I sent a text about my problem employee to the wrong person, growing out gray hair, and more

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

1. I sent a text about my problem employee to the wrong person

I find myself in a pickle and am a nervous wreck. I have been a manager at a healthcare facility for two years. It has not been easy. The manager before me was stepping down and knew me from my managers group. She badmouthed me during a staff meeting she held with the employees prior to my arrival. It was hell when I arrived. One particular employee undermines everything I say and new rules that I put into place. She is very passive-aggressive and nothing is ever her fault. So I have been fed up with it. I asked my sister, who is a minister, to put a request on her prayer list. The request was to remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful. Well, that message was sent to an employee with a similar sounding name, and she showed it to the employee. I have let my boss know of my error and feel like a complete idiot. What should I do, and can I get fired for this?

Oooh, this isn’t good. It’s an adversarial message to have out there and is likely to cause tension and even hostility in those relationships. It also makes you look weak to anyone who hears about it because it implies that you’re turning to prayer instead of actively managing your team. (To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with prayer — but it can’t be a replacement for effective management.) And even beyond the optics, there’s what it really does seem to reveal about the situation: that you’re not managing your staff, despite being their manager.

That’s where I’d focus. Apologize to the employee for the message and tell her you’ve erred in being hands-off when you should have been actively working on problems with her …. and then you’ll need to start being a more hands-on manager. Address the problem behavior clearly and forthrightly, enforce consequences, hold her accountable for her conduct, and be willing to remove her from your team if you don’t see pretty quick improvement. That was the only effective path before this happened, and it’s definitely the only possible one now. (You’ll need to loop in your boss as well, because you’ll need her to have your back as you clean this up.)

2. Is this too much time off to ask for in a new job?

My contract officially ends in late February/early March, but I’m exploring other options and open to getting out early if possible. What makes me nervous right now is that I’m heading into a very busy spring/summer with trips every few months. I need two days off in March (bachelorette), eight days off in June (family Europe trip), two days off in July (another bachelorette), one day off in August (family wedding where I’m a member of the bridal party), and two days off in November (wedding where I’m a member of the bridal party). So, totaling 15 days in a fairly short period of time.

Is this an absurd amount of time to take when I will be in a new job? Most places I’ve looked allot 15-20 days vacation/PTO, but obviously I could end up working somewhere that only offers 10. When should I mention these trips in the interview process? And does it make sense to let them know about everything at once?

You’d want to negotiate for the time you need off once you have an offer but before you accept it — here’s a whole guide to how that works.

But yeah, that’s a lot of separate individual trips, and while the total number of days isn’t outrageously high, at some places it’ll seem like an unusually long list of separate trips to request right off the bat. It might be fine, but it also might be worth thinking about whether you’d be willing to give up the two bachelorettes, which would leave you with just one pre-planned vacation and two family weddings to ask for at the offer stage.

Keep in mind, too, that at a lot of places you accrue your PTO each pay period rather than getting it all awarded at once up-front, which would mean you wouldn’t have enough accrued to take all of these trips. But by raising it at the offer stage, you might be able to get them to agree you can take the time unpaid. (Of course, as with all offers, the more senior you are and the more they want you, the more negotiating power you have.)

3. Growing out gray hair at work

I am in my late 30s and started having gray hairs around my teenage years. After coloring for decades, I am finally of the mind to stop and grow out my natural grays.

The issue I’m running into is how to still appear professional with about three inches of gray growth right now. I am in HR and have to meet with VPs or other higher-ups sometimes and feel very self conscious about my gray roots. I have found a few people staring at my hairline and it makes me feel very self conscious. Most haven’t said anything, but I’m writing to ask if I should address this when meeting with staff? Should I just ignore it as I have been, as this problem will be resolved (hopefully) in a year or so when my hair completely has grown out?

You 100% do not need to address it, and it would even be a bit odd if you did.

If you’re very self-conscious about it, a hair stylist should be able to help you find ways to make the difference between the gray and the rest of your hair less stark (for example, mixing in highlights, or using a temporary root concealer product, or changing up the style). But that’s about your comfort, not anyone else’s. You’re allowed to have gray roots, and you’re allowed to grow them out, and in the vast, vast majority of fields it should not be A Thing at all. (There could be some exceptions to that, like if you’re in a weirdly appearance-focused field, in which case definitely talk to your hair stylist about the transition period.)

And meanwhile, know that the people looking at your hairline are probably looking simply because your hair looks different than it used to and our eyes go to things that are different. It’s not because they’re horrified or outraged at your gray roots.

Read an update to this letter here

4. How many items can I take from an office give-away?

When coworkers bring in items to the office to give away, what is the social rule about how much one person can take? I understand that when a coworker brings in treats to share, it makes sense that each person takes one portion and leaves the rest for others to have, but what about when people bring things in to give away? We have a table in my office where people can leave things for others to take: mugs, clothing, DVDs, etc. Is there a rule about how many of these things a single person can take without being perceived as greedy or rude?

I’d say to take whatever feels like “your share” — meaning the amount you can take while still leaving enough for everyone else to partake if they want to. Later that day, if you see items are still available, it should generally be fine to take a few more — but I wouldn’t scoop up a seriously large amount without first checking with the person who brought them in. (You could say, “I’d love to have any X that are left over and would be glad to give a good home to whatever remains at the end of the day.”)

5. Should I ask for a different title after nine years?

I have been at the same job for nine years, and I love it. It’s a creative position in a small company, and since it’s a bit of a unicorn job in a shrinking industry, my plan has been to ride this job as long as it exists.

But I also worry that when I finally do have to move on, it will look bad that I didn’t get any title promotion in over a decade. The job is flexible enough that I’ve taken on new duties here and there over the years, and my boss would likely be amenable to a title bump if I asked for it. (Salary is unrelated.)

Should I? I like my job and responsibilities now, and I don’t want to rock the boat unnecessarily or end up with undesirable duties in return for a higher title. My current title is fine; “senior [broad category],” decently high-level for the industry. I was probably a bit young to land it nine years ago.

But now I’m a decade older and (on paper) have stopped progressing. I’m not worried about explaining my experience and growth in an interview, just that my resume would be tossed in early stages for looking stagnant. There’s also a chance I’d be changing industries, to where people would be less likely to recognize at a glance why I’d stay at this job for so long. Should I worry about that?

If you can get a title change, it would be a good thing. It’s not absolutely necessary (in most fields, nine years with the same title isn’t a big deal, as long as you’re not entry-level), and if it doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t worry too much about it — but if you can get a title change that signals progression without spending a huge amount of capital on it, it’s a helpful thing to do.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 757 comments… read them below }

  1. PrgrmMgr*

    #2: If I had a great candidate that needed that kind of time off in the first year, I’d find a way to make it work. It may not all be paid, but I’d see what we can do. Maybe it’s my view of work/life balance from being in the non-profit sector, but 15 days spread across March – November doesn’t feel like a major imposition.

    1. Safetykats*

      OP2: I agree with Alison that the problem is really he number of separate trips. It’s one thing to go into job negotiations with s big family trip already planned, and another to be taking asking for time off almost every month I’m thr first six months. That said, if you will actually have the paid time off – not be accruing it – the individual days aren’t maybe such a big deal. If you are accruing, you will likely need to take the time for the family vacation as unpaid leave.

      That’s not a deal breaker for a senior or highly qualified candidate, but it would definitely count against you in almost every place I’ve worked. Again, not so much the big trip, but all the trips out together. If I was you, I would seriously consider whether you can give the bachelorette trips a pass, or skip the family vacation this year. When you’re better established in your new job, it will be easier to be taking this kind of time off.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Even if you can get the time, do you want your professional reputation to be that you prioritize batchelorette parties over a solid start on a new job.

        1. Tallulah in the Sky*

          I really don’t like this kind of thinking. The reason she takes those days off shouldn’t matter. We shouldn’t penalize people for wanting to take time off or judge them for what they’re doing with them. If 15 days is too much for the company, so be it, but I wouldn’t work for someone with the same reasoning as the boss who wouldn’t let his employee take time off to go to a gaming tournament. Either you’re ok with your employee a number of days, or you don’t.

