quitting if I can’t get Christmas week off, spending the night with coworkers, and more

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

1. Should I quit my new job if I can’t get the week of Christmas off?

I started a new job at the end of September where I am a contracted employee through March and I am trying now to get time off for Christmas. In late October, I requested the week off, and was finally told this week that I can only have Christmas Eve and Christmas off. I work a coverage-based job and I am basically the lowest on the totem pole, so I get why that happened.

However, my family is 900 miles away and I would really like to go home for Christmas, which isn’t an option if I don’t have more days off. Am I crazy to quit this job just so I can go home? Maybe I’m acting entitled because I’ve been lucky enough until now to be in school or have more flexible jobs, but I really want to be able to see my family, some of whom I haven’t seen since last year, especially because I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving.

For some added context, in May I was fired from the job I moved here for and my employment has been patchy up until I started my current job. I’m also planning to start a grad program in June. Will quitting this job for a probably petty reason screw me over forever? I’ve already asked my contracting firm, but there’s nothing they can do.

I feel frustrated because I’ve had a bad year what with the firing and also struggling with other non-work stuff, and I’d really just like to be home with my family. I feel like you’ll say I have to suck it up, because it’s only one year, but the work isn’t particularly meaningful, nor is this an important job for my career that would make it feel worth missing Christmas.

It won’t screw you over forever, no, but you’ll need to leave this job off your resume (since you’ll only have worked there a few three months). The big question is about your financial situation — can you support yourself if you don’t get another job until you start grad school in June? It can be tough to find jobs for just a few months, but if you can (which might mean temping, retail, or food service), then you’re likely to get a bit of a reset with grad school anyway. But if you’re not certain you can do that and can’t support yourself otherwise, be cautious about walking away from a steady paycheck.

It’s also worth looking at whether something bigger is going on. The combination of the patchy work history, the firing, and your inclination to leave after a couple of months despite that context makes me wonder if there are other pieces here to examine: Are you quick to leave jobs when something isn’t to your liking? Do you get bored quickly? Are you picking the wrong jobs? Maybe it’s nothing like that and this has been a string of bad luck, but it’s worth reflecting on (especially before you spend the time and money on grad school!).

Read an update to this letter here.

2. What do I wear to spend the night with 49 random colleagues?

My organization is sending the entire staff (split into 50-person groups) on overnight team-building retreats. This is not so much a trust exercises and team racing kind of team building as it is we all sit in a room for hours and discuss our mindsets and behaviors (i.e., low physical activity and probably inside).

What is the expected dress code for a work event outside of work, where you will be spending every moment both waking and sleeping with a random selection of colleagues? My workplace has no formal dress code, and outfits vary vastly depending on what department you are in. I have seen colleagues run the gamut from button-ups and ties, to cargo shorts and sandals, to off-the-shoulder flowery tops. I usually wear ankle length pants and bodysuits with a jumper over the top. I don’t wear my work clothes outside of work, as they are way too hot for me.

This retreat is going to be in a very hot place in summer. I assume after the “workday” is done, we will have free time before bed. I am hoping that I would be expected to dress work-like for the work part and could maybe change into a dress or something after, but perhaps I am wrong and I am expected to be work-appropriately covered at all times. Furthermore, the nature of this retreat is that everyone sleeps on mats scattered around a single large room (this is completely normal in my country, although something you would usually do with family and friends). What on earth constitutes work-appropriate sleepwear? I assume my loose tanks with the peek-a-boob baggy arm holes will not cut it.

My colleagues have not been much help when I’ve asked around; most have given me a verbal shrug, and my manager looked a little nervous and said she wasn’t really sure, but that she’d heard that the Big Boss brought a brand new silk pajama set for the executive team version of this retreat earlier in the year. I am getting increasingly worried as the days get hotter and the experience of sharing a hot afternoon and sleeping room with 49 colleagues gets nearer.

First, for the record, this sounds horrible.

I doubt you’re expected to be in business wear even in your free time after work activities are over. I’d say that regardless of your company’s normal dress code, but it’s especially true given that normal work wear for many people attending is already pretty casual. You’ll likely be fine in shorts (as long as they’re not super short), capris, dresses, or even sweats or lounge wear when you’re not in the work portion of the event. (Reasonably nice sweats, not ones with holes or rampant stains.)

As for sleeping … wearing pajamas around coworkers seems awfully seventh-grade-slumber-party-ish to me! (And frankly, loads of people don’t even own pajamas anymore.) I’d go with a t-shirt and sleeping shorts (or lightweight lounge pants if you want more coverage) or something along those lines.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Employee asked for a higher raise than I think she earned

I have an employee whose yearly review I am working to wrap up. After the initial review, we usually discuss a raise, based on what was discussed in the review. We typically would expect a 2-5% raise for this person. I got an email from her requesting a 13.15% raise. I don’t understand why it ends in .15% (it won’t make her hourly rate an even number) and she would be paid more than other folks in this role. Her work is good but not great, and she has bounced from a few teams in the last year or so. Her long-time duties at the front desk have not changed, so she really has gained a few more hours of work each week with new teams to gain more experience. I am not sure what to tell her since this feels so out of left field.

Ask her how she came up with that number! Maybe there’s something you don’t realize that she’s factoring in.

But if you consider the request and decide it’s not one that makes sense to grant, then you’d say something like, “I can offer you a raise to $X, which is based on your work this year and in line with what we pay other people doing this work. To earn a larger raise, I’d be looking to see ____.” Fill in that blank with specifics about what type of performance would warrant a larger raise. If nothing would, be up-front about that too. Basically, you want to explain how you landed at the raise you’re offering her and what, if anything, could earn her more in the future. The “I’d be looking to see ___ from you” part is really important, because it helps her understand what good versus great looks like, how performance is rewarded, and what expectations are and aren’t realistic in this job. It’s also better to help someone understand the path to where they want to go (or that that path doesn’t exist in their current role) rather than just giving a flat no.

4. Work travel when your flight is canceled

If you are traveling for work and your flight gets canceled due to weather, is your job required to pay for the additional nights of hotel, meals, and incidentals until you can be rebooked? Let’s say you can’t be rebooked for 3-4 days due to the number of flights canceled — what should you do? Use your own credit card and get reimbursed? Can your employer tell you to try to find a friend or family member nearby you can stay with instead?

Like many things when it comes to labor practices, federal law and most state laws are silent on this, meaning there are no legal requirements for your employer here (one exception is California, which does require employers to cover all business expenses). But in terms of what’s fair, reasonable, and typically done, the vast, vast majority of employers would cover your expenses for the additional days you were stuck there. This is a work trip that got extended through no fault of your own; that’s a business expense. An employer who doesn’t cover it would be astoundingly bad — and would likely find it hard to get other people to go on work trips once word got out.

So if you have a corporate card, you’d put it on that. If you don’t, you could put it on your own and get reimbursed. In some circumstances (like if you’re working at a nonprofit with very limited funds), it wouldn’t be totally outrageous for them to ask if you happen to have family or friends in the area who could help but if that’s not an option, you should be able to assume they’d continue to cover your expenses, no questions asked.

5. I’m resigning — how do I tell direct reports who are on leave?

I have a different kind of question about telling folks you’re resigning. I just got the call that I was offered a new job. A good move all the way around for me, and I’m so excited. I know to tell my boss first, than my direct reports, and then my peers. However, one of my direct reports is on maternity leave and another is out on medical leave. How do I go about telling them? I have a general rule that I don’t reach out to folks while they’re on leave or vacation because it can almost always wait. They’ll both be back before my last day, but I want to be the one to tell them, rather than them hearing through the grapevine. How do I navigate this?

Yeah, you’re right to tell them yourself, especially since it’ll give them a chance to ask questions about anything they’re wondering about related to the transition.

If you have personal email addresses for each, you could email them each at home and say, “I’m so sorry to bother you when you’re on leave! I’m writing with some personal news — I’ve accepted another position and will be leaving the Soup Makers Union at the end of January. If you want to ask any questions about the plan for the transition, you can of course give me a call whenever’s convenient for you. Otherwise we’ll talk when you’re back — but I wanted you to hear it from me first.”

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 548 comments… read them below }

  1. be comfortable*

    #2 – I’d treat it like if you were staying at a resort (although this sounds so very very very far removed from that type of retreat). If your normal workwear is too hot, wear your out-of-office attire. I mean, realistically I’d be doing *anything* to make this a more comfortable experience because it truly sounds awful.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Agreed. This sounds hideous.

      It doesn’t sound like your a ‘jeans’ type person?
      If jeans and t shirt is not an option for you, I’d go for loose-fitting clothing like t shirt and long skirt with flip flops for the day, and loose pjs at night with a t shirt top (I personally feel more comfortable with trousers on while I’m sleeping).

    2. DaleZan*

      I assume, because you live in such a hot climate, that you have tons of linen. Perhaps you can sort out the more coverage pieces? Like loose linen pants and a tanktop with coverage would be chic and appropriate but comfy. Sleeping just sounds like you’re going to be hot and sweaty :( Maybe a loose t-shirt and jersey shorts?

    3. SomebodyElse*

      I typically err on the side of conservative with dress in work settings. In this situation I would ask the organizer or the Admin to the organizer (If there is one) if there is a dress code. Usually that question will prompt a follow up to give some guidance.

      Without guidance I’d probably just sort of prepare for anything. A couple of pair of linen pants, some maxi skirts, a couple of shorter more sporty skirts (think athletic type skorts), a couple of pair of shorts, and a variety of tops ranging from blouse to t-shirt.

      Ugg… for sleep wear… I’d opt for again conservative. Minimum would be a t-shirt with a pair of athletic soft shorts (ones that could pass for day wear) along with a sleep or sports bra. + an eye mask and ear plugs

      Honestly, everything sounds like a normal retreat except for the sleeping on mats thing… I would not be happy about that.

    4. Artemesia*

      Resort wear which tends to be sort of ‘business casualish’ anyway would be my choice. e.g. linen slacks and a light top with sleeves. And at night — anytime you are spending the night in a zoo like room with others as an adult, you wear lightweight day wear like yoga pants and t shirt not sleepwear. And this does sound absolutely nightmarish. We do cabin camping with our scout troop and the last time, it was 16 of us adults and kids including some men in a single room of bunks. No one wore pajamas except some of the kids and even those were like animal onsies. All the adults were in shorts and t shirts, or sweat pants or leggings and t shirts.

      1. OP #2*

        Yoga pants are an excellent idea, I didn’t think of that! My problem with sleep shorts is that I toss and turn and they get all tangled up, and sometimes I rip them off in my sleep. Yoga pants with a long covered butt length tee is the best idea for me I think, and something I can do without spending money on new sleepwear. Thank you very much for your idea!

  2. Nobody Here by That Name*

    I’m glad #2 came in with plenty of time to include “Made employees sleep in same room as 49 other people” in the list of worst bosses of the year.

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Agreed. Why in the world do companies or bosses have these types of things? Nobody wants to sleep in a room with 49 colleagues (or for that matter one colleague). It’s not “teeeeeeeam building.” It’s resentment building. People don’t want to take time out of their lives to do this sort of thing. They go and act enthusiastic about it because they feel like they have to. And the thought of colleagues in any sort of sleepwear – whether it’s silk pajamas or flannel- is disgusting. Just….eeeww.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I agree. I remember seeing an episode of PROJECT RUNWAY where Tim Gunn told the designers they were going to design nightwear and made them all sleep together, separate mattresses or bags but still … eeewww.

        I snore. I wish I didn’t but I do so I will never but never share a hotel room with anyone. And the idea of sharing with one or forty nine work colleagues. Not. Going. To. Happen. I’d sooner be fired. Then I can sleep peacefully in my favorite nightwear: my own skin.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I am also a snorer (badly deviated septum), and I would not want to share that with any of my coworkers. It is bad enough when I attend Girl Scout overnights with my daughter, but people I work with? Thanks, but no.

          1. Liz*

            yes, I hear you. Fellow snorer here; and have been told I sound like a warthog, so yeah, NO WAY IN HELL i would want to sleep with 49 co-workers.

          2. Artemesia*

            Many people snore and all people fart — not the kind of up close and personal I want to risk with people I have to work with all day. Yikes.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I also snore, but then again if I were on a mat on the floor in a room full of people, it is unlikely that I would ever fall asleep.

      2. LM*

        Not nobody likes this stuff. A few do.

        My organization had 40 people camping (or “glamping” since we had running water and toilets). Two to a tent, all the tents near each other.

        The event organizer loved it. The founder of the organization loved it. The CEO seemed to think it was good. I did not.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I don’t think running water and toilets is enough to qualify as “glamping” lol. That’s pretty normal at a lot of regular campsites! And definitely not enough to make me feel comfortable around all my coworkers, yikes. Sharing a tent with a coworker is… yikes. It’s hard enough sharing a tent with people I like!

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            At least it was only two to a tent, lol. As long as there was one coworker I at least sort of liked and I could choose them as my tentmate, I could deal with it. Not love it, mind yo, but deal with it. No, it wouldn’t be great, but it would beat hell out of sleeping in a huge room with 49 other people!

      3. Aquawoman*

        Yeah, what to wear to bed would really be problematic for me, as I have no desire to be braless around my co-workers with my not-youthful triple-Ds. In fact, the prospect of having to wear a bra 16 hours a day would in and of itself make me unhappy.

        1. But There is a Me in Team*

          Yeah, I’d have to second the bra. I haven’t been able to do anything braless in front in strangers since I was about 12. That’s a LONG time of round the clock bra wearing. The entire thing is heinous, and I’ll bet nobody gets a raise next year because some goober spent all the money on “team building.” Good luck OP- update please!

        2. [insert witty username here]*

          That was my first thought – my solution would be to take a comfy wireless bra to change into and sleep in. Not ideal, but do-able for one night.

          But again, this whole idea is HORRIBLE.

        3. TechWorker*

          Sleeping a room with 49 colleagues sounds awful, but I have slept in a bunk barn room with ~5 colleagues and lived to tell the tale. You sleep in an oversized shirt, take off your bra once already in the sleeping bag and in the morning people got up to go for showers before there were any lights on/it’s doable if you’re holding a pile of clothes and towel in front of you. Not ideal no… but survivable :p There may be some difference here in that I have colleagues who also are close friends and we got to pick the rooms…

        4. OP #2*

          That was absolutely one of my concerns as well! I have no desire to go bra-free around co-workers as it is very obvious on me, so I might have to go with TechWorker’s suggestion of taking it off once I’m in the sleeping bag. I’m sure everyone else on the trip will have this same problem, but I have yet to find someone who has been on it before who can tell me what it’s like and how they handled it, without Just randomly asking co-workers about their bras!

          1. Zircon*

            Do that!! Also ask about various other protocols you will need to follow for dress for the powhiri.

      4. Quill*

        Last time I slept in the same room as 49 other people it was a middle school lock-in where two cheerleaders decided to prove to me that my hair *could* be straightened. They burned my ear and turned my hair into a terrifying dandelion of static and burnt hair smell, because guess what? Ironing out a little wave in your bangs is not the same as flatironing curly hair and you need an entire can of heat protectant spray to do a whole head.

        1. Quill*

          Close second is my overseas trip in college: 18 students, a jumbo pack of space blankets, and a beach house that had three bedrooms, two of which went to the professors because NO.

          Surprisingly, it wasn’t the snoring that bothered anyone, it was the tinfoil like sound that accompanied anyone rolling over, and then the chain reaction of people, also wrapped in NASA’s finest tinfoil and thus making the exact same sound, poking them to get them to quit making noise.

          We called it Burritogeddon and were very happy to go back to bunk beds after that.

      5. Third or Nothing!*

        Even when I voluntarily signed up for the annual retreat for my college organization back in the day, I always dreaded the communal sleeping aspect. I am a light sleeper, so I rarely slept more than 4 hours a night, if at all, on those trips. I’d give a hard pass on doing that now in my 30s.

      6. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        But of course someone will accuse you of not-being-a-team-player if you aren’t comfortable with The idea of sleeping with your co-workers. There’s always That Person.

      7. TardyTardis*

        I’m glad I’m retired, watching me go through my usual sleep routine (though I would keep the sound off for my tablet games, the light might bug someone) would annoy the shinola out of most people.

    2. Cherry*

      This is totally normal in New Zealand – at a Marae (a Maori meeting house/grounds) it is traditional to have everyone sleep together in the same room. Its part of our indigenous culture which is held in higher regard to other parts of the world and I imagine happens all the time. I’ve hosted workshops with students in this format and usually offer an alternate for those whose culture doesn’t fit this model. For OP – its really long days so get comfy! I’d personally wear jeans and tshirt and my most humorous/cutest PJs! Also bring ear plugs, snoring is your real problem

      1. Avasarala*

        Thank you for sharing your experience (I have very fond memories of learning about Maori culture in NZ).

        I can think of many other cultures where it is common for friends and family to share sleeping rooms as well. I’m picturing sleepovers with friends on “mats on the floor” in Japan for instance. It would be unusual to do that with coworkers, especially mixed gender though. And summer is brutal.

        I would wear something like the ankle pants mentioned/khakis/maxi skirt, with a polo shirt, or a thin, colorful blouse and tank top undershirt to soak up sweat, and a cardigan in case the AC is on. After work you can change into shorts and keep the top, or keep the bottoms and change into a t-shirt, or change both. For PJs I’d echo Alison’s suggestion but recommend you check things like, can you sit with your knees under your chin without your underwear showing through the legs of your shorts? Does your underwear pattern show through? Is your top a little nippley? Is anything stained or ripped? Do your standard slumber party check, but extra thoroughly.

        1. Julia*

          While some traditional Japanese families all sleep together in a tatami room, a lot don’t anymore. and most adults don’t invite other adults into their homes (I assume due to lack of space), so sleepovers are fairly rare here.

            1. Catherine*

              I’ve had coworkers sleep over and stayed at theirs, but that has a lot more to do with extending hospitality after the trains stop running for the night!

      2. Anonymouse*

        Yes, I wondered in OP was in Australia or New Zealand because they are worried about the weather getting hotter; Google tells me that summer starts Dec. 1 in the Southern hemisphere.

          1. Sc@rlettNZ*

            For the record I’m in NZ and sleeping in a room with 49 of your colleagues is not normal at any workplace I’ve ever been at!!

        1. Ariaflame*

          I’m in Western Australia. We’ve already had several days that are hotter than 40°C. One of them at least was in November. It’s gearing up to be a hot summer. Again.

      3. PollyQ*

        Is it commonly done as part of NZ business functions though? To me, it’s not that the practice itself is so strange, but having to do it as part of your job is.

        1. Another Kiwi*

          Depends on the job, but I can see it being pretty normal for anything in education or non-profit type work – jobs where cultural competency is highly valued. That doesn’t mean it can’t be uncomfortable, even for people who see it as fairly normal, but perhaps in some cases worth pushing through the discomfort.

          If the assumption we’re talking about New Zealand (or anywhere in the islands really) is correct, which of course it might not be, I think Alison’s advice is good, with a reminder that no one is thinking about what you’re wearing as much as you are. They’re much too busy being self conscious themselves. Wearing pajamas is fine!

      4. yala*

        Ah, that makes sense (and the timing would make sense as well). Sorry, my kneejerk reaction was thinking about this from a purely American perspective.

      5. OP #2*

        Thank you Cherry! I was trying to be vague since I’m in a pretty small sector in a pretty small country, but even if someone from my workplace finds this there’s no way to identify me personally. We are in indeed in NZ, this is a marae stay, and I am Māori so this kind of trip is extremely normal to me. However, that being said, I have NEVER had to do this with co-workers, and I have no idea how to handle workplace etiquette that is non existent with family and school friends. Many of my co-workers have never been in this situation either, as in previous years this was a “leadership” course for managerial staff, that has just this year been opened up to all staff. I unfortunately don’t own proper pyjamas, at home I always sleep in loose singlets with no pants. Looks like I might have to purchase or repurpose something!

      6. Tina*

        Yes, but if you don’t happen to be used to it, it’s still kind of horrifying!
        (Also a Kiwi. Have never had to sleep marae-style except with family, as a child, and would literally eat soap and puke to get out of doing it as an adult.)

        1. Kiwichick*

          Also a kiwi (so many of us here!). I worked for one of the largest iwi and staying at the marae was often included in team building and leadership training.

    3. WS*

      I’ve done it in Japan as well – gender segregated, but sleeping in a room with between 8-20 colleagues. And going naked in the hot springs with them, too!

      1. Ona*

        I would rather be naked with coworkers than have to sleep in the same room with anyone but my spouse.

        Actually, I have been naked with colleagues and it was no big deal.

        My sleep time? Safety issues, personal space issues, and hygiene issues.

        Unless someone is staying up all night and keeping watch, I’m not doing it. Ever. I’ve worked with too many women who were assaulted while asleep in situations where they should have been able to trust.

        Also, some people are introverts and need some “off” time.

        Finally, I don’t want my coworkers who wear curlers or caps at night to feel awkward or any of us who wear makeup during the day as part of a professional wardrobe to have to feel like we either can’t be makes up less or will be judged for it. One of my BFFs is a black woman who wears her hair in black silk nightcap. She’s been toasted about it enough in her lifetime by nosy white women.

        This is a nightmare WRT to differences in night time care routines. It is is a gender, ethnic, and racial minefield.

        That doesn’t even cover those who are introverts, have sleep disorders, or night terrors from PTSD. None of which they may want to disclose.


        1. Ona*

          I also forgot, some of us *ahem* are used to sleeping naked. I also require special pillows and a special bed setup because of a sleep disorder.

          I would refuse to do this on medical grounds alone.

          1. WellRed*

            I have no specific medical issues but my 40-year-old self cringes (gently) at the thought of sleeping on a mat on the floor!

            1. Quill*

              I’m 28 and a yoga mat on the floor is not… excellent for my spine or joints anymore. I could hack it until about 20, after that, nope.

              (I also still don’t understand how people sleep naked – without at least underpants, how do you deal with erm, anatomy? I can think of half the population for whom rolling over could cause some very uncomfortable situation, and another half that would need to be on guard for biological fluid issues with sheets.)

              1. Ona*

                The only fluid issues I’ve ever had were the type that would go through any underwear. Most women I now who have unpredictable cycles tend to have a towel or something down for those emergencies.

                Also, sheets wash. What one does is make sure you have a mattress protector under the sheets. But everyone should do that irrespective of what they wear tot bed.

                So, honestly, it’s never, ever been an issue for me as a cis woman

                1. Quill*

                  Oh, I never had a predictable cycle. Ever. But also I never lived alone until this year and I don’t think I’ll be living somewhere that I can guarantee same-day access to a washing machine next year…

              2. Aphrodite*

                I’ve been sleeping naked for about 30+ years. It first happened during a *hot* August night and it felt weird (and even uncomfortable) at first. But I got used to it, the discomfort of bare skin on sheets went away and within a couple of months I could not ever imagine going back. If you toss and turn at night it is so much better because you no longer struggle to straighten out your nightshirt when you turn over. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets either. Too cold? Toss another blanket on the bed.

              3. Third or Nothing!*

                You know your cycle and plan accordingly. Mine is pretty regular, so I can predict the week it will start months in advance. On top of that I track a bunch of data and when shark week is upon us I can predict with decent accuracy the day it will start, sometimes even down to morning vs evening, based on pre-period symptoms.

