open thread – November 8-9, 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.

{ 1,893 comments… read them below }

  1. Help!*

    Has anyone taken a step back from a “career”-type trajectory to something less demanding/more “job”-like, and if so, do you feel like you are shut off from ever returning to that higher-intensity career track in the future, or is it working out okay for you?

    I’m feeling really burned out and like I backed myself into a corner in the wrong profession, and I’m desperate for something totally different but I’m in my early thirties and I don’t want to regret any changes 10-15 years. down the road when my priorities might be different.

    1. Depressed and anon*

      I can’t help but I am with you too. I made a big-ish career change a couple of years ago and went back to grad school, and now I’m wondering if I made the right choice (of new career, not particularly interested in going back to my old career).

    2. Annie Porter*

      Oh wow! I just posted below about a kind of opposite situation.

      I had a demanding AF, upper-management position. I enjoyed it until I didn’t, and once I hit that wall, there was no turning back (it was a toxic environment with a terrible boss, which helped that wall come much sooner).

      Now I work for an awesome, progressive company, in a MUCH more relaxed environment (definitely still kind of career-trajectory, but more jobby than the last one, if that makes sense). My only problem is the salary difference.

      If it matters, I’m in my late thirties.

      I have ZERO regrets, I’m just feeling a bit of a financial pinch.

      1. Kiwiii*

        do you have a sense on if it’s your role or company that’s contributing the most to the difference? maybe in a year or three you can wiggle into something slightly higher paying.

        1. Annie Porter*

          That is what I’m hoping for. I was hired for a very specific role, but I can already see it expanding into unexpected areas. I expected the pay cut, but I’ve run into several unexpected expenses (such is life!) lately that are squeezing me a bit.

      2. Just Elle*

        Same. I was in a toxic, stressful, super demanding, terrible no good very bad “important” “career accelerating” job and I used to fantasize about qyuttubg a “job job”. My go to fantasy was a receptionist / ticket taker at a museum or something.
        But, student loans being what they were, it simply wasn’t an option.

        So instead I found a still-career-focused but not-make-it-or-break-it position with coworkers who seemed more interested in helping each other than stepping on each other to get to the top. Think, peak career will be a manager of a team, not director of a division. After 3 months of just plain sleeping through the night, I realize that my desperate sleep deprived situation was making me long for something I didn’t really want.

        I’m soooo much happier now and am so glad I didn’t go for the ‘easy job’ – I think I would have been bored out of my mind. I’m someone who really gets a lot of person value out of solving challenging work problems. I would have missed that in the job job. But it just also made it so I had a hard time with impossible problems like in my stressful job.

        Something that recently helped me put it all in perspective was a NYT article called “The opt out generation wants back in.” Its about high-power career women who quit to be stay at home moms, and how they felt 10 years later as they were easing back into entry level jobs. Not quite the same situation, but I found it highly relevant.

        1. Just Elle*

          But, just to play devil’s advocate… my husband quit his supervisor job at 28 to go back to school for welding and he LOVES it and is making tons of money. So its certainly never too late for a career change, if what you’re doing isn’t speaking to you… but I’d encourage you to figure out a path where you can still develop skills that relate to an increase in pay. PLC programmer is a great one, where you get fairly nice working conditions, with a relatively low ‘transition time’ because you can take community college classes at night.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I did. Quit a “career”-type job to be a receptionist for several years. Eventually got back on track with my “career”-type jobs, but I had a blast being a receptionist, and it was totally the right thing for me at the time. I don’t know that I’d recommend it, because you aren’t guaranteed to get back on your original path, but if you think the path back is doable, then go for it.

    4. baffledmouse*

      Also following because this is where I am at too. So burned out from nonprofit life and in my early 30s, not sure where I want to go from here. I’ve also realized what I thought I wanted to do for my career is not actually a good fit for me, but I have no idea what I want to do instead.

    5. Kiwiii*

      I think rather than assuming a more “job” role might be less demanding, it might do to figure out what you’d like to be doing? Like would you not your role if it did less of X or more of Y, would you be happier if you felt like you were making more of a difference, do you actually really like data entry and kind of miss it from an entry level role, would you rather be doing something similar to what you’re doing but more technical, or more personable, or from the user-side.

      Feeling backed into a corner doesn’t’ necessarily mean there aren’t any lateral moves that aren’t an option, and I feel like when humans are frustrated, they stop considering all the options.

      1. Help!*

        Thanks for your response, and everyone else’s in the thread so far! I guess that’s the rub…I don’t really know what I want to be doing. I have some idea that *maybe* I’d like a lateral/small step-down into something where the content of the work is slightly more interesting, but I’m the main household breadwinner and I don’t know if a lateral trade-off for slight salary reduction salary would actually make me happier…*sigh*.

        I *have* done a tremendous job socking away retirement savings the past few years while on this good salary…so on the one hand, I probably could afford a pay cut, but on the other hand, I keep having this (probably toxic) fantasy of super-early retirement if I can just suck it up and hang on for…some undetermined period of time…maybe I could just quit and stop working altogether when I’m like 45.

        1. Kiwiii*

          When my best friend turned 30 she had a Massive quarter life crisis and quit her nonprofit management job that she hated and started doing freelance work basically doing a couple creative aspects of the previous job for much more per hour than she’d been making before for like 20 hrs/week and walking dogs for like $10/hr for like 10 hrs a week and she’s leaps and bounds happier and only ended up with a small pay cut after taxes.

          I’m not saying you should do that, and i’m definitely not saying maybe you should quit your job to walk dogs, but maybe writing down a couple things you like about it and a couple things you wish you were doing might be a place to move forward from?

        2. Annie Porter*

          OMG, are you ME a year ago?

          I made myself a list of pros and cons of two options: retire early (between 50-55) and deal with this BS for 12-15 more years, or jump ship and possibly delay retirement.

          I realized that Option 1 was becoming less of an option at all as my patience was wearing thin much more quickly than I’d imagined it would. I feared I would snap and either quit on the spot or get fired when I couldn’t bite my tongue any longer, which would lead to an unpleasant third option. So if you’re THERE, then that may help make the choice for you!

          1. Help!*

            That’s very helpful to hear! Yes! I don’t want to end up a bitter, dead-wood kind of employee if that’s the alternative.

            1. Help!*

              Do you mean that it takes a toll to get to that early retirement age? Or that once they retire early, people fall into bad habits/don’t enjoy it as much as they thought?

              1. Annie Porter*

                I don’t think EVERY early retirement plan is a terrible idea. If you happen to be able to save enough to retire early, and you’re enjoying your work and not killing yourself to get there, it’s probably fine.

              2. RecoveringSWO*

                It seems like there’s a shared component of the FIRE/MMM people who can push through crummy jobs for early retirement. They convince their entire families to make a significant change in lifestyle to live frugally and all feel a large sense of accomplishment in their drive towards early retirement. They also don’t talk themselves into staying in a crummy job for that many years, just enough to live off that interest w/a little cushion.

                Everyone else I know who retired early just ended up with a 2nd career because they were too bored. These were lawyers, military officers, and i-bankers who ended up teaching or consulting. Since I don’t see myself in the FIRE/MMM camp, I would switch jobs instead of keeping the golden handcuffs on in a painful job.

            2. Mama Bear*

              And not to be morbid, but not everyone lives to retire, even early. IMO spend your time doing something you don’t hate with every fiber of your being. Life is too short and unpredictable.

              1. TM*

                THIS. Sadly, we are not promised. A terrible job will suck your life force and make you miserable. And people shouldn’t live like that even if they were guaranteed their retirement goal. And they are not.

        3. Arachnid Admin*

          Have you thought of taking the Myers Briggs test to find out how your interests line up with different careers? In my late 20s I was in a decent job with a clear trajectory ahead of me, but I wasn’t liking it as much as I should have been. I met with a career counselor three or four times and took the test, ended up leaving the job to attend grad school for an ancillary profession. I remember how tired and frustrated I was commuting to a job that bored me, even though I liked the people I worked with. Good luck to you.

          1. Help!*

            Sorry this is so late! I really like the idea of a career counselor — how did you find a good one?

        4. Pescadero*

          I have a similar problem…
          I know what I want to be doing… and that is nothing.

          Therefore – what I want to be doing is largely irrelevant, and jobs are “what is going to get me to retirement quickest with the least amount of effort and hassle on my part”.

          I’ve been working to retire since the first day I ever worked.

          1. TheMonkey*

            You are me. I am you.

            I have no goals to run a vineyard or repair airplanes or even take extended trips to see the castles of Europe, or whatever else it is that people want to do. I want to putter around the house doing nothing and not be beholden to anyone at any given time.

            I am hesitant to say this out loud IRL since everyone around me seems to have grand career aspirations to get to the top or some end-goal that they are working toward (see vineyard, etc. above).

            If hubs and I could just sort out the health insurance puzzle, we could just about manage it…

            1. emmelemm*

              It always comes back to the health insurance puzzle, doesn’t it?

              I have a friend who’s pretty ambitious and good at getting the jobs she wants, etc. She recently told me she’s trying very hard to retire at 55, so everything she’s doing is geared towards that. (She has a husband who works too, but she is the main breadwinner.) I have confidence in her that she could sock away enough money to retire early, but if you’re trying to buy your own health insurance AT 55, the cost is going to be sky-high, and even higher if and when the ACA breaks down.

            2. Minocho*

              I have a goal: To be totally free to play tabletop roleplaying games ALL THE TIME.

              Of course, I need other players for this work out. Hmm….

    6. Lena Clare*

      So, I had a break down in my early thirties to do with my career (which was vocational) at the time.
      I left for the sake of my health and, while it’s absolutely been the best decision I’ve ever made, it took me a long time to accept that it was the right thing for me to do.

      I felt that my qualifications, which I’d worked so very hard at!, were only useful for this job and now that I wasn’t doing this job what the hell was I good for doing?
      That was the problem really – my identity was so tied up in it that I found it excruciating to move on.

      Most people told me the jobs I were applying for were not suitable because I was either overqualified (true) or underqualified (also true).

      I got another job after volunteering for a while, in the company I was volunteering in.
      And I am now studying for a new degree and I couldn’t be happier. It’s taken a while. The prospects in my new job (which I’ve been in for years now!) are not great, neither is the pay, but the people are nice and the holidays and benefits are great, and – I wasn’t expecting this – it’s lead to other things in my personal and professional lives which I’d never have discovered if I hadn’t left.

      So break down, break through… whatever you want to call it.
      Good luck.

      1. Help!*

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s helpful to hear about others’ experiences striving toward some qualifications and then changing.

    7. londonedit*

      I did this. Early on in my career I worked my way diligently up the ladder, as I thought one was meant to do. Reached a certain point and ended up totally burnt out – hated the job, I wasn’t suited to it, it was all just awful. I realised that what I wanted to do was go back to the hands-on stuff that I actually enjoyed doing, and that I was actually reasonably good at. So now I have a mid-level role that involves just doing the hands-on stuff, and it’s great. The downside is that the pay is rubbish, but to me as long as I’m earning enough to pay the rent etc then I’d rather have less money in a job I actually enjoy doing.

      I probably have sabotaged myself to some extent, because in my industry there are quite clearly defined career tracks and if I suddenly wanted to get back on the higher-level train I probably would face quite a bit of resistance from employers who would want to know why I hopped off said train. Having said that, it’s also the sort of industry where plenty of people do have career trajectories that are outside the norm or that are less linear, and I could point to plenty of professional experience on my CV that gives me a really broad overview of the whole industry, so who knows, I might be OK. Not planning to test the theory out anytime soon, mind you!

    8. RecoveringSWO*

      If you want to eventually return to a higher-intensity career, does it need to be the same career? If not, do you think you would have the resources and desire to get a degree for a new higher-intensity career?

      I took a step back from my high-stress career with a “job” that was lower paying and lower stress. But I also applied for a professional degree. I think I would have been much more stressed about my future salary prospects if I didn’t know that I could leave for a higher paying career. When I did go back to school, I also went through the internship/job application process with an eye on finding a professional position that was less stressful than the original career I left. A degree is one option for a “backup path” towards another higher paying career.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I didn’t take a BIG step down, I took a step back though for a couple of years.

      Is there any more junior roles you could slide into instead of actually removing yourself from the career itself?

      Case and point, I usually do business management/accounting management for small businesses. I stepped back from the manager role and did some EA work for awhile because I wanted less responsibility. Then I went for a very specific role in just accounting and shifted back into a more business management role, only in a more of a consultant role because again…I really just want that breathing room of remember what it’s like to be someone with a boss to answer to in some way instead of being left to wrangle 99 cats and 37 turkeys at once.

      But getting completely out of the running is difficult because the longer you are gone, the more struggle you’ll find getting into the saddle again. Lots of people want at least somewhat recent experience, so if it’s buried 5-10 years back you start getting that “I’m not patient enough to see if you can knock the rust off yourself or not…” kind of thing. [This is in the perspective of a hiring manager of course and so take that with a grain of salt because someone with experience getting back in may say that they haven’t struggled much at all but it’s what you’re up against in some eyes.]

    10. Quickbeam*

      I was in a high stress management function in my profession and I took a lower paying consultant role for 10 years. Then at 50, I got back into clinical practice again for the increased income. It was easier because I am a nurse but I didn’t regret those lower stress 10 years.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        I’m in a semi similar situation. I took a similar role in a smaller company with the same kind of work but with a dufferent audience. My title is similar, so it looks like a lateral move on paper. I don’t know if I want to try re-advancing later yet, so can’t speak to that yet. It’s been nice having more time for self care and being in a less stressful/toxic environment with awesome colleagues. I’m occasionally a little bored doing more “job” stuff. I was surprised that I have more to learn than just a new industry given that it’s a smaller place. I have more prestige and easier access to leadership on some of my projects, which feels like a mini advancement. It’s been a good balance overall so far, but took some adjustment and a grieving period for leaving old high powered job at more prestigious firm. Good luck!

    11. Sharkey*

      I did something like this recently, pulling back from more responsibility to less, though I stayed in the same industry. I did to to free up some bandwidth for creative projects and give myself some breathing space after a year with a lot of life-chaos. For me, it was definitely the right choice, but it depends a lot on what you want your job to do for you. In my case, I don’t care if my job brings me personal fulfillment, I really do just want to get a roof over my head & food on my table while doing something relatively satisfying. I really lucked out – I got a low-responsibility job at a startup whose mission I believe in, and it’s working really well for me.

      If you do decide to look for a lower-responsibility role, definitely pay attention to the culture/environment you’d be working in. A big part of what makes my role a great job is that I’m in a lovely environment with nice people, good perks, and the kind of office culture that I really jive with. The exact same role in a company without this stuff would be a LOT harder. What I’m saying is that if you want to downshift (and I don’t blame you one bit!), do what you can to ensure that the experience of ‘going to work’ will be a pleasant one – you won’t have ‘but I work on super important projects’ or ‘I shape the trajectory of the organization’ to keep you warm, so set yourself up to be as comfy as possible!

      1. Help!*

        Thank you for this. I do tend to over-invest my identity in my work. Objectively, I am in a friendly, low-stress environment, but I find the work boring and meaningless on an existential level, and I do tend to catastrophize about what people think of me, etc., so I dread personnel management duties. I’m going to give therapy another try to untangle all this too. It’s so hard to figure out whether my angst at work is “all in my head”, or if I’d actually be able to recover and regain my resiliency if I made a change — because any change, even good change, can be stressful, right? It’s so hard to judge when the right time is to make a change.

        1. Sharkey*

          Absolutely! I can relate to everything you’re saying here: it took me a lot of time & serious reflection on what I wanted out my work AND my life in order to land where I am now. Part of it was thinking about my life goals and weighing them against each other: if in 10 years I haven’t achieved Career Milestone X, do I care? Eh, livable. If in 10 years I haven’t done Creative Project Y, on the other hand, I’ll be really sad, so I guess Y really is my biggest priority.

          It was a hard call to make, definitely, and it was also a real adjustment, since I used to be a lot more ambitious and want ALL of the aspects of my life to be firing on all cylinders at all times. It helped me to look at work as one of the components of my life as a whole and really weigh them against each other, and then budget my energy & bandwidth as if they were dollars and cents to make sure that I had enough resources to pursue my biggest priorities.

          All of which is to say: I totally get how stressful that all is! Keep going to therapy – I did, & it really helped – and zoom out to get a look at the whole picture. Wishing you the best of luck – you got this!

          1. Perambulator*

            Thank you for this comment. I’m in the midst of trying to sort this out for myself. I’m facing a milestone birthday soon and somehow I just end up concluding, it’s too late, I’ll never be able to accomplish much of anything whichever way I go. Your reflection on the decisions you made is somehow really encouraging to me.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Picture yourself 20 years from now. What do you think 20 Year Older You would say to Current You.

              I read a short blurb one time that stayed with me. An elderly man was being interviewed in a nursing home. The interviewer asked, “What is your biggest regret?” The elderly man said, “That I did not take more chances.” He went on to explain that he was way too impressed with the risks involved and that limited his choices in life. If he had it to do again, he would have taken on more risks in order to have more opportunities and experiences.

              At some point it stops being about perfect execution and more about just being willing to try.

              1. Help!*

                I know! I’m so good at selling off my present for the future. The problem is that my skillful negative brain will say, “well, but what if that man had taken some exciting chances and ended up having to eat cat food to survive? He probably would have said he should have enjoyed staying with the sure thing” X-D

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I hear ya.

                  Two points for your Negative Nancy/Ned:

                  1) A person can make cautious, practical choices all their lives and still end up in the latrine. Using my father’s life and my own life where both of us were wiped out by medical bills. We did the things a person is “supposed to do” and got wiped out anyway. Being cautious does not make one immune.
                  This leads me to my second point.

                  2)We can’t help what happens to us, we can only control our response to it. In the end there are things that are of more value than money when it comes to financial catastrophes.
                  These things are:
                  Creativity
                  Ability to think on the fly
                  Friends and/or family
                  Knowledge- our own
                  Knowledge- that of friends and/or family
                  Our ability to draw on past experiences to make good decisions in the present
                  Our ability to ask well chosen people for help
                  And last, commitment. Commitment to ourselves that we will bail ourselves out and get to a better place. This one is the toughest because it requires that we sustain that commitment, things get rough, don’t flinch and keep working at the problems.

                  Money cannot buy any of these things. These are thing we have to grow on our own.

                  See, it’s how we handle the smaller things that becomes building blocks for learning how to handle the larger life issues. If we don’t take reasonable, well chosen risks we never learn these tools and we do not have those coping mechanisms in place when we need them.

                  To be clear here I am not saying take up bungie jumping or hang gliding if these things are nothing you will ever have any success with. Put yourself in spots where you feel that you have at least a 50% chance of some success. Tricky part, keep doing this. Once you accomplish the challenges of Spot A, start looking for Spot B, carefully picking something that you think you can probably succeed at eventually. Inch yourself forward in this manner.
                  Until you see your own achievements it’s gonna be really hard to tell Negative Nancy/Ned to STFU. This can and will get easier.

        2. Just Elle*

          At first I found it so interesting that you are unhappy in your role because the work is boring and meaningless, but you think a “job job” (with presumably even less importance) will make you happier.

          But then I thought back to the job I enjoyed most in my life… it was a bra fitter while in college. I just got so much personal satisfaction out of helping women find bras that were comfortable and made them feel confident.
          So, maybe you could spend some time thinking about what it is you get satisfaction out of – helping people? Solving tough problems? Learning new skills? – and use that to figure out your next move. Maybe something as simple as moving to the same job in a company that provides a service you’re passionate about will help.

        3. Frankie*

          I have some similar tendencies to what you’re describing, and in my experience it follows me from job to job. BUT…there are jobs that push all those buttons much more, and I’ve started to move away from anything in those areas.

          The “dread” word stands out to me, because that’s what a teacher once told me about how to figure out whether you’re just anxious about something new, or whether you straight up shouldn’t do it. She said if you feel true dread, that’s the sign of a bad fit that you should probably not pursue, assuming you have options. So maybe you just need to be in a role that removes most personnel duties?

          The boring/existential stuff I can relate to, as well. Not in my current job, but definitely in most of my previous ones. I did have to take some risks and move out of one career to go into a totally different one. Some of it was luck, and some of it was taking the initiative and the risk, that got me into a job that’s a better fit. But it wasn’t a straightforward path, and I could never have predicted where I’d end up now. So you have to tolerate some ambiguity and accept that you really don’t know where you’ll end up. I had some structure to get me through that change, since I left my previous career to go back to school, and that’s where I got all my subsequent job experience and got my foot in the door where I work now. Not saying that’s a recommendation to go back to school, because that had its own issues, but it’s the mechanism that helped me through that inertia and indecision.

        4. Librarian1*

          Ooof, I’m struggling with this right now, too. My work is boring and feels meaningless to me and on top of it, I don’t get as much human interaction in my job as I’d like. I’m not in a highly-paid field, though, and it’s not a high-powered career. But being bored at work is rough.

      2. Chrysanthemum's The Word*

        “The exact same role in a company without this stuff would be a LOT harder. ”
        This is my exact predicament right now. I left a higher level job for a lower level at an organization whose mission I could stand behind. I wanted less responsibility to adjust to a non-toxic work environment while I was given the promise of advancement down the road.

        Four years in and I still love the mission and appreciate the work I do but the culture has not afforded me to make personal relationships with co-workers and in addition the advancement I was promised is not there. So, I’m lonely and unchallenged. I wish I had done a little more due diligence on the culture of my department before I landed here.

    12. The Ginger Ginger*

      I did this at 28. I had accidentally fallen into retail banking (through a part time college job) and was working as Branch Manager, and I was burned out and miserable. My health was suffering it was so bad. I went into a totally different field as an Account Manager (digital), and while it wasn’t entry level, it was definitely closer to that than to management. The respite that job gave me to recover was amazing. I no longer dreaded going to work, and I got my health back under control. I’ve been with that company for 7 years now, and I’ve parlayed that initial role into 4 internal moves and landed just recently as Product Director. Credibility at my other internal roles made the business willing to allow me to learn on the job and take on reach positions. It was the best decision I ever made. I still don’t dread going into work. And while my role right now is way faster paced than it’s been in the past, so far I feel okay about it. I’m also not afraid any more to try for a change, and I learned really early what my threshold for needing to make a change is. If you’re unhappy where you are, I absolutely encourage you to start looking for something else. You spend too much of your life at work to be unhappy with what you’re doing.

      1. ArtemisPrime*

        Very similar here- I was in my early 30’s working as a Branch Manager at a regional bank and was so unhappy and unhealthy that I took the first ‘job’ I could find that would allow me to pay my bills. It was in a completely different field and was considered entry level. Seven years later and the ‘job’ has turned into a career and I’m now filling the role of Compliance Officer at a growing software company. I am happier, healthier, better paid– not to mention the fact that I met my husband here as well (though I still advise folks against dating a coworker).

        1. Confused*

          I’m really sad to see that other people’s jobs are taking a serious health toll on them like mine is – I didn’t think I’d have this problem at 31.

    13. Sloan Kittering*

      Woof, I feel this. I moved to a big intense neurotic all-work city but I still have my small town sense of work-life balance, and I’m not sure how to back out!

    14. Policy Wonk*

      I did this when my kids were young and I needed a less demanding schedule. Took myself off the fast-track and moved into a job related to what I had been doing, but more process than policy oriented. However, I was still me, and continued to spot and raise issues that needed to be addressed, so my boss kept an eye on me. He tried to give me a couple of opportunities that I turned down because of the kids, and he stopped offering. Eventually, as the kids got older and more independent, I applied for – and got – a job that put me back on the fast track.

      If you think you are in the wrong profession, this model probably won’t work for you. But being in your thirties is still early in your career, so you have time to reinvent yourself. I work with a lot of people who are on second or third careers.

      1. Formerly Arlington*

        My experience as well…. and eventually I returned to more of a leadership role, when they were a bit older. No regrets, just maybe a few years’ delay I’m getting back to where I had been, career ladder and all…

    15. SQL Coder Cat*

      Oh, I did this!

      My childhood dream was to be a medical researcher. I got my master’s, got a spot in a lab, and spent the next two years stressed out of my mind. When we lost a grant, I got laid off- and my first reaction was relief, not panic. I decided that was a sign I needed to do something- anything- else. I found a similar paying job as a call center representative (medical research doesn’t pay that well). I spent twelve years between the two call centers I worked at, moving up to lower management positions both times. I also learned that I was great at business analytics and got my MBA during those years. Five years ago I moved into a business analyst career for the technical functions of a university, and I love it. It’s a career I’d never have considered had I followed my original plan. Call center work isn’t a lot of fun, but it does give you an opportunity to develop a lot of skills and gave me the time to explore what else I wanted to do with my life.

    16. Leela*

      I’m here right now and trying to decide how I feel about it! I was diagnosed with cancer and while it’s not bad enough to keep me from working, it is bad enough to keep me from some career-type positions.

      This is hard to say, and I’m going to guess it’s different for everyone, and I’m going to guess that I’d answer differently if you asked me now, 5 years from now, 10, 20, 30, onto my deathbed etc. But I’ll say that I’m trying to have my life be about more than work now. It wasn’t when I was younger, I grew up very poor and success was always held like a carrot in front of me that I could get if I just worked hard enough. Unfortunately I graduated university in 2008 and that’s seriously hurt a lot of people my age and younger for careers, as every field becomes as contract as possible, wages become lower across the board, and so on. Eventually I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and I jumped off for something that’s just a “job”, but I have so much free time. I’m making art again which I hadn’t done since high school, I’m picking up new skills, I spend a lot of time with friends/community and my life is way better. Now will I feel that way in 20 years when someone who stayed on my track might be making more? I’m not sure.

      I hope whatever you decide though, that it works out very well for you!

      1. Help!*

        Thank you so much for sharing your experience and shift in priorities. I hope your recovery goes quickly and smoothly.

        I also graduated college around the same time, and was also an overachiever who came out of a poor single-parent household, so I have probably been trying to reduce “risk” and add as much “safety” around me to distance myself from those financial difficulties. Perhaps that reflex isn’t serving me so well at this point.

      2. Earl of Lemongrab*

        This is where I’m at right now, looking at what Sarah Kenzior calls the “post-employment economy.” My big lucrative career-track contract role I’d been trapped in and hated for years got cut suddenly for corporate bullshit reasons, and I’m just… Over it? I keep looking at more career-track stuff where they want a thousand credentials for bad pay and not great benefits anyway, and I’m like, you know, if I wanna be compensated poorly, I’d rather be compensated poorly doing something I can stop thinking about when I get off work. Shit.

    17. Mama Bear*

      I think that your 30s is a fine time to realize the path you’re on is not what you want. I took time off from FT work when my kid was born and went back to FT work when she was in elementary school. It took a couple of years and a job hop but I feel like I’m back on track. If your main goals in life are things that can be achieved in different ways, then find the path that works vs staying in the path you already know is burning you out.

    18. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Don’t do it unless you are absolutely sure it is what you want to do. I did it but not by choice. I had a rewarding but high demand career which I loved. I got laid off during the great recession. Nine years later, I am making only 1/3 of what I was making before. I have a very unfulfilling job and I hate it.

    19. I'm Here For It*

      Unfortunately I have no advice to give. Just here to say, I’m in a similar boat and am experiencing similar anxieties. I hope you find your path!

    20. RecoveringSWO*

      Are you at a large company right now? If you’re at a smaller company, you might be able to lateral into a big company where expectations for an employee with your experience are lower and responsibilities are more defined. To me, that still shows growth on your resume. If that’s an option, you can take it and spend the next few years deciding whether you’d be happy there or want to restart climbing the ladder in your career or completely change fields.

      1. Help!*

        I am at a smaller but prestigious company, and I have actually been given the chance to move around to different positions/responsibilities. I guess I’m reaching the point where I’ve tried everything they can offer me in terms of chance — so maybe I have to look for a different company.

    21. Kenzi Wood*

      I took a different route entirely, where I quit my full-time job and became a self-employed writer. I started it as a side hustle and used the earnings to pay off my student loans, which made me financially independent enough to take a risk. I’ve been self-employed for a year and I would never go back to a traditional career. If you want it badly enough, there are GOOD alternatives to the “crash and burn” career path so many of us fall into.

    22. JobHunter*

      Yes, I am feeling professionally isolated. I have been trying to get back to my field but it has been a hard road.

      If you want to change fields, do it! It might be harder to convince a hiring manager to bring you in for an interview but if you show growth in the direction you want to go you can still get interviews. For example, I have been keeping busy with relevant volunteer activities and education/certifications. I have had a few interviews this past year, so my CV must not be conpletely off-putting.

    23. zora*

      Yep. I was super burned out in nonprofits and it had caused a lot of mental health issues I hadn’t had before.

      I went back to a temp agency and started looking for Admin jobs, because I can do those in my sleep. It’s been 5 years, and I guess here are my Pros/Cons:
      PROS
      1. I’m actually making more than I was in nonprofits. It’s sort of below average for my area, but it’s enough to live easily without having to worry about finances. But I do live pretty frugally (rent a small apt, buy second hand, cook a lot of meals)
      2. I ended up at a company where everyone is super nice and supportive of each other. My boss is really appreciative and easy to work with. It’s a very positive atmosphere, which has really helped my mental health.
      3. I’ve now gotten on meds, have regular talk therapy, and am making some real progress on my mental health which I don’t think I could have done while still in a high pressure job.
      4. I can mostly leave work at work, I am nonexempt, mostly am out the door at 5 on the dot.

      CONS:
      1. I have struggled a little bit with feeling pathetic and lame for being a ‘secretary’ in my 40s. It’s definitely not what I ever thought I would be doing at this point. Not that this is actually true, but jerkbrain says I’m an under-achiever, especially in the Bay Area where women younger than me are founding and running their own companies.
      2. I don’t want to get back into my previous career track, but it has been hard to figure out how to get back to “A” career track. Although, I’ve been doing some networking recently, and I’m thinking that’s mostly in my head, and it isn’t as big of a barrier to getting a higher-level job as I think it is.
      3. I’ve definitely put a dent in my earning power/retirement savings, if I had rethought my career sooner, I could be making a LOT more money in this area (like 50-75% more).

      On balance, I am ok with it, I think I did the right thing for me at the time. But this is with inherited depression and anxiety that showed itself in my mid-30s, so that might not be the case for everyone. But I also am really starting to learn that there’s always time to make a change. I think if your priorities change, you can adjust! Literally nothing is permanent, and it’s never too late. Remember, Julia Child published her first cookbook at 50! :)

      1. Perambulator*

        Zora,
        Thanks for sharing this. Reading others’ thoughtful eflections on their struggles and resolutions in this area is really helpful and encouraging. I’m not the one who posted the question, but I’m so appreciative they did and for all of you weighing with your thoughts and experiences.

    24. Quinalla*

      I haven’t stepped back, but I’ve certainly been clarifying what is and isn’t important to me in my career and have been seeking out more of the parts I like and delegating/not taking on as many of the things I don’t like. This isn’t a possibility for everyone to do, but I’m in a small regional office of a larger company, so we all wear a lot of hats and I wear more than anyone, but I’ve been trying to better focus myself on where I am my best and really enjoy work (and this includes things I want to grow and get better at) and/or on things that only I or a small few can do. Its better for me and my company, so win win!. But first, I had to really dig in and figure out what are the things that I really love about my job and what things I actively don’t want to do and what things I don’t care either way. Then I came up with a strategy with my boss for how to focus better.

      This is NOT to say I don’t do things I don’t like anymore, I do just like anyone, but it is much less.

      Not sure if something like that is possible for you? Or even if not, maybe just figuring out what you do and don’t like about your current job and what things you think you would like to be doing going forward so you can better figure out your next steps?

      I’m also in a position where I can be more flexible with my hours and I’ve been taking full advantage of that (with the blessing and encouragement of my boss as we are trying to shift our culture on this to be even more flexible) and that also has been very helpful in making the work/life push/pull much easier to manage.

    25. Asenath*

      I went through a major job change. It was incredibly rough, largely because I held on too long instead of moving on. I am now years into a steady, but lower-status and lower-paid job. I’ve long since realized that I was totally unsuited for the first job, should have left earlier, and am now absolutely grateful that I did finally make a move. Going back to that field was not an option – I burned a lot of bridges – but for a while I tried applied for other “better” jobs in my newer area, until I realized that I was really quite happy where I was, and not inclined to take a chance in something else new. Being around long enough to get good at what I do, if I do say so myself, and to hear why some of those other jobs I was applying for were open (I found out some places looking to hire had a reputation for being dysfunctional and having lots of turnover). helped a lot. I wasn’t so desperate for something – anything – better than Original Job that I needed to consider such places, since I was happy where I was.

      1. Help!*

        This is really encouraging and helpful to hear!! One part of my worry has been whether I could really accept and be happy with lower-status/lower-pay. I’m glad you found this was possible.

    26. The Meow*

      Not my story, but my cousin turned down an opportunity to become partner at a Bigly Important Firm; and instead quit her job altogether and taught yoga for a year.

      She said she tried to imagine what life would be like 5-10 years if she accepted the partnership offer. It would basically be lots of schmoozing and make sales pitches to rich white dudes and she saw no appeal in it. *Everyone* thought she was crazy to turn down such a lucrative and prestigious opportunity. Had she accepted she would be the first woman of colour and youngest person ever in her firm to be made partner.

      She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do but this wasn’t it. So she quit, travelled, did some yoga teaching as a side job, and read lots of books. She eventually went back to a similar role but in a non profit organisation. She has since stayed in this area and loves what she is doing.

      Recently she met up with a couple of guys who was offered partnership at the same time as her (who did accept). They were outrageously wealthy and well known in the industry but also overworked, stressed, and their health was also suffering.

      I don’t think she has ever regretted her decision.

    27. Meepmeep*

      I did this. After about 3 years in the wrong career, I switched to tutoring. It was not a “career”, but it paid well enough, I was debt-free and single so my financial requirements were minimal, and I had a very good time for a few years. Then I went back to school and got into another high-powered career track. I don’t feel like I lost out on anything, and the career change worked out really well for me.

    28. lobsterp0t*

      I have and I had to overcome several stages of changing my mindset.

      First I was dismissive of the “stopgap job” I thought I had taken.

      Then it kicked my ass.

      Then I found a way to make it meaningful and learn and grow from it.

      Recently I got told I was setting a high bar for my role group.

      And it’s really amazing to feel like I’m growing where I’m planted and there isn’t a track to follow and I’m just thriving?

      I don’t have to chase this or any other track. I can change tracks if I decide that I want to be ON a track at all. My mental health is great. I recently had an opportunity to get back into a field in a senior role at a small charity and… I chose to pass it up and stay where I am. I feel like I’ve given myself an opportunity to explore other things in life, still grow professionally, and also not literally dying from stress and misery.

      I no longer worry that I derailed my career. I think I probably saved it by stepping off the track I was on, because it was the wrong fit for me. it feels like a valuable meditation on identity because right now my job is the least interesting part of me? And it isn’t a defining adjective in my existence. And I remain equally ambitious and driven and hard working and motivated – it’s nice to know that those things are true even though I’m not in a senior role anymore.

  2. Even pluviophiles get fed up of the rain now and then*

    I’ve just applied for a job within my company and have been told by 2 people (one of whom is the shortlister) that they are worried that I am taking too much on because I’m studying also and this post is more hours, plus I’ve been off in the past with a health issue (which is now resolved)!

    I’m pretty cross about this. They seem to be going into the selection process with a bias that is unfair to me. I have made no mention of flexible working in my application (I don’t need it!), I’m healthy and well and in a good place, and feel more than capable of doing the job, but I feel like they are just putting their own assumptions onto it!

    How should I proceed if they bring it up in interview?

    1. pally*

      If they bring this up, ask them to explain what they perceive as the issue(s).

      Then address their concerns as they bring them up.