          I know my perspective is probably biased (I’m from Belgium, where all full time employees get 20 days off, not counting the 10 national holidays), but I can’t imagine anyone here having an issue with someone having their days off spread out over the next six months, even a new hire, and I really don’t care about the why.

          1. Fikly*

            Shouldn’t, sure, but it will, if she discloses it.

            So either don’t disclose, or be prepared to be looked at like you aren’t committing very much to your new job.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Shouldn’t, sure, but it will, if she discloses it.

              Yup. Unfortunately, OP has to consider what the perception might be in the world we’re living in now and not the ideal world.

              1. Tallulah in the Sky*

                Guess I live in the ideal world then :-) Also lucky. Again, I’m from Belgium. Having vacation days and taking them of is no big deal. Wouldn’t even think about “disclosing” my list of vacations in advance, because employers expect you’ll take them. Unless you plan to take a really long one in the first couple of months, it would be a no-brainer. If I were in OP’s shoes, I’d maybe talk about the first bachelorette party and the european trip, to make sure those dates worked with the company and lock them in as soon as possible, but that’s it.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  I do think this is a situation where “US vs. (some) other countries” will make a huge difference. We don’t know where the LW is from, but “big Europe trip” implies it’s not Europe.

                2. AnnaBananna*

                  Can’t be that big if it’s only a week…

                  Also, as an American who was once in leadership, I wouldn’t judge anyone for coming in with their annual trips already planned (regardless of what they’re for – why are we actually judging a grown woman her downtime??), in fact I would appreciate knowing about it ahead of time. I think PTO balance-wise, the only hiccup will be the Europe trip.

                  I would also ask about their policy and practices for checking in during vacation – this might affect your upcoming trips.

                3. Snuck*

                  I’m in a part of the world where 20 days is the norm, but they are accrued from start date usually, so I would expect them to negotiate.

                  My biggest issue with this would be about the quality of any onboarding, and whether the person is going to be there long enough to keep up to speed (or keep disappearing for a few days and miss critical events, training and consolidation of skills). Normally I wouldn’t mind all this, but the first few months of some jobs is pretty important (jobs that require rapid acquisition of skills and knowledge – many call centre jobs, technical roles etc?) and a person who is away a lot would make it hard to measure their growth well. I would probably ok it IF they talked about it with me ahead of time, IF it didn’t clash with major deliverables, IF the person consistently met standards on their way through/showed they were learning from their onboarding effectively, and IF the person was willing to be a really stellar and cooperative employee in every other regard, and IF the person had accrued the leave in time (if they haven’t then my expectation is they take it unpaid).

                  It’s wonderful the OP is so involved in bachelorettes, family holidays and weddings, and this shows a very strong commitment to their family, but I would ask in interview for an example of how they managed conflict between family commitments and work commitments to gain some insight into their decision making and communication of issues etc if I knew about all this leave requested prior to job offer. If the OP is going to 100% prioritise all their family commitments ahead of work ones ahead of time then that might be fine, but it might not suit some job roles I might recruit for. (For example a person can’t have every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter and whatever else off for all eternity if coverage is required.)

            2. Sparrow*

              Yeah, if I were OP, I don’t think I’d mention the reason. I’d just say something about it being a popular year for weddings in my family/friend group, and not specify which wedding-related events were happening.

              And I’m with Alison that the number of separate trips may look like a lot. I think if you were spreading out the requests, it wouldn’t look like an unreasonable amount of time off, but having to give the whole list at once may be a bit much.

              1. Quill*

                Yeah, for better or worse, “I’m in multiple wedding party events this year,” sounds much more professional and reliable than “I’m asking off for two bachlorette parties.”

                1. TooTiredToThink*

                  +1 I was thinking the same thing; if she must give a reason just indicate that its the year of the weddings and leave it at that.

                2. Snuck*

                  I’m assuming it’s TWO bachelorettes for ONE wedding given she’s asked for time off for one event. I could be wrong.

                  Three sets of time off for one event…

                3. TootsNYC*

                  also, “for some reason, this is the year that everybody’s getting married.”

                  I think lots of managers have had a year like that in their own life.

                  And a day on this weekend, and two days on another, isn’t as big an impact.

                  (But I wouldn’t say “bachelorette”–those events just sound too frivolous. So from a “marketing” perspective, I’d say, “family gathering.”)

            3. Joielle*

              This is probably true for some jobs, but certainly not all! In my department we would not bat an eye at this kind of request from a new hire. It’s not hard to understand that some years a person goes to a lot of weddings, and especially if they’re in the bridal party for those weddings, that adds up to a lot of events, for which they may have to travel.

              As long as the request was presented in a way that didn’t seem overly cavalier, it would not raise any red flags for me. 15 days over 8 or 9 months is nothing. Not all jobs expect you to sacrifice your personal life for career development.

              1. A*

                I agreed with you up until the second paragraph. That’s wonderful that this wouldn’t be an issue for you or your employer, but as OP and several commenters have mentioned – it is not uncommon for employers in the US (I’m taking the liberty of assuming OP is in the US based on how they reference a European vaca and other US business norms) to only offer 10 vacation days to new hires. This *shouldn’t* be a big issue, but it very well could be to some employers. Even those that offer 15+ days to start I doubt would view using 15 days as ‘nothing’.

                “Not all jobs expect you to sacrifice your personal life for career development.” This statement I take issue with. It’s unfortunate, because I actually agree with your sentiment – but this last it threw it out the window for me. It’s not this simple or black & white. An employer being unable to accommodate, or taken aback, by a new hire needing to use the full extent of their annual vaca (or potentially more than allowed to most new hires) outside of the standard accrual window – is not automatically expecting the sacrifice of their employees personal lives for career development. This isn’t an issue of you have PTO, should you take it? This is a question of whether what OP is asking for can be accommodated without negatively impacting their hiring process, and without negatively impacting the business.

                I.E. If an employer starts new hires at 10 days vaca, and is unable to make an exception for OP – the employer isn’t doing anything wrong. They aren’t ‘excepting a sacrifice’, it just means it’s not a viable fit.

                Took it one step too far, and unfortunately that detracts for the primary point of your comment.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  it’s not uncommon for them to offer 5 vacation days to new hires, and they don’t kick in until a year is up.

                  But someone saying, “All these things came up a while ago, before I started job hunting, and so I’m caught between paradigms. Could I take that time unpaid?” would have a lot of managers saying, “oh, that’s paperwork, let’s ask HR how to do that.”

                  Many, many places have a way to do unpaid leave.

            4. tamarack & fireweed*

              Well, it seems to me that how she discloses the reasons plays a role. Apparently four are about weddings – that’s a huge number of weddings clustered over a 6 months period. (I have only been to a wedding every few years myself). You could bring up in your negotiations that just about everyone in your closer circle appears to be preparing for getting married, and you would very much like to make it possible to share this moment with them, you sound less as someone who keeps running off for a few days. After all, this is unlikely to reoccur.

              15 days off over a long summer is objectively not huge, though of course accrual rules would dictate how much negotiation you need to inject to get what you want.

              1. Indigo a la mode*

                I like your phrasing about it being The Year of Weddings. Life happens, and sometimes life happens in groups. I don’t know how old you are, but I’m definitely at the age where everyone is getting married. I lucked out with only a single local wedding last year, but the year before I had four weddings at least 700 miles from home (plus a destination bachelorette party), and this year I’m looking at three. I imagine as I get older, it’ll taper off significantly.

              2. A*

                If that is true, yes. I had that conversation with my employer at the time when I was in my early 20s… and then the wave never stopped. Ten years later and I’ve been to, on average, 3-4 weddings every year and have been a bridesmaid every other year. So far that holds true through 2021.

                …point being, don’t make my mistake and assume it’s a one year thing!

          2. MK*

            While I agree that a manager shouldn’t make judgements on how employees spent their time off, but if coverage is an issue, then they need to weigh different employees requests. Even in countries where workers get legally mandated vacation time, it’s pretty unusual to be able to take it whenever they want, regardless of business needs and their colleagues’ schedules. In this case, the OP is not only asking for a lot of time off, but is also inflexible about when they must take it; the family vacation might fall at the same time when the company has a major event, the bachelorette party might be in the same week as a coworker’s wedding and another’s absense for a work trip. A reasonable employee could ask and a reasonable manager should try to accommodate, say, a sibling’s wedding, but not a bachelorette party.