                Also fun fact: it’s good for your lady bits to air out from time to time. Probably best not to do that while sleeping on a mat with 50 of your colleagues, though. :)

                1. Quill*

                  How do you deal with the fluids from between shark weeks though? Those are just as unpredictable for me as actual shark week would be if I wasn’t on the pill.

                2. Ona*

                  @Quill. This is yet another reason for no co-ed sleepovers. Not every woman is on the pill. Not every woman is predictable. Can you imagine an early/unexpected period arriving in the middle of the night at one of these events and not waking up knowing you’re read from your belly button to your knees?

                3. Third or Nothing!*

                  @Ona I’m glad you enjoyed my sense of humor.

                  @Quill I think if it wouldn’t normally soak through your regular undies, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. You can always test that theory by sticking a towel under you one night if you want to try sleeping commando.

                4. CarolinaBlue*

                  Yes on the sleeping sans underthings sometimes! When I was in grad school in North Carolina I had the sweetest elderly gyno and after every yearly exam she would say in her amazing southern accent: “now remember, the humidity here is simply awful and southern ladies, like southern attics, needed to be aired out from time to time.”

                  I still think about that…

              4. starsaphire*

                As a cis woman, I can say that I can’t sleep with clothing on anymore. I wear a light cotton nightie when traveling with friends, and it is AWFUL and I feel like I’m being strangled.

                My current and previous male partners have never had issues sleeping in the altogether. (OTOH, ask my ex sometime about that incident with his jeans zipper… )

              5. Bubbles*

                I slept mostly naked (occasional underwear as Aunt Flo dictated) from age 21 to about 32, when my son was 2 years old and weaning and I needed to prevent his “Oh, look – boobies! I’m thirsty!” habit. I’ve made it a point as he has got older (9 years old now) to not hide my body but also not just let it all hang out. It was fine when it was just me and the hubs, but since I work at the same school district my son attends, I don’t need my colleagues knowing too many details from a blabbermouth kid. All kids tell their teachers things about their parents that most parents would die from embarrassment over. It’s so much worse when you have to interact with those people in a professional capacity.

              6. Free Meerkats*

                I’ve slept nude since I got out of boot camp during the Nixon administration. The wedding vegetables aren’t a problem (at least for me), they seem to accommodate themselves while sleeping.

                The only time I wear anything to sleep is when I’m sharing a hotel room with a female friend (like at a con or when I took a friend’s daughter to Vegas for her 21st birthday.) Then I’ll typically wear compression shorts because that’s the least uncomfortable option for me.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          I’m an extrovert, and I still wouldn’t want to do this. Also, nevermind whether or not _I_ like to sleep naked, I don’t want to know which of my colleagues does either…. and some of them are extremely attractive women. It would be embarrassing in the extreme.

          1. Ona*

            Oh man, that now makes me think of men and their night boners. Could end up being really, really embarrassing for some people.

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            The coworker who was going to gift another coworker red lingerie for secret Santa should come work at this place. They can do the secret Santa exchange during the retreat so people can wear the lingerie while at the retreat or to bed.

        3. texan in exile*

          My sleep time? Safety issues, personal space issues, and hygiene issues.

          + Peeing a gajillion times a night (I mean, in a toilet) + Hot flashes + Sleeplessness

          1. starsaphire*

            + keeping a light on half the night so I can read + getting up to pee AGAIN…

            Preach it, sista!

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        That sounds like a nightmare. There is just certain information about my co-workers I’d rather not have.

    4. Hibiscus*

      LR#2 could be in NZ, and this is a marae visit. There’s a situation at my work I want to ask about, but the thought of trying to explain my work’s quarterly overnight hui on marae, and that sleeping on mats with ALL of your colleagues is totally normal, was too daunting. The response to this letter justifies my trepidation. Yes, it sounds horrible from a Western perspective, but if you think of it from a ‘why would a culture find this important and useful’ perspective, it can be quite good for re-thinking a lot of standard Western business practices, which haven’t always served us well.

      If this is NZ, spending time on a marae, and sleeping in one room with all your colleagues, and sometimes clients, is part of NZ’s attempt to honour Maori culture, and to be a truly bicultural country, where things aren’t just done the Western way. It’s not most common among organisations and businesses that do a lot of work in heavily Maori sectors, and aim to be culturally aware.

      For our hui/retreats I aim to dress nicely for the powhiri (welcoming ceremony), and then wear comfortable but still tidy trousers or dresses for all the working elements of the stay, and pyjama bottoms and light t-shirts for sleeping in. My daytime goal is stealth pyjamas: things just on the edge of casual and work wear, like these trousers: https://www.countryroad.co.nz/shop/woman/clothing/pants/60219404/Bamboo-Drop-Crotch-Pant.html

      If LW#2’s retreat is anything like the work hui I’ve been to, people will dress on the most-casual end of what they usually wear to work.

      Of course, this might not be NZ at all. This could be Southeast Asia, or…

      1. somanyquestions*

        I feel like if the LW had explained about their retreat what you just have, the responses would be different.

        Thinking about sleeping in a room with 50 of my co-workers makes my brain shudder in horror, but knowing why you’re doing it & also, knowing you’re OK with the practice, changes things.

        1. Tina*

          I’m also a New Zealander, and it makes my brain shudder in horror too, if that helps at all.
          It’s not unusual, but it’s also not most people’s norm.

      2. Shadowbelle*

        … or it could be the good ol’ US of A, where too many people like to cherry-pick bits of other cultures because they think it’s cool, or it serves their purpose in some way, and then they try to justify forcing in it on others by saying “Well, this is what they do in [xxxx]!” Naturally, they are ignorant of the full context of the way it is done in [xxxx].

      3. OP #2*

        I am indeed in NZ and marae stays are a very normal part of my own culture. I understand the non-Māori confusion in the comment section, and just want to note that I didn’t explain the cultural aspect because I didn’t want to be too identifiable. The cat’s out of the bag now, so here I am! My only gripe with this retreat is my incredible confusion over the clothing choices, but everyone’s replies here have been very helpful! I absolutely intend to bring earplugs, and indeed the organisers have encouraged people to do exactly that

    5. snowglobe*

      While this sounds awful to me, is it weird that it seems far *less* awful than sharing a hotel room with 1 or 2 other people? To me, at least, it’s far less intimate and embarrassing.

    6. yala*

      That honestly sounds more like an “emergency shelter” than a “work retreat” thing.

      I don’t think I’ve even ever stayed at a hostel with that many people in the room. (The largest was something like 12-16 but the room was laid out in a U so there was an illusion of having smaller spaces with fewer people. …but that was also the night of the Farting Welshman.)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I don’t think I’ve even ever stayed at a hostel with that many people in the room.

        I grew up in Eastern Europe, where it was a custom to send the kids to all-summer, cheap/employer-funded, sleepaway camps. Barrack-style, with a separate outhouse-type building to be used as everyone’s bathroom. (god I hated those camps.) I’m trying to remember the highest number of kids in a room I’d ever had to sleep with. Probably 15 at the most! We also had mandatory draft for men, so maybe my age peers who were in the army ever had 49 people to a barrack. But I never had that many, not even close. Even for young children, someone must’ve decided that 49 is way too many.

    7. Mbarr*

      Like others have suggested, I’m guessing #2 might be working in a non-Western work environment. E.g. I know my Filipino colleagues frequently do A LOT of team building (including overnight getaways) that we Westerners would be horrified by.

      (I don’t include myself in that – I love how close the colleagues are over there, and my interactions with them during my visits are fun. But that’s me – and I realize that it can get problematic too…)

      1. SPDM*

        I thought the PH from the mat-sleeping, but then it would be hot *all the time* rather than just getting hot now….

    8. Tammy*

      I was asked to participate in a team-building event like this once. I declined. It ended badly for me. (I’ve talked about this before). It may indeed be a cultural thing, as other commenters have mentioned, but this pings safety and privacy issues for me. Aside from the whole “hey, hi, I’m a trans woman and a sexual assault survivor” stuff, sharing overnight space with coworkers necessarily causes disclosure of medical stuff I’d rather my coworkers not know about me.

      My company recently made a travel policy that team members going to training or conferences had to share rooms (2 people per room) and they have a pretty liberal “if you have personal or medical reasons why this doesn’t work for you, ask your manager for an exemption; managers, if you’re asked for an exemption, don’t deny it without the approval of the VP of HR, and don’t ask for details about the reason.” (So it’s pretty much “if you say ‘I need an exemption because reasons’ you’ll get it.”) Even still there’s been pretty massive pushback and a lot of good discussion about how this policy impacts various marginalized groups at the company.

      The more I deal with this sort of thing, the surer I become that Alison’s general rule (“don’t make your employees share sleeping accommodations, and if you can’t afford the cost of that, you can’t afford to have people travel for work”) is a sound rule. Just don’t. It’s gross, and I utterly fail to comprehend why anyone still thinks this is a good idea.

      1. Ona*

        Oh my. (Read in shocked Southern Lady Voice, Not George Takei Voice)

        I’m so, so sorry. I think people tend to forget trans issues and sexual assault far too readily.

        I like a general rule of “don’t put your employees in situations where they might have to disclose very personal details for their own safety and sanity.” That’s the opposite of team-building. It’s team-destroying.

      2. Allypopx*

        I also would not be comfortable sharing sleeping space with coworkers for trauma related reasons. I’m really sorry you had to deal with that.

      3. OP #2*

        I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this situation Tammy. This is indeed a cultural thing, and I would just like you note for everyone that while all staff ate being very heavily encouraged to stay the night, they have stated that they understand that people have children, medical reasons, or other obligations that would keep them from staying. Some people have indeed taken advantage of this option to travel home and back again with no backlash. However, that’s not really an option for me given that I am not only being managed by someone who is heavily on the “team player” side, but I also am Māori and this is a cultural aspect I would like to encourage the inclusion of in my workplace. I knew there would be some people in the comments who could not even conceive of this as a workplace thing, or something they could personally do, and that’s OK! But I really am just here to ask for clothing suggestions for an environment I’ve never had to be in before at work. Thank you all for your opinions and experiences, you’ve all been really helpful, even if this isn’t something you would personally do!

        1. Kat J*

          Ah, I see you already answered this with what I’d guessed! Business retreats held on a marae seem to be more and more popular. In fact I think I am going to one next year – so I’m glad you’ve already asked this question.

    9. CanuckCat*

      I shared an AirBnB with two co-workers at a conference recently but I’m now very, very grateful that we at least got our own bedrooms!

    10. Anonymously Cringing At This*

      I strongly second this.

      It sounds like this event will be mixed company, and as a woman I would be super uncomfortable sleeping in the same room as male colleagues. And that’s not even considering the fact that I’m someone who absolutely cannot get away with being braless except in the privacy of my own home. I’d have to wear a bra to sleep at this event, which wouldn’t make for the best night’s rest.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      This is my worst hell. Really. Like, all of it.
      I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I can’t sleep when it’s not perfectly dark. I don’t think I can sleep on a yoga mat. I mean, I could, but I wouldn’t be able to move next day. I can’t sleep surrounded by people, I would be too anxious.
      Well, I also hate camping with a passion, I hate team building with a passion, I seriously don’t want to discuss any kind of mindset with coworkers. Can I just stay in the office and work instead?
      Can I schedule a personal outbreak of bubonic plague on this weekend?

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I backpacked in my twenties and thirties. I gave it up in part because sleeping on a mat on the ground grew progressively problematic. This would be worse. A lousy night’s sleep followed by physical activity is one thing. In fact, it will likely lead to a decent second night’s sleep, if only due to exhaustion. But a lousy night’s sleep filled by some BS group discussion in a warm room?

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Oh yeah, I threw my back out two years ago, and while it healed, it never went completely back to normal. My days of sleeping on air mattresses on the ground are over.

    12. Shadowbelle*

      Damn. If this were me, I’d get a note from a therapist saying this would cause me extreme stress, and another note from my doctor saying this would contribute to my sleep disorder and cause months of problems (this is actually true, as anyone with a sleep disorder knows. Pattern disruption is not “one and done”.) And if that failed, I’d get the flu for real before I’d participate in any such thing.

    13. TootsNYC*

      oh my god, the snoring!

      One of the worst nights of my entire life was the night we spent with the Cub Scouts sleeping on cots in the Oceans hall of the Museum of Natural History.

      The snoring! all those pack leaders and dads…

      The entire hall was full, both levels, except for some narrow walkways. The kids didn’t sleep, but apparently all the grownups did. (And since men are more likely to have sleep apnea and have narrower nasal passages in general than women, and there were a lot more men than women…)

      And the cots were so much more uncomfortable than I expected them to be.

    14. Kat J*

      I’m not suggesting it would be fun or that I’d enjoy it. But in New Zealand, it’s not uncommon to have business retreats at a marae, where the tradition is exactly as the OP describes (sleeping on mats in a big room). And the OP did say they are not in the US. So it’s worth contemplating that this might be a cultural difference.

  3. Radio Girl*

    LW#1, having worked in radio, which doesn’t shut down over the holidays, I have had my share of Christmas and other holidays st work.

    One year I had a 4 p.m. to midnight shift on Christmas Eve. Knowing I was at work, friends and colleagues made sure to call me and wish me a Merry Christmas. One co-worker left me a plate of cookies, etc. It was kind of fun being alone in the station. At shift change, my coworker and I had our own celebration of soda and pretzels. It wasn’t all that bad.

    Another year, I was working closer to home and had a day-into-night shift. It turned out to be a good thing, too, because I missed a huge bit of family drama on Christmas night.

    I never minded holiday working. I always made sure I gave myself a little celebration for one.

    1. Pony tailed wonder*

      Can you arrange to visit your family after Christmas through New Years Eve instead? It’s only a few days difference.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        This. If you can hold out, you can compromise: visit your family in a couple of weeks when getting the time off is not so competitive, and still keep your job. I know it’s very disappointing not to be home for Christmas, especially when you’ve had a rough time and it’s your first year out of school and so it’ll be the first time you don’t get to go home. But frankly there are plenty of jobs and industries that don’t get even big holidays off, and once you start working there isn’t automatically any entitlement to get a whole week off at Christmas anymore. Sometimes you might, but it’s no longer a safe assumption that will happen. Quiet as it’s kept, December 27 is not a holiday, and “the Christmas holiday” is not a week long. Now is a good time to get accustomed to that idea. You can quit this job, but it won’t solve the problem for future jobs.

        Side note: Obviously everyone can’t do this, but one reason I still live in my hometown, close to my family of origin*, is that the idea of always having to travel for holidays is expensive (in terms of money and PTO) and exhausting. It’s got its pros and cons to be near your family, and obviously everyone can’t or doesn’t want to stay near the fam, but if that’s a thing for you, there’s something to be said for having “going home” mean a 20-min drive.

        *note: I am single, and my hometown is a major city. I realize it would be a different situation if I had a partner for whom “home” is across the country, or if I’d needed to live elsewhere for [reasons]. But for now, it works.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Have kids and you will soon discover the advantage of having grandparents nearby. Daycare is so expensive that having family nearby and willing to watch the kid is a major financial consideration.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think there’s a lot to be said for visiting off major holidays, when you don’t have to do so many rituals and things are open.

        1. snowglobe*

          This assumes that you’d be able to see all the family then. If there are other siblings traveling in for Christmas, you might not be able to see them in January.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Particularly if anyone is working around school schedules. My kids get 1.5-2 weeks off around the holidays, depending on when Christmas and New Years fall in the week, and the school system is VERY clear that vacations are unexcused absences (and teachers are not required to allow makeup work or retests for unexcused absences). Not that big a deal for elementary schoolers, but, for middle and high schoolers, not being able to make up a test or quiz can have significant grade impacts.

            1. Rainy*

              This is in many ways a terrible policy, because this kind of rigidity tends to make it much harder for non-Christian students to attend religious observances. Ideally of course religious observances wouldn’t be seen as “vacations” but in my experience they usually are.

              As a teenager, I had an assistant principal tell me that I was going to be a miserable failure in life because of days off for religious observances. (I told him that if, as he’d threatened, he gave me Saturday detention–already a no-go for me!–for the “crime” of missing school for a religious observance, my parents would be on the phone to the ACLU, and somehow magically everything was excused, but it was some bullshit.)

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Religious observance is an excused absence here, and the kids have some non-Christian holidays off as part of the standard school calendar already. The policy in our school district explicitly states that religious observances, illness/medical appointments, and bereavement/funeral attendance are all excused and teachers must provide makeup work/tests. Vacation, childcare issues, and non-school-related extracurricular absences are unexcused and don’t require it.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                One reason it’s strict is that the kids who are doing worst, and so struggle even more if they miss more school, are often the ones with parents who think missing school is no biggy.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        This is what I did. My first Christmas in the working world, I was hired in September specifically to be a seasonal worker, which meant leaving around Christmas was not an option for me. I was granted a longer vacation in January, after work had slowed down, and sucked it up and dealt. The following Christmas, after the boss had made the decision to keep me on as a year-round worker, I had enough seniority that I could take two weeks off around Christmas.

        My family planned a smaller celebration the year I couldn’t be there, and a larger one for the year I could. We made it work.

        But still, it sucked working on Christmas Eve.

        1. Artemesia*

          Part of being a grown up is not getting to live on a school schedule with long holidays for every festival. A person who insists on getting Christmas week off two months into their work life is going to have a tough time in their career. Many places would fire you.

    2. LizardOfOdds*

      I had a similar reaction. I live 1500 miles away from family and have had maybe 2 Christmases with them in the last 15 years. I worked the holiday most of those years. Does it suck? Sometimes. When I was hourly, I sure liked that time-and-a-half on holidays. But to me this is part of being a grown up with responsibilities. You can’t do everything you want to do, because sometimes you have obligations that override your wishes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      I get that OP has had a bad year, but agree with the thought that something else seems to be going on here.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I’m wondering if it’s that the OP has been kicked around so much by crummy jobs, she realized she shouldn’t have any loyalty to her employers and is going a little too far with that idea.

        As someone who’s had my fair share of crummy jobs, honestly…they will expect full dedication and give you exactly nothing in return, so it’s worth looking at the big picture.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Loyalty isn’t so much the key here vs. a paycheck and a job. It sounds like the OP has been their the shortest amount of time and got the short straw as far as coverage goes. (my assumption anyway, not enough to really tell from the OP).

          I do think there is way more here to the story than just working over the holidays. And for that part I wish the OP luck and prioritizing getting their life back on a track they want it to be on vs. the short term win of getting to see their family for a few a days.

        2. RC Rascal*

          I had this thought as well. Moving for a job who then fired you feels like a tremendous breach of social contract. Now OP feels the need to prioritize her own wants over the employer.

          1. Working Mom*

            I can certainly sympathize with the OP on this angle – admittedly my first thought was, “that’s life – you don’t always get the time off you want.” But to be fair – given the position she is in right now- I don’t doubt that she feels very little loyalty/obligation to this company – especially considering she’s a contractor and not planning to stay.

            That said, I’d encourage her to think of a couple things. As Alison mentioned, if she can easily afford to live without that job until grad school – it’s absolutely a viable option. (And when I say ‘easily afford’ – I mean not just barely pay the bills but have enough in case of emergency – like new tires or brakes, or some other big ticket repair item.) It sounds like she’s had a really tough year – and if she can afford to prioritize time with family, in this specific scenario, it might be smart. We’ve gotta take care ourselves!

            On the flip side… be honest with yourself and consider also – if this is part of post-school adjustment. I know it can be really hard to adjust from the mindset of school where you get periodic breaks – and winter break can sometimes be anywhere from 2 weeks to a month off! Then we get these new grads into jobs and give them 2 weeks of PTO for the entire year; sometimes less. I can totally see how that is difficult adjustment – and I was lucky in my recent grad years to not live far from family – so only getting Christmas Day off didn’t derail my plans to see my family. I did miss out on other holiday festivities – I can remember missing a family baking day because my family planned it on a workday… and duh, I was at work. Those things are things we do have to adapt to and learn to manage – because with time and experience that PTO will grow into more. AND – it’s also a good reminder to consider PTO when negotiating for a new job and not just pay. If they’re offering you only 2 weeks… ask for 3! Or whatever makes sense.

            Good luck to OP – I hope that whether she stays or goes – that she does find some time to recharge and take care of herself – and head into a Great 2020!

            1. Turquoisecow*

              I’m in favor of year-round school for this reason – it’s a dramatic and harsh change to go from having winter break and summers off to 2 weeks (maybe!) of vacation time. Maybe if we didn’t give people loooong breaks from school it wouldn’t be such a harsh transition to the working world.

                1. TechWorker*

                  +1 – give the kids a break!

                  Seriously I think 2 weeks vacation is pretty crazy and I do not think students would study or function better if they had less ‘holiday’ time. (There could be arguments I agree with about spreading things out more, or for eg my uni had super intense 8 weeks terms and some people argued for a reading week… but that’s not the same as reducing holiday all round).

                2. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

                  Yeah, I’m with Dragoning – I don’t think the solution is “train children to not expect rest” but rather “provide adults adequate time away from work.”

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  It’s not less holiday time, it’s just moving breaks around so that there’s not a 3-month summer break. Instead, students are in tracks, and in school 3 weeks, out 1 all year, except for Christmas, where it’s usually out 2 (3 if the timing works out).

                  Year-round is better because it gives students less time to forget (summer slide) and you can put more students in the same physical space (instead of leaving school empty for months), it’s harder because child care options haven’t really caught up to it, friends can end up shuffled around, and you may have kids on different tracks in different schools (but you can appeal that).

                4. whingedrinking*

                  Yeah, the reason why school vacations are set up as they are has more to do with kids in rural areas being needed to help with the harvest than anything else. Six weeks on, two weeks off gives the same amount of total rest time without having kids be out of school for months at a go.

              1. Silence Will Fall*

                *Soap box warning*

                I wish schools would stop calling it “year-round school” because it makes people think that there would be more school days. Most “year-round school” plans involve the same number of instructional days, but they are evenly spread throughout the year. There’s a push to call it “balanced calendar” or similar to help people understand.

                Kids (and adults) need breaks from work/school, but the three month stretch is detrimental to kids’ learning, especially those in lower socioeconomic bands who aren’t able to participate in summer camps and other enrichment activities.

                On the other side, the “standard” two weeks vacation working adults receive in the US is also not good. People need more than the occasional day off to recharge and take care of life outside of work.

            2. Cascadia*

              I also want to say that the post-school let-down of not having breaks off, especially after most kids in the US have had 2 weeks off around Xmas and New Years for their entire lives, up through college. It can be a big wake up call to realize that you don’t get that time off. But that’s just how it is in the real world. I second all of the other recommendations to consider going home at another time of the year, and to really do some introspection. It was hard for me to miss Xmas with my family the first few years, but now I’ve started my own traditions in my new city, and I now love it.

          2. MatKnifeNinja*


            I’ve worked with health people who prioritized their family over work. Like if I don’t see my kids opening presents with the rest of the family, I’m quitting.

            Many of them worked midnights to make that magic happen. Some just quit, and took a much lower paying job with no benefits. My nurse manager left her position to work part time in a pediatricians office. They downsized everything to make this happen. Family and church is number one with no compromises.

            I hate holidays, and always worked them. LW #1 if not seeing your family borders on shredding your mental health, do what you gotta do. The job reference will be toast, but you’ll have your sanity.

