if she hadn’t said anything and we were continuing on fairly well though I came to realize that she wasn’t a good manager. The things I was told by my coworkers about things she had said to them and to others really dumbfounded me. I had thought she would be kept on, because that’s what usually happens, but HR actually came through. What we think is that she already had an HR investigation due to complaints my peers had made, but then she said something really insensitive to a large group of other employees, and they all complained at once.

    Has anyone else ever had to take on a lot of their manager’s duties unexpectedly, on a permanent basis? How did it work out? I’m also trying to figure out how to bring it up if they want me to work as an acting manager without increasing pay or changing my title. I’m thinking my strategy will be if it all goes okay to bring it up when I get to my yearly review. On paper I’m well qualified for the job, and was actually somewhat overqualified for the job I have now.

    1. Ama*

      This has actually happened to me twice — one temporarily (kind of a similar situation to yours where the manager was fired unexpectedly) and once permanently (my manager had a major health crisis and then opted to take a job closer to home afterwards, I did such a good job covering that they gave me most of her duties permanently). It can definitely be overwhelming — my advice would be to not be afraid to ask questions, and to be open about your process for doing things. For example, when my manager was ill, I got a lot of support from the other management but she was doing a lot of things that no one else knew how to do, so I would try to look in the files and find how it was done previously, but if I couldn’t find it, I would just say to my then-interim manager “hey so for the X project I don’t see anything in the files about how it was done previously, is there anyone else who might know or do you want me to just take my best guess at it?”

      I also had one brand new project that was scheduled for implementation while my boss was still ill — luckily she had been working with an outside advisor who was able to give me a lot of guidance, but there was definitely a lot of looping back to my new manager and saying “so this is what the consultant advises, does that sound feasible to you?”

      I will say both of those workplaces gave me spot bonuses for the extra work I did while my coverage was still temporary (and both were nonprofits). At the place where the extra work became part of my permanent role they did give me one immediate promotion and raise as soon as it became clear that it was a permanent thing, but have also continued to give me promotions and raises as I’ve progressed and been able to take on more of the leadership/management part of the role.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I took on a former bosses duties but it was a different beast. Nobody was fired, due to his health decline and mental capacity being impacted, I had a load dumped in my lap.

      I took it and ran with it. I was given a pay increase somewhat immediately without having to ask for it.

      I would speak up and let them know what you’re willing and able to do. And even ask if there’s a possibility to take on the role yourself, since you are qualified. I would also bring up the compensation issue as well, since you shouldn’t be doing more work for the price of your old job, ever.

  35. excuses*

    What’s the worst excuse you’ve ever heard for someone calling in sick? My coworker’s been out three days this week because the over-the-counter medication she takes for her allergies makes her too drowsy…

      1. Bloopmaster*

        Yeah, this in itself isn’t a bad excuse. It’s possible to get a reaction from a drug that you didn’t expect, and even to dismiss the first or second instance of this reaction as a fluke rather than a serious issue. However, if the employee is not proactively taking any steps (and/or working with a doctor) to identify a medication to take that doesn’t produce this effect, that’s when it starts to be a problem.

      2. Applesauced*

        Agreed – I react badly to cold medicine (anything other than Sudafed makes me high for a day and half), and have accidentally “robo-tripped” myself on more than one occasions

    1. Mr. Catastrophe*

      Not a bad excuse, but I had an employee send me a photograph of his irritated eye. No thank you, just tell me you’re not feeling well. I don’t need visual aids.

      1. Liz*

        This reminds me of an attorney i worked for (I was an admin) We worked for a company that had on-sight health, as we had manufacturing. Which was nice because in addition to that, they had “sick hours” where if you simply were not feeling well, you could go and be seen. I was even able to do that as a temp!

        anyway, i knew from experience and knowing the policies, that IF you tried to get in and see them outside of the assigned hours, they’d want to know why. So the attorney asked me to call for him, and since i knew they’d ask, i asked him what his issues were. I was treated to a long discourse about his diarrhea, etc. Um gee thanks?

      2. Fikly*

        OOOh, yeah, I used to have a job being the first person people saw when they walked into the ER, and I had to write their complaint in the computer. One guy (who spoke English!) handed me a picture of his bloody vomit all over the bathroom floor. Save it for the nurses, please.