            1. Tallulah in the Sky*

              I totally agree with that. What I don’t agree with is judging someone because they want to take a couple of days of to go to a bachelorette party, and that it somehow indicates their commitment to the job or a lack of professionalism (responding to Artemesia’s comment). If you can’t have an employee taking that amount of time or those specific days, then that’s that, it happens and it’s not the fault of the company. Then it’s up to OP to decide how hard she wants to push for each vacation, and if she’s ready to let some of them go.

              1. MK*

                I agree people should be able to ask without being judged, but there is a psychological factor in play. A candidate responding to a job offer with a long list of requests for time off is right to worry that they might come off as more focused on vacation than working. Heck, any long list of requests is bound to make the asker feel that they might be making a nuisance of themselves: I feel slightly bad when I go to the cheese counter asking for 200grs of seven different cheeses, even though it’s the server’s actual job and they would be cutting cheese for the next person even if I wasn’t there.

                1. Tallulah in the Sky*

                  I guess it depends on how you frame it. If you acknowledge that those requests seem like a lot, but that you don’t plan to take anymore vacation days that year and you only wish to be as open and transparent with them, some companies could appreciate that. This could also serve as a tool to screen companies : I’m not willing to sacrifice my time with loved ones for a company, so if they’re totally unwilling to work with me on this, this would be a red flag for me.

                  But I agree that “starting” her time at the company by mentioning all the vacation days she’d need that year could turn people off. To me that’s not her fault though, more the system that’s forcing her to be “aggressive” about this. Like I responded in another comment, this probably seems really weird to me because I’m from Belgium (western Europe) and I wouldn’t feel the need at all to “disclose” any of those dates, taking some time of in your first six months is totally fine.

            2. Database Developer Dude*

              Never been to a bachelorette party, is it different than a bachelor party? I went to my now-BIL’s bachelor party, and it was on a weekend day, starting in mid-afternoon with golf, and ending the evening at a club. It doesn’t seem to me like time off would be needed for that type of party…..

              1. Massmatt*

                The need for time off is probably for travel, her friends and family might not be in her state (or even country). Plus the trend seems to be having these parties at an exotic destination requiring everyone travel. Seems a bit much to me but whatever.

              2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Destination bachelorette parties are becoming more common. Multiple day events that include a number of activities depending on the location. I’ve heard of ones that include winery or brewery tours, spa days, amusement parks, museums, plus the typical drinking shenanigans.

                1. bluephone*

                  Yeah, bachelor/bachelorette parties are becoming multi-day destination affairs that are often fancier than some actual weddings. Personally, I think it’s kind of ridiculous because no one’s friends and family love them that much but once that Pandora’s box is open, it usually won’t close again.
                  The first “Hey Ladies!” column on the now defunct Toast.Net was a scarily accurate look into contemporary bachelorette parties

                2. Indigo a la mode*

                  Aw, I’ve done two destination bachelorettes in the last two years and really loved them. If it’s a good group and you can all afford it without being pressured, it’s a great way to travel! Plus, I found to my relief that that usually means /fewer/ penis-related/drinking-related shenanigans.

                3. SpaceySteph*

                  Part of it is, I think, the trend toward not staying in your hometown forever. My bridal party had 5 girls who lived in 4 different states (and the 2 in Florida still lived over 5 hours apart). Literally anything we did together was a destination for the majority.

              3. A*

                Definitely depends on the group! In my social group (and at this point I’ve averaged, over the last ten years, 3-4 weddings a year and being a bridesmaid every other year) it would be unheard of to have people fly in for it and it’s usually a low-key affair. More often than not the bride has just wanted to go out for dinner/drinks. Nothing fancy! But we are also a very financially minded bunch that tend to care more about saving for down payments etc. than wedding extravagance.

                Any bachelorette party requiring me to take time off work, is not one I’d want to be a part of lol. But different strokes for different folks – my step sister’s going to her friend’s bachelorette party in Vegas later this year and she & her fiancé literally pushed their wedding date out so they could financially accommodate the bachelorette party trip (which then in turn puts their home buying date out another year). I think it’s insane, and borderline irresponsible, but she seems happy with the choice!

            3. Ra94*

              Actually, with legally mandated vacation time, employers generally do let people take it whenever they want, within reason. I’m in the UK, and I’ve never heard of anyone getting a PTO request turned down made this far in advance. Even my friend who’s a lawyer gets the days she requests (though she’ll end up with a night of 3 am finishes before and after to catch up, which is a different kind of shitty.) The only time I’ve heard of someone getting a blanket ‘no’ is when a friend asked two weeks in advance, and her requested days conflicted with a major conference she’d forgotten about.

              1. Nonprofit Nancy*

                I’d say that is UK specific. The US is quite weird about time off in my experience, especially for new hires, although it can vary depending on the company of course.

              2. Snuck*

                I’m in Australia, and we have similar leave provisions to the UK. I’ve worked in environments where there’s leave embargo’s, restrictions on how far out you can book it, tacit agreements about who gets access to how many of the long/bank/public holiday weekends (ie not one person booking them all up – I presume destination bachelorette parties might often coincide with long weekends, but the OP might be requesting literally all the ‘good holidays’ reducing availability of leave for others) etc. I have turned down PTO requests this far out (or bumped them out “We can’t decide this at this point, I can guarantee you the family holiday dates, and the wedding, but please talk to me by when you are planning to book the others closer to the dates, our workload in June and July doubles and I would like to let you go but won’t know how we are tracking until late April” sort of scenario). This was generally for call centre staff. I have also said “I”m sorry, but I do need to let other staff have a crack at the calendar too and there’s limited people allowed off at a time, I will consider your request when I review the calendar and requests at the end of the month, and I will review Christmas / New Years requests in mid August when everyone has had a chance to decide whether they want to apply”. Got to be fair, worked with too many people who slap that request in 12 and 18mths out, and take every good spot.

                I’d say to the OP… “You can ask, but decide which ones are worth giving up the job for, and which ones you can sacrifice, you might not get to do them all depending what else is happening.”

            4. MOAS*

              I think it depends on the field. For instance, during tax season, it’s unheard of industry wide to take any time off between February-April barring emergencies/parental leave of course. If it was pre-planned, it better be your own wedding that you’re going to. That’s just how the industry is. We’d make allowances for big events, but someone else’s bachelorette party? Unless they were an amazing employee with a great track record, it would definitely cloud my judgment if they were a mediocre or new employee.

          3. hbc*

            I disagree. If you’re using the time-off policy that’s already in place, fine, doesn’t matter if she’s taking time to couch surf or save lives. But if you’re asking to an exception to the policy, it absolutely does matter if you’ve happened to have a lot of big events in one year or you want to party before the event.

            There *are* relative levels of importance for things like this, and while individuals might quibble over ranking things like Comic Con versus favorite band in town versus mission trip, I think everyone puts bachelor/ette parties somewhere below wedding attendance or taking your grandmother to her distant medical specialist in importance. You have to be more careful how you approach the request the more frivolous the reason seems.

            1. EPLawyer*

              Again, if OP were already employed, the days could be worked around because although it is a lot of days off, it’s a bit here and there. The Bachelorette party is probably taking a day, maybe two off each time. So it could be managed for coverage purposes.

              But a new person who says I need time off for a weekend with the girls, which is what a bachelorette party is? Not a good look. The family vacation and being IN the bridal party are different. Family vacations to Europe are once in a lifetime deals. We don’t want people to miss those. Being IN the bridal party makes that person an integral part of the event. Bachelorette party? Eh, there will be other girls’ weekends and their presence is not necessary to the event.

              1. CL Cox*

                This. A family trip that’s already planned/paid for and weddings (especially ones where you are a part of the event) are considered “mandatory” events. A bachelorette party is considered optional. With this many requests, I’d be taking a hard look and probably offering to compromise at granting the wedding and trip events but not the bachelorette parties.