            Then start looking on jobs you are choosing. If those holidays/weekends off are sacrosanct, you may need to look elsewhere. Health care is usually 24/7 all year long. I know RNs who took a massive pay cut to work a department that is 9 to 5, no weekends no holidays.

            You can get what you want time off wise, put the pay, and upward movement will most likely not be the same.

    3. MK*

      I would argue that if seeing your relatives for Christmas is so important that you are thinking of quitting your job over it, you should maybe prioritise moving close to them.

        1. MK*

          I know it’s not immediately possible for everyone, that’s whay I said “priotitize moving closer” and not “move now”. And while it might not be pertinent advice about what the OP should do right now, I think it’s useful to address the bigger issue, because this is not a one-off, it’s a situation likely to come up again and again. The OP sounds as if they are close to the beginning of their working life. The reality is that, barring certain specific fields, most working adults do not enough time off during high-demand seasons to travel 900 miles for family visits. If this is a priority for the OP, they should work on moving closer to their family or try to enter a field that doesn’t need coverage and slows down at Christmas, otherwise, whatever they decide to do this year, they might find themselves in a similar position next December.

          1. Not enough coffee*

            I do agree with this (“consider” not “do now.”)

            My sister moved across the country (3,000 miles). She eventually moved back because she had to miss every holiday, or take a bunch of time off work and spend $2500 on airfare. Now she lives about 900 miles away. It’s a LONG drive, but if she can burn the PTO she does it. It’s also a shorter and cheaper flight, so she can do a long weekend. She still missed thanksgiving this year because she couldnt get the time off work, but she will be down for Christmas, and made it to two of my kids’ milestone bday parities/events.

            1. Anon for this*

              Seconding. My first job out of college was 2500 miles away from home. I wanted to do the bright lights, big city thing and be ‘away’. It was a great job and a great experience, but after five years of missing every family event, I realized I wanted to be closer to family.

              OP – Take Alison’s advice and take a look at the big picture of your life and what you really want. No one is going to shun you for wanting to be closer to family and ‘Team You.”

              1. yala*

                It’s such a frustration for me. I really do want to move to a city–I prefer living in large cities, and would have more opportunities personally and professionally in one.

                But I hate the idea of being away from my family.

                …so here I am. …

                1. Quill*

                  I was never going to leave the midwest because all my family and friends were close enough to the chicago area… then my parents moved to salt lake, and my brother announced when he went to grad school in california that he was never going to be east of the Mississippi again if he could help it. (Not enough lizards, apparently – he’s doing herpetology for grad school.)

                  I’m looking at it from a different perspective than many because I’m firmly in camp “will always be single and will never be able to split the work of extensive travel with a partner” but I don’t think I’d be able to navigate not seeing anyone, friends or family, in person when Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Christmas eve / Christmas are some of the only time slots that the majority of people reliably get to take off work, and especially when younger relatives have off school. Almost all other standard holidays are a single day added to a weekend, or a single date that could fall on any day of the week, making extensive travel difficult.

                2. Chinook*

                  I was raised that you can choose where you live or where you, but rarely both. I gave up a career to live with DH and was grateful when we got posted back to the same time zone as family.

                  But, if being nearer to family is important, than it becomes easier to accept working at less than ideal jobs.

            2. Dankar*

              This made me curious how far I am from my family, so I googled the drive and it turns out I am exactly 893 miles from home. Just about everyone in my family lives within a 2 hour radius besides my partner and I, and we see them maybe 3 times a year, sometimes less.

              It’s exactly as you said. We don’t want to make the drive for just a long weekend, so we tend to only visit during Christmas time. I’m lucky that my org closes for 10-14 days during the holidays, but I’ve still only spent the actual Christmas day with them once in the past 3 years. We use the long stretch of days off to travel abroad, since it’s not doable at any other time during the year.

              These kinds of concessions are all things the OP should be considering, if this sort of arrangement would feel untenable. Personally, I love spending Thanksgiving and New Years with just my partner, but I know that’s not for everyone.

          2. Antilles*

            The reality is that, barring certain specific fields, most working adults do not enough time off during high-demand seasons to travel 900 miles for family visits.
            +1. I live about 600 miles from my family, can confirm it’s far more difficult than it seems.
            First off, there’s the fact that once you consider the cost and the time spent traveling, it quickly becomes hard to mentally justify anything less than at least a long weekend (“ugh, I drove 14 hours to get here, spent only two days and now I have to drive 14 hours back…feels like I barely had the chance to actually relax and enjoy the trip”). Especially for the holiday season – if you fly, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg; if you drive, you’re basically losing a day on either end purely due to the travel.
            Second, it gets more and more difficult to arrange things the older you get – working around your partner’s schedule, getting pet-sitters, etc.
            Third, PTO is fairly limited in the US for junior staffers (often 15 days or less), so if you’re planning on spending a week at Christmas, you are basically deciding this IS your biggest vacation of the year; the remaining PTO is going to be more like “long weekend” or “couple extra days around a different holiday” or whatever.
            And I work in a fairly flexible industry where coverage is not really an issue. If you’re in a coverage job/industry, you get into a whole lot of other potential issues – asking for a lot of time off at a desirable time can make things difficult for your co-workers, fairness dictates that the major holidays ‘rotate’ so if you get Christmas this year you’re not getting it for a couple years afterwards, blanket blackout days/weeks on PTO usage, etc.

            1. Quill*

              I’m working contract. Fortunately I can afford the flights for Christmas, it’s the three unpaid days off work that are really going to bite me. But I haven’t seen my brother in a year and I’m considering moving out to where I’m flying to stay with my parents just to get out of the contract-dominated job market at home if I haven’t found a non-contract job by next christmas…

          3. kittymommy*

            I agree as well. Realistically, if one lives far away from family (or at least far enough away that travel will likely be via air or a long-distance drive) then holidays are going to be missed and it’s something that will need to be accepted, if not now then at some time.

            1. Antilles*

              Not only holidays but a lot of life events – weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc are all up for grabs. It’s usually not feasible to travel back more than a couple times a year, so you end up having to politely decline at least a couple events that you would absolutely have gone to if you lived a couple hours’ drive away instead of 900 miles.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              Agreed. Even in a no-mandatory-coverage job, there will be years it is just not feasible to travel home for the holidays for any number of reasons. Expense, a dog that’s too old and frail to board, spouse’s family commitments, etc.
              Also if OP is entering grad school they are probably gonna get winter break back next year, so we’re talking about ONE single holiday out of the 20-something they’ve already had with their family.

              I get not having loyalty to this one company and maybe this job doesn’t matter, but overall its not a good mindset to be in that Christmas off should be expected.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          No, but it is a good thing for the OP to keep in the back of their mind. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to prioritize being near family in your career if that’s what’s important for you! It does mean trade-offs like less ideal positions, perhaps lower salaries, slower career growth, etc. but for many people it’s worth it. And since OP’s current job is not permanent, and they’ll be job hunting after grad school, thinking out how important to them it is to be close to family is worth some time.

        3. Yorick*

          I think it is helpful. If OP keeps in mind that moving closer to family will allow her to see them at most future Christmases, it might be an easier decision to keep her current job and miss this family Christmas.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          I don’t know–if OP is entering grad school next year this probably *is* something they should start thinking about seriously if they haven’t alread! Obviously it’s not something they can definitely do and it’s not something they would do right now, but this seems like a good time to really reflect and work out what their priorities are and adjust their long-term goals accordingly.

      1. snowglobe*

        I do agree with this. One of the downsides of moving far away for a job is that you are likely to miss some major family celebrations. It kind of goes with the territory. I understand it might not be possible right now, but I think it might be useful to reframe this in the LW’s mind, that this is the trade-off they made for more job opportunities.

      2. LW 1*

        You’re right, and this has made me reconsider. I’ve moved a lot and lived even farther away than this, but I’m not as excited about this area and it’s probably a good idea to get away from a city where every third person is employed by the company that fired me.

        1. Zillah*

          I may be projecting here, but I wonder if moving a lot hasn’t also contributed to feeling like you need to get home for Christmas? I know that for me personally, when I feel like I don’t really have a stable living situation and am in frequent transition, I have a lot fewer emotional reserves.

        2. Artemesia*

          IN grad school you will have the long school vacations — I’d plan to do Christmas with family next year and follow through on this job until you leave for grad school.

      3. Emily K*

        I agree. I got a very strong vibe from OP’s letter that they’re homesick. Not just superficially like, “oh, I miss XYZ from back home,” but it sounds like OP might be struggling a lot with being cut off from their support network and not having anything solid or stable to hang onto in their new town.

        Something about the tone (and esp the mention of wanting to be with family because the year’s been hard), just strongly reminds me of how I felt in grad school, the furthest I’d ever lived from home, in a small town where I had basically 1 friend and a bunch of acquaintances/professional colleagues who didn’t count as a support network. I would get these intense longings, not even for home, but for my parents who had since moved a few hours from where I grew up, in a town I never lived in – but I’d catch myself daydreaming idly about taking 3-4 weeks off to go live at my mom’s house and let her take care of me the way she did when I was little and sick. So it wasn’t even about going home, really… it was something inside me deeply craving support, familiarity, and stability/security that I didn’t have where I was.

        I actually dropped out of grad school at the end of my second year and moved back “home” – into the city I’d grown up outside of. That was a decade ago, and I’ve experienced my share of heartache and frustration and seasonal depression in the time since, but I still look back on that period as the two darkest years of my life. The overwhelming sense that I was isolated, drifting aimlessly, and incapable of running my life correctly was more pervasive and constant than I have ever experienced before or since.

    4. BookishMiss*

      My favorite holidays were when I was out of state and unable to get home. I honestly spent them doing laundry and hanging out with my cat, both of which I didn’t usually have time to do.

      I have a lot of far flung family, OP, and the ones out of state all work in medicine. Instead of taking off Christmas itself, we do a big family celebration a week or two before, whenever they can get off of work. This might not solve your problem for this year, but it’s something to think about going forward.

      1. Radio Girl*

        My best Thanksgiving ever was my senior year of college when my part-time job and two term papers kept me in my tiny studio apartment 200 mikes from home all weekend.

        I bought small packages of my favorite holiday foods, and spent the weekend cooking and reading. One of my papers was on Colette, so I spent my afternoons with a book and a cup of hot chocolate. I surfaced only for brisk walks outside. By the end of the weekend, I had one paper written and another one started. When I did see my family a month later, it was sweet.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          One year in college a bunch of my friends circle couldn’t get home for Thanksgiving. One of them was in a real house with a real kitchen, so we did a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. This was an odd group: most male gaming geeks who also cooked. I’m not sure this is easily replicable. But at that age, when the friends circle is very important, it was actually a lovely occasion.

          1. Chinook*

            My university friends for the most part had family 200+ km away so, for most holidays, we wouldhave “a dinner for holiday orphans.” The host would have an oven and cook the turkey. Everyone else brought something, even if it was a bag of store bought rolls, though usually it was a dish from home we missed. Itbecame an ipen invitation for firends of friemds and always a good time.

      2. pass the stuffing*

        I’ve spent several holidays away from home at this point but my SO moved with me for my job change this year and spent their first Thanksgiving away. We reviewed a list of all the fancy and festive restaurant offering and ultimately decided to do a casino buffet and walked around after stuffing ourselves watching people gamble (even though we don’t ourselves). Then we went home and spent the rest of the day with our little chosen nuclear millennial family (aka our pets). It was relaxed and sweet and intimate and we’re both going to love seeing our families that much more for the next holiday we go home for. Holidays away don’t always have to lonely and morose!

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        My extended family spends a week together each summer in a house on the Jersey shore. This is actually much easier to arrange than a mass gathering at Christmas would be, if only due to the issue of different halves of the individual nuclear families having different extended families. It also is more relaxing than a frantic few days packed with holiday stuff. It helps that the family mostly actually likes each other, and is very functional about division of labor.

      4. AuroraLight37*

        I spend holidays doing spa days since I’ve started living alone. I don’t have to go anywhere, and I can do a full four step facial or a long soaking bath or whatever with the knowledge that I don’t have anything else I have to do.

      5. SpaceySteph*

        Last year I was on-call for Christmas so I sent my husband and 2 year old to his parents without me. House to myself, it hadn’t been that clean since before we had a kid!
        And the year before our wedding we couldn’t afford to travel (on account of saving $ and PTO for the wedding/honeymoon) so we went camping for just the long Christmas weekend and decorated a giant pine tree near our tent with lights and ornaments.

        Both of those were really awesome Christmases. 10/10 would do again, much preferred over flying on the busiest travel week of the year.

    5. LQ*

      I have a regular non-coverage needed office job right now, but I’m the only one of my sisters who does. So my family does Christmas on a non-Christmas weekend, which leaves me to work not Christmas day, but Christmas eve and a bunch of other near holiday travel days.

      The thing is that someone has to do it. And you have to decide if you are a person who can do it. Can you do it now at this point in your life? At this point in your career? What does the rest of your family look like if that matters to you?

      But being able to look around and go, listen, someone has to work the ER on Christmas so yeah, that might mean you don’t get to travel that week, but can you manage that with your family?

      It’s ok to decide you are not the person who can do that, but then you need to recognize that you may be making other sacrifices to make that work and what those will look like for you.

      I think it’s great that the OP wrote in to ask about this because it shows they are thinking about it. That’s a good thing.

    6. Bunny*

      Radio Girl! I, too, am a Radio Girl!

      I’m a journalist and work in all-news radio, so I, until I recently stepped in a senior reporter position (that took decades) worked every holiday, every long weekend. Thanksgiving I was called away due to a major power outage.

      Your family’s away, but make your own Christmas. You are the new kid. Other people are ahead of you and have earned their holiday off.

      Although I am now entitled to holidays off, this year I chose to work them, because my family is nearby, and I’m happy with a half-holiday (working in the AM/on-call/presents in the PM) Keep that mind for next year. If you’re not a jerk, someone might do that for you. If you’re threatening to quit, they won’t.

      Now that I’ve said this, I’ll be at a 14 alarm fire for sixteen hours.

    7. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I had a similar experience! When I started on my job, which involved a cross-continent move, it was December and I did not dare ask for vacation days so soon (and plane tickets were already too expensive anyway). So I bought my favourite foods for the Eve, I had fun building my very first gingerbread house and I ended up celebrating with a couple of colleagues. Sure, it was weird to spend Christmas with another family, but I really had a good day!
      I went back last year, but this year I again decided to stay and I’m already looking forward to 10 whole days of pijama, books & tea.
      So, hold on, OP#1: it’s not as bad as it may seem! Also, I’m not sure about the U.S. customs, but there may be a bonus for working on Christmas :)

    8. ThatGirl*

      I spent four years in newspapers and know the need to work holiday shifts well. Someone had to! And honestly, the one year I did get enough time off to visit my family, travel was a nightmare and I couldn’t get a flight for 36 hours. In subsequent years, I did things differently.

      I totally understand feeling like you just want to see loved ones after a crappy year. But LW has to ask herself if it’s really worth giving up the job for *that* week. Perhaps she could visit right around/after the new year, or have her family come to her. There are other options.

    9. Junior Assistant Peon*

      You’re planning to start grad school in June, it sounds like you’re miserable where you are, and you’re only in that location for a job you got fired from. I’d suggest moving back home until June and seeking some kind of stopgap job like retail or waiting tables in the meantime. Your resume can start with your graduate degree in the future, and you can leave the youthful short-term jobs off.

      If you live far from home because you’re from some rural area with no white-collar jobs, you don’t need to be 900 miles away. Unless you’re in a highly specialized field, pretty much any location in America has a small city within a hundred miles or so.

    10. Choux*

      I haven’t spent Christmas with my family in 10 years. I moved 500 miles away with my ex-husband and then I ended up in jobs that have blackout periods on vacation between mid-November and January 1. This is my second Christmas being divorced and I still can’t get home. I have to work until 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and then be back in the office at 9:30 on 12/26. I suppose I could fly home for 24 hours but it’s frankly not worth the expense or hassle. And my parents refuse to fly during ‘the winter’ because they think they’re going to get snowed in for months.

    11. BeeGee*

      I second the idea of seeing if you can get some time off closer to New Years Eve/Day! It is more of a “young person” holiday to celebrate NYE and I would be able to swap Christmas PTO with older coworkers with children in order to have someone to cover a day or two before/after NYE/NYD to spend with friends or family. A few years back I took a long weekend trip with friends around New Years and it was a blast! Totally worth it!

    12. Quickbeam*

      Nursing never shuts down and I’ve seen a lot of people quit before Christmas. Or have a baby so they can take their leave over Christmas. I think the holiday thing is something you need to keep in mind when choosing a profession. If it is critical to you to always be at the motherhouse on that specific day, it might affect your professional choices.

  4. Maria Lopez*

    LW#5- By all means send the e-mail, but don’t dance around why you are sending it.
    “I’m so sorry to bother you when you’re on leave! Would you give me a call whenever it’s convenient for you? I won’t take up more than a few minutes, but I have some news I wanted to share with you myself. It’s nothing to worry about — it’s just some personal news about me.”
    “I’m so sorry to bother you when you’re on leave! I am leaving for a new job on —- and wanted you to hear it from me rather than by rumor. If you’d like to call me I can give you more details, or you can wait until you return to work.”

    1. Commenter*

      Agreed! Like anything, I’m sure people have different preferences, but if work needed to contact me during a vacation/leave with something like this I’d much prefer that they only did so once, and that they make the reason clear, rather than reaching out only to tell me to contact them to find out whatever it is they think I should know.

      To me, this kind of teaser “call me!” message would just compound the annoyance I’d already be feeling about them contacting me while I was on leave, whereas a brief and to-the-point “Sorry to bother you, but I wanted to let you know X as soon as possible” would feel courteous and respectful of the vacation boundary.

    2. Anancy*

      Yes, say the news in the email! For the person on maternity leave, and possibly medical leave depending on circumstances, there may be very few times they are actually able to talk on the phone. And if you end up playing phone tag that is stressful and time consuming when they are on leave.

      1. Clewgarnet*

        Not to mention the soaring anxiety I’d feel at being contacted while on leave. My first thought would be redundancies or something else horrible.

        1. your favorite person*

          Absolutely. One of my employees decided to move departments while I was on leave, meaning our department of 4 went down to 2 in about two weeks. I was very glad that my boss texted me and let me know because I would have felt bad finding out about it later.

  5. Beth*

    #1: It probably won’t screw you over forever, but it might screw you over until June. It sounds like you’ve had trouble finding work in your area, since you say your employment was patchy since you were fired in May. If you quit your current job, you’ll be right back in that market…with the added pressure of the knowledge that you’ll be there for six months at most, which isn’t what most employers will be looking for.

    If you can support yourself with savings, temp work, and/or whatever patchy employment you think you’re likely to find, then go for it. If not, then you might have to suck it up and skype into Christmas; even if the job itself isn’t meaningful or relevant to your career, if the income is relevant to you paying rent and bills, then that’s kind of that.

    1. Aphrodite*

      I’d say that even if you can afford to be out of work with no income coming in that quitting this job is a bad idea. It sounds like you leave or are asked to leave jobs too easily with, so far, minimal consequences. If that’s the case, you might be developing a bad habit of leaving something to which you owe a commitment whenever things don’t go the way you want them to go. Bad way of thinking as an adult. I say to tough it out, learn how to handle professional disappointments, and get yourself a new attitude. That will serve you far better and much longer than a reference from this place.

      1. Beth*

        I don’t super believe in adults doing things for the sake of essentially building character. OP1 is the one who best knows their own needs; if they weigh their career path, their financial needs, the possible consequences of breaking their contract, and their desire to be at home with family, and they decide that quitting this job is the right choice for them, then that’s a valid choice for them to make. Odds are their employer wouldn’t hesitate to make an equally calculated choice if they were considering letting OP go for some reason; loyalty isn’t an applicable concept to the business world.

        OP probably will eventually hit a point (if they haven’t done so already; we don’t actually know much about their employment history, other than that the job they moved for didn’t work out) where they need to stick out a bad or disappointing work situation for long-term gain. But that should be something they choose to do based on the situation at hand, not just as an object lesson in handling disappointment.

        1. Mookie*

          Yep. “Building character” is a luxury with a price tag and mental load not everyone can afford to pay and, as you suggest, when it’s the employee expected to do the “character building,” that often translates merely to Sucking It Up. Yes, sometimes we have to do that and for many people their entire working life is just sucking it up in a bad situation, but doing so is not “good” for us, not medicine for our souls, and pretending it is just sounds like disingenuous employer-pushed propaganda. There is no spiritual nourishment in bootstrap soup.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            To this day, I regret not walking out of a job that treated me extremely poorly after my grandfather died (my boss retroactively denied my bereavement leave supposedly because “the company didn’t grant it for grandparents” but really as retribution for being out in a week that was unexpectedly busy), after being a terrible boss the entire time I was there. This isn’t even close to the same situation, but I agree that subjecting yourself to employer abuse just for the sake of “building character” is ridiculous.

            1. Observer*

              Sure. But that’s not what is being suggested. Your boss sounds like a terrible person and a really bad boss. The OP is not being abused, unless they are leaving out all of the relevant context.

              Alison often talks about when to walk out of a job without another one lined up. Sometimes it really IS the right thing to do, and sometimes it’s sometimes it’s necessary even if you don’t have a financial cushion. But generally, quitting over not getting the days you want is not one of those situations.

              Learning to “suck it up” is a valuable skill. Just as valuable as learning when to NOT keep taking it. Some people lean too far into just accepting abuse, and that’s not good. But others go too far in the other direction. And, while we really can’t KNOW in this case, based on what the OP is saying, it definitely looks like they are too far in that direction.

              1. Artemesia*

                But her job is not treating her poorly and she has already been fired recently and had trouble landing a new job; being flaky on this one isn’t about ‘building character’ so much as recognizing that part of having character is keeping commitments and not always doing what feels good in the moment. I think if she was being roundly abused the advice would be entirely different.

          2. Observer*

            Well, walking will also have a definite cost to the OP. Not being able to put their pre-masters job history on their resume could easily make it a bit harder to get their first job out of school. And it will definitely affect their ability to be choosy in looking at career decisions because they will wind up depleting their savings cushion.

            Now, savings cushions are there for a reason and if the OP described an abusive situation, that would be one thing. I would day that “that’s what you save for”. But this is not that – the OP admits that the denial makes a lot of sense and is basically fair. They just don’t like it.

          3. soon 2be former fed*

            At 64, I can say that character building is something that is done throughout life, and deferring gratification is an essential part of that. An “if it feels good, do it” mentality rarely serves anyone well in the long run. I think it is commonly known as maturity. OP, don’t be afraid to take a deep look inside yourself and examine areas you may need to grow in, for your own best interest. Good luck to you.

        2. Asenath*

          I’m rather surprised that some think that this isn’t the time OP needs to learn to suck it up and handle disappointment. When I was early in my working life, a job loss and period of unemployment would mean that I couldn’t afford to leave another job so quickly – and that’s without factoring in the cost of the Christmas travel and this program starting in June. And it’s easy to get into a habit of thinking that it’s not important to keep to a signed contract – that can easily get you a bad reputation for unreliability.

          1. CM*

            We don’t really know from the letter whether the OP needs to learn this life lesson or not.