      If they don’t bring it up, you might ask them to express any concerns they might have regarding your ability to do the job. Ask them to put it on the table so you can have the opportunity to address and dispel their faulty assumptions.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      “if they bring it up”
      I wouldn’t wait for them to bring it up. I would deal with it head on. “I’ve been told there are specific concerns about my ability to this job and I would like to address them now.”
      This is actually helpful. It sucks that they think this, but better the devil you know.

      1. designbot*

        Agreed. I’d also address the health thing head on, like “A couple of people have brought up a previous, resolved, illness as a reason not to take on this role, and without getting deep into medical details there’s simply no indication that this would be an issue.”

    3. AnonyNurse*

      If you’re in the US, not considering you for a promotion based on perceived disability would be illegal. And the person responsible for the short list told that is happening. And I would use the words Allison always advises, “I don’t want the company to get in trouble …”. However, based on terms you used, I’m not sure if you’re in the US. If that’s the case, I hope wherever you are also has legal protections for workers. Good luck!

      1. Mobuy*

        Sure, but if they had a health issue in the past that made them less reliable or take a lot of time off, the company might not want to promote them to a higher-stress, increased-hours position. I think that’s perfectly fair. However, if the health issue is resolved, I think pluviophiles needs to address the issue. “I have heard that there is some concern about my ability to do the job due to Sickness. I’m happy to report that Sickness has been resolved, so it should not impact my ability to do Job in any way.”

        1. employment lawyer*

          “if they had a health issue in the past that made them less reliable or take a lot of time off, the company might not want to promote them to a higher-stress, increased-hours position. I think that’s perfectly fair”

          Still illegal in the U.S. The ADAAA expanded the definition of individual with disability to protect employees with a medical history of disability from discrimination based on either that history or a perception of disability. If someone is the most qualified person for a promotion, I don’t think it’s fair at all for an employer to penalize them because they *used to* have a health issue beyond their control.

        2. Even pluviophiles get fed up of the rain now and then*

          I’m in the UK, and like in the US, it’s illegal to discriminate against someone for actual or perceived disability, now or in the past.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Being a student is not a disability or a protected class. It’s a valid concern to question whether someone who also has another major committment can take on increased responsibility.

        OP didn’t say they had a disability. They had a prior health issue, which is resolved. If it seriously impacted their track record at work in some way (for example, if they were unable to participate in a project or training that would have given them necessary experience for the new role), that’s a valid consideration.

        Or if the way they handled the health problem caused issues for others – not asking for help when needed so things didn’t get done; not communicating appropriately about absences; overestimating their productivity and giving unrealistic timeframes they couldn’t meet…

        There are a lot of possible concerns here that may be completely relevant in considering someone for an expanded role.

        1. employment lawyer*

          The ADA’s definition of disability is extremely broad — previous medical conditions can count so long as they were not transitory AND minor. Assuming that OP’s condition was serious at the time, it may qualify them as an individual with a history of disability who is protected from discrimination under the ADA.

          1. Even pluviophiles get fed up of the rain now and then*

            This is the same as in the UK. In fact the Equality Act here covers the same defintion of disability discrimination as it does in the US, just with different wording.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      If you’re hearing it’s a question, I’d bring it up directly in the interview, don’t wait for them. Possible script:
      “I’m interested in a chance to dig in to a more challenging role, now that my health issues are resolved”
      “Once my health issues resolved, I started my course of study, which will be completed at X date. I know I’ll need to be at the top of my game in time management until then, but I’ve thought about how to prioritize the overall workload, and I think it’s workable.” (and do actually think about it, and have some concrete steps in case they dig in, like ‘spend more on home services (cleaning / grocery shopping)’ or ‘take a lower course load and extend my course of study by a semester’)

      1. Even pluviophiles get fed up of the rain now and then*

        Thanks, I really like this script. I’m going to think about how I can best adapt it to my situation.
        I agree that it’s best to proactively discuss it, as it’s part of the “why I think I’m a good fit for this post” answer.

    5. LGC*

      I think they’re coming from a good place, but…yeah, I totally understand why you’re cross about it.

      But also, I would seriously listen to this – especially since you have a history of health issues! It’s not totally fair, but I think that their thought process is, “Pluviophile has already had health issues and they’re doing a ton right now – is handing them more demanding work going to be the best decision?” That’s one of the downsides of internal promotions – they know your strengths, but they also know your weaknesses.

      I’d just address it head-on, as others have suggested. And I would consider how you’d balance your studies and your work. How many more hours is this new position? Would you need to reduce your courseload? These are all good things to consider before the interview. I know you’re confident that you can handle it, but I still think it’s a good idea to think about it – just as it would be for any position. You don’t need to give a detailed action plan, nor should you – but if you can drop down to part-time for a semester and then ramp back up (for example), that might help smooth the transition.

      1. Even pluviophiles get fed up of the rain now and then*

        Thanks, I appreciate your thoughtfulness and tact in your answer :)
        You’re quite right:
        I have thought very hard about this post, and I wouldn’t have applied for it if I didn’t think I could do it both in terms of what’s required and in fitting it in life; but of course they don’t know that, and so it’s up to me to show them why I can do the job and that includes showing them that my time management is frickin awesome and I’ve weighed the risks to my health and deemed them manageable.

    6. The Happy Intern*

      If they bring it up, the best thing you can do is provide examples of when you’ve mitigated situations of being overloaded! That way you can prove to them that you’re capable of handling a big work load with your tasks outside of work without just giving them blind (and useless) reassurance. If you can genuinely back up your claim of it not being an issue, then they’re going to be far more likely to believe you!

      And I wouldn’t be cross about it – it sounds like they’re legitimately looking out for you. If they knew you had a medical history that caused you to be away, that you’re taking classes outside of work, AND applying for a new job with a heavier workload, of course they’re going to want to make sure that you won’t burn out within a couple of months! It’s not just kind of them to consider your overall wellbeing (not necessarily medical but stress levels and whatnot), but it’s also smart of them to make sure that they’re not going to hire someone that may ultimately be unable to perform the job – everyone loses in that scenario.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Yes, I’d try to separate it in your mind and look at how the illness impacted you at work. If you had been in this new position when you got sick, would your approach to workload, communication and productivity have been excellent, or a problem?

        Were any relationships on your team or between teams damaged because of the way you dealt with your illness (asking for accommodations, calling out sick, managing deadlines)?

        Are there other internal candidates who just got more experience in the meantime, that you couldn’t get because you were dealing with health stuff?

        What did you learn from the experience of dealing with your illness that will make you even better in this new role?

        I’m not saying there’s no bias, or that you did anything wrong. I’m suggesting these things so you can approach the interview with constructive things to talk about.

        If you go in there angry and with a defensive mindset that starts at “this is unfair,” then you’re not going to give a good interview. You have to put your head in a different place so you can demonstrate the ability to handle more responsibility. Not just with words, but with your whole approach.

        Focus on the common goal of great outcomes in the work, and how you can help make that happen. If you’re focused on yourself and what you deserve or what you can/can’t handle, that doesn’t inspire confidence.

  3. Feeling Slighted?*

    I’m not sure if I should feel slighted, or if all of this was human error that seemed to effect me. I work PT for Company G and rarely work for them. Company G is a llama grooming company. We are allowed to select the shifts that we want to work and a manager will confirm if we are the one they selected to work the shift. We are paid hourly and sometimes get mileage, depending on the location. 

    – Nobody on our staff wanted to travel to Further Away location (~160 miles round trip for me). This shift was late evening (not a lot of traffic) and fit my schedule. I agreed to take it after negotiating for a higher hourly rate plus mileage after 30 miles, making it worth my time. This shift involves me needing to purchase products on a company issued credit card. When I went to purchase something, I found out that nobody checked to see if my company card was activated (I didn’t know that they get turned off for inactivity) and I had to go back and forth with them via text and finally get the card activated. 

    – Sometimes we need to go to the company storage unit (we are paid for this time) to get llama grooming supplies. The person in charge of the storage unit, Anna, texted me a few days before and said my llama grooming kit would be ready on Wednesday and you can pick it up anytime before having to groom your llama. Great! I texted her the info I had to get into the storage unit (the unit #, the combination to the lock, address etc.) to make sure that it was still the same. She then asked me what llama I was grooming and when. Turns out she forgot to make a kit for me and she was out of town now. She asked a different storage unit manager to make the kit. I ended up having to get my llama grooming kit the morning my llama needed to be groomed.

    – To groom llamas in my state, my company has to have a llama grooming permit. The llama groomers must carry this permit on them (it’s a piece of paper saying Company G is allowed to groom llamas in this state). The copy that I had expired a year ago so I asked for an updated llama grooming permit from the manager, Kate. It is a BIG DEAL if we don’t have this permit on us if State Employees were to stop in and ask to see the permit. It even says it in our State Laws Regarding Llamas Document that we must have this permit with us. 

    Kate responds saying she has never seen this piece of paper and has never been asked for it. She’s never had it herself and will need to ask her higher up for it. I even sent her the screenshot I had of the expired one to show her what I meant. I did all of this a few days prior to my llama grooming shift. The day of my shift, I asked her again for the permit. She sent me a screenshot of it opened on her phone and it’s small but readable. I asked her where I can get the actual PDF file of it (company shared drive, etc.) I told her that I would to ask my llama grooming client if I could borrow their printer to print the permit (The llama grooming client will definitely have a printer and they will be in trouble too if I didn’t have the permit so that wasn’t an issue) since technically we are supposed to have a printed copy. Her response was “IDK.” Luckily, no State Employees came to check up on the llama grooming.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think you should feel slighted. If I were you, I’d be concerned about Kate’s lack of knowledge about a required permit. In general, this seems disorganized – is that the norm for this company? – but nothing seems deliberate or personal.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Yeah, if this falls into a larger pattern of disorganization it’s really weird, but the only actually concerning part is the lack of knowledge around the permit. Maybe check in with someone else to ensure your training materials are up to date/that you’re still required to carry the permit?

        1. Feeling Slighted?*

          We definitely still need this permit.

          Tara, a manager at another llama grooming company, always sends the permit out along with the week’s schedule with the phrase “must have permit with you.”

          1. Door Guy*

            I count myself lucky that no state agency ever dropped by on one of my jobs a few years ago. I didn’t even know it existed. When I left them to work for a competitor, I was given my permit after the training and told I had to keep it on me, not just in my truck but on person, at all times.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I’m not at all surprised, I had a boss hide a display-required permit in her office for 60 days, and when I did an audit it turned out she was letting llama groomers work with expired certifications.

        Pretty much everywhere I worked, speaking up about this got you slammed as not a team player. Because closing when the permits aren’t in place is “bad customer service.”

        1. Princesa Zelda*

          At a place in food service I used to work at, I found out I was the only person who actually had a food handler’s permit. I brought it to management’s attention and the response was a big shrug. I stayed a while longer, because I needed the schedule, but I felt no qualms about leaving the place. It was a pit of dysfunction.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wouldn’t take it seriously.

      But holy SH*T, this woman needs to be removed from her position immediately.

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

      It’s not personal but, wow, Company G doesn’t have their act together at all. I wouldn’t work with them again if at all possible. I hope you’ve received your payment already, because this has the signs that your check will be a month late, short your mileage, and/or at the lower rate than you negotiated.

      1. Feeling Slighted?*

        Already been paid for both the hours and the mileage and correctly

        The payroll system is another labyrinth but the employee enters the hourly rate they are supposed to be getting but the managers have to approve it. So you know, eleventy bajillion dollars an hour wouldn’t fly.

        The mileage is an expense report that they process separately from payroll and you see the amount you are supposed to be getting. Believe me, I made sure it was correct.

    4. Mrs_helm*

      Seems like a lot of work to put in…before you actually work. Hopefully it is worth it for the $ or the ❤️.

      Agree with other that this seems ‘not personal” and more like disorganized or people just don’t care about professionalism?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This isn’t personal. They do this “at” everyone, that is to say, this is poorly organized company.

      But I will say for some places it is also called “Tuesday”. Sometimes everything I touch at work just crumbles, the day is a wreck. My only hope is to get home safely and start over tomorrow. Usually the next day is better. Some times recurrences can be prevented by different planning, or added steps.

      For take-a-ways on your examples here I would:

      1) Start a new routine of making sure my card was activated when I received it, as opposed to waiting until I needed it.
      2) Keep a spare llama grooming kit on hand, so the one I ordered would be the replacement and I was free to go do the work. I could pick up the replacement later.
      3) Start a routine of checking my llama grooming permits on a set annual schedule, as opposed to waiting until I needed it to check it.

      This can feel like doing other people’s work for them. However, I am not willing to be caught doing something against regulations. So my concern about jail time tops my concern about doing others’ work for them. I will save my own butt first and foremost.
      I am also unwilling to work without proper supplies available, IF I have any control over that matter. So I will drag stuff in before I need it so I am ready. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and the stuff has to come last minute. Nothing we can do in that case.

      1. valentine*

        Be sure to include the hours you spent dealing with everyone and any related driving that wasn’t to go groom.

      2. Feeling Slighted?*

        I’m just seeing your comment!

        #1 – I hope this was a one-time deal. There were funds posted to my card so I assumed all was well. If I am inactive for awhile with Company G, I will definitely follow up to make sure my card is active.

        #2 – I have basic llama grooming supplies in my car but my company requires their specific supplies, which are to be picked up at their location, which they pay us to do.

        #3 – Definitely a good idea but again, I hadn’t worked for Company G in ages so I only worried about the permit when I got another llama grooming shift.

  4. extra anon today*

    The conversation around yesterday’s letter about tracking a coworker’s time off made me decide to share the absurd situation I’ve been in at work for the last 6 months.

    I have a coworker, A, who works in a separate location from the rest of the team. When I started a little over a year ago, I was informed that for medical reasons, A sometimes was away for a week or so, so I would be cross-trained in his job. This was fine – I went to his office, learned everything from him, and felt pretty prepared. Not long after, he had to be away, so I went to cover.

    And he didn’t come back.

    For the last 6 months, the rest of the team (at various times either 3 or 4 of us) have been covering this extra position. This involves a lot of trouble, back-and-forth, and whatnot. Throughout this period, A has called in sick every. Single. Day. Individually.

    I know from my boss (her oversharing and boundary issues are a whole different problem) that A has been uncooperative and often uncommunicative throughout this process. (He takes a long time to get doctor’s notes, etc.) Despite the absurdity of this situation, it’s only in the last month that the termination process has begun, although my boss is for some reason pretending it’s not happening.

    Did I mention that one time, A assured us that he would be back the next week, and then spent that week calling out each day for a plumbing issue that apparently popped up?! There have also been unapproved holidays during this period… and while covering for him, we haven’t been able to figure out what on earth he did all day when he WAS at work. There are things left undone, and the workload itself just isn’t that high.

    This is a result of lazy management above us, my own boss not taking appropriate action, and the bureaucratic nature of the job, but the whole thing is so frustrating I want to scream!

    Important note: I don’t doubt that my coworker is experiencing health issues. But the way he has handled this is completely inappropriate, and makes it tough for other people with chronic illnesses to be taken seriously.

    No advice needed, really, just a vent. But please tell me your weirdest job abandonment stories!

    1. Yorick*

      I worked in a daycare over the summers, and I didn’t have a regular class, I would cover so people could take their lunch breaks and then go in the biggest class in the afternoon.

      One day, I went in to the 3 year old room so she could go on her lunch break. She never came back. I was in the 3 year old room for the rest of the summer. And 3 year olds are the worst!

      Some time later (I think weeks), I dropped a clipboard with pieces of lined paper (that I almost never had any reason to use), and noticed one of the lower ones had writing on it. It was the 3 year old teacher’s handwritten resignation letter that she had buried in this clipboard.

      1. NovemberNovember*

        Same thing happened to me, only in the 4s room. Apparently it had happened before. Daycare is fun that way!

        1. Door Guy*

          My wife worked at one of those daycare places, she loves working with kids (she is a supervisor at the SACC program currently) but it was so disorganized and mismanaged she could only hold out for like 3 weeks even as a part time worker.

          We had both pushed it entirely out of our minds until we were cleaning up old tax documents a few weeks ago and found her W2.

      2. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

        Years ago, I was on the board at a parent-run preschool. In my role, I had regular meetings with my board co-chairs and the executive director. The exec director was new (~3 months into the role) and wasn’t popular with the staff, as she had to implement/enforce new policies that they didn’t like but which were necessary so that the school could continue/survive. The board was very supportive of her, though, and we did all we could to assist her.

        One Monday, my co-chair and I arrived for our regular meeting and waited for ED to show. And waited, And waited. After 45 minutes, we went into the office to see if her purse, etc., were still there and she’d perhaps stepped out.

        On her desk we found a note, hand-scrawled *in crayon*, that ended with the words, “And NEVER contact me again!”.

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          Very unprofessional, terrible thing to do to the school. Also: I kinda want to have dinner with this woman.

      3. Fact & Fiction*

        OMG! I had something similar happen but it was my son’s babysitter at the time. He was around a year old and his former amazing babysitter decided she and her husband were no longer up to caring for older children (they’d kept him since I went back to work when he was 9 weeks old). So the second babysitter cared for our son in her home and everything seemed to be fine, until she had a death in the family and said we’d need a backup babysitter for a few days.

        So we took our son to our backup babysitter and this went on for over a week where the original babysitter got really weird about saying she couldn’t yet care for our son and then she started ignoring our calls entirely. And then the backup babysitter showed us the resignation letter she found TUCKED INTO THE DIAPER BAG that had been there this entire time. And our original babysitter just never mentioned it, apparently waiting for us to find it rather than admitting she was resigning.

        SUCH a frustrating and WTF moment. Luckily the backup babysitter agreed to take our son on full-time and she was amazing. I just don’t understand how someone can secretly resign like that without even telling anyone…

    2. Jellyfish*

      A former boss was… well, I don’t have many nice words to describe her. She had a lot of technical skill and knowledge, but her soft skills were such that management really was not a good option for her. Yet she was a manager.

      Near the end of her time in this particular position, she started working from home more frequently. A couple times a week usually – no biggie, she could do that. Honestly, the office was a lot more peaceful when she was gone, and she told us the higher ups in corporate were fine with it. No one in our little local office had any reason to question that.

      Then she stopped coming in at all. She’d always been difficult to contact, so the corporate office 500 miles away didn’t initially notice anything amiss when she missed emails and didn’t answer her office phone. Then one day the VP showed up unexpectedly. She asked for my boss. Confused, we said, “Boss hasn’t been in the office for eight weeks. We thought you knew?”

      Apparently my boss had never been cleared to WFH at at, much less for two months. We had a new manager within the week.

    3. voyager1*

      That does sound wild.

      I would add though, letters like the one about the spreadsheet always generate a ton of responses. I think at some point locking the comments would be wise. How many “yikes” or “eye rolling” or whatever one up variations of that does the LW need? Sure it it is entertaining in the same way a train wreck is, but it really only adds to the toxicity of the internet as a whole.

      1. Zona the Great*

        What an interesting comment to make on a Friday open thread. We wait all week to be able to tell each other these tales. Don’t read if too negative, I’d say.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        I’m actually with you on ‘ugh, pile-on, please stop!’, but there is a bonding component to it too. We’re sounding off to remind our tribe we are still here. When the tribe’s not physically near each other, and we don’t have like / dislike / emojis, more comments happens.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I’d really like a like button! So many insightful, clever, funny things are written here that I’d like to acknowledge but don’t always warrant a new comment.

      3. Delphine*

        I don’t disagree. At some point, it stops being conducive to the reason for posting the letter. I don’t think I’d ever write a letter to AAM that would result in a pile-on, but the possibility doesn’t really encourage me to write in at all.

    4. Alianora*

      That’s strikingly similar to the way a fellow temp abandoned a summer job I had. Except he wasn’t using sick time, he just called in every day to say he wasn’t coming, for the remaining two month period. Eventually he asked our manager for a reference. I don’t think he got it.

      1. only acting normal*

        Well your manager could give an honest positive reference “Temp was extremely diligent about calling every day to say he wasn’t coming to work.”

    5. QCI*

      Had a new hire coworker at old job. One day he’s a no call no show. Boss calls the number he gave when hired, his roommate and/or girlfriend answered and said he got on a bus and headed to florida out of the blue. Boss goes “huh, so…can you bring us his work shirts?”. I don’t remember if we got them back or not. He had god awful breath so we were happy he left.

    6. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

      At my old school, one of the 5th grade teachers never came back from lunch! She just abandoned her class of 10 year olds!

      1. Garland Not Andrews*

        My sister did that. She was teaching special ed, working with individual students at the time. She went to lunch with her husband, dropped him back at his work, pulled a stack of money from the bank and left. Took a couple of weeks to track her down. She has never gone back to teaching. Too bad, she was a great teacher.

      2. Door Guy*

        My school had a 6th grade teacher do that. One day he was just gone and no one knew anything (or at least admitted to knowing anything).

        No happy ending, though, as a few months later we all found out where he went when he showed up on the evening news when it reported about his conviction after he was arrested trying to meet what he thought was a 13 year old boy in the next state but was actually a police officer.

      1. ampersand*

        My interpretation was that he wasn’t on FMLA and therefore called in daily, and the higher ups didn’t want to deal with it so allowed it to happen.

    7. spock*

      My team was growing and needed a third coordinator as soon as possible. We spent months trying to find someone, finally one person accepted an offer and we were all relieved, especially the other coordinators this person would be helping. Because of the holiday season, they weren’t scheduled to start for another month or two from when they accepted but we decided it was worth it and stopped looking for anyone else.

      Come their first day and they just don’t show up! Eventually we learned that they’d accepted another job and just… didn’t let anyone at our company know. Best part is they were recommended by someone else at the company. So they were extremely rude to us AND didn;t seem to care about the friend who vouched for them.

      1. Joielle*

        Was it at a hospital? Your missing employee might have been my sister-in-law, haha.

        Once, my sister-in-law accepted a job, kept interviewing, accepted a second job, and then just… didn’t tell the first one. Three weeks went by. The weekend before she was supposed to start at the first job, she called me to ask if I could help her write them a letter to tell them she wasn’t coming in Monday, that would make them not be mad at her in case she wanted to work there in the future. I told her that I did not think there was a combination of words in the English language that could accomplish that.

        She never contacted the first job and just ignored their calls until they stopped calling. She’s now been through three jobs since this happened less than a year ago, so I kind of think the first job dodged a bullet!

    8. Mama Bear*

      Well, there’s been a few…

      There’s the one where my spouse had to fire someone who went AWOL and due to red tape and HR ineptitude it took a year…

      Or the one where the guy was at the office holiday party on a Friday, we had agreed to do work over the weekend so he took his laptop and we never heard from him again. Months later he showed up on FB and we think that rather than be killed in a snowdrift (bad weather that night) he was probably arrested and put in jail for a short time. He’d only worked with us for a few weeks and his emergency contact was a roommate who had no idea where he was. We never did get the laptop back.

      Or the one early in my career where the coworker didn’t have a home phone or cell and simply didn’t show up…eventually she was tracked to her home state halfway across the country. She just got fed up and moved and never told anyone. They fired her for abandoning her post and she still wanted to argue about having to mail back her badge and keys.

      Or most recently the school counselor who vanished while I was in the middle of getting her help with something and I had a heck of a time getting any resolution from the school. I didn’t care who did the thing, just that the thing got done! There was no backup and for weeks they didn’t realize no one was checking her email/following up with parents. Took them months to find an interim counselor for the last month or so of school and that person was replaced by the following fall. It was a huge mess.

      The one that stands out most is the coworker who went out on medical leave after a car accident. One day we were all called into a meeting and told by HR that they discovered she was actually serving jail time when she was on short term disability for a minor surgery (that she did have). What really happened was she was arrested for something related to the accident and was out on work release to a family friend’s company but didn’t tell our company any of it. I had to witness the inventory of her desk so we could prove we sent back anything that was personal.

      1. Door Guy*

        I’ve had to deal with a few job abandonment where they had company property since I worked at a place where your truck and company phone went home with you at night.

        The first one, the guy had called in a lot, and then one day just didn’t call in but didn’t answer the phone when we tried to contact him. The truck GPS showed it was still at his house (although if it’s disconnected, it just forever shows the last place it got signal). After waiting out the job abandonment duration, we went out and he answered the door and gave everything back, but he said “I wasn’t sure if you’d want this all back…” like the company was going to say “Oh, yeah, you get to keep your brand new truck (we got a new fleet that year), and all the ladders and equipment and meters and phone when you quit!”

        Next one, guy called up the day before he was supposed to go solo after training that he had gotten pulled over and discovered his license had been suspended due to an unpaid speeding ticket, and it couldn’t get reinstated until he could pay it but he was broke and had to wait until payday (2 weeks). 2 weeks later and we can’t get ahold of him, the only news we get is from his friend (who got hired at the same time). Find out that he got his license fixed like 2 days after he got pulled over and just didn’t tell us. We FINALLY get him on the phone, tell him we have to run his driving background again and that when it comes back clear he hits the field the next day. That was the last time anyone from the company actually spoke with him (aside from his buddy). We had to go out with spare keys and get his truck after they finally started the clock for job abandonment, which sucked as the guy lived 2 hours from the office (we covered a huge area, which is why they got to take their trucks home). No one is home, the truck is unlocked, but the battery is dead, and jumper cables weren’t working. Called our roadside assistance and they brought a new battery. We never got his company phone back (from what I understood they were involving the police but I never heard anything else) and apparently his buddy said that he was trying to become an MMA fighter now.

        The buddy from the last story is next. He broke down crying on me one day because he wasn’t making enough money to pay his bills, and they’d already had their heat turned off once and got it reconnected but it was going to be disconnected again, and how his girlfriend couldn’t find a job and more sob story. I wanted to feel bad but this guy called out more in the 3 months he worked with us than I had in my 5 years and downed a ton of work that others came and put in, and they worked off commission, job doesn’t go in, you don’t get paid. Then one day he drops off the map too. The only guy who can get ahold of him was the one who trained him, and even then not until after he’d been terminated for job abandonment. We came down to get the truck (again a 2 hour ride 1 way) and his truck is locked at least with all his company gear sitting in plain view through the windows. Unfortunately, our new warehouse manager had decided he didn’t like how our spare keys were set up and started redoing it, except that all he had done so far “collect all the keys” so we had a box FULL of keys with no labels. They all had fobs on them, so we were going through clicking them all. I found (and labelled) the spare key for my truck, but after going through the whole box twice still nothing. Start testing the physical keys and eventually find it, battery is dead. Thankfully this one started after a few minutes with jumper cables. I’m also fairly sure we never got the original key for the truck back (I put in my 2 week notice about a week after this).

    9. Anon for this*

      We had a crazy (almost) job abandonment thing last year. Our coworker had become a real missing stair. No one gave them any important projects because they weren’t only absent frequently for a week or two at a time, they weren’t really working when they were here. There was exactly one piece of their job that they would reliably complete and it was an annual task. And then last year, they just didn’t come back.

      They’d email and claim they would be back the next day but then not show without explanation. At one point the job was even posted and they were going to terminate for job abandonment. They were well over any amount of leave that FMLA would cover and wouldn’t provide any medical paperwork for the months they hadn’t been coming in.

      And then, we got word from the family that they’d forced coworker to go to the hospital and it turned out that they were hours away from death (called in the family for final goodbyes). However, they held on and they finally got diagnosed correctly and proper treatment. They’ve been back and strong for a while now. So we got a happy ending in that coworker is healthier than ever and actually a fully functioning member of the team again.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Wow, that’s pretty amazing that the coworker just left everything, but then came back after they were healthy! That is a happy ending!

      2. wittyrepartee*

        Oh wow. That sounds absolutely terrible for everyone involved. I’m so glad their family got them to the hospital.

    10. twinmom2298*

      We had an employee who had worked for us about 3 months ask where the nearest Walmart was. At lunchtime she stood up and announced she was headed to Walmart. She never came back. two days later boss finally reached her at the number she’d given and she said “oh yeah I quit”
      We hired an intern once that just didn’t show up the first day. I thought maybe there’d been a miscommunication on start dates so tried to call him and left a voice mail. Finally 2 days later he says “oh yeah I got another internship to I’m not starting”
      We had another intern who asked if he could have Friday off because his sister was coming home on leave from the service and they were having a big family weekend thing. We gave him the day off and told him to enjoy his sister. He proceeded to not show up, not answer his phone and not return calls for 2 weeks. then suddenly after 2 weeks of no call/no show just showed up and expected he still had a job.

    11. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had a co-worker who sometimes was out unexpectedly, and I suspect he had some health issues. He had just started the process of training me to cover for him.

      He had some vacation time planned, and right after he was to return, I was taking off a couple of days, and then a week later he had some more time off planned. He went on his vacation. I needed his help, but figured I’d struggle to figure it out, and then he’d be back to give me direction. But he was gone the week between his two weeks off, so I kept working to figure things out. When his second week was over and he was supposed to return, he still hadn’t come back, although we did get an email from him saying how our company was a great place to work.

      I was scheduled to go to the main office a week later, and he still hadn’t returned. While I was there, I got an email from the company telling us he was no longer working for us.

      I’ve figured out how to cover for him.

    12. #sorrynotsorry*

      I’m not proud of this, but I ghosted on a part-time job at Barnes & Noble that I picked up several years back to bring in more money. I have never, ever, done something like that before but it was such a disaster. I came on in July and was never trained. Spent 1 day on training and then was just kind of forgotten about. Because I’ve done so much customer service and cash register work, I figured it out. But it was so weird. For the first 3 weeks, I basically worked alone at one of the entry registers and no-one realized I wasn’t trained, no one gave me breaks so I always had to find someone and get them to stay for me, etc.

      I had come on in August and by Thanksgiving, I ghosted. My hiring manager had known and 100% was on-board with my other jobs work schedule (Wed-Sat 7-4 + 2nd Mon each month). It worked out well because I was willing to work both weekend days. But November he started scheduling me only Wed-Sat during the day and I had to keep getting it fixed. Then he put me on for Black Friday and for Saturday and when I went to tell them this was again a problem (I was off Thanksgiving but back at my farm job on Fri/Sat), he said that I had never told them about my other schedule and that I’d have to switch shifts with someone. Riiiight. Obviously no would switch for Black Friday! I was so fed up by then I decided I would call in sick. But I forgot on Friday. Called on Saturday, no one answered so I left it on the shift line per instructions. Came in on Monday and when I went to apologize to my manager, he hadn’t even realized I wasn’t there! The next week when he goofed the schedule again and again told me I was SOL, I just never showed and never went back.

      1. lurker*

        tbh I think the one scenario where ghosting is appropriate is when the workplace is so disorganized they don’t even know you’re gone, so I’m on your side here.

    13. Leslie Knope*

      I worked for a company that did countertop installations. The installers would report to the warehouse early in the mornings, load up their trucks, then head out for the day to their jobsites. Each truck had a GPS tracker in it, but I’m not sure all the workers realized this…even though it was no secret. It was mostly meant to track mileage and time spent at each job (depending on the size of the installation, they might be able to complete multiple jobs a day, and it was helpful for me as the scheduler to know when they were on the move).

      One day we had client call and let us know no one had shown up at their house. We called the installer and got no answer, so I pulled up the GPS monitor to see where he was. The truck was parked at a shopping center that was near the client’s house, seemingly in front of a big box electronics store…but also close enough to a gas station to think maybe they had stopped there for some reason – ran out of gas? engine trouble? So we tried several more times calling the installer to check on him, but still no answer. We were getting very worried by this time.

      My boss drove to the shopping center to see what was going on, but when he got there the installer was missing from the vehicle. All the materials and tools were still loaded up from the morning untouched and the truck was locked and parked in front of the electronics store. My boss went into the store to see if anyone had seen anything going on that morning. The sales associate at the front said, “Oh! You’re going to love this!” and then he went to get the manager.

      Our installer had been caught SHOPLIFTING. We never heard what it was he tried to steal, but an employee had seen him and alerted their security. By the time the boss got there the police had already been by and arrested the guy. Unfortunately there was only one key to that vehicle and it was at the police station in the belongings of the installer. Honestly, I don’t even remember how we ended up getting the truck unlocked and back to our warehouse.

      My boss was so embarrassed. He called the client and apologized, but only told them that the installer had an emergency and had been detained. We rescheduled for the next day and used a remnant from their countertop material to make them a little cheese board as a gift. They left us a good review on Yelp!

        1. LavaLamp*

          Having been in the countertop industry and knowing how installers can be I’m not in the least surprised at all.

      1. Door Guy*

        I got a call on Thanksgiving from the mother of one of my employees saying he was very ill and wouldn’t be able to make it for a few days. Kinda weird, but okay. A few days later he calls and he had been arrested on some serious charges but was not being held in lock up while awaiting trial. Swore up and down it was a misunderstanding and he was allowed to go back to work. Only thing was he wasn’t allowed to leave the state, and he lived just on the other side of the state border from the office. Asked if he could just have work in his state. That was denied (not just for the court/arrest reasons, but also due to the logistics as he couldn’t come to the office for more gear, and our territory in his state was only the tiny county he lived in, the rest of that service region was in the main state).

    14. Mr. Shark*

      I pretty much love these job abandonment stories!!

      I’d never do it, but sometimes I feel like just walking away from work and not calling, not telling anyone, and just ghosting work.

    15. Turtlewings*

      This wasn’t “abandonment” but it was a bit of a mysterious disappearance for a bit… Two or three years ago, one of my co-workers just didn’t come back from Thanksgiving break (academic setting here). None of us thought much of it — it’s not unusual for people to take a few extra days for travel and whatnot. The nature of her work and office was kind of isolated and it took a few days for the boss (only one who knew she hadn’t taken time off) to realize she wasn’t back. She tried to contact Missing Co-Worker and was finally able to get hold of her husband. Turns out Missing Co-Worker had gotten deathly ill over Thanksgiving and had been in the ICU all that time. (She actually received last rites and everything.) Her husband had never once thought about notifying her workplace — he had other things to worry about! She did pull through, thank goodness, and is still working here!

    16. JanetM*

      I worked in the office of a janitorial firm, hiring said janitors. Turnover was insane, and mostly by no-show/no-call. Every new hire was told up front that three consecutive days of no-show/no-call meant they would be terminated.

      One day, we hired a new guy. He worked the first night, and did not return or call in. After a week, we sent him a letter that he had been terminated and included his final paycheck. About a week after that, we got a visit from (I think — it’s been 25 years since then) an EEOC investigator, claiming that our former employee had filed a discrimination complaint against us, in that we had fired him for no reason, but because he didn’t speak English it was discrimination! We were able to show the investigator the (written in Spanish) paper the new employee had signed, and the check-in/check-out records for the day he worked and the subsequent week.

      The investigator said, approximately, “Yeah, I thought so. Thank you; I’ll be closing out this complaint.”

    17. Tim*

      Someone at my last job called out every day for months running, and it was a whole legal mess to terminate her. I don’t understand why she refused to take a leave of absence, go on intermittent FMLA, or any of the other options she was offered, but she was…not all there. When she was finally let go she sent out a massive email to everyone detailing all of her problems with each of them, such as how someone’s eyebrows were too triangular.

      Same workplace, a woman went to the bathroom on her first day and just never came back. She left behind one shoe in the breakroom.

      1. Aiani*

        The shoe in the breakroom is really the best part. That’s going to be on my mind for a while. Maybe she was Cinderella and her car was about to turn back into a pumpkin.

      2. Windchime*

        Well yeah, I mean……..triangular eyebrows? How could she be expected to work under those conditions?!!

      3. Door Guy*

        We had a toxic coworker who took months to fire because it was being blocked by the regional manager. Not because they were friends, or anything like that, but because it would bring our total staffing levels too low. Never mind that he was causing a massive drain on morale and that even when he did show up to work he didn’t get anything done. We literally had to call and wake this guy up most mornings.

    18. Aiani*

      I used to have a boss who would start new hires off with a little speech from him, think an overview of the job and job expectations, and then he would send them to a more specialized trainer to begin their OJT. Well he gave his speech to this new hire and sent her to her next trainer but she never showed up for the next part of her training. The OJT trainer called to find out what was taking so long and they tried calling her but I think she never bothered to return any calls. We all teased him and asked what he had said to scare her off. He was a very personable guy so no one actually thought he said anything to scare her off.

