what to say to an insulting “joke,” I don’t want to stop posting YouTube videos of my work, and more

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

1. What to say to someone who keeps making an insulting “joke”

This is a hindsight question; the incident happened a few years ago, but I still think about it from time to time.

At a previous job, one of our vendors/consultants made a holiday gift of a box of gourmet cookies for each person on our team. It was a nice, simple gesture. However, in a couple of group meetings following the gift, this consultant made a point of joking, “I told [OP] these are for everyone, not just her!” or “[OP], you’d better not eat everyone else’s gifts!”

In the moment, I laughed it off and changed the subject, but it has always felt weirdly mean. The gifts in question were individually wrapped for each person — we’re not talking about a giant shared basket here — so the insinuation (out of nowhere!) that I would be pilfering my colleagues’ gifts is just so strange. For the record, I was slightly heavier than everyone else on my team — and everyone on hers, for that matter — so maybe that’s why it felt personal. If she’d made the joke once and never said it again, I’d assume that she realized it came off wrong and made a point to self-correct. But she made this joke multiple times, to multiple groups of people, always with an air of gearing up for a big laugh. What the heck?

Since it happened a long time ago, there’s nothing to be done for it now–but I’ve always wondered, what WOULD have been a good response in the moment?

When someone makes an offensive or insulting joke, sometimes the best thing you can do is to be confused, ask them to explain, and let them feel the awkwardness of sharing their thinking. So in this case: “You’ve said that a few times, and I think I’m missing the joke. What do you mean?” Or, “I’m not following — you gave a box to everyone, didn’t you?”

2. Auctioning off lunch with senior executives

My company has entered its annual employee giving campaign, where they encourage people to make donations and sign up for payroll deductions that employees can then direct to the charity of their choice. This year they have added an online auction to raise money for charities. There are various items and experiences employees can bid on, including tickets to professional sports teams, ski days, spa days etc. Okay, fine, whatever.

But some of the items you can bid on are the chances to have lunch with senior executives and the president of the company. This is a huge company with tens of thousands of employees. We are not in the USA but it is one of the most profitable companies in my country (which is a large G8 nation). The lunch would have to be in a specific city even though our country is large with people across the country, so not even every employee realistically could attend this.

This seems super problematic, like people are buying access to senior executives now. It’s not like a raffle where the cost is the same, people are literally bidding against each they. Starting bid is $160 for lunch with the president, $75 and $50 starting bids on the others. Is this as problematic as I think it is?

Ugh, yeah, it’s not great. I mean, I get that it’s for charity and they raise more money for it this way than a simple raffle would. But employees shouldn’t be able to purchase special access to the company’s leadership.

That said, I’m less bothered by a one-time lunch than I would be if it were something more substantial or ongoing. It’s still not great though! Maybe you could suggest that in addition to this, they also raffle off a few of these lunches so people aren’t shut out if they’re not able or willing to pay. (That doesn’t solve it for your remote people, but sometimes that’s just how these things go.)

3. My employer told me to stop posting YouTube videos of my work but I don’t want to

I’m an arborist (I climb/care for trees). I make videos of my work (its GoPro/POV video). They are mostly educational/technical discussions related to climbing equipment. I work for a tree company and in the past I have been scolded/suspended for posting my footage on YouTube.

My boss thinks there might be legal ramifications for having footage of clients’ backyards or properties (usually from 30-90 feet in the air where faraway things are warped and very little detail is captured by the wide angle lens). I don’t post faces or any personal info (besides my own). The only voice that can be heard in the videos is mine.

The videos do not contain footage that is against company/safety policy or reveals the company’s identity (no logos). The videos all take place at height in the canopy of the tree.

Filming at work is not a distraction. The GoPro is easy, quick, and unobtrusive — it sits on your head, hit record, hit it again when you’re done. It does not interfere with productivity.

This is my hobby and I love it, but I also love the company I work for. I want to know if A) they are at risk somehow by my posting YouTube videos (outside of work) and B) if I were fired for posting my videos, would that be unlawful termination?

I can’t speak to whether or not they’re at risk by you posting your videos (that’s outside my area of expertise), but you absolutely could be legally fired for continuing to do it after they’ve told you to stop. You can be fired for doing anything after your employer tells you to stop, as long as it’s not activity that’s specifically legally protected (like unionizing or reporting harassment or discrimination). In fact, that’s generally true even if your employer doesn’t first tell you to stop; legally, they could fire you on the first strike with no warning (unless they’ve committed to following a different procedure in their own internal policies).

And it’s really, really reasonable for them to want you to stop doing this, and they likely will fire you if you continue. You can’t overrule your boss on this just because you want to.

So yeah, you should stop if you want to keep the job.

4. Interviewer asked me to think about if the pay will work for me

Today I interviewed for a data manager position at a nonprofit. Towards the end of the interview, one of the interviewers brought up pay. It turns out they can pay $45,000 (at the most) and I currently earn $57,000. I would really like to get the position and I am unhappy at my current job, but this seems like a lot less.

At the end of the interview, they told me to think about the pay and if it would work for me. If so, they will still keep me in the running. Is this weird? I am not sure if I should stick to the amount I initially requested, $50,000. Also, I am really not sure if they have additional applicants. They called me for an interview after I followed up on my application 2-3 weeks after applying.

It’s not weird. They’re being up-front with you about the maximum they’ll be able to pay, and it doesn’t make sense for them to continue investing time in considering you if the salary is a deal-breaker. So they’re saying, “Think about it and let us know whether it makes sense to move forward or not.” It doesn’t sound like sticking to your initial salary request will be an option.

For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t advise taking that large of a pay cut unless you’re overpaid currently or you really want to move into nonprofits and know that this is market rate for the work you’d be doing (meaning anywhere, not just at this particular organization).

{ 468 comments… read them below }

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t advise taking that large of a pay cut unless you’re overpaid currently

    This. There’s just too much risk that you won’t ever get back up to where you should be financially or, if you do, it will be a long time coming. I’d keep looking.

    1. Beth*

      Agreed. The company is doing right by OP4 by being really clear about what their budget is. OP4 shouldn’t expect that to change–and when the company is being so upfront about it, going through the process hoping that they’ll end up offering more is likely to lead to frustration on all sides, not anything good. Unless they’re so desperate for a change that they’d take anything, OP4 will probably be best off gracefully withdrawing from the interview process and looking for something closer to their current salary range.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Totally agreed. It may also make it harder for OP to reset their salary to market rate in the future (whether through raises at the new place or by trying to lateral into another organization).

      1. Antilles*

        Agreed. I don’t see raises at the new place being remotely an option.
        If it was like 5% difference, then maybe you could negotiate with them for a salary review after six months instead of a year, more flexibility on raises, etc so that you’d more or less catch up in the long-term…but not when we’re talking about over a 20% difference in salary.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Nonprofits that are cheap with salary are cheap with raises, too. I worked at one where they did not give raises, period. Not even COLAs.

          1. Loosey Goosey*

            Same. At my most recent NFP job, the only potential for a salary increase was to get a promotion (which was also a rare opening, and they frequently hired externally). Once every few years there would be a minimal COLA, if you were lucky.

      2. Audiophile*

        A few years ago, I took a pay cut after being laid off that was about 15%. It didn’t seem like much before I started the job, but once I was there and getting actual paychecks, oh boy did it hit me.

        I wouldn’t be so quick to do that now. My pay cut was $5k and that was rough.

    3. limbonic*

      I just took a modest pay cut so that I could move into an area I wanted to be in (nonprofit, as it happens)… but it was only on the order of maybe a 5% cut… essentially what I was making in my previous job a year ago. And I negotiated upward during the interview process, not after… they were prepared to offer 7% less but I told them I couldn’t do that. In fact the interviewer noted right in the initial phone interview that the salary I was seeking was larger than they had initially budgeted for the position, which I really appreciated, because it allowed me to negotiate to a point both of us could agree on once I found out more about the job. (My original set-point was higher, of course, giving me room to drop my price… to what I really needed.)

      Anyhow, the example above is a more than 20% pay cut it seems to me… that is significant, and the only reason the interviewer was asking you is because they don’t want you to have regrets later and leave for a higher paying job elsewhere, leaving them holding the bag and needing to put together a new search. Hiring someone with such a large pay cut involved isn’t good for them and may not be good for you. I think lateral moves and dropping your price is more safely done on a much more modest scale.

    4. Alicia*

      Also, I would do research and be completely sure this salary is market rate before I think of moving forward.
      It’s not unusual for non-profits to use their status as a reason to pay below market.

    5. Sara without an H*

      I wouldn’t say to NEVER accept such a drastic pay cut, but you need to think it through carefully. I accepted a 15% pay cut to take my current job. But the job was a directorship, and it let me move to a place with a lower cost of living that was also closer to my aging parents. And looking back on it, I do think I was slightly overpaid in the old position.

      It sounds as though OP#4 is mostly looking to get out of a job in which she isn’t happy. That’s an excellent reason to go job hunting, but I’d recommend against taking that big a pay cut unless there are a lot of other incentives with the new job.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yes. I took a pay cut for school, and I’ve negotiated below my price point for a better title or a slight adjustment in responsibilities. But that’s a big shift, especially since you don’t sound sure about it OP. You can work in nonprofits and still get paid reasonably – especially in the pay band you cited. I think keep looking.

      2. Loosey Goosey*

        Agreed. I took a pay cut when I relocated to a city with a lower cost of living, and really needed a job. I was lucky in that I was able to negotiate a significantly higher salary when I left that job, but I’m probably earning less now than I would be if I hadn’t taken that initial pay cut. It does follow you, unfortunately.

        Also, taking that big of a cut might impact OP’s satisfaction with the new job,. When you’re unhappy in your current job, any other option can look like a dream, but you need to think about how you’ll feel earning that salary six months or a year down the road.

      3. Sarah N.*

        Yeah, I think it’s very different if you’re moving from a high COL area to a low COL area — that lower salary will literally go much further! I don’t get the impression the OP would be moving to a new area here, though.

      4. Glitsy Gus*

        Agreed. If there is a really big perk outside of salary it may be worth it, but that is a big pay cut. I would say, if you haven’t already asked about benefits and PTO I would ask for that information.

        I doubt it will make up all the difference, especially because non-profits aren’t really known for their fabulous healthcare benefits, but if, for example, they have better health insurance than you currently have, and it’s fully funded by the company, compared to the $50/month you’re currently paying, well, that’s something to consider. Or if they fully cover your commute costs, or full tuition reimbursement, twice as much PTO, etc. etc. It might not make enough of a difference, but at least get that information.

      5. vlookup*

        Agreed. I took a pay cut like this to move from one nonprofit to another. I’m happy with the decision: there were a lot of other compelling reasons to take the new job, I didn’t think I could find a comparable opportunity that paid as much as the old job, and (extremely important) I felt like I could still live comfortably on the lower salary.

        But it’s not something I would recommend unless you have strong reasons to do so. If you think you’ll always feel a bit resentful of the new job and your financial sacrifice, don’t do it.

    6. AccountantWendy*

      From experience, I agree. I went from $45K to $38K to take a more senior role at a smaller organization. I’m still not where I would be if I’d kept the $45K and made 3% more per year. It set me back WAY more than I realized, and that’s not even getting into retirement savings or adjusting for inflation.

    7. DataGirl*

      I took a large pay cut to move from for profit to a non-profit because I hated the job I was in, thinking I would of course get annual raises that would move me in the right direction… not knowing that this place has salary bands I what I started at was the max for my position. So I will never get a raise unless the band changes, which is unlikely, and every year my salary gets more out-of-whack compared to industry standards (yes, I’m trying to get out). So I don’t recommend taking such a big cut. FWIW I’m also in the data field.

    8. bluephone*

      As someone who’s taken a much smaller paycut just to have a less-awful commute (among other reasons), do NOT do this, OP 4. Are you independently wealthy? Are you going to win a Powerball lotto tomorrow for some obscene amount of money?
      This non-profit is that rare unicorn who not only *knows* they can’t compete with private sectors on salary but is fully acknowledging it, *and* is telling prospective employees about it *up front* and seemingly without an air of “well if you’re so vulgar as to care about–gasp!– MONEY, you do you I suppose” while clutching pearls. Thank them for their candidness and keep looking.

    9. Precmehd*

      It’s a relief to see this spelled out clearly in the post and comments. I was recently considering taking a ~20% pay cut to work at a nonprofit. That would make a substantial difference to my family finances, especially since we live in a high cost of living area where housing gets expensive fast. I still left like I was doing something wrong when I declined the next interview, though, because the nonprofit does important work for society and I’d have taken on more leadership than in my current role. I felt like I was being selfish and uncaring to think of my family ahead of the people the nonprofit helps. I’m not sure I’m fully over it, in part for religious reasons, but I’m at least glad to see what the mainstream job advice perspective is.

      1. Jenny Next*

        But that’s why they get away with it — because you’ll feel guilty about being selfish.

        If you reframe it as “They want me to donate 20% of my salary, in perpetuity, to their organization”, it might make it easier to get past the feelings of guilt. Even churches only demand 10%.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        You were not selfish for putting your family’s needs before a job – seriously. No matter what the mission is, unless you own stake in that nonprofit, it’s a business like everything else and you don’t owe loyalty to an entity. That saying that you can’t set yourself on fire to warm someone else is accurate – you have to take care of your needs first before you can be of any real use to anyone else.

    10. HS Teacher*

      There are times when it makes sense, but based on the OP’s letter, it doesn’t seem like the case. For me, I took almost a 70% pay cut to become a teacher because it was something I’d always wanted to do, and I’d already made plenty of money when I was younger.

      The first year was tough because I was making what a new teacher makes, but I have never regretted leaving corporate America. I’m happy to be doing something I love, and I make enough to cover my bills and take a few trips each year.

      However, I made the switch knowing exactly how much my raises and pension would be, which also helps. In OP’s position, it seems like it’ll be more difficult.

    11. Aspie AF*

      I had the same experience but I was expecting the pay cut – I appreciated the forthrightness. My then-current job was destroying my mental health, and the flexibility I gained was worth the pay cut for me (which I could afford). It’s a very individual decision!

    12. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      Speaking as someone who is currently underpayed at a non-profit, don’t do it. It doesn’t get better.

    1. MissGirl*

      Not to mention what the employer is requesting is eminently reasonable. You don’t have the homeowners’ permissions to record on their property. Their clients may very well be upset by this and it will be the company they complain to—not you. Make your videos on your own time and with the written permission of whose property you’re on.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        This. You can make videos at another opportunity. It doesn’t have to be while you’re at work.

        Sometimes your employer asks you to do something where you have a difference of opinion on what is reasonable. That difference of opinion doesn’t mean you get to hand wave and keep going just because you think your opinion outweighs theirs. Frankly, if your boss has told you to stop and you want to keep your job, their opinion is the one that matters more.

        Moreover, frankly, everyone DOESN’T want videos of their property online. Many people post very little — if at all — online or on social media and value their privacy. Why are you blowing right past this very reasonable issue your boss has pointed out because you think what you want to do is more important? What you are posting on YouTube is perfectly reasonable to you, but it might not be to someone else, and your boss is well within her rights to be concerned about upsetting a client that way.

        I know very little about an arborist’s work, so I’m not going to say that you can just make your videos while you climb another tree, but you ARE going to have to find another way to make these videos if it’s that important to you.

        1. Lance*

          More so than doesn’t have to be while you’re at work, it shouldn’t be while you’re at work. You can say it’s not a distraction, and maybe it’s indeed not… but that point, just as well as recording other people’s properties (whether or not they can be made out very well) isn’t exactly a point in your favor, I’m afraid.

          1. Working Mom*

            There are just too many ways this could go wrong. What if you fell while recording? What if the customer discovered a video of their property online? Too many what-ifs that don’t have positive endings.

            Stop now, and apologize. Take & post videos in your free time!

        2. Goldfinch*

          I have skylights. If someone I hired to trim trees was up there with a camera, I’d go ballistic.

        3. Quill*

          Yeah, I know YouTube’s culture is very lackadaisical about where and who you can film, but honestly you’re going to run up against so much potential trouble filming on people’s private property (as opposed to a public space like a street or park,) without their knowledge or consent.

          If your youtube videos end up monetized, there’s also a possible problem with conflict of interest… essentially you’d be working for your second job while on the job with your current employer.

          But even if these people had hired you, without an employer, or with an employer who didn’t care about your youtubing, to trim their trees, that does not automatically give you permission to film on their property.

          1. Aster*

            Yes. This is an invasion of privacy, pure and simple.

            LW – there’s a reason the Supreme Court of the US makes a distinction between the back yard and front yard in both criminal and civil matters. People do have an expectation of privacy and sanctity of their private spaces. The back yard is a private space. Your clients have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their back yard. You are violating it. You have permission to be there, but you do not have permission to film. You are going beyond the scope of permission.

            To put it it terms that might help: Would you be ok with someone filming your bedroom and monetizing it? Your living room? Just because this is exterior doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not private.

            Also, as I stated below, the homeowners have the absolute right to be the people deciding where the lines of privacy are for them. You don’t get to substitute your judgement for theirs even if there is a close to zero chance this space is identifiable.

          2. Goldfinch*

            It doesn’t even have to go as far as monetization–the copyright strike system on YouTube is incredibly corrupt. People have lost the strike battle even for content they wrote and own, because the complainant gets default benefit of the doubt. Any one homeowner who is pissed about this could knock out LW’s entire channel.

            1. Observer*

              I don’t know whether the system is corrupt or not, but if the OP were to lose their battle about videos of homes taken without permission, that would NOT be an example of corruption – that would be the system working as IT IS SUPPOSED TO.

              1. Goldfinch*

                Yeah, I know. I’m saying that even people with legit claims get screwed by YouTube, so LW has even less of a leg to stand on.

            2. Quill*

              Youtube’s algorithm is a mess to the point that OP is as likely to get their channel taken down because of music audible in the background of a video as they are from a homeowner making complaints: record labels can afford bots that analyze and report videos, after all.

        4. bluephone*

          Seriously yes, how is OP not getting this? I know OP says that they’re so high up in the trees, that it would be difficult to identify the homeowner’s property. I’d still be not okay with it, as a homeowner. More importantly, your boss has told you, multiple times–to the point of previous suspensions–to stop doing this. They can and will terminate your employment for something like this and they wouldn’t be a tyrant for doing so. Why are you so hell bent on flagrantly disobeying a quite-reasonable rule from the person that signs your paychecks??

        5. OP*

          I’d just like to clarify: I do not shoot footage while on the clock anymore. I shoot videos on the weekend on my own time, same goes for the editing. Can they still tell me to stop doing that?

          Thank you for the feedback, I haven’t seen it that way before.

          1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

            If you’re in an at-will state they can indeed ask you to stop doing that. There are some states with protections for political speech so if you’re climbing trees to encourage environmentalism or something you might have some protections. But it’s also unclear to me what you’re filming and less likely your employer will care if you’re, say, climbing trees in a national forest and filming that.

      2. Aphrael*

        This was my thought as well. If I hired someone to do work in my home/on my property, and found them making a video, I’d be upset. I also wouldn’t be willing to take them at their word that they didn’t capture anything I wouldn’t want posted – even if I trust them, how could they know what I’d object to?

        1. Anonny right Now*

          I would be upset as well – and would most likely never have the company back (unless prior special arrangements had been made for them to record – think like the phone warning that this call made be recorded for training purposes on many customer service lines these days). My home is my sanctuary- and I purposely don’t put anything on social media, you don’t get to decide “I’m too far up to be identifiable as to whose house this is” only the homeowner gets to decide that.