                This is going on the assumption that the OP is looking for a full-time job and not another contract. If it’s another contract, then part of the negotiation is to say “I’m not available on the following dates” with a list of the dates. Legally, the client doesn’t dictate when the contractor works. In practice, the contract can specify that the contractor works the same hours as employees, but it’s supposed to list those dates and hours specifically.

                1. snoopythedog*

                  If she’s in the weddings, it’s likely she’s the one involved in planning the bachelorette(s)…in which case they aren’t optional. And while I don’t agree with it, in some social circles, skipping the bachelorette is a ‘big deal’.

              2. Ra94*

                On the other hand, OP isn’t already employed there…so depending on how strong a candidate she is, this is a matter of negotiation. I disagree that it’s a ‘bad look’ for her to ask for the time off she wants, any more than it would be a bad look to ask for a higher salary. Then the company can decide if they agree, and she can decide whether to take the offer.

              3. Snuck*

                I don’t really believe the Bachelorette (or the wedding, or the family holiday) is usually ‘just the day they take leave’. For many staff their minds are elsewhere for days to weeks before hand, they are often wanting to leave and run errands, they might need medical leave for immunisations and doctor’s appointments pre going etc. All of that is fine, but it’s never just the day that’s asked for, there’s usually other complications and needs as well. Or arriving back exhausted, jet lagged, sick etc.

                All of that is fine. But the assumption it’s ‘just one day here and two there’ doesn’t really work for me. I factor in a reduced productivity period either side of trips usually, some people can pull it off, but many do not. D

          4. Half-Caf Latte*

            I think that asking for time off for that much separate travel might rub some managers the wrong way, especially for more junior roles, because if they couldn’t afford it at that age, or still can’t, they might project their feelings onto the person.

            Crummy, but I’ve seen it.

          5. Artemesia*

            If those 15 days were to assist her mother during cancer treatments I might be willing. If the person HAD a bunch of vacation saved up then I don’t care. But someone who is new and hence has not yet saved up vacation days who wants to be let off for a series of trivial events — that is going to shape the boss’s attitude. Someone who wants 5 separate vacations in the first 6 mos without disclosing the purpose will look like a total flake. This is a specialized situation — taking LOTS of time off at a time when most people have no banked holidays and take no time off because they are starting a new job. The example of the gaming tournament is irrelevant in this situation. The person is not just ‘taking the PTO they have banked’ or whatever but asking for what in any organization would be exceptional.

            1. Anonapots*

              I wouldn’t call multiple weddings and a family trip out of country “trivial.” But then if the only thing that would get your approval is cancer treatments, I would wager anything not life threatening might seem trivial.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Yeah what the hell. I get that it’s not ideal to ask for a lot of time off when starting a new job, especially if it ends up being all of the PTO you’d accrue in a year (or more—and yikes to the employer if that’s the case), but the reality is we don’t all get to choose the timeline for our job searches.

                LW2 is coming to the end of a contract with her current employer and will be looking for a new job but that doesn’t mean she needs to opt out of doing anything “frivolous” until she gets that locked down. The bachelorette parties (maybe the weddings too) sound like they might be on weekends and she just wants to make sure she has those days off. We don’t all get weekends.

            2. Starbuck*

              Calling bachelorette parties ‘trivial’ seems a bit much; certainly it depends on how well you know the people but the ones my sister has participated in involved either family or close childhood friends who scattered to the winds post-college, so a destination vacation was the only way for them to see each other all at once. Due to the cost and planning involved for such a trip, it’s most likely to happen in the context of a wedding where you have an occasion that feels like it merits such an expense.

              I’ve also noticed that they do seem to all happen at once, since they’re tied to a life event that for a friend group with a lot common (socioeconomic background in particular) tends to happen around the same age. My sister also had four in one year last year, and as far as I know none before that and none planned for the future at this point. So the abundance is unfortunate but there’s not much to be done about it.

          6. boop the first*

            I appreciate this viewpoint. Not that I am any stellar example of what life should be, but after a lot of personal sacrifice, I get sick of the idea of having to ask permission to use life that I’M selling to a company.

        2. anna green*

          I agree with this. At the very least, don’t call them bachelorette weekends. So many people will eyeroll at the importance of that, whether you think that’s right or wrong.

          1. Angelinha*

            Agreed. I would also look at whether you can head to the bachelorette or some of the weddings after work on Friday, rather than taking a whole work day off. Even leaving early on Friday to head to a rehearsal dinner might look better than asking for a day off for the wedding.

            1. Snuck*

              This is a good idea!

              Look to whether you need the whole day off. Can you ask for a few hours off and get your hair done etc and still show up. Can other people do the rest of the lifting on those days instead of you (hogwash to the idea that the “Maid of Honor” does EVERYTHING, there’s a reason there’s a team of bridesmaidS!)

        3. Tzeitel*

          This is strange. Bachelorette parties are part of bridesmaid duties/part of an important event with a close friend. At least in my offices/field, taking off time for a bachelorette party would not raise any eyebrows at all!

          1. Massive Dynamic*

            My current office wouldn’t care either, but in one of my previous offices, all the eyes would roll out of the heads and all the eyebrows would be on the roof. It’s super hard to know what kind of workplace you’re looking at when you’re brand spanking new, so OP should error on the side of caution until she knows for sure. If I were her, I’d try to get to those bachelorette parties in the Fri after work through Sun evening timeframe instead of taking days off for each.

          2. Artemesia*

            If you have the time off banked and it is not a problem for current workload then who cares? You can take the time to nap if you like. This is not that. This is asking for a whole bunch of extra time off at a time when most people take none. So the thing you are doing becomes relevant.

          3. Malarkey01*

            Some of this may be cultural/regional, but bachelorette party in my world means a girls night out where you drink a lot, usually on a Saturday night so work isn’t involved. If a new hire told me they needed 2 separate times off for a night of wild drinking, it would influence my opinion of them. My current large workplace doesn’t allow any time off in the first 6 months unless it’s part of the offer and it’s usually for very big things that can’t be moved. This is to facilitate training.

            1. Mia 52*

              Bachlorette parties are usually out of town evens that last for a 2-4 day weekend, so I think that is where taking off work comes into play. Some people drink heavily at them but a lot also involve spas/camping/beach etc.

            2. Sarah N*

              I think this is key. Even though the LW might NOT be going to that type of event, plenty of people (especially of older generations before today’s super elaborate bachelorettes became a “thing”) are mostly going to to think of that. I would really challenge the LW as to whether they truly need time off for the bachelorette events — is it at all possible to fly out Friday night and back Sunday? You’d still get to hang out with friends but wouldn’t be asking for SO many vacations all in the first months of a new job. I think any friend good enough that they want you there for their bachelorette/wedding events will understand how new jobs go and would not want you to sacrifice your reputation at a new job in exchange for a few extra hours together — especially if you do still get to spend most of the weekend together! Maybe I am biased because the group of friends I hang out with is decidedly not the big fancy/expensive bachelorette style, but it feels like this would be a super reasonable compromise to be fully present at the wedding (and ask to take time off for that) but come to a shorter period of the bachelorette event.

          4. A*

            Your comment makes it sound like an almost once-in-a-lifetime experience for the wedding party as well. That is not always the case. By the time I turned 30, I was a bridesmaid six times. Part of the wedding party (without set titles) eight times. I love my friends, and want to be their for them to celebrate their love – but it’s not some truly unique or unusual situation.

            Granted, I’ve never had to take time off work for a bachelorette party before since my social groups tend to be pretty laid back about weddings / we all are of the same belief that weddings should not be financial drains or time sinks for the wedding party. We also have had several members of the group opt out of formal weddings to avoid all the shenanigans & stress it places on them and others, so we definitely have our own biases.

            1. Tzeitel*

              I guess it depends on your perspective. I am missing a friend’s bachelorette party because I can’t take off work the days she’s having it. That said, if there was not a conflict and I could take off, no one in my workplace would raise eyebrows, because it is a special occasion.