      We had one person who left a note at his desk detailing why he was leaving. So when he was relieved from his shift the next shift found the note and turned it in, he was not seen again. It was full of how awful his shift supervisor was and how this supervisor was the worst person he had ever worked for. He wasn’t wrong, that supervisor was awful.

      This isn’t exactly job abandonment but I think it’s close enough with the WTFery to share. We had one woman who gave notice after working with us for only a few months and called out more than everyone else combined during those few months. The weirdest part is that she basically demanded that she should be given a going away party on her last day even though none of us knew her very well. Two very kind co-workers agreed to bring food for a little send off. Then at the last minute she said she would be leaving two days earlier than originally planned. Because of this the two co-workers didn’t have the food ready and she was really upset about it. I guess she thought they should have read her mind and brought food two days early? I really don’t know.

      1. !!*

        This is a different twist about work abandonment while still working full-time with all the benefits. A-hole coworker has had health issues from which he has been cured but still receives “treatment” and always schedules treatments on the days he covers the phones, which is only one day a week. Now he has scheduled the last 7 Mondays of the year as vacation days. And of course Mondays are the days he would train any new hires. While this may not sound all that bad, when he is working, he will go out of his way to be as unhelpful as possible so other employees avoid going to him for anything and so the rest of us have to pick up his slack. Of course nothing is being done about him so I’m at the BEC stage with him and his shenanigans.

      2. Mama Bear*

        I used to work in a small business incubator which had an office manager who was employed by the incubator. The OM gave notice and we all knew it, so the last day I planned to give them a farewell card. Turned out that a few days prior, when they came around with their dog, they’d decided that would actually be their last day and they weren’t going to show up for the last few days of their notice. Since the OM wasn’t our direct report I don’t know if there was any plans that were thwarted by this, but everyone thought it was very odd.

    19. Clever Name*

      I…..kind of wonder if this is how my ex-husband left his job. He told me at one point that he had had a nervous breakdown and would be taking a “leave of absence” from his job, and I quite honestly don’t know if he ever returned. I suspect he just stopped showing up.

    20. YarnOwl*

      The last company I worked for does a conference in Vegas every year, and one year it was a lot bigger than expected (a lot more attendees) and so a bunch of us that didn’t usually work events went to help out. I was supposed to room with a work friend, and then at the last minute the admin emailed me to ask if I’d room with someone else (a kind of difficult account manager for a huge client) because nobody else wanted to room with her. I figured we wouldn’t be in our rooms that much, and I always got along with her just fine, so I was like, whatever, go ahead.
      The first night we were there, we dropped all of our stuff in our rooms and then immediately had to go to work. After the day was over, some folks went out to get drinks but I was really tired, so I went back to the room and went to bed while my roomie was still out.
      The next morning I woke up and all of her stuff was gone except for her work laptop, which was in the middle of her bed, which had not been slept in. When I went down to the control room, immediately everyone pounced and was asking me if she was in our room and why wasn’t she answering her phone; she missed breakfast with her big client and they were not happy (apparently she had been not sticking to some stuff in the client’s contract and they were planning to confront her about it). I told them her stuff was gone and her laptop was left on her bed. I went back to the room and got it for her boss, and when her boss turned it on it had been completely wiped (we didn’t have an IT department and our computers were kind of a joke in terms of security and stuff like that, and we didn’t have an intranet, we just used Google Docs for everything). Her boss said they lost some pretty important stuff when she left (I don’t know if they were ever able to recover it or anything; I got a new job shortly after).
      We found out later she had gotten into an argument with her boss the night before (they had a pretty contentious relationship), and after I fell asleep she came and got all of her stuff and went to her friend’s house and went back home on a different flight. She never emailed a resignation or anything, just left and never showed back up at the office!
      We knew about her going to her friend’s house because she told a guy we worked with (who everyone thought she was having an affair with), but he wouldn’t tell us anything else. Now she works at a company in a totally different industry doing something else. It was wild!

  5. Fatima A*

    I am a developer with a small sized company that is owned by a larger parent company. Since I came to the US last year I have grown to love my new home, friends, and job. However, there have been some cultural norms that have been tough to get used to.

    Last year, our boss started encouraging everyone in the company to participate in Pride month. This included hanging rainbow flags in our cubicles, attending my city’s pride parade as a corporate partner, etc. That was fine when it was only encouragement, but after this past June he started making it clear that he expects everyone to participate in the celebration this coming year. To be clear, the CEO is part of the LGBT community.

    I believe people should be able to live how they want, but I am a Muslim and my religion teaches against this lifestyle. I do not want to deny others the ability to take part, as that is their right, but I personally cannot participate in these activities. How do I communicate this to my boss?

    Some background information: Seeing as I am a hijabi, it is obvious that I am a Muslim. I do not discuss my religion at work.

    This situation is complicated by my visa status. My employer is my sponsor, so unfortunately it is not easy for me to find another job. I also really do not want to go back to my home country as life is much better here.

    Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Andy*

      I think that re framing your objection might help? IDK about other people, but as a queer woman it feels super hurtful to have my very self described as a lifestyle …which implies choice. I am who I am. It would be vy slightly akin to objecting to haircolor for me. Silly and not actionable, but also feeding into a narrative that places my family in jeopardy.

    2. athiker10*

      So calling it a lifestyle is pretty offensive to a lot of people (including me as a queer person), so try to avoid using that phrase in any conversations you have. I would find polite excuses for not participating while leaving religion/beliefs out of it as much as possible.

    3. Anononoymous*

      Well, first thing is that it isn’t a ‘lifestyle’, it is a fundamental part of a persons existence. Your boss and company has made it clear that homophobia is not tolerated at your work place. You have to decide if this is the right cultural match for you, given that it is one of your companies values. If not, seek employment elsewhere.

      1. ThatGirl*

        First let me say I’m queer. I would love to work at a company that celebrates Pride. But I would not want to go to the parade – I’m just not that extroverted, and I think companies making “mandatory fun” is a bad idea. I think it’s fine if Fatima opts out of the parade, but it shouldn’t be about religious beliefs. Just say you have a conflict/can’t make it.

        And I’m trying to figure out a good way to say this, but as a hijabi and an immigrant, perhaps you could have a little more understanding about people facing discrimination?

      2. WellRed*

        It’s one thing to not tolerate homophobia. It’s quite another to make everyone attend a parade (which is probably not held during work hours.

        1. Yorick*

          It’s also a little much to make them display a rainbow flag. I’m totally in support of the LGBT community, but I probably wouldn’t want to be told to hang the flag in my cubicle. Not for any real reason, but I wouldn’t want to have a flag hanging there. I wouldn’t want an American flag or whatever else either. And I wouldn’t want to look at a million of the same flag all over the office, especially for a whole month.

          1. Gatomon*

            Yes – it’s one thing to ask that people be respectful in the workplace, or to even have a corporate display for Pride to acknowledge and show support for LGBTQIA employees and customers, but that’s a far cry from forcing employees to be individually, visibly supportive and attend Pride events that might conflict with their beliefs (religious, moral or otherwise). If they want to do a corporate envoy for Pride, they can ask for volunteers. (I personally have a big thing against corporations getting involved in Pride though, unless they have a service or product for the community like chest binders.)

            Also I’m not sure what a cis, heterosexual person is going to get out of Pride, other than the parade? I assume sessions like “Beers and Bears” aren’t going to appeal to them….

      3. Mobuy*

        Okay, but religion is also a fundamental part of a person’s existence. Fatima is not advocating for stoning gays, she’s saying that she does not want to hang a rainbow flag in her cubicle. How is this a problem? I think she should be able to not attend a pride parade and not cover her desk and email signature and whatever else in rainbows.

        Just keep pride month out of the workplace and in private life, where it belongs.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            This! Religion is a choice. I wish people didn’t kowtow to religion as much.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              Oh gods, not this again. Many things are technically a choice but how is insisting that someone else’s sincerely held beliefs are disposable and they should conform to your vision of what a secular society should be any better than a religious person trying to get you to act according to their faith?

              1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

                That’s a fair point. As a person of a minority faith (not a Muslim, nor a follower of Islam, but a different minority faith), I accept that if I were to immigrate to a country where mine was not the majority faith, than I have to accept living in a secular country. I abhor how much of a focus one single faith is in the US, but I also realize that I have my secular life at work, and my religion is part of my private life.

    4. PharmaCat*

      Can you frame this more as your off work time is fully committed? I am very supportive of lgbt issues, but would balk at mandatory attendance for an event during my off hours.

    5. Jamie*

      What is the difference between encouragement, which you say you’re okay with, and participation, which you are not? Are they making going to the parade mandatory?

      Also, I don’t understand what you mean when you said you believe people should live the way they want, but having objections to a celebration which is literally about people being free to live the way they want. To be able to be their authentic selves openly. I think that’s a really positive message personally.

      And to echo everyone else – it’s not a lifestyle.

      1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

        I think she’s saying they used to be encouraged to participate, but now it’s going to be expected/mandatory.

      2. Tweidle*

        It seems to me that OP’s CEO is requiring his staff to attend Pride month activities, or at the very least use some of their social capital to opt out.
        It isn’t a life style, but it is bad management.

      3. Mrs_helm*

        RE: ” I don’t understand what you mean when you said you believe people should live the way they want, but having objections to a celebration which is literally about people being free to live the way they want.”

        It means I can have tolerance for other people’s beliefs/choices/laws which are different than mine, and treat those people with respect and dignity, and acknowledge their rights, and be kind to them individually. But I can’t *celebrate* the support of something which is different from my beliefs/laws. It would be disingenuous, at best…and in some religions could have consequences.

        1. Once more with feeling*

          This is perfectly stated.

          I will hard-core go to the mat for anyone for their right to live their lives as they see fit. But there is a HUGE difference between supporting someone’s rights and personally agreeing with their choices. As you said, you can be a decent human being who treats others with respect and dignity even when you don’t personally agree with them.

          This specific topic is a prime example for me. I will, and have, gone to the mat to ensure my LGBTQIA+ staff feel welcome in the workplace. I have spent hours and hours of labor and argument with my Board of Directors, insurance agents, accountants etc to change our health insurance and time off policies when a trans staff member couldn’t get the time off and medical help they needed through our policies for their transition. I started the trend at this office of voluntary pronoun identification in email signatures, I pushed back against a prominent funder who balked over this staff person identifying as trans in their profile on our website, and I am the one who wrote the grant and changed the policy so that now our entire Board of Directors and full-time staff will undergo training in cultural sensitivity, unconscious bias, and racism.

          And yet, I have many personal reservations when it comes to much of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and I too would refuse to participate in a Pride event and have issues with this being required in the workplace.

          Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion nowadays, it is entirely possible to separate your personal beliefs and feelings from your professional and political stance. I would NEVER allow an employee to be disrespected or discriminated against based on their sexuality. I would NEVER vote for a political candidate who promoted laws and policies that enforce discrimination based on someone’s sexuality.

      4. OneWomansOpinion*

        I didn’t hear her say she’s objecting to the existence of Pride. She just doesn’t want to go herself. She’s not trying to stop the celebration from happening, she’s just going to stay home. I think Pride will be OK without her.

    6. Anonforthis*

      I think that without context, you don’t know what “mandatory participation” will mean — after all this, the next Pride month is over six months away, who knows what they have planned. I think that AAM has posted other things about getting out of extracurricular work events that would have some ideas, at least as far as the parade is concerned (and honestly, I’m an LGBT ally but any giant parade is my personal nightmare)

      1. Witchy Human*

        To add on to this: think about what you would be okay with. Would you be willing to proof or print out flyers if you’re asked to? Help load the van that’s going to the parade? My office is all-hands-on-deck when we have to stuff swag bags for an event, and someone just staying at their desk for a particular one would be noticed. If you have no problem assisting in the prep and just don’t want to attend, that’s going to look better than being unwilling to even touch anything to do with Pride.

      2. Yorick*

        Yes, my city’s Pride festival should be great fun, but it is way too crowded and everything. We have gone most of the last few years, but I can’t enjoy it much.

    7. Llama Wrangler*

      I agree with the suggestions above that you find polite excuses for not participating but leave religion out of it. I also want to raise that it sounds like you’re suggesting that your boss should know your political-religious beliefs because it is obvious that you are Muslim. But there are many Muslims who would not view participating in Pride celebrations as against their religion, not to mention plenty of LGBTQ Muslims. (This is not to say that your interpretation of your religious beliefs is wrong and theirs is correct, but to emphasize that it is would not be self-evident to your coworkers that just because you are Muslim that you would be opposed to participating in the activities.)

      1. Andy*

        this is a truly good point re obviousness of beliefs and I’m sorry to say that I do often assume that my Muslim friends, neighbors, and co-workers will be opting out of LGBTQIA events even if they’ve been meaningfully supportive in other ways of me personally and my community generally. I RESOLVE TO DO BETTER.

      2. iantrovert (they/them)*

        This. The best housemate I ever had was a woman who was Muslim. She was also vegan, transgender, and pansexual. Didn’t date her, just shared an apartment in college. She was awesome–she was also clean and she loved to cook. (Her cat was a jerk, though.) Her family was Pakistani and fully supported her as allies, too.
        Following Islam doesn’t imply everything Fatima suggests here.

    8. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

      Oof, I’m sorry. You should be protected legally, I think (I’m not a lawyer), but that doesn’t always make the conversation easier of course. My gut says it’s a safer bet to just quietly not put up a flag, happen to be busy on parade day, etc, and see if you can fly under the radar, but then if someone presses you, say that you can’t (not “don’t want to”) participate due to your religion. And the term “lifestyle” really gets people’s backs up so I would avoid that.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to this.

        It seems that you are not familiar enough with the issues and terms to have a good conversation about it with your boss, so the script you need may be, ‘I can’t [put up a flag / go to pride parade] because of my religion, but it’s so great to be working someplace that respects and supports all communities. ‘

        Intersectionality is hard. Because your office is openly supportive, and your boss is openly gay, you might choose to learn more about LGBTQx issues and terms – PFLAG and Human Rights Campaign both have some interesting resources for LGBTQx Muslims, you can find them by googling ‘LGBTQ issues for Muslims’. Seeing how people reconcile the two identities may help you avoid missteps at work.

    9. Box of Kittens*

      Hoping Alison weighs in on this one! Kind of surprised to see so many people in the replies here jumping on Fatima’s phrasing when she has a legitimate religious objection to participating in a Pride parade and a real interest in staying at her current company. I would assume your non-participation would be protected under EEOC, but I’m not an HR expert by far. I’m sorry I don’t have great advice for you but I wish you the best of luck. This kind of situation is always tricky.

      1. athiker10*

        I mean, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone jump on Fatima for it, just pointing out that the language they used won’t fly in an LGBT friendly workplace.

      2. Jamie*

        No one is saying she should be forced to participate, but giving her a heads up about phrasing which will be seen as offensive by a significant percentage of people should be helpful to her.

        1. Box of Kittens*

          Right, it is helpful. I didn’t know that about the term, tbh, and will refrain from using it going forward. I said that because when I wrote the comment it already felt a bit like a pile-on to me since so many people were making this same exact comment and not offering much advice, and that’s still going on apparently below.

      3. londonedit*

        The thing is, it’s hard to view someone’s religious objection as ‘legitimate’ when they’re literally objecting to the existence of some people. I am absolutely viewing this through my own totally non-religious lens, but I feel like ‘religious objections’ fall down when they mean you’re objecting to who someone is. People are objecting to Fatima’s wording because being LGBT isn’t a ‘lifestyle’, it’s who someone is, just as being a heterosexual woman is who I happen to be. If Fatima was saying she didn’t want to go to the company-sponsored hog roast party because her religion teaches that pork is forbidden, that’s fine. But saying in one breath ‘I believe people should be able to live how they want’ and in the next breath ‘I don’t want to take part in Pride activities because my religion teaches against this lifestyle’ is really problematic.

        For what it’s worth, I think Fatima can absolutely just say that she can’t go to the Pride events because she has other commitments outside of work, but I’d also hope that she might look into LGBT issues a little more, and perhaps try to be a little more understanding.

        1. ...*

          I’m kind of confused too but for a different reason. I would strongly object to going to a parade that promoted any religion (christianity, muslim, etc.). I would not promote these religions, post their flags, or encourage anything about them. Isn’t it kind of the reverse that she’s doing? She does not want to support for a religious reason. I also believe people should be able to live how they want and practice religion but I would NEVER support or promote it. I don’t see how that’s different that what she’s doing. I think religious people view it as “as they are naturally” too. That it isn’t a choice. If it were me I’d happily put the flag up bc whatever but I wouldn’t go to the parade bc its insanely hot, full of people absolutely wasted in the street and there is a lot of nudity which I don’t care to see. (Can only speak for chicago Pride, but it’s absolutely bonkers)

              1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                If you mean they may be forcibly converted, that’s different. This person is in the USA most likely or at least in a country where PRIDE is celebrated.Nothing is forcing her to stay with any religion.

        2. Elena Vasquez*

          Is is possible that Fatima expects blowback from her own community if she publicly participates?

        3. The Meow*

          She’s not “objecting to the existence of some people”, though. She is objecting to compulsory attendance of a non work event. No matter what you feel about her views it is perfectly reasonable to not want to be involved in an event that has absolutely nothing to do with work.

          1. OneWomansOpinion*

            Which is a well-documented belief of everyone on this site! People here hate socializing with coworkers outside of work to an unusual degree.

        4. sfigato*

          I mean, most organized religions have issues with homosexuality. I know a few religious people that belong to less accepting sects, and they walk an awkward line in regards to homosexuality. People can do what they want to do, but their faith tells them that being gay is the wrong thing to do (as is being jewish, or muslim, or catholic…). That’s one of the fun challenges of a heterogeneous society – holding the tensions of allowing for a multitude of beliefs and faiths, even when some of them are in direct contradiction.

        5. Fikly*

          Here’s the thing. If we grant Fatima’s premise that being LGBT is a lifestyle, then how is being Muslim any different?

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            Actually, since LGBT is inborn and religion is a choice, religion is absolutely a lifestyle.

            1. Avasarala*

              You’re chasing every possible comment to promote this idea that religion is a choice, and you need to stop. It’s not a choice (not in the “I think I’ll be Muslim today” sense) and it is a sincerely held belief by many people around the world. It’s disrespectful of beliefs and cultures to state this.

              If religion truly is a choice, then why don’t you choose to be Muslim and understand Fatima’s point?

      4. lemon*

        There is a long, long history relating to the word “lifestyle” and LGBTQIA people. It’s pretty offensive. I don’t think that people are “jumping” on Fatima, but pointing out that this is a hurtful word to use when talking about LGBTQIA folks, and folks should avoid using it.

      5. Mike C.*

        It’s not legitimate. You don’t get to use your religion to say that certain people aren’t deserving of respect and dignity like this.

        1. Jack*

          I don’t see where she said anything like that. She already said she tolerates LGBT (she said she think people should live how they want). She just doesn’t want to be forced to celebrate it as it would be against her religion.

          1. Mike C.*

            The whole point of PRIDE is to say that LGBTQ+ folks are deserving of respect and are welcome. Not just “tolerated”.

            1. Parenthetically*

              We’ve had about a million letters over the years from people who don’t want to participate in Mandatory Office Activity X and want to know a way to get out of it. “Everyone in the office has to hang a non-work-related _____ in their cubicle and go to the non-work-related _____ festival” is ridiculous regardless of what goes in that blank.

              1. Mike C.*

                Not when abstaining from hanging that sign in your cubicle sends an incredibly discriminatory message.

                1. Llellayena*

                  Would you say the same if the blanks were filled like this “Everyone in the office has to hang a non-work related pro-life poster in their cubicle and go to the non-work related March for Dimes”? (I could also flip it to “pro-choice” and “pro-choice rally”). Either view is seen as discriminatory (and often tied to religion) by the other side.

                  Everyone has the right to express their own beliefs, even if those beliefs are directly contrary to yours. What no one should have the right to do is jam their ideas in your face and try to force you to believe them as well. This is what is happening by making the LGBTQ Pride participation mandatory, the CEO is forcing people to express views that they may not personally believe in. Refusing to go along is NOT a discriminatory message, it is an appropriate expression of her own PERSONAL beliefs.

                2. Mr. Shark*

                  Not hanging a sign in your cubicle doesn’t send a discriminatory message.

                  I understand you’re reading into things because of what she’s said her beliefs are as a Muslim, but if you remove all of that personal information, and she just says “I don’t want to participate or hang signs in my cubicle” that should be the focus of this discussion.

                  No one should have to participate in something that is not directly business related if they choose not to.

                  You could go back to the charity issue that was talked about not too long ago. What if your boss wanted you to put a United Way poster in your cubicle and you didn’t want to? Same general issue if you leave out the politics/religion/discrimination.

      6. Mrs_helm*

        +1 for religious objection to participation being legally allowed
        +100 to AAM weighing in, because some people seem overly harsh in their response to OP

        1. Mike C.*

          It’s really difficult to take complaints about “people seem overly harsh” seriously when that’s nothing compared to the actual harm suffered at the hands of people who use their religion as an excuse to cause that harm.

          1. Yorick*

            But all Fatima A has done is not want to be forced to do these things. She is not responsible for any actual harm that we know of.

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              SO it is ok when people do nothing to stop racism or sexism or to help someone being hurt if they aren’t the one directly hurting the person?

    10. Rachel*

      At some point, you’re going to need to have a talk, because just not doing it will force a confrontation. Sooner is probably better. I’d leave religion/disapproval out of it – just say you don’t want to participate. If he pushes, keep politely saying no. You can probably find a bunch of reasons to dislike Pride in and of itself – you can say that you heard Pride was originally a memorial for those who died of AIDS, and you’d rather not celebrate all those deaths, if you want. You can point to the (too many) incidents of violence at Pride celebrations. You can Google around for work-appropriate reasons to not participate.

      Your boss might make a bunch of assumptions about why, particularly since you are hijabi. If he’s a good supervisor, and you’re a good worker, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

      If he’s not reasonable, you might need to do some serious thinking on which you want more: the job, or to respect your religious teachings. It’s illegal to fire someone based on religion, but there are ways unscrupulous employers get around that, and “not participating in a mandatory diversity exercise” is one of them. Whether that would hold up in court is moot, because it still leaves you without a valid visa.

      Good luck.

        1. voyager1*

          Religion is the only card Fatima really has. Frankly I am not religious but being forced to participate in this would make me very uncomfortable.

        2. Mike C.*

          Nope, not like this.

          Unless you think it would be fine for Mirror Universe Mike C to join a white supremacist church and act accordingly.

          1. voyager1*

            That would be your right in USA, have you ever heard of Westborro Baptist in Kansas.

            Disgusting people, but they have their right to be disgusting… they just can’t discriminate.

            The manager can’f force the poster to participate. She has a religious objection. Forcing her to participate is discriminatory. Full stop.

              1. Observer*

                It doesn’t matter. Her employer CANNOT force her to participate in something that is counter to her sincerely held religious beliefs, regardless of what you (or the employer) thinks of those beliefs.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              True that they can’t force her to participate, but this might (with good reason imo) seriously hurt her standing at this company, which will affect her visa (according to OP).

              Personally if a coworker told me anything like this I would think much less of them. OP, just go along with it if you want to stay in the US. Yes you can use your religion to discriminate, but don’t expect others to go along

              1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

                For heaven’s sake, she’s not trying to discriminate against anyone. She wants to opt out of participating in an extraneous event that management is trying to foist on her in violation of her religious observance.

                1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

                  Which is why she’s getting advice about how to protect herself from discrimination and retaliation.

                2. Hiring Mgr*

                  Yes, but I would argue the best way to do that is not to be honest in this case. Say you’re going to be out of town, or a medical thing, or something plausible like that. Saying you’re not participating becuase of religion, even if that’s legal, is going to come across as idiotic and intolerant.

                3. Yorick*

                  Pride is a whole month long. It probably won’t be logical to use an excuse like “other plans”

      1. Witchy Human*

        HARD disagree on coming up with “alternate” explanations to dislike Pride. Among other things, it wouldn’t be remotely believable.

        If someone who has only been in the country for a year brings up stuff like that it will be clear that they were researching with the express purpose of finding something about the celebration to object to. And that going to come across as disdainful and homophobic. Don’t ever, ever use AIDS as a smokescreen for anti-LGBTQ choices.

        I would try to be tolerant of someone’s religious objections. If they disingenuously tried to mask them, I would just find them hateful.

        1. Jamie*

          I agree. She has her reasons for not wanting to be involved she shouldn’t pretend she has more altruistic intent.

          If she can quietly opt out and be otherwise busy (you can be busy because you have plans to sit on your couch with a good book and a cat, to badly paraphrase Alison) that’s one thing, but an overt lie is something else.

        2. Hiring Mgr*

          But do you really think it’s going to come across better if she says she can’t attend because she’s a muslim and therefore disapproves? Hard to be tolerant of that.. Plus, I would start to question her intelligence to be honest.

          1. Witchy Human*

            Yes. “I’m from a very religious background and I’m not comfortable with going to Pride” is miles better than “I’m clearly from a religious background but I’m claiming that I don’t want to go because Pride has too much association with tragedy.”

            We are, in professional contexts, at least supposed to be tolerant of religious beliefs. Transparent lying, which may be a cover for religion but could just as easily be a cover for simple homophobic hatred…not so much.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              I agree that the particular lie you mentioned is terrible, but I’d still advise claiming she’s going to be out of town or something like that. Plus, i’m not sure there’s a difference between religious homophobia and non-religious homophobia

        3. Tinker*

          Absolutely cosigning this. Particularly the bit about making up a story regarding AIDS — as an old Millennial from a conservative background, I remember the era where it was socially acceptable and relatively common to use HIV to justify treating queer folks with disgust; people older than me will have even worse memories of the matter. There’s a distinct danger of accidentally making a statement that would be… beyond unwise… to say to a LGBT person who is one’s boss.

    11. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Agree with other comments about not calling it a lifestyle.

      As far as the parade goes, I would say you are unable to commit to this event on your off hours. I think it’ll be harder for you to find a way to decline to hang some sort of rainbow thing in your cube if it’s given to you. If I shared your beliefs I would probably just take the thing and then never hang it up, and hope you don’t get asked about it. (Which is the opposite of Rachel’s advice).

    12. deesse877*

      I find it extremely unusual for a company to require participation in Pride. I also find it extremely unusual for a Muslim woman to write as though Islam were a cultural monolith.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Islam is a cultural monolith in a lot of countries, and the OP is here on a visa so that may well be the framework she is approaching this from. Also, until like the last 10 years all Abrahamic religious traditions widely held the same view (and still do in most parts of the world.) While I wouldn’t say that any particular brand of religious belief has reached the status of monolith, Abrahmaic religious mores have been a powerful undercurrent.

        *Abrahamic being including but not limited to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with their various branches and offshoots.

        1. Seacalliope*

          Respectfully, no. Abrahamic religions are not monolithic, neither among themselves, nor with each other and it is an outright falsehood to state that they are.

            1. OneWomansOpinion*

              You said they “ALL” widely held the “SAME” view so you can forgive people for thinking you did say that!

        2. Sam*

          This is a damn weird comment. In 2010, there were no LGBTQ+ affirming churches? Are you just… guessing at the state of the world?

          Regardless, I imagine pretty much anyone in a faith tradition with multiple branches really, really should be aware that there’s variation in beliefs – that’s how you get different sects to start with.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            95% of the time and 95% of the people isn’t enough to establish common belief on this matter?

            Just like heterosexual promiscuity. It is widely seen as “wrong” with varying degrees in how wrong and just what should be done to address it both the personal and societal level.

            A few exceptions doesn’t break the rule.

        3. SQL Coder Cat*

          The United Church of Christ has been ordaining openly gay folks since 1972. I was raised in this denomination and it was made clear that my Christian faith requires me to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ folks as God does not make mistakes. Faith can lead people to very different places, and religious practices vary quite a bit as a result.

    13. Mimosa Jones*

      What if instead of a rainbow flag you were to find an ‘everyone is welcome here’ sign, maybe in rainbow colors, and display that instead? There’s lots of designs to choose from and it would be a broader message of inclusion and acceptance of people that would probably be interpreted as a Pride display. As far as the parade, it’s possible that time will fade your employer’s enthusiasm for full participation. And you’ve got over 6 months to find a good excuse for not being available. Or if that won’t work, you could find some sort of support task so you can view your role to be more like supporting your co-workers who are participating in a company event vs participating in the event yourself.

      1. Llellayena*

        There are some great “Hate has no home here” mini posters that you can download and print for free on the office printer. They do use an American flag decal so if that would be an issue since she’s here on a visa it might not work. But there are general acceptance statements that would read right during Pride that aren’t Pride specific.

    14. Iris Eyes*

      Sorry about all the people nitpicking language (as it is unhelpful to the conversation you are trying to have as they aren’t actually posing an alternative that would to them be more appropriate.)

      I can imagine that this is a pretty stressful spot to be in. Please know that following your religious beliefs has legal protection and choosing not to participate on religious reasons should not result in retaliation of any kind.

      A helpful framing for the conversation might be that you would like to continue the status quo. You aren’t proposing to change anything about your behavior, you are going to keep acting as you have always acted. If you frame it as “hey noticed this thing is changing, I’m just going to stay over here doing what I’m doing and wanted to let you know so you don’t RSVP for me. Thanks”

      1. lemon*

        Telling someone not to use a term that has a long history of being used in an oppressive way is not “nitpicking.” If I pointed out that someone was unintentionally using a racial slur, due to cultural difference, that wouldn’t be “nitpicking.”

        An alternative to use, according to the GLAAD media reference guide, instead of “lifestyle”: “LGBTQ people and their lives.”

        1. Iris Eyes*

          One person saying it was sufficient, a few other people may be warranted especially when speaking for themselves and their experience. at least 6 people pilling on prior to this comment?

          1. lemon*

            I don’t think commenters always have the time to read all of the comments made before them, so they may not have been aware they were piling on. In any case, I think it’s helpful to have multiple people point this out so that they are aware that a *lot* of LGBTQ people will have this reaction, and it’s not just one or two individuals being overly sensitive. This happens all the time in the comments– for the letter posted yesterday from the person who was tracking their co-workers sick time, most of the comments were different versions of “not cool, dude, mind your own business.”

            1. Door Guy*

              That and there is nothing on this site that tells you when other comments have been made. Depending on how long since their last refresh they could have started typing when there were NO comments about it. I caught a lucky refresh last week and found a story with only 2 comments, and by time I had mine typed out there were over 60.

              That said, I was today years old when I learned that ‘lifestyle’ was apparently a bad word, and I’m one of those who fall under the umbrella of LGBTQ (the B). Granted, I’m both a massive introvert and in a loving hetero marriage (since she was who I fell in love with) but I also just never did much with the community either in person or online groups. The others in my life who were LGBTQ, it either never came up, or the few I knew who were big on the pride events were not people I was close with (coworkers, friends of friends, neighbors, etc).

    15. PJ*

      Respectfully it is not a lifestyle. I can’t choose not be a lesbian. But you can choose to not be a bigot. Maybe think about why life is much better here than back home. Before anyone says anything, I emigrated from a country in the middle east. If you don’t believe in treating GLBTQ+ persons equally and with respect than maybe this isn’t the place for you. I would try having some empathy, as surely you understand what it is to face discrimination.

        1. Mike C.*

          This is an absolutely ridiculous statement to make. You might as well complain that we aren’t being tolerant of intolerance.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            Well if tolerance is the bellwether of morality then yes, I would complain about the hypocrisy of being intolerant of other’s beliefs when they don’t align with your beliefs.

            Ok, so some would say that their sexual identity is one of the most central aspects of their being, that living contrary to that identity would be harmful to them. They would say that if you aren’t ok with this part of me then you can’t be ok with any other part of me.

            For many religious adherents we subjugate our sexual self to our religious self. Our identity as a sexual being is less central to ourselves than our religious identity. Surely you can see that for those religions who allow for sexual expression only within the bounds of formal matrimony that it excludes a LOT of possible sexual expression, almost all sexual expression in fact. One sexual partner isn’t much more than zero when it comes down to it.

            When you tell someone who sees their religious self as most central (or more central) that they have to change to suit you. When you tell them they can’t live their identity in public spaces. When you tell them they aren’t welcome. You are marginalizing their identity at the same level. Your expressions of intolerance are hurting them just as much as any expressions of their intolerance hurts those who have an identity under the LGBT+.

            Mike C. your comments are saying “My sense of morality trumps your sense of morality.” Personally, I found the book “The Righteous Mind” by Johnathan Haidt to be really helpful in exploring why people who both see themselves as “good” can be at opposite sides of an issue. While I am still frustrated with those who don’t see “good” as I do, I’m a lot less hostile to them and I am more willing to hear them.

            1. lemon*

              But when it comes to LGBTQ rights, or the rights of any marginalized group, we’re not just talking about *beliefs*– we’re talking about people’s lives, their ability to walk around in the world safely without fear of being discriminated against, tortured, imprisoned, or murdered. By saying, “I don’t support beliefs that marginalize me or put me in harm’s way,” you’re not marginalizing that person on the basis of their beliefs, you’re protecting yourself and your right to live without fear.

            2. lemon*

              When you tell someone who sees their religious self as most central (or more central) that they have to change to suit you. When you tell them they can’t live their identity in public spaces. When you tell them they aren’t welcome. You are marginalizing their identity at the same level. Your expressions of intolerance are hurting them just as much as any expressions of their intolerance hurts those who have an identity under the LGBT+.

              Plenty of people with strongly-held religious beliefs are LGBTQ or support folks who are LGBTQ. They managed to find a way for their religious identity and their LGBTQ identity, or ally identity, to coexist. So, somehow, these people managed to change without losing who they are.

              And when someone who is LGBTQ or an ally states that they aren’t comfortable with a belief that supports their marginalization and threatens their being, they aren’t marginalizing that identity at the same level. 1. It’s not the religious identity they object to– they object to the part that harms LGBTQ people. 2. An individual person not liking you or supporting you isn’t what marginalization is. Marginalization is when a group is systematically blocked from the same rights and resources that dominant groups enjoy. Many religious groups in the US have been part of the dominant group for hundreds of years. Religion is a federally-protected category; being LGBTQ isn’t. You can’t legally be fired for your religion, but in some states, you can legally be fired for being LGBTQ. Outside of the US, there are countries where LGBTQ people can be legally imprisoned or sentenced to death. In the US, LGBTQ youth have some of the highest rates of homelessness and suicide, because they can be kicked out of their homes for coming out to their parents. Often, this happens because of the parent’s religious beliefs. Hurt feelings are not the same as not having access to the same legal rights and protections as others. Hurt feelings are not the same as being shunned from your family and your community.

              That’s also a pretty dangerous argument to make: that we should be tolerant of beliefs that are central to someone’s identity, no matter what, simply *because* they are central to that person’s identity. There are some people who see white supremacism as being central to their identity. Does that mean that I, as a person of color, should just tolerate them? No, because I don’t have to tolerate any group of people who think it’s okay to harm me out of some misplaced sense of morality that espouses that it’s more important that we all feel good than it is to protect people’s lives and legal rights.

        1. OneWomansOpinion*

          Yeah, someone hanging or not hanging a rainbow flag that they were *ordered to hang by their boss* does not in fact matter at all. Neither does someone marching in a parade that they were, again, ordered to march in by their boss. If someone wrote in that their boss was forcing them to participate in a street festival the commenters here would have a meltdown!

    16. theletter*

      I’m Catholic, and my religion also teaches heteronormativity. It’s a struggle, because like you, I don’t believe in discrimination, and since I sincerely wish my church would change, and welcome and truly celebrate everyone.

      That being said, everyone has their own level of comfort with parades in general. You should take a close look at the company mission and ask yourself if there’s a chance that the company has aligned itself with Pride Parade in such a way that they actually need all employees there, and if that’s the case then you can either dig into religious philosophy and find whatever you need to go and keep that job, or start looking for new work now.