          Op – you could cost your boss work, find another way to feed the hobby.

          1. Ethyl*

            Yes to special arrangements. When my landscapers wanted to post some before and after photos of my backyard on their Instagram, they got it in writing from me. And I was happy to let them do it — they did an amazing job!

            Which — LW, if you had proposed a series of educational videos promoting your company to your boss, and gotten permission from the homeowners, and did this all above board, you could have done your videos *the right way.*

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          I’d be absolutely furious. On the spectrum of social media use, I’m extremely anti it and absolutely hate it when people post pictures of me online without my permission. Every time my mum takes a picture, I have to tell her no social media. If someone I’d hired was making videos of my property, regardless of whether or not there were any distinguishing features, I would be extremely angry. I don’t tend to complain to businesses unless it’s a dire thing, but this would be email, phone call, in person complaining I’d find it so egregious.

          OP, please stop.

        3. Washi*

          Yeah, I think this is a good point. If I found someone filming on my property without having asked first, I would have a hard time taking their word that they didn’t film anything identifiable.

        4. Yorick*

          Yes, I’d be mad too. But I think I probably wouldn’t mind if they asked for permission first.

          1. Aster*

            I’d insist on a contract spelling out use. I’d also want to know who owned the copyright for the video and how it could be monetized.

            If LW wants to do this, even as a side-gig, they need to speak to a good lawyer and have a contract drafted.

            1. Mr. Tyzik*

              I’d insist on the same thing, if I gave permission.

              In this situation, hypothetically, I hire OP to trim my trees, I am not giving permission to film. Honestly, I’d never think of it.

              People in candid and reality shows have to sign releases for photographic and film use of their likenesses. I’d insist upon a release, at the minimum, for filming the work. And if the videos are monetized or used as advertising in some way (for the company or OP), I’d want a discount on the service.

              1. Paulina*

                You’d need permission for all properties visible, too, not just the client’s. The tree with a view of my skylight isn’t mine, it’s my neighbour’s, but I still have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

        5. SheLooksFamiliar*

          When I had new flooring installed a few years ago, the team doing it was a sub-contractor for the store where I bought the flooring. The head guy asked if they could record some key parts of the installation process for their website, as an example of their work process. They asked me to sign an approval form outlining the specifics (the purpose of the recording, the location in my house to be recorded, removing/blurring anything that could identify my house, etc.), and showed me what they recorded before they went live. This was in addition to the other forms I’d already signed (sales contract, indemnity, etc.). They could have recorded without my knowing – I was at home but didn’t monitor the entire installation – but they didn’t. They respected my property, and my privacy.

          OP, please consider what we’re saying about this issue. Your boss is asking you to stop doing something that could blowback on him, and also you. Do as he asks.

          1. Anonny right Now*

            This is exactly the sort of filming I could see a contractor asking about – training on how to do a process (which is clearly delineated and requested in advance and all the required contracts are there and pulled and done by legal for signature by all parties).

      3. Graciosa*

        I’m very much in agreement – I can’t tell you how upset I would be to find out this was happening. I have one regular service provider that saves exterior photos of most homes so that new technicians can recognize the home after they find it; mine is not included.

        What I don’t understand is why the OP doesn’t just figure out how to do this with permission and outside of work? Friends, acquaintances, people responding to a Craig’s List posting – there are probably people who would be willing to trade services for the right to film and post.

        I’m not suggesting this would be instantly easy – the OP should still work with their employer to make sure this would be acceptable, may need their own tools or insurance, will have to find the opportunities and give up additional free time, etc. – but it seems like a much better plan than putting employment (and paychecks) at risk.

        1. Badger*

          It’s unfortunate that OP wasn’t strategic about this from the beginning. They could have pitched this as a marketing opportunity for the company and made forms to let clients opt in if they wanted to.

          1. Emily K*

            Maybe, but that starts to turn his hobby he does for fun into something that his boss will want to see, review, and press him on the direction of. “We thought you should promote X service,” or, “Frank should be appearing on your videos too,” or, “You haven’t made any videos recently, why not?” and so on. If he wants it to stay a hobby where he doesn’t have to answer to or sell input from a boss or clients, it needs to stay on personal time instead of work time.

          2. Aster*

            Actually, this isn’t a “simple form” type of situation. Given the YouTube and potential monetization, the company’s lawyer needs to draft this.

            There are privacy issues, monetization issues, copyright issues, scope of use issues. It isn’t a simple blanket permission. There are a lot of things that I suspect LW just hasn’t thought of.

            It’s not simply “I give permission to film” or “I give permission for the company to use this in marketing.” They need to also make sure the homeowners know who owns what and how it will b used.

      4. Marzipan*

        And… you’re literally doing your hobby while you’re working. Your employer does get to tell you not to do that. That’s not unreasonable, that’s very normal.

        I get that you feel it’s not a distraction, but in order to make a video that’s at all useful or interesting you must, on some level, be giving part of your attention to what’s being filmed, even if it’s only a small part. Even if you can somehow film a video entirely on autopilot, just the appearance of you doing something that isn’t work at a time when you’re working is something that your employer may feel would come across badly to colleagues or customers – leaving aside the possible issues of filming on customers’ property.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          I also think it’s a moot point that it’s not a distraction. OP has been told to stop filming while working largely because of the potential for invasion of the privacy of the client. It doesn’t matter that it’s not a distraction.

          I agree with the point made by other posters that this could have been pitched as a marketing opportunity, or that people could have opted in and it would have been fine, but it’s too late for that.

          1. Laura H.*

            Serious question here, is that opportunity completely gone?

            Because while for the immediate future, I can file it under “not a good idea”, would changed behavior and time (and a clear plan) merit approaching the idea at a later date?

            OP, you should adhere to what your employer asks of you- it’s a reasonable request.

            1. EPLawyer*

              Yes. Because the employer knows the OP can’t be trusted to only filmed at agreed upon locations. The OP has already shown that they consider rules by their employers an impediment to their hobby and will continue to behave as they want.

              A hobby does not mean you do not have to follow your employer’s directions. You’ve been told not to do it. The why you are not to do it doesn’t matter. Continue to do so is insubordination. It is a fireable offense.

              1. Laura H.*

                Fair point. Trust lost isn’t easily regained.

                I wasn’t saying it could be a sure thing, merely if a marketing angle could be something brought up as an idea AFTER demonstrated changed behavior in addition to adherence to whatever policy would be developed. And that if the answer is a resounding NO, OP has to respect that decision. OP also should definitely abide by their employer’s current decision of “stop this yesterday.”

                If marketing and education is the angle, the employer does not have and is under no obligation to use OP 3 to accomplish that.

                1. Le Sigh*

                  Sure, but OP has already been warned repeatedly and suspended over it. Maybe if they had only been warned once, stopped, demonstrated good behavior, and then came to the boss with this angle, it could work out. But they’ve flouted the employer rules repeatedly (and the letter doesn’t demonstrate that they get the issue at all). If I’m the OP’s employer, this would just read as the OP biding their time with “good behavior” and then looking for another way to get around the rules, rather than showing they gave it some thought and have a marketing opportunity. Honestly, at this point, the OP needs to just follow the rules and let it go.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I agree. Even if the OP feels themselves that they’re not distracted (which people are not usually great at self-assessing), how is it going to look if something was to go wrong on a job and the client found out that the OP had been making YouTube videos while working? I can’t imagine that going down well at all.

          1. Door Guy*

            I can see company lawyers all over that too if OP were to have gotten hurt on the job. Denying workman’s compensation at a minimum.

          2. Sacred Ground*

            Yes, this. Every driver who’s had an accident while texting, talking on the phone, or playing with the radio believed with all their soul that they would never be distracted to the point of danger.

          3. BB*

            I hire tree trimmers about once a year. They are very professional with all the necessary equipment, and yet still the job before last a guy almost fell from the tree. I would 1000% never permit them to film while at my home doing this job. I don’t even have privacy concerns like others rightly have – they’ve used before and after shots with my permission on their website. I don’t care about statistics or arguments about how it’s not a distraction- I’m not hiring a company that has an employee doing this without seeking my explicit okay first, which they will never get. The LW is playing with fire – either their company or a homeowner will shut this down eventually and you will have no job.

        3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Came here to say this. Most people do not get to work on their hobbies at work. That is not a reasonable expectation.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            This is very true, even when your hobbies are related to your job. One of my hobbies is reading, and I’m in a building full of books all day every day, but my personal reading happens on my personal time. OP’s hobby is like that. It’s semi-related to their paid work, but it’s still not something they can do while they’re on the job.

        4. JSPA*

          Eh, people film entire ski runs or surfing; you press a button at the start and end. All the editing happens after the fact. The camera is attached to your head, so it points where your eye point.

          I don’t think it’s an ACTUAL injury and attentional risk; I do think it could be CONSTRUED as that sort of risk, to the detriment of the employer. (Accidents happen; insurance looks for ways not to pay out; anything extraneous or non-standard creates a risk of non-payment.)

          1. Sacred Ground*

            And if you think it’s not distracting in each f those examples, then you’re wrong. The second you turn it on, you’re aware of the camera recording your view and you adjust your actions accordingly. You become conscious of the camera and THAT IS A DISTRACTION. This makes the dangerous activity that much more dangerous. If one of my employees was increasing MY liability by clearly NOT being 100% focused on their dangerous work, I’d fire them in an instant.

          2. Lime green Pacer*

            That sounds like survivor bias. You just don’t see/hear very much about the times where someone with a camera on their head was involved in an accident (or a near-miss). This spring, I was driving towards the Rocky Mountains at sunrise; a very photogenic time of day, hardly anyone else on the road because it was early. However… in front of us was a motorcyclist who was driving erratically; he left his his lane repeatedly and did not notice the few other vehicles on the road. As we passed him, we spotted the probable cause of his poor driving: a camera on his helmet.

      5. JSPA*

        You also don’t have a leg to stand on (sick joke intended) if you get hurt at work and their insurance refuses to pay out after finding your freelance project online, allowing them to claim that, given you were filming, the insurance company has less (or no) responsibility to pay.

        Basically, I’m guessing one reason homeowners are not likely to let you do this for giggles on your own time is that you’re not independently licensed, bonded AND insured, so there’s major financial risk to them. If so, you’re basically covering your hobby using your company’s insurance. (Very tempting, but not cool.)

        Frankly, your company MIGHT come out ahead if they advertised your services as providing video documentation of the process, and had the homeowners sign off, either for their own use only, or their own use plus snips for the company to use. It would not be an independent funding stream like YouTube, but it would be good promo for the company, and they should pay you a modest premium to do it.

        I know that when I have arborists working on trees, I take a boat load of pictures and video (asking permission) because it’s some pretty amazing stuff. I’d pay a modest extra fee to have a squirrel’s eye view of the situation.

      6. cacwgrl*

        THIS RIGHT HERE, all the +++!!

        Do not take video of my property, from my property, without my permission. I would be livid if someone I hired did this, especially after knowing the company I pay told them not to.

    2. Heidi*

      Agreed. The OP seems to be trying to gather evidence to disprove the boss’s reasons for concern. The problem I see here is that even if the concerns were effectively invalidated, that does not mean that OP is owed permission to post videos of their work. The boss doesn’t need to prove his case in court or even have a good reason to have a policy like this. It’s like how a store can refuse service to someone not wearing a shirt.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        This too. OP has justified the filming to himself because it’s not dangerous and you can’t see the houses and whatever, but Boss has told OP to cut it out, for a couple of reasons, and Boss apparently means business.

        Even if OP is correct that you can’t identify property, and it’s safe, and other people do it, and there are a bunch of videos like this out there … it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to keep recording at work when you have explicitly been told to stop. They don’t owe you the ability to record just because you like doing it.

        Stop means stop, not “stop unless you can justify a few reasons in your head why you don’t really have to, especially when you really don’t want to stop.”

        1. Mongrel*

          “(usually from 30-90 feet in the air where faraway things are warped and very little detail is captured by the wide angle lens)”

          I’ve seen people track a location from a photo with little more than a timestamp, a reference height and a shadow. A set of keys can be cut from a photo, taken with a cellphone, from 10’s of metres away.
          I don’t play with image manipulation but if you have a distortion that’s consistent, like a Go-Pro lens, there’s probably a filter to remove it. Never assume that anything you post online is ‘safe’ and if you do then only post stuff that risks you.

          1. Goldfinch*

            I am reminded of the Kpop star whose stalker found her by studying the reflections in her eyes on video.

          2. Aster*

            Ditto. LW is very naive about how easy it is to track people down from little to no info.

            The photo-matching programs and revere-tracing tech out there on the public markets is astounding. What the government has would blow your socks off.

            When I was in A&D 20 years ago, one of our techs said his program could read the serial number off a golf ball from space. That was 20 years ago.

            Some examples of things that would astound people just in my personal experience and as a lawyer:

            (1) Meg left abusive husband and moved 2 states away to an area she had no connection with. He tracked her down b/c a friend in the new town posted on facebook. Meg wasn’t tagged, but the photo was clear. Husband had used some sort of photo-match tech to find photos of women who looked like her and eventually (after months), found her. Fortunately, he found her when she was in the presence of a friend who was local PD. Didn’t end well for him.

            (2) Addi was adopted at 1 year old. Biological father lost 4 subsequent children do to abuse or neglect. He tracked her down based on her birthdate and location (which aren’t changed in adoption PPW in the USA). He sorted through marriage records of the state she was born, adjoining states, then the most populous states. Found her in California.

            (3) Greg’s friend Matt found a photo of Greg’s family back yard online on one of those hideous “can you believe what we did in the 1970s?” Posts. Matt recognized it by some minor detail int he background. No idea who took the photo or how it ended up online.

            So, yeah, just b/c LW thinks these are lacking identifying detail doesn’t make it so.

            Finally, LW – with all the kindness I can muster – you are being both presumptions and patronizing in substituting your judgement for the homeowners. Sanctity of one’s home is a fundamental concept in all societies. How much one should open it to the public should only be decided by those who live there. What you are doing is hideously invasive, even if you are 100% certain that there is nothing identifying. It’s not your decision to make. It’s theirs.

            If you ever find yourself saying “This person has no reasonable grounds for objection because I KNOW” then stop yourself and ask if this is an area where they should be able to make the decision for themselves. Lack of harm is not sufficient grounds to substitute your judgment for someone else’s. You actually cause harm by making decisions for others when you have no basis of doing so.

            People’s homes are sacred. What you are doing is horribly, horrribly invasive even if it’s not harmful in the sense of people identifying their homes.

            1. Mr. Tyzik*

              Thank you. Well said. This is invasive, and that explains the vague feeling of violation I feel while reading the letter. I can’t imagine being one of those homeowners.

              1. Aster*

                Ethically, it’s an invasion of privacy and a consent violation.

                We spend a lot of time talking about consent in sexual relationships. Consent, as a bigger issue in society, is something we are only now coming to grips with. For so long, we’ve had power structures where basic consent did not matter.

                Fundamentally, it’s better to err on the side of asking for consent/permission anytime you are dealing with someone’s body, their home, their property, their mental state, their pets, their kids, or their spouse. Where that’s not feasible, tread carefully.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Even if the OP could be absolutely, 110% certain that everything was anonymized as they claim (which you’ve proven they can’t, but even if they could), that STILL would not give them the right to make this decision for the employer and the property owner! Imagine someone said “Well, it’s easier for me to park in your driveway. But I know your schedule, you’ll never see me. And if you’re worried about unplanned schedule changes, I can put a tracker on your phone, so I’ll know if you’re on your way back and need me to move my car! Why can’t I do that, I’m sure I know that it won’t affect you, you won’t even know I was there!!”

            3. JSPA*

              The vast majority of us are not K-Pop stars, and are in no way that interesting to anyone, ever, though. And we put crazy amounts of our own information out there. Including here.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                For most people yes, but the LW has no way of knowing if one of the clients whose yard they’re filming has a stalker or otherwise has to be very careful of their internet presence.

              2. Aster*

                Your missing my fundamental point. If you choose to put your info out there and take the risk, that’s your choice. I don’t get to make it for you.

              3. Librarian of SHIELD*

                1) A person does not have to be a K-Pop star, or any other sort of celebrity, to be worried about being tracked or found by a person they would rather not be tracked or found by. Aster’s example above includes abusive former partners and parents whose children were removed by the state, and those are just two of the many potential kinds of people who could use OP’s videos for nefarious purposes.

                2) We put crazy amounts of our own information out there. We decide for ourselves whether the risk of sharing our information is worth the potential cost. I am allowed to decide to post a picture of my yard online. The complete and utter stranger working in the trees nearby is not allowed to make that decision on my behalf.

            4. Bubbles*

              This is the point I was going to make. In high school, I had a dear friend who had escaped from an abusive parent. That parent was subsequently jailed and told friend, siblings, and other parent had been relocated. Friend really only moved to the next county, but they lived in the country on a hillside with no viable approach except the main driveway, which was 4 miles long and any approaching vehicle was seen. They did have a neighbor 1/2 mile away and they had installed a door bell that ran between the two in case of emergency. This was in the 90s before cell phones and effective caller ID, so when teenage us wanted to talk on the phone at night, we had to call and talk to the answering machine (which broadcast out loud to the house), identifying ourselves, before friend and her family would pick up the phone. Taking videos of that friend’s property and sharing it publicly may have literally killed them. The abusive parent could have used that video to identify weaknesses in the property and plot a course to approach the house secretly.

              OP3 – you have NO IDEA what is happening in these people’s lives. You may think what you are doing is harmless, but really, you could be causing major problems for the homeowner.

          3. Works in IT*

            Plus… there are some trees that are pretty distinct! All this needs is for the videos of OP climbing trees to start attracting millions of viewers, someone to realize “oh, OP lives in Town!” and all of the “anonymous” clients become “people with fairly identifiable trees in their yards located in a fairly small area”. And the homeowners are not consenting to the possibility of becoming Clients of the Famous Youtuber in the public’s eyes, even if that’s not likely now.

          4. DrTheLiz*

            There’s a video “You Successfully Stalked Us, Please Don’t Do It Again.” in which a couple of YouTubers made a fun game of identifying where they were. People got it to the *metre*. It was a game, it was fun, but… just because you couldn’t tell whose garden it was doesn’t mean somebody else can’t.


          5. JessaB*

            And if the homeowner is hiding from a stalker, or any other reason they do not want to be found or noticed…whether legal or not (this is true whether the person is a victim or is a perpetrator hiding from the cops,) it’s not okay to just show things. What if looking down on that property you can see…oh for example a marijuana plant? Or a hexen or other decor that might actually identify the homeowners.

            And as everyone else has said all above aside, you’re being paid to do x, you’ve been told you can’t do x plus y. During the time you’re being paid your time does not belong to you, it belongs to the person paying you. As long as your boss isn’t telling you to do something illegal or preventing you from doing something specifically legal, you HAVE to stop it.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      All of this. I cannot understand why, after being suspended for prior recordings, someone would continue to do this.

      Recording these videos is a terrible breach of privacy, and in some states, could open your employer up to legal risk. But even if it didn’t create legal risk, people have a reasonable expectation that folks assisting them will not be video-taping their property without their knowledge and permission. If word gets around among homeowners, it will almost certainly negatively affect your company’s ability to retain and attract customers.

      Moreover, OP has no legal or moral basis for continuing to engage in flagrantly insubordinate behavior. If they fire you OP (which they certainly will if you keep making these videos), it will be entirely reasonable and for cause. There is no labor commissioner, jury, or court who would view it as a wrongful termination.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This is not wrongful termination because your boss has told you to knock off doing your hobby. Your hobby is not protected from firing.