    2. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

      At a previous company, the other admins and I covered for the receptionist when she was out. And she was out a lot. She was in the hole on both sick and vacation time, so she called in on the first nice weather Friday in the spring and said her mom had been in a car accident. Her mom called while I was covering the reception desk.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Oooh, please tell me you acted very concerned about her, with the accident and all…

    3. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Yeah, if I take Zyrtec I am a total zombie. Like unsafe to drive or operate a chef’s knife.

      Of course, after 2 experiences I switched to a different medicine. Which is too bad, because Zyrtec is otherwise completely superior in treating my symptoms.

    4. Me*

      Allergies can be pretty miserable and drowsiness is a legitimate side effect that makes it at minimum difficult to work at worst, the rest of us driving appreciate her not on the road.

      My excuse is always a plain I’m sick an won’t be in. It’s no one’s business whether I can’t get off the toilet or need a mental health day.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Seriously, I’m glad she’s staying off the road if she’s that drowsy.

        Besides which, if you’re doped up that bad, you’re not going to be productive anyway. My figure when I’m sick is, I can either be miserable and get nothing done at work, or I can be miserable and get nothing done at home. Nothing is getting done, either way, so my company would probably rather pay out the PTO than waste real wages while getting little to nothing in return.

    5. Jamie*

      That’s a thing. I don’t have allergies but the only thing I can take for congestion is Benedril which knocks me out (literally, I have fallen asleep at the dinner table and will sleep for 12 hours – no way I could remain conscious much less drive, or work.)

      1. Construction Safety*

        Mighta been gout. The first time it comes up, it’s quite a surprise on several levels.

        1. Llama Face!*

          Yep, as someone who has a similar condition to gout (not actually gout) I can say that this can be really crippling. I was off work for a week the first time I had a really bad toe flare-up; I could barely walk from the bed to the bathroom, never mind actually making it into work.

        2. Pommette!*

          Gout runs in my family (fun times ahead, I guess) and it is a weird one. It sounds so trivial (toe pain? really?), and most people who haven’t encountered it still think of it as a quirky historical disease that afflicted rich and decadent people who deserved what they got in pre-revolutionary Europe… but it is so shockingly awful and overwhelming.

          My grandmother was a stoic woman who once calmly tourniquetted her leg and dragged herself to a pay-phone after suffering multiple fractures, and who lived with a lot of chronic pain that she didn’t complain about. But when her gout flared up, she was in bed, in tears, and out of commission.

      2. Workerbee*

        I just tried to walk around without putting any pressure on or using one of my big toes, in shoes. That proved to be impossible within seconds. Adding in pain, heck no.

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

        That one could be legit if it was something like Turf Toe or arthritis.

    6. Construction Safety*

      There was a radio DJ in western NYS during the 70s who called himself the Greaseman. He called in “Well” one night.

      1. Jaid*

        I remember a Greaseman in the 90’s in the Delaware Valley area. I wonder if it’s the same guy…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Could be, he traveled around and was syndicated for a while. He’s got quite the Wikipedia page.

    7. Art3mis*

      I had a coworker call in due to snow once. Which seems legit except there was less than an inch on the ground (this was in the Chicago suburbs) and she lived less than a mile from the office. Everyone else, many of whom lived 20+ miles away (I lived 35 miles away), all made it in just fine.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        I’m in Chicago and we got about an inch and a half yesterday. I informed my boss on Wednesday that I wasn’t coming in due to crappy weather, but also we’re about as flexible as an office can get and I work from home on Thursdays anyway.

    8. Zephy*

      I’ve definitely been a level of ill due to allergies where I just feel generally blah – I won’t get anyone else sick, I don’t need to stay within spitting distance of a bathroom at all times, but the only job duty I’ll reliably complete today is keeping this chair warm. I can’t focus long enough to get anything of substance done, I sound terrible in person and worse over the phone, and while I’m not contagious, I’m sure the near-constant sneezing and nose-blowing is distracting at best for other people in earshot.