      If you’re certain you’re not actually needed there, and you know parades just are not your thing, book something for that weekend. It can be a trip, a retreat, a workshop, anything that brings you joy. Prepare to act surprised when the date of Pride is announced. The company cannot force you to do to anything with your time off.

      This is clearly very important to your CEO, for good reasons. If it comes up at work, just listen to people with an open mind. This is their every-day-lived experience and it should not be discounted.

    17. CupcakeCounter*

      In defense of Fatima’s use of the word lifestyle, nearly all religions that preach against homosexuality refer to it as a lifestyle and I would guess that in her home country it is still referred to as that. I know in the church I attended growing up it was always called a lifestyle and my parents still refer to it as such (i.e. we don’t get together with Step-mother’s daughter because of her gay lifestyle).
      I obviously know better now, but keep in mind that Fatima probably used that term not to be dismissive but because that was all she was exposed to before coming to the US a short time ago.
      I am not a member of the LGBT community but I am a former member of a very conservative religion that actively disparaged LGBT everything so I understand that background and even when you disagree with the teachings of the church, sometimes you do not always have the correct words. A kind “hey – that term is inaccurate as it marginalizes our identity” was very helpful after I left the church.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Clarification…
        I am not defending the use of that term or the church’s teachings, just pointing out it may be an education issue and not intended to be derogatory or marginalizing.

        1. LifesizeLawyer*

          You LITERALLY wrote “in defense” of her term. So, you actually are defending the use of that term. Other commenters have posted about how and why the term “lifestyle” harms the LGBTQ+ community. There is no acceptable defense of this. The OP should absolutely not refer to LGBT+ people as having a different “lifestyle” when she raises her absence from work-related pride events to her boss. It’s an offensive fucking term and doesn’t belong in the workplace.

        2. LifesizeLawyer*

          You LITERALLY wrote “in defense of Fatima’s use of the word lifestyle,” so, yeah you are defending the use of that term. Other commenters have already posted about how and why the term “lifestyle” is offensive and hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community. The OP should absolutely not use this term, which is very nearly a slur, when talking about her issue with her boss. Simple reason being it’s an offensive f***ing term!

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            My point was that Fatima might not have been aware up until today that the term lifestyle is offensive in this context not that her use of the term was appropriate – I was attempting to defend her potential ignorance due to her religious affiliation not the use of the term. I apologize if that is how it came across which is also why I posed my clarification.
            I was gently corrected, in private, by someone in the LGBT community when I was using some terms inappropriately and it was a very eye opening experience for me. It was a great conversation but up until that moment I honestly had no idea how hurtful some of the things I was saying were to this person (and I was not using bashing terms just wrong terms that had negative associations I was not aware of). Luckily they knew I was coming from a place of ignorance not malice as they were aware of my very strict, religious upbringing as well as that I had left that church.
            I absolutely agree with what you and the other posters wrote about not using that term and that she should be educated as to why it is offensive. There was simply a lot of vitriol directed her way for her use of that word and since what I understand of her background and religion reminded me of my background I simply wanted to point out that there is a chance she was unaware of how offensive it was.

      2. lemon*

        It’s history of usage by churches is part of why it’s an offensive term.

        I understand that the OP more than likely wasn’t aware of the problematic nature of this term and didn’t intend to use it in a hurtful way. But just because that wasn’t her intent doesn’t mean that folks shouldn’t be able to point out the word’s harmful impact. She didn’t know, now she does. What she chooses to do with that knowledge is up to her.

    18. Amtelope*

      So, okay, several things here.
      1) Please don’t use the word “lifestyle” to refer to being LGBT; it’s offensive.
      2) I think your best bet is to be clear and straightforward about your religious needs: “I can’t participate in the Pride celebration for religious reasons. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll need to skip decorating my cube and attending the parade.”
      3) I liked the suggestion one person made of posting a sign saying “Everyone is welcome here” or otherwise expressing that you are against discrimination, even against people who don’t share your religious beliefs. Everyone should be treated with dignity and courtesy at work. Hopefully that’s something we can agree about.

    19. LCS*

      Not to totally water down Pride – I believe it’s important (and a ton of fun!) – but given your beliefs, immigrant status, gender etc. can you walk the fine line of celebrating diversity & inclusion without making it totally LGBTQ-centric? A quick google search shows a ton of posters, material etc. with messages like “Everyone is Welcome Here” – some brightly coloured which has a Pride association but also featuring people of different nationalities, physical abilities etc. I’m thinking you could hang one of these in your office and people will see what they want to see from it without you feeling like you had to cross a personal line.

      And skip the parade – no matter your feelings on the topic, I’m not a huge fan of enforced “fun” and team building outside of work hours – but if for example some of your colleagues needed to be out one afternoon to help prepare a float or set up road barriers or whatever, you could cover their calls or something which would show you’re being a team player about things without needing to provide direct support.

    20. A tester, not a developer*

      Where do you draw the line? Are you OK with putting up a rainbow flag in your cubicle, but not attending the parade or other public events? If that’s the case then I think you can go with the ‘not available on the day of the parade’ approach others have mentioned. If you do not feel you can take part in ANYTHING that “condones” Pride, then unfortunately your company is a poor fit for you, and you may need to look at transferring to an area within the large parent company.

      1. The Meow*

        I disagree about this making Fatima a poor fit, unless she works for an organisation exists specifically to support the LGBTQ+ community.

        As a comparison, I strongly support environmentalism. As a manager I have provided reusable cups for everyone in my team; replaced plastic cutlery in the office with metal ones; arranged discounts for environmentally friendly products (if employees wish to buy them); and hung up a poster by the photocopier reminding people to print only when needed.

        But if I insisted that my entire team attend a protest against climate change or display Greenpeace flags by their desks, that would be inappropriate. That would put *me* in the wrong for demanding my employees to champion the same causes I believe which has absolutely nothing to do with our work. Fatima’s CEO can do whatever he wants to promote LGBTQ+ interests in his own life. He has no right to mandate everyone else to do the same.

    21. SQL Coder Cat*

      Fatima-

      This puts you in a difficult position with your visa status. I would recommend sitting down with your boss and having a conversation in which you express that you are committed to treating everyone fairly, but that for religious reasons you are unable to participate in pride celebrations. Emphasizing the commitment to fair treatment is important- you are legally protected in the US for your religious beliefs, but that does not extend to discriminatory ACTION within the workplace. Most companies with a commitment to diversity will be ok as long as your actions never cross the line into discriminatory action. The fact that you are on a company-sponsored visa makes things more difficult- I don’t know any of the ins and outs here, but I would definitely encourage you to research other options via visa types/jobs as a safety net. You may be more comfortable in a company that doesn’t make such a big deal about Pride, and that’s ok.

      I also encourage you to spend a little time researching the discrimination LGBTQ+ folks have faced and still face- in jobs, healthcare, and elsewhere. Understanding what they’re up against will not only help you understand but will help you stay on the right side of the line of not acting in a discriminatory manner. As you’ve seen, just using the term ‘gay lifestyle’ can create problems for you.

      Best of luck to you.

    22. Mid*

      I’m not sure how helpful this is, but—
      Some religions/sects of religions forbid/discourage flags (I’m thinking of Jehovahs Witnesses in particular but I know it isn’t exclusive to them).
      You could approach your employer with that framing. “My religion doesn’t allow me to hang flags and participate in certain activities because it’s seen as idol worship” or something similar to this.

      Don’t bring up your support (or lack therefore of) of LGBT+ community. Just say you can’t participate in the flag thing and related activities because of your religious beliefs.

      There are ways to frame this that don’t make people feel like you’re not anti-LGBT (but it’s a very thin line, and a lack of active, outward support can come across as being anti-LGBT+)

      Also, though it would be hard to fight, firing you because of your religious beliefs is illegal.

      1. Mid*

        Also, I have many friends who wear hijab and actively participate in Pride and are members of the LGBT+ community. So it might not be a safe assumption that people will read “hijabi“ as “not okay with participating in Pride.”

        I do love the suggestion by another commenter to hang a “all are welcome” or something similarly inclusive, but that could lead to more conversations about your lack of Pride Flags and participation in activities. I think remaining neutral might be the best approach here—meaning don’t show outward support for any causes.

        A further note, I’m in the LGBT+ community and would 100% not be okay with my workplace forcing me to participate in any activity for Pride. I don’t think that your employer should have a say in your personal time, even if it’s something I personally agree with.

        1. sfigato*

          I’m curious how you feel about the bigger corporate footprint at pride events. As I said in my comment below, I am so happy to see how far gay rights has come in my lifetime, but I am skeptical that having a ton of straight google or facebook employees at pride is adding a ton of value to gay rights. Maybe it is? Maybe any support is good support? but it just seems kinda forced and coopting. Am I being too cynical?

          1. RecoveringSWO*

            I was wondering if someone was going to bring this up. At the risk of sounding like the angry lesbian screaming “get off my lawn”…the more that pride has been filled with corporations treating it as a diversity training/mandatory fun event, the less fun it’s been for me! Obviously, I don’t represent the entire community and I don’t have all the answers on corporate involvement at Pride parades. But, I definitely don’t want people to feel obligated to attend Pride solely to prove that they’re tolerant.

            1. Elena Vasquez*

              My company has had 3 such events in one year. It is beginning to look suspicious, like they need to prove to the world how woke they are, because, like, it’s trendy.

          2. Olive Hornby*

            You’re not. Lots of people in the queer community have opted out of the main Pride celebrations in part because they feel too corporate–designed for companies to market to and in some cases exploit (as in the case of large alcohol brands) the queer community vs. creating a space that celebrates its most marginalized members. The massive police presence is a big part of this objection as well, and part of the reason New York had an alternative march this year. As a queer person, I hate huge Pride marches and would be super skeptical of any private company that required participation.

            Anyway, in the OP’s shoes, I would either decline to attend the march without giving a reason, or claim a schedule conflict. If there is any pressure put on you to attend or otherwise participate, I would tell them essentially what you wrote here–you are happy to work with LGBT colleagues, but participating in Pride goes against your religious beliefs and you will need to sit out the celebration.

          3. Mid*

            I’m not a fan. It’s a cheap shot to look woke while increasing profits and doing very little for actual LGBTQ+ communities. I prefer real, meaningful action over flag waving and virtue signaling (not an attack on anyone here. My personal views are my own.)

            1. OneWomansOpinion*

              Yup. It’s really telling to see people melting down at the thought of…what? People not participating in a completely meaningless (like, by definition, it has no meaning if you’re doing it regardless of your actual LGBT friendliness) show of “allyship.”

    23. sfigato*

      I’m just here to say that I totally support LGBTQ rights, am ecstatic that there is so much more support and visibility for that community, and I am deeply skeptical of corporations using it as a way to seem woke. SF Pride was like one big orgy of corporate self-congratulation and it was gross to me ( a straight person). Using a discriminated group’s identity as a way to promote your business seems tacky, and I’d be irritated if I was expected to, on my own time, signal boost the company by participating in an event like pride. and I’m not sure how much value add there is to have a bunch of straight employees draping themselves in rainbow flags and taking up space at queer events, but maybe that is just the introvert in me rationalizing.

      1. Oatmeal*

        Big Corporate Company is paying for my transition and has explicit LGBTQ-friendly policies so they can bring all the straight employees to Pride that they want. (Tongue in cheek because I do get your point, and corporate pinkwashing is a thing, and I love that pride is a place where I’m suddenly not in the minority anymore and I don’t want that overrun by straight people treating it as just a place to party.)

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          lol’d, thanks. My employer, also Big Corporate Company, includes transition support in their health care, recommends specific supporting actions anyone can do (like pronouns in your Slack name) and sends groups to pride that are mostly LGBTQx. Straights are welcome but are not the focus. I love it.

        2. Elena Vasquez*

          My friend’s company will pay for transitions but not for child daycare, a benefit requested by a large number of employees. The first is a benefit that very very few employees will actually use and the second is one that many will use.

          But the optics look good.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            Transition is medial. CHildren are an actual lifestyle choice parents make.

          2. Sam*

            This is a pretty gross comment to make! One thing is allowing someone to live without intense dysphoria, the other one is… paying for daycare.

    24. 867-5309*

      Fatima, I echo the other suggestions to consider a more general sign, such as “everyone welcome here.” Another option, if you have a relatively sparse workspace (e.g., not a bunch of personal items, photos, etc.), then perhaps You can just say you find too much decor distracting.

      Also, I think the responses to Fatima’s question have been mostly kind and considerate, considering I know it’s personal to many people and generally, the comments on AAM run pretty liberal. (I also winced at the “lifestyle” comment.) As a Muslim in America, I suspect Fatima has experienced her own marginalization and intolerance – or worse – so I’ve appreciated that everyone is being helpful and also thoughtful in their responses.

    25. Tinker*

      I’d suggest considering, possibly along with your boss, the distinction between acting on behalf of your company (e.g. running a booth or similar for a festival attended by a marginalized population that many companies are trying to reach as customers or employees) and attending Pride in a way that implies a more personally-held position in the matter.

      I think if your boss is pushing for something like the latter, it’s out of line and would be regardless of the particulars of your position — but that may well arise from not having thought through the thing, if he is a person whose social circle runs to the outspokenly queer and he is not used to unfamiliarity or discomfort regarding Pride. In the case of representing the company on company time, I am not sure if your objection extends to that; if it does, the only advice I care to have is to rethink that.

      You do have the problem here of representing your views in a way that minimizes the offense to a person who is of the group that you have the views about. The “lifestyle” thing is solidly covered so I won’t reiterate that; another point I would emphasize is not phrasing the description of your religious issue in a way that positions anti-queer positions as being inevitable if one is religious. There are people of faith who are queer, and there are people who feel compelled by their faith to, for instance, “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” and consider that an obligation to oppose anti-queer bigotry. At least in theory, the convention in the US to give substantial deference to religious views also extends to such people.

      I would probably frame the thing largely as wanting separation between work and your personal life, should that be a reasonable representation of your views.

    26. Princesa Zelda*

      First, I’d like to echo that referring to being queer as a “lifestyle” or a “choice” is offensive; I can no more stop being queer than I can stop being 5’5. I can wear heels to pass as a heterosexual cisgender 5’7, but it’s not who I am — I’m still queer and 5’5. It’s a common way to refer to us, but it’s also deeply hurtful, and I recommend steering way clear of it.

      Second, I also hate going to Pride on behalf of my workplace. My objection comes from a place of semi-socialism and dislike and distrust of corporations, but how I usually justify it is “I have a conflict that day! Have fun for me!” My conflict is… going to Pride, but I don’t tell my boss that. It’s just “a conflict” that can’t be moved, have fun. If your boss is the type to press, you can schedule a doctors appointment or refer to a “family commitment” or something similar. (You are your own family. Your commitment can be quality time with yourself, on your couch.)

      I do encourage you to learn a bit about LGBTQ+ Muslims. I wouldn’t automatically assume a hijabi to be uncomfortable with Pride, since I personally know more Muslims cool with me than Christians cool with me. Even if you ultimately decide you can’t reconcile it for yourself, it might be useful to you to know how other people square that circle.

      Best wishes to you and I hope that you can do what you feel you can do.

    27. Scott*

      I’ve only skimmed the comments so far, so I apologize if these ideas have already been expressed. I could be wrong, but my feeling is that Pride month itself, as well as participation in Pride month activities, has nothing to do with any person’s religious or non-religious beliefs about the morality of the choices made by those in the LGBT community, or whose beliefs are correct with respect to those beliefs. Pride month, as well as participation in Pride moth activities, has everything to do with recognizing that we are all human beings who deserve to be treated with the respect that all human life deserves, with a specific focus on those in the LGBT community who have historically been marginalized, ostracized, attacked, injured, abandoned, etc. by those who have felt that being a member of the LGBT community somehow made them less human.

      In other words, as a religious person myself, I can understand why you would feel hesitant to participate in Pride month activities in the way your employer seems to want you to do so. However, you may find those reservations to be misplaced. Support of, and participation in , Pride month does not mean you “agree” with an idea or person, nor does it condone a behavior or choice you may believe is wrong. To me it simply means that you recognize the value of a human life.

      I don’t think your employer can base your employment status on whether or not you participate. I would say that if there is an event or activity you feel you are expected to attend with which you feel uncomfortable, be clear about that with your boss or your employer. This is especially true if there are ramifications or repercussions within your religion that would specifically prohibit you from participating. I wasn’t sure from your letter if you were referring to something like this, or if it was just more out of your own perception of the activities.

    28. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Since you’ve only been here for a year, can you phrase it in terms of being opposed to discrimination, but that it could be problematic if your family in your home country heard about you participating in a pro-LGBTQ event?

      From my viewpoint, part of what’s valuable about Pride is that it’s not just “discrimination is bad,” it is (or should be) a celebration of LGBTQ+ people and our lives, and a movement for our rights and for inclusion in society as a whole. I was at NYC Pride the year after the state started recognizing same-sex marriages, and that was absolutely noted and celebrated as part of the march. Yes, Pride these days is full of corporate floats, but that doesn’t mean it’s apolitical, or should be.

      (I definitely disagree with your views, in case the above doesn’t make it obvious, but I think you have the right to hold them.)

      1. OneWomansOpinion*

        I’m not sure if you’re assuming the family thing is true, or suggesting she make it up, but either way…that’s a pretty personal thing to discuss at work. Nobody have to tell some sob story about their backwards homeland to get out of an event they shouldn’t be required to attend in the first place.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I was guessing at motivation, but thinking less “backwards homeland” than starting from her having said that her discomfort with Pride is connected to her upbringing–the part about having had to get used to things since emigrating. All I know about her homeland is that she said life is better here (which could mean more reliable food, or more independence in ways that aren’t really part of this discussion).

    29. blackcat*

      I think you have an easy out. You are a Muslim woman immigrant. I’d say something like “I’m not in a position to be politically active right now.” or “Given the current climate, I’m just not comfortable attending events like that.”

      I have plenty of Muslim friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, so your boss is (correctly) not assuming that your religion means you feel a certain away about other people. But pushing you to attend political events (which pride rallies are) is not great. I would say the same about a Make America Great Again rally. But if I were you, I’d be legitimately concerned about participating in anything even vaguely political. I’ve had friends for whom it’s come up in their visa renewal interviews. One got grilled about participating in the Women’s March. It’s creepy AF and super alarming.

      Per the flag in your cubical–can you preempt a big flag by putting up a small one in a corner where you don’t have to look at it?

      As a longer term thing, I encourage you to think about things like pride as being less about “encouraging a lifestyle” and more about supporting people’s right to exist in the world. Being LGBTQ+ isn’t a lifestyle choice, and working well with and accepting LGBTQ+ individuals is a part of living in most US cities.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        Yes these are very practical points. I think it would be very smart of your employer to demonstrate they understand this.

        I think what frustrates me about corporate pride initiatives is they are focused on branding and not humans… like, there are some interesting and complex conversations here but also a lot of them are irrelevant to work?

      2. Very Anon*

        I think the first quote is a good one to use! My only suggestion would be to add on something like “I appreciate how inclusive and diverse the culture at this company is” during the conversation as a way of signalling that she’s on board with treating everyone with respect. Visa processes are complicated and different for everyone, I know plenty of people who chose to stay more under the radar until they felt more secure.

        If you are generally low-key about most issues and celebrations (both political and non-political), it will be less obvious that you aren’t participating. That way your coworkers are more likely to think “Fatima doesn’t do politics” rather than “Fatima doesn’t have a flag therefore has a problem with me”

        Fatima, is there other work that you can do at your company to support people planning/going to the event or free up some of their time? Like you take X work-related task so a coworker can make Pride decorations. Or if there is a Pride party at work, volunteer for the clean-up crew (which no-one want to do anyway). This way you are not directly supporting a cause you aren’t comfortable championing, but you are supporting your coworkers and company culture.

        When Pride month comes around, Watch, Listen, Learn. Get to know your LGBT+ coworkers. Having actual people that you know and understand in that community generally helps a lot of people resolve the “religion vs acceptance” issue

    30. Lady Heather*

      I think it is your manager’s right to insist on flags in cubicles – just as it would be his right to put them on walls, or paint the cubicle partitions in rainbow flag colours, or in a clashing pattern of purple, orange and neon green. I don’t think working in a cubicle decorated per your manager’s instructions is the same as participating in a Pride event – most would call that “working in a cubicle decorated as instructed by manager”.

      I’m marginally more understanding about not wanting to attend a Pride event.

      The difference to me seems to be that the cubicle decorating is “passive” – you’re doing your regular job amidst rainbow flags. I would interpret a refusal to do that as intolerant or even hostile, because you’re interfering with other people’s (your manager, CEO, company) show of support. They decided to decorate your cubicle, after all. And they get to do that because they pay you.
      Participating in a Pride parade is “active” – you’re doing activities unrelated to your job specifically to support people that you’d rather didn’t exist – and I think a refusal to do that is a bit less hostile because you’re “only” refusing to support them yourself.

    31. lobsterp0t*

      My advice would be to seek out the queer Muslims in your own community and try to listen to them. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and perhaps sharing a religious belief and background could be a way into understanding why Pride is important.

      If you reframe Pride away from a celebration or party and into a flamboyant and artistic protest for civil rights, perhaps that will also help.

      Just decline to go. But I also think this is an opportunity to try to understand other humans (who exist within your religious community, not just Outside of it).

    32. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Just popping in to recommend a newish book – “Unorthodox: LGBT+ Identity and Faith”, editor Sean Richardson.

    33. CatMom*

      Others have addressed the problematic nature of your question, so I won’t. I will, however, say that if you’re the only one not participating in Pride, people may put 2 and 2 together, given that you are a visibly religious person. And they’re likely to feel sour about it if they do, especially if they’re LGBTQ+, because, well, you have a negative bias against the queer community, and it is because of your religion.

      And to be clear, many people in this country are going to receive this particular belief negatively, just as they would if you were a religious Jew or Christian who didn’t believe in the LGBTQ “lifestyle” (which yes, is a pretty offensive thing to say to many LGBTQ people). And the people who won’t view it negatively aren’t often the kind of people you want to be around, because “not believing in the LGBTQ lifestyle” is generally regarded in large American cities as bigotry. You are more than welcome in this country and I hope that you get to stay as long as you like, but perhaps consider that open acceptance of the LGBTQ community is part of our culture here in a way it may not be in your home country/community, and that’s something you’ll need to account for as you adjust.

  6. Just Peachy*

    I’ve worked at my current company for 4 ½ years. I’ve always gotten excellent feedback, and am well-liked by my peers. My first two years, I was in customer service, and my manager was Pam. At that time, formal reviews were not done. I was then promoted to a sales support position, and Michael was my manager. End of the year performance reviews were instituted during my time in sales support. During the two performance reviews I had with Michael, he gave me glowing reviews – all 4’s and 5’s, with mostly 5’s. About a year and a half into my job in sales support, I realized I was truly not interested in sales, and requested to be transferred into a contract specialist position that had been newly created at the company, and was given that position. I also am the “backup” customer service person, and answer customer calls when our main customer service rep, Jim is tied up with something else. In the transition, I’m back to working under Pam.

    My first performance review with Pam will be next month, and I’m concerned about one specific thing. To preface, Pam has always acknowledged that I do good work, but can sometimes be irrational and petty (this is a well-known thing about Pam). Anyway, over the years, Pam has always made snarky comments in passing about “everyone rushing out the door right at 4:30”, which is when our office closes. Our office hours are 7:30-4:30. However, Pam is deeply bothered by people leaving on time. Not early, but on time. The thing is, Pam consistently shows up 30+ minutes late in the morning, so it makes sense that she would stay later than the rest of us. To be clear, I personally don’t care that she gets to the office late. However, it does bother me that she acts irritated that I (and others) leave right on time. If I was working on something time sensitive that needed to be finished ASAP, I would of COURSE stay late if need be. However, 99.9% of our work isn’t time sensitive, and I make a point of finishing everything up by 4:30; I’m not just running out the door when the clock strikes 4:30 if I’m busy with something.

    Here’s the dilemma – the main customer service rep, Jim, stays later than 4:30 most day. However, this in no way is something he has to do, nor does his “extra” time in the office indicate that he’s getting more done than me. He simply chooses to do non-time sensitive tasks right before closing time. I still think though that Pam will point out in my performance review that Jim stays late sometimes, and I don’t, and try to tie it back to me not working quite as hard as Jim (which isn’t true, at all – I’ve always been a high performer.) Bottom line – Pam is a “butt in chair” type of manager, and incorrectly ties “working late” to “working hard”.

    Of course this is all me assuming Pam will bring this up in reviews – but if she does, how do I react?

    I should also add that I’m a non exempt employee, so I would be collecting overtime pay by working late to appease Pam.

    1. Just Peachy*

      I should also add that my raise is based on these reviews (If you get above a certain score, you get a 5% raise, if you’re “midrange” you get a 3% range, and if you’re not so great, you get a 1% raise). I have received larger raises in past years when my responsibilities have increased greatly just just by asking, but don’t plan on asking for that this year since my job hasn’t changed much over the past 12 months.

      1. Just Peachy*

        Also important: (sorry for all the additions), but when I moved from customer service to sales support, Pam was visibly upset about it. A couple coworkers told me that Pam had told them, “I wish Just Peachy would have asked for my advice before jumping positions. I just thought she would have valued my opinion a little more”. The thing is, the previous manager before Jim (Charles, who is no longer with the company), was the one who had asked me if I wanted to move to sales support – I didn’t actively seek it out. He also told me not to personally tell Pam I was moving teams, and said that he wanted to me the one to tell her. Anyway, I think Pam felt some sort of betryal when I moved teams (again, she can be a bit moody and take things too personally). Now that I’m back on her team, I feel like she has a sort of “haha, I knew she’d come back” complex.

        Again, she does acknowledge my good work normally, but I feel like me switching positions, then moving back to her team shifted our relationship a bit.

    2. 1234*

      If she bring it up as a negative, I would say “Company policy states that our hours are 7:30 – 4:30. What is the reason that I’m being penalized for leaving on time at 4:30? I am following company policy.” and bring a copy of the company policy to the meeting.

      1. Yorick*

        More generally, I think this is a more confrontational tone than you should take on the first response, especially when you know your manager to be somewhat petty.

        1. 1234*

          Most places I’ve worked, it says somewhere (employee manual etc.) “our office hours are from X to Y” and these are all office jobs.

      2. That'll happen*

        I’d also look at your company’s overtime policy. I know at my company, overtime needs to be approved by management ahead of time so you can’t just stay late if you feel like it.

      3. Happy Lurker*

        I would consider going the OT route if she brings up leaving on time. Using Allison’s calm matter of fact tone. “I should leave at 4:30 to avoid charging the company OT. Please tell me if I should be doing something different, and of course, I will do so.” Hopefully, it isn’t stay 20 minutes late and don’t charge the company.
        Ugh. Pam. Come in late and wonder why people leave on time. I bet once a boss called at 4:45 and praised her commitment to the office. She hasn’t gotten over it yet. Whoops, sorry that was my boss 20 years ago.
        I wish you the best Peachy. Please let us know how you make out.

        1. Observer*

          I was thinking much the same.

          If she brings up working off the clock a shocked “But that would put the company a risk!” is the way to go.

    3. Bloopmaster*

      It seems to me that your non-exempt status makes this easy! If she questions you about the fact that you leave at 4:30 every day, just act very surprised and say something like “Oh–Since I arrive at 7:30, I regularly leave at 4:30 because otherwise Company has to pay me overtime. Considering that I can get all my work done during regular business hours, using overtime seems unnecessary, but is my schedule a concern for you?”

      Probably the idea of paying you more will shut her down, but if not, offer the following options:
      a) Offer to start later so that your end time is also later. Also point out that this means you won’t be in the office at 7:30, in case early morning coverage is an issue.
      b) Request documentation that you are authorized to perform X hours of overtime per week so that you can stay later regularly.

      If she brings up the fact that Jim regularly works past 4:30 (so why don’t you?), maybe say “I’m not familiar with the details of other employees contracts, so I assumed either that Jim was exempt/salaried or that he had arranged with you to work late or otherwise vary his schedule from our regular business hours. If he’s actually non-exempt and working unpaid overtime that could get us into huge trouble!”

      1. TimeTravlR*

        I like Bloopmaster’s comment: “.. I can get all my work done during regular business hours..” I used to work for a Pam who thought face time was work time. When we got a new boss I made it clear up front that I thought (barring something unusual or an emergency) if we weren’t getting the work done in the regular time allotted, the we weren’t doing it right. Fortunately, he agreed, and thereafter, we only stayed late in extreme circumstances.
        So yes, rely heavily on not wanting to cost the company OT and being able to accomplish your work in the time allowed.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to all of these scripts.

        Of *course* you don’t want to cost the company extra money if there’s no business requirement!

      3. LKW*

        Yes – use terms like “Stewardship” and “company resources” and “not remaining compliant with time tracking”
        to basically say “I’m not ghosting hours and working without getting paid and I’m not wasting company money on overtime”

    4. Penthesilea*

      If she brings it up, I would bring up that you would be clocking overtime regularly and clarify whether that’s what she intends. Does she really want to be paying overtime every week? My company really frowns on overtime for office employees minus an extenuating business need – if someone was working overtime on a weekly basis, that would be a problem. I think that would be a reasonable first step in a conversation with her.

    5. Mama Bear*

      Does your review process have a way for you to add a rebuttal to something you disagree with? Is there a formal grievance process when you think the review is way off?

    6. Mrs. C*

      Right at the outset of my career, I had a boss who started to rant to me that she was seeing a trend in employees [insert list of every female employee, current and past, who reported to her who wasn’t a mother – including me] not showing dedication to the job, because they weren’t working long enough hours.

      I was completely taken aback, and thankfully my surprise reaction wasn’t to curse at her for discriminating based on the status of my uterus. Instead, my surprise reaction was to genuinely ask “Is there any work that I’m not doing or that I need to be doing better?” She replied, “Well, no. But just be here longer!” I didn’t work longer hours, and she never bugged me about it again. Maybe something similar would help here?

    7. RebeccaSmiles*

      I don’t have any advice, but I’m glad to see a fellow fan of the greatest show on earth. I’m at the Dunder Mifflin Memphis branch. :)

  7. R.Z.*

    This morning one of the barristers at the firm I’m employed at was arrested. The police came to our building and constables arrested her as she was coming out of the lift. No one knows what is going on. A memo was sent out saying she will not be returning for the foreseeable future and listed who to send clients to if anyone asked for her. No one knows why she was arrested, it all happened so fast. I have never witnessed anyone being arrested before. She seemed like such a warm and genuine person and she is well-liked by everyone here. It was most definitely a shock and of course it’s all anyone is talking about now.

    1. Mop Head*

      Wow, that’s really shocking. You have my sympathy, I would be absolutely stunned if I witnessed such a thing.

    2. PolarVortex*

      Oh man, office drama like this is always crazy. (I now too want to know what happened.)

      But something to keep in mind: nice people can still do bad things, and professional faces aren’t always the same as personal faces. So it could be she’s a nice person who got in a bind and did something stupid like stealing money from the company because she’s struggling with a gambling addiction, or it could be she presents as a nice person and in reality is not.

      I would google her name for awhile, you’ll find out some of the answers there. But remember: Arrested is not convicted so, you don’t know until you know.

      1. Kesnit*

        “nice people can still do bad things,”

        As a criminal defense attorney, I see this every day. Most of my clients are good people who had the bad luck to get stopped by the police while they had cocaine in their pocket (or something along those lines).

        “So it could be she’s a nice person who got in a bind and did something stupid like stealing money from the company because she’s struggling with a gambling addiction”

        A few years ago, an attorney in another state was arrested on prostitution charges. She worked for a major law firm, which led to people asking why she did it. Turns out she needed the extra money to pay her student loans.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I am also a criminal defense attorney and want to echo that sometimes good people do dumb things. I am also very intrigued by the story, so hopefully the OP here will update as more facts get known.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Crikey. That would be very unsettling.

      Criminal proceedings are usually public record in the UK – you could keep an eye out in the local paper for an initial hearing in the Magistrates Court along the lines of “Etheldreda Smith, 38, of Leafy Suburb pleaded not guilty to two charges of Excessive Perfume Wearing and was released on bail”.

    4. LKW*

      It is entirely possible that she is warm, genuine and a criminal all at once. People are complex! Still I’m really curious to know what she did.

      1. Elenia*

        we once had a coworker fired for stealing. She was stealing because she had a three year old autistic daughter and was not making enough to take care of her and her treatments, but she was stealing from not-for-profit events to benefit preemie babies….the company agreed not to press charges but she would have to leave her job immediately.
        She was the director of operations. :eek:

      2. Liane*

        A very polite, sweet young man, Kylo, who worked in electronics at my (In)famous Retailer store was charged with stealing over $3,000 in merchandise. I suspect at least some of it was via fraudulent returns, even though I never noticed anything questionable when he returned items & I was very good at both following procedures and spotting scammers. However, if that was Kylo’s MO, it’s quite possible he stayed honest when I was at the service desk and saved his crimes for when someone less diligent or perceptive was working.

      3. A Poster Has No Name*

        She can also be warm, genuine and not a criminal, since being arrested doesn’t automatically equate to guilty.

      1. Bagpuss*

        That’s not the case in the UK. For quite a lot of lower level stuff, unless there is concern that someone is a flight risk or would destroy or conceal evidence, they would be invited to go the police station for an interview at an agreed time, rather than being arrested. It’s also fairly unusual to arrest someone at work – we don’t tend to go in for the ‘perp walk’ much.
        But it could happen if she failed to appear in court or keep to bail conditions, without it necessarily being in connection with a serious offence. In which case she may also be in trouble with the Bar Council , as I am pretty sure that barristers are required to tell their regulator if they are charged with any serious offence

  8. Job hopper?*

    TL;DR: If I find a new job in early 2020, will it look bad if I relocate in early 2021 when my resume longevity is already a little spotty?

    I have a situation that is a little similar to the letter from a few weeks ago about the partner who has to move frequently, but it’s different enough that the advice provided doesn’t apply but makes me wonder.

    My husband has gone back to school to enter a new field. He graduates next December. The area where we live does have a good market for candidates in that field, but there are other parts of the country that are far better suited to his interests. Therefore we may be moving in the start of 2021.

    I have been in my current role for a little over a year and I’m not enjoying it. It’s a small company and I am spending a lot of time on admin work. I am a dept-of-one and feel very lonely at work. My pay is enough for us to live, but nothing else.

    I hope to find a higher paying role that is more specialized to my education and skills in a larger company. I will begin job searching after the new year.

    If I do move in early 2021, will it be bad for my resume to have that short-term role? I think the chance of moving outside of the area is fairly low. In contrast to the letter from a few weeks ago, my husband would consider staying locally if I asked him too. (This is dependent on him receiving multiple job offers of course.)

    My recent job history is mixed. My longest stint anywhere is 3.5 years. My previous role was only 1 year because of questionable management practices and that company is actually closed now. With my current role, my tenure will be around 2 years depending on how fast the job search goes.

    A remote role would be a dream come true, but I am not going to bank on it. I need to continue to make enough money to support us until he graduates and a lot of those roles would be a pay cut.

    Also, finding a role that would allow me to transfer to the new location might work, but my area has several headquarters for major companies that likely will not have the same roles in other cities.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think moving for your spouse is a good enough reason to have a short-term stint on your resume, but I also think you should be open to staying if you love the job and your husband can find something locally — *he* could always get a couple years under his belt before you both change jobs.

    2. Me*

      I think your last two points are strong things to consider.

      As far as leaving your current job – I understand it’s not great…but is it so awful you can’t hang out until your husband graduates and you decide whether you are moving? I ask because you do risk coming across as a tad job hoppy. Short stint because of a relocation isn’t an issue but when you have multiple other shorter stints behind it it could be an issue.

      1. Job hopper?*

        It’s not awful like my last role where I feared the worst on a daily basis. But it is not serving me well for career goals. This means that I will be searching, but would only leave for something that will check all the boxes.