        Wrongful termination is not, I was fired and I think it was unfair.

        1. Aster*

          I think disobeyed employers + invaded client’s privacy + potentially monetized our work for personal gain = justifiable firing.

          If I were LW’s boss, they would be long gone and I’d send YouTube a takedown notice and notify the homeowners so they can ask to get the videos removed as well.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Exactly. Beyond just being not a wrongful termination, it wouldn’t even be unfair if the OP gets fired after being repeatedly disciplined for something like this.

        2. Aster*

          Also, while I’m not a copyright expert, if LW was filming this on work time, there may be an argument that LW doesn’t have the right to post those videos. If they were acting on their employers time within the scope of work, employer probably owns them and holds the copyright.

          So, EP and other lawyers, tell me what you think:

          Either what LW was doing was in scope of work and, therefore, they own the videos and decide what is done with them


          LW was outside scope of work and doing personal hobby/other monetization on company time with company $$$.


          LW was doing this “just after” finishing company work. Therefore, their permission (i.e., license) to be on the property had expired. So they were doing something actually illegal (though likely not prosecutable).

          I do not see there’s any situation in which LW’s actions are justified and they retain ability to do with the videos what they want to do.

          1. Allypopx*

            IANAL but I have some experience navigating copyright law as a freelancer and yes, from my understanding this would be the employer’s property if they wanted to push that point. It’s directly related to their job duties, reflects the product they are paid to produce, and is done on paid company time.

      2. Wintermute*

        Even in countries with intense worker’s rights protections, I’d add, no one would rule gross insubordination is not terminable. I don’t know of anyplace on earth that this would fly, literally.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband didn’t even like it that our home insurance inspector took pictures of our house, and that *IS* part of her job! (Saves us money too as it proves required preventive measures had been done.)

    5. T2*

      In addition to everything else people have said, there is a specific “Don’t Try This at Home” issue here.

      You are working 30-90 feet up in the air, in a dangerous job that requires specific training and tools. Even if your employer wanted to put videos online with appropriate clearances, they would have to have disclaimers warning people not to do this without the proper equipment. See Mythbusters and Forged in Fire as examples.

      People imitate things they see on YouTube.

    6. What’s with Today, today?*

      In addition, if you are making money off the videos, that could in some areas be seen as double dipping. Admittedly, I’m in media, but if I took the daily segments I produce for my radio show and popped them on YouTube, my employer would rightfully be furious.

      1. Yes Anastasia*

        That was my thought – it’s not okay to work a side gig, even a passion project, while you’re on the clock. Especially if you’re using work resources to do so.

      2. Cookie Captain*

        Yeah, you can’t pet-sit and film ghost-hunting videos in my moderately creepy basement. You can’t be a caterer and live-stream your cooking in my kitchen. You can’t record yourself whispering while you wash my windows for your ASMR channel.

        You just can’t use someone’s property to do a second job while being paid for the first one.

        1. Heidi*

          I love that the basement is “moderately creepy.” It implies that the basement has moved beyond mildly creepy, but has not yet reached a level of severely creepy.

      3. CM*

        I’m in creative services, and I always keep a clear, bright line between MY stuff and THEIR stuff, which includes not using my equipment on company projects and not using company equipment on my personal/side projects. The idea that OP is using their employer’s equipment in a video, and filming the video while working gives me nervous feelings.

        On top of that, even if the OP were working these jobs freelance and/or owned all the equipment, the appropriate thing to do would be to tell the clients up front that they want to film and add a release into the contract. Some people would balk and turn it down; some people would probably be okay with it. But you absolutely shouldn’t creep around private property filming YouTube videos unless you have permission.

    7. Talley*

      I’m going to go against the grain of the responses here so far. Yes, if they’ve told you to stop, you need to stop! However, the company is being immensely short sighted! I’ve literally worked on photo shoots doing exactly this, and while there may be nuances involved in video that I’m unaware of as a still photographer, getting a property release signed is not that hard. There are people who will never agree, and fine, move on, but many people will agree, many will even be flattered that you asked! Property releases can be found online for free, although it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a lawyer give it a once over. Then once you have permission from the home owner, film away, maintaining the same cautions about revealing the location. This guy has created a viral marketing plan of the type companies pay thousands of dollars for, at no additional cost to the company! They should slap their logo all the heck over the videos, post them on their website & link back to the website from videos posted to You Tube. Even if the company has more clients than it can handle, manufacturers may start sending supplies, especially if they’re recommended in the videos! There’s no way a year’s supply of, I don’t know, let’s say: saw blades, doesn’t impact the bottom line in a positive way! Maybe they’ll send prototypes for testing. Who knows? It could be a huge boost to the bottom line & they’ve just reflexively shut it down! They should give this person a raise, get some legal advice, & let ’em run with it! As far as it being his “hobby?” Really, that’s your argument? He shouldn’t do it at work because he might actually be enjoying himself? Sounds like a way to keep a motivated employee with lots of initiative to me.

      1. Arboreal Architecture*

        The company gets to decide that. Not you, and not the OP. They may have good reason for not pursuing this line of advertising. You don’t know them or their business, and you don’t get to dictate how they should operate.

        A hobby is by definition, not something you are getting paid to do by an employer. It’s not about enjoying oneself, it’s about your private leisure pursuits (aka hobbies) being something you do on your own time, not when representing your company, and not using company resources without permission.

        The fact that this has to be spelled out is depressing.

        1. Mike B.*

          Hence “the company is being shortsighted,” not “the company can’t do this.”
          I don’t agree with Talley, but they already conceded your point; they don’t need it spelled out for them.

      2. Aster*

        The don’t have those releases though. So even if this is beneficial as a marketing tool, if the market is small enough and it gets out, it’s long=-term harmful for them.

        If I found out my landscaper had taken and posted photos of my house without permission, then I’d make sure all my friends knew not to hire them.

        This is only a good marketing tool if ALL the homeowners consent.

      3. Mockingjay*

        No. As a customer, I am hiring an arborist to trim trees. If I want my house documented, I’ll call a film crew.

        1. ChimericalOne*

          And there are plenty of would-be customers who feel the same. But there are also tons of would-be customers who wouldn’t care in the slightest, or who would even think it was neat.

        2. Door Guy*

          I used to have to audit installs of TV satellite dishes – going out and doing an inspection and taking a few (4) photos. Most people were fine, maybe asked a few questions, but it was typically a rather quick deal. Picture of the mount, grounding/earthing, house numbers, and front of house. These were not used in any sort of marketing, they were taken and attached directly through the app and not saved on the device. After I hit submit they were only view-able by local management and their superiors who had access to the submitted forms.

          I did, though, have more than a few customers who were 100% NOT OKAY with what I was doing. They usually let me at least inspect without taking any photos (I would take photos of my boots or truck cab, since they had geotags so they could see I was present), but a few did bar me 100%. A couple even called the police on me thinking I was a scammer, 1 even followed me back to my truck taking pictures of me and shouting that I was a scammer while her husband called the police. Every time I ever had to talk to an officer, it ended with being told to drive safe and that I could go back to work.

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        “This guy has created a viral marketing plan”

        What? Where are you getting that from? All we know is that he’s taken some videos of his work and put them on YouTube. That’s not what going viral means, and if there’s no specific promotion of his company it’s not a marketing campaign. It’s just a bunch of videos. And it takes a lot of work to go from posting hobby videos to getting sponsorships and gifted products – it doesn’t just happen automatically. I agree that the videos could potentially have marketing applications, but we have no idea if they’re good videos or if the company needs or wants more marketing content.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Same. I have had to have several trees taken out, and YouTube videos of the removal/climbing process were not part of our decision-making process. I’d actually be more hesitant to hire someone who was engaged in making YouTube videos rather than concentrating on not falling out of my tree and not dropping pieces of the tree on my home or cars.

          I am also wondering how “hobby videos” are suddenly “viral marketing”. There is no (objective) information about how interesting or engaging the videos may be, and there is just as much possibility that these are dull, overlong videos that would not be of interest to the tree-removal market.

          The bottom line is that the employer has not only said “no” to this but has also suspended the employee over repeated refusal to accept their “no”. They’re cruising to get fired, and their focus should be on keeping their job or finding a new one that would be more open to their hobby.

        2. Antilles*

          If anything, the fact that they didn’t even ask permission and notify people it was happening makes it likely to go viral in a *negative* way – video accidentally catches something too personal (e.g., through the skylight in the bathroom), a homeowner stumbles across the video and posts all over Facebook about their ‘contractor spying on me’, the video captures an entertaining safety violation, a co-worker cusses out the client not realizing they’re being taped, etc.

      5. Mr. Tyzik*

        This guy doesn’t have a viral marketing plan. He takes vaguely creepy videos of private yards without permission while stealing company time to film them.

        There’s a marked difference.

      6. JessaB*

        This is not the point. Even if the homeowner loves the idea the BOSSES do not want this happening. Full stop. end of story. You could have carved in gold permissions up the whazoo, if the employer says NO you cannot do this whilst working, and you can’t do it using the employer’s equipment after work, and you probably cannot come back on another day and do it because the only reason you had access in the first place it the employer.

      7. EPLawyer*

        Do not use the property release you found online. You have no idea if it covers all the requirements that your state/local jurisdiction requires.

        If you want to get a release, hire a lawyer to do it. The extra bucks it will cost you, will save you much much more later on when you find out your online release isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

        A Family LAw attorney who makes a very nice living cleaning up the mess from people who wrote their own separation agreement “to save a few bucks.”

        1. Aster*

          Another attorney seconding this.

          I make a lot of money from people who think using online releases, real estate forms, LLC forms, and wills are enough.

          I had a client who used online forms for a pro se, uncontested divorce. She waived permanently her interest in a few of her husband’s military benefits. She needed those to retire. Turned out to be very costly for her.

        2. Aster*

          PPS Web MD is not a substitute for actual medical care. Online legal forms aren’t a substitute for an actual lawyer.

      8. Le Sigh*

        Maybe this could have all worked out if OP had approached the employer with the idea BEFORE doing any filming, employer agreed, and they consulted attorneys, etc., to get it sorted out correctly.

        But OP did whatever the heck they wanted, ignored repeated warnings, got suspended (!) and is still arguing they’re in the right. Whatever opportunity does or doesn’t exist here doesn’t matter, because OP is the wrong messenger and the wrong person to do this. They need to stop, keep their nose clean, and be happy they’re not fired yet.

      9. Malarkey01*

        Their insurance is going to look very differently on trimming work and marketing work done 90 ft in the air. Even if it’s true this doesn’t affect his risk at all, the insurance is not going to have the same evaluation of risk.

      10. DarnTheMan*

        With regards to “This guy has created a viral marketing plan of the type companies pay thousands of dollars for, at no additional cost to the company!”… no, you’re missing the mark by a country mile. Maybe if Op3 worked for a sports company or something but even in the most niche communities, I find it hard to believe that people would want to share videos of tree clearing on their social media. If I’m a customer looking for a good arborist, I don’t care about the sick GoPro videos they’ve posted to their website, I care about their rates and reputation.

        1. Cercis*

          Strangely, other arborists LOVE these videos. One arborist I know has helped promote tree climbing competitions through his videos. It doubled particpation rates the year after he started doing it. As a nonclimbing arborist, I always plan to watch these videos so I can figure out WTF the climbers are talking about, but I get about 10 seconds in and decide it’s still all greek and leave.

          I will say there is a need for well done training videos. But those would require more than one person with a go-pro doing random tree work.

          1. DarnTheMan*

            Oh I absolutely believe other arborists would like it; it’s why I’ll happily watch videos about queer theory until the cows come home. I’m just having difficulty parsing the use of “viral” with regards to something that (to me) only appeals to a niche community – it might go viral among other arborists but that doesn’t exactly translate to client sales in my mind.

      11. biobotb*

        They don’t seem that motivated if they’re happy to risk firing over a hobby. Why would an employer want to bend over backwards for an employee that has no respect for their job or the people who’ve hired them to do it?

    8. kittymommy*

      Seriously! I don’t get why the LW is so insistent on being allowed to do this? Is this YouTube hobby worth losing a job over??

      And for the record if I was a homeowner I 1. would not trust the LW on whether or not my home/property was identifiable and 2. would be pissed off regardless. Don’t film my property. especially without my permission.

    9. Mama Bear*

      I have a friend who is currently dealing with finding out they’ve been filmed and put on a website without their permission. To say they are not happy is an understatement. If this is a passion of yours, film only when you have written permission from the homeowners and when you are not on company time. The company doesn’t need to support your hobby and they strongly disapprove of you creating videos when you are on the clock. Your continued insistence on doing so is just asking to be fired. You are representing the company and they’ve told you to stop. You need to stop or get a different job.

      If I knew who you were and you worked in my area, I would NEVER give your company a job on the offchance that you’d be filming my property. I bet that it will be cheaper for your employer to fire you than deal with the loss of jobs or lawsuits.

    10. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      Something else for LW3 to consider is that their employer probably isn’t overreacting about potential legal risk. Privacy considerations aside, imagine a job that goes awry and someone gets hurt, a tree is badly damaged, or the trimming results in some damage to the homeowner’s property. If the homeowner or the injured person were to seek a legal remedy, having limited video evidence of the events in question could make or break that case. It could really change the way a situation like that resolves and the employer is wise for thinking they don’t want video records created that they have no control over.

      1. JessaB*

        This, and NOT having it could also be an issue, did the OP erase it? Did they decide not to film that ONE location? But they have video of the others, is it edited? Did they commit fraud?

        1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

          Yes! Or do we have lots of videos of LW3 doing something that is arguably negligent, but that the employer is denying he did in the situation that resulted in an injury (but there’s no video) — those videos would win the day, even if LW3 or the employer didn’t actually do that thing on the day in question.

      2. Wintermute*

        I think you’re discounting the fact that assuming he’s a reasonably conscientious employee, video breaks the case against you more often than it makes it. You can prove you were exercising due care, and it stops any exaggerations “it was a foot-wide hole!” “this video says it was three inches” “I was nearly killed!” “this video shows you were 10 feet away from being in danger” etc.

        Trust me, I work in the insurance field, the claims adjusters would ALWAYS rather have video than not have it, that’s why we give discounts if you get a dashcam.

        Not saying this, in general, is a good idea, but your points about legal risk are backwards, having video alleviates, not aggravates, risk, as long as you are being prudent and are competent, anyway.

    11. Ashley*

      In addition to what everyone else has said, I would find it very creepy and disturbing if a contractor secretly recorded themselves while on my property. Maybe I’ve watched one too many episodes of Criminal Minds but whether this is legal or not I would be furious. Plus the OP’s employer can’t know for sure that the OP isn’t recording inappropriate footage of customers and their homes even if they aren’t posting them online.

  2. CurrentlyBill*

    OP3: IANAL, but it’s possible your employer could even claim the copyright to “your” videos. You’re creating then in the course of your work, on company time.

    1. valentine*

      Your work belongs to your employer and clients. The videos are everything but the logo. Are you making any money from them? Why are the work videos more important to you than being in good standing at work and preserving your job?

      Are hobby videos possible?

      1. Lynca*

        Even with hobby videos OP is going to have to get permission to film from the owners and depending on their local laws, they’ll need to gain the permission in a legally binding way.

        1. Aster*

          In every jurisdiction in the USA, the back yard is a private space. (Unless they live on a golf course where it is open to the public or there is some other exceptional circumstance).

          She’d need permission in the same way she’d need permission to film inside the home.

          The front yard/public spaces are totally different. Unless you are in a completely rural area. There are cases that say rural front yards are private spaces. (That is, the homeowner has a reasonable expectation of privacy).

          This is highly invasive.

          1. JessaB*

            I think the rural thing has to do with how far off the usual paths you are, if you’re on a main road your front yard probably isn’t private but if you’re down a mile long private drive, or you’re out on a sparsely inhabited rural route yeh, people normally just driving by doesn’t happen so you kind of do have that privacy.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      “You’re creating then in the course of your work, on company time.”

      And they’re directly relevant to the company business – if LW were filming wild birds she might have a different argument, but she’s filming her paid work and will later add a v/o discussing how best to do that paid work.

      Automatic IP rights vary (widely!) by jurisdiction, but anything even remotely doubtful in copyright quickly gets expensive in legal costs. I think CurrentlyBill’s point is one worth considering on top of “boss has told you to stop and you will be fired if you don’t” because most people can’t afford to be sued after they’re fired.

      1. Aster*

        Either she’s doing it on company time and company owns them OR she’s trespassing on private land.

        If she’s staying after her work is complete to film, the express and implied permission of the landowner has been exceeded. That makes this trespass. It’s no different than if she came back days or weeks later and made the film. The purpose for which she was there originally is over. She’s now there doing something she has no permission to do. She’s outside the scope of permission. Hence, trespass.

        (Note: I’d would likely not be prosecuted, but could come if there’s a dismissal action by her employer or one of the homeowners wants the video taken down. Worst case scenario would be if homeowners were harmed).

        So, there is absolutely no case in which what she is doing is something she can argue is a-ok and should be overlooked by the employer.

        This isn’t my area of law, but this is pretty textbook law school 101 stuff.

          1. Aster*

            I think she’s so blinded by “this is cool and it benefits me” that she’s not seeing the POV of her employer, the property owner, or the law.

            It’s so easy to do that when you are young and enthusiastic, but it doesn’t mean the consequences won’t be significant to LW.

            I hope when she reads this she takes it to heart and realizes none of us want to see her harmed.

  3. Fikly*

    #4: Not only is it not weird, it’s amazing. Most prospective employers wouldn’t disclose this until much later in the process, waste everyone’s time if it’s a dealbreaker. I’d be thanking them.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – sounds like they know they have a really low budget, and are acknowledging that the low budget means they may loose some candidates – and are also trying to not waste people’s time if possible.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I hope this is the start of a new wave of doing recruitment instead of businesses wasting people’s time with low salaries and the like. This is a much more sensible, adult way of doing things.

      1. JessaB*

        This, it’s wonderful, “look this is what we have, are we wasting each other’s time or is this possibly do-able.” after all the complaints we get on this blog about companies being cagey and being sneaky and refusing to give out numbers, a company that is completely up front about what they want to pay? Please yes. Please let every company be like this.

    3. limbonic*

      Most local employers I’ve dealt with ask for your salary requirements in the application process. I put what I actually want, or a bit higher, just because I figure that I won’t get a callback if they are dead firm on their salary offers and I’m too expensive for them. But in the job I recently got, the interviewer called me ahead of scheduling an interview (it was like a phone interview) and asked if I was firm on the figure, and I said yes. (I had done my research and knew that the figure was inside the pay band for this particular position in the employing agency). Long story short, I got interviewed and, once I learned more about the scope of the position, I realized it would be reasonable for me to come down on my “firm” price a bit (and it was something I could afford to come down to). So, when she asked me again my salary requirements (glad she asked), I said that “Having learned more about this position, and being really impressed with your operation, I can be flexible on salary” and we came to a quick agreement. I got the offer at the lowered salary 24 hours later.

      So far so good! I’m enjoying the job so far.

      1. Fikly*

        This is the opposite of good, this is a terrible. This is an employer looking to get you as cheaply as possible, because it makes people who need a job feel obliged to low ball themselves because they are scared that if they name a number too high, they won’t get an interview, and they don’t have any information from the employer as to range.