            Maybe the OP has a pattern of leaving when things get tough or being financially irresponsible. Or maybe the OP can afford to leave this job and their mental health is more important right now.

            Maybe once the OP starts grad school their past employment will be largely irrelevant. Or maybe it’s important that they have a solid work history.

            I think the OP just has to think about both the consequences and what they need now, and figure out what makes sense.

          2. Kat M2*

            Also, it’s just…..what you have to do when starting a new job. Sometimes, you’re lucky if they let you take any leave.

            1. EPLawyer*

              I am surprised they thought they would get any time off this year since they just started in September. Being there only a few months and wanting to take the most coveted week off is a little surprising. OP says they understand why they didn’t get approved being new, but then wants to quit over it.

              OP, you can’t quit jobs just for not getting what you understand you weren’t likely to get anyway. It is a shock going from school where all the holidays are off so you can do what you want to working where your time is a lot less flexible. Even flexible jobs don’t always let you have the time off you want. This isn’t character building as someone up above said, this is accepting reality. EVERY job you have, whether now or after grad school is going to have something like this happen. If you keep leaving jobs because they aren’t like school or aren’t flexible enough for you, then yes, your history will harm you. Better to get in the practice of accepting certain things about the working world now.

              1. Academic Addie*

                I agree @EPLawyer. I’m a professor, so I never left school, in a sense. While I conceivably could plan a month-long trip to see family around the holidays (in actuality, I need to be at a conference on Jan. 4), I still have a ton of stuff I need to get done over the holidays. I’m paid for the holidays – because I’m working. Course prep, letters for students, research, administrivia.

                I’m not going to tell anyone what to do, but it sounds like this might be the time to start adjusting expectations of the workplace and how work balances with family. I couldn’t even afford to visit my family for a few years in grad school. I can’t pretend that wasn’t hard. MK said above that considering family and holidays when you’re choosing your living location might be worthwhile, and honestly, it’s hard to argue with that, particularly now that I have kids.

            2. fhqwhgads*

              Or they could also have negotiated specifically for that time. If they’ve been there 3 months it’s not unheard of to already have had December plans when they got the job. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and they might have gotten a “no” doing that anyway, or it may not have been doable since they’re a contractor and it could’ve torpedoed them getting the job in the first place….lots of variables. Still if having that week off is very important, and it’s soon, it might’ve been better to settle it before taking the job, rather than having it come up now. (or maybe they tried at that time and have known this would happen, but needed the paycheck til now and that’s why the idea of quitting seems more feasible now than the idea of not taking this job and continuing to look for a different one 3 months ago that would’ve accommodated this). Who knows.

            3. soon 2be former fed*

              Yeah, my first job out of college was no vacation leave for the first six months, that was policy.

              1. Free Meerkats*

                My first job out of high school (never went to college) was the Navy. Really difficult to go home for the holidays from the middle of the Indian Ocean…

                I’m in the suck it up camp. Yeah, I understand the LW had a bad year, but bad years happen and you have to learn to deal with them.

          3. Allypopx*

            We don’t know enough about OP’s personal or financial situation to make the judgement of what they do or do not need right now. Alison’s advice is solely about the consequences and the objective situation, so OP can hear the outside perspective and ultimately weigh the factors for their own circumstances.

            It would actually be really, really good for me to take a period of unemployment right now and I am in the financial position to do so. These kind of ‘lessons’ I learned early in my career have me so psychologically averse to doing so that I can’t even take steps in that direction right now. No two situations are equal.

          4. Beth*

            Maybe it is the time that OP needs to suck it up. Maybe it isn’t. I’m not really trying to say one way or the other.

            What I’m saying is that OP is the one with the information needed to really evaluate that, not us, and that they should make their decision based on the situation at hand. Maybe their financial situation requires that they’re employed for the next few months; maybe it doesn’t. Maybe their planned career path means they don’t want to burn bridges here; maybe they’re changing fields so thoroughly that their old reputation will be irrelevant. Maybe their contract comes with major penalties for breaking it; maybe it’s treated as a formality at their company and everyone treats it as something that either side can break at whim. OP1 should decide what to do based on considering the actual facts–not out of some kind of vague feeling that sticking it out is ‘proper’ or that they’ll ‘learn a lesson’ by doing it.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Doing things for the sake of essentially building character.

          I think this really depends on what decisions the adult has been making. How reasonable it sounds depends on whether your experience with family/friends is people being martyrs for reasons you can’t make out with a microscope, or people always choosing the short-term thing and then being astonished that the long-term consequences are still what they were last time, which they assure you is something they could not possibly have anticipated. (I have both but the latter has been grating on me more lately, possibly because the former at least doesn’t ask for money.)

          Some adults would benefit from developing the suck-it-up-and-see-it-through muscle; some adults would benefit from learning to occasionally recognize that the thing they’re doing isn’t working, and to put things down and change course.

        4. Smithy*

          Completely agree with this.

          I was fired/never put back on the schedule again from a few jobs in my teens/ early 20’s. I had a work study job in undergrad where I was an ambivalent employee and a front office admin job that I quit after 6 or so months because my boss was quitting and I didn’t like the overall environment. I also had jobs in my teens/early 20’s where I was a stellar employee, received praise on the job, and didn’t turn into concrete references. And one job, where I was told I was doing well for two years, left the job to go to grad school (with ample notice) and then when I returned to that boss post grad school to request a reference never responded to me.

          The biggest reality the OP needs to face right now is what the financial reality would mean of quitting this job ahead of grad school in June. Might this mean going home for a few months and subletting their place? Is the financial situation such that regular money or a gap of funds is feasible?

          If this is a question about money – then sure – stay. But if there is a financial luxury of taking time for yourself ahead of grad school to be with loved ones and do some self care and reflection – I say do that. I have two grad degrees. I did it immediately after undergrad because I had no idea what else to do with myself and would have been better served taking time off – traveling, working for three months and quitting, being a bum on my parents couch – all of that would have likely been more productive than seeing grad school as just something to do because I didn’t know what else to do.

          OP – if you decide to go to grad school, there will be plenty of times to refresh your resume through internships, TA’s, as well as perhaps other temp/retail/service industry work. This job on its own does not have to be everything.

        5. Observer*

          It’s not about “building character”. It’s about developing certain habits and mental “muscle memory”.

          1. Zillah*

            I was going to say this, too, yeah. Some habits are worth building – not because of abstract ideas about character, but because there are tangible benefits that come along with them and it’s much easier to do them when they’re automatic.

            To use a silly example: I don’t load and run the dishwasher each night to build character. I do it because when I just run it when I think of it, I never have clean dishes.

      2. Mary*

        I’m the opposite–I stayed in my first job for a full year because You Just Can’t Quit A Job Like That and what I learned was that you absolutely can and there are plenty of times when you should. Staying in a job can be just as big a mistake as quitting a job too soon, so the important thing is that LW weighs up the options carefully and makes the decision that feels right for her right now. She might regret it later either way, but that’s true of every decision we make.

        1. Quill*

          “You can’t quit a job that hired you directly at 23!”

          That job was a nightmare, and firing me was the best thing it ever did for me.

        2. Kiwiii*

          I’m in the same boat as you. I stayed in my first job out of college for 13 months when I knew at about 4 months that I needed to get out because I was worried about what my work history would look like. My stints since have been even shorter, 7 months in a contract position that I left for a full time gig, 9 months at the full time gig that I left for better pay, better culture fit, and more interesting work. I know I need to stay at this one for At Least 2 years (and probably more like 3+), but only in this interview did anyone start to comment about not staying put (and this job was so obviously a better fit for me than the 9 or 13 month jobs, that it wasn’t /really/ something they seemed to be worried about). LW alone knows what is forgivable in their industry and situation.

    2. Zip Silver*

      “with the added pressure of the knowledge that you’ll be there for six months at most, which isn’t what most employers will be looking for.”

      Maybe I’m ethically corrupt, but there is no way that I would mention my school plans in 6 months when interviewing with new employers. They could be left in the dark until the time comes to resign on good terms, imo.

      1. Washi*

        I’m not really sure that if you left after 6 months or less (by the time OP finds another job) that you could resign on completely good terms for grad school. Applications for grad school usually start 3-5 months out at the very least, so I’d be pretty peeved that someone took a full time, permanent job, while already planning to leave.

        Of course, I understand people need to pay rent, etc, but I still would not be 100% pleased.

        1. Zip Silver*

          Well, while we’re on the subject of lying to employers… You don’t even have to tell them you’re going to grad school. Just say that you’re not the right fit, or that you have family commitments, it whatever polite fiction you can come up with. After all, it’s only a 6 month job and you’re likely not going to put it in your resume anyway (and if it’s super casual employment like retail, who cares?)

          1. Graciosa*

            Agree that you don’t have to tell them – but I will say that quitting to go to grad school has been perceived positively at multiple major (Fortune 100) employers I’ve worked for. It tends to produce keep-us-in-mind-when-you’re-done reactions, even when there’s a major change in field as a result.

            I’ve had one employer who (bizarrely) refused to rehire people who left for a different job, but would rehire those who left for educational purposes. For the record, I think this is a terrible policy and advocated as strongly as possible to get it changed (yes, CEO’s are human and can cling to really stupid ideas in despite strong evidence that the earth is not flat).

          2. Allypopx*

            Also, for the record, OP has not actually been accepted to grad school yet (clarified in the comments), so interviewing for other jobs as a backup plan would not in any way be unreasonable or unethical.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, that’d definitely be a do-not-rehire strike for me. We invest a decent amount of time training people, and six months is not worth it, nor would I be pleased about only having two weeks to replace someone who knew they were leaving for months. We do work that requires a decent amount of institutional knowledge of cases and projects, and not everyone is fungible.

          I work with a lot of people who are between undergraduate and grad/professional school, and knowing who’s planning to leave in the spring/summer for grad school makes hiring and training their replacements much easier on everyone involved.

          1. Zip Silver*

            You’re exactly right, nobody wants to hire somebody who is leaving in 6 months, which is the whole reasoning behind lying.

            Gotta pay bills somehow though, right?

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Sure, and they’d get their bills paid for six months and then we’d not rehire them after that for a longer-term position nor would they receive anything more than a name-rank-date of employment verification.

              For a six-month position, I’d look for term-based government/contractor job or a long-term temp assignment before burning a bridge on references and rehire, but that may not matter to others. My husband started his current position on a short-term position (which, with the fed, is a full-time position with benefits, just with an expiration date). They were actively looking for people to work in a fixed term, which people looking for full-time, long-term employment aren’t typically jazzed about.

      2. Zephy*

        I dunno, it could very well take six weeks to find a new job, then another 2-4 weeks to start said new job. Then you’ve probably got a 90-day probation/training period, and it’s not the best look to say “Thanks for investing time and resources to get me onboarded and trained, but I’m going back to school next month.” Nobody decides to go to grad school on a whim, and if they do, there’s surely more than a month between applying and starting your program.

      3. RecoveringSWO*

        There’s enough of a variable in grad school plans that I don’t think it’s unethical to not disclose it to employers. Even assuming that OP will be admitted to the school of her choice, she can absolutely defer enrollment by 1-2 years if she believes that her future career prospects, finances, etc. would benefit from continuing to work there. In some fields, OP might decide to attend part time/evening grad school if the job is valuable enough to her. In fact, after considering other’s advice about job locations and holiday norms for certain career fields, it might be a good course of action for OP to try to find a different job now to ensure that she’s picking the right field of study.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Agreed. Unless there’s a truly significant reason to go home for the holiday (grandma’s 95 and in bad health, your brother is getting married, mom’s house flooded in the last hurricane and everyone is pitching in to rehab it), you should plan on working. That’s just what happens when you’re an adult: sometimes you have to decide to do things that aren’t fun but are necessary. Skype in, ask the passel of teen cousins to make a video for you, arrange to be with friends and do fun things and volunteer over the holiday.

    4. Working Mom*

      One other thing to consider – what’s your industry? What are you going to grad school for? Will what you do in the future potentially overlap with this industry? Is it a small one or a big one? What I’m getting at is – what are the chances you’ll cross paths with this company – or the company that contracted you to work there?

      OP, if you decide to quit and visit family – I’d pay close attention to how you frame that when you resign. Still give two weeks notice – and frame it as you have a family commitment you simply cannot break, and understand that won’t align with company’s needs – and for that reason you’ll have to resign. You want to frame this as you understand their need and yours don’t align and that’s why you’re leaving – to honor your prior commitment, but giving notice to help the company find coverage for that week.

      What you don’t want to do – is making it appear as though you’re “throwing a tantrum” (not saying you are) and quitting because you didn’t get your way. If you throw up your hands and say, “well then I quit.” that’s how you could be viewed. Approach it carefully so as to not burn bridges. You *never* know who you’ll see in the future – and you’d rather be the person who had to bow out of a job to keep a commitment and handled it professionally, then the person who quit when she couldn’t get a week off. It’s all in how you frame it!

  6. Introvert girl*

    #3 a raise of 2% just covers inflation, so I wouldn’t consider it as a raise. But did you think that she maybe Made a typing error with her request? 13.15 —> 13-15% ?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The average raise nationally is about 3%, so the 2-5% the OP cited is pretty typical (with the lower part of that range presumably being for less impressive performance but where they want to at least keep up with inflation).

      1. EPLawyer*

        Unless the company’s payscale is widely out of whack for the market, I can’t imagine how the person came up with a 13% pay raise, typo or not. Annual raises are really just COL raises, not huge things like that. Unless someone single handledly saved the company from ruin, it’s just not within usual work norms.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          . . . however, the company’s payscale may be exactly what this person is factoring into the requested raise. It wouldn’t be the first time a company has gotten lazy about keeping up with market pay rates.

        2. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

          The only time I got a raise that large I had a) been doing the jobs of two other people who had been laid off that year in addition to my own b) calculated the dollar amount I saved the company throughout the year by catching another colleague’s potentially 6-figure mistakes, and documented what I had done to prevent future mishaps of that nature (incompetent guy was in a country with strong labor laws, so an unfireable object to work around at that point). I had been screwed out of a real raise the previous year due to “budget” but I raised enough hell and had a large paper trail with my accomplishments and it worked. I still think it only worked because a soon-to-be-retired director was feeling free with the pursestrings. I doubt I will ever achieve that kind of coup ever again.

        3. HM MM*

          I think percentages can be kind of misleading (or maybe just not as intuitive) when talking about raises on relatively low end salaries. Which, I admit I don’t know if that’s the case here, but given that the employee is a front desk worker at an hourly rate – I think it’s a pretty fair guess.

          If you make 30k per year a 2% raise is $600. Sure, logically you can say well that’s just what inflation is *shrug*, but I just can’t imagine anyone feeling (at least emotionally) like a $600 raise is “fair”. I’m guessing the employee worked backwards – with a thought process along the lines of “I make x, y sounds like a reasonable raise. Y happens to be 13%” of x”.

          I’m not saying that the employee is correct in their logic or that they deserve that much of a raise, I just think this is a really easy thought process to fall into when we’re talking smaller salaries and I hope the OP speaks to the employee with compassion. Requesting a 13+% raise might be way easier to intuitively understand that it’s not appropriate at the OP’s pay rate, but I don’t think that’s the case when we’re talking about smaller numbers.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It doesn’t sound like this is the case, but sometimes a company’s payscale is wildly inconsistent across similar positions. The classic being women getting paid less for men doing the same job.
          I know you say it’s consistent with what others are paid in the role, but is that consistent across the company or just across your department? It might be worth checking with HR to find out if anyone’s doing an equivalent job at a rate that’s (surprise!) 13.15% higher than what she’s getting.
          (I’ve seen it first hand where a less qualified, less experienced man was hired at a much higher rate of pay than any of the women already in the department. When one of the women was promoted to department manager she was shocked at the discrepancy, especially given how little DisorganizedMan was producing. He left in a huff when told he had to work more efficiently. New manager started working to bring up the rest of our pay rates.)

      2. thebest5555555*

        In absolute dollar amounts, it is a “raise” but in inflation indexed dollars, it is not a raise.

    2. Enough*

      My thought is related to hourly wage and over time. Would 13.15% make it easily divisible by 4, 6, 10, or 15?

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        13.15 divided by any of those numbers does not result in a whole number. I assume you mean the result is a nice whole number?

        But maybe 13.15% brings the person up to a whole number they want per hour or the annual number up to a total they want?

      2. workerbee2*

        My hunch is that the current hourly rate * 1.1315 would make their annual pay a round number.

      3. MarsJenkar*

        I could be off base here, but the person in question might have calculated their living expenses, and settled on that number as a living wage.

        Now, while it could be they are overestimating, or that there are expenses they could cut but hadn’t considered…it could also be that they actually need the money for whatever reason (e.g. medical bills), and can’t cut their expenses further without causing major problems for themselves or significant others. It strongly depends on the wages the employee is earning, the area’s cost of living, and their personal financial situation.

        Having experienced a similar situation of being backed into a corner financially for over a year (and being stuck in the red for that time–thank goodness for savings) due to circumstances not totally within my control, I can sympathize if the employee is in this position, even if their approach is not ideal.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I read it as 13–15% the whole time and had to go back to catch the decimal; I agree that a typo in the raise request is the most likely explanation for the weird number.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Regardless, a 13% raise is unrealistic for anyone who isn’t getting a promotion. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare for a company to give their most excellent employee that big of a raise ever, if they’re continuing in the same role with the same responsibilities. I’ve never gotten more than a 3% raise in my 25 year career, unless I was moving into a new role.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I got a 16% raise outside of major promotion ONCE in my 20-year career when we got a new HR director who was horrified how far off market my team was. Basically, it’s a niche industry, and prior HR hadn’t done any sort of homework on getting actual numbers and was extrapolating from non-specialized salaries. Everyone got adjusted immediately, and it’s not happened since. Average raise now is 3%, some years you’re over; some years you’re under.

      2. Quill*

        On the other hand… maybe the requester is investigating the market and has learned that they’re being paid 10% below the market rate. 13 – 15% would then be “standard annual raise plus catching up to market rate.”

      3. workerbee2*

        Right. My husband got about 15% this year at his annual review, but that was because he was being paid less than his peers in the exact same role. He successfully made a case that his work / value to the company was the same as the higher-paid peers and they bumped up his pay. The others in his role got a 4% raise.

        I encouraged him to ask, as well as coached him on what to ask for and how to ask for it. All things that I learned here on AAM – so thanks, Alison and commentariat. :-)

        My company, on the other hand, limits annual “merit increases” to 3% and it’s not tied to specific performance – everyone whose performance qualifies for a merit increase gets the same percentage. You can only get a meaningful raise by getting promoted. However, I’ve received 3 promotions in the 8 years that I’ve been with my current team, and 2 of those positions were created specifically to be able to give me a raise. The promotions were to recognize the work I was already doing, so I’ve never had a change in job duties directly associated with the promotion.

      4. anonandon*

        Dang, everyone here works for terrible companies… I’ve only been with my company three years, and my raises have been 10.5%, 33%, and 36%. The 33 was after they realized we were way underpaid and I argued for the 36 (they had offer 22ish I think and I asked for more.) 13-15 seems super normal to me.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, ours aren’t 33÷ high but closer to 10÷. So the idea that 13÷ is wildly outlandish is spinning my head.

          But it’s a crazy labor market flooded by major players up here, garbage pay means garbage product due to what that low pay buys you.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Maybe you just work for an uncommonly generous company — and good for you! But my typical raises have all been under 5%. I did end up with a net 10% raise this year but that’s because I changed departments in July and got a raise due to that.

        3. HM MM*

          Yeah, my last annual raises (at 3 different companies, across two different industries) were 10%, 11% and 20%. The 20% did come along side a promotion, but the 10% and 11% did not.

          Just saying this does not sound outlandish to me.

        4. Diana*

          Same, these comments are blowing my mind. With a few years’ experience under their belt, they’re now worth much more for the same role in the free market. Of course I understand that employees may not be in a location or an industry where they can switch jobs, but that doesn’t mean we have to normalize this language. We have got to stop calling “COL adjustments” a “raise” – that’s just inflation! That’s just “we aren’t going to dock your pay” and making a big fuss about not letting your workers’ current salaries shrink is a bad look. It’s revolting enough to see management pretend that COL adjustments are “raises” but we don’t have to dignify that by calling them “raises” ourselves.

        5. Jules the 3rd*

          Highly industry specific – sw developers, finance – 13 – 15% is not crazy numbers. Average US wage growth over the last decade has been 1 – 3%, with 3% being recent and considered ‘high’.

          Per several studies and articles, the US labor system is splitting into ‘high wage’ and ‘low wage’ systems. High wage roles are hot, employers are struggling to fill them and real wages have been rising faster than inflation. Low wage systems are stagnating, rising much slower than critical costs like rent. This is a major component in the push behind an increase in the federal minimum wage.

          For this *letter*, the key is that the OP says 2 – 5% is the norm for their company. The employee may think they are underpaid relative to people who do the same job (and OP, you should check that, big time!), or may just be unaware.

      5. Noah*

        That’s not necessarily always the case. Two jobs ago I got a 15% raise six months after I started (I solved a problem for a difficult client and I was being underpaid) two years later I got a 19% raise (basically two years of merit raises combined, though the pay bump came in two chunks, 10% that day, 9% three months later)

    5. thebest5555555*

      The employee happened to be job searching at the same time and 13.15% how much higher the new job offer is.

      I know from experience ;)

    6. Policy Wonk*

      I’d bet the odd percentage is to give the employee parity with someone else with a comparable job. While OP says it would put her pay higher than others in the same role, it doesn’t say higher than all those in the same role. The employee could see gender dynamics in play, whether they are or not.

    7. AuroraLight37*

      I’ve seen advice given that you should provide weird numbers when talking money, because a regular number can be seen as a placeholder, whereas saying that you’re willing to take $78,381 for a salary sounds like you have a good reason for requesting that.

  7. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #2 You have my deepest sympathies and I am begging you to report back afterwards and tell us all about it. You have to sit in a room for hours and discuss mindsets and behaviours? I am agog.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      +1 for “agog” XD

      This sounds TERRIFYING. The choice of sleepwear is the best part of the whole thing.

      1. valentine*

        It sounds like the place where they were going to have group therapy at work. Or a cult.

        OP2, what if you wear running gear and put it to good use?

        1. Not American*

          Or merely a workplace in a culture that is significantly more communal in approach than the US.

          1. OP #2*

            Absolutely, I live I a culture that prides itself on inclusion and diversity, and communal approaches are extremely important to this company. That being said, this retreat is looking… interesting. Things like respecting other’s cultural differences in workplaces approaches, and conversely all using the same techniques and approaches to work towards a common goal. Knowing the organisers I suspect this will be much less weird(?) than the initial descriptions make it seem, but only time will tell..

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Or one of those group therapy-based cults! Like the ones where people would scream insulting tirades at each other as a way to… I don’t even know.

    2. Jamie*

      Count me in as wanting an update, too.

      This would fall into my deal breaker category if I had any other options, it’s so intrusive to me.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Time to break out the sparkly unicorn onesie. Because this situation is so ridiculous someone’s got to point it out.