        1. Me*

          In that case, I would stay until a decision is made on moving. Being viewed as a job hopper really doesn’t serve you for career goals either. It stinks and isn’t ideal, but optics matter. All that said, it doesn’t make you unemployable, just more difficult to find something as well as perhaps making it difficult to find something that you want vs something to be employed and pay the bills.

          Alternately you maybe should discuss with your husband the idea if you get a new job staying for x amount of years meaning he would find a job locally at first. I’d also build in there that if you haven’t found a new job in x months (whatever makes sense) that you will just stick it out until you relocate or decide to not relocate.

          1. Job hopper?*

            Your second option is likely what will happen.

            The other issue is money. My conservative company is worried about what’s coming and will likely keep raises low which means I will have to find a way to manage my rising COL elsewhere. It’s harder adjusting to a single income than we thought!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it will be good for your résumé, because when potential employers are looking at short stints and worried that you may have a short stint with them as well, they ultimately don’t care if it’s for a “good” reason (spouse has to move constantly) or a “bad” reason (you’re just super restless and never satisfied where you are work-wise). They’re concerned about the short tenure, because hiring is a pain and training is involved, and they don’t like having to re-train someone. That said, I know plenty of people who have one-year stints who manage to keep getting jobs. It’s not like a scarlet letter that means the whole town shuns you. It just means your job search may be a little more difficult than it would otherwise.

      1. 1234*

        It really depends on the industry. Not sure what OP’s industry is but I know in advertising, it is common to hop around.

    4. Kiwiii*

      It sounds like your stints are long enough that it shouldn’t be a serious problem with perception, (3.5 yrs, then 1 yr, then 2 yrs, then 1 yr is not Awful awful) especially when the reason for the next change is going to be moving, which isn’t a red flag. As long as you stay at whatever job you get in 2021 (if/when you move) for a good 3 years, I don’t think the quick transitions will seriously affect you. That said, it might help to think a little bit about coworker’s histories if you know them at all, or how long people have stayed in the job you’re currently in — if it’s really unusual to be in roles for less than 2 years, that may be something to factor in, because various industries have wildly different expectations at longevity.

      1. Kiwiii*

        fwiw, my job history looks like 3.5 yrs, 11 months various temp gigs, 13 months, 7 months (contract position), 9 months, current job, and the only acknowledgement during the interview process of it being very job-hoppy was my interviewer saying something about my current company being a good place to grow roots.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        I dunno, (3.5, 1, 3) wouldn’t raise any flags, but (3.5, 1, 2, 1) looks pretty spotty, and if I were a potential employer in 2021, I’d be digging in to why JH changed jobs in 2020. If JH had a good story for that change (eg, the company closed), ok, but ‘I was a little underemployed and underpaid’ isn’t a good story.

        I don’t think it’s ‘super reg flag!’ territory, but it’s a hurdle. Look hard at the rest of your resume and at likely jobs in your target markets and see if your resume is strong enough to overcome all the barriers you’ll be facing. For example, if you’re going to need a job before you move, ]or if you’ll be competing against a local school that specializes in your area and is flooding the target market, then you really need the strongest possible resume and no red flags. But if you’re a nurse, it doesn’t matter, everyone needs nurses.

        1. Kiwiii*

          I suppose it would depend on if 2 years is a regular length to be in the role or if it seems quick to leave it. Industries vary a lot and if these aren’t management positions, it might be a very expected amount of time to move roles. With the moving excuse for the newest, as someone who regularly assists in pulling resumes, I’m not put off by it and don’t expect reasonable employers in similar industries to be either.

    5. Mazzy*

      When I screen resumes sometimes, this would bother me. You’d need a very strong tailored cover letter and need to be a perfect fit for me to consider someone job hopping all of the time. Also, keep in mind that many companies area already 3 quarters into negative growth and the economy is barely growing, and so we might be in a recession by then, so that may hinder prospects for either of you in 2021.

      1. Job hopper?*

        Something I hadn’t been considering! But that actually means I will try harder to find a new role. My current industry is one that will be hit hard by a recession.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Just make sure you’re avoiding industries where it’s last hired first fired. The extra two years of seniority can be a big buffer, as hot as the job market has been the last two years.

          I agree that there is a recession coming up, but it won’t be deep. Jobs will help cushion it. But after, we’re probably in for 4 – 6 years of slower growth, 1% or so (trade wars = manufacturing capacity offloading this year and next; either more of the same or big direction change (BDC), but BDC will take at least 3 years to make significant economic impact.

    6. drpuma*

      I don’t see anything about what’s normal for your industry, but that’s also something to consider.
      It may be worth it for you to look for a one-year contract or fill-in role for a medical/maternity leave – that way, a fixed end point is normalized and built-in.
      I also recommend you (and your husband) decide when your job search -ends-. You talk about starting in early 2020, but job hunting can be unpredictable – if you don’t have a new role by say March, do you stop applying until early 2021? What about June? September? When is he planning to start his job search? Setting your expectations may help you decide on next steps.

    7. Fibchopkin*

      Just wanted to chime in with Mazzy and say that the sort of job-hoppiness your resume implies would also give me pause, and really, your cover letter would need to address it satisfactorily for me to even consider putting you in the “maybe interview” pile and the resume itself would very likely exclude you entirely from my own “definitely interview pile.” Then, if you got the interview, you’d really, REALLY need to nail it. This will vary by industry, of course, but if I saw your resume come across my desk for one of my open positions and the history was 3.5, 1, 2, 1 – unless your cover letter said you are a military spouse or something similar, my concern would be that if I put you into one of my open positions, you’d jump ship for the next shiny opportunity before you even finished really training for and mastering the position. Hiring and training is the world’s biggest hassle, so I’m not keen to have anyone on my team who isn’t likely to be there for at least 3-5 years.

      Sorry :( I know that’s not what you were hoping to hear, but I wanted to make sure you got some honest advice from the perspective of an upper to mid-level manager in the project management field. Maybe this isn’t your field and it won’t apply, but if you are looking to do project or (non computer) program management, my advice would be to tough it out where you’re at for the last year if you can, or else come to an understanding with your husband and really firmly commit to staying at the new place for 3-5 years regardless of hubby’s prospects after graduation.

      1. Oh Snap*

        I hire people and I agree. I would advise you to stay in your current role. I would not consider you unless you were head and shoulders better than others with job hopping like that.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This strongly depends on your field, there are some that have no issue with job hoppers. There are others who don’t want to touch them with a ten foot pole. And then there are roles that it matters and others that it doesn’t matter.

      What you do is important. Are you doing things that take extensive training efforts on your employer side?

      If it’s something you come in and are able to hit the ground running in 4-6 weeks, if you leave in a year or two, meh. If you need 6 months or more to acclimate, that’s a huge investment with a limited return they’re getting!

      With my roles, I need to establish that I’ll be there for at least a few years because I don’t fully have the scope and company needs down for almost 12 months at times, since it’s an an accounting schedule. If I duck out after one term, they have to bring in someone else in and go through that whole phase over again, it’s a hassle and not great. My boss said he was excited to see my resume showed I stuck around for awhile in most places, one place I left at a year because they were the actual devil after all. So he didn’t flinch at it but if I had a string of them, I wouldn’t have gotten a call probably!

    9. JR*

      Would you consider job searching in the area that has the best prospects for your husband after graduation? That of course limits his options, but limits them to a better job market than your current area. Realistically, given the length of a job search, you aren’t likely to end up needing to leave for the new city more than 6-9 months before him.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Moving is a good reason. However, it might be better to seek out contract jobs or temporary situations until you move. A lot of so-called contract-to-hire jobs never do become full time, so if you wanted something more exciting or an opportunity to work in a new field, that might be the way to go. Or, you could hang in at current job knowing it’s for a limited time.

      Yes, to remote-only roles. That would solve a lot of issues for you, but they seem quite difficult to find! I’ve been actively looking for one of those myself, and find them rather limited and/or much reduced salary from my current role. Probably depends on your field though.

  9. Sarah*

    An organization reached out to me to talk about collaborating with my organization because they are hiring a new role. The new role is something I’m very much interested in applying for. I told them that and offered to let them speak to someone else. They encouraged me to apply and were still interested in speaking with me representing my current position. My question is do I apply this weekend, or do I wait till after we speak next week, and then submit my application referencing our conversation?

      1. Amy Sly*

        Possibly not this “weekend” but 8:00ish on Monday so it doesn’t get lost in the weekend email dump. But yes, don’t wait until the conversation.

  10. 2FlushOrNot2Flush…*

    It’s weird poll time! For obvious reasons, I don’t feel comfortable asking this question around the office. Since AAM readers seem quite reasonable, I’d like to get your consensus:

    When the office toilet flushes such that the, ahem, important contents are gone, but some toilet paper remains, is it necessary to flush a 2nd time so that there’s only water left?

    The eco-friendly side of me absolutely hates flushing when there’s just residual toilet paper and nothing stinky. But I’m currently flushing twice out of fear of being That Person who is making the bathroom gross. So, 2nd flush, yay or nay?

    1. LizB*

      I say yes, unless it’s just like a tiny wisp of residual paper floating peacefully back out into the bowl.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I usually flush until the paper is gone, but I am also not super grossed out if there’s just a little paper floating around. As long as it’s clear someone before me flushed at least once.

    3. 1234*

      I personally flush until everything is gone. As the next person using the bathroom, I would want to see the toilet as “clean” as possible even if “important contents” are gone.

      And every time I see someone only leaving TP in there, I will still flush it before I use it (and then flush again after I’ve used it until everything is gone).

    4. littlelizard*

      Yay for 2nd flush! If your toilet is notoriously bad and there’s a tiny amount of very shredded paper left, you can maybe avoid it, but generally no one wants to see TP floating around when they walk in. Plus, when I see things in the toilet, I flush before using to see if it’s maybe clogged, so that flush will likely happen anyway.

      1. Eleanor Konik*

        This. I always avoid using a toilet with paper in it because I’m afraid it’s clogged, and that if I flush it again, it’ll overflow.

    5. Jamie*

      I too try to be environmentally conscious, but I can’t get past something being left behind and I would find it gross.

      That said I wouldn’t go on a witchhunt to find you! Just roll my eyes. Assuming there is no hygiene issue I’m not seeing I think you should forgo the flush and people like me need to get over their weirdness about it.

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      If it’s only paper, I say leave it. It is not gonna kill anyone to do their business in a toilet that’s already got a little paper in the bowl, and just paper by itself won’t stink the place up.

      1. Chili*

        I agree when there’s just a small floating, but when there’s a clump of toilet paper stuck to the bowl, it tends to attract more paper until there is a gargantuan wad that someone has to push down. So if there’s just a floating piece, leave it, but if it’s stuck somewhere, I would try to move it so it doesn’t become an even bigger issue for someone else.

    7. fposte*

      Yes, flush. As a species we are the anti-dogs–we don’t want to do our business where somebody else did. A lot of people will flush your bit of toilet paper before using the toilet because of this, so it’s not saving water in many cases.

      1. CastIrony*

        Yeah, I would do this, too. Saving water is good and all, but when it comes to toilets, reasonable sanitation/cleanliness comes first for me.

    8. Liz*

      I’ll be honest, I flush until everything is gone; residual anything or even just a bit of TP. And if i go into a stall, and there’s anything left, i flush before I go. Its just a weird quirk i have.

      1. MoopySwarpet*

        If I go into a stall that has residual anything in it, I flush and then go use the next stall. (Not in super public restrooms . . . I just move on to the next stall in those cases.)

    9. Ama*

      I do if there’s enough left that people might think it is clogged and not use it — but then I’m also the person who goes and flushes if someone else leaves a mess. I like to say my superpower is being unphased by bathroom messes (side effect of being raised by parents who played a lot of softball in the height of a midwestern U.S. summer — if you can survive unairconditioned, poorly ventilated softball field bathrooms, no bathroom will phase you).

    10. Daisy-dog*

      …I don’t actually look. However, given the fact that surely other individuals in my office use it for the same thing and I never notice anything left behind from them or hear double flushes, I’m probably safe with one flush.

    11. Llama Wrangler*

      If there is nothing else in the bowl and one to two sheets of toilet paper, I don’t flush a second time. If there’s anything more than that, I do.

    12. DataGirl*

      Second flush. Usually in the ladies room* if a toilet has paper left in it no one will use it- you’ll see people start to go in the stall then stop and pick a different one. Leaving the paper in can essentially make that stall unusable until some brave soul goes in to take care of it.

      *no idea if men are like this.

      1. nekosan*

        I think of that as the “poison toilet”! If I see one, I flush it… but I usually do also go to another to do my business.

    13. PolarVortex*

      Flush it.

      I’m not against saving water, but if I see toilet paper I’m going to assume the water is equally unflushed and don’t want someone elses stuff accidentally splashing back on me.

    14. Celeste*

      I’m a reflusher. If I get in there and there’s paper, I’ll reflush for myself. I like a fresh bowl.

    15. Mazzy*

      Yes flush it. But I’m in an area without any sort of water shortage and lots of rain, so. Maybe it’s different in the Southwest?

    16. Seifer*

      In the office, yes.

      At my apartment, where they installed really terrible toilets that sometimes take three flushes to get all the toilet paper (but the… important contents are gone)… it’s my apartment and I’m the only one that uses that bathroom so I’m meh about it. I tell myself that that evens it out.

    17. TooTiredToThink*

      The eco-friendly side of me also hates flushing multiple times just because of toilet paper but there are some incredibly gross people in my office so I do it because I don’t want to be a) clumped in with them [pun intended] and b) a lot of people would be grossed out by it.

    18. matcha123*

      If it’s a small bit of tp, I’d leave it. Like…a pretty small bit. But any more and I’d flush again.
      I try to get a stall that I’m familiar with so I know what the flushing is like and can prepare.

    19. lemon*

      Second flush. If I see paper in the bowl before I use it, I flush anyway. I don’t know why. I know it’s irrational and bad for the environment, but it’s mentally icky.

    20. Nini*

      Yes. I’m surprised anyone is saying otherwise. This is an issue with the toilets in my new office and I hate walking in to find toilet paper in the bowl because the toilet looks dirty it means I have to flush the toilet before I can even use it.

    21. drpuma*

      Courtesy flush at the beginning of your business helps to decrease smells and also guarantees the second flush will still be….productive.

    22. Enough*

      If you have a handle you could try holding it down a little longer. This can help the paper go down farther and not come back up. This should use less water than a 2nd full flush.

    23. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve complained about our office toilet… I swear it’s as close to being a shelf toilet as could be found in the US. So it’s very common that TP gets stuck to the bowl… not wispies but the full wad. Gross! If it happens to me I use the toilet plunger to knock it in the water and reflush. If I go in there and see a wad, I do the same thing, then use the toilet.

      Really three reasons. 1-Gross and 2- I don’t want to run the chance of having multiple wads of TP getting flushed and stopping up the works and 3- I want to make sure the toilet will flush before I ahem add to it.

      1. 2FlushOrNot2Flush…*

        That stinks! Yeah, I feel like any clumps/wads of TP stuck to the bowl is absolutely no question, you flush to prevent plumbing issues. For me, it’s really a question of those wispies (great word choice there) in clear water where it’s obvious that the previous user flushed and it was otherwise effective. The consensus seems to be mixed enough that I’ll keep on with the secondary office flush!

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I leave it, because we have so many people that do the dreaded courtesy flush anyway–it would be overkill.
      (Tangent: I’d rather someone hear my body noises than have my nether regions closely exposed to flushing, the idea of public toilet water-droplets inside my clothes makes me cringe.)

      1. Joielle*

        Same! I would NEVER courtesy flush while sitting, that’s repulsive. I also don’t do a second flush if it’s just little bits of paper left.

    25. Donkey Hotey*

      Well, if we’re going to (pardon the pun) go there….

      I vote for a single flush unless the content of the TP is more than just white.

      And in consolation, most commercial toilets are under 2 gallons / 8 liters per flush, which is the liquid equivalent of budget dust.

    26. Garland Not Andrews*

      Our toilets regurgitate bits of paper after the flush. Sometimes after you’ve left the stall. What can you do? I don’t worry about it. (I worry about breaking the stupid wall mounted toilets as I am a person of substance!)

    27. Not So NewReader*

      I vote for telling maintenance the toilet is not flushing properly.

      I can’t tell if this is happening often or if this is just happening in “extreme use” settings.
      However, if it is not fully flushing with ordinary use, then the toilet needs to be repaired.

      If you are on metered water, you can motivate TPTB to check this out by saying that people are often flushing twice and using more water than necessary.

  11. jenny jenny*

    I guess I just need to vent.

    I’m on maternity leave with a 2-week-old baby. I live in a country where parental leave is a year, and employers are generally obligated to return you to your job or a comparable job on return. I am an in-house lawyer that was making a good salary. I had a great rapport with my boss, with absolutely stellar reviews for the past several years. This week, I found out that the department has been COMPLETELY gutted. My boss, who worked at the company for more than 20 years and is a wonderful human, was unceremoniously walked out. (Nobody told me, but I learned because apparently they forgot that I still have e-mail and VPN access for a month to deal with things like adding my baby to my benefits, etc. and I saw a slate of alarming announcements coming out.)

    My colleagues have been scattered to different areas and apparently my role is different and now reporting to a non-lawyer, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. I deal with this person a lot and while he is cordial, he is also someone I feel has been promoted well beyond his competence. He is essentially the human embodiment of unearned bro confidence. He is also notoriously not a fan of parental leave; I had a male colleague who took a 10-week leave (as is VERY allowed per company policy) and the COO was critical of him.

    I did do a lot of managerial work in my role (including talent management, budget management and different operational function), as my own team was five people, but my five people have been either terminated or reassigned and now I have no idea what my job will be. My replacement (also a lawyer, on a contract for a year) is furious, as he thought he would be getting the chance to manage a team and actually do legal work. I have a suspicion that I’ll go back and be asked to be doing things like process improvement projects (which I am good at and have executed well on but I HATE). I have an even stronger suspicion that I’ll be let go once a couple months have passed and it’ll be considered more palatable to terminate me vs. doing so while I am on parental leave. Nobody has formally reached out to me to have a conversation about what is happening; this seems shortsighted to me as obviously colleagues would tell me even without the e-mail access still being in place.

    Given how early I am in my leave, I feel pretty stuck. It’s not like I can job hunt now, when I plan on having a year with my baby. I am definitely a person who likes to have next steps in place. The uncertainty is frustrating and scary; I am our family’s primary income earner and we won’t be able to sustain finances much beyond what I saved up for leave. I do believe it’ll be fine in the end – the last time I job searched I got a few offers – but my job was such a great fit. A real unicorn job, with good compensation and a boss who was super understanding about family obligations, etc. I’m also angry that this happened now, with no warning, when I’m deep in the throes of baby-related sleep deprivation. I’m determined to enjoy my baby time, but now I have a big irritating stressor hanging over my head.

    Not sure I need advice, just commiseration or experiences from others.

    1. Amy Sly*

      Congratulations on the baby! (Seriously, as a childless not by choice woman, I find people just seem to assume that having a child is normal, not miraculous.)

      I’ve seen my friends use their pregnancy leave for job searching, and it seemed to work out well for them. Mourn the unicorn job, because it’s definitely gone, and then about halfway into the leave, start looking for something new. If you still have to go back to work at dead-unicorn for a few months, fine, but you’re almost certainly right that they want to see the back of you. Might as well leave on your own terms.

      1. Krabby*

        If you’re in Canada (which the one year of leave makes me think is the case), there are rules about contacting people on LOAs that may have prevented them or given them pause before reaching out to let you know about something like this. So I would at least look past that part of it.

        That said, I 100% agree with Amy Sly. Wait a few months, then start setting up notifications with certain job sites. Apply to the ones your excited about and ignore everything else. Use this time to be picky and find yourself another unicorn.

    2. Four lights*

      Ugh. That stinks. As someone with a five month old, you are absolutely right that this is a terrible time for you to hear this news. If you have a year’s leave, and hopefully some months before you think they will fire you, that should be enough time to look for a job. Right now it is all baby, all the time, but it will get better and you will see that there will be some more time in the day that you could devote to job-hunting if you need to. Congratulations and good luck.

    3. Anon for this*

      Also a lawyer. After my daughter was born, I was told I would be happier at home with the baby and let go from my job. It was devastating at the time, but I found a position that was closer to home, paid more, and is family-friendly. It sounds like your unicorn job is gone, so I’d enjoy the time now and job hunt closer to the end of your leave. The sleep deprivation eventually gets better.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      I say – don’t think about right now. Given how quickly this situation developed – who knows what will happen in a year? It definitely sucks and will be a great time to start looking for a new job…in a couple months.

      Enjoy this time with your baby. “Unicorn” jobs are no where near as rare as the time that you’ll have this newborn!

    5. i_am_eating_cheetos*

      I’m sorry this is happening to you while on maternity leave! I have a one-year-old now; wrapping my head around any of this in those first few weeks would have been impossible, I think.

      I don’t really have advice except perhaps, since no one has contacted you, you can try to put it out of your head for a few months. My allowed leave was 16 weeks, half unpaid, half paid at 60%. I came back at 14 and felt ready to wrap my head around work. (Though a separate AAM post did make me feel better about still being a little woozy for the past year, since whoever said children sleep through the night after 3 months is sorely mistaken.). I feel confident you’ll be able to grapple with this much easier after the initial 3 months, if you can remind yourself that you have a lot of time and that you’re not going to think about it until then!

      Congratulations.

    6. DataGirl*

      I am sorry for this situation. Do you live in a country where your health insurance is covered by the State while you are on parental leave, or is it covered by the company? I ask because my babies were born in Germany (I live in the US now), and when I was on leave my benefits were covered by the State. During my second leave the company (based in the UK) dissolved their German branch, but they could not fire me because of the laws around parental leave. So I negotiated a generous severance package which allowed them to get rid of me and gave me some income when I was ready to return to the workforce and was looking for work. I’m wondering if you could negotiate something similar, assuming that it wouldn’t affect your insurance coverage?

      Congrats on baby! I hope you can find a way to not think about work and enjoy your time with them.

    7. Bloopmaster*

      Congrats! Good advice in the other comments. It’s awful that your amazing job won’t be there when you get back but the bright spot is you have most of a year before you need to face it or have another job lined up. That means a full year to adjust to this unfortunate news and to emotionally detach yourself from that job (with plenty to distract you at home!). Also A LOT can happen in a year: more reorganizations, more firings, the company’s complete collapse, a return to sanity, etc. You never know what else will have occurred by the time you are ready to return.

    8. The German Chick*

      What a bummer!
      Thein again, isn’t it kind of lucky that this happened while you’re on parental leave? Imagine you were still working there and had to job search while working. I would probably try to enjoy the parental leave as much as possible and initiate the job search in 7 to 8 months from now. Good luck and congrats on your baby!

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Congrats on the baby! I’m really sorry about your job issue. Just wanted to chip in my own experience with maternity leave. Some people love having the year off, and one friend never went back to work. For me, however, after about three months off I found I really missed the intellectual challenge of my job and wanted to return.
      Give yourself some time, as you are still in what I think of as the zombie phase of parenting, but don’t be surprised if you start missing work. If you do, use that as your signal to start your job hunt. Good luck!

    10. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      That’s awful :( but I think you should enjoy your baby now, and try to detach from this mess. You can start looking around in a few months, but try to keep in touch with your old boss: she may be hiring from her new place.
      Congrats for the baby!

    11. JR*

      That sounds really stressful! I especially relate to the feeling of wanting to know exactly how things are going to unfold, when you’re in a time of so much change. It also sounds like the kind of thing that I would fixate on, given how anxiety-producing the early weeks of parenting often are. So this is easier said than done, but I’d really try to put all of this out of your head for six months – literally put a date on the calendar and tell yourself you’ll worry about it then. So much can change in that time, not only in terms of your readiness to job search, but also at work. Maybe the COO’s incompetence will reveal itself and he won’t even be there anymore! As hard as it is to deal with the not knowing, I think you’re actually in a great place. You’re insulated from all of the change, so you can let things play out and then make a choice that is right for you with way more information than your colleagues in the office have right now.

    12. Orange You Glad*

      I don’t do well without knowing my next steps so putting things on my calendar helps me feel like my next steps are organized.

      I’d count backwards 6 months from when you return from leave and schedule “update resume” “update LinkedIn” “Email contacts to network for new positions” “Have lunch with mentor” and other job searching tasks on your calendar. So you know action will be taken and you can focus on your baby until those scheduled tasks come up!

  12. Anon for this*

    Advise appreciated! I work for department A, but I do my job for department B. Meaning that I am officially part of department A, but spend more days at department B. Department B is not being led well resulting in many delays (and a lot of frustrations on my side). Manager B felt that a project wasn’t going fast enough (I agree) and felt that department A should hurry up. However, the delays were being caused by department B (which manager B knows!). I have discussed the issues with my manager (A), as well as with the manager of department B (also my manager when it comes to day to day tasks). I asked how department B could solve these (recurring) issues. Manager B then said that because I made a distinction between department A and B (and I guess “choosing the side” of department A) that she wished I felt more part of department B. I feel that I am part of A and feel very connected with department B. So I don’t share her point of view. Manager B seems to know that my concerns are valid, but does not take responsibility (that would mean she would actually have to manage her team(!)). I’m struggling how to handle this. It seems like something I can’t win: if I do my job well (noticing where things go wrong and looking for a solution), I basically get accused of not being a team player if the issue is caused by department B. I have tried multiple times to find a solution together, but it is no use. Since department A was accused of not working fast enough, I felt I had no option but to make the distinction between teams and point out the source of the problem. It makes me wonder if I (or anyone) could do well in this position with this manager. Does anyone have any experience and/or advise in how to handle this? I do have support from department A (which is wonderful). Thank you in advance!

    1. ChimericalOne*

      If Manager B is saying that Dept A isn’t working fast enough — and by that, she means YOU — then she’s the one making the distinction, not you. You might try going back to her and pointing that out (in a polite, “expressing confusion” kind of way rather than a confrontational kind of way). “I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day, that you didn’t feel that I felt myself to be a part of Dept B. I guess I was a little confused, because I don’t feel like that’s true — I feel very connected to my work with B. But I am ultimately a part of A, and when you say that Dept A isn’t working fast enough, you’re talking about me and the work I do. Is there specific work that you feel that I’m not doing quickly enough?” And then, if she mentions work that’s still waiting on Dept B’s input, you can follow that up with, “As we had discussed, that project is still waiting on X from Dept B. Is there something you want me to be doing while we wait for that? /// Or, “I’m not able to move forward at all with this project without X” if that’s the case.

      Basically, just be super polite but direct and lean on confusion to force her to either state clearly what she’s currently insinuating or be forced to admit that her insinuations are incorrect. You don’t want to say “You’re wrong.” You want to say, “I don’t understand” and lay out the contradictions while remaining “curious” and calm rather than confrontational.

  13. A. Ham*

    Are desktop or screen attached “Rear-view Mirrors” creepy? I’m not trying to spy on my office-mates, I’m just trying to see the door- because my desk is configured with my back to the door and it drives me a little bonkers. Before anyone asks, When I first started I did try having my desk rotated to the other direction, but because of the small-ish office I share, it ended up being more cumbersome to get in and out and also a little claustrophobic. For the most part my desk setup is perfectly comfortable now, but I don’t like my back to the door- particularly on the occasion when I am alone. For anyone that has co-workers that use mirrors- are you creeped out by it?

    1. ThinMint*

      I have had coworkers who use them because of the way their desks sit as well. I don’t find it creepy because if I was sitting like that, I would want to know as well.

    2. Jamie*

      No. I keep meaning to get one as I have a hyper startle reflex and sit with my back to the door atm. Nothing creepy about wanting to see if someone is coming up behind you.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I think it’s fine, I have had various co-workers over the years with little mirrors because they don’t want to be snuck up on. I currently have my back to the main corridor and am considering a mirror myself.

    4. Amy Sly*

      You could try to minimize the “spy” aspect by getting a convex butler-style mirror. You’ll be able to see that someone is there, but the image will be sufficiently distorted that reasonable people should realize that you can’t see much beyond shapes and movement.

    5. CatCat*

      I don’t think they’re creepy. I startle easily and would definitely have one if I had a desk positions so I could not see people coming up behind me.

    6. Facepalm*

      I’ve had multiple coworkers that used them and have never been creeped out by them. I was kind of glad of them b/c it meant less chance of startling someone

    7. Dispatch from a cubicle*

      It doesn’t creep me out, but they do make me laugh – I had a colleague with one who requested that I not walk past her cubicle anymore because she could see me walking by in the mirror and I just walked “so intently” that it made her uncomfortable. I was very caught off guard by the request and thankfully that colleague retired not long after so it wasn’t a big deal but now I associate cubicle mirrors with walk-policing. Don’t look too intent on your task!!

      1. Joielle*

        Haha! What does that even mean?? I think I would have laughed before realizing it was not a joke, probably making the situation much worse.

    8. texpat*

      We got one for one of our coworkers who is in a four-person office (with a fairly large conference table in the middle, so not a small room) with her back to the door. She uses soundproof headphones and often can really “get in the zone” even without them, and people kept startling her because the only way to get her attention naturally was to stand against the wall and slide into her peripheral vision. The mirror has been very helpful, and definitely nobody thinks of it as creepy. Probably helps that because of where her desk is positioned, nobody else’s screen is reflected in the mirror.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to deal with this at Exjob, where my cube was configured so my back was to the entrance. (For the record, I don’t like sitting with my back to the door anywhere.) Once, Coworker came up behind me when I was concentrating and said “Elizabeth,” and scared me so bad I almost fell out of my chair. I jerked around so fast I scared HER. After that, I put a little poster up outside my cube that said “please knock if I’m wearing headphones!”

    9. voyager1*

      Everyone I know who has used them were women who got them to do theirs make up but in the end used to just make sure management couldn’t sneak up on them because they goofed off on the Internet.

      When I see them now, I think slacker.

      1. Short Time Lurker Komo*

        That’s amusing to me – nearly everyone in my office that has them are male! Everyone here uses it because our work habits tend to mean we have headphones on, and without a mirror, it can be hard to realize the sound of someone knocking is for my cube as opposed to a neighbor’s cube.

    10. KayDeeAye (formerly Kathleen_A)*

      Oh, I hope they aren’t creepy because *my* desk is positioned this way, too, there’s not really a good way to change it, and this sounds like such a great idea!

    11. Llama Face!*

      No and I actually was thinking of getting one as a present for an easily startled coworker whose desk is unfortunately stuck in the middle of office traffic flow (not adjustable due to space limitations).

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      Don’t find the mirrors creepy. I -h-a-t-e- people walking up behind me (especially those who just stand there and don’t announce themselves, assuming I will “just notice” them.)

    13. Half-Caf Latte*

      Just tell people that you’re writing like you’re running out of time, and you get so focused on your work that it helps to have an alert signal!

    14. Akcipitrokulo*

      Co-worker in bank of desks next to me has one. I think I’m the onky one who’s noticed, and I think it’s cool :)

    15. Kiki*

      Not creepy! I think it makes sense and the way your desk is currently positioned would make it pretty obvious to coworkers why you have it.

    16. Scott M.*

      These are totally normal. I’ve never heard of anyone annoyed by them.
      Now, cameras pointed at coworkers are another matter ;)

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Subtle version is to tack up CDs, shiny side towards you. They’re just enough to show motion, but not clear enough reflection to show you details of who”s passing in the hallway.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sometimes dark posters under glass work the same way, if your lighting is right. And I just lost time thinking back to those motivational posters with black background wondering if anyone had them hung for that reason.

  14. rogelio*

    How can I deal with an ineffective manager who is also going through a personal crisis?

    I want to be kind and helpful as she’s dealing with two relatives having serious health crises. One has a long term issue, and the second recently has taken a turn for the worse. Our small team keeps abreast of her meetings and assignments and covers her as she’s often out unexpectedly. I’ve got no problem with that and want to be supportive.

    But she’s a difficult person. There have been major communication and workplace issues that remain uncorrected since she started a year ago. She’s a condescending bully, is months late on our annual reviews, and sends vague, large scale requests with unreasonable deadlines etc.

    We met with her as at team to discuss creating norms about communication styles, timelines, management’s long term goals to us help plan ahead. Nothing sticks. Her director hired her and isn’t particularly trustworthy, so I’m not sure how to bring this up to her more than we already have.

    I’m not sure what to do other than find a new job. Any advice for the short term? Thank you.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Good luck with that, I have been dealing with something similar for almost 5 years. Grandboss always seems to have some kind of family emergency to deal with though, so at this point, even that is suspect. But communication is horrible.
      I actually am contemplating finding another job in another department because I just hate working for him. But I love everyone else!!

    2. LGC*

      I’m really sorry! I hope that everything works out for the best for her, first and foremost – even if she’s a jerk at work, that’s still awful to go through!

      I was originally going to suggest going to the director as a group anyway, but it seems like your deliverables might be fine – it’s just her behavior is an issue. And because she’s a”bully” and the director “isn’t particularly trustworthy,” I’d worry about blowback. I’d also really focus on the performance reviews for now, since that’s the place where she can take the most immediate and direct action. If she doesn’t get the performance reviews done in the next…month or so, I’d probably go to the director at that point. And it shouldn’t be about your manager being a jerk (although she is) – it should be framed as “our manager is going through a rough time and this important thing has fallen through the cracks, how can we resolve this?”

      This is kind of nuclear, I’ll admit, and fairly high risk. But your alternative is to just let her “forget” your annual review (and possibly “forget” to make you eligible for raises).

  15. Annie Porter*

    Hey all!

    So last February, I left a pretty toxic (but lucrative) job for a wonderfully progressive company. The only downside is I’ve taken a salary hit. After several major, unexpected expenses, I’m feeling the pinch. My question is, do any of you have side gigs/hustles that you enjoy? I’m looking to do something, but I’m not sure what. And, this may seem silly, but I feel like I’ve aged out of certain side hustles (bartending, etc.) Please know I think there is NOTHING wrong with bartending, I’m just too tired! :)

    Thanks for any ideas!

    1. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I freelance write. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade now, since I was in college.

      I sucks working after work, but I can do it lying on the couch watching TV, so it could be worse. I

        1. Spreadsheets and Books*

          By accident, kind of. I was a creating writing major in undergrad so when someone suggested it to me, I was all over it. If you google “content writing platforms” there are a lot of options out there. Content mills (somewhat of a derogatory term in the writing world due to the comparatively low pay and low quality implications) make up the majority of the writing-specific freelance marketplaces. They allow you to create an account and claim content orders from clients as a ghostwriter. Pay can range from 1-10 cpw. The alternative is to set up your own website and start cold contacting clients, trying to offer services. Working for yourself is generally more profitable because you can set your own rates, but building a client base is harder.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I had a part time job for 10 years. If you are thinking about retail, then this is a great time to do a seasonal job and test it out. I’d suggest doing something you are really interested in…the guitar store, Aveda shop, the new age bookstore…whatever you are interested in, they would be happy to have some extra help for the next 5 months.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        I did seasonal work when I was young. It was great. Gave me lots of cash and no time to spend it! LOL

    3. ChimericalOne*

      Depending on how you feel about driving, there’s always the gig economy — my husband drives for Instacart, for example, and that’s not too bad. (He gets an order, goes & picks out the requested groceries from the requested store, and delivers to the customer’s house/apt.) You’re incentivized to work more hours rather than less, but you can generally choose when to work & when not to.

        1. lemon*

          Last I checked, in some cities Instacart has a “shopper” option that doesn’t require you to drive. You just shop the order at the store, and hand it off to the driver. Might be worth looking into.

    4. Bearimy of the Month*

      My spouse hosts trivia games at bars. He does it twice a week for a company that has contracts with different bars in the area, and sometimes he hosts private games for them, too. He’s an independent contractor, so it wouldn’t work as his main gig, but the money is useful.