        Whether or not it is true that people need to low ball themselves (I suspect your experience is an outlier), the important point is that people feel like they need to low ball themselves, and thus end up doing so.

        Any salary negotiation, ethically, should start with what the employer is willing to offer, otherwise they are all starting at different points for the same position.

        1. Colette*

          I think you’ve missed some critical details. Limbonic set a salary requirement and said it was firm. Once she learned more about the job, she realized that the work didn’t match what she’d ask and changed it. None of that was on the employer.

          1. Fikly*

            But they’re talking about being asked to set a salary requirement as part of the application process. That’s what I’m objecting to.

            “Most local employers I’ve dealt with ask for your salary requirements in the application process.”

            1. limbonic*

              You can usually give prospective employers a salary range and say “commensurate with duties of the position” etc. if asked.

              1. Fikly*

                Right, but that still starts you off on the wrong foot. Your highest number could be way below their lowest number! The company already has way more power than you in this situation, they should not act in ways that give them any more.

    4. Washi*

      Yeah, I’m confused about why it would be weird or what OP was expecting them to do with the salary discrepancy. Maybe it’s so uncommon for employers to be straightforward about salary that it’s confusing when they are!

      1. Emily K*

        Yeah, I think LW might be wondering if the employer is doing a version of the same thing candidates do – when you’re asking for your salary requirements you usually don’t offer up the barest minimum you could live on right off the bat – you try to figure out how much higher you can aim without pricing yourself out and name a number somewhere slightly above the lowest number you’d take. So LW perhaps think the company, rather than name their absolute max budget at the start, perhaps they’re trying to see how cheap they can get her and have quoted her a figure slightly below what they would ultimately be willing to pay. Since they didn’t just take her out of the running but gave her a choice to decide if she will do the job for $45k, now she’s wondering if that’s a negotiating tactic because they don’t want to lose her, and maybe if she stays firm at $50k they’ll find room in the budget to close some of the gap.

        I think based on my experience in nonprofits that it’s unlikely – but I can definitely understand the thought process of wondering if this is truly their max or just a negotiating tactic.

    5. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I was reminded of an interview process I went through in which they told me at the end, after 6 weeks and three rounds, that the salary was $5K less than the bottom of the range I’d put on my application. (I did not take the job.) Contrast that with one where we both realized in the phone screen that the job was more junior than I am, and we both said thanks and moved on – 15 minutes spent vs. 6 weeks. I’d much rather have the former. This transparency is a good thing, OP.

  4. nutella fitzgerald*

    Who are these people who find “jokes” like LW #1 describes to be funny? I wish someone would make a comment like that to be because I would return that awkward to sender so fast. “What do you mean? I remembered to bring my lunch today.” “No, you gave me mine. It’s right here.” “I don’t get it. The cookies look good, but not, like, great.” “[blank stare]” “But I thought these cookies you gave me were mine? Is it okay if I eat these?”

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      It’s hard for me to wrap my head around too, but I think for some people as long as the person making the joke and the person hearing joke both have strong positive feelings, then the feelings of the person who has been made the butt of a joke fundamentally don’t matter. The consultant in this case probably thinks she is creating a warm moment of team bonding over an in joke, and if OP 1 is made uncomfortable, they should just have more perspective and not be so touchy. Bleh.

      1. Lena Clare*

        The consultant in this case probably thinks she is creating a warm moment of team bonding over an in joke

        Nope. Nopeity nope nope nope. That’s still not ok. She is a Mean Girl.

        1. MistOrMister*

          I don’t this Budgie was exvusing the consultant’s behavior. Their comment was about how people make others the butt of a joke without at all considering the other person’s feelings.

          The consultant certainly does seem kind of nasty. The only other thing I can think of is that they made the comment, it got a chuckle and then they dcided to tell the “joke” to every new batch of people for a laugh. Not to be mean, but more in a socially awkward way. Which doesn’t excuse it, but at least in that case it wouldn’t have been done maliciously. But boy, that must have been hurtful for OP! Yeesh.

          1. Scarlet2*

            “Their comment was about how people make others the butt of a joke without at all considering the other person’s feelings.”

            It still makes them bullies. And their intent is quite irrelevant.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I don’t think either Budgie Buddy or MistOrMister are saying that those kinds of jokes aren’t mean or bullying behavior. Nutella fitgerald asked, “Who are these people who find “jokes” like LW #1 describes to be funny?” and Budgie Buddy and MistOrMister were trying to provide answers. Some people like to try to figure out why someone is behaving badly, not to excuse it, but just to understand it (if nobody cared about understanding reasons for certain behaviors, we wouldn’t have psychology). Nobody is excusing the behavior.

              1. Wintermute*

                exactly. Understanding is not excusing, but it can be useful nonetheless, especially if your goal is to STOP a behavior.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “Creating a warm moment of team bonding” at the expense of one team member is like the worst of everything I hate about team-building exercises, amplified x100 and rolled into one. Nice job, vendor/consultant.

        I have an especially hard time understanding why people do that to employees of a company that pays them for their services, and can go with a different vendor/consultant if this one rubs them the wrong way. What was the end goal of this weird joke? losing the contract?

    2. Julia*

      People who don’t understand that “humor” isn’t a carte blanche to be mean to people?
      I was in a meeting for a work event once, and a higher up yelled at me across the entire table of conservative Japanese government guys not to eat all of a certain food. By Japanese standards, I was big back then, although not bigger than him. Of course, women’s looks are always up for scrutiny, even if they don’t even like the food in question. It was really awkward and definitely targeted at me because I look like a eat more than the other women (which I actually don’t), and it didn’t feel good at all.

      1. Business Socks*

        “The ocean called – they’re running out of shrimp!”

        “The jerk store called – they’re all out of you!”

    3. Mookie*

      “Oh, is this a fat joke? How droll.”

      That tends to take the wind out of their sails.

      Or, “I don’t understand what you mean. Are you worried I’m going to steal your food? How strange…”

      1. Pants*

        I agree that responding with the “fat” word will shut that down really quick. Only I’d go straight to the heart with, “Is it because I’m fat that you keep saying that?” And then just stare directly into their eyes and say nothing more. Guarantee that “joke” won’t be repeated again.

        1. darsynia*

          From experience, the response to that can turn to ‘Wow, are you touchy about your weight?’
          Which is super infuriating when it’s more than obvious that the original comment was weight-related, but I’m the sensitive jerk for pointing that out as a negative.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I would just give them back. Or yell out, “yes! I’m going to eat everybody’s cookies!” and then make Cookie Monster noises.

    5. knitter*

      ummm, my co-worker would find this funny

      Super happy to have this language now because I’ve been trying to find something to say to professionally set a boundary when she tries to pull me into her circle of negativity/badmouthing though jokes.

    6. hbc*

      Now that I think about it, I’ve had similar jokes made about me. But I *did* have an earned reputation for scarfing more than my share of the meeting cookies, I had joked about it myself previously, and everyone in the room knew that I never actually deprived people of cookies. So it can work, but you have to really be sure that the other person will laugh with you.

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

        +1 I have no self control around Reeses peanut butter cups. They’re all mine; mine, I tell you! And my boss and coworkers know this and it’s an “inside” joke that I’m going to eat them all.

        This kind of “insult” humor only works between people who really know, trust and like each other. It’s like That 70s Show where they all sit around “burning” each other.

    7. River Song*

      I mean, my grandmother makes this joke about me and her banana pudding every Christmas. I make a big deal about loving it, and she makes a big deal that I have to share with everyone. I’m fairly thin, and have not ever actually consumed a family size serving of banana pudding. But it makes her feel loved and important to the meal when I reply to “this is for everyone, River Song!” with something like “not if I hide it before they see it!”
      The vendor may be an actual jerk, or just a little clueless. Either way, Alison’s scripts are perfect. If they are clueless, it’s a favor to let them know their joke isnt landing how they mean to.

      1. Quill*

        My grandma would save me blackberry pie. I was the third youngest of a crop of eight grandkids at the time and nobody else was as wild about it as me, but it WOULD be gone, and blackberries were only in season for so long…

        Cue jokes about me squirrelling away blackberry pie in increasingly improbable places.

      2. Yorick*

        Sure, but that’s a completely different scenario. If there was some context that OP1 loved cookies or joked about stealing other people’s food, she wouldn’t wonder how she should’ve responded to the mean “joke.”

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah this is a totally different situation between people who know each other well and have a shared running joke. Not at all comparable to the OP’s situation. Maybe the person wanted to start that kind of running joke with the OP (although . . . why? doesn’t seem like she had the kind of relationship with the OP where she could know that kind of joke would be well received), but even in that case, she should have stopped after the first time when it didn’t play out that way.

        2. River Song*

          I just meant I could see someone saying “oohs! I cant wait to eat these!” Or “they look so delicious!” And someone like my grandma saying “well, you cant have everyone’s!”
          And I can also see my grandma really offending someone without realizing it. (And she would be mortified that she had done so if she ever realized) I was just trying to push back on the perception of this person is a bully trying to humiliate someone. They absolutely might be, or they might just be clueless

            1. River Song*

              Ok, well I disagree. It just looks to close to how I’ve seen oblivious people act sometimes. But I’m not looking to argue because ultimately I don’t know what the persons thinking was, and it doesnt matter because AAM advice works either way

          1. Blueberry*

            Either way, does it change how the LW should respond since the joke is clearly making them uncomfortable?

            Instead of “is this person a bully” maybe we could rephrase it as “this is bullying behavior” or “it’s reasonable for LW to feel bullied,” so the debate isn’t about whether such jokes are justified but about how someone who doesn’t want to hear them anymore can reach that goal.

          2. BadWolf*

            I’m with you. The person could be cluelessly thinking that they now have an inside joke with OP. I have seen it happen at my work — people trying to be friendly but they only remember one tidbit about a person and they bring it up every time and now it’s weird. A little push back generally fixes it for the well meaning, but obtuse.

            The person could totally be a jerk too.

            1. LunaLena*

              BadWolf and River Song… two Doctor Who references in one discussion!

              I do agree it could be cluelessness, but that doesn’t mean the person isn’t a jerk either. Honestly it sounds like a little bit of both, but someone not knowing they’re being a jerk doesn’t make the jerk behavior sting any less. This kind of reminds me of the one letter where a colleague constantly broke out the trophy they won at some office event and made fun of the OP for being a bad loser, and when confronted, defended themselves with “I thought it was a fun inside joke we shared!”

      3. Environmental Compliance*

        My husband is well known in his family for stealing and eating an overt amount of a certain aunt’s cookies, because she is an excellent baker and they are goddamn delicious. To be fair, all of us try to hoard them, because they are amazing cookies. We do joke about those cookies.

        However, it’s a completely different scenario. We *all* know that Hubs likes those cookies, and will hoard them (as we all do). So it ends up being a “SHE MADE THE COOKIES! Quick, hide them from (random family member, but often Hubs)!” or a “Okay, y’all, you gotta share the cookies! No hoarding!”, and we’re all aware of the joke and participate freely. Those who don’t take the cookies or join in on the pretending to steal them don’t get teased, it’s really just the instigators of the cookie hoarding. (And last year Hubs got a plate all to himself as his Christmas gift.)

        In this scenario, someone gave you a gift and told you not to take other’s gifts, really out of nowhere. That’s not a great way to try to ‘joke’ with people, especially in a work context, and especially with people you don’t know extremely well.

        1. River Song*

          I agree! I didnt mean to imply it was a good way to joke with people, just that it might be someone who isnt necessarily trying to insult op.

          1. River Song*

            And to add, I dont think it should change how someone responds. Just that it would make me a happier person if I looked back on it and thought ‘what a weird, socially inept person’ as opposed to ‘I must look like I enjoy cookies too much’

            1. Alianora*

              I think you have a good point. Either way it isn’t excusable, but it could just be a socially awkward person trying to start that kind of joking, without realizing that it’s insulting.

              1. Blueberry*

                The “they’re just socially awkward” phrasing is often the first line in the advice, “so don’t say anything and laugh along, no matter how terrible this makes you feel, in case you make them feel bad.”

                1. Colette*

                  But in this case, no one is saying that the OP should have just laughed along and not said anything.

                2. Alianora*

                  Ok? That isn’t what I’m saying, and it’s not what River Song or anybody else in the thread that I’ve seen is saying.

                3. LunaLena*

                  I think Blueberry’s point is that saying “they’re just socially awkward” can easily become a way to excuse or dismiss any hurt that the OP experienced. It may very well be true that the other person is just socially awkward, but it also puts the burden on the OP to normalize and be fine with it, instead of addressing the cause of the hurt. I also don’t see how saying “just think of them as a socially inept person” is much different from saying “just laugh along and don’t say anything.” Both are essentially passive responses that do nothing to remedy the situation (assuming we’re pretending that this happened yesterday, since OP’s question was how should she have responded in the moment, not how can she deal with it several years later in the here and now. If it were the latter case I would agree that all one can really do is think “what a weirdo”).

                  In the OP’s case, at least it looks like no one thought it would be funny for the “joke” to catch on and kept it up. But if they had… if every time a food gift arrived, someone had said “now remember OP, this is for everyone!” and it had become an ongoing joke that everyone laughed at, would your advice still be for the OP to just walk away and think to herself “wow, what socially inept people”?

                4. Alianora*

                  Dude, I led with “It isn’t excusable.” My advice is NOT for the OP to walk away and ignore it. Don’t put words in my mouth.

                  I am saying that we don’t have to jump to ‘this is targeted bullying’ in order to do something about it. Believe it or not, you can also push back against rude behavior from generally well meaning people. You are allowed to do that.

            2. Environmental Compliance*

              I agree, honestly – I find it makes it easier if you place the awkward solidly on the person rather than trying to internalize what about *you* made *them* Do Weird Thing.

              At the same time, definitely still respond with a “wow, that’s a very strange thing to say” so that the person definitely gets the awkward returned back to them (and not just in your head).

      4. Observer*

        Come on, there is NO comparison here. You and Grandam have this thing going here, you obviously know each other well and are close, and you ACTIVELY play it up. None of those things hold true with this guy.

        1. fposte*

          But if this is a joke you’re used to participating in in one circumstance, it does make it likelier to be deployed in another one.

        2. River Song*

          I dont think I was very clear on what I was trying to say. I definitely didnt mean OP shouldnt be annoyed or offended. I was just trying to push back on “this person must be a bully” that was happening upthread. They may be. Or they may be a person like my grandmother, who would totally make that joke to anyone, even after meeting them once. Either way, it should be stopped

        3. Blueberry*

          Word. And, I’m beginning to wonder if people are defending this joke because it’s aimed at a woman who’s larger than our society thinks women should be.

            1. Blueberry*

              Isn’t that what “maybe the consultant is trying to be sweet and funny like my Grandmother!” is? I don’t tend to see grandmothers used as examples of behavior the speaker disagrees with. In discussions like these, “is the person who upset LW a bully or not?” is a proxy for “does the LW have the right to be upset or not?” I haven’t been convinced the LW doesn’t have that right and I don’t expect I will be.

              1. fposte*

                A post explicitly asked what kind of person would do this. River Song has answered with an example. She didn’t say it would be okay if her grandmother did this to the OP.

                I’m reminded of the tickling/pranking discussions, and things like doing the dozens and bants could fit in here too. There are absolutely communities where people do these things mutually and with affection and acceptance. It can still be an asshole move for them to take that practice outside of that community.

              2. River Song*

                I started repeatedly I thought she had evey right to be upset and that it didnt matter what the persons motivation was, as far as how to feel and handle it. So either you are not reading my comments in their entirety or you are injecting your own feelings into what I “must” mean.
                All I was trying to say, in regards to other comments, was that they may or may not be a bully. But I also repeatedly said it didnt matter because the end result was the same. I have no idea why that is contraversial. The op never even said “this person is a bully”. Commenters said they couldn’t comprehend why a person would say such a thing unless to make her feel bad, and I was giving an example that I see, literally all the time

              3. Miles*

                ” In discussions like these, “is the person who upset LW a bully or not?” is a proxy for “does the LW have the right to be upset or not?” ”

                Maybe to you, but for most people someone not intended to be a bully doesn’t give them carte blanche to do whatever they think is funny. LW has a right to be upset whether or not this person is intending to bully them.

    8. Quill*

      People who watched the first two thirds of “mean Girls” and thought it was an instructional film.

    9. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “Who are these people who find “jokes” like LW #1 describes to be funny?”

      Some small children. And very un-smart people who are a little mean. That type of joke is just not funny.

      1. pamela voorhees*

        There’s a not-insignificant portion of the population who thinks that if someone’s feelings aren’t hurt afterwards, it’s not funny.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      People who cannot make a real joke, because it requires a sense of humor and a functioning brain? I don’t even get what was supposed to be funny in it! My beloved Etiquette Hell site used to recommend a cold stare and a “why would I want to do that?”

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I have met the occasional person who grasps the existence of teasing humour, but completely fails to understand the rules. So they tell ‘funny’ jokes (and the same joke repeatedly once they’ve thought of one), but don’t realize that there needs to be a certain closeness between the participants, that the joke actually needs to be funny, and they have to be able to notice when someone doesn’t find things funny and, importantly stop. And that if no-one laughs the first time, it’s not an invitation to keep trying.

      So they genuinely think they’re participating in friendly joking, but are actually annoying people.

      1. CM*

        “but don’t realize that… they have to be able to notice when someone doesn’t find things funny and, importantly stop.”

        This is what I’ve observed, too, but I think it has a darker motivation — people with good intentions understand that, if the person you’re joking with doesn’t find it funny, you need to stop. The intention of the unfunny jokes that keep going isn’t to tease someone in a friendly way. It’s to assert dominance over someone you feel contempt for by using the FORM of friendly teasing or humour to disguise what you’re doing and make it seem socially acceptable. The person who does it might not be diabolical enough to understand that that’s what they’re doing, but they’ve learned at some point that, if you want to take a swipe at someone, this is a safe way to do it because you won’t be punished and you’ll sometimes be rewarded.

    12. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      If you’re feeling particularly snarky (and as long it won’t get you into any kind of trouble) you could say “Well, you just crack yourself up, don’t you? Bless your heart.” Has the best effect when you smile the whole time you’re saying it.

  5. Gaia*

    OP 5, I am a data manager and also work at a non profit. Unless you’re in a very low COLA, $45k cap for this job is low and I would be very cautious about pursuing this. For this specific role, they’ve told you their limit. Don’t waste time hoping you can get more. If it helps, I’m highly skeptical that this would be a true data manager role. With that pay level, I’d expect it to be more data entry or data coordination.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Also, if that’s the cap, then even if you are offered that top amount and accept it, you will be stuck at that salary potentially for years on end. They aren’t suddenly going to stick another £15k at the top of the range. Every year at pay review they’ll remind you that you’re already at the top of the banding.

      I took a job at an effective pay cut, coming in at the top of their banding, because I was desperate to leave MeanEmployer for KindEmployer. That was only even a “drop” because the same pay was being spread over a longer work week (37h v 35h) but nonetheless I was stuck at that ceiling until my job substantially changed.

      It was worth it in the short term because of the reduction in stress, CPD opportunities, and where it led, but I underestimated how risky it was to my career path, and I’m not sure I would make the same decision again without a clear view of the road ahead.

    2. Terry*

      I am also a data manager for a non profit. I’ve seen the term data manager used in many different ways by different organizations. I don’t think there is such thing as a “true data manager role” so I don’t think we can speculate that the position is underpaid without knowing more about it.

      1. Gaia*

        There is, but some places use it in really odd ways. But the title has typical duties, responsibilities, and skills.