        4. Tapdancing Loaf of Bread*

          I don’t like this thinking either. People don’t always have a lot of choice when it comes to wedding events, and may be attending out of an obligation they don’t feel comfortable excusing them from. There are a lot of cultures where missing a wedding event is A BIG DEAL, and there’s also circumstances where you might be so involved with the event itself (i.e. an organizer/person of honour/best person, etc…) that you don’t really have a lot of choice. Weddings can involve a lot of non-negotiable aspects for some attendees, and I don’t think painting some of them as frivolous is really fair and/or helpful.

          That said, I agree that it’s not necessary to say “I’m attending a bachelorette party”. Wording it as “A Commitment” could be helpful.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, I agree. Slightly shorter timeline, but I started a new job in November and had a pre-planned trip for a week in January, plus 2 days off in February for my bachelorette, and 2 days for my wedding in March.

        I was actually just transferring over from another department so I had all the vacation time I needed saved up, plus I shortened my wedding time off, and I STILL got side-eye for asking for this much time off.

        It does depend on the manager and mine was very much of the “don’t ask for time off right after starting a new job,” which I know is not true of anyone. But I think if there’s any way the OP can decrease the number of trips, that would probably be a safer bet.

      3. sal*

        My experience is the opposite – it definitely WOULDN’T count against someone in the places I’ve worked. It’s only 2 days off in the first 3 months (or longer if OP gets out of their contract early)!!!! It’s pretty standard in my industry to offer flex time and for people to take a day off every other week if they want, as long as they aren’t missing anything big.

        OP, what you want is a place that offers flex time (and is flexible enough to accrue and take extra days off in a pay period), then not all of the days will have to be PTO. This is obviously industry and company specific, but worth looking into.

        1. #2 OP*

          Thanks for the input Sal! I work in marketing/communications, so flextime is not a novel concept here.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d like to interject–LW1 is in the wedding, so there’s a chance she’s actually been the one planning & hosting the bachelorettes. If she’s a distant cousin in the bridal party only through an obligation to Grandma? Not a big deal. But what if she’s the bride’s best friend who is organising everything and paying for some of it? Much bigger deal.

        1. #2 OP*

          Hi Seeking Second Childhood – I’m the OP #2. Bachelorette #1 is for one of my best friends who I almost never get to see anymore. It’s a very small party where we are all splitting the planning between 3 bridesmaids, so everyone is equally involved in money and time spent. Definitely can’t miss out. The other bachelorette is for my fiance’s sister – and it would be a Big Deal if I were to not attend. Financially, I’m already invested in this party as well.

          1. A*

            I recommend just leaving it at needing the time off for weddings. I’d avoid specifying that it’s a bachelorette party, if possible.

    2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      We just hired a UK native who had a relatively high number of days needed in the first three months due to pre-planned trips, one of them to the UK over the holidays. Between me, HR, and her line manager, we were able to figure it out.

      Notice during the offer stage is the critical element.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


        For point of reference, this wasn’t a senior employee. She’s newly minted and this is her first professional full time job. We considered her a fabulous candidate, however, and wanted to make it work. Which we did!

    3. Link*

      but 15 days spread across March – November doesn’t feel like a major imposition

      I agree. OP said that she’s applying to jobs that offer 15-20 days of PTO, so wanting to use 15 days between March and November is in line with what’s available. She might not accrue all of that time fast enough, but a lot of employers have no problem letting a new employee go into the red with their PTO. Assuming OP starts a new job by March, I don’t think it would even be necessary to bring up the August and November plans during the negotiation.

      1. Antilles*

        She might not accrue all of that time fast enough, but a lot of employers have no problem letting a new employee go into the red with their PTO.
        Yes, but there’s a difference between going into the red once as a one-off rather than repeatedly going further and further into the red. If you have 15 days off, that means you effectively accrue 1.25 days a month. Let’s say she starts late February/early March right after her current contract ends.
        -For the March trip, you’re getting two days off before you’ve really accrued anything.
        -For the June trip, she’ll have burned 10 total PTO days after only working four months, so you’re approximately 4 days in the red.
        -At the time of the July trip, she’ll have burned 12 total PTO days after only working five months, so you’re asking to go further in the red to be at approximately -6 days.
        -At the time of the August single day off, she’ll have burned 13 total PTO days after working six months, so you’re now approximately -5 days
        -At the time of the November trip, you’re still not back to zero but wait, you need more time off, so you’ll have used 15 total PTO days after working nine months and end up -4 days.
        -You only go back to a zero balance on your March anniversary.
        Ask to go negative once is fine, but the total sum of different requests is going to raise eyebrows. One big ask is far different from “one big ask plus a bunch of other smaller asks”.

          1. Antilles*

            But even if you ask for it all at once, it’s still not going to come across as one single event – even if you’re making it all as one “before I start, I’d like these days off”, five times is a LOT.

    4. Pretzelgirl*

      I would try and gage the culture of time off in the interview stage. Ask about vacation time, how much you get upfront, how people request days off etc Their demeanor, when they respond. Some places can be super flexible, others are very rigid. I had a friend who didn’t get any vacation time for an entire year after she started a job. It was pretty difficult and she ended up leaving the job, after a few months.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’d leave the word “bachelorette” out of it. I’d just say I paid for a family vacation and committed to being in 2 family weddings before learning about this opportunity at their company. Each wedding has an additional pre-wedding time commitment by family tradition.
      “So obviously I wouldn’t ask for paid vacation time before I’ve accrued it, but I fulfill my commitments. Which of these would need to be taken as time without pay?”

    6. snoopythedog*

      I literally was just in this scenario.
      At my old job I had piles of overtime and banked holidays I needed to use by March 2020. I knew I was looking for a new job, but expected it could take a while… so I had to plan some trips to use my time and had some commitments coming up.
      I ended up finding a job quickly (stroke of luck, market opened up) and started my new job needing to take 15 days off in small batches in the first 6 months. Employer understood that people have lives outside of work and that vacations are often planned in advance and can’t always be changed for a new job.

      I did; however, demonstrate how work was my priority, despite needing to be away a lot in the first 6 months. I worked overtime and flexed my time when I could to ensure my work was covered. I also made sure that the day after vacation, I came back to work and hit the ground running– I gave up an activity or two on the trip to ensure I was rested and wouldn’t bring my weekend back into my work week.

    7. #2 OP*

      I’m OP#2 – for everyone who seems to wondering about my particular circumstances: I work in communications/PR and I have about 3.5 years under my belt. In my post-grad career, I’ve held 2 positions at 2 companies where vacation was awarded upfront, no accrual or probationary period. From what I’ve seen, this is standard in my industry/geographic location. I can technically afford to take time unpaid, but in 2021 I will be getting married myself, and my fiance and I are trying to buy a house. So really, I’d prefer not to, but it’s definitely not a big deal-breaker.

      The family Europe trip was a gift from my parents after years of saving, so there is absolutely no way I would miss out on that. Pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us. As for the bachelorettes…the March one is for one of my best friends and the other is for my future sister in law. Both I really cannot skip, and money has been put down either for flights or AirBnB’s (also both were booked a year in advance – when I was at a previous job).

      I didn’t expect so many comments on this, but I really appreciate everyone’s input! It’s a weird topic, but something very important. Thanks again!

      1. pamplemousse*

        It sounds like you have a fun year ahead! I’ll try to just answer the questions you posed Allison. Yes, that would seem to me like a lot of time off to ask for up front, although I understand that sometimes these things happen. Yes, you should bring it up at the offer stage and ask for all of the dates at once — you don’t want to spring anything on them after you’ve started. I’d also stay away from the phrase “bachelorette party” (which makes me think of a big group event that’s ultimately optional) and say something like “some wedding responsibilities for family and close friends.”

        One thing I’d encourage you to do is to think about whether there is any way you can compromise and attend some of the events without taking a full day off, even if it means losing a little money. (The Airbnb reservations especially are a sunk cost — the money is gone either way.) Could you fly on a Friday evening and back on Sunday? Or arrange it so that your new job starts after the March bachelorette?

        I do think the fact that you’re currently on a contract is a mitigating factor here since just staying in your job until the travel is done isn’t an option. Still, if a new employee with ~3 years of experience wanted this much time off as a new hire, I’d probably agree to it, but I’d be a little annoyed and some of my bosses would not be impressed. It can be very easy for the perception of you to become “She sure seems to take a lot of vacation given that she hasn’t been here very long.”