    9. Rey*

      A secretary called out “sick” at the last minute for a meeting she was supposed to take minutes for. She claimed to have multiple chronic illnesses, but I always felt like her stories were far-fetched. When she came in the next day, she openly talked about how she had spent five hours at the salon getting her hair colored.

      1. Me*

        In slight fairness, sitting in a chair doing nothing while getting your hair done doesn’t require the mental ability working does.

    10. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Allergies are a legit reason to miss work.

      I did raise an eyebrow at the co-worker who had a day off for a cold sore. At the end of the sick-leave calculation period, when she had exactly one day of sick leave to take or lose. Fortunately she was a rock star. But HONESTLY.

      1. Workerbee*

        Good for her for taking it since they don’t carry over. I’m not one to police people on what they take their earned/allocated time for.

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

        I have a bit of sympathy for her on that though. I don’t suffer from them, but my mom does and they can be painful. But really when you have a great big oozing sore on your face, sometimes it’s just humiliating to go out until it heals a bit; sort of like taking a mental health day.

        1. Dorothy Zbornak*

          yes, this is a great point. I admit that a couple of times in the past I worked from home when I had an absolutely massive cystic zit that was both unsightly and painful. like, there are zits and then there are ZITS. I’ve never had a cold sore but I would feel the same way about that.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          They are seriously the worst. I always feel like my classes are just staring at the giant blister on my face and not listening to me.

    11. Workerbee*

      This happens to me with the non-drowsy meds. It never used to, so it bugs the crap out of me: I know taking two Dayquils is more effective than one, but if I take two, suddenly I’ll be drowsy.

      By contrast, I’ve found that nasal allergy spray (generally) doesn’t give me that same reaction and can help against a regular cold, too. Maybe it bypasses what would trigger the drowsiness??

        1. Nessun*

          Nyquil gives me vertigo (anything with a certain active ingredient for most cold meds does). So I can either suffer the cold, or lie on my back for days…really, it’s not much of a choice.

    12. Kathenus*

      Ideally no one should have to give a reason, or excuse, to use sick time. They simply need to say they are sick and won’t be in to work that day.

    13. KR*

      Supervising older teen and young adult videographers/AV techs. Memorial Day was a big deal as we had many needs to support at once for a big parade, closed roads, different technology, many different parts of the days festivities. All hands on deck. One of my employees called out a few days before the parade because apparently their parents had planned a family trip over the holiday weekend and they “had no idea” about this big trip and had to go. This was after the parade had planned around our tech/staffing limitations so there was AV support at each part of the celebration. So I had to go back to the parade committee (which if you know local government parade committees and festival planning are big ole deals) and tell them they had to rework one of their events after I had swore the current plan was fine, we could do it, ect. And of course it’s memorial day so tensions are high because ~support the troops~. Super frustrating

    14. No lie*

      Hiccups. She called in due to hiccups.

      And a different person offered WAY too much info when they called in due to a genital herpes outbreak. Just tell me your sick.

      1. Mr. Catastrophe*

        And suddenly “coming out both ends” and the visual aid of the eye don’t seem so bad.

    15. Snuffles*

      My coworker called in “feeling sniffly” this week. She literally called in with the sniffles.

      I laughed.

    16. ...*

      Allergies can be debilitating. The only OTC medicines that do jack sh*t make you extremely, extremely tired. I’ve learned to fight through having to take a double dose of benadryl and still work but its extremely difficult and im able to take an uber or lyft if i need to. If she has to drive its genuinely unsafe. Allergies seem made up or stupid to people who don’t have them. To people who suffer from them they are terrible. I’ve prayed for less alleriges, I’ve bargained with god saying i will be a better person if i could have one day waking up without severe allergies. I’ve mentally thought of amounts of money I would give up to have ONE DAY without constant sneezing and blowing my nose (5,000, 10,000, my whole bank account. There are days i’ve thought I’d GIVE IT ALL AWAY for ONE DAY without terrible allergies. One day to breathe.) And yes I’ve been to every type of doctor and taken every medicine. Your poor co worker!!!

      1. Fikly*

        I was in the ER once and they gave me a double dose of benadryl and it made me so cognitively impaired they evaluated me for a stroke!