        1. Terry*

          Hmm. I’ve been doing data management for 20 years and have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of job descriptions for data manager and the only commonality I’ve seen is that they have something to do with data. Can you give me an example of a position you consider a “true” data manager role?

          1. Not Today Satan*

            I think having some control over where and how data is stored is pretty essential to a data manager role. Even if the database is determined by a funder (common in nonprofits), the data manager has some control over data entry forms, data quality monitoring, reporting, etc.

            1. Terry*

              Yes, exactly. Having some control over how data are stored is pretty much the only thing that all data manager positions have in common, but that can range from a junior level position that is responsible for data entry and some maintenance to building and operating complex data warehouses. That’s why it’s hard to say what a standard salary is for a data manager.

      2. MissGirl*

        Which is all the more reason to tread softly with this position. They may well be hiring for data entry hence the very low salary or underpaying. I don’t know OP’s career path but be careful you don’t take a huge step back.

        OP, how long have you been searching? Is your choice truly between this and old job or is there a hypothetical third job out there?

      3. Allypopx*

        Yeah I’m a “program associate” and the pay range for this role is like 30-70k depending on the organization and what you actually *do*. Titles can be arbitrary under the best of circumstances but I find even moreso for nonprofits.

    3. Not Today Satan*

      I had a phone screen for a 45k data manager job at a nonprofit (lol, I wonder if it was the one OP interviewed for) and it turned out really being more a The One Person In The Office Who Can Do Pivot Tables type of role than actually managing data systems. And tbh I think 45k is low even just for a The One Excel Person type of position.

  6. Uldi*

    #3: Yes, they can fire you. And I’m inclined to say that yes, the people whose property you record could take legal action. You can generally take pictures/record video from outside a person’s private property (paparazzi and private detectives do it), but not while on their property unless they gave explicit permission (I am not a lawyer, so take that with a large grain of salt).

    Time to pack up the cameras, at least while on the job.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yep! If I were a client and I found footage of my back yard online without my permission (even if it were unidentifiable as the OP states) I’d be really, really annoyed. I’d never use that company again for sure, and yes depending on how the footage looked I might even take legal action.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, if I were a client I would not be at all happy to find that you hd ben filming on my proprty without my express consent, and sonce you would be there as a representative of your company, it’s them I would be directing my complaint to.

      I think that they are completely reasonable to tell you stop.

      If you want to carry on, then I think you need to talk to your employer bout doing it officially – which would mean getting express consent from anyone whose property might be shown, which may well mean not only your company’s client, but also their neighbours, so it is likely that that it is not somthngthey will want to get into.

    3. Anonymous at a University*

      Plus, if I was a home owner who knew this was happening and all the particulars of the situation (especially that OP had already been suspended once!), I would absolutely not trust that their videos are as unidentifiable as they say. What happens if they start recording as they’re walking across the grass? When they’re in the vehicle because they want to show people how equipment looks on the ground? If they’re doing something wrong or something I don’t like and I have to call out to them while they’re taking the video and so my voice is then recorded? Based on this letter, I don’t think they would stop the camera and/or not post the video, if they’re so determined to keep doing it that their boss’s reprimands haven’t been sufficient.

      OP, stop making these videos on company time.

    4. LQ*

      Even if the people who file a legal action don’t win, they could certainly have enough of a case to get someone to file and most employers don’t want to deal with the hassel of that. So the question here shouldn’t be will someone win, but can someone file something that is plausible enough to pass a smell check. The company wants you to stop. You don’t have permission, no matter what you say about it not being plausible to make out and the like (which, no, I don’t believe) you need to stop immediately.


      1. Glen*

        Do what I did when I got called on sharing technical articles about what I do. Offer to record the videos for your employer to put on their website in exchange for name credit and/or some other consideration. Then your employer can clear things with the customer about recording video. Then everyone should be happy.

  7. Torrance*

    I know OP3 says that they love their company but, depending on their location, it might be worth looking for a more social media savvy company. Just a quick look at some YT search results shows a variety of aborist videos pulling in anywhere from 1oK to 1M views. A company might want the OP to film videos for a company channel or do spon content on their existing one, but they might just be satisfied with getting the company’s name out there.

    Or, and this may risk ruining the hobby by turning it into a proper job, but the OP could always go freelance. And, depending on their current viewership, they could possibly use Patreon or YT memberships to offset some of the costs.

    1. Uldi*

      They need to seek legal advice before doing what you suggest. There are likely privacy issues/private property issues.

      1. Anonny right Now*

        I posted something similar above – the property owner gets to decide. But I would also bet that a company that’s filming to post content online is probably going to have something about that filming for external/online use in their contract with you if they are smart.

    2. Beth*

      That doesn’t resolve the privacy concerns (unless OP3 manages to find a company that does the legwork to get signoff from the property owners). This ‘hobby’ probably needs some legal oversight, especially if OP3’s videos do take off on the kind of scale you’re talking about. It’s totally unsurprising that their company isn’t up for putting themselves on the line for that, no matter how much publicity it might bring.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      The problem isn’t the employer’s social media marketing plan. The problem is that OP is engaging in conduct that can open the employer up to legal risk, and poison the well with current and prospective clients.

      If OP wants to go freelance, they need to research and understand the kinds of permissions/authorization they need to get from homeowners before filming private areas of other people’s property. I get that OP thinks the videos do not provide identifying information, but that’s not how the legal test works in states that prohibit this kind of invasion of privacy.

    4. One of the Sarahs*

      OP, if you do go freelance, you should definitely have it a feature of your advertising, as some people will love it – but you also need to give the clients the choice to have it on YT or not. I really liked the gutter cleaner who videoed what they did, to show me what they’d done, but I’d’ve felt weird about it being used online, as it’s a bit “look at the shitty state this person let their gutters get into”, and if someone was working on a tree I’d let get damaged etc, or was the wrong tree for the situation, I might feel icky about that too.

      So yeah, like everyone else says, stop this at work, and if you freelance, get appropriate legal advice on permissions etc, but accept that even if you were freelancing, while some clients may love it, it’ll be a dealbreaker for others.

    5. Just J.*

      I’m also going to chime in and ask are you following all of your safety requirements? Are you 100% sure on that? You already are filming it and placing it on You Tube. You are documenting every ‘error’ you make – even if you think you aren’t making any. If you are violating safety or OSHA requirements in your videos, you can be turned into OSHA by ANYONE and then cited.

      I can also see this as being part of why your employer told you to stop with the videos. You are opening them up to liability.

    6. Observer*

      No, actually a “social media savvy” company would have already fired them.

      *IF* OP had gone to their boss with concrete plans to get permission and how to use these videos for marketing, AND committed to NEVER taking videos without all of the necessary releases, that would be one thing. But smart companies know just how badly this can go otherwise – even if the OP winds up being legally in the clear.

      If the OP wants to continue doing this they need to talk to a lawyer about if / how this can be done with all bases covered and then (assuming that this is viable) find another employer and make the proposal. But, whatever you do, DO NOT continue to take these videos without proper permissions.

      1. DarnTheMan*

        +1. My company loves when staff support us on social media but for that exact reason, we have a “social media best practices” guidebook that all staff are asked to read before posting about our org on social channels. If anyone ever got wind of say, a staff member posting photos of the children we work with without consent from their parents (my best equivalent to what OP3 has been doing), they’d first be getting asked to delete the posts and if they kept it up, be sitting down with HR for a chat.

    7. kittymommy*

      Filing a video on someone else’s property without their approval and then posting it to an international social media site is not media savvy, however, it is a very good way to tick off clients and lose business.

  8. min*

    #3. It seems like you feel you should have special rules because of the type of job that you do. Would it help to reframe it as an employer at a desk job not wanting their employees filming their work and posting it on the internet? Even if there was nothing to identify the company, it would be reasonable to object, right?

    1. Mr. Tyzik*

      I have a desk job for a large company. There’s a social media policy on what videos/images are allowable to post and *what releases* you have for the individuals depicted. I have had coworkers post seemingly innocuous things who were then asked to take them down.

      1. Auntie Social*

        A nurse at a hospital in NYC was fired for taking a photo of an “after” ER room—no patient, nothing to identify the man, just a lot of blood from a GSW, I think. The patient survived. She posted it with a comment about “we do good work here at Llama Presbyterian Hospital”. Great nurse, had been there 4 years—fired.

    2. User 483*

      That’s a good comparison. I even thought back to a future job where most of the work was walking customers through processes over the phone. We didn’t need to actually look at anything and it was the same process for everyone, so you really just had to listen and guide them with each next step as it came.

      A couple people used to knit or crochet during the calls. They got told they had to stop since it didn’t look good for our department when others walked by. The activity helped with focus and didn’t harm the calls in any way, but they had to stop since they were at work and the boss gets to decide those kinds of things.

      At least 1 person did then also start looking for other work and left that job, but they followed the policy while they were there.

  9. One of the Sarahs*

    OP1 I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I can totally empathise with being too surprised in the first moment to say something, and then feeling like I couldn’t bring it up later.

    But it is ok to raise something the 2nd/3rd/4th time – if they reply with “but you were ok before”, you can reply with something like “I honestly thought I must have misheard you that time” and repeat one of Alison’s phrases.

    Anyway, I can see why it stayed with you, and I hope the horrible contractor has changed their ways.

    1. JayNay*

      This is also a good opportunity to be an ally! Someone else in the meeting could have spoken up as well, using basically the same scripts. I bet that would’ve been so relieving and helpful to the OP, or anyone targeted with mean comments like this.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Genuine question: What would you recommend if someone else isn’t sure what to say in the moment? For example, I would be worried about causing further embarrassment to the target by making it into a big discussion. Plus I never know what to say in the moment. Any advice?

            1. MtnLaurel*

              I’d just look at them in a very confused way until they just HAD to explain. Then let the awkward follow.

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                Yes, look confused as you possibly can and stare at them intently while saying, “Wait, what? I don’t get it.”

                1. pamela voorhees*

                  This is a good response most of the time, but I will warn you there are some people who will delightedly say “it’s because you’re fat!” because they genuinely believe with all their heart that other people’s weight is okay for them to comment on, and the very idea of being overweight is hilariously funny. Be sure to have a follow up response if they’re truly extraordinary levels of clueless/rude.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I found that “Why?” works for a lot of this type of situations. Said in a “I honestly don’t know why you would say something as asinine as this” tone. Last time I tried it was when I passed a coworker in the hallway, and out of nowhere, the coworker told me to “Smile!” First time in my life I’d been told to smile, if you would believe it. I didn’t even have to feign shock, it came naturally. Gave her my best “why?” and a thousand-yard stare. She hasn’t done it again, yet.

          1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

            Oh, I love this. What a great response on your part! Ironically, your comment is making me smile, lol. Thank you!

    2. MistOrMister*

      I agree, I really feel for OP. I am many times made the butt of jokes, especially by family. But it’s never malicious. Just good natured teasing (apparently my personality just invites it!) and not hurtful at all. I wonder what kind of relationship OP had with the consultant prior to that incident. It is mind boggling to me that one person would be the focus of those kinds of comments over and over.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Feel free to tell me to mind my own business, but… do you find these jokes actually funny? Does it genuinely make you laugh or do you feel that you “have” to play along with it? When you say your personality “invites it”, is it because you’re the nice/”reasonable” one? Are you the only one who’s made the butt of jokes? If you were to say “hey, that’s getting old, can you cut it out please?”, do you think you would be listened to or would you be dismissed as “too sensitive”?

        I’m only asking because I’ve seen this group dynamics many times and more often than not, the people who were being made fun of felt they weren’t allowed to say they didn’t like it or didn’t find it funny. It’s one thing to practice “good-natured ribbing” between friends or family members, but if the jokes are always made at the expense of the same person, it can easily become unhealthy. I guess I just hope people would find a way of bonding that didn’t involve making fun of someone.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yes, I HATE being teased. I’d be hard pressed to find any situation / person / topic where it’s funny to me to be teased. Even when it’s true! But I don’t feel like I can push back because nothing gets you teased more than being the Sensitive Person Who Can’t Take a Joke.

          1. Scarlet2*

            Yeah, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who was like “hahahah it’s so funny when people make fun of me”.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Yeah, that kind of “good-natured ribbing” takes me all the way back to being a target of school bullies. Personally, I guess I can handle this kind of jokes now, with one caveat – if I’m able to give them a good-natured ribbing right back. (Thankfully, I’m pretty good at that most of the time.) But in this situation, the dynamic was off. OP couldn’t respond by teasing the vendor/contractor, in a work meeting no less. So the vendor knew damn well that they can say whatever they wanted to OP without any danger of getting a taste of their own medicine. This is what makes Vendor’s behavior so gross to me, now that I think of it.

      2. Fikly*

        Intent does not equal impact. Just because something does not have malicious intent does not mean it does not cause harm, and just because something does not have malicious intent does not mean the behavior is ok.

    3. Earthwalker*

      The second time some contract trainers in the workplace aired the same joke about “you’ll do fine on the test as long as you’re under 60, ha ha,” – and all my coworkers turned to stare at me – I sent them a note offline asking that they not do that, telling them that my age was already causing me trouble in the workplace. They apologized profusely. While it seemed so obvious to me that it was not funny at all, they somehow hadn’t realized that, and seemed sincere in saying that they hadn’t meant to be mean. Not sure if an offline email should be considered passive aggressive but it saved me from having to make an awkward moment in front of the whole class.

        1. Blueberry*

          Taking notes for the next time someone aims such an unfunny demographics-based joke at me, I mean. :)

  10. Betty*

    #3 If you were at my house and I found out you were secretly filming videos and posting them online I would be furious. Whether you could see my house or not, whether anything was identifiable or not… I know you say it’s just high-up tree canopy, but you can’t bring a camera onto someone else’s private property and just start recording.

    If, when you arrived for the job, you had explained that you sometimes make videos of your work to explain the technical aspects and would I be OK with that if something came up today that would be interesting, that would be a totally different story. I might say yes! But if I said no, I would expect you to take the camera off and put it completely away.

    Your company is absolutely right to be concerned that clients will object, and absolutely right to fire you if you continue to disobey their express instructions. You might have one last conversation in which you discuss a process for getting client permission to record on their job, but don’t be surprised or huffy if they say no.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Same here. I’ve ended friendships (well, more like acquaintanceships) with people who had no respect for privacy. A company doing this? I’d sign up for every social media platform there is, just to warn people away.

      I would say that asking permission should be obtained long before the person shows up for the job. A lot of people feel pressured or put on the spot. But I agree with you otherwise, and really hope OP listens to the advice they’re getting.

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, I would almost certainly say yes to a request like this (my privacy concerns are a lot lower than the average commenter on this site, it seems,) but I would be very ticked off to not get asked my permission. Leaving aside the legalities, there are certain things that should be discussed for professional and social reasons. Failure of someone else to recognize that, even on a subject where I care very little about the outcome, makes me concerned about what other kinds of blind spots or lapses in judgment they might have.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I’m the same way. If they asked first, I would think it was pretty cool. But I would feel really weird if they did it without asking.

        1. Quill*

          If they did it without asking, I would have paranoia go THROUGH THE ROOF because if it was aboveboard, why wouldn’t they ask.

          If they asked I’d probably say sure so long as I could check through quick and make sure they didn’t have anything weird on tape…

      2. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’d be unlikely to deny an actual request like this but for that to happen, it would have to actually be a request first! Doing this without a heads-up at all would seem weirdly underhanded to me and I’d certainly look askance at the whole company.

      3. Environmental Compliance*

        Same. In fact, we recently replaced our windows. Part of the contract was that we got a couple thousand off for the company taking photos of the finished product and putting them on their webpage. There was a whole contract bit for that that went over rights, where it was allowed to be used, etc. We were happy to agree. The photos they took we got to see first. And, tbh, I don’t think they’ve actually posted them yet – the contract was that they *could* use them, not that they necessarily would.

        If they would have just taken pictures with no permission to use wherever….we would have been very, very angry/upset/concerned.

        Now that I think about it, we have a similar thing with our lawn maintenance guy. I actually chose him because he had a great social media presence and was very laid back but also professional. But he also has a contract and makes it very clear when/how often/if/with what in the pictures.

        It’s a great marketing tool *if it’s done the right way*. It will destroy a company *if done the wrong way*. OP, you are definitely leaning way towards the *wrong way*.

    3. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Why would you be furious? He’s just trimming or cutting down trees. It’s not like he’s setting up a peep camera on your bedroom window ledge. I don’t understand why everyone is so angry at what sounds like pretty mundane innocuous video content.

      1. Betty*

        As I said, if they asked beforehand I would probably say yes. You’re right that it does sound like pretty mundane innocuous video content – and pretty cool video content that I’d be happy to support. It’s the not asking which is the problem, especially given that asking would be such a quick and easy thing for them to do.

        What I would be furious about is that they’ve come onto my property to do a job and totally failed to recognise that the default in our society is NOT having your property filmed (whether bedroom window or tree canopy), that it could quite reasonably give someone the heebie jeebies, and you HAVE to ask first. Interpersonal skills/empathy 101.

        It’s really not like simply asking the client is some huge unreasonable burden on the OP. Imagine a simple email: “Hi, when I come to do your trees, I was wondering if you’d mind if I took some video of the work. I have an educational Youtube channel at [link] and it would be an interesting opportunity for me. I’ll certainly check with you before I post any of the footage online, but let me know whether or not you’d be comfortable with me filming your trees.” (Obviously one could word it better!)

        Not asking says:
        – I don’t realise or care that people might have privacy concerns
        – I don’t realise or care that some people might mind me effectively multitasking when doing their job
        – I lack judgement and/or interpersonal skills…and who knows what else I might randomly decide to do in secret

        Asking says:
        – I realise that I am here to do a job on your trees for which you are playing me, and the video is a bonus for me to which I am not entitled
        – I realise that this is your property and you are entitled to control what happens on it
        – I am not trying to hide what I am doing
        – I am a helpful, reasonable, amenable person who wants you to feel comfortable while I am working on your property

        Asking is such an easy thing for them to do but is indicative of such a huge level of respect for others which is lacking in their letter. Why would you NOT ask if you’re not doing anything wrong?

      2. Anonny right Now*

        What most of us who would be furious are reacting to is the fact that this guy is doing this without permission from anyone else involved. This is a guy who has been disciplined in the past for doing this without permission and hasn’t stopped.

        If permission had been requested and obtained in advance it would be very different. The thing is, the only person who can decide their personal privacy preference is that person (exception granted for parents/legal guardians of minors). You don’t get to decide that you know better than another adult what their privacy preference should be.

      3. It's a No From Me*

        Someone might feel humiliated that others might see they had a diseased tree or let their trees get overgrown. I wouldn’t, but I can think of people I know who might be mortified to be seen that way.

        1. Betty*

          Yes, and you can’t just decide for them that they shouldn’t feel this way, or that no one knows it’s them so it’s fine. Other arborists are available who don’t think they know better than their clients what their clients’ feelings are (or should be). And all of this can be fixed by simply asking (and cheerfully taking no for an answer if necessary!)

  11. Ico*

    I really can’t agree that the situation in #2 is at all problematic. My company has a very similar charity auction every year and several executives will make similar listings because it’s zero effort for them, generates a fair amount of money for charity and gives the winner an opportunity to see the executives as people and vise versa. Basically everyone, including a charity, wins and saying “well, not everyone gets to participate” is the nature of all auctioned items.

    1. Fikly*

      It’s a problem because it’s giving employees an advantage in their job that is based on personal wealth, not merit.