    4. OP #2*

      I certainly will report back for you guys, but the retreat isn’t for a while so there will be a delay. I was severely restricted in my explanations by not overwhelming Alison with words but I have to agree with you here. I am Māori, this type of overnight stay is very normal to me with family and friends, and despite the weirdness of overnight sleeping with co-workers the replies from both Alison and commenters have been extremely helpful in answering my most birthing questions about clothing etiquette. The actual daytime activities? That’s a whole other kettle of fish. I didn’t need advice on that topic so I choose not to delve into details for my submission, but boy do I and many other co-workers have some gripes on this topic. I’ve even heard some colleagues refer to it as a “reprogramming retreat”. It’s being heralded as an extreme privilege for all to attend. I intend to attend and fully engage… with a grain of salt tucked tightly between my teeth.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This reminds me of various overnight “lock in” events I’ve gone to over the years. I think I’d bring ear plugs and an eye mask (maybe extra ear plugs for your colleagues!) and plan to wear something like leggings and a long t-shirt to sleep in. The anthropologist in me finds the whole idea fascinating and I’d like to try it myself.

  8. All Outrage, All The Time*

    I once had a colleague who locked himself out of his hotel room when we had an overnight offsite. He didn’t have a pass for the lift, obviously . He had to go the fire stairs and bang on the front door of the hotel to be let in. Did I mention he was NAKED at the time? The thing I find most surprising isn’t that he was naked, but that he told everyone about it at breakfast the next day.

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      That is hilarious! What on Earth was he doing naked outside his room in the first place? Too funny!

      1. StellaBella*

        Odd I know. He was locked out. Buuuuut… Why would he go outside his room at all when he was naked?

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Either that or had had a few drinks, thought he was going to the bathroom and opened the exit door by mistake?

            1. Liz*

              It happens. not naked and not work related, but my BFF and I were on a cruise, and we had a bit much to drink one night. Apparently after i fell asleep (and i sleep like the dead normally) she got up to go to the bathroom, but walked out the door, which automatically shuts and locks. it took a while for them to verify who she was, and that yes, she did belong in that cabin.

              1. Botanist*

                I once got to a hotel for a work conference, changed into my jammies, ordered something from room service, ate it, and then went to place the tray outside my door . . . and then realized I’d stepped all the way outside my door as I heard it click shut behind me. So I did have to pad down to the front desk in my jammies to ask to be let back in. Fortunately the guy who had checked me in was still there so he could verify who I was! And I am very glad that I wasn’t naked.

          2. Filosofickle*

            This reminds me of a sad/scary encounter I had in a hotel a few years ago in Jacksonville. (Insert Florida joke here.) It was the middle of the night, and someone kept banging on my door. I yelled, more than once, that they had the wrong room. They kept pounding and pleading for me to let them in. I finally got up and looked through the peephole and there was a naked woman at my door! She seemed so desperate but I just can’t let a stranger in my hotel room in the middle of the night, so I called down to the desk and told them.

            I still wonder what happened to her, and if she was ok. Was she drunk and wandered out? Did someone kick her out? I really felt bad and I hope the hotel helped her.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Sleeps naked and thought he was opening the bathroom door, not the door to his room? A person could sleepily close the door behind him before realizing that he was in a hallway, not the bathroom.

        Sleeps naked and has just discovered that he walks in his sleep would also fit, but it feels less likely that he’d be telling everyone about that.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Quote from an old college friend: “Us sleep walkers have to wear pyjamas whether we like it or not.”

      1. Ibgal*

        I had an ex who’s twin brother used to let himself out of the house, walk across the street, and into the neighbor’s house while he was sleepwalking. Imagine doing that naked.

    3. JustaTech*

      After the fire alarm went off in the hotel where I was staying for my first ever business trip I have *always* packed (and worn) nice-enough-to-be-seen-in-public pajamas. (I actually got the idea from a book, which described having PJs good enough for the 11 o’clock news.)
      But I’m also the pajamas type, so it’s not a stretch to wear something a little heavier and a little more structured.

  9. nnn*

    Another idea for #2: my go-to for full-coverage summer sleepwear is extremely casual maxi sundresses. I find them cooler and more comfortable than pants options, and, unlike many nightgowns, they look neither sexual nor old-fashioned.

    Whether this would work for you depends on many factors, but it’s something to keep in mind as you’re deciding what to pack/buy. You don’t have to limit yourself to clothes in the “sleepwear” section!

    1. Koala dreams*

      I was thinking a comfortable summer dress too. You could bring one dress for the after-work part of the day, and another for sleeping, or just bring one that works for both.

      Short and a t-shirt might work too. However I would worry about the t-shirt being too see-through without a bra, so I would prefer a dress.

      1. SarahKay*

        Depending on how much you like/loathe bras, no reason you can’t bring along a comfy (i.e. probably not underwired) bra to sleep in under your preferred nightwear. I have a couple of bras I keep for this purpose for overnight visits with friends or home with my parents. For me it just makes trips to the bathroom, or for a glass of water from the kitchen, etc, feel a lot more relaxed. If I run into someone at least the worst I have to worry about is bedhead; I’m not having to pray that my nipples don’t decide that that now is the perfect time to make a bid for attention!

        1. Not enough coffee*

          Yup. I’d be in Capri yoga pants and a sports tank w/built in bra all day and night. Maybe with a loose t over it.

        2. BethDH*

          I discovered that while I would never sleep in a normal bra even without underwire, the overnight bras made for nursing mothers are really comfortable.

        3. Filosofickle*

          Yeah, I take a super-light bralette on overnight trips where I’ll be around friends/family. Makes me feel covered but still comfortable. Thankfully I’ve never had an overnight where I had to be around coworkers! Yuck.

  10. FormerWorkerVM*

    #1. There are LOTS of fields where you would be expected to work over holidays, regardless of where your family lives. I’d keep that in mind before quitting this job or going to grad school.

    (My family has postponed many Thanksgivings and Christmases for me, I’ve ignored a lot of Independence Day fireworks, and I’ve just pretended New Year’s never came some years. Don’t quit your job without serious consideration, amongst other things, you’ll screw someone else out of having the holidays. Jeez.)

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I notice few responses along the lines of what FormerWorkerVM said. Work is different from school. Not that work should be draconian and you never get the holidays off, but many workplaces are open over the holidays and most people have to work and they don’t get the holidays off. Or at least, they don’t get enough time off to travel far.

      I work for a city. We get Thanksgiving day off but are open Friday and many departments are open all that weekend. Our services are normally open till 9pm Mon-Thurs. If Christmas eve or New Year’s eve fall on one of those days, we might close “early” at 6pm. And we get Christmas and new years days off.

      So anyone who wants to travel has to apply ahead and only a few can get the time off. There are many stories here of people who hog all the holiday time because of seniority or because bosses let them. It seems pretty normal to me to have several years go by before being able to travel to visit family at the holidays.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Also, the LW isn’t working on the holiday. She has the 24th and 25th off, which is actually more than I ever had for the holidays. The problem is she wants more time even though she hasn’t been there for very long and very well might not have earned leave. Also, no vacation leave on a 6 month contract (Sep-Mar) isn’t unheard of, since it is such a short time period. Lots of people in permanent roles wouldn’t have earned enough leave between Sep-Dec to take any time off either.

        1. WellRed*

          But having two days off for Christmas and not being able to spend it with family can be very lonely, especially if you are already feeling down. I do think, however, the OP really needs to consider the path she’s been on. She’s not even a permanent employee at this place, so shouldn’t have expected to get any time off.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Definitely, especially if it has been a rough year and you don’t have a lot of friends living near you. I’ve been there. Not getting more than 1-2 days off at holidays when you are a new worker is one of the big shocks going from being a student who doesn’t work to employee. Whether the LW quits or not, that is one of the take-aways from this experience and will hopefully help her to determine what field she wants to go into and where she wants to live. If getting more than 1-2 days with her family at the holidays is a must-have, she needs to avoid fields that often have 24/7 coverage (e.g. many medical, government, IT fields) and maybe consider looking at living closer to her family, if possible.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Yeah, I think going from having that nice, 3-4 week break between fall and spring semester to getting 1-2 days off was one of the hardest things for me, post-undergrad. I was used to going to my family’s, getting a jump on cooking and present-wrapping, and then lounging around for days. My first Christmas after I graduated, I remember crying when I got back on the train to head back to where I lived because I had to be at work. It was tough, but I think it’s a reality for a lot of people.

              I’m the heartbreaker now. I had to call one of my new grad-new hires last week and tell them that about four other people who’d been here more than a year had already put in for/had leave approved and that I couldn’t approve theirs. They were nice about it, but I know it’s hard.

              I just find it kind of weird that OP expected the time off would be granted, given that they’re the newest member of the team, a contractor, and in a coverage-based job. Coupled with already having been fired, it makes me wonder if there’s something bigger going on than just new-graduate holiday disappointment.

              1. JustaTech*

                Yeah, my first Christmas after college I had to work Christmas eve (yay retail) because I’d gotten Thanksgiving off, and I cried a *lot* about not being able to go home to see my parents.
                So my lovely, kind, Jewish now-in-laws came up and we had sort-of Christmas, and weren’t even upset when I dropped the roast on the floor.
                And then I went home briefly for New Year’s.

                So yes it’s hard, but it’s not worth quitting work over. And you may make new friends of all the other people who can’t go home, for whatever reason.

            2. Senor Montoya*

              Yep, work for a state college or university that closes for a whole week. Although even then there are people who are still working (police, maintenance, scientists and techs with experiments running, skeleton IT staff…)

          2. Colette*

            We’ve talked here before about the expectations about unpaid leave. It’s easy to think that unpaid leave “doesn’t count” – you’re not getting paid, so if you want to take leave it’s your business. But, of course, that’s not the way many businesses work. They expect you to work unless you have paid leave, because they’re staffed on the understanding that people will work unless they have paid leave.

      2. ACDC*

        I think the work is different from school comment is important. We’re conditioned throughout schooling to expect certain breaks throughout the year that just don’t happen when you start working. I know that transition was a big one for me when I graduated college a few years ago. “You mean our next day off isn’t for how long?!?!?!”

    2. KC*

      Not to mention grad school is also very different than undergrad, depending on the program and field. I remember coming into school at 3am on my birthday to collect data, napping on a couch, and then powering through the rest of the day exhausted. My advisor DGAF, the work needed to get done!

      One of my profs, when she was a grad student, broke her leg and it healed wrong. A specialist was in town (briefly) who could fix it. When she went to her advisor to tell him she was going to be out for 2 weeks to heal, he said “Well, I see where your priorities are” and was icy to her until she gave up and switched advisors. Not that behavior like that is OK, but many professors are workaholics who will not really care about holidays and will expect you to be there or else suffer the professional consequences. So you can quit this job, but these kinds of expectations will probably need to be discarded or adjusted in June.

      1. Grad school too*

        Yup when I was in Grad school, I had pneumonia! missed 4 weeks of work leave without pay. Had a dr. Note.I missed two classes, handed in all my work. Was late one week for a paper. Got As on everything. And my final grade for the class was a C!

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        *nod* I’m currently proofreading someone’s Ph.D. thesis; she has been telling me that “eff my advisor, she’s horrible” and won’t be aiming to turn it in by midnight tonight (or the originally mentioned midnight last night). Part of “she’s horrible” is complaints about being expected to do paperwork-related things last weekend, when the relevant university office was closed for the holiday, and despite stress in her personal life. (I am resisting saying “I know, everyone’s life is horribly stressed at this point in the process” because it probably wouldn’t help, at least not from someone she doesn’t really know.)

      3. Confused*

        Yep. I had a first draft of a research paper due when I was on vacation in Italy. Guess who wrote her paper on the train, stayed in to write while her friends and family explored the city, and stayed up until 2am (and took advantage of the time difference) to submit her paper? Me.

        OP sounds very immature. This is definitely the type of stuff I pulled in my high school/college jobs, but professional jobs (even if you don’t love them and they aren’t in your career path) are different, and people won’t care that a 17 year old quit her job at Forever 21 the way they will a 24 year old quitting an office job.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          Oh yes. Worked on my thesis while on a backpacking trip — nobody wants to lug a mss around (and keep it dry and pages in order) while tramping around a mountainous wilderness, but it had to be done.

      4. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I pretty much worked every holiday in grad school, because I had living creatures depending on me to give them food and water.

      5. F.M.*

        I’m going to suggest that behavior like that may be common among advisors, but it’s not only not OK, it should get pushback as much as is possible from people rising up in the academic field. I just had minor surgery on Thursday (the best possible Thanksgiving, eh?) and all this week my colleagues, advisor, and professors have been encouraging me to take it easy, not push myself too hard, and take as much time off as I need for recovery.

        Of course, part of why I chose this program was because discussions with grad students in it before I accepted told me that the department was reasonably supportive and understood things like work/life balance. Sometimes it makes sense for people to go into a toxic, overly demanding program because they know the prestige will advance their future career enough to make the immediate cost worth it to them. Or they just don’t know going in how bad it is. But… that shouldn’t be the normal in grad school, and it’s not normal in all grad school programs, either.

      6. Database Developer Dude*

        He was icy to her because she wanted to take care of her health? WTAF??? If that were my professor, I’d be in jail. That’s so far beyond the pale it isn’t even funny. What was she supposed to do, be disabled for the rest of her life just for this guy’s convenient??? Your prof was female, and her advisor was male, so I’m suspecting a bit of sexism going on here, KC.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yup. OP mentions in the letter about wondering if she sounds entitled, and honestly I think she does. Does it suck that you can’t spend the holidays with your family? Sure does. But it’s called being a responsible adult and sometimes we have to do things that suck. Quitting a job because they won’t give you the time off you want is pretty childish. I was willing to do that once when I had the opportunity to go to Italy for 3 weeks one summer. But I was 19, still living with my parents, and making minimum wage at a card store. Even if OP could swing it financially, wouldn’t it be better to put that money away for the time she’s in grad school and will probably need it more?

    4. wittyrepartee*

      And bank away as much as you can for grad school. There’s a lot of things that you’re going to need money for that the stipend might not cover. Housing deposits for one.

      1. biobotb*

        Right. Depending on the degree the LW is planning to get, and how they’re going to pay for it/have it paid for, any extra money they can put away now could be very very helpful.

    5. Jessa1*

      Yes I second this. Especially the lack of consideration for others. Just because one asks for leave it does not guarantee one will get it. In many jobs, even asking for a holiday week off that new to the job would be seen as very tone deaf. The fact that they have been granted the days off at all (eve and day) is quite generous for many.

      Then again, the poster clearly doesn’t need the work or this wouldn’t even be a consideration, so other that postponing joining the grown up world, I doubt there will be a drawback to quitting, other than ethically of course.

  11. AcademiaNut*

    For #1 – you might also need to consider the effects of burning bridges with your contracting company. If you quit shortly before the holidays because you couldn’t get the vacation time you wanted, they may not be willing to try to place you somewhere else.

    I’m assuming that your grad program for June is locked in (ie, you’ve already been accepted to the program), that it’s a full time program of a couple years’ duration, and you have the money socked away to cover both the grad program, and a period of unemployment until then. If it falls through and you need to get a job, a solid reference from a recent employer would be a big help, given your spotty job history, and you’ll be sacrificing that by quitting. And the reset after grad school is most useful if it’s a longer, full time program.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I would have thought the reference could end up being important either way tbh. LW doesn’t yet have a wealth of employment history to point to, after all.

      I might also consider the optics of a significant employment gap (September or December to June, depending on whether she declares this position) between multiple short term positions and grad school. LW knows that grad school is a positive choice planned well in advance, but could it look on a resume like a last-ditch fallback for someone who can’t manage the world of work? In the absence of the solid reference it might sound unconvincing at interview.

      1. Quill*

        In this economy I wouldn’t be that suspicious of a gap like that (Left one job, searched for months to get another one, gave up because no one wanted to hire me for less than 6 months because I was going to grad school,) considering that almost all of my friends who have started grad school faced several months of unemployment before it, either because their previous job was also tied to the school year, or because when they mentioned they’d been accepted to grad school / would be leaving in a month to to / were applying to grad schools, they got laid off.

        As far as “last ditch fallback,” I know many people who applied to grad school for multiple years, I don’t think most companies who know anything about full time grad school will think you could just decide to go in september or october because you didn’t like working and be accepted in january of the year you planned to start. (some programs are more competitive than others though.)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          That’s right, but as other posters comment, there are grad schools with shorter or less rigorous processes and LW doesn’t give us details either way. It could have been solidly part of your ten-year plan but still look more capricious (especially in the context of a spotty employment history).

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      How solidly are you thinking of going to grad school? Is it like you have been accepted and you are kind of killing time until it starts? Or more like, “I’ve been thinking of going back to school, I wonder where I should go? Is the GRE still a thing?” Alison is right that grad school will provide a reset. But that only helps if you are definitely going.

      If there is a realistic chance that grad school won’t happen, you have to think more about building a work history. Especially since it sounds like jobs are not just falling out of trees where you are.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m actually wondering if she really is set for grad school or is just “planning” on it, ie, not accepted into a program yet, etc. Either way, as Alison suggests, I hope she really thinks hard about it.

  12. A Simple Narwhal*

    #1 – I know this advice doesn’t help you now, but for others in a similar situation – if you want to take a chunk of time off in the first few months of new employment, absolutely bring that up as part of your hiring negotiations. Pre-planned travel is almost guaranteed to be approved, asking for that same time off after you start is not.

    Slightly more relevant to the LW, if your grad program is in the same area as you are now, aka 900 miles from family, you might need to plan your trips home a little further in advance. I’m sure it’s not easy to do the mental switch from “oh I don’t need to think about trips home too far in advance when it’s a car ride away” to “oh shoot I need plane tickets and time off I’ll need to plan this months in advance”, but doing that will make things easier in the future.

    For your current predicament, could you possibly ask for a week off slightly after Christmas? It might not be the specific holiday, but you’d still get to see your family soon and keep your job (plus probably save on travel $$$), which seems like a win-win.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I do think that wanting a full week off on a major holiday in a coverage based job may be the exception, particularly in a short term contract. The employer would need to really really you in particular, rather than going to the next person on the list.

      The next week suggestion is a good one, though, particularly if the OP is willing to work Christmas day in exchange for a full week off later.

      1. Poppy the Flower*

        I agree, see if you can get time off a little later. I know it can suck, and you may miss a big reunion if your family does that. On the other hand it can just be good to see family. Many of my family members are/were in jobs that require holiday coverage so we’re very flexible. Christmas is not always Dec 25 in my family ;)

    2. WellRed*

      Eh, it’s a short term contract so the expectation of a week off seems unrealistic. She’s asked once and been turned down, I think at this point, she needs to give up on the idea of going home until the contract is up, not go back and ask for a different week.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        That could totally be the case, I can’t tell if the week off is only a no-go because it’s around Christmas or if it’s the week off itself. Some places won’t mind a week off in six months, but some definitely will, the LW will have to figure out which kind of place their workplace is.

        Hindsight is 20-20, but for short-term contracts it probably would have been better to look ahead and think if there is any time off they could foresee needing. Any job I’ve started I’ve always asked about taking time off, even if I don’t have plans solidified yet (“I’ll probably want to take a week off sometime during the summer, will that be an issue” etc), both to give them a heads up and to set my own expectations.

    3. MistOrMister*

      Yep, I did this. Not for a holiday, but I negotiated a week off within my 1st three months at a time TBD because they wouldn’t let me have a week in between my notice period and starting. It worked out quite well.

      Also, asking in late October for a week off at Christmas is usually way too late. Unless it’s a workplace where you’re not supposed to ask more than X days/weeks in advance, I would usually be requesting December leave in September. That coupled with the fact that OP will only have been working there for 3 months by Christmas and that at many places you cant take leave within your 1st 3 months, I feel like they were fortunate to get what they did. I certainly would not see this as something to quit over. Especially in light of having been fired once this year already and then having had a bit of trouble finding a new job. That’s going to mean an at least 6 month resume gap since this job won’t be able to be listed. Personally I would say skip the holidays, keep the job and go home at a time when you can get a full week off.

  13. Erin*

    #1, if you quit now, you’ll be the new person again next year. Can’t quit a job every December. Plus they might include the reason in your references, because someone else will have to cancel their plans to cover for you, which won’t make you very popular.

    1. SisterSpooky*

      Yes! This drives me nuts! We always end up with a new person who is absolutely incensed that they don’t get the best shift and all the days off they want. When you are new you are at the bottom of the totem pole and have to work your way up. I do not understand why people who are new to a role are often so entitled. Them quitting is going to mean that someone else who is currently planning on having that time off has to work, so it affects them too.

  14. Laura H.*

    OP1, I wouldn’t quit over this- an off request is a request not a guarantee.

    Plus spotty work history in a less than sustaining job market are odds that I would not want to run on unless I absolutely had to.

    1. triplehiccup*

      Good point about the job market. We are likely heading into a recession next year. If there’s any chance that grad school won’t work out, and you’ll end up needing this reference, that’s worth thinking about too.

    1. Sherm*

      If it were me, it would be more like “staring at the ceiling all night with 49 work colleagues.”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        “Hiding in the bathroom all night” for me. My culture is so different I can’t even contemplate this!

    2. SarahKay*

      Interestingly, I think I’d be less bothered by sleeping in a room with 49 colleagues than with (say) 4 colleagues. It’s such a big group it feels far less personal – as though I’m hidden by the crowd.

      1. yala*

        I don’t like sleeping in big open rooms. In high school when my mom remarried, we moved to this old house in the woods and my “room” was a massive open loft, with the bed directly under the highest point of the ceiling. It felt way to exposed and vulnerable. I slept in my sibling’s spare bed for years.

        If I’m walking alone at night, I’m good for a crowd and feeling hidden. But for sleeping, it feels like you’re not the only one potentially hidden by a crowd.

      2. OP #2*

        That’s an excellent observation! I do realise that everyone there will be too worried about their own sleeping patterns/habits/clothing/whatever to notice me – but I’m also absolutely terrified of being that brand new young person who doesn’t understand work norms and wears something totally inappropriate! That being said, maybe someone will outshine me on the night?

      3. Diamond*

        That’s true. I’ve had to share a small room with one other colleague before and it was really awkward. A huge crowd might actually be less awkward, although I definitely would not sleep as the possibility of having a snorer in the mix is 100%.

    3. pally.*

      Depending upon the demographic, there will be a cacophony of snoring, teeth grinding, whirring of CPAP machines and endless trips to the bathroom that will not be conducive to sleep. Maybe folks will be expected to participate in all-night “bull” sessions instead?

      1. Important Moi*

        You know… snoring, teeth grinding, CPAP machines and endless trips to the bathroom…none of that is limited to old people.

    4. ArtK*

      The thing that gets me about it is that with 50 people in a room, they aren’t going to be sleeping on nice beds. It could be anything from a foldable cot down to an insulated pad. I was fine doing that in my youth — thank you, marching band — but 40+ years later, I can’t physically deal with it. My screaming would be when I tried to move the next morning.

      1. OP #2*

        For your curiosity – knowing the environment I will be in they will most likely be those slightly bigger than single bed sized mattresses with the thick plastic coverings (think like a gymnastics crash mat)

  15. Kiki*

    OP #1, I quit a job because they denied me time off to see my family (though in my case it wasn’t a holiday, but to see a family member in the hospital). Five years later and I have no regrets. My financial situation sucked for a little while but I skimped until I found a new job. My finances recovered and the small gap on my resume wasn’t a hindrance in any way.

    I’m not saying you should quit your job, but I am saying that might be the right decision for you. Only you can know that for sure.