        It sounds like your mind is made up on going to all of the events — understandably, given what they are — so I’ll just say I hope you have a great time at all of them, and that you find an awesome new job with a generous vacation policy so you still have some days left over!

      2. Turtle Candle*

        I think this is a completely valid decision to make (assuming you aren’t in a ‘need a job right this second’ place, which it sounds like you aren’t). I think the main thing to be aware of is that some places will say ‘yes’ and some will say ‘no’ and some will say ‘wellllllllll I guess but we’d really rather you didn’t,’ and have a plan to figure out what you choose to do in the latter two situations.

        And I hope you have a blast!

  2. Cobol*

    Is that really a lot of PTO? 15 days over essentially a year. It’s not nothing, but other than the 8-day trip, it’s essentially a day or two once a month.

    1. Baja*

      It does seem like a lot, actually, with possibly between 8 to 10 days in the typical 90-day probationary period alone. Not that it can’t be accommodated but yes, there’s a reason the OP wrote in for advice.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      It’s a lot of PTO for a new hire who’s unproven and has no track record of excellence with the hiring manager yet. For all they know, OP could be a slacker who wants to spend as much time out of the office as possible instead of actually working (not saying that’s true – just saying that could be the perception), and some companies even have rules around when new hires can even take time off to begin with.

      For example, my current company’s handbook says that new hires aren’t typically allowed to take vacation time within the first six months of their start date. The reason being they want new hires to be able to have uninterrupted training and an opportunity to acclimate to the company first. This rule can be overruled by management, however, and it says the time off should be for emergencies. Another company I worked for years ago had the same policy.

      1. Dragoning*

        I know these policies are common (along with no sick days for 3-6 months), but this is…really rough. No breaks at all for six months is hard. I currently don’t get PTO, and so usually wind up going from New Year’s Day to Memorial Day without a day off (~5 months), and it is a slog to get through, and makes me burnt out, grumpy, and unproductive because I just want a break.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          It is very hard. I could have asked for time off when I first started(my current manager is the CEO’s son and my prior manager is European and is used to taking loads of vacay, so neither one would have said no), especially since I could have told them I hadn’t had a real vacation at all last year before starting with them (I had only taken two vacation days at my previous job), but I also work from home and don’t have the same pace or schedule as I did before so I thought I’d be fine. Still, by the time I took my nearly two week vacation at the end of the year, I was burned all the way out. I won’t do this again going forward.

          1. Nonprofit Nancy*

            I’ve always seen this as a way that employers make it unpleasant to switch jobs, so you’ll decide to just put up with whatever shenanigans come up because once you’ve gotten through that six month stretch (which is way too long by the way; 90 days is as long as I’ve seen it) you’ll never leave.

        2. A*

          Yup. Switching employers and building that trust up can indeed be hard. I pushed out a job hunt by several months a few years back because I had too many schedule accommodations coming up on the horizon to want to proceed with under a new employer. Not saying everyone can – or should – do that, just highlighting that yes you are correct, however it is not an unusual thing.

      2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        “my current company’s handbook says that new hires aren’t typically allowed to take vacation time within the first six months of their start date. ”

        That’s f’d up.

      3. Kes*

        I do think asking a lot of times of PTO upfront risks making you look flaky and more focused on when you’re out of the office than when you’re in, whether that’s true or not (it’s more that when you have less information to go on, the information you do have stands out more).
        However, I also think policies that new hires can’t take vacation within a certain timeframe are terrible, especially since they tend to be fairly long, 6/9/12 months. Vacation time is a regular part of my job and benefits and I expect to be able to use it.

      4. Starbuck*

        “new hires aren’t typically allowed to take vacation time within the first six months of their start date. The reason being they want new hires to be able to have uninterrupted training ”

        But that makes no sense, wouldn’t you need time to decompress and digest in the midst of taking in so much new information? Your brain needs breaks! I would be deeply skeptical of a company that justified such a rule with that explanation. I hope they at least get the regular federal paid holidays, yikes.

    3. PollyQ*

      It’s over 8 months, rather than a full year, and many companies don’t give you as many as 15 days, especially not in your first year.

      My advice would be to skip the bacholorette parties, but I have a strong bias against “vacation”-style bachelor/ette parties.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        What is a “vacation”-style bachelor/ette party? LW said 2 days for each, which might account for a short travel time like a long drive and/or having a day off the day after. This seems responsible to me after having worked with multiple people who tried to work the day after one of these things and even the ones who didn’t drink were sleep-deprived from trying to work their normal schedule after having a late night out.

        I’d also recommend skipping the bachelorettes but I tend to be a huge buzzkill so that’s easier advice for me than for most people to take. If there’s going to be any wedding planning/fittings/etc at the same time, that’s how I’d explain it when asking for the time since it could be more necessary and the optics are better.

        1. MK*

          Eh, if the party is on Saturday night (and frankly it should be, unless the bride is very inconsiderate), you shouldn’t need two days off for a party, even one that requires travel. Travel on Friday or Saturday morning, travel back early on Sunday, get a good night’s sleep and be back at work on Monday, even if not at your best. Two days off is usually for a bacherolette trip, not a party.

          1. PollyQ*

            Yes, all of this, and the party is just the one night, not a whole weekend (or more!) of events at some fancy/expensive destination. IDK, maybe I’m just old. “In my day”, those parties weren’t that big a deal to start with, and if someone missed one, it was also no big deal.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I’m in my thirties and when my friends and I were getting married bachelorettes (hen parties) were “nice to have” as a guest, rather than “must attend”, and even sisters or bridesmaids weren’t obliged to attend if logistics were difficult. The parties seem to have exploded suddenly in the last decade.

              1. Allison*

                I’ve gotten that vibe as well. I’ve only been to one myself, I was able to go and happy to attend, but the discourse I see about them in places like Corporette imply that it’s this HUGE obligation, you HAVE to accept your invite, and if you don’t go for any reason, the bride will hate you and never speak to you again, which has caused people to place a ton of importance on making sure the party works for everyone who may be invited, and others have begun resenting invites because of the perceived obligation to attend at any cost.

                1. Antilles*

                  Maybe there’s some different gender/societal expectations in play here, but if one of my friends decided to never speak to me because I couldn’t attend a bachelor party for a legitimate reason…my response would be “seriously? what the bleepity bleep?” and a resigned shrug that welp, guess we’re not meant to be lifelong friends.

                2. Allison*

                  Yeah, good point. I’m 30, I’m way too old for that “if you don’t come to my party, you’re clearly not a real friend and I’m cutting you out forever!” nonsense. Good riddance to those people.

              2. A*

                This is still the case in my social group (also in my 30s, but no one in my area settles down early in their 20s so the main wave is still just starting / going strong). It’s usually just dinner & drinks, and whoever can make it makes it. No pressure (in wedding party or not).

                Granted I’ve had other social groups that I’ve grown apart from that go all out for this kind of stuff, and no doubt have all kinds of unwritten rules. One of the reasons I had to separate myself : ) I love my friends, and want to celebrate their love as they settle down with SOs, but my #1 priority will also be (and I strongly believe should be) long term financial stability. I know way too many people that blew thousands upon thousands of $s throughout their 20s on weddings etc. and are now still struggling to buy a home, start family planning etc.

            2. Antilles*

              if someone missed one, it was also no big deal.
              And conversely, if it IS a big deal that I missed one because of work / family obligations / etc, I’d start questioning the friendship because…c’mon, welcome to life as an adult, not everybody is going to be able to come to everything no matter how much notice you give.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              They weren’t a big deal back in my day either but apparently they are now. Taking two days off might mean a weekend in Vegas, with Friday and Monday as traveling days. Not my cup of tea, but you know, these kids today… excuse me, I have to go chase some kids off my lawn.

          2. Upstater-ish*

            You do know that many people work Saturday and Sunday right. You don’t know what kind of job the bride or the OP has.

            1. MK*

              True, I was talking it for granted a Monday-Friday schedule. But even so, if you schedule a party for a week night, you should be prepared for many people not being able to make it; if you have a career where weekend work is normal, you know you will be missing many events in the course of your life.