      1. Art3mis*

        I’ve worked at a couple of companies that have similar auctions and this has always been my issue with them. There are very few people who could afford to pay for these types of lunches and they are likely the ones who already have access to the executives.

    2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      It’s different if it is the employer. Who is going to be able to afford to buy this access?

      One way to make it more equitable would be to take highest bidder + a raffle from anyone who gave any donation. That doesn’t make the idea perfect but it makes it better.

    3. hbc*

      It’s pretty gross in two ways. One is paying for increased access to higher ups. It directly plays on the idea that more money gets you ahead, and it’s going to be the people with a lot of disposable income who are going to be able to win this. In other words, those already at an advantage, not the struggling single father of three or the cleaning lady who could really share a thing or two about how people at the *actual* bottom are treated.

      And the second is the pressure to spend money to signal interest in the company. It’s already not great to be pushing people to redirect their paychecks, but the lunches are like “So, you’re not interested in charity *or* learning more from our Dear Leader?” The whole thing is uncomfortably close to a kickback, as far as I’m concerned–maybe the money goes to charity, but I’m sure there’s an advertising campaign or seven that talks about the *company’s* commitment to giving back, without mentioning it comes at the expense of the employees.

      1. Rebecca*

        This, exactly. I’d laugh out loud if this was expected of us. Our CEO spends more on a suit than I make in a month, we’re literally not allowed to buy post it notes with our meager office supplies budget because yet another C level excec feels they’re wasteful, and if we were expected to bid what amounts to over 1.5 day’s take home pay or more for the privilege of eating lunch with management who thinks we shouldn’t even get cost of living increases more than every 10 years or so is laughable. I mean, what would we even talk about? I can’t imagine how awkward the whole thing would be.

        1. Ico*

          I’ve never seen anyone be “expected” to bid, especially since the bidding is anonymous. There would be no way to know if someone was the second place bidder or didn’t participate at all.

    4. Washi*

      The problem isn’t that not everyone can win. After all, a raffle would be fine. The problem is that who wins is determined by how much money they have, and that’s kind of gross.

      1. Triplestep*

        Dollar raffle, limit 5 tickets or something like that. It can’t be an auction awarded to the people who have the most disposable income to throw at this thing. That’s actually petty gross.

        1. AuctionLW*

          I am the LW, my problem is that those lower in the company making less wouldn’t have the disposable income to drop on this, now it is financial services and it’s a big company and it’s only one division of the company (ie think divisions are bank, wealth management, insurance and it is within one of those so it’s the CEO of that division not the whole entity). There aren’t like warehouse or cleaning staff (cleaning staff is contracted out because the building isn’t owned by the company but rented so that company that owns the company supplies those workers). But entry level call centre workers for example (where I started in this industry ) could never afford that. A raffle would make it more accessible.
          I get that this is is “a thing” done for charity and we are able to direct to the charity of our choice as long as it is a registered charity in our country (at least for payroll deduction I don’t know if this auction allowed that) but it just bugs me. My last company did these charity drives and they would match your donation to your charity like 50% up to a maximum so I would do $10 a pay or something to a charity I was already giving too because there was the benefit of them getting more $ but they don’t match at this company so I don’t understand the vendor of donating through them vs on my own.

          1. It's a No From Me*

            I’m with you! Now that I’m old, I could afford to bid on something like this, but I wouldn’t because it is grossly unfair to employees who aren’t in a position of privilege. Possibly a $1 raffle ticket that anyone could buy would be a good solution.Someone suggested $5 per ticket which is still much too high for someone who is scraping by (I remember earning minimum wage as an adult).

            Then, for the prize, the CEO or other exec should be responsible for ensuring whoever won the raffle has a good time. I recall attending Administrative Professionals Week events with the big boss and a few admins and he just sat there. A couple of years in I told the admins I no longer wanted to attend this awkward event and heard “But you have to come! You’re the only one who keeps the conversation going!”

            1. It's a No From Me*

              And I did keep attending until I left that company, even after being promoted out of an admin position. I saw it as “taking one for the team” of admins.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                I work for a state agency. Our director has pointed out that any time they want everyone to show up somewhere, they make sure there’s cake. I’m OK with that. (And it’s good cake from a nice bakery.) Today, there were Christmas cookies, and anyone had access to senior staff. And cookies.

                We did have a silent auction for our annual giving last year. You could bid on items that involved senior staff, but it was for things like having the Secretary bring coffee to your bureau, so it was less about access and more about them doing something for your co-workers.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          It’s just icky on so many levels. Most importantly, as many others have pointed out, those with the most money shouldn’t have the most access.

          But also…doesn’t it seem kind of, I don’t know, pretentious and snooty? I’m not saying that every entry-level employee should have the same access as those in upper management who work with the Big Guy/Gal on a regular basis. But shouldn’t they have some access, if what they have to share is important enough? Without paying for it? If they don’t have anything to share that is important enough, the auction won’t do them any good anyway.

          I don’t want to offend anybody, but I truly think it’s ridiculous to treat lunch with the CEO as though he’s a famous actor or something.

          1. Fikly*

            Well, you get a very different benefit from meeting a celebrity.

            The benefit from meeting a CEO is if you make a good impression. Or if you get some kind of info that helps you advance in the company, etc. There are clear possible benefits to be gained, it’s not a oooh, I got to meet the CEO, it was so exciting! It’s potentially career advancement.

        3. Ico*

          You’ve literally just described what an auction is. Do you find all auctions “kind of gross”? Especially when they are directly 100% benefiting a charity?

      2. Phony Genius*

        Which means that the most likely winner is somebody high up enough that they regularly meet with the executives, anyway.

        1. Cookie Captain*

          Or at least that they’re close enough to the top for brown-nosing to potentially have genuine career benefits. I think it’s tacky, bordering on unethical.

    5. ijbouv*

      Exactly. This is pretty standard in all the big companies I’ve worked at. Some people get together and pool their money. Some don’t care at all and don’t even bid, but participate in the charity drive other ways. I currently work at a very large company with offices all across the US. We have over 50,000 employees. We do it at the major department level (If a bank, think head of all credit cards, rather than head of credit card ops, head of credit card risk, etc – i..e. people only one or two levels down from CEO). I never bid on it, but it is fun to see who wins and how much things go for. I also never bid on the season tickets, or golf outings, etc. No biggie. Silent auctions bring in way more money than raffles (which we also do for other things).

      1. AuctionLW*

        LW here – yes I get this is common – it has always bugged me. Even those charity drives outside of work where you win a date with someone – I always felt uneasy about them.
        I know it’s common but I guess encouraging staff to bid a lot of money on lunch with senior execs you know A highlights the inequity and most people bidding already likely have the funds that there is a good chance they have easier access to them. It’s also geographically very limited even though people work across thousand and thousands of miles you have to be near main office to win it.

    6. kittymommy*

      My work has done something like this before (not at that amount though) and truthfully, the access or advantage it gives is greatly overestimated. I know for us it gave zero “leg up” for those that won the bid.

      1. a1*

        I agree. It’s a nice lunch with some chit chat. If it’s a really large company, it’s not going to make or break you. Even the best CEOs aren’t going to remember the names and faces of 50,000 employees.

      2. Malarkey01*

        I was going to say the same. We actually had it as a raffle that was later changed to an auction, and it both cases the real prize is that you get a very good meal in the executive dining room at HQ. The 50 or so minutes you get with the CEO is not changing anyone’s job or given an advantage. You can have an interesting conversation but you aren’t pitching anything or yourself and honestly 2 days later I doubt the CEO even remembers your name.

    7. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      My MegaCorp loves these types of auctions. I see a few of these a year. It is uncomfortable since it’s a “pay to play” option for your career. It’s also uncomfortable if you’re an introvert. On the executive side, it’s also uncomfortable when the executive receives no bids or their bid amount is lower than a peer’s.

      The only benefit when there’s so many of these is that no one notices if you’re not contributing to one.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      There is a difference between not being able to buy the basket of overpriced spa day products versus not beingt able to buy facetime with company executives. It perpetuates a cycle of people with more disposable income having more opportunities to succeed. Maybe it ends up just being a lunch of exchanged pleasantries; maybe the winner makes a strong, positive impression on the exec, who takes an interest in their professional growth.

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

      I’m with you. I don’t understand all of the people who seem to think that this lunch is some sort of opportunity to give an executive an earful about what’s what or something. It’s a social meal, it isn’t meant to be a business meeting for feedback and it would be socially graceless to bring an agenda about pay, benefits, working conditions, etc. I guarantee any employee that did that would not benefit from doing so.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think few people would consider it an opportunity to bend an exec’s ear about anything. It’s a social meal where you make a personal connection and now someone higher up in the organization knows your name and (hopefully) has a positive impression of you. That may not seem like much, but it puts you on the radar when a project or opening comes up (“What about Bob in Accounting? He seemed to really get the economics of the llama grooming subsidiary.”). Maybe it amounts to nothing, but it’s an opportunity not open to others to even make that impression. Those personal relationships are how a lot of mentoring and opportunities arise, unless you work somewhere with a lockstep or seniority-based system that can’t be circumvented.

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

          In your scenario, the only way the CEO would even know Bob in Accounting’s position on the economics of llama grooming would be if Bob somehow worked that into the banal conversation over an hour-long lunch. I just don’t see that happening — that’s like a TV movie plot. What’s more likely is that the CEO would remember Bob being a great big boor for bring up llama grooming economics while the CEO wants to finish his salad in peace.

    10. Edamame*

      Personally I think the weirdest part is that it has to be in a specific city. Even if the employees COULD afford to buy this, now they have to pay to travel to that city for the pleasure of meeting with the president? Shouldn’t the president come to them?

      We had a kind of similar situation where we were encouraged to nominate people for an award and the winners would fly to HQ for a ceremony. Unsurprisingly the winners were all from the same country as HQ. I don’t know if the flights would be on the individual or the company but clearly nobody wanted to pay for that.

      1. Ico*

        If the president went to them, it would get rid of the whole “zero effort for the executive” part of why these are attractive. A person can’t be in two places at once, so meeting a person is always going to be geo-restricted.

  12. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


    So I know someone who has become very successful doing this: for his own company and with the homeowner’s explicit and signed off permission. Note, his company and homeowner permission. Very successful. (I am dying to tell you how successful but, cone of silence, I can’t. VERY. )

    You don’t have to not do this. What you have to do is do it right. You can’t record and post videos from your paid job against the wishes of your employer and you can’t capture video working on somebody’s property without their explicit permission.

    Think harder, do it right. Just do it right.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yes. All this.

      (Btw I’m imagining you as Buddy the Elf using the cone of silence. Santa! I know him! Style.)

      Tons of tree walkers do these but it has to be done correctly so everyone is taken care of.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        It’s just like that! Only Santa started out mowing my lawn when he was 21! Okay not quite Santa but…..

        Resume cone of silence……… :)

  13. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP#3 – Another thing to add is that you also want to consider the issue of consent and trust. If someone ignores a ‘No’ and responds with ‘Yeah, but here’s the reason I can do the thing you asked me not to do’, that is someone who cannot be trusted.

    I have asked people not to take photos before and they gave similar responses to you. I didn’t ask them to not include identifying information, I asked them not to take photos. You say that you’re not including identifying information, but how can people trust you? How do they know you didn’t use your camera for other purposes?

    Please know that I’m not saying you’re a horrible person, and I do believe what you’ve written in your letter. We live in a world where everyone has a camera and posts pictures of strangers, where 50% of Americans (not sure of the stats in other countries) have their faces on file in police databases due to facial recognition technology. There’s very little discussion or respect for consent in general, and even less for taking photos of people and homes. So I can understand that you don’t consider this a big deal. A lot of people don’t.

    What I’m saying that your employer and clients can’t know whether they should believe you. Your boss told you no and you kept going. You won’t just get fired, you’ll get a reputation as someone who goes into people’s homes under the guise of doing a job but records videos without their knowledge or consent. I hope you will seriously reconsider what you’re doing and find a more respectful way of sharing what is otherwise a fascinating hobby. For example, there are a lot of people out there who would gladly allow you to film in exchange for a reduced rate. Or they just think it’s cool to be on camera. Good luck.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I somehow missed the part where you said you’d already been suspended for ignoring your employer. You should also spend some time considering why that wasn’t enough for you to stop.

  14. Drag0nfly*

    OP3, I suspect the answer to this is no, but:

    1) Did you get any of these people to sign a release before you published your videos? Before you filmed them? Do you know what a release *is*? Did you have one drawn up by a lawyer?

    2) Did the clients sign a contract indicating that by agreeing to the services, they agree to let you use footage of their property for media purposes? Did you point out this section of the contract, or was it “fine print”?

    3) When your employer brought up the legal issues concerning your habit, did you look up the laws for yourself? You can find out that you’re wrong and your boss is right with a 30-second Google search. The exceptions you made up for yourself in your post are irrelevant.

    If you intend to be a “publisher” then you had better sit down and read those laws. They’re very easy to understand and not at all rocket science, so take the time to study them. Preferably before you get sued.

    Had you done those things, I think you would have mentioned it. So, quit filming. Now. Before you get sued. Ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse, and willful ignorance is definitely not an excuse. You want to publish, fine, but learn the laws about who you can photograph, and who you can’t, and when, and why, and how. This isn’t rocket science.

    You don’t have any grounds to object to your boss. Yes, your boss is right. Yes, you will lose in court. Yes your behavior is unprofessional from a media standpoint. It’s also unprofessional from the standpoint of your company. Just stop it now.

    I really don’t get why you didn’t look up the laws on this before you began this venture, and why didn’t look them up after your boss flat out told you they exist. The laws aren’t rocket science. Look them up. And quit while you’re ahead.

    1. Tyche*

      1) Did you get any of these people to sign a release before you published your videos? Before you filmed them? Do you know what a release *is*? Did you have one drawn up by a lawyer?
      The point here is that he’s not going in these houses as a freelancer, but as an employee of Company X. He cannot ask permission to make the videos, the company should ask for a release!

  15. Panini Cat*

    OP 3 – I work with animal control people and their clients occasionally. We had one large project that two control people were bidding on. During the pre-bid inspection, one company took videos of the site and posted them online. There was no identifying information said in the video but they did not ask permission to do this. The client found it and was really upset. Guess who didnt get the job? Just something to think about!

  16. Mookie*

    re LW 3
    I used to be ISA municipal certified out of California, so I’m well aware of climbers filming POV rigging techniques, equipment safety and maintenance, and basic climbing maneuvers, both for workaday jobs and leading up to competitions. Studying video, including drone footage, was certainly a part of my personal training and revision.

    It’s also, of course, not unusual for any kind of contractor to photograph jobs (time lapse, streaming) during and after construction with the property owner’s permission, usually for a company portfolio rather than for an individual employee’s social media account or for documentation, and GoPro POV-format video is pretty obligatory when you’re doing tree and woody plant inventory in wildlife-urban interfaces, public parks, and big commercial jobs (eg Disneyland). This isn’t arbitrary or because tech is sexy but because it’s functional, it bridges the gap between human-based work and automation (a good thing, if we want to keep people employed on the ground) for collecting data and providing visual confirmation of basic field-testing, and it’s verifiable/auditable. There’s nothing preventing your employers from getting this kind of token permission to film residential properties in a contract, even if it feels like overkill, but given that they are dead set against you doing so, I’d come up with a plausible reason you can sell to them as a business expense/investment. These aren’t the kinds of massive construction jobs that call for continual, on-site visuals for safety and productivity but, presumably, would exist to demonstrate execution and precision, either for advertisement or in-house training.

    If you’re educationally-minded, I’d suggest looking to your local polytechnics and trade schools for a horticulture or arboriculture program whose students would benefit from a treeworker enthusiastic about their work, or talking to someone in your local branch of ISA/whatever governing association exists in your neck of the woods for opportunities to do live and filmed demonstrations.

    1. Mookie*

      Also, as a prospective client, yes: I’d want proof that a company’s climbers know what they’re doing, are familiar with best practices and correctly equipped, automatically establish a safe dropping zone beneath them before pruning, and are cognizant of the distinction between, say, topping and thinning. A video succinctly demonstrates those rudimentary principles.

      The concern about residents being filmed is an understandable one in isolation, but done properly nobody should be caught in the line of sight.

      1. Observer*

        All good and fine. But the bottom line is that you CANNOT LEGALLY film in private spaces without the explicit permission of the customer. That’s the real issue here.

        The OP has been repeatedly explicitly told not to do this. Instead of finding a way to make it a win for the employer and legal for them both, they just decided “boss is wrong and I can do what I want.” I honestly am not sure I would trust their adherence to best practice and safety rules, either.

        1. Mookie*

          I disagree that that is the issue the LW is actually grappling with. In any case, no one has recommended that he film things surreptitiously or without permission.

          1. Observer*

            The OP doesn’t know it, but it certainly IS something they SHOULD be grappling with.

            It doesn’t matter how useful to the employer these videos could be. And it doesn’t matter if people are in the line of sight or not. What they are doing is legally problematic. And the boss is completely correct in telling them to knock it off.

    2. It's a ? From Me*

      I am happy to say that I completely understood this comment (except a bunch of words in the three paragraphs that came after “I used to be”).

  17. Myrin*

    OP #3, what I’m reading between all the lines in your letter is an incredible sense of urgency and insistence.
    It sounds like you want to make these videos at all costs and I will be very blunt here: Why?

    I understand that this is your beloved hobby and that it’s pretty awesome to be able to do something that you love and work on your hobby at the same time while basically doing nothing but pushing a button and narrating what you’d be doing anyway. But I really don’t get why there is such a need apparent in your letter.
    Sure, it’s practical.
    But the moment where your employer explicitly forbids you from doing something and where you’ve been not only scolded but actually suspended because of going against their instructions, practicality really needs to take a step back. Surely someone in your profession could find ways to shoot those videos in your free time and on property where you have permission to do this? (And I’m not saying that that’s simple but, I mean, if that is what your hobby involves, you will need to take the road more cumbersome, whether you’d prefer it or not.)

    I’m going to use an absurd hyperbolic example here and I promise I don’t mean it unkindly, but your letter reads like you are encountering negelcted, starving children in all those trees you climb and like you feel like you have a moral and ethical duty to rescue those children from the trees and feed them. And if you were indeed encoutering starving children, this would be a noble and humanitarian stance to take – it would be an admirable and, I’d argue, right endeavour to continue to rescue the starving children even against your boss’s explicit instructions.

    But that’s not at all what’s at stake here. Again, I don’t mean to be snarky, but you’re talking about filming videos. And I don’t understand why that videomaking is so important that you’re actually willing to endanger your job just to keep doing this.

    1. Batgirl*

      “It sounds like you want to make these videos at all costs and I will be very blunt here: Why?”

      Some people cant accept the word ‘no’ unless it makes personal and complete sense to them. Of course most of being a working adult means simply accepting the wishes of employers and doing the job THEY want, not the work YOU want.

      OP needs to practice the phrase “Well, you’re the boss”.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Thank you for explaining that. I always thought literally nobody could survive to adulthood unless they learned how to respect authority. Those who don’t respect authority tend to end up locked up in jail or other institution. Or else chronically unemployed.

    2. Anonymous at a University*

      I almost wondered if they were counting on the videos as a source of income or a side gig, or hope that someday they can monetize them. If that’s true, OP, it’s actually a more urgent reason to stop doing them while you’re working your job, as your attention could easily become focused on what’s best for your side gig, not the work you’re being paid to do.