    1. UShoe*

      Came here to say something similar. If not getting this break and to see your family is a dealbreaker for you, then it’s a dealbreaker for you.

      I quit a retail/bar job for scheduling me for work on a day I had a family event (not Christmas/a major holiday) despite requestng the day off well in advance. When I couldn’t find anyone to cover my shift they said I was expected to be there or I’d get a written warning, so I just handed in my notice and they had to find cover for all my shifts.

      If you’re in a position that you can manage without the job, and potentially without a replacement job for a while, the question is how important is this Christmas to you? I’d say the bar is even lower if you’re expecting to leave by June anyway.

      1. WellRed*

        Don’t you love that? They won’t budge on one day so instead they get to fill in all your shifts and look for a replacement!

    2. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah, I think the people here tend to be very much on the side of being responsible and following the rules. It’s good to have those standards to go by, but it’s also worth knowing when to break them.

      1. Smithy*


        I will also add that some people have financial pressures to be self sufficient as quickly as possible and don’t have safety nets. Some have had more concrete ideas of what they wanted post-college and have been able to follow a relatively linear path.

        Others may have financial cushions to take more time to figure things out. Or just need more time. I know someone who started med school in her 30’s – may not be the traditional path – but it’s her journey.

        Just because lots of people here won’t cheerlead quitting a job after 3 months – it doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong. I would also add that starting grad school “tired” is a terrible idea. Whether physically, emotionally, mentally – it can be very easy to fall behind in programs where 2 years can go by quite quickly. So take the holistic view and what may be “terrible” for this specific job doesn’t mean it’s wrong for your life.

        1. Not Today Satan*

          Yeah, I’ve quit 2 jobs without another one lined up. Both times, I got a better job within a few months of quitting. (Even though I had been job hunting for months/years while employed!) I also had money saved that would last me months. People shouldn’t quit jobs lightly, but it’s also sometimes the right thing to do.

    3. Important Moi*

      Very glad to see these comments.

      I’m amazed that number of people who believe a 3 month stint at a job means SO MUCH over the course of a career/lifetime. It doesn’t. Also, it’s a contract job, there are other contracting companies. Burning a bridge over a 90 day employment period with one company? What exactly does that look like? I just don’t believe that one contracting company can derail one’s entire career and life. I just don’t. Even if it is the one company in the universe that hires for this job…. now I’m rambling, but this hit a nerve.

      Wanting to be physically close to family (or whatever your support systems is) is for whatever reason IS reason enough.

      1. Quill*

        I’ve burnt enough bridges with contracting companies by knowing my employment rights or just refusing to be fast talked into accepting crummy jobs without the details in writing that I don’t actually consider that an issue here. Contract companies have hundreds of people churning through them at all times.

        The financial hit of having 9 months before grad school starts (assuming you’re already accepted, if not, DON’T do this, it’s very common for hiring to slow down in january and february – last time I was laid off in the fourth financial quarter it took me 6 months to find a new job) is the bigger worry for me.

      2. ArtK*

        You may have missed part of Alison’s reply. It’s not that 3 months is a big deal, it’s in the context of LW#2’s work history. Short term jobs and a firing. That makes walking out on this job more significant. There’s also the context of a bad job market and the very poor chance of finding any work before grad school starts in June.

  16. Briar*

    LW1 If you are going to quit, do it sooner rather than later. If it’s a coverage based job then someone else is going to have to cover you and they presumably think they have Christmas off and their plans are about to get torpedoed. In use of that shouldn’t be a defining factor for you but it might be something you want to consider.

      1. valentine*

        The major factors are the contracting company and the person who has to cover. It’s like the eclipse guy. People probably don’t remember what the event was, just the harried coworker who missed it because she had to cover.

        1. LW 1*

          Hi everyone, LW1 here! Thanks Alison for answering my question! You said mostly what I expected, and thanks for not being too harsh on me. I see what people are saying, and I think at this point, I won’t be going home. I’ve just had a lot of my mom getting angry on my behalf and telling me this company clearly doesn’t care about me, so it’s nice to see some people telling me to deal to help balance that out ha. I’m an only child (I promise I’m not a spoiled only child) so my parents will probably come to see me. I won’t get to see my extended family, but I think I might be able to plan an Easter trip (culturally catholic).

          Although I’ve been reading this blog for a while, I totally didn’t think about asking for the week off when I started. My planned/past field is usually pretty flexible with vacation/Christmas. Will definitely ask about that in the future!

          As for grad school, it’s a one year program (I haven’t been accepted yet, but should be hearing soon!) for teaching- which I’m actually passionate about. I’m also applying to a similar program in a city only a 5 hour car ride from my hometown, so plans to move closer are in effect.

          Also, kinda good news, but I might at least get to go early those days if it’s slow. We’re an internal help desk for a retail company, so business is busy but employees aren’t necessarily calling in a lot.

          1. ThatGirl*

            I think parents can absolutely feed these expectations too, remember that theirs are not necessarily realistic. When you’re fresh out of college/in your early 20s they’ve been used to seeing you every Christmas (at least) and may not quite remember or understand why it’s not always possible. And good for you for taking the feedback :)

            1. Liz*

              This 100%. Many moons ago, my boyfriend at the time worked a job, basically sales, where he had quotas to meet etc. His parents were very well off, and as such, paid for his plane tickets home for holidays etc. But that also meant they thought they could call the shots as to how long he could stay, and so on.

              one year, they couldn’t get through their heads why he couldn’t stay from Christmas until after New Years. Even when he told them he had to come back to meet his quota, etc. They really gave him a hard time about that.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                My goddaughter is married to a guy whose parents are retired and think a 2-week vacation at least twice a year is reasonable, and they pay for the son and his family. And they are young and now think taking that much time off is normal, but also are struggling with finances. And wondering why he can’t get full time at his job.

                Employers are going to give the full time options to the people they see as reliable enough to be there full time, who appear to actually want to work.

            2. wittyrepartee*

              Yes, remember that parents’ good judgement can influenced by their feelings. They miss you. That doesn’t mean that your job’s holiday schedule is anything out of the ordinary for retail.

              The easter trip sounds like a great idea!

              1. Working Mom*

                Oh my gosh yes. Try being a corporate worker when all of your female family members are SAHMs or Retired. Day time cookie baking, shopping trips, holiday movies, etc. “Why can’t you come to anything?!” …because I have a J.O.B.

                **This is not a SAHM vs Working Mom thing. Both work equally hard, etc etc etc. Just about planning “day time” activities and family expectations!

            3. blackcat*

              For realz.
              I came home, dutifully, every Christmas until age 29.
              Why not at 29, you ask? I was pregnant as a whale. Pregnant enough to be having contractions frequently. Solidly in the “Do not drive to the other side of the state, let alone get on a plane to fly across the country” phase of pregnancy. I warned my parents in JUNE there was no way I was flying across the country at 37 weeks pregnant.
              My mom still pouted about it endlessly and asked me to come. I said she was welcome to come to me. But I live in New England, and they are in LA and like their warm weather.
              The following year, the baby was in the hospital with croup, so we canceled our plans last minute. There was much less disappointment, I think in part because it wasn’t the first Christmas I missed. But there was still a “Well, what does the doctor say about travel?” question…
              Parents can be pretty unreasonable about this sort of thing. It’s part of them learning that their child is now an adult .

              1. Filosofickle*

                This makes me so very grateful for my parents! I traveled to Europe with a friend one year over Christmas, just for funsies, and they didn’t even give me crap for that. Much less being 37 weeks! (I’m sure Mom was disappointed, but she didn’t say anything.)

              2. ThursdaysGeek*

                I told my kids that when they have spouses and kids it is time for them to make their own holiday traditions. They are always welcome to come to our house or even plan their traditions at our house, but if they want to go elsewhere, or if they want to stay home, it is my job to figure out how to fit into their plans, not vice versa.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            Ah, I can see how your mom got in your head! But coverage jobs exist all over and having to work on the holidays is just a reality of life for a ton of people all over the world! I do understand it being a dealbreaker for some people though–I don’t know if I could work long term in a field where working over the holidays was standard. I was spoiled at my first job where November and December were slow and most people on my team took a ton of time off then before we got very busy January-March. I’m at a new job now and will only be taking two days of PTO in December and that’s going to feel really weird for me lol.

            If you are pursuing teaching and expect to have the holidays off in general in the future then I think missing out on this one won’t be the end of the world!

            Good luck in grad school!

          3. SomebodyElse*

            Definitely see a different side of you in this post than in your original letter. Glad to hear that you found a little perspective on this.

            If nothing else you may have set a new precedent where your parents come to you for the holidays, that could really pay off in the future when your life gets really busy!

            Enjoy your visit and hopefully you get cut loose early!

            1. Senor Montoya*

              Yes, that can be nice actually!

              Many years ago my husband and I decreed that we would not be travelling over the winter holidays any more: flying cross country at this time of year can be horrific (and we had many years of experiencing it), we wanted to have our own holiday celebrations at home, even though we were off we still had a fair amount of work to do to prep for the new year. We were happy to host anyone who wanted to fly in and see *us*. My parents and ILs did so pretty often, as did our sibs. We had a great time!

              1. CMR*

                My husband and I made the same declaration – no traveling over winter holidays! Well, that came more from me than my husband. Before we had kids, I knew I wanted to set the standard that holidays would be spent in our home and not traipsing cross-country in terrible weather. Now that we have kids, I’m so glad we set that in motion. I grew up with holidays spent at home not traveling to see family, of which I have fond memories. Our holidays have been enjoyable, creating our own memories and now creating (mostly) stress-free memories for our kids.

          4. Allypopx*

            Read the update from yesterday re: listening to work advice from your parents! Norms will differ place to place, but no one is going to care about you like your mom does, especially when you’re new/temporary/generally an unknown quantity. They’re running a business.

            I totally understand your frustration though and I hope you’re able to still see your family in some capacity.

            Good luck with grad school. If you’re financially able, from one grad student to another, take that gap between March and June to prepare and take some time for yourself.

          5. Half-Caf Latte*

            Hi LW#1, thanks for coming to the comments!

            Before I saw your reply I was thinking I wanted to offer some Captain Awkward-esque advice, and it seems my spidey sense was correct!

            I’d focus on what you can do with mom, not what you can’t do. So less I can’t come home for Christmas because work won’t let me, and more “I’m able to come home for Easter (or whenever), and I’m excited to be able to celebrate then!” Captain Awkward has lots more great scripts like this about getting people to focus on the thing you are excited about and less on the thing that’s disappointing them.

            My small child (affectionately known as the espresso shot) had bronchitis over Thanksgiving, and we had to cancel. Family members were disappointed, but for those who kept expressing their disappointment repeatedly, I used a rinse-and-repeat line of “well he didn’t get sick AT you, and we’re also disappointed that he feels so lousy thanks for your concern, and we’re looking forward to seeing you next time!

            Also, don’t underestimate the people who might be relieved to not have to have tons of obligations over the holiday. It’s such a busy day for so many people, and when I suggested maybe because Christmas is a Wednesday this year we should consider getting the big family together at the weekend, my sisters-in-law immediately seized on this as a GREAT idea.

          6. EPLawyer*

            Well your Mom was right about one thing — your company doesn’t care about you. Read the update letter from today from the person who has intense loyalty to their company but did not get it back.

            Your company doesn’t care about your Christmas plans. It cares about coverage. This year it’s YOU. That sucks. But that’s the way it is sometimes. On the other hand, this perspective will keep you from being over invested in any job. Or how they treat you. It’s not personal. Even if it does suck to see every 3rd person who still works at your old company. They didn’t fire you. They are just working their job to pay the bills like you were. Keep that in mind.

    1. Sleepless*

      I was coming here to mention this. I work in a field that is coverage based and can get very busy at the holidays. Did you understand the holiday situation when you took the job? When you asked off, did they not answer at all and just now told you no, or did they say “maybe?” (which would be kind of terrible if them). Your coworkers are NOT going to be happy when you quit three weeks before Christmas and one or more of them have to cover at the last minute.

  17. Allonge*

    LW1 As others say, only you can know what you need more – money or time with your family. I would recommend that even if you quit this job, you start getting used to the idea of not always managing to go home for Christmas if you are working too far to just take one or two days (or not even that).

    This (in addition to no summer holidays) is a difficult adjustment for many, coming out of school! And something to consider after grad school, when looking for jobs.

  18. Lady Heather*

    OP1: there is an adage that you should be always behave respectfully because you never know if your future employer is watching. (That’s the gist of it, at least)
    With that in mind – don’t resign at the last minute, because even if this job doesn’t seem very important, you never know wheher.. I don’t know – the employee-that-has-to-cover-for-you-and-miss-Christmas’ parent will be the person you’re applying to when you apply to a job that you do consider important.

    I think a two weeks notice is standard in the US? (That seems really short to me anyway – here it’s 1-2 months, but regardless) If you have to leave, do leave that notice.
    First, because it’s the decent thing to do. Second, because you never know how not working out notice will come back to bite you in the butt.

    (If you’re through a contractor agency, I don’t know if notice is mandatory. But I’m not talking about your contractual rights here – I’m talking about decency and making a good impression. So that’s not even relevant.)

    1. Senor Montoya*

      Yes, it’s possible that your current employer knows the person at the next job you are applying to a year or more down the road. Even if it’s not the same industry or same location.

  19. Ms. Moneypenny*

    LW1, business travelers often fly 900 miles in a day, spend the night, and return the next day. Maybe you could explore this option for yourself. For instance, Philly to Orlando is 950 miles and can be traveled in less than 3 hours. I realize this depends on you and your family being semi-close to good airports, but it may be an option. In theory, you could leave after work on the 23rd, have all of the 24th and most of the 25th with your family, and come home late on the 25th. That’s not nothing.

    1. Brainstorming*

      This is so true! I’ve even done a 600 mile flight round trip in a day (5 AM flight out, 10 PM flight in). It is exhausting, but if it is your only option it does at least allow you to see your family briefly.

    2. Confused*

      I did this for Thanksgiving – left the morning of the 23rd and returned the afternoon of the 25th, and teleworked since all the leave had already been requested by my colleagues. I was lucky I was able to do that!

      1. Renata Ricotta*

        But I doubt that your plane ticket was the equivalent of three months’ salary, which is what the LW will be “paying” if they quit for longer plans (plus the sticker price of the longer-stay ticket).

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, and I know they probably wrote in last month, but it is soooo late to be making these plans.

      1. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

        Agreed. I wouldn’t do this anywhere in the Midwest to Northern East Coast with that close of a turnaround. Or anywhere else that gets snow right now unless it’s an uber experienced place, like Montana. However, if it was something like Arizona to Florida? I’d snag tickets in a heartbeat.

    3. Hillary*

      I’m laughing at myself for doing it, but I’m doing a same day trip next weekend because it was the cheapest way to get to the status level I want. Thousand mile flight, have a drink at the airport bar, and thousand mile flight home.

      Last year I had a week where I did two same-day trips. Flew there, had a three hour meeting, and flew home. Do not recommend.

  20. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

    So, it sounds as if you really need to be home with your family.

    I’m usually a “suck it up, tough it out” advice kinda person, but sometimes you need your mom/dad/aunt/brother etc. Alison’s advice is perfect – let me underscore, count your money. The stress in your life after the holidays is going to go way up if you don’t have enough money to get yourself through. You can fill in with retail of some sort, but retail hours are also stressful. If you have a string of 20 hour weeks when you are expecting 30, you are frying pan into the fire with your stress/misery level, so please have a plan before you do this.

    Something about your letter makes me think you should go home. I hope this works out for you! Let us know.

    1. londonedit*

      This is where I land too, I think. I mean, yes, not always being able to take time off when you want to is part and parcel of the normal working world. So is sometimes having to work over the Christmas holidays. I’m quite fortunate, my industry is one where most companies traditionally shut down over the Christmas/New Year period. But I know many friends who always have to work 27-31 December, and I even know a few people whose jobs mean they have to work either the whole of Christmas or the whole of New Year. I think it is worth bearing in mind that this is probably something you’ll have to deal with throughout your career. However, where you are right now, it sounds like you need the time off with your family.

    2. Bree*

      I’m getting that vibe too.

      I’ve had a no-good-very-bad year, and I’ve flown home twice as often as usual, plus my mom and sister have each come to visit me twice. I’m very lucky that my office closes Xmas through New Year, and honestly, the thought of getting on that plane home on Christmas Eve is what gets me through my day.

      LW, do what you need to do. Obviously, weigh the risks as Alison suggests, but you’re allowed to prioritize time with your family if that’s what you really need.

    3. RC Rascal*

      Would your parents agree to split the cost of a plane ticket with you ? Or does anyone in your family have miles they can give you? Frequent business travelers can end up with more miles than they can reasonably use.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      Is it possible to fly home, and find a contract job *there* until June? It doesn’t sound like you have any good reason to be where you are: a job that is guaranteed to be short term anyway, and some not-good experiences. Maybe there’s more to it, or home is not a good longer term spot (like it’s super rural and there will be no jobs to fill in until June). But maybe you need a real reset.

  21. Zircon*

    LW #2, I’ve done lots of noho Marae, working for Māori organisations.
    There will be a pōwhiri to welcome you onto the marae. You should wear a long (below the knee) dark, or black skirt or dress for this. White top is acceptable, but traditional wear is all black. Pōwhiri are usually early in the morning, so it might be chilly – plan to take a jacket. If the pōwhiri happens mid afternoon, it could be a long wait. Wear sunblock and take an umbrella for shade. Lots of marae don’t have much shade for people waiting.

    There might (should ) be time to change after the entire pōwhiri is complete (usually there is food shared, so this is a time to duck away and change if you want to be in pants). If you and your colleagues are not sure of protocol and appropriate behaviour, ask your organisation to have someone come in and talk you all through it. You will need a waiata sorted to sing during the pōwhiri, so you probably need someone to work that out.

    Make sure you get up and walk around lots during your organisation’s activities (not during the pōwhiri) when you need to – this is perfectly acceptable in tikanga Māori, although your organisational culture may not agree!! Uusally marae protocol trumps organisation protocol. There is unlikely to be AC, so wear lightweight clothes with lots of layers, so you can remove and add as needed.

    Be prepared to have very little sleep – I am a very light sleeper and end up being completely sleep deprived after just one overnight – they usually start early in the morning and finish late. At one place I worked, I actually had permission to go home overnight (home was very close to the marae) and that made it much better. You will find out who the snorers are!!

    Go and absorb yourself in this cultural experience. If you’ve never had the experience before, take this opportunity to increase your understanding of our heritage. A marae is a great place to get to understand your colleagues better. You can share as much or as little as you want, but you will learn a lot.

    Enjoy it!! Mauri ora!

    1. OP #2*

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Zircon! I am Māori, and I grew up with many, many noho marae. My problem is that I have never done one with co-workers, and I have no idea how workplace etiquette would affect proceedings. Most obviously, in the choice of clothing. I know exactly what I would wear around my whanau – but I have no idea if it’s considered appropriate to do the same with your workplace, since this is my first professional job! Thank you for your note that marae protocol trumps organisational protocol – it makes me feel significantly more comfortable knowing this.

      1. Zircon*

        I think that fact that you are Māori means that others will look to you for guidance as to what to do and wear – even if you are young. And if anyone more senior to you says anything, you can always respond “This is what we normally do on my marae” or “this is appropriate within my iwi”.
        One of the reasons organisations use noho marae are that they change the power structures, and mean that managers need to become learners from their staff. Let yourself shine through as a kaiako for your work colleagues, including managers. And wear what you would around your whanau – as long as it is decent. And I still hate having to put up with the snoring!!! Best one I did was on a beach side marae and a group of us ended up sleeping on the beach.

        1. OP #2*

          That is a great thing to know about the power structures. My immediate thoughts were that my company would still be running the show, but in hindsight I realise that there’s no good reason why that would ever be the case for a noho marae. Your replies have reminded me that I vaguely know a few people from the marae the trip will be at – they should have been my first stop for questions!

  22. Sally*

    #3: I wish more managers would be as transparent as Alison is recommending. It never occurred to me (before reading AAM) to ask my manager what I should do in order to get X (larger salary increase, promotion, etc.). Even if the employee doesn’t ask, the manager can initiate this conversation.

    My current manager is fantastic (as though she grew up reading AAM!), but we haven’t had a conversation about what I need to do to get a larger raise this year and a promotion in the future. Our company is growing by leaps and bounds, and I want to grow with it, so I’m going to initiate this conversation with my boss.

    1. How do I get that raise?*

      Yes, AAM gave me the language to ask during my performance evaluation, what are your expectations for me to achieve the highest rating? Then during the following year, using the language of my supervisor I sent an email when I had achieved one of the goals.
      No surprises during the performance evaluation goes both ways. When I thanked her when I got the highest rating, she said “ well, you told me the rating and gave me the support I needed to justify it” I hadn’t realized that any rating that high was decided in a meeting of her peers and directors.

      1. What we've got here is a failure to communicate*

        I’ve realized reading these that this is part of why I left my last job. I felt like I was constantly going out of my way to make things happen and stay on top of everything when my department was understaffed. Then my performance review was basically “average”. It was really demoralizing given that I felt so burned out already, and the person communicating this to me didn’t really have anything to do with my day to day, just reviewed my timecards. When I resigned the department head offered me more money but at that point they couldn’t have paid me enough to stay there a moment longer.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, one thing I really appreciated at my last job was that they rolled out a career framework that basically laid out all the different job levels, all the different ratings, and what people at each level would be expected to do well in order to get each rating. That was super helpful when writing year-end reviews to try to match up our self review with what the framework suggested we should be aiming for.

        But like with your last sentence, they decide ratings in meetings and I didn’t know until last year that we were basically being graded on a curve. Our ratings were 1-5 and I pretty much always got a 4. Then I had my best year ever with an absolutely glowing review, only to be told other people also had their best years ever and they are only allowed to give out so many 5s so I got another 4. At that point I basically felt like why should I try that hard if I’m just going to end up at 4 no matter what?

        Now I know that’s how it works and imagine it’s how it is at a lot of places. But it sort of shattered an illusion I had and was part of what lead to me leaving.

  23. limbonic*

    I once worked in a large department where everyone was going to have to traipse up to the Adirondacks for a weekend retreat (not sleeping 49 to a room, but still had to share rooms with random other workers, gender-segregated of course). Was totally dreading it. Then, a week before the retreat, the exec who planned it got fired (resigned, but we knew he’d been forced out). The retreat was off! One of the greatest “just in the nick of time” saves ever. People were high-fiving each other.

    1. limbonic*

      PS. I don’t think anyone likes corporate retreats except the execs who plan them because they can’t think of any other way to “show their work” to their superiors…

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      For some reason, this made me think of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the minstrels get eaten and everybody cheers.

  24. CM*

    For both #3 (employee who asked for a big raise) and #4 (extending work trip) I think the answer is: proceed as though what you want is the only logical choice and of course it’s going to happen.

    For #3, I wouldn’t spend too much time wondering why the employee requested that raise. I’d focus instead of explaining that a typical raise is 2-5%, the raise she’s getting is X%, and the reasons for that. I think the message of “This is what you should expect and why” is more effective than “This is why what you asked for is weird.” And I think even saying “we would need to see from you the following behaviors” implies that a 13% raise is possible which it sounds like it’s probably not at your company.