    5. DataGirl*

      Retail sucks and doesn’t pay well, but a lot of places are hiring right now for seasonal work. Maybe something related to a hobby/interest? I’m a crafter so I’ve done part-time at places like JoAnn’s or Michael’s, you still have the stress of retail but at least it’s a nice environment.

    6. Liz*

      I sell online, Poshmark, Mercari etc. Started with my own stuff, but now i seek out items (thrifting, rummage sales, etc.) to resell. I love to shop, and this helps with that plus its like a treasure hunt! In recent days I’ve sold a vintage wool sweater I paid $1 for, for $25, and expensive jeans, over $200 retail, that i also paid $1 for, for $50, and so on. I like it because i can do it when i choose. the only downside is its unpredictable.

      1. Caterpie*

        I’ve heard of this working out well for people! I’ve been curious about it as my workplace is near an extremely expensive university and I go to the nearby thrift store sometimes. It seems like a lot of the students will donate their (high end) wardrobe as opposed to bringing it all home for summer so May-June is a great time to shop.

    7. MissGirl*

      I’m a ski instructor but the resorts hire an army of part time workers in different roles. A lot of people do holidays and the occasional weekend to get extra money and passes. It actually pays well for a part time job.

      1. DataGirl*

        My 75 year old retired dad works as a lift operator at the local ski resort just for thew free ski pass and locker. Those things are expensive!

    8. zora*

      Also in the seasonal vein: catering companies! I have done catering on and off, and they will be looking for extra people for the holidays. Catering serving and bartending is simpler than restaurant work, and the hours are often better: lots of weekend day events and not necessarily having to work till 2am close.

    9. Turtlewings*

      My best friend does tarot readings, and even teaches tarot classes, as a side-hustle. She puts a lot into it, too — tarot involves a lot of memorization and interpretation, with a hefty dash of psychology and people skills. There’s definitely a market for it in certain circles!

    10. Database Developer Dude*

      I have two side hustles:
      1. I’m a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army Reserve.
      2. i’m a mobile notary public.

    11. RecoveringSWO*

      If you are into sports, being a referee is a side hustle that doesn’t really feel like work. Some venues also pay people to score games. It’s a nice way to be active if you have an office job.

    12. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I teach various needlework classes for my local university’s Continuing Education program on Saturday mornings. Only downfalls are having to schedule them six months in advance, and I don’t get paid for planning time. It’s not going to make me rich, but I love it and get to meet some really nice people.

    13. Meepmeep*

      Tutoring. I actually made it my full time job for a few years, and loved it. My parents make a living at it as their retirement occupation. It’s great fun and pays well.

    14. TM*

      Census is hiring! They are apparently worried about having enough folks while unemployment is so low, so they are aggressively recruiting. Short term, of course, and I don’t know what the opportunities look like (and they probably vary by area) but definitely worth looking in to!

  16. Shoobeedoo*

    Day dream scenario here:
    If you won the Power Ball – let’s say you were the sole winner of $100 mil – how would you quit your job?

    I would go on as normal until I had the first bit of money hit my bank account. I don’t think it would feel real for me up until that point! As soon as I saw the $$$ hit, I would walk into work the next day and quit on the spot. No 2 weeks, sorry folks, you’ll have to figure it out! And then I would move next door to Kim K.

    What would YOU do?!

    1. ThinMint*

      I would let my boss know soon that I won, but we have a very good relationship. I would advise that I will be quitting once the logistics and money are settled, but that I anticipate committing to another 6 months.

      I wouldn’t tell others in my office though, and when it was announced at a more reasonable timeframe that I am leaving, I wouldn’t tell them why.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        This is about where I am, tbh. Nobody’s irreplaceable, but it would be complicated to replace me and would certainly take time. I would offer to waive salary in the notice period because it’s a small company and that would make a big difference to the affordability of the hiring process. My boss and I have had “hit by the lottery bus” contingency planning meetings before!

        I also think that gently resigning, rather than quitting in fish or in song, would better mask your chief reason for doing so.

        It’s a >$100m equivalent jackpot tonight (and here lottery winnings are tax free) so fingers crossed…

      2. Picard*

        Like ThinMint, I would not want to abandon my post (so to speak) I like my boss and my staff and as I am a C-level, there would be A LOT of training for my replacement. I would also prefer that my win not be made public so I would be inclined to just give my notice with about 3 or so months…

        1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          I would also prefer that my win not be made public

          In many states, I don’t think that’s an option.

    2. time for tea*

      It would depend for me on how to set up independent health care away from my job, which might take a while to set up, I have no idea. I’d like to say I’d quit, but there’s various benefits that come from being employed. So I’d have to transition, which could take a few months.

      But then I’m gone and off to get that vanity PhD that would be awesome but would never get me a job in any paying field. ;)

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          Oh; its quite easy to get insurance without a job; the premiums are much higher (of course) but if you’ve won 100 million; that tradeoff is worth not working anymore :)

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m retired, but if I had won $100 million when I was working, I wouldn’t have quit my job on the spot, because I would have wanted to get COBRA, and I wouldn’t have been sure if a company was allowed to deny COBRA to people who didn’t give two weeks notice. I also would have waited until the money hit my bank account, although I’m sure that everyone in my company would have known that I won before I had the chance to tell them, because they seem to broadcast the identity of lottery winners as soon as possible.

    3. Jamie*

      I would give 2 weeks (I haven’t been here long enough to warrant more) because I like my boss and co-workers and would want to give them a smooth handoff.

      I would say I was leaving for personal reasons, though. No way would I tell people I won the lottery. (totally hypothetical for me since I don’t play and rumor has it you can never win that way.)

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Depends on where you live, but lottery winners in most states don’t have the right to be anonymous about it.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Sure, but your coworkers might or might not be looking for the names of lottery winners. If one of my coworkers won I would probably have no idea unless they told me.

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Oh, big news travels fast. Someone will tell you – unsolicited – who won a lottery if they even remotely know the person.
            I’d love to be in one of those states that lets you to stay anonymous. If I win, I’d get a lawyer to set up an anonymous trust and claim the prize through the trust. I hope that’ll work because being identified as a big jackpot winner can have its downside.

            1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

              That’s why if I won I’d take the installment payments, not the lump sum. You’ve got a guaranteed income for a couple of decades plus, so you can’t piss it all away in one shot, and if you have a good financial advisor you can parlay your winnings into a guaranteed income for life.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                In the UK we have a special draw each week called “set for life” where the prize is £10k a month for 30 years (tax free). It’s not particularly popular but I think it’s life changing in a very positive and sustainable way.

                The second prize is £10k/m for a year. What a year!

    4. PharmaCat*

      I might keep my job for 3 months, just to make sure that I was sure on the decision. I would not buy a large home immediately but would travel for a year. That, and get my family set up financially as well.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I’d go on as normal but start documenting anything I thought needed documentation, cleaning out folders, etc. and then give notice as soon as the money was real. (And then I’d spend lots of time with lawyers and financial advisers getting things straightened out.)

    6. pally*

      I wouldn’t say a word to anyone. No change to my life either. Then when the money shows up, I’d continue to lay low for a good long time.

      (meanwhile, I’d be carefully planning out all the details of my new life- where to live, my new name, etc.)

      Then one day, I’d just disappear. No notice. No forwarding address. No means to track me down. Might even run an obit in the local paper.

      People get very strange (meaning desperate) when they find out you have money. Don’t want any of that around me.

    7. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      I would probably wait until the money hit the respective bank accounts (on and offshore- LOL) and then do my best rendition of ‘so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen’ as I’m driving my big ole RV out of the parking lot to our next destination. Husband and I have these conversations all the time!

      Since I’m in non-profit, I would also talk to the E.D. and Board President about an investment.

    8. Facepalm*

      I am lucky to live in a state where you don’t have to publicly come forward, so my main goal would be preserving my anonymity to everyone who knows me, including work and neighbors. I would quietly claim the money, set up all the trusts/investments/etc and keep working for at least 6 months or a year so no one would know it was me. Then I would say I lucked into a remote position and tender my resignation that way. Keep living in my house for awhile. No major visible purchases, new autos, etc. Then when the media speculation had died down. I’d quietly move away to the tropical island whose purchase I’d been finalizing.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Pretty much all this – although I have good excuses for resigning with notice that people around me would believe so I would only have to work until the money hit the bank.

    9. ChimericalOne*

      I don’t know that I would quit my job, actually! I like my job. (I would tell my husband that he could quit his & become a full-time homemaker, though!)

    10. CatCat*

      I’d tell my boss about the situation and work with him on making a transition/exit plan. I like my job so I’d see if they’d be interested in hiring me on a project-based contractor. That way I could work from wherever I wanted, which would be a necessity since I’ll be globetrotting. They don’t let employees have that kind of telework liberty.

    11. MsChaos*

      Being a teacher, I would feel obligated to finish out the year. It would throw my school and department (Special Education) into a cesspool of turmoil, not because I consider myself so great, but because I’m the only one holding the position I hold in our school. Or I would stay on pro bono so that they could hire someone right off, and I could work alongside them for a month or so to help the transition, since our school is rather unique in its community and culture, even as public schools go.

    12. Ama*

      At my current job, I think I would probably give them about a month or so of notice, but I would also be willing to work out a consulting arrangement to help train my replacement for the first year (our project cycle is basically about a year in length). But I’d be super firm about exactly how many hours I could manage and when I’d expect that arrangement to end. I would do this because I really like my coworkers, I know that my role is a tricky one that wouldn’t be easy to cover, and most importantly, I trust them to respect my boundaries (we have some people who have retired who occasionally pop in to advise new employees in their old roles and that has worked well).

      At my last job I absolutely would have quit on the spot and refused to answer any calls or emails, and in fact I may have fantasized about doing so regularly my last couple of years there.

    13. Nessun*

      I would continue working with my group, in my current job (they are awesome people, and it would be difficult to easily replace my role, given the lack of easy explanation of WTH I do). I’d also immediately ask my trusted coworkers for a financial advisor/personal banker reference…what can I say, I work with accountants!

      Seriously, I would work, at least for a few more years (I’m in my early 40s), and I would have the most EPIC vacations. I’d also put all my sisters’ kids through school…but I wouldn’t quit. I need structure, and I need outside validation, so I am best suited to working with a group where others can give me praise, comments, and feedback. Until I could find another way to source that, I’d not go anywhere.

    14. PolarVortex*

      Continue working, seriously consider what I want to do with my future and then job hunt accordingly and leisurely. Because I’d get bored not working, but at least with all the $ I can do a non-profit job that could make me happy, or find a job that I could do while traveling, or go back to school and become a lawyer for the ACLU and do a ton of pro bono work…

    15. Just Peachy*

      My spouse and I are debt free (just finished paying off his grad school loans!) but if we weren’t, I’d start there. We’re not saving for a down payment for our first home, so I’d definitely immediately put $ towards that. I’d also quit my job (with a 2 week notice, just because I like my coworkers) and then travel the world for several months.

    16. Llellayena*

      I wouldn’t quit, I love my job. I would negotiate for a few (unpaid) months off every few years so I could travel. I might also use some of my winnings to allow my company to do some pro-bono work, not sure how that would work though.

      1. Joielle*

        Same! Ideally, I’d want to go part time – maybe a job share or something – and take a few long vacations a year. Maybe work remotely. I like my job and I need structure.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Three day work week, four day weekend. And acreage with a barn so I can keep a couple of horses and trade stall space to someone with more energy & less cash in exchange for her shoveling my horse”s manure. And sharing feeding times for all of them so we can both have vacations.

    17. Celeste*

      I’d make sure the transaction went through before I gave notice, because of Murphy’s Law. But I’d be surreptitiously taking my belongings home a little every day. If anybody said anything, I’d say I watched the show on how to Kon Mari your life. I would do a polite but expedited quit. There’s not going to be any 2 week notice, and if I have to come back to sign forms for HR, then so be it.

      1. Operation Glowing Symphony*

        “But I’d be surreptitiously taking my belongings home a little every day.”
        – This is how I told my coworkers they’d know that I finally quit: my desktop lamps would be gone.

        1. MsChaos*

          The last time I totally deep-cleaned my desk and files of the mountains of unfiled papers, stuff that needed shredding, and projects in progress, someone asked me if I was going to another school, so that would be a clue in my case.

        2. Delta Delta*

          I shawshanked my way out of a terrible job like that. Took a little over a year but I got all my stuff out little by little. The lies were hilarious. I had to get a lamp re-wired. I was loaning my dictionary to my nephew. Last day – bam – walked out empty-handed. Delightful.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            I shawshanked my way out of a terrible job like that.

            Nice, I’ve never heard Shawshank used as a verb…I like it!

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

      Since I wouldn’t be really worried about paying bills anymore, the peace of mind would immediately improve my life even without making any purchases or quitting; but, the first thing I’d buy is a new car because I’ve been stressed for about 2 years now that any day my 2006 POS will finally die. I enjoy my work (for the most part) and really like my boss and immediate coworkers. I can’t imagine just staying home and just…watching TV? Traveling is nice for short bits but I wouldn’t want to make a whole life out of it…so I think I’d keep working until it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. I know I’m probably in a very small minority on that. I’ve watched one grandfather, my parents, and many other comfortably retired people fall into depression because after they stop having a reason to get up and a purpose to their day, they just end up sitting in a chair watching TV for the most part.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree with you, I would keep working. Retirement is a moment, but life goes on and it’s important to have a plan of how to fill up time.

        I think I would continue to live modestly and play Santa. If I saw a story about a sick kid in the news, or someone badly injured in an accident, I sit down and write out a check on the spot. That would be my idea of a satisfying life.

    19. Marzipan*

      I would carry on as normal and not tell anyone; until the next time I got really, really pissed off by something, at which point I’d dramatically quit.

    20. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’d offer my boss six months notice (but less would be okay too if they found sufficient replacement beforehand) and allude to an unexpected windfall, but I wouldn’t tell her exactly why I was leaving.

      To be honest, I wouldn’t tell anybody except my husband and my best friend if I won, and if people started guessing, I wouldn’t confirm anything.

    21. Liz*

      I may be weird but i wouldn’t quit until I had ALL my ducks in a row, including the money! I need that sense of security as well as a plan in place. So while I’d certainly start doing that ASAP, i wouldn’t quit until all my bases were covered, i.e. health insurance, and so on.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        Agreed. I’d want to have a plan in place before actually spending anything, or leaving my current employer. Only once I got the ball rolling on that front would I do anything else. I’d also resign quietly, with proper notice. After that is when I’d look at buying a new house, treehouse with minifridge, green dress (but not a real green dress; that’s cruel), and so forth.

    22. DaniCalifornia*

      I would have my boss advise me on setting up a trust under the guise of me coming into some family money. They are a CPA so he’s outlined before about what needs to be done. Then use the trust to collect my money (I’m in a state where your name can become public.)
      Then when the money hits, I’d quit. Possibly without notice because my boss and supervisor and this company are terrible.

    23. Seifer*

      Oooh I like this one.

      So absolutely yes to waiting for the money to hit the account. Until then, I would continue on as normal while making plans and transfers during lunch breaks and after work. Stuff like setting up high yield long term accounts, padding my savings, paying off the house, taking care of my parents, getting a Tesla, changing my name to Regina Phalange. And once that’s all settled and the dust has cleared, I’d probably just come in and tell my boss. Closed door conversation. I don’t want to freak him out by just disappearing, especially since I’ve been pretty open about my mental health struggles with him, and we were friends before. I don’t know that I would offer to stay to help wrap things up though, because it’s gotten pretty terrible at the job. I would also ask my boss not to tell anyone at work, because I would 100% expect that someone would ask me to donate money back to the company. Oh, that got depressing. I suppose I can pay for better therapy with my lottery winnings though, ha!

    24. The Rain In Spain*

      I’m not so sure I would quit my job, not immediately at least (I am VERY fortunate to now have a job I love with a great team). I would perhaps negotiate for additional unpaid leave so I could travel more. Ultimately I would want to transition to non-profit work, so once I had everything set up in terms of finances/trusts/etc, I would probably offer a long notice period so they could find a good replacement and the rest of the team wasn’t slammed without my replacement.

      Now my last job? I would wait a few months (gleeful, knowing that I had an out, finally!) and then give them 2 weeks’ notice. They definitely didn’t deserve more than that.

    25. Penny*

      I would give notice, and agree to taper and stick around to help with my replacement. I like my employer and don’t want to leave them hanging, but would be more than happy to not work anymore. I have enough of a cushion that if for some reason there was a gap between when I stopped working and received the winnings, I’d be fine.

      #2 would be to hire a financial planner. I wouldn’t know where to start in figuring out the best way to manage all of that.

    26. MoopySwarpet*

      Hire a replacement and work part time (as needed) remotely from any city in the world. For our weekly meetings, I’ll send little clues so everyone can play “where in the world is MoopySwarpet” as an icebreaker. ;)

    27. Pescadero*

      I’d offer to donate $1 million to the university department where I work if they stripped our former department head of tenure and fired him.

      Then I’d bail, and never be seen again.

      1. Academic Tenure Track Librarian*

        I wish I had thought of this. Yes! This. Thank you. I am gleeful at the thought!

    28. pumpkin on da shelf*

      It seems I am the only one desirous of going through the office, Oprah-style, saying:

      And you get a FU, and you get a FU, everyone gets a FU!

      oh, and I see you over there hiding, FFFF UUUU TOOO!

      Once the money is confirmed, of course. Maybe I should start playing the lottery?

    29. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I’m super into my new job, and it is work I am passionate about, so I would definitely continue to the end of my 5 year contract. After that I would become a consultant and only ever work on projects that I find interesting. Would be so fun being able to ignore the salary and just do the, “Huh, that sounds cool” work

    30. Supervising Librarian*

      I wouldn’t quit my job.
      I would spend the money hiring someone to do the work I hate to do and I would only go to work 3 days a week to do the stuff I like.

    31. Shark Whisperer*

      I actually really like my job and I think I would go crazy with nothing to do, so I probably wouldn’t quit. I probably would buy a small house a bit farther out in the country and hire a personal driver to drive me to any work things. (I work from home but occasionally have meetings in the city)

    32. Delta Delta*

      I had this fantasy a lot when I was working in a very toxic place. I’d not tell anyone but just give notice, wrap things up, and leave. Then I’d be an anonymous benefactor to pay down my former colleagues’ student debt, but not the bully colleague’s debt. I also considered using the money to form an anonymous LLC to buy the buildings around the bad job’s building and do all sorts of annoying construction. I’m evil-cackling at myself right now.

    33. curly sue*

      I love everything about my job and my department — except for the constant stress of contract renewals and benefit-less precarious adjunct status + the side-hustles to keep the lights on because adjuncts are paid crap.

      So I would keep doing exactly what I’m doing, but without any money stress, and with the ability to take a sabbatical year for really interesting research trips every once in a while. It would be GLORIOUS.

    34. Elizabeth West*

      I would not quit until I had all the financials worked out with a certified adviser to cover the rest of my life. Then I’d give two weeks notice, but I wouldn’t tell anyone I won the lottery. I’d probably just say I decided to move.

      If I liked what I was doing, and/or was in a location I liked, I might just keep working for a while. But I’ve never had a job I would want to stay in if I suddenly didn’t have to work anymore.

    35. Cog in the Machine*

      I like my job, and I’d go stir-crazy if I didn’t have anything to do with my life, so I probably wouldn’t just quit. I’d get all of the paperwork and trust stuff done on the dl before I even claimed a big winning like that, and then the winnings would be in the name of the trust.
      I would have to have a chat with HR, though, because I would probably need to move in order to not get pestered by everybody else in town. (It’s a really small town.) If there wasn’t another location open that I wanted to live in and that I qualified for, I probably would quit and come back as a contract employee.

    36. LCH*

      i like my job, bosses, organization so i would give enough notice for them to hire someone and have me train them if they wanted.

    37. WantonSeedStitch*

      I work in prospect research in a university advancement office. One of the things we’re responsible for is rating alumni and donors for financial capacity when we have reason to believe they are able to make a significant gift. Staff members in our overall department are in our database along with donors and alumni so we can track our work, add tasks for which we’re responsible, etc. My coworkers and I have gone in on Powerball pools, and have joked that if we won, we’d come into the office, change all of our capacity ratings in the system to basically “super rich,” and go home!

      Realistically speaking, I love my job, and if I were to win the lottery, I’d wait until I got all my financial ducks in a row before quitting, and I’d give a good long notice period so I wouldn’t put the folks in my office through too much hardship. They’re great people, and I wouldn’t want to leave them in the lurch.

    38. Database Developer Dude*

      I wouldn’t quit. I would claim the prize anonymously, and then buy my mother a house. Then I would offer to pay for taekwondo lessons for this one guy at work….until he became a black belt. Why would I do this? For the sole purpose of meeting him someday in a tournament, and LEGALLY beating him up. Yeah, he’s that much of a condescending jerk.

    39. A Frayed Knot*

      I’ve thought about this. A Lot. Down to how much money each relative gets (one time only; don’t ask for any more); which friends get put on my payroll (because I have to have someone to hang out with and travel with so I’m not lonely); and which volunteer projects I will continue to do, now that I have time to do what I want. I just haven’t figured out how to get the name of Tiger Woods’ financial advisor – I want someone who is used to dealing with large sums of money.

    40. Scott M.*

      I always thought I would work for a while, just to see how it feels. Maybe I would like my job more when I know that I don’t need it. I could do more of the “better to ask forgiveness than ask permission” stuff.

    41. Gumby*

      Well, first I’d hire a lawyer to figure out how to keep my name out of the news. Apparently it is *very* important to do that before you claim any money. Then I’d take a longish (2 w? 1 mon?) vacation. There are a few tasks at work that no one else right now knows how to do because I have owned them since their inception so it is all my system but those only take maybe 15-20% of my time. I’d probably agree to keep doing those, remotely, for a generous transition period. I’d not be in a hurry to run away from my job because I do find it relatively enjoyable, but I would be out eventually. I’d need to free up my time to take classes (I like school) and run the charitable foundation that the lawyer would have also helped to set up. My job running the foundation would have generous time off for travel. (I have also agreed to run the foundation if my mother or either sister wins the lottery. It was a whole conversation at one point. The only time we ever play the lottery is the scratchers in our Christmas stockings so I’m not too worried about needing those job skills any time soon.)

      1. Gumby*

        Ack, turns out I can’t stay anonymous here. Guess I’m hiring security with some of that cash. Also moving, changing my phone number, etc.

    42. Mr. Shark*

      1. Make sure I have the money, that’s the first thing.
      2. Quit. I wouldn’t give two week’s notice, because honestly, I wouldn’t get anything done those two weeks. People would be bothering me, and I would be too giddy to focus on anything. They can survive without me if they needed to.
      3. Throw a big party for my friends and family, including some people from work. Maybe have it in Vegas, don’t know exactly. It depends on how big I decide it should be. Maybe spend $100 grand on it.
      4. Hire a financial adviser. Disappear with him/her to some small location away from everything and set up my accounts and plan everything so that I can live off of the money the rest of my life.
      5. I would have money set aside for each family member, probably some amount of friends, and of course, a new house (or two) and a new car (or two) for me.
      6. Travel a few times a year.
      7. Set up a business to work at when I’m interested in working. Otherwise hire good people to run it so that I have money coming in.
      8. Hire Alison to be a manager and run things part time (not sure how she’d do on business, but on the HR side and interpersonal relationships at work, she’d knock it out of the park). She could keep her AAM job, too.
      9. Travel to see sporting events and concerts, with the best tickets and VIP service.

    43. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      Honestly… I wouldn’t.
      I would quietly be putting some away into savings, giving my family as much as I can without forking up their taxes, buying myself a modest home, and then giving the majority away to meaningful causes. I don’t need extreme wealth – I don’t think anybody does. I just want to have enough to comfortably live my life and have some extra to do nice things for other people.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        One of my fantasy lottery spends is to buy my friends’ houses so I can immediately reduce their rent to like £1pcm inc bills and fix all the niggles (replace old boilers, fit new kitchens, etc).

        There’s also a fantasy plan to build a resort like a commune so people can come and see us and spend a week or whatever reading and having massages and going for walks in the fresh air with plenty of safe adults to entertain and feed the children.

        The best thing you can do with money is get it moving. A $20 bill can do $1000 of work in a year if it keeps moving. Ideally you’d die with just enough money to cover your funeral, having made every other penny work to improve people’s lives.

    44. Alex*

      I’d like to echo all the totally rational “I’d wait until the money came in and then give a nice amount of notice and be all kinds of reasonable.”

      Except that’s not really what I’d do. I know I’d be running around with both middle fingers in the air yelling “I’m rich and I quit, motherf*&#$%s!” I may or may not moon my boss on my way out.

      Yes, it would be inconvenient for them for me to leave without notice, but no one would die.

    45. Don't get salty*

      Wow! I’m not so sure I would quit right away because my job is so awesome right now (after so many years!), I love what I do and I just got promoted. I would just taper my time at work and retire early. Maybe I would quit work within five to ten years (maybe not). Maybe the new money would be so enticing that I would be tempted to quit on the spot.

      If I’d seen this question two or so years ago (when things were really bad and my team shrank from over 12 to two), I would’ve said that I’d give everyone more than standard notice that I planned on leaving only because I believe strongly in the mission. But thinking about it now, as I write this, it might not be easy for me to leave in any case. My team is still very small, but growing, and one person leaving would have a huge effect on everyone else’s workload. I’m too conscientious to think about stuff like this; it’ll be on my mind all weekend.

      It’s so funny, my colleague and I were just talking about this. My colleague was asking me whether or not I planned to retire early like I had been saying over the years. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that I wouldn’t really have much to do if I retired and I would get very bored. I could always travel, but I really need to be occupied and doing something meaningful with my life in order to feel fulfilled.

      Forgive me for the stream-of-consciousness.

    46. Don't get salty*

      Wow! I’m not so sure I would quit right away because my job is so awesome right now (after so many years!), I love what I do and I just got promoted. I would just taper my time at work and retire early (or not). Maybe I would quit work within five to ten years (maybe not). Maybe the new money would be so enticing that I would be tempted to quit on the spot.

      If I’d seen this question two or so years ago (when things were really bad and my team shrank from over 12 to two), I would’ve said that I’d give everyone more than standard notice that I planned on leaving only because I believe strongly in the mission. But thinking about it now, as I write this, it might not be easy for me to leave in any case. My team is still very small, but growing, and one person leaving would have a huge effect on everyone else’s workload. I’m too conscientious to think about stuff like this; it’ll be on my mind all weekend.

      It’s so funny, my colleague was just asking me whether or not I planned to retire early like I had been saying over the years. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that I wouldn’t really have much to do if I retired and I would get very bored. I could always travel, but I really need to be occupied and doing something meaningful with my life in order to feel fulfilled.

      I already have a financial planner. I’m very good at saving and I have build up a sizable portfolio for myself, so I would just segue the additional money and let it be while I’m deciding what to do with my future. The one thing I definitely would not do is alert anyone (not friends, not family) until I am well-secured and out of touch (and even then, maybe not).

      Forgive me for the stream-of-consciousness.

    47. Bilateralrope*

      I’m already looking for a new job, in part because we are understaffed here. My employer is trying to recruit more staff, but they keep failing the clients background check. I’m already looking forward to the look on my managers face when I give him my notice in person.

      A lotto win wont have a new job setting a fixed timeline for my resignation. So a few things are going to come into play after I sort my finances and give notice:
      – In a few weeks the client is going to become harder to contact due to holidays.
      – I firmly believe in not burning bridges without good reason.
      – My manager is good at talking me into shifts I haven’t wanted to do, unless I have a reason that makes me push back.
      – One of my flatmates knows a supervisor at my employer. So I wont be able to hide my lack of a new job. Moving out before giving notice isnt practical because I work nights.

      So I can see me giving 2 weeks notice after sorting finances. Then getting talked into staying there for a bit longer than planed.

    48. SAHM*

      Pay off my house, pay off my moms house, buy my brothers & sisters each a house, buy each of my kids a house and rent each one out(until they go to college then they can sell it and use it to buy a house near their college or continue to rent it out and use the $ for dorm), set up trusts for my kids and nephews & nieces, take everyone on a giant family vacation to Hawaii and then use whatever is left to invest, donate to charity, and keep for yearly lavish vacations. Would probably go find a job (money for childcare!), hubs would not quit his job, but it would be a lot less worried about finances and more managing the finances.

    49. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      The way I see it, I’ve already “won the lottery” by having a job I love enough to want to stay anyway. (Yes, even if I also won the kind of lottery you’re talking about.)

      But I understand why many people would quit.

    50. Kat in VA*

      I honestly wouldn’t say anything until I got an estate lawyer, a personal lawyer, and a financial advisor on board first. I understand long-lost family comes out of the woodwork, along with every swing-on, sob story, and grifter in the area.

      Then once the first check hits, I’d quit politely and take the entire office out to lunch. :P

  17. Amy Sly*

    I hope there are a few legal industry folks who can offer some advice. I graduated law school almost ten years ago and haven’t established any kind of career since then. I sold shoes, took law school off my resume to get a quality control job with an appraisal management company, worked process auditing at a large bank, reviewed documents as a temp in a doc review firm, and am now doing contract administration work in industry. I’m discovering that I’m actually pretty miserable in my current role because I am an extrovert and not nearly as self-motivating as needed for a job that involves almost no personal interaction and has little in the way of extrinsic deadlines or structure.

    I’ve started trying to put into action the advice on motivating and organizing yourself at work, but I’m afraid that it’s going to be more like papering over a crack than solving the underlying problem. I’m halfway across the country from my family and friends, and I have practically nothing in common with my coworkers, so my needs for social interaction don’t really have an outlet. My goal at this point is to gut out at least a year in this job, both to avoid even more appearance of job hopping and to have some tangible results to put on my resume for the next one, but I’m not at all certain I want to continue in this field anyway.

    I’ve never really been in the position where I can reject a job for anything other than low pay or severe toxicity, between the scarlet JD and being desperate to move up into anything with a better salary to help with the student loans that have doubled after nearly a decade of income-based repayment. All the advice that “law school opens doors even if you don’t want to be a lawyer” seems to be pure ignorance, or at best, geared at someone leaving the field after having been successful. I’ve certainly been denied more jobs because of my education than offered ones, at any rate! On the other hand, any position geared for new lawyers would rather have someone whose education isn’t a decade old and wasn’t in the bottom of her class at a little-known law school both a thousand miles away and that didn’t subscribe to the rampant grade inflation of more prestigious schools. (i.e. “bottom of the class” means a C-, not a B+.) Thus, I’m simultaneously both too educated and too ignorant to get past the vast majority of HR gatekeepers, even if a manager might be willing to take a chance on me.

    Are there fields beyond contract admin where my education would help more than hurt, but that also don’t involve sitting at a desk by myself all day? And even possibly pay enough that I won’t be looking at a six figure tax bill for the imputed income of forgiven loans because I have no choice but to continue in income-based repayment?

    1. Eleanor Konik*

      I was in essentially your same boat, though out for less time, and more “middle of the class” (not that it matters), and I became a teacher. My JD is seen as an asset because it gives me a leg up for teaching classes like government or high-school level criminal justice classes, the students and structure provide a lot of extrinsic motivation. As an added bonus, the JD counted as a PHD for pay scales.

      Before I went back for my teaching certificate, I got a job in education that didn’t require the certification (in my area, you can teach for 2 years without one) to make sure I liked it before committing to going back to school for one.

      The toughest part was being able to afford to student teach for 6 months with no pay. I had to save up and live pretty stark for awhile.

      1. Amy Sly*

        I’ve certainly thought about teaching; I majored in it for a year, enjoyed teaching private test prep, and even applied for teaching positions back in $HomeCity during the shoe selling period of trying to find anything even remotely white collar. (And well, as someone who desperately wants kids and can’t have any, the prospect of getting to work with them does appeal.) Unfortunately, in that area at that time there were over 100 applicants for every job, so as someone with no certs I had no chance. Moreover, knowing a fair number of teachers, I know that any entry level job would be a good sized step down in pay from where I am now. We’re not hurting for money the way we were when the house was foreclosed on (with luck, we’ll actually be buying a new one in a couple months) but we can’t really afford any decrease either.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      As a friend of mine has put it, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince people that a $100,000 credential that doesn’t even cross state lines is “flexible.” Peers of mine who graduated 10 years ago (yay, Great Recession) are doing things like:

      – intermittent doc review (still! 10 years out!)
      – hanging their own shingle (this can be isolating in its own way, so it’s important to try things like subletting office space with another solo or small firm)
      – office coordinator/manager
      – media production
      – journalism
      – teaching
      – non-lawyering government employment
      – public relations

      1. Amy Sly*

        I never thought I’d say this, but there’s honestly a part of me that misses doc review. I love the PTO and benefits of the current job, but I enjoyed the coworkers and the project managers, the faster pace with new projects and reasonably clear goals and expectations, and even becoming a team lead who could mentor the new additions to the project.

        As for tricks the devil pulled, the notion that a job is personal fulfillment instead of a way to finance the things that provide personal fulfillment is definitely up there.

    3. CTT*

      Are you interested in political/social justice work? After a classmate of mine didn’t pass the bar, he started working for an immigration outreach organization. He said that it was a good match because knowing the law was an asset to working with the community the organization served, but he wasn’t practicing law. I know that’s not a 1:1 match with the contract work you’ve been doing, but if there’s something you’re passionate about that might make the switch easier.

      1. Fibchopkin*

        This- if you fancy moving to the DC metro area – most of the higher-paid, higher-titled nonprofit advocacy folks I’ve worked with have legal backgrounds. Lobbyists fall into this same boat, and even several for-profit orgs I know of have policy or advocacy slots for non-lawyer JD’s. Actually, come to think of it, the Senior Director of Advocacy and Policy at my last firm was a JD. Not sure if she was ever a practicing lawyer since I worked in a vastly different realm, but she certainly hadn’t been practicing for at least 10 years before she got that job, if she ever did. Also, if you live in a big metropolitan area, try consultant firms with legal clients – I have a number of peers in the Project and Program Management arena with JDs who specifically lead or otherwise facilitate or work with legal or political projects.

        1. Amy Sly*

          I actually did move to the DC area for six months — thankfully with free rent — but didn’t have any luck. There are seven law schools in DC alone, plus all the graduates from the prestigious law schools up the coast; that’s a lot of competition for all those JD-preferred jobs, and I wasn’t competitive, having graduated at the bottom of my class from a Midwestern third tier trash school. That’s not competitive in the “not even getting interviews” sense, not the “we just liked someone a hair better after two rounds of interviews” sense.

          As for project management, how does one break into that field? I honestly feel like Hester Prynne with my scarlet JD; from this end, it seems HR gatekeepers look at it and assume that I’m either not interested in the job and will quit as soon as possible or that I must be such a monumental screw-up to not get hired in my own field they don’t dare touch me with a 10′ pole.

    4. Hannah Banana*

      I work with a girl who went to law school and didn’t make a law career but instead went into compliance. We work at a huge med device company (fortune 100). She actually joined the company on our contracts team, drafting contracts and negotiating deals with sales people/hospitals and then moved into the compliance role.

      It is a desk job but you’re not alone and you’d be in a lot of meetings working with people. Large organizations like the one I work at pay well too :)

      1. Amy Sly*

        It’s certainly possible that I’d be happier at a larger company doing contract admin. I have a legal department I can consult for help, but they’re on the other side of the world; otherwise, it’s me, our procurement specialist who was hired the same day, and my boss who’s more like a grandboss in the scope of his responsibilities.

    5. LadyTesla*

      Are you informed in Patent law at all? I know a lot of technical companies that are always looking for advisors for when their R&D groups comes up with something new. You’re not necessarily doing any laywer-ing, but you’d be advising what the best next steps are and if you think it’s a viable option. And, it’s people facing.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Actually one of my bachelor degrees qualifies me to sit the Patent Bar, and my focus in law school was on intellectual property, with my law school thesis being on MMO virtual currency transactions. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience in chemistry; patent prosecution positions I find want people with industry experience, while patent litigation positions would rather have someone better on the legal side on the theory that what little science they need to know can be taught more easily than the law. And again, anyone who wants legal information would rather get someone either more experienced or more recently graduated.