      But that’s just a guess.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Option 1 is that the OP is the type of person who naturally pushes back on being told “no” with “but why?” even when they have already been told or shouldn’t have to be told. Option 2 is that they have either already monetised the videos or they plan to do so in future. I think option 2 would also explain why the company is cracking down so hard on it, as the OP would basically be trying to do two jobs at once.

  18. Myrin*

    #1, the consultant’s behaviour was bizarre and very apropos of nothing. A joke like this could’ve reasonably been made about me before my gallbladder surgery because I’m naturally a glutton and can (or could, rather) eat more than basically everyone else in any given situation. Which is to say, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone who knew me and my eating habits well and who I’ve had the right kind of friendly relationship with said something along those lines to me.

    However, it sounds like my (former) eating habits aren’t your eating habits so it doesn’t even make sense (either it was totally random which, again, bizarre, or it was, like you mention, because of your weight, which, highly inappropriate and rude, not to mention presumptuous). And it also doesn’t sound like you and she actually had the kind of relationship where this kind of ribbing would’ve been okay, which makes this doubly uncomfortable and strange. (It’s also certainly not “big laugh” material, especially if the people in those different groups she told this to don’t even know you very well (or at all?). She sounds like someone whose sense of humour took an unfavourable dive sideways somewhere along the way.)

    In any case, I like taking the confusion road, especially Alison’s second example – since, like I said, this isn’t even particularly funny to begin with, the “I’m not following” really should take the wind out of the sails of these wannabe comedians.

  19. I'm A Little Teapot*

    #3 – I’m a homeowner. I do not want anyone taking video or pictures of my home or property, regardless of the height or reason, without my prior knowledge and consent. And I’m fairly relaxed about these things. If I found out that a contractor was taking pictures or video without my permission, I’d fire them. And very possibly put the word out on social media.

    Leave the camera at home.

  20. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    I’m not much of a private person, I post to social media, and I’m generally an open book. That said, it would bother me to know that someone I paid to do work on my property was filming it and posting that online. It’s not that I feel I have anything to hide. It’s more that it’s MY property, not yours. It feels like a violation. Also, what if someone decided to use that video to case my house and see what I have, like a classic car or something, in order to plan a robbery? (Yes, my house has been robbed before.)

    OP, your employer told you to stop. You’ve been suspended for this (!!) and you still feel as though you should be able to do this. Why would you not just drop it? Are you OK with losing your job over it?

    1. Allypopx*

      Agreed. Especially without asking. And if they asked I may grant permission, or I may ask that they keep it contained to xyz and make sure we have a written agreement that a and b will not be included. And the bigger thing is, on my private property it’s my right to request those things and, not to sound too alarmist or soap boxy, you would, therefore, be violating my rights to decide it’s no big deal and it anyway.

      There could be any number of legitimate safety and privacy issues people can decline to their property being filmed. Or maybe they just don’t want it to be! They can decide that whether you think it makes sense or not, just like the company can set these boundaries whether you think they make sense or not (spoiler: they do) and you have to respect that.

    2. pentamom*

      Agreed. I tend to be a very (maybe overly) analytical, “what could they really get from videoing the outside of my house that they couldn’t get from walking down the street, which is perfectly legal” type person, and I STILL don’t like the idea of someone I’m paying for a service, coming on my property and filming stuff without permission.

      But like some others, I’m really struck by the idea that LW thinks they can push back and win this fight after their boss told them to stop doing it and they simply defied the boss. What is hard to understand about the idea that if the boss tells you you can’t do something on the job, and it’s not actually a discriminatory or unfair rule, you can’t do it?

  21. Andream*

    If you really want to keep doing videos perhaps you and your employer can come to an agreement. You should get property owners consent to video record on Thur property. You can get some waiver made. Then perhaps bring it up to your employer that 1. You can get written permission. 2. Would offer to promote company in the videos.

    I totally see their point, owners could get angry if they see their tree guy doing videos and posting online. The could easily put it together that you were video recording on their property, even if you can’t see anything in the videos, they don’t know what you edited out. Also if your using company equipment when doing your videos (the climbing stuff) they could see it as misappropriation of company equipment. This is especially true if you get anything monetary from your videos.

  22. Malty*

    OP1 Captain Awkward advocates, and I too am a big fan of, a blank stare and a flatly delivered ‘Wow.’ It returns awkwardness to sender, and I can always remember it whereas I cannot remember the suggested more eloquent sentences/get flustered delivering them in the moment. But I can always remember and deliver the wow.

  23. Susie Q*

    In regards to #3, people really don’t understand wrongful termination. You can be fired for almost anything in the US even if it sounds ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, your boss isn’t being ridiculous for not wanting you to film while on company time and doing your job. And if you continue to pursue this and get fired, very few people will be sympathetic to you because you legit messed up.

  24. Anonymous llama trainer*

    Going to piggyback on OP 1’s letter a bit, since I like Alison’s advice here but had a similar situation where feigning confusion and asking for clarification might not have worked.

    I have struggled with my weight and been on the heavier side for years. One day my workplace had a different delivery driver than usual who was younger and close to my age. After we received the boxes and had gone back to the office to sort them, my supervisor began joking about setting me up with the driver. This didn’t really bother me, I just kind of “ha ha’d” and focused on the boxes.

    Then my supervisor paused, looked me over, and said “Well he’s kind of skinny so you might not look that good together.” I was too shocked to respond, which was probably a good thing because it kept me from yelling “what in the actual F*CK?!” at my supervisor. This was 2-3 years ago so it’s too late to say anything but I’m wondering what I should have said. (For the record, this was just one of many unprofessional things my supervisor has said over the years.)

    1. AAM Canadian fan*

      I think “Wow, I can’t believe you just said that” might have been a reasonable option.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      Personally I’m a big fan of the “you’re an idiot” glare. Channel your inner McGonagall.

      1. Anonymous llama trainer*

        I wish I could “like” this comment. McGonagall is one of my favorite characters and someone I look up to. I can only aspire that one day my glares will achieve the same level of disapproval as Maggie Smith’s.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          I love her too! (Clearly I also love HP because I chose an obscure HP reference as a username.) If I were a teacher, I’d have a very similar style.

    3. Mary Anne Spier*

      I just posted a similar story down below. Oh my God. You should not have to put up with that from anyone. I would have done the whole “I can’t believe you just said that to me” thing and not offered any opportunity for them to say it was a joke or explain themselves. “That was so rude and out of line.” And walk away.

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      Since it was your supervisor, your best course of action was to say nothing. They sound like the type of person who would have written you up for insubordination or not being a team player if you dared to stand up for yourself.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My response is “that’s rude to say to someone.” The adult version of Stephanie Tanner’s “how rude!”

      My partner is thinner than I am. We’re just fine, sis.

    6. Blueberry*

      That’s utterly horrible of your supervisor. Too bad we can’t teach them boundaries using an electric fence to demonstrate.

      Unfortunately, in my experience people who like trampling the boundaries of those they have power over also tend to get enraged when people push back. I’d hesitate to tell you to say anything in this situation, as much as the supervisor deserves, “What a rude comment” or suchlike.

    7. Sharrbe*

      Oh…..God. Sorry you had to hear that. How do people believe that these comments are in any way acceptable? How do they NOT know that they’re being cruel? I once went to a medical appointment with my mother and the doctor asked her what nurse or assistant changed her bandage before he came in. My mom told him that she didn’t know her name, and the doctor asked, and I quote, “Was it the big, fat one?” Our jaws dropped. My mother was literally speechless, and he then says “It’s ok, she’s my daughter.” WTF? That “clarification” made his comment ten times worse. If he says stuff like this about her at work, I can’t imagine what he says to her in private. I so badly wanted to pull her aside and convince her to quit.

      1. Anonymous llama trainer*

        Oh my gosh, that is HORRIBLE. What kind of awful person thinks it’s okay to say that about someone just because she’s their daughter? He really couldn’t identify her by anything else? Hair color, glasses, accessories, etc.?

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        They believe it’s acceptable because we’ve moralized a person’s size, diet, and exercise regime and because women are seen as objects in general society.

        Say it with me now: “My body is an instrument, not an ornament!”

      3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        It does not surprise me in the slightest that a doctor did this. I hope the daughter was able to escape him.

      4. pamela voorhees*

        Many, many people think “”tough love”” works re: weight — as in, if they are incredibly cruel to overweight people, it will motivate them to lose weight, and if someone hasn’t lost weight, it’s because people have not been cruel enough to them to motivate them. I’ve seen multiple medical papers advocating this. It’s very, very common, and the worst part is, people don’t even think it’s being cruel – they think it’s “for your own good” and therefore okay.

  25. Quickbeam*

    Re: #3: I’m in worker safety. I see people become paralyzed after a slip off a 2 step ladder. Everything you do at height needs your 100% attention. If you want to make videos, you should do it on your own time.

    1. Andream*

      Although I don’t agree with the OP, it is a go pro. It’s probably one that goes over his helmet, like a head lamp. They require no extra attention. You just turn it on and do your stuff. Your not holding anything, most people forget it there

  26. voyager1*

    LW1: I am really blown away by reading some of the responses and “scripts” that some suggest. A direct, “that wasn’t funny” or “that wasn’t funny the first time” is all that is needed. I don’t get the whole “awkwardness” people are inserting. I guess making it awkward somehow softens the language or makes the joke teller feel bad?!?! It makes someone feel witty?!?! I just don’t get it, either way just be direct with the joke teller.

    1. Allypopx*

      Depends on who’s saying it/power dynamics/getting written off as a wet blanket and dismissed. People who have dealt with these kind of comments a lot have often experienced shame and social blowback to standing up for themselves, or just found it does not work and the behavior continues, so they want classy and effective scripts they can feel confident about. It’s perfectly understandable, social dynamics aren’t always straightforward.

      1. voyager1*

        I guess I can see your first point, but I don’t think the scripts that were suggested above by one poster would really make it better. They come off as well awkwardly. But I get where someone might want to try something less direct out of some fear.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not a fan of inserting awkwardness for the most part.

      But the idea behind it is to make the offender “feel it” and therefore make them think twice before repeating their behavior towards you in the future.

      But I personally come from the “knock it off, I’m not amused.” background. These scripts come from the “watch your ass, better shut them down in socially acceptable ways. It’s rude to point out other rudeness directly.” kind of etiquette training.

    3. Lady Heather*

      The return awkward to sender thing is from Captain Awkward. She uses it as a strategy to deal with people who violate boundaries.
      For example:
      You’re in the bar.
      Person makes you uncomfortable. (E.g. standing too closely, ‘accidentally’ bumping into you, etc.) It’s not overtly creepy and can possibly be interpreted as an accident.
      ‘Social conditioning’ or whatever you want to call it ‘mandates’ that you keep the peace and not call them out. So you’re expected to leave, put up with it, or hope they take a subtle hint. As long as you play along, no awkward siuations will happen.
      However.. they created the awkward. So you can return the awkard to sender.
      “Stop touching me.” “Stop following me around.” …

      Similarly: someone covertly insults you, such as in the situation of LW1.
      You don’t have to be silent in fear of creating an awkward situation if you call them out. You can call them out. It’s not your awkward – it is their awkward. Let them deal with it.

      It’s about being direct, even at the expense of ‘keeping the peace’. When dealing with people who are rude, mean, and/or violate boundaries, a lot of people have the ‘instinct’ to not cause trouble, not speak up, etc in order to not create an awkward situation or awkward silence.

      ‘Return awkward to sender’ means speaking up because the person speaking up didn’t create the awkwardness by speaking up – the boundary violator created the awkardness by violating boundaries. And you don’t have to put up with that.

      I hope I explained this half-decently.

    4. MeepMeep*

      If you do that with a sufficiently jerky person, they’ll say “Aw, come on – are you a wet blanket who can’t take a joke?!!!” or something like that. And then go on making fun of you for that. If someone is that rude, they’re not just going to say “Oh, I’m sorry – I won’t make fun of you anymore!” That would be the response of a reasonable person, but a reasonable person wouldn’t make that sort of joke in the first place.

      Since this is a power play (as all bullying is), the correct response really is to switch up the power dynamics by making the bully feel awkward. Hence the scripts.

      1. pamela voorhees*

        Yep — if someone phrases something as “joking” and you respond with “stop that, I don’t like that”, there’s a decent chunk of people who will think that you were the rude one – they were just kidding, after all! It’s a social cost that some people might not be willing to pay at work, even though it’s effective, hence the other options.

  27. Golden Oldie*

    My favorite response to any off-comment, always, “I’m sorry, hmmmmm?”

    And if they dare repeat it, a smile and, “I still didn’t catch that, hmmmm?”

    And if they insist on continuing, turn to anyone else and, “I must not be hearing that quite right,” and walk away.

    It really leaves them stuttering their rudeness every time.

    1. pamela voorhees*

      I really, really like this. I might add in a “You couldn’t possibly have said what I thought you said, I must be mistaken” but then again my patterns of speech often sound like a lost Regency heroine.

  28. Bevo's Left Horn*

    OP2 – Lunch with Executives
    It’s probably just me and my social anxiety, but I’m having trouble understanding why anyone would even want to have a lunch with a senior executive (especially given that the exec didn’t actually choose to have lunch with you personally). I can’t imagine a scenario where I would want to have lunch with a senior exec in my organization, even if someone was going to pay me $160 to go.
    Granted, I work for an extremely large organization where our senior execs only appear in scripted videos on our company intranet. Sometimes I wonder if they are even real people, or if some of our executives are actually an elaborately-constructed series of deep fake videos.
    Jokes aside, for anyone that views this as a desirable thing (enough that they would be willing to fork over that kind of cash for it), what would you be hoping to get out of this? A vague sense that you did some networking and it might pay off later? Unless you are high up enough in the organization to already have access to these people, what is desirable about this for a “little person”? I am genuinely curious…

    1. AuctionLW*

      To be honest when I used to work in the office I would see these execs in elevator or line ups at coffee place and would often engage in friendly chat with them – sometimes not knowing who they were when I first started!
      I’ve been at department meetings and lunches and find I’ve made better connections through that. Like I too have some anxiety and I would hate this. As a leader I would hate it too. Like also how much can you really get out of a lunch that you had to buy the privilege of attending.

      1. Bevo's Left Horn*

        Yes, I totally get that and have had similar experiences just making friendly conversation with random people in the elevator or lunch line in the office (who i later found out were fairly high-level people, maybe not C-suite but more like SVPs). Things like that are totally normal and desirable. Even if it doesn’t lead to any direct career advancement (and i would submit that it almost never does), it helps you internalize that higher level people put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. These random meetings feel organic and natural.
        That said, this lunch auction idea seems to set up a very weird dynamic. But, hey, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t appeal to other people…

    2. Quill*

      I end up comfortable chatting with great-grandbosses because I don’t recognize them on sight!

      An auctioned lunch would completely kill that vibe.

      “Oh, you’re the lady who dropped her ID down an elevator shaft and then tried very obviously not to swear about it? Did you not know I was the Director?”

      1. Allypopx*

        Ha. But yes, organic meetings tend to be much better networking than a stiff lunch, especially knowing one of you paid to be there. The dynamics are all wonky right off the bat.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Back when I was looking to move up in the company very quickly, get more opportunities for learning, etc., I would have loved something like this. It would have been a chance to get to know the executive, talk about my aspirations, and hopefully get on their radar. Though, I think this would be much easier in a smaller company. I’m not sure how well it would work in a huge company like OP’s.

      1. AuctionLW*

        That’s the point the problem is others who want to move up the company but maybe have kids and other responsibilities or other financial obligations and don’t make enough are disadvantaged.
        I can’t afford to drop this much money in something like this if I wanted the opportunity. Many others are the same.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Right. What I meant to add was that if it were a raffle or something like that. I couldn’t have afforded to pay for it back then, and people shouldn’t have to.

    4. irene adler*

      Yeah, lunch with the Suits does not appeal to me in the least.
      But hey, if it does for others, great!

    5. Alienor*

      There’s really not that much benefit unless you’re aiming at getting on an executive track yourself, and are already in the sort of position that would even make it feasible (e.g. you’re a white guy with an MBA who works in sales or finance, bonus if you also play golf and are a heavy social drinker). I’ve been in roles in the past where I had a lot of contact with executives through my daily work, and pretty much all it meant was that 1.) we’d say “hi, how’s it going” to each other in the hallway, and 2.) if they had an idea while they were hanging out together late at night, I’d wake up to an email in the morning. If actually working with them doesn’t do anything, a single expensive lunch isn’t going to either.

      1. Bevo's Left Horn*

        Yeah, I was trying to not be overly cynical about it, but this is basically how it struck me as well. But, at least in this case, participation is not mandatory. Now, if lunch with an executive was given to me as some kind of “reward” in lieu of a bonus (or anything else that gives me a tangible benefit), I’d be pretty annoyed.

      2. Alienor*

        Note that these were big companies – I suppose it might be different in a smaller one, but even in the one midsize company I worked for, meeting the execs only meant that you’d met the execs, and promotions past a certain level were still mostly nonexistent.

    6. Golden Oldie*

      I wonder if there would be a way to donate the purchase to a local org that aims to build leaders or something similar. Does it have to be used by an employee?

      Similarly? Could it be purchased anonymously and not used?

      1. Bevo's Left Horn*

        Great idea about donating to a local organization. For your second point, i’m getting a kick out of imagining a CEO sitting alone at a restaurant, repeatedly checking their phone, wondering when the winner is going to show up. LOL.

    7. SpaceySteph*

      I can see why some (probably white male people) would love this, but I’m with you. Our work does “bagels with the boss” with someone about 3 levels up, like a small round table thing and I cringe when my number comes up.
      Getting this lunch doesn’t sound like “winning” to me!

    8. It's a No From Me*

      The thing is that it really needs to be about the Exec making sure that whoever wins has a fantastic time. It should be completely on the Exec to keep conversation going, to have a bunch of lunch courses, and maybe something else to provide a memorable experience for the employee.

  29. Kaitlyn*

    With regards to the lunch question – who picks up the tab? Is it the senior exec who presumably makes more that their lunch date, the person who’s already shelled out hundreds for the opportunity, or the company itself?

  30. Maya Elena*

    For OP2, the auction:
    I don’t see a problem with this, any more than having an auction with a private celebrity, especially in a large company. What do you think will go on at this lunch: a nefarious employee will pitch the idea he stole? Weasel an undeserved promotion? Engage in nefarious male bonding and plot to put down women in the company?

    This lunch is going to be some small talk, some “what do you do for our company?” and “tell me about your family”, and other small talk and “happy holidays” exchanged and that’s it. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

      1. AuctionLW*

        Yes I get it but I have also pointed out in another that even those win a date with things with celebrities bother me. Like selling access to someone – I just personally don’t Like it and was wondering if others found in problematic the workforce. From other comments it does seem to be split.

        It’s been already mentioned but it’s making access to higher ups tied to one’s means and disposable income which means it’s not equitable across all employees.

        My old company an AVP would hold a monthly lunch and invite every staff that reported to him to join him If that was the month they started working for the company. Everyone got a chance and because it was a smaller pool of employees it wasn’t too big and unmanageable.

        1. Bevo's Left Horn*

          Yes, I agree. I wouldn’t care to “win lunch” with a celebrity either. Just give me the cash equivalent and let’s call it a day. Just because I enjoy someone’s work in film, music, etc., that doesn’t mean that merely being in their presence is any kind of reward or delight for me. I’ve never understood the concept of approaching celebrities for autographs either, but that’s just me.
          The other scenario you describe with your old AVP seems totally different. I’ve worked under senior leaders that did something similar, but that strikes me as very different because 1) they are inviting you, 2) it suggests that the leader actually wants to get to know the people that work under them. That, to me, is an incredibly different dynamic.