    For #4, unless your company is stingy about travel in general, I would assume that the company is covering it and wouldn’t ask, and if someone questions you about it, just be matter-of-fact: “Because of weather my flight was delayed for 3 days, so I needed accommodation.”

    1. Yorick*

      I would definitely tell the company about the extra travel days as soon as possible. They may be able to help you in ways that you don’t think of. And if they’re not going to cover it, you want to know that as soon as possible.

      1. Yorick*

        For example, if you’re gonna have to pay the hotel bill, you need to know that so you can decide whether to extend your stay in the expensive conference hotel or find a cheaper hotel.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t go with the “don’t tell the company and expect to be reimbursed” reasoning, even if they’re usually not stingy about expenses. They’re may be policies in place if this happens and you need to know what you can expect. I have a friend who travels to Buffalo frequently and got stuck there an extra night because of the weather once. They allowed her to go shopping for clothes (there was a spending limit) since she hadn’t packed for the extra day, and paid for the hotel. There’s no need to hide the facts from the company – they’re either going to cover the extra costs, or they’re not (because they suck) and you need to know.

      1. Elenna*

        I agree, call but go with “how do I get reimbursed for this” rather than “can I get reimbursed for this”.

    3. Allypopx*

      Yeah Alison’s advice of using “bigger raise in the future” language is good, and intentionally vague I’m sure, but I would want to real set the employee’s expectations a little more firmly if what they’re looking for is completely out of the realm of possibility.

    4. Kate R*

      For #4, I agree about assuming they will cover travel expenses because they should be, but in the case of being delayed by 3 days, I’d be more proactive about letting them know when it happens instead of when you submit receipts. I’ve been delayed a day because of weather, and I knew my company would have no problem covering the hotel and rental car for an extra day, so I didn’t bother giving them the heads up, but 3 days is more unusual. For a multi-day delay, I think it’s worth calling them when you first get stuck so that a) they don’t think you’re trying to get a free getaway on them, and b) they might be able to offer alternative solutions to getting home.

      1. Working Mom*

        Absolutely. I used to travel a TON for work and I would not hesitate at ALL to use my company card to pay for hotels/etc if a trip was delayed.

        BUT – on the flip side… if my trip got delayed for 3 days and I knew that – I wouldn’t just sit in my hotel and work. I’d see if there were any clients or vendors I could meet with where I was for the time being. Take advantage of that time – in the city you’re in – can you take a client or vendor out to lunch? Drop by an office and say hi? If not – at least you tried!

        And absolutely communicate with your company – it would be weird to not communicate and then all of a sudden submit an expense report with extra days!

  25. Harper the Other One*

    OP #1, I agree with the points Alison has made. Personally, I would encourage you to stick it out with this job, especially since it’s a short-term position and you knew it overlapped Christmas when you accepted it. I get that the first time not being able to go home for the holidays is hard, but part of the reason you may have been hired is to help OTHER people be home for holidays. And in any case, there are many jobs/situations where being present for the holidays is difficult or not possible, at least when you’re new.

    My family has what we jokingly call “movable feasts.” We have celebrated Christmases in February as a family because someone couldn’t be home for the day of. This year that’s exactly what we’ll be doing because my sister’s new job requires her present on the 24th and the 27th, and it simply doesn’t make sense to travel for effectively a day and a half. Instead, she’ll come sometime in January and we’ll have a second Christmas, which will be lovely.

    Also, OP, if you have friends in your area, you could have what my sister jokingly calls “orphan Christmas” and get all the folks who can’t go home together to celebrate. She and her friends have had wonderful potlucks and sit-down dinners.

    In the long term, if being present for the holidays is really important for you, I do encourage you to consider whether you should try to ensure your career path keeps you closer to your home town (although I know that’s not always possible.)

  26. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I think this is a common feeling for students in their first year-ish out of school. We get conditioned over our whole lives to get these giant breaks – summer, spring, Christmastime, and then when we get to the real world we get some paid holidays and limited vacations. Expectations need to be adjusted and unfortunately, sometimes you don’t get to go home every year for a big chunk of time for Christmas.

    So, only OP knows whether it’s worth it to her to quit a job over this and be potentially unemployed til grad school.

    1. Oryx*

      My birthday is the day after a bank holiday that I always had off in school and was conditioned to always have a bonus day off for my birthday. I was naively flummoxed when I got out into the working world and discovered not all offices/industries also recognize that day.

  27. Lynca*

    OP 1- My sister works a coverage based job in healthcare. My husband now lives on the other side of the planet from his family. I am entirely sympathetic to wanting to be near your family. I would love for my sister to have a week off at Christmas to just hang out. I would love to be able for my family to be able to go to my husband’s country to spend Christmas with my in-laws.

    But Alison is right. If you need the money or grad school is not locked in, you will need to seriously consider the consequences of leaving this job when you were fired from your last substantial job. That is one of those situations where you have to compromise what you want to do with what you need to do in order to financially survive.

  28. Marion Ravenwood*

    Re: #2, I think I’d go with a midi skirt, plain T shirt and sneakers for the after-work bit, plus maybe a light jacket if it gets cold in the evening. This is pretty much my go-to outfit for hot weather, including for work, as it’s mostly covered up but still allows for ease of movement and isn’t too easy. For sleepwear, I’d do a T shirt and long lounge pants.

    Re: #5, when my boss resigned whilst I was on leave in a previous job, she sent me an email right before I came back titled ‘READ THIS FIRST’ with the news that she was resigning. But I was only out for a week of vacation, so in your case I think emailing your direct reports’ personal email addresses as Alison suggests is absolutely fine. For the maternity leave colleague, I don’t know if where you work does ‘keeping in touch’ days, but if you do it might well be worth arranging to meet with them when they’re in to discuss it further (if you/they want to).

  29. Powergirl*

    Op #1
    How can you be in a coverage based job if you are a contractor? Sounds like you are a regular employee to me. And if so, they might be breaking some rules here.

    1. BRR*

      It sounds more like being employed through a separate company like temp agency, not being classified as an independent contractor.

      1. Liane*

        About to post this myself. In that case the contract is between the company and the agency, not the employee.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      At my last company we hired contracted employees for the help desk and if they worked out they were hired as FTEs. I’m not sure why that would lead you to believe they’re doing something wrong.

    3. Allypopx*

      I had this question to. I think there’s a difference between a contractor and a contracted employee? I’m fuzzy on that having never directly hired that kind of position myself – but I do know that for jobs *I’ve* been contracted for they can give me deadlines but not dictate my schedule.

    4. LW 1*

      Yeah, probably more accurate to call myself a temp, but the company I work at refers to us as contractors, since we’re, well, on a contract.

  30. acmx*

    # 2. I wish we could have gotten an answer without the American bias since the LW already stated they were in another country. And now others have pointed out it could be Maori; we’ve had a question in regards to the culture before.

    I would wear what is comfortable that is also presentable for work (nothing offensive, clean, no stains or damage) and if the tank top isn’t revealing when doing normal activities (you don’t expose yourself leaning forward etc) I’d wear it. Or pajamas if you prefer. If I was doing this and saw someone PJs, I wouldn’t have any thoughts about it.

    Also, every member of the military has spent time sleeping in a room together.

    1. Guacamole Bob*


      Once the OP mentioned that sleeping in a large room all together is common in her country, my mindset really shifted. An American company organizing this as a corporate retreat would be really violating cultural norms, but it sounds like this is a pretty different situation.

      I agree with acmx on the clothing question. You’ll probably be fine in anything that’s comfortable and provides sufficient coverage. I sympathize – I’ve certainly gotten kind of wound up over feeling like I had nothing to wear for a given situation – but I think you’re overthinking this. No one is going to be thinking about your clothing as much as you are, and in all likelihood it will be totally fine if you’re a bit under- or over-dressed, as long as it’s not too revealing. If you only have tank tops that are revealing on the side, maybe wear sports bras underneath? Or get a t-shirt or two for lounging and sleeping in.

      1. OP #2*

        Thank you for your dose of realism, Bob! You are probably right that I’m overthinking this too much – being in my first professional role out of tertiary study I find myself constantly overthinking how other people are perceiving me. I have had some excellent clothing advice on this sub, and will be taking all of into account when packing for my overnight trip

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      What was biased about Alison’s advice?

      And people choose to join the military. Being forced to go on a weekend retreat with my colleagues would be my own personal nightmare. I barely enjoy socializing with them outside of work, so there’s no way I would want to spend an entire weekend with them.

        1. Observer*

          Please. As some other posters have pointed out, this is not typical in employment situations. Your fellow employees are NOT the same as members of your lodge /clan / tribe / kin group.

          1. acmx*

            I didn’t say it was typical. I pointed out the fact the letter writer said they were in another country – implying atypical (for Americans) work situation.

            Not sure why you’re upset over my opinion.

            1. Observer*

              Because you claim that the response was “biased”. It’s not. Even if this is happening in NZ or Australia. Because this is happening in a context that has no resemblance to Maori culture.

              1. acmx*

                Except the Letter Writer has said, “I am Māori”.

                LW 2 asked about what to wear not if she should participate or her opinion on it. And my opinion is that LW2 question could have been answered without saying it sounded horrible.

                1. fhqwhgads*

                  The LW also said this was normal “with close family and friends”, implying it’s not necessarily normal with coworkers.

                2. acmx*

                  fhqwhgads – even it wasn’t normal to do with coworkers, nothing in her post gave the impression she did not want to participate just that she is anxious on what to wear.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Her first line was an opinion, not advice. She provided legitimate unbiased advice based on OP’s question.

          1. acmx*

            I said answer not advice. The first line could have been left out and still answered the question. Or left out calling horrible.

        3. workerbee2*

          I thought this statement was intended to commiserate with the LW, since it’s pretty clear that they are dreading this event.

          1. acmx*

            I don’t find anything in her post that indicates that she’s dreading it just that she’s anxious about what to wear.

            You can read her response to Zircon above; she’s not dreading the event.

    3. Brass*

      To be fair, if you’re going to write to an American advice columnist, you’re going to get an American answer.

    4. J*

      1) Disagree about the ‘bias’ point. These are questions about culture and business norms, which will inevitably vary by region. There are no worldwide cultural standards, and it’s a bit hard to expect Allison to be an expert in whatever country the writer is asking about. If LW wanted to know about Mongolian business practices (or whatever), they need to find a Mongolian blog.

      2) Definitely agree about the military. Letters like this always make me roll my eyes. I’ve shared everything from hotel rooms to communal showers with my co-workers. Watch your buddy poop inside an armored vehicle and nothing else will ever surprise you.

    5. acmx*

      Her opinion that it is horrible is the bias. It wasn’t needed in her answer in my opinion.

      The letter writer did not ask whether or not the event should occur or if they should attend. They asked how to navigate participating in it.

    6. OP #2*

      I totally understand the discussion happening here about cultural bias. I knew when I emailed Alison that there would be an American cultural bias in the answer, and that’s OK! While there are cultural differences in the perception of these events, there is still a large element of western influence in my workplace, and since my question was about clothing choices I figured that Alison and her readers would have some great suggestions. And I was right! There have been some brilliant comments and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the clothing etiquette aspect of this trip after having my question answered. Thanks to everyone who offered help and different perspectives, and I will let you know how it goes in a few months’ time.

      1. acmx*

        I mean, I agree with most of Alison’s advice. I just felt she could have left out calling your team building event horrible. You mentioned this was normal in your country. Alternatively, she could have emphasized that this question came from a different cultural background in hopes of heading off the many comments about, essentially, how unAmerican it is.

    7. Inconvenient Indian*

      Thank you for saying something. I’m glad that the OP didn’t take the comments from AAM or the American commenters to heart but frankly they are pretty gross.

      Yes, yes, we get it. You’re all introverted and this would be so deeply horrible for you. That horse has been well and thoroughly beaten to death.

      It would be nice if, just once, someone else’s cultural traditions weren’t being slagged here. This has happened multiple times on this blog with people roundly criticizing a Canadian professor for writing in about the “spiritual” ceremonies that happen as part of Truth and Reconciliation or openly mocking the concept of a support person in Maori communities when interviewing.

      I’m indigenous and it is really, really tiresome reading mocking and ignorant commentary about our cultural traditions. If you have never heard of something, ask questions! Don’t just mock how different it is or pronounce that it’s horrible. I realize that the US and UK and white Canada think that they’re the only cultures that exist or are the only cultures that are worth anything but we’re still here. And we’re not letting colonialism win.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*


        I’m one of those introverted white Americans, but I have made a point of developing a little bit of awareness of other cultures and practices (maybe because my background is in anthropology?). It disturbed me a bit that so many responses skipped right over the statement that this is not a standard white collar American work event and went straight to how awful the idea is. It’s still going to be a bit weird if you aren’t used to this sort of thing, and for some people it will be impossible for them to participate for various reasons. Fine, something can probably be worked out. But it’s one thing to feel a bit awkward or concerned about your own well being in unusual-for-you circumstances, and it’s quite another to condemn a different cultural practice without a second thought.

      2. acmx*

        Yes, I remembered the support person question immediately and ended up finding the Truth and Reconciliation question yesterday.

  31. Coconut*

    Okay I hope this isn’t derailing but I’m genuinely perplexed.

    There are people that don’t own pajamas? What do you sleep in??

      1. Sally*

        Or in my case, a t-shirt and underwear. In the winter, it’s a long-sleeved shirt, and I add a pair of long johns.

      2. Keen Oat*

        Me too, nothing. If I’m staying over someone’s house, I’ll wear a t-shirt and boxers. Otherwise my birthday suit.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Sweats, lounge wear, or in the nude. I believe Alison is referring to pajamas as the idea of a store-bought set.

    2. Zahra*

      Before having roommates, I had 10-years old pjs. I (still) sleep naked but will put on pyjama pants and yesterday’s t-shirt while getting ready in the morning. Tough luck on getting me to wear a bra before dressing for the day though.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Oh, yeah. My pjs are purely for cold weather lounging before bed. If it’s hot and it’s just my boyfriend and I? I’m lounging nude or in my underwear.

    3. NeverGoBack*

      My partner and I both sleep in men’s boxer briefs (I’m a woman, but find women’s briefs too short in the leg) and no top. Occasionally when it’s really cold we’ll start off wearing onesies but they usually come off as soon as the bed has warmed up from our body heat.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I am wearing cozy flannel pajamas as I type (freelancer working from home), but in the summer I sleep naked, because I’m not going to be seen by anyone who isn’t welcome to look at me naked when we’re awake.

      If I had to go to something like this retreat, I’d be asking about the likely temperature of the sleeping room, because I don’t own summer-weight pajamas. I could sleep in a t-shirt and hope the pajama pants aren’t too warm, I suppose.

    5. Environmental Compliance*


      If I am somewhere where I need to be covered, a giant t shirt and loose athletic shorts. I don’t like feeling fabric pulling at me while I sleep. I don’t think I’ve owned PJs since I was 12 or so.

      1. Coconut*

        Well this has been eye opening to say the least. I’ve never slept in anything but pajamas, and I can’t fathom sleeping in nothing at all.

    6. UKDancer*

      A nightdress usually. I don’t like fabric clinging to my legs. Usually long sleeved brushed cotton in winter and satin and lace in spring and autumn.

      1. Jan*

        Ha, I’m the opposite! Pyjamas all the way for me as I can’t sleep with my thighs rubbing together.

    7. Marzipan*

      Random items of reasonably loose clothing that have fallen out of daytime use, basically. T shirts, plus some sort of trousers that usually started life as something lounge-y.

      1. hbc*

        That’s a perfect description of what I wear. Even when I’ve specifically bought pants to sleep in, it’s been some sort of loose, soft exercise style.

    8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Nothing. I do wear pajama pants around the house sometimes, but the only time I wear them to bed is when I’m away with friends. My husband is a space heater, so if I wore clothes to bed I’d just be a puddle of sweat.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yes! I get so sweaty if I wear clothes to bed.

        I’ll wear some loose bottoms occasionally for biologic process related reasons but I still won’t wear a top. I need to vent the heat.

        1. Quill*

          I gotta do the opposite. T shirt (I will end up waking up with my blankets running for the floor) but generally if it’s warm enough to wear shorts outside, pants to sleep in are asking for sweat.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      nothing, generally, if I’m at home or not sharing a room with anyone other than my husband. If I’m sharing a hotel room with a friend, I sleep in shorts and a tank top, but trying to sleep in loose clothes means I’m waking up from nightmares of being drowned by an octopus or tangled in that Harry Potter strangling plant or something.

    10. ThatGirl*

      My husband does own sleep pants, but in the summer he sleeps in ratty t-shirts and his underwear.

    11. Quill*

      I’ve never owned “pajamas” (my mother had suspicions about the anti-flammable stuff that kids pajamas were doused in in the 90’s and early 00’s, now studies show she’s probably right about it being a carcinogen,) but I always had mix and match sets of lounge pants and t shirts or waffle weave shirts, or t shirts and shorts. (Think the kind of terrycloth shorts that had “juicy” on the butt, except mine were more likely to say “Sanibel Island”)

      I still sleep in those most of the time, though not always the pants.

    12. LilySparrow*

      I do own pajamas, but I often sleep in my workout clothes to save time/overcome inertia in the morning.

    13. noahwynn*

      At home, nothing most of the time.

      If I’m visiting someone and not staying in a hotel, usually a t-shirt and gym shorts.

    14. Ibgal*

      Honestly, I usually end up either passing out in whatever I was wearing that day, or just managing to take my pants and bra off before getting into bed.

    15. workerbee2*

      Apparently a lot of people don’t wear PJs. My husband thinks I’m super extra because I always, always sleep in matching pajamas. He swears he never met anyone who wears pajamas before me.

    16. wittyrepartee*

      Nothing! It has to be genuinely freezing for me to be wearing anything.

      Try it, it’s glorious.

    17. Rainy*

      I sleep in my bed.

      Seriously, though, I either sleep in a soft old tee or nothing at all. I can’t really sleep in pants, as they wake me up when they twist around, and shorts are usually either too soft and ride up or too rigid and I wake up when they twist around.

      My husband is the exact opposite: if he sleeps in anything he sleeps in pants, and wearing a shirt to bed keeps him from falling asleep.

    18. Koala dreams*

      I have two pajama, a nightshirt and some old nightgowns. Also, many people sleep in a pajama but don’t call it that, for example a shorts-and-t-shirt pajama or a long-john-and-shirt-pajama.

      However, I’m confused about how pajamas got associated with children! I didn’t get a matching pajama set until I was an adult and bought it myself.

  32. Slothy Coffee*

    I’m surprised at the problematic language in letter 1, making reference to being “low on the totem pole”.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yes, it is problematic, but Allison has a rule that we don’t get into language issues because the entire conversation usually gets derailed and OP doesn’t get good advice as a result. Or, often, any advice.

      These are issues that need to get discussed, but this isn’t the place.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I think anywhere you see offensive ethnic stereotypes being used is the right place to point it out. (FWIW I know a lot of people don’t realize/think about the totem pole thing is in that category.)

    2. nêhiyaw ayahkwêw*

      Was just going to say this. It’s not the first time that I’ve seen these kind of pseudo Indian adages (ex have a “pow wow”, circling the wagons etc) on this site, but it had been a while so I was hoping they weren’t being posted. Speaking as a Native, it’s extremely jarring and distracting having to see them here, especially in a space that’s supposed to be more forward thinking. It’s important that non native, and especially white people call them out!

  33. Liane*

    OP1: While it won’t help for this holiday season, when you job search in the future, you should prioritize companies that close between Christmas and New Year’s, especially those that don’t require you use up your PTO if you want it paid.
    That is, if turns out that having the holiday week off most/all years is what is important to you, and not (as Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. kindly discerned) a need to be home This Year.

  34. CaVanaMana*

    #2 The whole thing sounds terrible. A long day work day of talking about your mindset and behaviors is concerning. Your work place sounds a bit cultish.

    Then sleeping in a room with all your coworkers so you cannot even get away? More weirdness with the boundaries.

    This makes me grateful all I have to do this year is make an appearance at a Christmas party. The whole thing is so distasteful to me that if I wasn’t lucky enough to catch the Influenza, talented enough to fake the plague or find a new job prior to the retreat, I’d wear whatever I was comfortable in and keep searching for new work. Those that are offended by my comfort are not the types who have the capacity for opinions worth paying attention to.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      I think you (and others) are really overreacting to the idea of “talking about mindset and behaviors.” Commenters here have a very strong bias — way out of whack with general workplace culture — against anything related to team building.

      While of course this could be “cultish,” as you say, it could also be a useful workshop on, say, intercultural development and cross-cultural communication.

    2. Allypopx*

      I don’t think the idea of having a group team building culture talk is wildly out of line. For me it’s really just the group sleeping.

      I think these things are in general good to talk about but I’d like to do them not in the middle of the woods and with everyone fully clothed.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I agree with this. While these conversations will make many people uncomfortable, they can also be extremely valuable and I’m in favor of them in the right type of organization. (Meaning, one where forming/norming as a team has value, it’s safe to have these conversations, and the company actually cares about the output.) But the sleeping? NOPE.

    3. Quill*

      It sounds like a yoga retreat. Maybe they’re a yoga company?

      Either way, my biggest problems would be 1) getting to actually sleep with the noises and people having nightlights and phones and things, and 2)every one of my joints would hate me.

      1. Allypopx*

        Oh yknow what I completely missed the sleeping on mats thing. My back and my knees could not do that. I’d get a doctor’s note lol

  35. M*

    1– maybe see if you can work from home on the 23re and take that long weekend. Traveling Christmas evening actually isn’t that bad I have flown and driven on Christmas.

    Also just because you are starting a grad program doesn’t mean you should quit this job. A close friend works in career services at a top graduate school. They can’t just magically find you a job after graduating or an internship in the summer all the time. If you have a good job history then you are more likely to get a better job after graduation.

    Good luck.

    1. LW 1*

      I really wish I could work from home, but only direct hires can do that and I think even if I were I’d be too new :/

      1. Quill*

        An option my best friend and I floated for this year was an orphan’s thanksgiving (I couldn’t afford to fly out for both holidays, they wanted to have an excuse to not deal with their family,) maybe you could find local friends to have christmas with? If not, I recommend finding a charity group (whether it’s via a church, a senior center, whatever,) with open volunteer slots for christmas if you don’t want to be alone the day of.

        Also a good option: hanging out with non-christian aquaintances who have the day off but no real traditions tied to it. I had a job where a hindu coworker and I organized a cookie swap for all the contractors stuck covering the christmas to new years slump, and my brother crashed a friend’s Hannukah celebration one year when it fell closer to Christmas. (With permission!)

      2. wittyrepartee*

        Have you asked? Just be upfront that you’d really want to go home, and that you’d work really hard and you wouldn’t be planning on using the privledge regularly. Then be graceful if they say no.

  36. Wing Leader*

    #2– I have to say I do understand. I wasn’t allowed any extra time off around Christmas this year (was told my coworker asked for it first) and my family is in another state, so I won’t be seeing them this year.