            2. Ego Chamber*

              Yeah, this is why I was confused. I think I’ve once in my life had a job with standard weekends and even that wasn’t typical across the whole company, I just got lucky with scheduling. I assumed the “2 days off” was the whole thing, not additional days to bookend the weekend. (My bad.)

          3. Ra94*

            A lot of people I know have had travel bachelorette/bachelor parties which are more of an excuse for a 4-5 day friend vacation than a specific ‘party’ with one central event. Staying for 2 nights may not be worth the cost of flights in that case. However, those who plan these types of getaways tend to (hopefully!) be much more understanding about people being unable to attend.

          4. Starbuck*

            “travel back early on Sunday”

            I mean I would do this if I absolutely had to, but it’s really not ideal if you’re having an actual party Saturday night. Even if you’re not going wild with the binge drinking, you’re likely to just want to stay up late chatting with friends that you hardly ever get to see! But that’s my personal experience.

        2. Kimmybear*

          Really common among the younger people I know (under 35) to have a whole weekend bachelorette party (spa day, dinner, dancing, brunch, etc.) because so many spread out across the country after college. Totally not my thing and was not the norm when I got married.

      2. kittymommy*

        Yeah. I don’t have any opinion on these type of events, but the LW should probably be prepared to cut these two requests if necessary. They’re the most expendable.

          1. Sloanancy*

            Yeah jeez people need to lay off the grumpy “kids these days” comments since OP has already said she’s excited to go on these trips. Some people … really value their friendships?

      3. Daisy-dog*

        I agree – I think the “vacation”-style parties have gotten out of hand. But unless OP is flying a few thousand miles, I think they need to just leave Friday night and come back Sunday morning. Expensive, but it covers the biggest day. Surely there will be a few other invitees with crappy PTO policies or who are new at their job or have young babies at home and can’t arrange childcare for potentially 4+ days.

      4. Kes*

        I think that’s fair advice in that from the information we have the bachelorette parties definitely seem the most skippable, but at the same time if OP was established it wouldn’t be a problem for her to attend and everyone’s opinion on whether two days off is too much bachelorette party would be irrelevant.

        That said, depending on their vacation setup it may be worth asking for the soonest and most important days first (say, first bachelorette in March and family trip in June) and at most mention that you have a few weddings coming up that you’re in and may need to ask for later, and then wait until you’ve established yourself a bit before starting to ask for some of the others.

        1. Sloanancy*

          I was thinking that too. One, you don’t even know when your new job will start, so maybe you can do some of the travel before your start date. Then I’d be sure to clear the closest-up trips, but I probably wouldn’t even mention two days in November if it was currently April, mostly because I don’t want to seem like I’m asking for too many things at once.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I think it depends a lot on the type of job and the seniority and benefits involved.

      If you’re talking about a job that has 2 weeks or less of vacation a year that are accrued as you work, the OP would be asking to take a year and a half worth of vacation in the first six months, at a liability to the employer. If a job typically doesn’t give any vacation in the first six months or year, it’s an even bigger request. But if a job offers 30 days a year, they’d be taking it at a fairly typical rate.

      If it’s a job that requires coverage, it means finding a substitute for three weeks during the first six months of work. On the other end, it’s a more flexible job, the OP could get a day or two off here and there in exchange for working some weekends. For a more shift based job, the OP might be able to get the time off by volunteering to cover unpopular shifts (weekend, holidays, nights).

      And if the OP is an outstanding candidate in a hard to fill role, they’ll be much more likely to negotiate than if they’re an average candidate in an easy to fill roll, where the next person in line for the offer is an equally good candidate with better availability.

      Psychologically, I agree with Alison that a single long planned vacation would be an easier sell than five separate events in six months. So for the OP, it’d be a good idea to prioritize – if they can only get one or two of these, which would they take?

      1. Massmatt*

        It does depend on the job and the status of the new employee (how badly the employer wants them, etc) but IMO a new employee by definition hasn’t earned much human capital yet and it’s not a good way to spend it.

        Maybe this is very old school (and more directed at entry level/junior positions), but some managers will be looking to see how committed a new employee is to a job and taking time off or calling in sick is scrutinized much more than for people even with only a year of tenure.

        Keep in mind this is the time LW is planning for now; what about other personal time, appointments, sick time that may come up?

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I understand your point but isn’t it different if LW is asking for this stuff at the negotiation phase instead of handing in a stack of time off requests on their first day? (I worked at a place where someone did that and they were never able to recover after pulling the “I already bought tickets so you have to!” card. Jeebus.)

          Also does four of the times being wedding-related make any difference at all? Weddings tend to be more out of the guest’s control than a typical vacation request, so I’d hope that would be considered, and being part of the bridal party makes not attending the wedding more of an issue than when you’re just a guest.

          1. MK*

            I think an actual wedding is different, but the bachelorette parties, unless you are the organiser, don’t get the same pass. Which I suppose is why Alison suggest not going on those.

      2. PollyQ*

        30 days a year??!?! IDK where LW lives, but that amount of time is vastly outside the norm for American jobs. 3 weeks (15 days) is considered pretty generous, unless you’re way high up in the organization.

        1. Mommy.MD*

          I’m in the US. I get 6 weeks vacation, 3 weeks sick every year. They also carry over. I’ve been with my employer 20 years and they are very generous.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            My employer (fortune 500 tech) gives 3 weeks paid vacation first year, 4 weeks at year 10, unlimited sick days, in the US. My understanding is that 3 weeks is becoming more common in the US.

            11 days over 8mo would be pretty close to normal, 15 (some unpaid) would be dependent on the individual manager. But if you don’t get a job until late May, that June trip becomes challenging, so early is better.

            But OP, are you planning any time off at Christmas? You need to factor that in as well.

            1. Shadowbelle*

              My employer (Fortune 500 manufacturing) has the same policy as yours. But that’s one week after six months, and the other two weeks after another six months. Not three weeks immediately on starting. We do have 10 or so company holidays a year (depends on the day of the week where the winter holidays fall) and two personal days.

              In my area, it would seriously impact new employee training and project work to take all the time off that the OP is discussing. (And if it didn’t have that kind of impact, we wouldn’t need the employee.)

        2. TechWorker*

          Aaaand this is why I will never move to America ;)

          In the U.K. it’s actually 28 days as minimum, though that can include bank holidays to give ~20 days the employee has control over. I’m currently on 25 + bank holidays with the option of another 5 unpaid. I’m assuming LW is not in the U.K. given they use ‘bachelorette’, but the idea of 15 days being ‘good’ is totally alien outside the US.

          1. Anononon*

            At least in my experience, in the US, generally bank holidays aren’t included when one is discussing the number of vacation days they get. So, if an American says they get 15 vacation days, they’re not including Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. And, there are many jobs where it’s more than 15 days a year.

            (Maybe this is the same in the UK, but the way you phrased it above, it’s not clear.)

            1. kittymommy*

              Yeah. I think in every place I’ve worked out that has standardized PTO and bank holidays (so outside of restaurant and retail) national holidays are always separate. Currently the place I’m at has 9.5 bank holidays and 2.5 weeks off for entry positions with a build up to 4 weeks per year. This is not including sick leave.

            2. Ego Chamber*

              Bank holidays aren’t included but sometimes they also aren’t paid. So you’ll have Xmas off and “get to choose” whether you want to use PTO to make up that time on your paycheck or take it unpaid (how very generous of the company!). This is more rare in professional jobs but it’s all I’ve seen in customer service focused work, even the kind that (also very generously, according the to the company) gave any kind of PTO at all.

          2. sunny-dee*

            Yeah, PTO (or vacation / sick days) are for days you REQUEST off, not for holidays which you’re given off automatically. Even for jobs that require working on holidays (like, say, doctors or police), those are still considered holidays and you generally get higher pay for those days and then comp days to make up the time.

            1. Marmaduke*

              In my experience I’ve always gotten either higher pay OR a comp day, not both, when I had to work holidays

          3. Old and Don’t Care*

            We never get tired of hearing about what Europeans think about U.S. business practices.