    1. Cookie Captain*

      “Weasel an undeserved promotion?”

      Yes, exactly. This is like the struggling actor who thinks that a single meeting with a director will be their “big break.” And maybe it will. There are definitely good ol’ boy companies where the CEO liking the cut of your jib can get you pretty far.

    2. Above the waves, below the blades*

      I still think that auction access to a minor or major celebrity freaks _me_ out a bit. Neil Gaiman was just the subject of an auction of tea with him. Raised quite a bit of money for charity, but for social anxious people like me, it would be a nightmare. Not that I wouldn’t love to hear Neil Gaiman talk and not that I don’t love his work (Good Omens, anyone?), but that I would feel that I was bothering him and worse boring him, while at the same time obligating him to put up with me due to the auction. Aside from the old saw about not meeting your heroes, I have felt unwanted in enough social situations in my life, that I wouldn’t spend hordes of money to participate in another.

      In a work setting, my university has celebrations for people at their important work anniversaries. The President of the university was there and mistook my waving at his protection as in invite to come over to chat. We did have a brief chat, but I would have preferred to talk to his dignitary protection, who I actually knew. And the reason that the President had to have dignitary protection at a service celebration is because of people taking the opportunity to talk directly to him about controversial topics.

      In another context (same organization), I went to an award ceremony as a guest of one of the awardees. We joked around with the token admin at the table, who then got up to start the evening. Since he was the Rector…of the Board of Visitors…of my university. For those of you not familiar with university organizational charts, this was the person running the organization that the president reports to. When he had returned to the table, he mentioned that he had chosen to sit at our table because we were not faculty yearning to promote their particular project. We took the hint and proceeded to have light conversation for the rest of the evening.

      So, I guess in some ways, these auctions are somewhat self-selecting, but I wonder if the admins or celebrities look forward to them? Anyone been on the subject of one?

      1. Alienor*

        Not sure about executives, but I personally know some creators who enjoy small fan events. They’d rather interact with a few people at a time than sit at a convention table and sign 500 autographs in a row (although some of them enjoy that too, up to a point).

  31. Phony Genius*

    For #3, my trees are very shy and do not want to have their surgical procedures shown on the internet. Of course, the only way you’d know this is to ask me, their owner. Don’t take advantage of those who can’t speak for themselves.

    Putting the above semi-joke aside, due to worker’s comp laws that can result in homeowners being responsible for contractors’ injuries, I can understand most homeowners objecting to this if asked, and even more so if not asked. And if your YouTube channel is monetized, which means you make money from these videos, that’s even worse and could get you in even more legal hot water. Both with the homeowners and your employer. (Who legally owns this footage can be a murky question for lawyers.)

    1. Blueberry*

      “my trees are very shy and do not want to have their surgical procedures shown on the internet. ”

      *awards you an Internet Wit award*

  32. Dust Bunny*

    LW3 Cut it out. One, your employer told you to, which in this instance should be reason enough. It’s work you’re doing on behalf of your employer, not for yourself.

    My place of employment has a lot of really cool books and artifacts but I don’t post pictures anywhere because technically we’re supposed to charge, and patrons would need written permission, for use of our images. Even though the images I take would be mine (i.e. they are not actual pictures scanned from our collections), I don’t want to get into a gray area where somebody might steal an image of some of our material and use it.

  33. june june hannah*

    For OP1, I’d add that in this situation where it’s a vendor and not a fellow employee or friend making the comments, I’d tack on a “what a strange thing for a vendor to say to a client” right after the prompts others have gotten. And if it happened a second time I’d be talking to my boss and/or whoever had hiring responsibility for that vendor.

  34. Observer*

    #3 – I’m going to point something out – You boss can, and almost certainly WILL, fire you. You won’t have a leg to sue him – and you won’t even be able to collect unemployment because even the most employee friendly locality will see this as firing for cause, completely and totally. Beyond that, though, it’s going to make it very hard to find another job if anyone finds out why you were fired.

    Stop doing this NOW.

    If you can get the legalities figured out, find another job where the employer already has this figured out and does this anyway or where you can pitch this idea with all of the necessary pieces laid out. But that’s only going to work if you stop your current habit. Because a smart employer is going to be quite worried about someone who blatantly ignores clear and legitimate instructions from their boss and who videos private areas without permission.

  35. Mary Anne Spier*

    Ugh, the joke. How horrible.

    When I was 24, I was standing with a few colleagues in the hallway of the school where I worked. We were all waiting for someone to come give us a direction (this was in 2004 or so, so it’s a bit foggy; I think we were about to proctor some testing and we were waiting for the head person to come give us our rosters or something). We were just chatting and one teacher, who I had only met a few months ago, said, “Hey, I saw Mary Anne in that new King Kong movie this weekend.” I was shocked and I tried to ignore it. I was fat and had very low self-esteem so I guess I felt like while it was a mean thing to say, it was something I should just take. Nobody reacted to him because people were having their own side conversations and I don’t know if anyone heard him. He said it again, at which point I yelled, “I heard it the first time and it was inappropriate. Say it again and I’ll go to [principal]. We have a bunch of witnesses here who heard it.” It got really quiet. I was mad. After all, one of the people in the group was the guy I’d been on/off (secretly) dating and I didn’t like being embarrassed in front of him or anyone else.

    That was it, but looking back on it I really wish I’d made more of an issue of it. That’s one of the biggest regrets of my career, that I didn’t file a complaint or do the whole, “Explain why that’s funny? No, really, I don’t get it” thing. He wouldn’t get away with it now but sadly I let it slide back then.

    1. Observer*

      All things considered, you probably handled it as well as could be, I think. You did push badk and you did make him shut up. So that’s a plus.

      And, honestly, I suspect that going to the principal would not have been as effective as one would hope. So you don’t need to keep thinking about how you could have stopped a jerk from being a jerk.

    2. irene adler*

      I’m glad you didn’t let the comment go by, unchallenged.
      That teacher was a real schmuck. Hoping that, later on, folks told him how rude, ignorant and completely not okay his comment was.

    3. Anonymous llama trainer*

      I am so sorry you had to deal with an insensitive and hurtful comment like that. Especially since the person making the comment felt the need to say it twice! I think you handled it really well though, putting him in his place but still professional.

  36. AnonNurse*

    #1 – It’s not the best way to handle it, but I have been guilty of responding with a “you get one more time to make that joke, it wasn’t funny the first time but after next time, it will be a problem.” Or if the joke has been something along the lines of what yours was, it would end up being “what exactly are you insinuating here” or “what are you saying about me” in a tone that’s pretty obvious I am not happy at that point. Definitely not the way to normally go, but I get how it can be frustrating when someone is saying something mean-spirited at your expense.

    When I’m actually responding the way I should, it’s much more along the lines of Alison’s script or with a “I believe you’re not trying to be mean-spirited but when you’re saying that, it seems like you’re insinuating that I would steal from others or that I would be the only one that would want all of the cookies. I would appreciate it if you didn’t say that about me.” Now, the bad thing is, I’ve had people that wanted to go the route of acting like I was being sensitive or “it was only a jooookkkkkkeeee”, as if I hadn’t gotten it. That’s usually when my tone becomes less soft and turns in to “I never feel it’s okay to comment on someone else as the butt of a joke and I’m going to assume that going forward, you will no longer be referring to me in this way again.” I’ve never had anyone continue to cross that line after having to say those things but it really does NOT feel good to have to say things like that because people don’t get it or don’t care. I hope you don’t come across something like this again!

  37. Sara without an H*

    Re Auctioning off lunch with senior executives:
    “First Prize: lunch with our Company President.
    2nd Prize: TWO lunches with our Company President.”

    Honestly OP#2, I can’t get my head around how this would be considered a desirable prize for anybody but the most obsequious brown-nosers in your firm. It sounds like something I’d gladly pay $160 to avoid.

  38. Jedi Squirrel*

    #3 is a textbook case of insubordination. It can get you fired, it will get you fired, you will not get unemployment, and unless there is a lot of demand for arborists, it can make it almost impossible to find a new job.

    “My boss told me to stop but I don’t want to and I’m not going to, even after being suspended for it, and am looking for someone to support that this is unlawful termination” is just not a mature point of view at all.

    1. Allypopx*

      Yeah I was definitely thinking “what a great case study in asymmetrical understandings of employment law”

  39. Third or Nothing!*

    OP1: Last week I was out running and a lady rolled down her window as she drove past to yell “run faster!” I legitimately didn’t hear what she said so I took my headphones out and responded “what??” She replied “I said run faster, I was just trying to tease.” At this point I gave her my patented “you’re an idiot” glare, put my headphones back in, and kept running.

    Sometimes it’s best to channel your inner McGonagall.

    1. Auntie Social*

      She doesn’t run faster (if she runs at all) if she interrupts another runner. If she really ran she would know that not every run is for speed, you might be coming off an injury, etc. Eejit.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Ha, I was operating at half capacity due to allergies. My throat was closed up and it was hard to breathe. But darn it I was out there getting the miles!

        My runs are never about speed except in very specific instances as part of a training plan. I’m not a serious competitor. I run for the pure joy of it.

    2. Anonymous llama trainer*

      I would have been tempted to say something like “Well at least ONE of us is actually running” and look pointedly at the car before returning to my run.

      But I think you got the point across just fine :)

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        See these are the kinds of statements I never think of in the moment. That’s why I always default to the McGonagall glare.

        1. Anonymous llama trainer*

          Same, most of the time I also think of my best comebacks hours later. All the more reason to take your advice and practice my McGonagall glare.

  40. Lucette Kensack*

    I strongly disagree with Alison’s blanket advice against taking a large pay cut. There is so much more than pay that goes into making a choice about work. It could be the right decision for any given person, even if their lifetime earnings are significantly derailed.

    (I speak from experience here. I took a 37% pay cut to come to my current employer. I’ve been here five years and I’m still making $10k less than I was in my last job. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position where earning that much less was feasible, and it was absolutely the right choice — both for my career, and for my life beyond work.)

    1. Quickbeam*

      I also took a 25% pay cut once for a dream government job. I was there 15 years which earned me a state pension. That pension is worth more than gold to me now so yes, sometimes it makes sense and pays off.

        1. MtnLaurel*

          This. I took a large pay cut to move closer to my fiance in an area with a lower cost of living. It was hard but worth it in that situation.

    2. Allypopx*

      I don’t think it’s blanket advice. It reads more like “without a compelling reason”, and she just lists the reasons OP is considering in particular.

      As someone in a high COL area, this pay cut would be financially derailing to most people around here. Much different than going down from like…80k to 70k, the impact is often more at that middling pay band and it can indeed be hard to recover from. If that doesn’t matter much to the OP – great! But it’s worth considering.

      I think Alison, coming from a nonprofit background, is from what I’ve noticed also quick to squash notions that you must take a paycut to move into nonprofits or that you should consider nonprofit payscales with the expectation you’ll be undercompensated, because that is definitely a trap people fall into and it sounds like OP might be on the edge of that trap.

  41. Auntie Social*

    #3, stop filming. BUT– ask if your boss could look at it as insurance in case a homeowner ever claims you guys damaged his roof or his chimney. If there’s a video of each job, you’ll know you have a great defense in your back pocket. Of course the video belongs to the company alone and will not be posted online, and homeowners would sign releases. If the boss wants he’d have one of your videos on the company website showing how careful you are. And if boss still says no, film elsewhere on the weekends, but never again at work. It’s his company, you gotta do it his way.

    1. Allypopx*

      Mm, I don’t see much point to this. After having been punished and ignoring the company’s demands about this isn’t the time to say “I’ve still been doing this, but…”

      Also the OP explicitly wants it for personal use. I’d skip this all together.

  42. Mouse*

    #3: You need to stop filming at work. The only workaround I can think of is if you ask your bosses if you have permission to film non-work projects on your own time. I know some arborists own all their own gear, so if that’s the case, and you’re not subject to any kind of non-compete, then you might be able to do a few of your own jobs here and there and film them for your Youtube channel.

    Even then, you would need to declare your intentions to homeowner and all the residents, and get their permission to film before you started. Also, depending how high you go, you may need to get any overlooked neighbours’ permission as well. Check “your jurisdiction” and “filming rights” to get an idea of local laws. It would be a good idea to get some kind of contract printed out for people to sign if you’re going to film them or on their land.

    Source: A group I was in was filmed for a documentary, and so we had our rights (under English law) explained to us. Everyone needed to sign a contract, even those just in the background, and they had to get permission to film on the property.

  43. Don’t get salty*

    LW3: how did your employer find out that you recorded YouTube videos of your work? Did someone complain? Did they browse YouTube and see your face? It easy would it be for a homeowner (or any of the occupants) to do the exact same thing. You were already suspended for doing this, but rather than listen to your employer, you decided to consult someone who has no affiliation with your company and no oversight of your work to give you justification to continue doing what you want. I would fire you just for that, because that is a massive example of insubordination.

    Like many others have said, you could have approached this in a completely different way and might have been able to use this as an marketing opportunity for your employer. If done well, you might have even potentially developed another role consulting other employees on how to take great videos for the company and/or editing the footage. However, you don’t get to decide whether your employer should bear legal risks to support your hobby. Your employer is well within their means to terminate risky activities conducted by one of their employees during work hours *before* legal action is taken by someone.

    I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice; this is just common sense.

  44. Free Range Hippy Chick*

    Re: #3 In the UK today there’s a news story about a child’s support dog having been stolen from a house after a drone was seen over the garden, with the assumption that it had a camera on board and was used to scope out the property and identify the means of theft. If I encountered somebody who was being paid to do work in my garden, who was, without my knowledge and express written permission, filming anything at all, I would START from the assumption that the company employee was up to no good. I don’t for a moment believe that nothing can be identified from your film, and in any event it doesn’t need to be much by way of detail: enough, say, for an enthusiast to tell by the blurred shape that my neighbour owns a valuable classic car, or that my garden isn’t overlooked by another and would therefore be a safe means of entry to my house.

  45. Don’t get salty*

    Lw1: it almost sounds like what you’re describing is a micro-aggression. It might not have been intended that way by the person who continually crack jokes about you, but it certainly feels that way to me. If I feel like someone (particularly, one who isn’t close to me and likely doesn’t know my sensitivities) is making unusual comments or “jokes”, I would be curious why they would say something like that, even in a joking manner. People do joke around and sometimes say the wrong thing, but it’s strange to do it repeatedly at a single person.

  46. banzo_bean*

    I know from reading this blog and the commentariat that nonprofits tend to offer lower salaries, but that tradeoff in salaries can be worth it given the chance to contribute to a specific mission. I’m curious what others think for OP #4, if you really supported that company’s mission, would that justify the salary decrease or is that still way too far below what you’d accept in terms of a pay cut even given the offer perks?

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      It depends on the specifics, like it does for any of us when we choose a job. We weigh the salary, benefits, how much we think we’d like the job, how it advances our career, the commute, the hours, flexibility, our colleagues, etc.

      1. banzo_bean*

        So, there is a scenario in which you might entertain that level of a salary cut give other postive aspects?

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          I mean, I’ve already done it (see my comment above; I took a nearly 40% pay cut when I came to my current employer five years ago). For me, what I got in exchange for the big pay cut was:

          – Better alignment between my values and my employers’ values — this was partially about the mission of the organization, but moreso about how the two organizations lived their values in how they do their work
          – A more clear focus on the kind of work I want to be doing
          – Working from an office rather than full-time remote (I’m the apparently rare bird that hates working remotely)
          – Much less travel (I traveled approximately 50% in my previous role; now it’s very occasional)

          1. banzo_bean*

            Thanks, I appreciate that thoughtful response. I agree with your reasons, but I’m young so I couldn’t tell if taking a large salary cut for intangibles was just a naive impulse I had. I too prefer to work in an office (the ability to occasionally work remotely can be nice with terrible road conditions/extenuating circumstances) but I prefer going to work in an office 99.99999% of the time.

    2. vlookup*

      It depends! Being able to do work you find deeply meaningful can be a reasonable tradeoff for some people. Personally I’m okay with making much less money than I could in the private sector, and I did once take a pay cut like this that I don’t regret (my reasons for doing so were partly about the organization’s mission, and partly about other aspects of the job).

      That said, I hate the ethos that you need to make immense personal sacrifices for the mission. That leads to a people burning out and leaving the nonprofit sector entirely, and people only being able to afford to earn the low salary if they’re already wealthy or have a higher-earning spouse. There are plenty of nonprofits where you can make a difference and still earn a living wage and be treated well, even if you’re not going to get rich. It’s my goal to only work at places like this, because I want it to feel sustainable for me to stay in the nonprofit sector over the long term.

  47. MCMonkeyBean*

    There is apparently some tow truck driver on TikTok (I’m very confused as to when this stopped being an app for just lip-synching to songs) who was fired because she refused to stop making her social media videos while she was working.

    I’m really surprised that anyone wouldn’t see that as a reasonable and likely outcome when your employer has already asked you to stop. Making videos for social media is not a constitutionally protected right!

  48. nora*

    OP1, as a happily fat person, I get comments like this a lot from people who are uncomfortable with how much I *don’t* hate my body. It’s taken a lot of years for me to develop the strength to ignore them. I’d like to say that if that vendor said that to me, I would have fired back with something smart and snarky but in truth, who knows. I probably would have taken my gift and thrown it out, unopened, in front of her.

    People are the worst sometimes.

    1. banzo_bean*

      Yeah, my general experience has been that regardless of how your body looks, there is nothing more enraging total strangers and close friends than not hating your own body.

      I especially don’t get this when the person is giving you food. Like ok, do you want me to not want to eat the gift you’ve given me? What’s the point?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      “Oh I didn’t get this fat by eating cookies. It’s from eating faces.” is one of my go to responses. Thankfully it’s rare AF that anyone is that awful but if you want to play, you get the horns. It’s part of my recovery from battling an eating disorder [which I also like to throw out there if someone really wants to dig around.]

      1. Quill*

        Being a woman, or percieved to be one, tends to make people think their opinions about your body are somehow necessary, and I love your response.

  49. Wrench Turner*

    #3 – Fellow yewtoober here that also has had thoughts about recording the day job turning wrenches but I don’t for personal and professional liability reasons. To “get it right” you need to get all the right permissions from the right people, to make sure you’re following all the safety and labor rules, to make sure there is no personal/identifying things in the video, to not be a distraction for your coworkers… All of that is just too much for when you’re really supposed to be on the clock working for someone else. It’s really tempting but not worth it.

    Just do it on your own time, like volunteering with park services or conservation groups and you’ll make way better content. Good luck and be safe!

  50. LilySparrow*

    OP#3, I notice that you don’t mention anything about the laws in your state regarding filming on private property. I assume that’s because you haven’t bothered to check.

    State law varies – in some places, it’s only legal if you have explicit permission from the property owner. In others, it’s okay as long as they don’t tell you not to. Whether or not their property is identifiable is not the issue. It may be an illegal intrusion anyhow.

    If you’ve monitized your channel (or hope to), then you need to get a signed release from the property owners before you film, or go back and get them for videos you’ve already made.

    Could you get away with using someone’s property as a commercial video location behind their back? Probably.

    But it’s shady. Don’t be shady.

  51. Andre*

    I always feel like a disproportionate number of AAM questions come from those who work at (or are applying to!) non-profits…. compared to the general population which surely must be >99% … unless that term also includes government agencies in the US? (Here in UK the term “nonprofit” would typically refer to a charity)

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