  37. Sans Serif*

    #4 – This just happened to me. My flight home was cancelled, there were no more flights for the day. I was lucky; my company has a travel office and I worked with them to book a flight the next day and a hotel room for that night. Everything went on my corporate credit card and then I filed an expense report and was reimbursed. The nice thing was, they asked me what hotel I wanted to stay in and I just picked the one that was actually next door to the airport so there’d be no hassle getting to the airport the next day. My hotel room view was a great city skyline straight ahead, and to the left I got to watch planes pull up to the gate. THAT’s how close I was. I also ordered room service for the first time in my life – that was also covered by the company. All in all, kind of a nice weather delay. lol

  38. Linda Evangelista*

    IMO using percentages in raises is a common but terrible practice. Those at the top with higher incomes will always get more vs. anyone making less, and it makes it much harder for those making less (who probably need more to cover their own COL) to climb. I asked for a dollar amount this go-round, and I’m sticking to it. We’ll see what happens.

    1. Allypopx*

      I intentionally always name numbers because I think naming percentages can make the person I’m talking to shut down the conversation in their head before I make my case. I’d like to have the conversation before they do the math. (This has worked well for me thus far)

    2. HM MM*

      This! I posted something about this above, but strictly going by % is kind of misleading particularly for smaller salaries. A 2% raise for someone making 30k is $600. I mean I just can’t imagine feeling good or even all right about. After taxes, and broken down by week that amount is virtually meaningless. Whereas 2% on 80k is $1600 which still doesn’t sound like a lot, but at least there will a noticeable difference in their paychecks.

      I think managers need to be cognizant about the total dollar amount as well as the %. Also if 2% (or whatever tiny col increase) is the absolute most that can be done for someone with a lower salary do not expect them to have the same reaction you (as a manager with a higher salary) has.

  39. Quill*

    #2: I may be an anomaly in that a childhood and adolescence in theater beat down any body issues I might have had, but personally I’d just wear athletic shorts (like bike shorts or basketball shorts, not booty shorts, and a large (but in very good repair) T-shirt. Which is what I wear normally to sleep in (though not always the shorts… no sense in sleeping warmer than you need to.) Presumably you’ll have a private place to change.

    That said, as currently most of my “pajama sets” are not fit for mixed company due to wear and tear, I might go out of my way to find a novelty t-shirt for this one, because if I’m going to be remembered as “the chick in the t-shirt” I’m darn well going to be remembered as “the chick in the FUNNY t-shirt.”

  40. LW 1*

    (On my phone, accidentally responded when I meant to start a new post, sorry for double post)
    Hi everyone, LW1 here! Thanks Alison for answering my question! You said mostly what I expected, and thanks for not being too harsh on me. I see what people are saying, and I think at this point, I won’t be going home. I’ve just had a lot of my mom getting angry on my behalf and telling me this company clearly doesn’t care about me, so it’s nice to see some people telling me to deal to help balance that out ha. I’m an only child (I promise I’m not a spoiled only child) so my parents will probably come to see me. I won’t get to see my extended family, but I think I might be able to plan an Easter trip (culturally catholic).

    Although I’ve been reading this blog for a while, I totally didn’t think about asking for the week off when I started. My planned/past field is usually pretty flexible with vacation/Christmas. Will definitely ask about that in the future!

    As for grad school, it’s a one year program (I haven’t been accepted yet, but should be hearing soon!) for teaching- which I’m actually passionate about. I’m also applying to a similar program in a city only a 5 hour car ride from my hometown, so plans to move closer are in effect.

    Also, kinda good news, but I might at least get to go early those days if it’s slow. We’re an internal help desk for a retail company, so business is busy but employees aren’t necessarily calling in a lot.

    1. Jan*

      Hi LW1, thanks for checking back. I really sympathise as I had a similar dilemma a couple of years ago. I was working at my last employer in 2017. My mum lives 100 miles away from me and I was happy to work Christmas Eve and catch the train up after work, but still would’ve needed the 27th off to travel back, as UK train services don’t run Christmas or Boxing Day. When I tried to book that day off, they told me they didn’t allow any annual leave to be taken during December AT ALL, except they hadn’t mentioned that when I started. Ridiculous policy in my opinion, as we’re in London and they should understand that most of their employees will have family living elsewhere. So I did consider handing in my notice, although I ended up leaving anyway for reasons unrelated to that. I became a self-employed busker and film/TV extra, which meant I could choose when I worked. I don’t know if self-employment is an option for you, but I’d recommend it in the long term.

      In the short term, you’re probably making the right choice. You can go to grad school in the summer, get qualified and either find a job where you have more choices, or put your skills into entrepreneurship and be your own boss!

      Good luck.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Hi LW1! Sounds like your mom is a lot like my mom. To this day, almost 20 years into my career, she still freaks out if I can’t take time off around the holidays. Our holidays are not holidays for most of the US, so I have to always do leave for my family’s holidays, in addition to Mr. Gumption’s family around US Christmas. When I was your age it used to stress me out and make me feel so guilty, even though I know it came from a place of love and disappointment. Now I just roll with it. Some years (like this one) it just doesn’t work out and my parents ended up coming to me or we got together at a different time of year.

      Good luck in grad school if you go in June!

    3. londonedit*

      I can totally understand why your mom is frustrated on your behalf, and it really can be a culture shock when you come up against your first ‘No, I’m sorry but you can’t have that week off work’ situation. I remember when I first started working after uni (16 years ago now!) it was a real shock to adjust to the ‘you have 20 days’ holiday’ thing rather than getting three months off every summer and a guaranteed two weeks for Christmas and Easter. It’s also difficult to navigate things like holiday when you’re new to the working world, and it doesn’t help that just about every company has a different process and different policies – my office might close between Christmas and New Year, but others would require a skeleton staff, and in other industries people would laugh at the idea of getting any guaranteed time off over Christmas.

      That said, as I mentioned above it is something that everyone has to get used to when they get into full-time employment, and it’s worth thinking about for the years to come. It seems like part of the problem (for you and your mom) is that it feels like it’s come out of the blue this year – you sort of had an idea that you’d probably go home for Christmas, and then your employer said nope, that’s not happening. That must feel pretty unfair, but it’s not that the company doesn’t care, it’s just that it has to have policies in place so everyone is treated equally when it comes to time off and so the company can function properly even over the Christmas break. But at least now you’re aware of some of the workplace norms around holidays, and in the future you’ll know that if you have pre-planned time off coming up when you’re going for a new job, you should let your new boss know as soon as you accept the position, and that when you start a new job you should find out the processes and policies around holidays and Christmas with plenty of time to make plans.

      1. LW 1*

        I think I would be less stressed if when I had initially said in October that I wanted the time off my manager had just said that it wouldn’t be possible, instead just saying, it’s tight then. However, my manager isn’t the one who makes the schedule so I guess it’s hard for him to e definitive. Someone also told me that they don’t look at requests until the month before, so that also didn’t let me know until recently whether I’d get the time off. Oh well, lesson learned to bring this stuff up earlier.

    4. hbc*

      I’m guessing any experience your mom had in a coverage job was long ago, if ever? I’ve had my mom get completely incensed about some minor workplace story of mine because it doesn’t match her experience. Turns out that working for a major government agency is a little different than the private sector.

      1. LW 1*

        She actually works sorta a customer service job, but she’s been there a long time, and has vacation and people are good about switching shifts with each other when necessary.

    5. ArtK*

      One of the things that parents of adult children have to learn is that the kids have lives and jobs and priorities and that means life changes. The idea of everybody home for the holidays becomes harder to realize. When those kids have partners who have families, it gets even more complex. I can understand your mother’s frustration, but this will happen again and again.

      We’ve worked through this stuff with a combination of the kids traveling, or us traveling. We also let go of having to celebrate on the day. My son and his GF live 700 miles away. They’ll celebrate with her family Christmas Eve and then fly to see us on the 26th. Step-daughter and her family (3 grand kids!) will be visiting our area over the holidays because they have a lot of friends here, so we’ll get to see them. Next year, we may go up for Christmas or Thanksgiving with *her* inlaws.

      It’s all a matter of compromise. It can be tough being the child in that situation, but I’m sure you’ll learn to navigate. Arm yourself with ideas about how to compromise so that you can suggest them when this comes up again.

      1. Jamie*

        Cosign. I’ve made a concerted effort to not guilt my kids about working or spending the holidays with their SO’s family – when necessary we just change the timing. Last year we had my daughter’s BF’s whole family over for Christmas…whatever works.

      2. Spreadsheets and Books*

        This is very true. My husband and I live about 450 miles from our hometown and make it home once a year on average. He’s a resident so his time off is limited and he largely uses it to study for upcoming tests/boards/whatever. My family comes to visit 2-3 times a year because they know I can’t drop everything or bail on my husband during the holidays, which I appreciate greatly.

        My husband’s mother, on the other hand, does not seem to grasp this fact at all. She’s constantly badgering him about visiting her Mexican retirement home “on long weekends” (we live in the Northeast so that’s a long trip and what resident has long weekends???), even though his parents are very well off, could afford to visit us, and are not buried under significant med school loans like we are. We’re going home for Christmas for 5 nights/6 days this year and she’s already texting him about how he’ll barely be home and why isn’t he staying for longer. We do our best, but the guilt trips aren’t making either one of us want to come home any more than we already do.

      3. Close Bracket*

        One of the things that parents of adult children have to learn is that the kids have lives and jobs and priorities and that means life changes.

        Sometimes it’s the adult children who need to learn that they are adults, not children, and their lives and jobs mean their life is going to change.

    6. Princesa Zelda*

      Parents can be like that! I’m the oldest in my family, so I was the first one to not be able to come home for Christmas. I was 19 and living on the opposite side of the country in a position that required coverage. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t cry a lot that day. I spent most of December bawling my eyes out, honestly. But when I went home in February, we turned Valentine’s Day into Late Christmas. My mom was telling me the whole time about how much my employer didn’t care about me and getting angry on my behalf, which was distinctly unhelpful. They didn’t — but I didn’t need to hear that. What I needed to hear was “wow, that sucks, but when you come home in February we’ll do Late Christmas.”

      It’s really hard not to be with family! It doesn’t get easier, but you get better able to bear it. And if it’s important to you, you can usually find jobs where you get *some* holiday off. This year, I’ve got Christmas week and I’m going to stay with family who have coverage jobs and can’t travel. Next year, it will be someone else’s turn, and I’ll probably get 4th of July weekend or extended Thanksgiving instead.

      On the bright side, you’ve already figured this stuff out! It sounds like you just needed to write it out. Happy holidays, and good luck in grad school!

      1. Carlie*

        I was the first to go too, and I moved across the country and travel in winter is hazardous. We have had a Christmas with parents once in the last 20 years. You adapt. Do I still get weepy for an hour or two each major holiday? Yep. But we have our own traditions, and sometimes I buy my family’s gifts to mail out after Christmas when things are on sale and the crowds aren’t so bad, and I murmur sympathetically with people who are stressing out about getting everything DONE before Christmas and how are they GOING to juggle the family and in-laws and travel and then I go to my snug quiet home and relax. And then we visit family on the shoulders of summer when it’s more fun to be out and about and there’s less traffic.

    7. yllis*

      Most jobs won’t get you a whole week off at Christmas time so you might want to prep your mom for that for after grad school when you rejoin the working world.

      My husband has to “put in” for days around holidays and usually didnt get them. So he works the 24th most years and is right back on the 26th. We do our traveling holiday festivities about 2 weeks after where it is almost a second christmas….

    8. SpaceySteph*

      I would say parent guilt trips are one of the main reasons to set a precedent that you won’t be back every year.

      The first year my husband didn’t go back home for Christmas (we were getting married in Feb and were saving $ and PTO for the wedding and honeymoon) his parents flipped out and called him nearly daily begging him to come back, offering to pay, saying oh just fly out on the 24th and back on the 26th. He wanted to cave, and I told him the same thing… if you might have been considering it before, their behavior makes it so much more important that you DON’T cave now.

      I’m Jewish so I never go home for Christmas, but I also rarely get to go home for my own holidays because they’re always on like a random Tuesday in September when I can barely get the time off to observe the holiday let alone added time to travel, so my parents learned that lesson long ago.

      Gotta teach your parents to grow up when you do. It makes holidays so much less stressful when your coming home is a pleasant surprise, rather than your not coming home being a life ending disaster you have to hear about for weeks.

  41. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP1, I’m going to side-step your actual question because there have been many thoughtful comments. I’d like you to consider if there’s a mental health component. Job switches and life changes and moves are all stressful, and you say you’re “also struggling with other non-work stuff”. If you’re dealing with something like depression, you’ll need to factor that in. Do you have mental health coverage that will be lost if you leave this job? If you’re still on a family insurance plan, that may not be relevant — but if you’re covered through an employer or a contracting firm, losing benefits from now until school begins can be costly in more than just dollar value.
    It’s worth asking if anyone in your family can come visit YOU before/after the holiday — or maybe even during it. There’s often someone who’s had their full of family dynamics who would be willing to escape the full house to celebrate quietly — and visiting “OP1 who will be all alone otherwise” would be a reason that many “butts at the celebration table” families would understand.
    Also consider if you could get a 3-day break and take a couple of red-eye flights. It’s cheaper than losing a job.

  42. Rookie*

    #1 reminds me of a similar experience I had while working at a pizza joint in college. They had an awful system where, if you wanted time off, you had to write it on a physical calendar tacked to the wall and the first few who got their names down got the time off. Woof. For Thanksgiving Break, I made sure my name was first on the list so I could go home and I was told I was good to go, then the day before break, the manager said she still needed me to work over break. Yeah, no. Turned in my shirt and hat right there, never regretted that move. Things are different when you work full time of course, but the lesson stands that good employers should really try their best to accommodate employees’ vacation requests if possible.

    1. Rayray*

      I agree. The LW’s situation is likely just that she’s lowest in seniority and someone had to suck it up if coverage is needed. As for the pizza job, that’s definitely unfair and I find it absolutely ridiculous when those types of jobs treat their employees like garbage. Those jobs are so easy to quit and find a similar job within the week. Bet you anything they were just absolutely shocked when you did that.

      1. Rookie*

        I went back in to order a pizza a year later and they remembered me haha Thank goodness it’s an open kitchen so I could watch to make sure they didn’t spit on the pizza.

  43. Zach*

    #3- Regarding the weirdly specific raise percentage your employee requested, some people (that either don’t know what they’re doing or were given bad advice) think that giving a super specific number for a salary/raise during negotiations makes it more likely to get what they requested since it seems like there is some secret methodology behind it. That’s probably what they were doing. Based on your reaction, it confirms that is still a bad strategy!

  44. sigh*

    #3 – I definitely think you should concentrate on explaining the why behind the raise you are offering. I’m sure that you have made sure salaries are inline with industry and experience.

    I’m saying my next sentence as if everything just said was taken into consideration….. it almost sounds like the employee has some unrealistic expectations. Like they heard some once in a lifetime story of someone on an equal level or bad advice get a massive raise and employee things they deserve it too.

  45. sigh*

    #1 OP thanks for following up! It’s hard not being able to follow through with certain plans during the holidays but at least your parents can visit you. Also remember you started in September at a time when I bet most of the holiday vacation schedule was already allocated. Next year (if you stay) you will not be the “new guy” expected to cover for all holidays and will be able to partake in however holiday schedules are determined. One thing to keep in mind is your choosing to live in a geographical area not near your family. I know that might not have been a choice you wanted to make, but none the less at this particular point in time you are unable to be near family. That is going to be an obstacle no matter who your employer is. I’m not saying that to be rude. Sometimes a balance is needed between personal and professional life.

  46. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Quitting due to the denial of Christmas off hits me right in the heart. That’s almost exactly why I quit my first job. Only it was more complicated, I was told I had Christmas Eve off by the Financial Manager (my boss) and then was told “lol wtf noooo come in!” by the owner.

    However it was also on the brink of bankruptcy and we had zero things to do…so extra level BS was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Did I regret it? No. I was near dead emotionally anyways. Did it haunt me? Only for the next job search but then it’s buried but it did take me quite awhile of searching and then working as a temp for a few months to secure a long term job.

    But I was living at home. I talked to my parents since I would need their added assistance. Given you’re 900 miles away and going towards grad school I clinched thinking about the possible financial hit most of all. That could send you into crippling debt if you don’t find something for those 6 months before school starts unless you have hefty reserves.

    It’s a contract job. I know you’ve had a crappy year and that mental stress sounds like it’s in play for this somewhat irrational reaction. So given that I would caution you to pulling the cord on the job. The risks are there to make your next year not much better than this one.

  47. Quiltrrr*

    I haven’t seen family for Christmas since 2005, and this is the first year that I will. The opportunities where we moved (2300 miles away) were more than we had where we were.

  48. Dasein9*

    #2, are you feeling okay? You look a bit peaked. If you’re sick, then you can’t possibly go on this retreat. You stay in and get some rest, okay?

    1. yllis*

      Rub your eye vigorously the day before the retreat. Get it nice and red.
      Go to organizers office and say you think you have pinkeye and will be going to the doctor

      No one will want you at that sleepover

  49. Clementine*

    For the poster who wants to be home on Xmas, what if you bought a wildly overpriced flight for a 12- to 24-hour trip? You would still come out ahead financially by keeping your job. This is only practical, of course, if the locations are reasonably close to airports.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And if you can do Christmas morning together and fly out on Christmas, often they’re not that wildly priced…yeah, I’ve been looking at my options LOL.

  50. boop the first*

    1. I also can say that your situation isn’t unusual or unbearable enough to nuke it. Like others, who suggest that we should get used to making sacrifices for jobs we don’t care about because it somehow makes us more likeable and socially valuable as products… I watched my mom make these sacrifices. She had no friends, her family dumped her, she has no relationship to speak of with her children. She still can’t retire. This was her reward. This is also why I was the only kid around who vehemently did NOT want to grow up. I saw what it meant to be an adult and I wanted nothing of it.

    I have no advice! This summer I wanted to go on a camping trip. I hadn’t had time off in three years, and I hadn’t done the annual camping trip in at least eight years. I needed the break so bad. So like you, I quit.
    I did screw myself badly. I’ve been unemployed for several months, although I haven’t been trying too hard. Most of my decision was based on the fact that we’re fully paid up. But I feel like I will never be able to find a job again. I feel like I will lose touch with my employers as they move, and will have zero work references. I am quite doomed.

    Do I feel regret? I don’t know, not really. Life is great, I just feel guilty about it. Like you, my job was destined to end within a year so I would have been in this spot eventually regardless. You already know the likely outcome, is the question just about what people would think of you? Maybe you’ll be surprised.

  51. CoastEast*

    man, my job hasn’t let me enough time to go home on holidays in nearly 3 years….wish I could just quit so I could see my family. Sometimes, though, you gotta just create you’re own “peaceful in solitude” holiday if you can’t make it home. Maybe facetime throughout the day?

  52. Daisy-dog*

    Blanket statement in regards to retail/food service jobs. In my experience, no retail/food service location wants to hire employees that can’t work for them for the foreseeable future. Even seasonal positions want to be turned into permanent if the employee has been worthy enough. Yes, you can certainly leave out that tidbit in the interview, but just know that it’s not what management is planning for when looking for employees.

    And for this specific example (though seems to not apply to LW1 based on comments), those jobs are going to be hard to find in January because that is the slowest season for shopping & going out to eat. Basically, if someone is hiring in the first quarter, you probably don’t want to work there because their turnover is so bad they can’t even keep a core set of employees. Or they like to be over-staffed for emergencies, but you’ll get scheduled for 2 “on-call” shifts and that’s it.

  53. Diana*

    The inflation rate in 2018 was 2.44%. If you gave employees a 3% “raise” last year, you didn’t actually give them any more money – you just decided not to shrink their paychecks. Hooray?

    It is insulting that management calls cost-of-living adjustments “raises”, we certainly don’t need to parrot that language ourselves.

  54. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    #3 – a 2% raise for most people is an insulting joke. Everyone says it’s better than nothing, but just barely, literally. After taxes it usually amounts to pennies extra. And for companies who implement it across the board regardless of performance, that is also an insulting joke. The high performers that show dedication and work hard, are on time, help the company…they should obviously get a higher percentage than the slackers who are always late and never do any real work ever. Managers need to be braver in sending those messages. Do no work, get no raise. Do great work, get a great raise. Why is this so hard and hardly ever done?

  55. CaptainCaveMan*

    RE #2- Based on your statement that sleeping on mats in a large room is no unusual, I kinda know where you are or which region you are. And, yeah, I’ve done that, it’s not a big deal unless you aren’t from that country/region. Anyone raised elsewhere would have their hair standing on end I suppose.
    My recommendation is to wear summer business casual during the day, i.e. linen drawstring pants/chinos, light tank top with long sleeve/loose linen shirt that has a collar (buttoned up but except for the top 2 buttons). It’s light, breathable, and loose so you’ll be comfy all day albeit, a bit rumpled by the end of the day. Because the outfit can be dressed up…i.e. nice flats or dressed down with sandals, you have good range and are fairly professional all around. If I’m right about where you are, the heat and stuffiness will really wear you down so as much lightweight cover is best. Shorts and a collared shirt (think…golf outfit), neat and pressed will also work. For me, the lightweight linen stuff is more comfortable.

    For nightwear, you can wear PJ bottoms and a loose fitting cotton top, ideally with long sleeves that way you are still comfortable but you have a good amount of cover. Definitely no sleeveless unless there’s a built in bra and wide straps. A wrap robe or kimono style hip length robe is also good in case you need to use the restroom. If you are doing this retreat in an open air setting, it’s also a bit better protection from the occasional fly or mosquito.

    Colors should be neutral if at all possible especially for night time wear, animal print or My Little Pony might raise some eyebrows unless your company is a bit more free-wheelin’

    Good luck and have fun!

  56. WineNot*

    #1 – Up until 7 months ago, I lived 2,000 miles away from my family and worked in hospitality, which meant I worked nights and weekends and didn’t have a single holiday off all year unless a holiday happened to fall on one of my pre-scheduled days off. While I hated not being able to be at home for the important holidays, I had and still have a great network of friends/pseudo-family that always made the holidays easier and really fun. Sometimes, creating new traditions is nice because your family will always be there next year! If going being with your family for these holidays is important enough to you where you’re willing to quit a brand new job, maybe you should move home??

  57. we're basically gods*

    For my own comfort in the mornings, I’ve bought some soft t-shirts with built-in bras, which might be a good way to go for the PJs! In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be weird about braless breasts, but we don’t live in that world, so keeping things contained could be nice. (And, for people built like me, makes middle-of-the-night trips up and down stairs a looot more comfortable.)

  58. OP #2*

    Thank you to everyone answering my weird sleepover clothing question! I own lots of linen and floaty clothing, I’m thinking after reading the comments that one of my linen jumpsuits without one of my usual long sleeve tops underneath will be best for the day, and I’m resigning myself to wearing shorts for the night. I’ll have to find myself a cheap sleeping t shirt as well, as that seems to be the resounding answer in terms of appropriate sleep tops! For people asking for updates, this retreat isn’t for a while yet, but I’ll let you all know how it goes once I attend. I’ll pop through and comment on some more threads, there have been some great questions and observations so far!

  59. DJ*

    Hi Should I quit to have Christmas off
    Could you speak to your employee about having some of the days off ie Mon 23/12 and Tues 24/12 or the Friday 27/12. Then if you don’t work weekends you could still have enough time to make it worth your while flying 900 miles there and back. Explain its to see family who are 900 miles away so you simply can’t do the travel there Christmas Day and back Boxing Day

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