        1. Legally a Vacuum*

          If you sit for the patent exam and pass you’ll have a fresh new qualification. My background is biochemistry, but I’m in-house at a company where I mostly work with software patents. Maybe look to see if there is anything at a specialty site like goinhouse.com?

    6. AnonyNurse*

      Government at any level, especially state and local. Lots of JD preferred or required but you aren’t required to be barred. Procurement, contracts, regulation drafting and interpreting, FOIA requests … all those things benefit from someone with a JD. And the application structures tend to be so rigid that the timing of the education is irrelevant.

      Find a social cause you care about where you can do pro bono work that will make you feel good (GAL work, immigration applications, appeals of denials for any number of things) that will boost your self-image and possibly lead to a job.

      If you’re in the US, tax prep starting in the new year, in any sector.

      Good luck!

    7. IvyGirl*

      Development – Higher Education development – possibly at your alma mater? It could be for front facing/gift officer things or in backoffice stuff (the General Counsel office, planned giving, etc.).

      1. TM*

        Although it doesn’t seem like she thinks much of her alma mater… :)

        But this is a really good idea of a field where aspects of your education (ability to write, for example) would definitely come in handy.

    8. The Rain In Spain*

      What areas interest you? I was premed before I switched to law school and am VERY happily settled into contract negotiations for a health system. Our team is small (and we’re the only lawyers in the place), but we can consult outside counsel if we need to. I really enjoy it, the variety, and the industry is a great fit for me. I do spend a lot of time at my desk by myself, but our team is amazing, and I do meet with our end users in person quite often.

      HR/employee relations could be another option for you to consider. I really really enjoyed working with my local civil rights commission during law school- if that’s something that interests you, there’s a ton of community involvement/public speaking/etc, and the law background will only help you. If you work up to a director level role you can make a pretty good income. Compliance is another great area as others have mentioned, but you have to be interested in it. And from what I’ve seen, that’s a lot of time spent at your desk as well.

      I second what others have said re applying for jd-preferred roles you’re interested in. You can usually negotiate a salary bump too! Also, can you just leave your JD off your resume if there’s really no connection to the job? Or creatively address it in your cover letter? Networking might be a good way to help get your foot in the door – I accidentally networked my way into my current dream job!

      Good luck!

      1. Amy Sly*

        I’ve looked into both HR and compliance. The problem is that I don’t have the experience or certs that are required in the job applications I’ve seen. e.g. “HR generalist.” (Has Alison ever talked about how unqualified you have to be to not bother applying? My luck’s been so abysmal trying for both perfect matches and terrible matches that I have no idea what the rule might be.) Moreover, while I love learning to the point that I’m running out of courses to watch on Great Courses Plus, I’m pretty damn cynical about the idea that the perfect job is just one more degree/ training/ cert away.

        Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I’ve seen practically no “JD preferred” jobs in either my Midwestern $HomeCity or Southern $CurrentCity, aside from doc review. While I have left my degree off my resume before to get my first office job, now that I’ve worked doc review (and moreover moved seven hours to take a doc review job) I don’t think it would make any sense to take it off.

        As for networking, I believe Alison has pointed out that it requires actually being good at one’s job and staying in place long enough to build up contacts. Between my job hopping and moving halfway across the country, I don’t have that. Moreover, I have no clue as to how to build that network.

        1. The Rain In Spain*

          I definitely get where you’re coming from re networking. Frankly I find it awkward and uncomfortable because I’m very introverted. The way I accidentally networked was by meeting an attorney through a pro bono clinic and hitting it off. At dinner I met a friend of hers who happened to work in HR at my current place of employment and she mentioned they were looking for a contracts attorney, and it all just fell into place from there (the interview process still took months!). So if you’re interested in any pro bono work that could be a way to meet some local attorneys, which may end up helping connect you in the area. The only other networking I’ve availed myself of in the past is to reach out to alums in the area and ask for an informational interview to learn about the job market/employers in the area/etc.

          Re HR generalist roles- I would recommend you keep applying, honestly! While you may not have the certifications they want, a law degree does carry weight, and some companies will see that and want to interview you at least. I definitely struggled getting screened out of positions based on education and salary requirements- employers were worried I would leave for a more traditional role.

          sending good vibes and hoping your search goes quickly and you find something that’s a good fit!

    9. SarahTheEntwife*

      You’ll probably need further education, but does the idea of being a law librarian appeal at all? Having a JD is a huge boost in the field, and if you’re more on the research-assistance side of things it’s very extroverted work.

      1. TM*

        Also good advice – and if you end up in some sort of public sector place (like a courthouse maybe?) you could get public service loan forgiveness. I’d just wonder how many of those type of jobs are out there.

    10. drpuma*

      I have a JD and work in tech. The skill set is pretty transferable in terms of being organized, spotting issues, and being able to think/plan in terms of the internal logic of the system (not by what you think is right or wrong). I am definitely not a coder; there are a variety of project/program/product manager jobs, one of which could be a fit for you. You mention $HomeCity; if there are big corps you could probably get a contract job to get your foot in the door. My role involves a lot of communication and meetings, not bad for an extrovert.

    11. Cee Cee Dee*

      When you say contract administration, what type of industry? I am also an extrovert, Contract Admin (sans law degree) in the government contracts field working at government contractor. We work with people ALL DAY, customers, project managers, engineers, finance, security, etc. I do have to say that we sometimes get scared away from applicants with law degrees because typically they don’t do contract administration. A portion of the work is legal (document reviews), but we are basically account executives for contracts as well as lead negotiators.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Heavy industry. They brought me as contract admin and a coworker as a procurement specialist on at the same time to help get a department that had been poorly managed into shape. Basically, the operation is only a few years old, and had been more worried about getting the job done than following procedures or getting the paperwork in order. While my procurement specialist coworker is out meeting with vendors and folks on site, my job has been to try to find contracts, update the databases and contract templates, and try to turn million dollar purchase orders into master service contracts. Of course, the reason that million dollar purchase orders without contracts happen is because no one wants to talk to the paper pushers (e.g. me) and so even the part of the job that ought to involve talking to people ends up being nothing but ghosted emails.

    12. krysb*

      I work in legal tech, primarily e-discovery and all of the components surrounding the discovery process. We have project managers, review (discovery review) managers, and a number of other positions where having a law degree is attractive. A lot our PMs, RMs, and sales work remotely. We also have short-term contract attorneys (they work for us, but are contracted to work on specific litigation matters for other firms/organizations). So, yes, if you want to be in the legal or legal-adjacent field.

    13. Joielle*

      If you live near your state’s capital city, you might find that a legislative staff position would suit you. TONS of JDs and former lawyers, lots of interaction with the public, different stuff every day… you work long hours at times, but if it’s work you believe in, it feels worth it.

    14. june june hannah*

      +1 to looking at roles where having a JD is attractive. I work at a large firm and we have people in a lot of departments (business development, library/research, litigation services, project management, etc) who are non-practicing JDs and the attorneys really like working with them because of that background and their ability to speak the lingo/quickly understand what the attorney is trying to accomplish. You could also maybe look at being a paralegal?

      1. Amy Sly*

        I tried for paralegal and legal admin kind of positions when I first graduated. No dice. And let me tell you, it’s especially humiliating to be told (through ghosting) that not only are you not qualified to be a lawyer’s peer, but also you’re not even qualified to be their inferior.

        Maybe it could be different now, but after so many years of being out of the field, I feel like even applying to law firms is nothing more than a waste of time and an inconveniencing of electrons. Granted, I could just be listening to my depression, but frankly, my experience has been that for all managers say they want people willing to work hard without a bunch of ego, they’re more horrified than impressed by lawyers working outside the field for low wages or moving halfway across the country in search of something better.

  18. Kramerica Industries*

    Any tips on dealing with an entitled coworker? I think I’ve gotten pretty good at pushing back on comments like “I shouldn’t have to do this because it’s admin…can you do it for me? You’re better at it”. But what really grinds my gears is when Entitled Coworker tries to pull these stunts on lower level coworkers.

    We’re both Senior Llama Wranglers and there are 4 Junior Llama Wranglers. I’ve noticed that he tends to “joke” with them that they’re making him look good for helping him with admin tasks because Manager asked him to do the work. Or comments like “you guys look busy…glad I’m not you”. I’ve already addressed the issue where he essentially offloads his work onto the Junior team with Manager. But is there anything else I can do or say about his attitude? I think it’s gross that he’ll ask them for “help” and degrade their jobs in the same sentence. Many of the Juniors don’t push back – I suspect it’s because they’re early in their careers or feel like they should listen to a Senior. Or is this a MYOB/let it go situation?

    1. 1234*

      I would let it go since you aren’t the manager. Llama Wrangler Manager should be the one to address these issues since they are the manager.

      Someone else treated him this way when he was the junior and now that he’s the senior, he feels “compelled” to treat others how he was treated or he’s just an ass. Either way, his behavior isn’t yours to manage.

    2. Eleanor Konik*

      If your manager isn’t aware, it might be worth bringing it up gently to your manager in private.

    3. MissGirl*

      If you have a good relationship with any of the juniors, you could mention that they don’t have to do those things especially if you see them pressed on their own deadlines.

      1. Anon for this*

        A workplace truism – you cannot expect help/service from someone while simultaneously degrading them. Well, I guess you can, but it definitely shows your true form, and his form is an ass.

    4. ten-four*

      Is there any chance that he’s right to push admin work down to the junior people? He sounds incredibly annoying, but I think it’s worth reflecting on whether he’s appropriately delegating admin work so that he can focus on big projects/making an impact/etc. This is a conversation to have with your manager too, to validate your sense of where your focus should be and what you’d have to delegate to make that possible.

      If it turns out that he’s delegating appropriately, then you should start delegating too so that you can also make sure you have the time to excel! Bonus: you won’t be a jerk about it.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        Nope. He hasn’t been excelling at the job here so he’s been tasked with admin duties to get a better baseline understanding of what we do.

        He’s kind of stuck in a loop. He’s not going to get more important projects because he can’t master the basics. But he’s not going to do the basics because he thinks he’s above them.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I have two colleagues like this. (Both women, as it happens.) They’re Schroedinger’s Seniors, where they feel that juniors and junior work are “beneath” them, but struggle at performing at a senior level because, surprise surprise, a lot of senior work is in fact the same kind of work that juniors do.

          Both of them are not only horrifically unpopular, they’re also the least productive people on the entire team by about half.

      2. LKW*

        There certainly could be situations like this but there could also be situations where he just doesn’t want to do it. I’ve seen mid-level managers insist that they have someone else make their travel plans while VPs log into the site, arrange their travel and go about their day.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      In a similar situation at work, I suggested this wording for my junior coworkers.
      entitled coworker: Here is some work for you to do
      junior staff: great, I’ll look it over and talk to manager about my work load.

  19. HR Dolphin*

    On Monday morning first thing, my boss asked me to stick my head in their office but really wanted to have a closed door meeting with me. “So, I’ve been thinking of how I can help you here, helping you succeed. I bought this for you. You know with you showing up late and everything. And, you know, I really don’t want that to be the reason you don’t have a job, so, I got you this…”

    It was an alarm clock. My boss gave me an alarm clock. Because last week I overslept and was late for work. I’ve been here for several years and no, it’s not a pattern. So, that’s how my week started.

    1. Rayray*

      That’s incredibly rude.

      What is it with some people being “the boss” thinking they have to treat people like children?

    2. PMS*

      I really want to know if your boss paid for it from personal or business funds. Either way is terrible…

    3. College Career Counselor*

      Couple of questions: Is this boss new? Are there other concerns about your work?

      I’d ask the boss if she has concerns about your punctuality and if so, is one day out of X # of years cause for concern?

      Because otherwise, the New Yorker cartoon caption meme, “Christ. What an asshole.” would seem to apply here.

    4. CheeryO*

      That’s so obnoxious. My last boss once gave me a bottle of vitamin D because he was concerned that I had a deficiency (I definitely did, but it was still weird!).

    5. Mazzy*

      Wow. On a related note, one of my employees is lacking in communication skills and I wanted to get him a book on business communication, but it felt passive aggressive

    6. pally*

      I’d step right out and pick up a copy of “Management for Dummies”, wrap it up all nice and pretty with the bows and ribbon and all.
      Christmas is coming up, ya know.
      Who says you can’t “gift up” to the manager?

    7. Narvo Flieboppen*

      See, now, I’m a sarcastic fellow and I’d probably have a good laugh over this particular gift. I’m also assuming the manager’s line was intended to be comedic. I’ve also been known to enjoy complete deadpan delivery, so it might why this sits well with me as presented.

  20. ChimericalOne*

    How soon is too soon to CC my boss? My boss suggests that if I reach out to someone on another team & they don’t reply to me within a reasonable period of time (e.g., a few days to a week), the next email should have him CC’d on it. But I know that neither he nor I am very good at social niceties & office politics, so does that seem harsh to anyone else? Should I send at least 1 follow up email without roping him in? It just seems like somewhat of a blunt club for just Email #2.

    (For context, we’re in tech & most of the things I’m reaching out about aren’t emergencies, but I need folks to get back to me at *some* point to resolve these tickets, even if they’re not urgent.)

    1. time for tea*

      I think there’s a difference between cc-ing your boss and cc-ing someone else’s boss. I’d never put someone else’s boss on the CC line; that’d be for my boss or the other person to do. But cc’ing my boss is just an awareness thing and connected to what you already talked about.

      So, yeah, I’d cc him on the next email.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        Ah, that’s a great distinction! Okay, I don’t feel so bad about CC’ing him, then. Thanks!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m sure there was a boss-cc question this week – if you didn’t see it, you might like to look back and have a look at the comments.

      I think it depends on a few factors, but for me copying your boss is a level two escalation, where marking it High Importance is level one and copying their boss is level three. It probably also depends on the general tone of the e-mail, so whether it’s “Hi Fergus, I just wanted to check that the TPS will be ready for [Boss]’s meeting on Thursday” or “Fergus, we are still waiting for the TPS. Kindly update soonest.”

      1. TechWorker*

        This does depend on the culture, tbh it’s totally normal in my org to cc my boss on any important communication, plus people quite often email us both… maybe it’s cos I’m a new manager and only ‘own’ half the project but it doesn’t ‘offend’ me in the slightest

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

      My job has a job request system too and unless it’s a top priority item that absolutely must be done, I never CC’d my boss (or theirs). We make notes in the ticket request file so my boss can track our work, or he can answer questions if we’re out.

      How many follow up emails I send depends on how much work I’ve already put in on the request, if any. If they’ve never responded they get 1 follow up; but if I’ve been working with them and then they ghost, I give it a few more follow up attempts. Are you allowed to close tickets due to non-response? My final message is usually to the effect of: “I just wanted to follow up on your XYZ request. Did you still need X help from me on this, or should I go ahead and close the request? Please respond by XXX date and let me know, otherwise I will assume the job is (complete/not needed) and close the ticket. You can resubmit a request at any time.”

    4. LKW*

      My recommendation is to include the time you want the response in the first email and not assume everyone has the same definition of “reasonable time”.

      As in ‘could you please provide this information by end of day, Monday 11 November’ and then on the 12th send the reminder.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Third option–forward your manager a copy of what you sent and ask if this is a high enough priority for department that you should escalate by involving a manager.

  21. Sunday Morning Fever*

    I applied for an internal job posting back in August and was interviewed the following month. After 2 months of silence I assumed they weren’t that interested in me and carried on. But, last week I had a meeting with our HR person (about a project I’m working on) and she told me that I was still in contention and the hiring process can sometimes take awhile. I would normally take this at face value, but the job was posted in July and I’m starting to think they’re just trying to be nice to me because I’m an employee and that I’m not really in the running. What say you good people?

    1. ChimericalOne*

      Large organization with a lot of bureaucracy? Could be the truth. My current job took almost a year to hire me (budget issues held up the process).

      1. Ama*

        We’re not even that large and we’ve had some leadership positions stay vacant for a full year, due to a combination of being hard to find the right candidate and the people who need to do the interviews having extremely busy travel schedules.

        1. Sunday Morning Fever*

          All understandable. This isn’t a senior position though. I’m hoping for a career change, so it’s pretty low-level. It’s a job for semi-recent grad students with maybe a year or two of experience and I work in a city with plenty of those!

        2. ChimericalOne*

          In my case, I was told about the job in July, it was finally posted in October or November, I think I interviewed in December, and then I was hired near the end of March. Entry-level IT position suitable for new grads. You could always try asking if HR has details about the hold up — in my case, I knew it was because of some snafu around whose budget the position would come out of. They might be able to tell you something equally reassuring.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Face value.
      This happened to me at OldJob and not only was it internal, I was already in the department AND had been doing a large number of the tasks since the other person left.
      It took 3 months to get hired in initially and then over 6 months for the internal promotion.

    3. Moana*

      OMG are you me?! We have have the same exact timeline. Applied in Aug, interviewed in Sept, but I was offered the job the next day. Mostly silence ever since, but word is it’s still happening.

      Good luck! Sounds like they are just taking their sweet time.

  22. Great Beyond*

    I’m in a male dominated department. The guys are really nice, but even the women are bawdy. I’m the youngest and feel out of sorts still, even though I’ve been here for 6 months. Should I be acting more like “one of the guys”? I have never been “one of the guys”. How do you fit in?

      1. Great Beyond*

        It’s “guy humor” type of environment, but the women seem used to it and joke around like the guys.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      I personally don’t think you should try to become a Cool Girl just to fit in. In my experience it doesn’t work out well.

      As for how you fit in…IDK. I don’t fit in super great around here. I’ve got people I get along with well enough, but I swear if I have to listen to ONE MORE discussion of reality TV or celebrity gossip I might scream.

    2. WKRP*

      I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help notice the turn of phrase here: The guys are really nice, but EVEN the women are bawdy. Does that mean everyone is bawdy? And if so, I would be a little careful of having different expectations for the men and women in your office. If it’s everyone, it sounds like cultural thing and there might not be much you can do to change them (I say this with the assumption that it’s not offensive bawdiness, but rather bad language and the like). But I also don’t think you need to join in with the bawdy to be “one of the guys.” I think the key here is accepting the culture of the office (again, providing it’s not toxic, offensive, or dangerous).

      1. LilySparrow*

        The OP is uncomfortable with the amount of sexualized talk at work. She feels isolated and alienated. Jumping down her throat about phrasing really isn’t helpful.

        There is normally less use of sexualized humor in gender-diverse workplaces. Not because the “ladies” don’t want to hear it, but because there’s cultural awareness that sex jokes are often sexist and heteronormative, plus a lot of people don’t appreciate sex talk at work.

        I think what OP was trying to say is that nobody is overtly a jerk, but its a lot to deal with – and she doesn’t see anyone else who seems uncomfortable with it and might ally with her to push back.

        It is a natural assumption that people in the minority (in this case, women) would be the first place to look for support.

        1. Goldfinch*

          Nah, WKRP has a really valid point. The way OP put it, s/he seems to be assuming that the default is that men are bawdy, and women are not.

        2. WKRP*

          I don’t think I was jumping down anyone’s throat here. Just a caution not to apply different standards based on sex, which wouldn’t help her situation and could even make it worse. Questioning the phrasing of something doesn’t mean I’m criticizing Great Beyond, I’m trying to understand the situation and provide whatever support or information I can. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. Great Beyond*

        I’m sorry- English isn’t my first language. I’m just wondering how to fit in better. My social skills are not the best either.

    3. ChimericalOne*

      I think you should just be yourself & not try to be them (it’s wayyy too much energy to try to be someone else!) If they’re good people & you’re kind, they won’t care too much that you’re not like them. But you may get tired of not really fitting in at some point, so be prepared to dust off the resume.

    4. MeMeMe*

      Just be yourself. If you don’t feel like talking the way they talk, or whatever change you would have to make to yourself to be more like them, don’t do it. Forcing yourself to change yourself to conform to a group standard doesn’t lead to happiness, it leads to feeling inauthentic and uncomfortable.

      You don’t even have to think of this as a global policy to follow, but in moment-to-moment interactions. If at this moment, you feel like joining in, go right ahead. If at this moment you don’t, just don’t.

      You might find yourself naturally, authentically, becoming more comfortable acting like “one of the guys” — this is fine. It’s when you feel pressure to force yourself to be someone you’re not, and you do it reluctantly, that leads to unhappiness.

    5. littlelizard*

      I’d say just be yourself – if the culture is non-toxic and just very casual, it should be fine if you’re not joining in on the jokes as actively as everyone else. I’d also try to reframe it away from being a ‘guy humor’ culture when it’s not actually gender-specific in your office.

    6. A ninny mouse*

      Is there any part of their culture you think you can make an effort towards, in an attempt to feel like less of an outsider? A sport they follow, a podcast, a tv series.? Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but if it’s not a huge imposition on you, it may help you feel like less of the ‘odd one out’

      On the flipside, I think you should feel free to share stuff about yourself. Chances are, someone at the company thinks Nature Walks, Knitting, Fantasy Novels etc are cool.

      I don’t think trying to imitate their senses of humor would go well, so i’d avoid that.

    7. Nesprin*

      You do excellent work, and are professional, and quietly curse the patriarchy.
      -been there done that

    8. Lissajous*

      I work in a male-dominated field, and I almost never “fit in” – I don’t follow any sports, cars, or 99% of the usual topics; instead I play in an orchestra, I play DnD role-playing games, and even the one sport I do play (squash) is one of the rarer ones! I’m not going to change who I am, that’s silly. So I’ll never fit in as such – but I will get along with most people and build good work-friendships, it just takes longer. I started a new job about five months ago, and I’m starting to build the camaraderie,, but it’s still very much a work in progress.

      This is what has worked for me:
      – If there’s something like Friday pub lunches, or occasional post work drinks, go. Especially when you’re new. You don’t have to have an alcoholic drink if that’s not your thing, but just being there for the social non-work time goes a long way. And even if you’re just listening in for the first few times, you’ll get an idea of their lives outside of work.
      – The universal topic: how was your weekend? And listen to the answer, and try and remember so you can follow up next time. Like someone’s mother was sick, how are they going now? What’s the renovation project this weekend? How did the kids go with the camping trip? How’s the cricket team you play on going? Remembering what other people do goes a very long way. You’re not asking because you care about the topic, but because you care about the person.
      – Because I do have such unusual interests and I do mention them, it gives other people an opening to talk about more unusual things as well. Met a tradie who was in his mid 50s and had discovered opera about five years before. Loved it. And was hadn’t been to a live performance yet because he didn’t know what the rules were and what to wear and he wouldn’t fit in. So not only could I reassure him on that front (we’re a little more relaxed here, so clean dark jeans, button up shirt, and clean boots will be at the low end of the dressy scale, but they’ll be fine), it was also an interesting note that “not fitting in” concerns go both ways. Afterwards my manager commented that he’d known that guy for years, and they were decent friends, but he’d never had a clue.
      – I don’t know what your work is, but my role requires a mix of office work, but also checking on fabrication, being on site for construction etc. So for me a thing that helps is I do go down to the workshop and check how the tradies are going and talk with them. Have there been any problems, is there something that’s difficult that we could make easier next time with a design change, how did they do that nifty thing they just did, wow that is one fine-looking weld! On site I will go walking around the plant to check on everyone a couple of times a day, and join in the post work beers a couple of times a week.
      – And if there’s something you don’t know how to do, work or otherwise, ask! Like maybe changing a car battery, or advice how to re-seal wooden trim on the house, or maybe someone’s really into gardening and you have no idea why your mint keeps dying. People like to help, and you’ll probably know stuff you can help with – I know this is stereotypes, but it is frequently true: as the youngest person in the office, very likely computer stuff. (That said, do not discount the value of years of learning excel tricks, there are so many that are legacy from old versions and the shortcut still works but finding it by mouse is impossible.)

      You don’t need to be one of the guys. You don’t need to make bawdy jokes if it’s not your style (it’s certainly not mine, but also most places I’ve worked haven’t tended that way. Crass, for sure, bawdy, not so much), but making some jokes is helpful. Be a good worker, be kind, be a nice person. Be interested in what you’re interested in, and be interested in coworkers as people.

  23. voyager1*

    Good morning AAMs!

    I got a question for you all. I have some issues with my boss that takes a lot of emotional labor/work/compromises on my part to keep a harmonious relationship with her. However things have gotten a little better! Yay right? Well… We got some news that the company is merging with another. There will be lay offs (with good severances). Here is the thing:
    1. I would rather get laid if my manager is still my manager in the combined new company. I don’t want to work for her.
    2. I feel really guilty about this because probably 2500 folks are probably going to lose a job in 2020 over this merger.
    Has anyone else felt this way? My spouse and I are going to fine money wise, so the pressure of keeping a job isn’t there as much like others. I think that is what is really compounding my guilt. I know folks are really going to get hurt and I am kinda secretly hoping I get the pink slip.

    Any thoughts or comments ? Anyone else been through something similar?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I have been through mergers/lay-offs and I’ve listened/commiserated as friend’s went through them, and while every situation is different here’s a constant: EVERYONE is making their personal calculations and drawing their bottom lines right now. You are not different or weird for thinking through your personal if/then scenarios. Some people will be really hurt by a layoff while other people will be relieved and other people in the middle are trying to job hunt and attempt to find out if they can transfer or otherwise adjust their situation. This is how it goes and it’s uncomfortable for everyone.

    2. Have to be Anon for this one*

      I get it. I’m in the same boat – I’m already job hunting, am very secure financially, and layoffs just came around. I flat out told a coworker (single mom) that if she gets the ax to let me know and I will hand in my two weeks – guarantee she will then retain her job because she is best positioned to take it on.

    3. LilySparrow*

      If people are going to get laid off, better you than someone it would hurt more. Why feel guilty?

      We had a situation once where the company asked for volunteers to take severance because they had to do a staff reduction. They did three rounds of voluntary severance with the offer getting less each time, and wound up having to do layoffs anyway.

      My husband and I had been talking for weeks about whether he should quit, when suddenly the announcement came over email. He called me, and put his name in for the severance package as soon as we hung up the phone. It was a godsend.

      Your feelings about your boss aren’t going to magically cause someone else to get laid off.

  24. Its5oclocksomewhere*

    I’m in a role where I need to talk and get information from vendors and other staff. Most are nice, however there are some that can be rude, snippy, short, etc. Is there any way to not take it so personally? Most days I brush it off, but sometimes it gets to me. Any advice?

    1. voyager1*

      Is this verbal communication or electronic? If verbal I kept a note on my desk that said: they are just voices on the phone.

      This was for a call center style job, and it helped.

    2. LGC*

      I think part of it is…well, acting. One of my friends works with disabled students, and she’s said that she often imagines herself as RPG characters in difficult situations. For me, I’ve pretended that the customer isn’t yelling at me, he’s yelling at the situation.

      It’s also okay to have it get to you sometimes! I think a few people here think that “being professional” means never being visibly hurt by anything that happens at work unless it’s like sexual harassment, and…that’s just not the case. If you’re able to take a break for a little while, do so. Otherwise, do something you enjoy, like a long walk on your break.

      Finally, I’ve found that there’s nothing as empowering as handling a bad situation well. That’s just me, though.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, I’ve had a few moments in dealing with some company’s stupid policy that had me biting out “I’m not mad at you, I know you can’t do anything, but this is super frustrating!” I hope they don’t take it personally.

        I’ve found there’s nothing as empowering as handling a bad situation well.

        Yep. And sometimes, there can be few things as funny as someone yelling at you and getting annoyed that you’re not yelling back.

        And when all else fails, there’s the concept of “spill words” from Terry Pratchett. That is, the words at the end of the sentence you don’t allow yourself to say. Like “I’m sorry” (that you’re a jerk).

    3. Kathenus*

      Realize that it’s about them, not you. Know that you can’t change their behavior, only how you react to it. And don’t give them any power over your happiness. So just regard it as their problem, take the information they give you to do your job, then forget about them and move on.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I would do a rough script for your requests, bottom line up front (BLUF). Let people know what you want from them at the start. “hi, I’m calling to get a price quote and delivery estimate on your llama grooming toolkit. Would you be able to supply 20 kits and deliver in 30 days?”

      You can add background info as the conversation progresses. “I work for Pet Groomers, Ltd.; here is the delivery address.”

      At the end, recap the conversation: “Great, so you can deliver 20 kits by the 15th of the month, to our local address. The shipment will include the billing invoice. We will provide payment upon receipt/within X days per your policy. Thank you!”

      Follow-up with an email recap as needed.

  25. Lucky cosmic jazz*

    I’m in the process of getting a new job and I don’t know if I’ve messed things up by telling my current boss too early.

    In my job and industry, contacts are the norm and they’re typically renewed annually for staff at my level. I dutifully reapplied for my job and felt confident I’d be rehired since I’m pretty good and we’re always short-staffed.

    While I was waiting to hear back about my application, I was approached by another department for an internal transfer. This team is very well regarded, difficult to get into (they usually promote from within) and had exactly the experience I need to process my career. I informally accepted the offer and I’m waiting to sign the contract next week.

    Now my current grandboss has also offered to renew the contract for my current job. I do like it but the direction of this department is changing so it’s likely to have fewer opportunities for career growth for me. So I blurted out the news about the internal transfer and that I’m thinking of accepting. I made it sound less certain than it actually is because the contract isn’t signed so Grandboss thinks I’m just considering options.

    Now she’s trying to get me to stay, including arranging secondment to a different area to get me more experience. I’m not keen on this at all because the boss in that area is notoriously bad manager.

    I feel bad that she’s going to ask this effort when I know I’m going to take the transfer. But I also don’t want to formally resign because the transfer isn’t official yet.

    Am I being unprofessional? How do I handle this situation?

    1. ChimericalOne*

      Would you have to resign on the spot if you told her that you wanted this other contract? If so, I would just tolerate whatever she’s sending your way. If not, I think you probably want to go back and be more direct with her: “I really appreciate that you want me to stay, and that you’re looking at ways to help me get more experience in my current role. However, after thinking it over, I feel more confident in saying that I’m committed to taking this transfer if it is offered to me. I really enjoy the work I do here, but this team would just be perfect for me. It’s exactly what I’m looking for for my career.”

      You’re not being unprofessional to look out for your own interests.

  26. DC*

    I quit yesterday!

    It went better than expected- but I did also have his boss on the phone at the same time.

    Now I can devote time to job hunting and figuring out what I want to do next.

    So if anyone in the DC area is hiring for communications roles, hit me up!

  27. But I'm not...*

    I’m a legal assistant. Not for the first time, one of the attorneys I support asked me to ‘play dumb’ yesterday while scheduling a mediation among several parties. We hadn’t gotten agreement from all the parties and he wanted me to act like I didn’t know the circumstances so that we could draw out the timing of confirmation and not miss the slot.

    I’m a woman in my 30’s, he’s a man and slightly older than I am. It felt icky being asked to play dumb when I’ve got a decade of career experience and I understand that my role is to know what’s going on before I approach a mediation firm for scheduling. The legal community in my region is small and I feel that this kind of thing reflects badly on me.

    I pushed back a bit, telling him I prefer not to do that and that really, we should have agreement among parties before requesting a mediation date. It’s just best practice, nothing new. I tried to strike a balance between ‘playing dumb’ and just appealing to the admin staff for a little extra time to get agreement. It turned out fine but I’m so bothered by being asked to play dumb by my colleague.

    What else could I have done? Or if/when it happens again?

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      I ask my assistant to “play dumb” all the time and I do it too, just not in an unethical way. The way you described sounds like it was pushing that ethical boundary. I have clients that want to talk for an hour every time I call. Sometimes I need a quick answer from them and due to my litigation schedule, can’t give them an hour that day. The easiest way to deal with this is to have my assistant make the call and if the client starts asking other questions she can “play dumb” and say that it’s really a question the attorney has to answer and the attorney isn’t available right now. I think “play dumb” is just a turn of phrase and doesn’t mean you should actually act dumb. It’s just a way of saying you don’t have all of the information.

      1. But I'm not...*

        I do what you describe often– I consider that part of the job, basically traffic control. It’s totally fair to say to a client, “Al is busy right now, may I relay your questions to him?” There’s nothing dishonest about that.

        In this case, it’s gumming up the process of a business, and one that we expect to use over and over again. It’s totally fair for them to only confirm spots when everyone has agreed on a date– otherwise what’s to stop us from cancelling a week before when they could have booked with any number of other groups? I want to maintain a good relationship with that admin, and booking spots without consent from the other party is a bad look. Acting like I don’t know what’s going on make me look stupid and incompetent.

        That said, I do think the phrase bothers me from the jump, because assistants are often undervalued and people forget what they bring to the table.

        1. Ama*

          My boss calls these kind of things “street theater” — i.e. when we’re having difficulty getting a response from an external person, we’ll sometimes stage an email exchange where it sounds like we’re both unclear on certain details and loop in the external person, even though we’re both aware that the hold up is the external person just refusing to engage. For some reason this works about 9 times out of 10 where direct reminders to the person that we need a response fail.

      2. Mazzy*

        Yeah. This boss should just withhold the information he doesn’t want people to know instead of telling everything and then relying on peoples’ acting skills

    2. Another JD*

      Tell the mediator that you’ll call opposing counsel to confirm the date/time after you’ve booked in and let them know if something changes. Ask for when they need cancellation by, then honor that.

  28. PMS*

    Just a designer vent.

    I need folks to follow our companies brand guidelines! They are easy to understand and folks can come to my office and have us do the work for them (in fact, this is what we prefer!) if they don’t know how to implement the standards. But if you do something on your own, you can’t just pick and choose what you like from our guidelines and make up the rest!

    I don’t care if you don’t like our color palette or fonts, you have to use them. Do you think folks at Coke get to use a different red on some materials just because they don’t like the official one? No! They just have to use the damn red and get on with their lives.

    1. 1234*

      Is what you’ve just posted also written in the brand guidelines? From personal experience, people who aren’t design-focused don’t notice these things. I’m not a designer but it’s also a pet peeve of mine.

      Without calling anyone out, are the most common errors also listed in the brand guidelines under “what not to do/not on brand?”

      1. PMS*

        Common errors and missuses are listed as “Don’t do this!” but…the guidelines do not specifically state that you can’t just make shit up if you don’t like it. I will ask my boss about adding text to that effect (in a much more professional way) to our guidelines and to the branding presentations I give, good idea!

        1. TimeTravlR*

          OUr branding guide gives the logos you can use and the Pantone color palette so there is no misunderstanding. We also spell out size depending on the way it’s used. You have to be really specific with some people. And for those of us (like me) who are not design experts, I appreciate the specificity.

          1. PMS*

            Yup, ours is exactly like that. I’ve worked with really complicated brand manuals before and I’ve made sure ours is written for non-designers.

            The issue is people feel it’s ok to change the stuff they don’t like. You don’t get to do that. The rules are there for a reason. I don’t care if you hate our brand colors, you have to use them.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Ditto, though my employer does have a few variations on the official logo that are allowed (a rainbow one is what I remember most…)

            2. DC*

              Oh goodness, this is my soon-to-be-ex boss. They just changed a major university logo, fonts, etc…. when they got in trouble for it they just shrugged and kept using it all.

              I came on board after and it has been grinding my gears forever.

              1. PMS*

                I feel your pain so much. We are rebranding and the I’m anticipating the next year and a half being hell.

                1. Bad font, no cookie*

                  One mistake my company made was to leave extended characters out of their new required font. But we sell in non-English regions so not having those characters means EU employees go back to Arial or whatever. And the engineers are doing that too because they are missing both characters for micro-Ohms.

    2. Ama*

      One thing you might check is that it is easy for people to access the tools they need to follow the guidelines . For example, at my work we use a font that is not standard on most computers, and when they initially put in our guidelines, it didn’t occur to them that they needed to tell people that they needed to install the font on each person’s computer who was working on branded material — so people would download our stationary or power point templates, but not realize that the fonts were being switched back to their computer’s default. Same goes for color swatches — if you use Adobe you can actually save swatches as a preset palate that anyone can download into their own program.

      Now if it is just a matter of people’s personal preferences, that’s a different problem, and maybe needs a staff meeting on why branding consistency is important. (We have one of these about every couple of years.)

      1. cmcinnyc*

        This.
        Issues at my company include:
        It can be a bear to download a logo. It should be very easy.
        I can’t get one of the fonts to display. It’s there when I print but not on my screen.
        And one of the templates has a glitch that makes the user sign in over and over and over again before it opens.

        Your This-Is-The-Red-We-Use-At-Coca-Cola example is great. Just make sure everyone has access to that red.

        1. PMS*

          Yup, we have alternate fonts that are available on every computer (worked with IT on this). Logos are available online in a wide variety of file formats along with explanations on what format to use when. Color palette lists colors in PMS, cmyk, rgb and hex code. No one has to login to access any of this.

      2. Not a cat*

        Yep.Yep.Yep.

        I’m in marketing and I didn’t have the very specific font for our brand on my LT, so every time I needed a change, I’d have to ask a designer to do it.

        I requested it about 20 times in 2 years…but no….

    3. NW Mossy*

      While not directly on point to your question, I have a positive design story for you! Recently, my team brought up a communication template that they use and asked about trying to make it better, because it’s a hassle to update each time we need to send one to a client. Y’all, what I know about design would fit in a thimble, but this thing was awful – outdated logo, wrong fonts, crazy margins, the works. So I looped in our service team (who actually sends it to clients) to get the right people on the case to fix it.

      Last week we got a draft of the refreshed version back from our communications team, and it is GLORIOUS. It is coherent, professional, on brand, and a soothing balm to the eye. What designers do is a gift. I don’t happen to have it myself, but I can certainly appreciate a good one when I see it.

      1. PMS*

        This actually makes me really happy! I love it when people reach out to for this kind of thing.

        There is def. a DIY culture at my job. Plus design is “fun!” And so it’s really hard to get folks to turn their materials over to us and we don’t have a directive from leadership enforcing any of this (and we’re a big enough company that it’s crazy and unprofessional that any of this is allowed.)

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I feel your pain, friend.

      Earlier this year, I sent an email to the head of marketing at my company saying, in essence, “You want us to use (this particular shade of blue) but the RGB, CMYK, Hex and Pantone values you give generate four different colors. Which one should we use?”

      1. only acting normal*

        This is what our brand guide colours are like too.
        On the plus side we’re provided with corporate templates for documents, letters, posters, PowerPoint slides etc, all of which are pre-set with the brand colour palette and fonts.
        But… people will *still* override the (reasonably nice, well thought out) colours, fonts, layouts etc until they end up with something eye-bleedingly bad. And then they’ll blame the template.

        As with most things it boils down to people being people (stubborn/ wilfully stupid/ annoying/ oblivious/ silly/ over-confident/ etc), no matter how much you try to make it easy for them.

  29. Llama Wrangler*

    Curious if anyone else read this week’s Hola Papi — “should I fake my astrological sign to be more employable?” (link in reply). I felt like he did a pretty good job answering it given how many turns the letter took (being really about a deeply toxic workplace and not astrology at all), but it seems like his suggestion that it’s fine to lie about your sign would get complicated quickly if your employer has your actual birthdate on file.

    1. time for tea*

      Admittedly I have not read that column so I don’t know who was the person asking for the astrological sign. I agree that it would be pretty hard from keeping HR-in-general from knowing your birthdate. However, I could see your boss and your coworkers being successfully kept in the dark. My org doesn’t celebrate birthdays or anything like that. The only time the birthdate came up is when I had to give them my ID when I onboarded.

      Also the signs have shifted a little bit, by like a day or two: I’m apparently not in the same sign as I thought I was. So there’s also room to be Confused About Astrology.

      1. LGC*

        It shifts year to year – if you’re on a cusp (usually the 20th to 22nd), then it’s a bit ambiguous.

        As for hiding the birthday: It depends on the size of the org, though! Like, I don’t know my employee’s birthdays. I think I might be able to look them up through our payroll system, but I’m not sure. It sounds like a small business (she’s at a co-op), so they might be able to have more ready access to that info.

    2. Jan Levinson*

      I know it’s not really the question, but I’m stunned that there are employers who would take astological signs into consideration for hiring purposes. Birthdates do not determine personality traits.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Oh, yes, that is horrifying on its own. In the case of the letter, it’s clear that the people who are running this company are very bad managers and taking astrological signs into consideration is a sign of a very toxic culture.
        And I think Alison would say if they use that to influence their hiring purposes, probably it’s a sign they’re not going a great job hiring anyway.

    3. LGC*

      …oh my Dog. This letter didn’t so much escalate quickly as it blasted off into interstellar travel.

      I actually think it’s not terrible to lie about your sun sign, if only because that’s a pretty low-stakes thing to lie about. (Like, me being a Taurus is probably #5,289,671 on the list of reasons why you think I’m being a bit stubborn.) And I think that’s what he’s really saying – a place that asks that is bananapants enough that they don’t deserve an honest response. Like, if they’re going to fire you or revoke the offer for saying you’re a Libra when you’re really a Leo, then that’s a blessing.

      I’d probably be honest because Taureans are set in their ways their response will be telling. If they think I won’t fit in (or will fit in) because I was born mid-spring instead of – you know – asking me and others about myself, then they have major issues. And, I mean, I enjoy reading horoscopes, but it’s also meaningless IRL! (Case in point: I co-lead a team with a Scorpio (and her birthday is exactly six months from mine, to boot). We’re one of the best teams in the company.)

      Also, I’m even more concerned about the gyno, which I did not think was possible, but it happened. I know this is the work thread, but LL was way too casual about the fact that 1) her gyno prescribed her benzos because 2) she’s unmarried with children and 3) she’s okay with this because she needs the Klonopin to deal with her coworkers.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have been known to answer that I prefer Chinese astrology because kids react to the generation before them….I’m year of the horse, what about you? It’s usually ended the conversation for the day, and once was enough that someone stopped sharing “interesting horoscopes” with me permanently.

  30. Depressed and anon*

    I’ve been treated for depression/anxiety for years now, and due to my main med not working well anymore/causing disruptive side effects, I’ve just switched to a new one (from generic lexapro to generic zoloft). I don’t know my manager very well, she took over my department when my previous manager left a few months ago. I’ve only met her once in person a couple of years ago. I am not sure if I should tell her that I’m beginning a new med just in case it causes problems and I need to go in to the doctor’s office or take time or whatever. She’s super hands-off which is generally fine, but that combined with my not having a great feel for how she thinks about things is making me question if I should give her a heads up now or just wait and see. I really don’t think she’d react badly even if I told her what it was, but if I do mention it I will be very general (“trying a new medication and not sure how it will affect me yet” etc). What do you all think?

    1. PolarVortex*

      Been here, I wouldn’t feel afraid to keep it super casual with your manager as far as knowledge:

      “I’ve been having some new issues with an ongoing medical problem, and I’m working with my doctor on finding the right medication to treat it. This may mean a few extra doctors visits, but I just wanted you to know.”

      You could add in that you hope once this is resolved, it will clear up some of the distractions that you’re sure have been seen affecting you at work, but always optional.

      I’ve never had an issue talking to my managers with the above thing. As long as you don’t mind them fussing, I usually just explain it’s a genetic thing and nothing serious to worry about.

      1. Blueberry Girl*

        This is basically the same language I used when I switched meds at work several times looking for one that worked. So, I would recommend it.

        Keep it vague and be okay with a little, “Oh, is everything okay? Do you need anything?” concerns, but if your manager is reasonable than she shouldn’t ask more and will understand your privacy.

    2. also depressed and anon*

      I’ve been in basically the same situation (switching brain meds), except I didn’t expect it to be an issue at all but I had horrible side effects that had me at home for 2 days. I called out sick, had to bring in a doctor’s note (so now my workplace knows I go to a psychiatrist)…which isn’t ideal, but it worked out fine. If your workplace has reasonable sick leave and you can just take it when you need it, I’d advise not going into specifics (even ‘new medication’ level specifics) and just say you’re not feeling well.

      1. Depressed and anon*

        Oh noooo I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, some of them do have some pretty unpleasant side effects :( I think it’s silly you you had to get a note for two days out!! Someone could be out with the flu or a migraine for that long. We have one bucket of PTO and I have a lot left for this point in the year…honestly I’m leaning towards your approach and just see what happens.

        1. also depressed and anon*

          Yeah, we have a policy where 1 day is fine but 2 days or more requires a note. I’m actually like 80% sure that I’m the reason we added that policy (it was new when this happened).

    3. Amy Sly*

      Kinda tangential, but out of curiosity, what problems were you having with the escitalopram? I’ve been on it for probably five years now, and I’ve started noticing a recurral of some of my depression symptoms. (Granted, I’ve also been adding stressors to my life, which may be the problem instead of the meds.) Was there something about the generic Zoloft that makes it better?

      1. Depressed and anon*

        It affects my short-term memory so I have a really hard time remembering things sometimes. It’s been getting worse, to the point where I have made a few mistakes the last couple of weeks that luckily didn’t cause big problems, but they caused rework for coworkers and being so close together was a little scary. I originally just wanted to go back to the name brand Lexapro because I had these same problems with I first switched the generic, but my insurance company decided they wouldn’t cover it unless I’d tried three generics first, even though I had an authorization from my provider *insert eyeroll here* My provider thought Zoloft was a good one to try next, and from what I have seen in doing some research is that it tends to have less side effects than some other SSRIs. She said it’s similar enough to escitalopram that I didn’t even need to do the tapering down/tapering up stuff you’d normally expect. It’s also used for more kinds of anxiety than escitalopram, which I am glad of because I suspect some social anxiety is going on along with the GAD.

        I was on it for about 15 years and a lot of times these kind of drugs just stop being effective after a while. It helped a lot for years and years, but over the last several months it hasn’t helped as much and the memory issues have been getting worse. You might be experiencing that as well, as you’ve been on it a while. It’s also worth noting that while escitalopram is sometimes used for depression, it’s mostly an anti-anxiety med and you might just need an antidepressant added on (I also take a low dose of bupropion along with it). If you’re only taking escitalopram, it might be worth asking about adding something else (unless you feel like it’s not helping at all, then just switching might be an option).

  31. pitney bowes*

    *Trigger warning for some topics that may be uncomfortable for some*

    Not really seeking any advice, just venting and seeing if anyone can commiserate. My current boss (“Lisa”) has been here for 4 months. She replaced our former boss, who retired. Lisa seems to think everyone she manages is her therapist. She tells us every detail of her personal life and overshares to point where it is uncomfortable. Her poor assistant (“Eric”) bears the worst of it but she does it with everyone in this department. Unfortunately since she is the director of this department (HR) there is no one we can really go to since she reports directly to the Vice-President, who works out of a different location and is very hands off and believes in the hierarchy immensely. I am job hunting because I can’t stand it anymore and so are my co-workers. Eric is thinking of quitting without another job lined up because he is so fed up. She calls us into her office just to talk about things like her parent’s divorce, how her fiance left her because she had an affair, how she was almost the victim of a teacher when she was kid who was caught being inappropriate with other students, or how she thinks she may have a problem with alcohol. No one wants to hear it or is equipped to deal with it. She has no sense of boundaries and won’t listen when we try to ignore her or say we need to get back to work or don’t want to hear it or whatever.

    1. Mazzy*

      No trigger warning needed. Maybe I’ve just always been this way, but can’t you just say “you shouldn’t be talking about your parents’ divorce with us. We don’t know what to say or how to respond and we have work.”?

    2. Wishing You Well*

      If Eric is thinking of quitting without another job in hand, he’s in the best position to push back with Lisa and/or tell the VP Lisa is impossible to work for. You can both contact the VP, but if you need another job lined up first, I understand your hesitancy. How did Lisa ever get this far in management?
      Sorry you’re going through this.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      “That sounds tough. It seems like you really need to talk to someone about this. Unfortunately, I’m not really qualified to do that sort of listening, and I have my own work to finish. I suggest finding a certified counselor through the company insurance — it really helped me in the past when I had some stressful issues to deal with. Good luck!”

    4. LDP*

      No advice, but I can commiserate! My former boss used to call me into her office to help her caption Instagram posts, to talk about cute guys she met while on vacation, to ask me if I’d ever thought about what my funeral would be like, to play “would you rather” games and make me choose between two coworkers who I’d rather make out with…
      Everyone reported to her went to HR after repeated attempts to bring the issue up to her supervisor went no where, and finally they let her go. Hopefully you can get away from her soon!

  32. Ted Mosby*

    Any tips for working with depression? I graduated with my master’s a year ago (went straight to grad school from undergrad), and have been working since, but I’m currently at my fifth firm in a year after the last four didn’t end up sticking (to be fair- one was an internship, one was a temp job, and one was just awful. The one I had for the longest I loved, but all four were supposed to have the opportunity for me to stay on full time). All except the internship and temp job were supposed to be contract-to-hire.

    I’ve come to the realization that the reasonings given by all the firms for not bringing me on full-time had to do with seeming like I wasn’t happy to be there, motivation to get work done, and little attention to detail. These weren’t criticisms I had ever received in my life, so my mom (who’s a doctor) suggested a trip to a therapist. I was quickly diagnosed with depression, and the medications I’m on have been helping a lot.

    What I’m asking is how to get through the day when the medications aren’t doing their jobs. I cannot lose a fifth job in a year because I didn’t seem motivated. I AM motivated- my brain just doesn’t want me to leave my apartment sometimes. I know part of it is that the transition from school to the working world has been particularly hard on me for some reason, but I need SOMETHING to give my brain a kick in the butt some days.

    1. MousePrincess*

      You sound exactly like me! I am a super high achiever, but I am motivated mostly by failure, not a drive to succeed. When the depression hit me, I was motivated by nothing and also felt like a failure – a bad combination. Once I got into therapy and on medication, I started doing much better at my job and even had the courage to apply to (and get) a new, better job! I say this just to let you know that there’s hope if you stick with a program that works for you!

      In the meantime, on my worst days, I called in sick to give myself time to recharge and “get my sh*t” together – maybe once every other month that was necessary. I also felt that something that helped get out of the depression hole was feeling accomplished, so I started keeping very detailed task lists in OneNote and checking off every little thing I did (even if it was just email so-and-so). Looking at your list and saying “wow, look at everything I was able to do today” can really help keep the failure thoughts at bay.

      Good luck – there’s hope and you are not alone.

    2. A few things are nice*

      Captain Awkward has an excellent post on this! I’d pull up a link for you, but I’m typing on my phone right now. Google “captain awkward depression” and it should come up.

    3. Rachel*

      Flip the script. Anxiety is a really bad motivator to do something, so instead of telling yourself, “If I don’t go to work I’ll be fired,” tell yourself, “If I get to work I’ll be able to do xyz, which I really like” or “I’ll get paid and can buy stuff.”

      If you don’t already have a therapist, please find one. They’re a lot more qualified to give you tools and scripts to get through the day.

    4. EH*

      Oh man, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! It can be so frustrating to still have phases of depression even after getting on meds. I have depression and anxiety, so I feel you.

      When I’m struggling with depression, I lean heavily on my unofficial motto: you don’t have to want to do it, you just have to do it.

      I keep lists and records of what I’m working on and where each project is, and on my off days I use that to make a list of the next action for my top handful of projects (I go by due date and priority). Then I use the Pomodoro method to get through as much as I can. I do let myself take pretty long breaks, go for walks, etc. (I use the app Clockwork Tomato for this – 20 minutes of work, 10 minutes of break, repeat.)

      I also try to do a lot on days when I feel good – this helps pull up my averages so I’m still productive overall even though I have a few days a month when I’m semi-useless.

      Depression can be kind of like the weather, you know? Some days are just dark and stormy/rainy. I take the actions I can to get through, and wait for it to pass.

      1. Amy Sly*

        This. Couple of other things to look at:

        Make sure you’re getting sleep, nutrition, and exercise. The healthier your body, the easier it is on your mind.
        Make sure your getting in self-grooming and environment cleaning. It’s hard for anyone who hasn’t had depression to get both how hard it can be to drag yourself into the shower and how much better you can feel about life once you’ve done it. Same with having a vacuumed floor.
        Keep track of your bad days and note anything that might be triggering. Myself, I know that once a month or so I’m going to have at least one bad day when I find out I’m still not pregnant. If you can find a pattern, you can preemptively take vacation to avoid seeming to be checked out at work.

    5. Depressed and anon*

      I am by no means anyone who should be giving career advice, but one thing that strikes me here is the “seeming” and I wonder if you were not communicating enough/well with your managers? I’m pretty sure I have social anxiety so it I get it if it’s a desire/inclination to keep to yourself (or just being introverted) but that can look a lot like not engaged or unmotivated. Can you try to touch base or check in now and then, just something like “Hi boss, I should have that report done this afternoon!” or “The new project is going pretty well, how’s your afternoon?” so you seem more engaged, even if you’re not feeling “on” that day?

      1. Ted Mosby*

        You’ve kind of hit the nail on the head with that one- I’m also pretty introverted and like my quiet and alone time! And then the depression just amplifies that- instead of coming in, saying hi, asking if there’s anything to do and getting to it, I would walk in and sit at my computer for an hour, trying to will myself to talk to my supervisor or drum up the energy to continue what I was doing the day before. It’s something I’ve been actively working on, but dear lord does it get hard when I just want to hide from the world that day.

        1. Depressed and anon*

          I am so with you…I am the same way. I know it’s hard but keep working on it, I do think it will help how you’re perceived *introvert solidarity fistbump*

    6. ..Kat..*

      Antidepressants can take eight weeks or longer to work. And, you might need the dosage adjusted more than once before the medications are therapeutic for you.

      Hope this helps. Wishing you the best.

  33. anonnnymmmous*

    My role changed a couple months ago, and a new bonus structure was supposed to be created and laid out for me since I have different deliverables now. That hasn’t happened, and in the meantime I’ve realized that the new responsibilities are a Lot. A) How do I bring this up again when I have a few times and was basically told “things are busy, soon” several times, and B) Is there room to ask for more than just the new bonus information? I’m very aware it hasn’t been very long, but I was moved into these responsibilities despite wanting to move in a fairly different direction, there’s a lot of them both in terms of different tasks that need to be done and how many projects the tasks need to be done for, and I have generally received positive feedback on how the new tasks are going.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Warning: I’ve never negotiated or been in a job where a bonus is a thing. You also need to weigh what you know about the culture of your organization.

      On the bonus, I think you could *maybe* ask one more time, specifically requesting a timeline. Like, a month. Ultimately, you’re looking for them to say “This will be figured out by January 2020.” That being said, it’s quite likely that even with a hard date, they will just blow it off. My understanding is that bonuses can be very nebulous and change on a whim, so you may not want to expect them.

      The bonus conversation should be separate from your other question(s) about the role, but be very clear with yourself on what outcome you’re looking for. A timeline for how long you’ll be doing NewRole? Discussion about when/how you can move in the direction you want to go? Something else?

  34. Stressed at new job*

    I keep making mistakes at my new job because of tight deadlines and I don’t know what to do.

    I have been in my new job 2 months and I keep making mistakes because people ask for task to be completed with unrealistic deadlines. For example, yesterday I was asked to edit a 20 slide power point that aI didn’t make with new data, including complex formulas in less than an hour for a meeting with the CEO. I had to drop everything I was doing and scramble to get something done. Some numbers were wrong because I don’t get to QA anything and I didn’t even get to to update all the slides. It stresses me out because I feel like I’m being set up for failure.

    1. Bearimy of the Month*

      Do you ever debrief afterwards with the person who gave you these assignments? Sometimes they know what they’re asking for is unrealistic and are OK with whatever you can get done. Other times they might not understand the scope of what they were asking and how it was impossible to complete. I would start with a conversation and see where it gets you.

      1. consultinerd*

        Understanding expectations is key here. If they drop something in your lap last-minute, it might be a “do what you can and we’ll work with what we’ve got” situation, a “if you can finish it, great, if not, let me know and we’ll punt on this” situation, or a “we actually expect you to be able to deliver accurate products on this tight a timescale” situation. Distinguishing between the first two is important, since sometimes old numbers or no numbers are better than half-assed new numbers, and sometimes it’s more like “we need to show progress regardless of whether it’s perfect.”

        If they do expect good, completed work in these situations, though, you should talk to the boss about it feeling impossible under the circumstances. You might learn that you need to be more proactive about getting your materials reviewed early so you have adequate lead time to make revisions. You might need to get more familiar with common tools/methods (like the Excel formulas) that your team uses so you can feel more comfortable making changes efficiently, in which case some formal or informal training could make a big difference.

        If you have good relationships with more experienced coworkers, talk to them too. You might learn that certain people have a habit of asking for things with unrealistic deadlines, and the best ways to deal with those requests.

    2. Kathenus*

      Engage your boss in the solution. Tell them just what you said here, offer suggested solutions if you have any, and ask for advice on how to best handle this. If they know that you are making mistakes because of unrealistic deadlines as soon as possible, versus thinking/assuming you are making them due to lack of skills or attention, it can both help keep them from having a negative impression of you and help you find tools to improve the situation. Good luck.

  35. Bearimy of the Month*

    I recently got a promotion, and as part of it I’m overseeing the replacement in my old position. This new staff member transferred from another department because her job was being eliminated, and…it’s not going great. But it’s not a total failure, either. I technically have the ability to fire her if I want, but her work is just on the right side of acceptable and so I don’t know what to do other than let her spin her wheels until she makes a mistake that I can justify letting her go over. But that also seems really unethical. I don’t have the bandwidth to coach her in the way she needs (she can do the work from a technical standpoint, but her time management and people skills are lacking, and of course that’s a lot harder to coach). Is there a better way forward here?

    1. time for tea*

      Can someone else coach her? You don’t have time, but it’s not her technical work that needs help. Time management and people skills can be coached by others. Does your company have training opportunities she can take?

      1. Bearimy of the Month*

        We’re a pretty flat organization, so there’s not a lot of management (and they’re all similarly stretched thin). This is compounded by the fact that this employee isn’t new to the working world and a) shouldn’t need coaching on these things at this point in her career, and b) would probably be offended by efforts to coach her. It’s not a great situation and I didn’t have a lot of leeway in taking her on (and was reluctant to let her go quickly for the same office politics).

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Can you outsource the coaching in another way? ie, tell her in a 1 – 1 that time management is a problem, ask how she wants to fix it, and be prepared to offer a time management class?

          Though honestly, your post and response really seem like you’re just looking for an ethical path to firing her. Not sure how to put it, hope you understand, but, it’s like you’re trying to stay on the fence: not committing to the work of keeping her on but also not committing to the political struggle of managing her out. This will leave you with the worst of both worlds. You’ll be better off if you pick one or the other.

          I hate politics so I’d be working on giving her opportunities to improve, but ymmv.

          1. Employee of the Bearimy*

            (Changed my username because I just realized I screwed up the reference…*sigh*)

            Yes, in an ideal world I would probably already have let her go, and so I don’t think it’s worth my time investing much more work in coaching her. But for a few reasons it will probably reflect badly on me if I let her go without a clear reason, and I’m not willing to spend the political capital on making the case right now. So yes on the fence-sitting, which also feels gross and has its downsides. I suppose ultimately I have to do some more thinking about this.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              The hardest thing in the world is figuring out what you want – and in that I include the cost assessment and how much you’re willing to pay for each possible outcome.

              I will also say that if strangers on the Internet see this fence-sitting, your employees all see it too, and are going to be assessing your decisions and actions, and whether your decision might be applied to them too. If you let her go, the case needs to be clear to anyone, but if you don’t, you need to find some way to help her improve.

      2. Ama*

        I had a direct report with some time management issues and although we talked about it a little bit, I ended up asking her to choose a time management course from the professional development options our HR provides, and it actually did help her a lot.

        I am always dubious about HR courses because my personal experience with them hasn’t been great– but she is new to the 9 to 5 world and I think the course she chose was perfectly geared to someone at her level.

    2. Kathenus*

      If there’s not someone else available to coach like time for tea suggestions, can you break down the time management and/or people skills into smaller actionable steps and have her focus on one on a time to build skills and improve in that area? Since both time management and people skills can be hard for people to wrap their heads around how to solve, picking out very specific aspects of them to focus on might help her begin improving and hopefully even learning how to keep progressing in other areas with less coaching over time. For example in time management, maybe she’s asked to create a project list with deadlines and prioritization for you to review weekly or whatever, to help her learn how to plan her time more effectively.

    3. AnonyNurse*

      Since it used to be your job, are you holding her to a standard of you at the end of your time in that role vs you at the beginning? Perhaps what seem to be time management problems are more learning to do the tasks properly — needing to double check things, not having figured out efficiencies that you developed over your tenure in that role, etc.

      Considering just waiting for her to mess up badly enough so that you can fire her seems to be really poor management — that’s not good for your company, let alone your employees. Perhaps identifying a mentor for yourself in people management would be valuable.

      1. Bearimy of the Month*

        No, I’m aware that she needs to be “coached up” to where I was when I got promoted, but I’ve given her a workload that’s comparable to what I was handling when I came in and she’s just barely making it.

        I’m aware that it’s not a good plan to just wait for her to mess up and fire her – that’s why I wrote this post. I actually have a lot of experience in people management; what I don’t have is time to invest in someone who might not ever live up to the standard we need (see above re: her previous work experience).

    4. Mazzy*

      It’s not unethical to “let” someone make a mistake. If she makes ones because you can’t watch her work 24/7 that’s not on you

    5. blaise zamboni*

      If I understand correctly, she is your direct report now, right? If that’s the case…yeah, it’s your job to manage her, which includes giving her concrete opportunities to improve before she is let go.

      I hear you on how frustrating it must be to take on a report that you didn’t really get to vet or select yourself. But if you’re a manager, you need to manage fairly, and allowing an employee to languish without feedback until they’re sufficiently bad at their job isn’t good management. (And I’ve seen that go wrong, where the employee languishes without feedback until they’re very bad at their job, and then suddenly it’s a really inconvenient time to replace them–so on they go, wreaking havoc and driving good employees out.)

      If you’re stretched too thin to manage your report, you need to bring that up with your own boss. It’s not okay to assume that your employee “shouldn’t need coaching” or that she “probably” won’t react well to your feedback. You’re her boss. If she doesn’t react well to coaching, that’s something you can document as evidence that she’s not a fit for your team. That may cause some political waves, but letting her go with documented attempts to help her looks waaayyyy better than refusing to engage and letting her go because she had no guidance in her new role.

  36. thebirdlady*

    Is it normal for your boss to just… not have any idea what you’re working on, not be able to remember what she’s already assigned to you, etc.?

    My boss asked me THREE TIMES last week to put together some content for a new page for our website. After the first request, I wrote up a draft and sent it to her to review… and she DID review it… and then TWICE MORE, sent me the same statistics that she’d already sent me once and asked me to write up some website content with them.

    Today she asked me to start promoting a certain thing we do on our social media, sending me a link to a Facebook post of ours from last December as an example. Uh… yes, I’ve already been promoting this on our social media channels on a weekly basis, ever since you first told me to start doing so, LAST YEAR, which is why that post from December exists??? There’s an almost identical post from this week!

    She’s just super scattered, and I’m super Type A, and it’s driving me bonkers. Help.

    1. NoName*

      Is there any way you can set up a shared progress/status document workspace with her? Like some sort of mindmapping or similar workspace so she can see what’s been done. what’s in progress, etc? If she’s too scattered, you could update it noting what she’s done as well.

      1. PolarVortex*

        This. Any kind of shared documentation can be a life changer – or email documentation.

        Then just kindly remind her that it’s on the document, or yes you did that last week and sent her an email when it was done! As long as it’s done nicely, eventually she’ll develop the kneejerk habit to check that documentation/her email before chatting you.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Ayup. My first annual review with (current boss) involved the phrase, “I’m not 100% sure what you’re working on right now, but everyone says you’re doing a great job.”

    3. Seifer*

      Ohhhhhh that happened to me once. But only once. Because after I completed the request and emailed back, and then he asked me to do the thing again (with the oh so loved, “please advise on the below”), I dragged my original email back into the reply all since he replied all to try and call me out. Then I just wrote, “Hey Boss, looks like we got our wires crossed! Please see attached from [10 days ago]. Thanks!”

      Internally I was like. Are you effing serious. But it’s never happened again.

    4. LilySparrow*

      Yes, my best client is like this. She’s actually great at her job, but not at my job – which is why she needs me and appreciates me.

      She’ll send me the same stuff 3 or 4 times, or more. Sometimes she’ll say, “Did I already give you this?” Sometimes not.

      I just reply with, “yep, got it!” or the scheduled due date, or whatever. It’s just reassurance.

      I like my work, and she thinks I’m some kind of magical wizard. If she were good at this stuff, I would be out of a job.

  37. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    What do I do if I hear that faculty members are refusing to have closed-door meetings with female undergraduates, in the context of a relationship between an unnamed faculty member souring as a result of refusing a closed door meeting with an undergraduate when she was seeking advice on something personal to her?

    I heard about this yesterday via one of my bosses, and I want to do something about it. The way it was presented to me (I am but a lowly staff member) was that these male faculty members don’t want to have closed-door meetings with undergraduates at all because they are afraid of women making false accusations. This is an issue near and dear to me. I’m not sure if this no-closed-doors policy extends to male students as well, but it just feels wrong to me that male faculty members are discussing this among themselves (and casting all female undergraduates as potential false accusers?!?) and not considering at all how the undergraduates experience meetings and policies like this. Anyways, I think I should maybe start with a discussion with my boss, but I’m not sure if it is a smarter decision to first make a call to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion or maybe the Title IX office to get some hard facts to present to my boss. I would like to suggest development of a process whereby faculty and students craft a policy together so that everyone feels safe and protected. Is this a terrible idea? Thoughts for how to approach it?

    1. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      Also, maybe it is helpful to note, I only know the identity of my boss, not the other faculty member nor the student in this case. I’d like to learn more information without coming across as tattling on faculty members at all, because that isn’t my intention. I just want to make the university a safer place for young women.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Refusing to have closed door meetings with women (but fine with men) is Not Cool.

        Refusing to have closed door meetings with any students or reports because of the obvious power differential and frankly terrible general academic history of abusing that – Defensible.

        What other options do students have for one-on-ones? I’m thinking about counsellors or advisors. When I was an undergrad your academic supervisor and your pastoral tutor weren’t the same person.

        On the other hand, are there meeting rooms with glass walls and doors? Noisy coffee shop where no single conversation can be overheard but it’s a public space?

        If the students lose all their ability to have private or confidential one-on-ones, that makes the policy unacceptable. If that only applies to women students then ugh ugh and yikes.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I’ve now read everyone else’s comments and agree wholeheartedly with taking it to the experts – though being prepared for unsatisfying advice. Not all colleges are doing well at this.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Try to confirm whether it’s only with female students. If professors would hold closed-door meetings with male students, Title IX coordinator, asap.

    2. Gidget*

      Hmm. This is tricky. I will say that as a grad student we were advised against having closed door meetings with any students– male or female. This was interpreted not as a door couldn’t be physically closed, but as a door could never be locked or we had to be in a space where we were visible or that traffic/outsiders could freely enter without restriction. This definitely diminished the privacy but provided some degree of protection from potentially untoward situations. I would definitely reach out to the offices on campus to ask for their thoughts.

    3. Pam*

      I would start with the Office of Diversity/Title IX/Ombuds. This sounds like an issue that needs leadership from above.

    4. Kathenus*

      I think it’s great that you want to help address this, so kudos on that. For me it would depend a lot on my boss. If you feel that you can start a conversation with them, and that they’d be open to the discussion (especially the suggestion of making sure that anything in this area is done equally for all students not just females), then starting with your boss as a first step makes sense. If you’re not confident of that, then I think the Title IX office might be the best step to make sure that some type of action results. Great on you for trying to tackle this.

    5. Yes Anastasia*

      I’m not in academia, but I’d personally be wary of allowing faculty and students to handle it internally. I worry about the power differentials and the lack of outside accountability. If possible, I think it would make sense for the offices you mentioned to take the lead.

      If you have a good relationship with your boss, I do think it makes sense to touch base with them before you contact an outside office. Possible script: “I’m concerned that the way some faculty are handling closed-door meetings may violate (Title IX / university policy / etc.). I’d like to contact (Office) and get some guidance on how we should be handling this issue, so that faculty doesn’t have to figure it out on their own.”

    6. Kramerica Industries*

      Thank you for wanting to take action on this – we need more of this.

      So what gets me is that coming up with a process is one thing, but it seems like there are some biases by the professors that need to be addressed. You’re right – painting all females as possible accusers is SUPER gross. And that’s why I think this is a job for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and they can direct you or take on the issue themselves. I think that your boss can help create better processes if he/she is open to it, but there’s a larger issue here. And who knows, maybe you bringing this up will help other departments across the university!

      1. litprof*

        Thank you for looking for ways to address this! I second the advice to take this to the Title IX office, Diversity & Inclusion office, or other relevant resources at your campus. Perhaps the first thing to figure out, though, is whether these professors were saying they want to refuse closed-door meetings only with female students (which is gross and unfair), or will all students. The latter is actually reasonable – it’s what I was advised to do as a graduate student, and I continue to do it as a faculty member. It’s not just, or even primarily, about protecting yourself from false accusations; it’s also about protecting students from suffering at the hands of people who will exploit the power differential between professors and students.

        Another thing to consider is that (at least at my institution) faculty fall into the category of “mandatory reporters.” This means that if a student discloses anything to us about sexual violence or harassment, we are required by law to report it through the university’s official channels to the Title IX office. So, I often have it at the back of my mind that I want students to feel comfortable with me to the extent that they would come to me for resources, and feel welcome to tell me about their lives, but I don’t want them to feel TOO comfortable, as they could unknowingly disclose something that I am then legally obligated to report, even if they don’t want me to. I usually handle this by putting a statement about my responsibilities in my syllabus, and telling them this in person, but I think that not fully closing my door during office hours is another way to signal that this is not a 100% private space (although I will honor requests for privacy whenever it doesn’t violate my legal obligations).

      2. Chili*

        painting all females as possible accusers is SUPER gross

        This sort of behavior from men (to keep them “safe” from unwanted accusations) has always bothered me for this reason. Especially because the people they’re “scared of” are much more likely to be sexually harassed and/or harmed by men like them than these men are likely to be falsely accused.

    7. Boba Feta*

      Others have basically said this, but your instincts are spot on : talk to the Title IX office with a mindset of “Asking for advice on how/ whether to broach this topic with anyone/ put it on their radar.” Very likely they will tell you to do nothing directly but will thank you for raising it with them.

      This is an issue for all the reasons outlined by you and others: The mindset is icky as hell but the reality is that closed doors do create power imbalances, and a student’s need for privacy to discuss sensitive issues should not be denied because of a faculty’s misguided biases and assumptions.

      I just wish I could tell the UG to find a different person to ask for help, but alas.

    8. Shell*

      Female faculty member here: at every place I’ve ever worked, it has been made clear that closed-door meetings with individual undergraduates should never happen. It doesn’t matter at all what sex the professor is or what sex the student is. We can talk quietly about your grades or your rough draft, but the door stays open. One thing it is supposed to help prevent is faculty members abusing their power over students. Professorial abuse (sexual or otherwise) of students a) is a horrible thing to do, b) really used to happen a lot and presumably still happens sometimes, and c) opens the university to legal liability.

    9. What the What*

      Female here. I’m perfectly okay with open door meetings. If a male or female, supervisor or subordinate wants to have an open door meeting with me, then I can totally respect that. I don’t really care about their reasoning behind it and really don’t want an explanation. The open door doesn’t have to be all about me and my preferences. I feel it’s okay to put others first and respect their diverse backgrounds/cultures/religions/beliefs/preferences. I don’t feel disrespected or demeaned by the open door. To me it’s just not a hill worth dying on.