        3. DyneinWalking*

          It’s pretty common in Europe…

          Probably explains the vastly different takes on OP’s request. Speaking as a European, the request sounds totally reasonable… half a year’s leave over (presumably) the typical probationary period of half a year? Not standard, but since the trips appear to be already planned, I’d assume a good number of employers would be fine with it.

          But I get that for US Americans, it reads like most of a year’s leave during the probationary period, which is a totally different ask.

        4. Wintermute*

          I used to get four weeks PTO one week personal on top of sick time and that job was no prize. Right now I get 3 weeks a year plus sick time. It’s not unheard of especially in a competitive industry where good employees have options.

        5. SpaceySteph*

          Yeah, my company (in the US) gives new hires 10 days PTO and 10 federal holiday days. PTO covers vacation and sick time. It accrues on a per pay period basis, so 6 months in you’d have only earned half of that, minus whatever you already used. Federal holidays are set days, you can only bank them if you are assigned to mandatory coverage on those days.

      3. Alexander*

        Just to comment on this… my girlfriend changes jobs last summer.

        She went into the negotiation that the earliest date she can get out of her contract is July 1st, or the next possible date was September 1st (Germany, three months to quarter end notice period… yes, it is insane, but works both ways), but our summer vacation was planned for mostly all of July with her old job (first three weeks). They acommodated that, so her official (and paid) start day was July 1st, but the first day she actually showed up at work was July 22nd…

        1. Alexander*

          * the next possible date was October 1st, not September of course. Can’t edit my comment however…

      4. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

        “a job that has 2 weeks or less of vacation a year that are accrued as you work,”

        You write truth, but the real deep core of the issue is people getting only two weeks off a year. That’s reality for a lot of places, and it’s a bad reality.

    5. I Heart JavaScript*

      It really depends on your job and industry. Software development in the Bay Area? It’s hard enough to hire for that most managers wouldn’t mind. Executive Assistant in finance? You’d have to pick some to skip.

      Been in both jobs/industries and it’s night and day different in how much PTO you can take and how quickly.

      1. Willis*

        I agree. We start people with 15 days of vacation that renews each year. So, the OP would be fine, assuming she didn’t plan more vacations for the remaining 3 months. It does sound like a lot to request all at once, but not mentioning it runs the risk that it won’t work with their PTO policy.

    6. Diamond*

      It’s not at all to me (obviously depends a bit on where you are – I won’t start a thread about the lack of benefits in the US because that always happens and gets annoying!). But I agree with Alison that it’s the long list which looks a bit much. Maybe OP could kind of condense it, at least as an intro, like “I have a pre-planned holiday in June where I’ll need 8 days. Other than that, I’m in a few wedding parties and will need one or two days here and there.” I know at the places I’ve worked, 2 days off in 8 months’ time is not even something which would need to register at the commencement stage.

    7. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      It’s a lot to have locked in before you start because who knows what with the coverage needs of your new job or what days your new co-workers or managers need to take. Or how it affects being trained on your new job.

      Completely legitimate concern that needs to be negotiated.

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      For me it’s the inflexibility. A person joining a team would ordinarily have to fit their time off around other people’s plans – so it’s normal to prioritise something pre-booked for a new starter (especially something like a close family wedding or a major overseas vacation months ahead), but not lots and lots of events. What happens if LW’s requested time off clashes with her new team members’?

      Showing flexibility in this case would be recognising that being in the bridal party twice in a year is unusual, and minimising the number of days away (do you need both days each time or could you rearrange travel and miss some of the minor events? Well-adjusted friends accept “I have a new job and can’t have that day off any more” as a reason for missing a dinner, and you can drink seltzer and slip out early to get a full night’s sleep and work in the morning if it’s local); being prepared to miss some or all of one or both bachelorettes (ditto); and holding firm only on the big family vacation.

      1. Pickles*

        Yes – great point here about team accommodations, and work travel could throw in hiccups as well. And that’s not including any time off the LW might want to take beyond these preplanned days (sick, holidays, etc).

        I would question the LW’s priorities and seriously consider pulling the offer. I don’t know that I would, but she’d have to be exceptional. She’d also need to show some potential flexibility which trips were prioritized,* and understanding that this is a big request – it doesn’t sound like she has the capital otherwise.

        *I’ve heard bachelorette parties have gotten ridiculous – hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a weekend away. Hopefully it’s not prepaid, non-refundable, etc.

      2. CTT*

        Yeah, that these are all “absolutely must take these days off” sort of events stuck out at me. And sometimes life is like that and throws you a year of those events and you have to make do, but I think it would be nice if OP acknowledged that and tried to be flexible where she can.

      3. Ego Chamber*

        I’ve worked at places where there would have been a vacation conflict between an existing employee and a candidate at the negotiation stage who’d already booked their plans and you know what happened? They decided that wasn’t going to work out on either side, the company reposted the open position and the candidate interviewed elsewhere and found a company that could accommodate them (it didn’t take long).

        No one was the bad guy here. No one did anything wrong. Getting to the offer stage doesn’t mean you have to take the job at all costs, you can still turn it down if it’s not going to work for you. There will be other jobs (I know not everyone has enough resources to hold out for a good job, but everyone who can should).

        The important thing is for LW2 to know what compromises she’s willing to make and what her dealbreakers are.

    9. Joielle*

      Yeah, it doesn’t strike me as a lot. I think the OP should acknowledge that she’s in a lot of weddings this year, perhaps be vaguely apologetic about sending a long list of vacation days needed, and then stop worrying about it, unless it’s an industry that’s notoriously terrible for work-life balance. I personally wouldn’t bat an eye at this request.

    10. Quill*

      It’s more than I got at the only job I ever had that had paid vacation days, so I’m sure that there will be some boss, somewhere, who looks askance at it.

    11. Mia 52*

      i think no. It would just be a full year of PTO at my work and it seems like its spread throughout the whole year so that makes sense. If you are in your 20’s and 30’s and have a decent size group of friends and/or family of the same age you can end up having 2 good friends and a sibling getting married in the same year. I was in 3 weddings within a year and have had at least a wedding per year after that and then i’m getting married this year

  3. JustAThought*

    Oof, LW1. Speaking of being passive-aggressive, rather than address things at work, you tried to connect with god for a good old fashion smiting??!! I think god gave answer through text mishap!!:)

    Please follow Alison’s advice and deal directly on this earthly plain for employee issues moving forward.

    1. Safetykats*

      I’m wondering if here isn’t another problem here, which is that it sounds like the OP used a work email for this. Where I work, that would be an additional part of the problem – using work email for religious activities.

      Also, honestly, if you’re going to invoke prayer, you might think about praying for people’s hearts to be softened, and for everyone to get along better, rather than for people to be disappeared from the workplace. Just saying, I think it goes over better with the lady upstairs.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Yup, the first rule of subtweeting is to not name the person you’re talking about. Plausible deniability and all that. (And wtf to any prayer chain that’s into praying for specific people to get fired from their jobs?! I don’t understand religion. O_0)

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          There’s a specific term for praying for bad things to happen to people – “imprecatory prayer.” It is a Thing, though I get the sense a lot of religious groups frown on it.

          1. Lynca*

            A lot of them but not enough. I’ve left churches over people doing this and it’s generally a sign of systemic problems.

          2. yala*

            According to my siblings (who were stuck with my mom and her church much longer than I was), my mom used to actually pray for people to break their leg etc so they could be humbled and come to church or something.

            It’s a bit yikes.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I am certain I’m trying to apply too much logic to this, but if someone broke their leg, wouldn’t it make it HARDER for them to come to church?

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Nah, last time I got a hangnail I was like OH NOES IT’S THE WRATH OF A VENGEFUL GOD AND I MUST STOP MY SINFUL WAYS and I got my butt into church immediately even though it was a Tuesday at 11am. /s

                Seriously I’m sure it’s just projection. The people who think their god has nothing better to do than micromanaging their lives to this extent are going to assume everyone thinks the same thing and will jump to the same conclusion about every major and minor misfortune that befalls them.

              2. yala*

                I think it’s more the idea that when someone suffers a hardship, they need a community, and her community is good at taking care of its members. Or something about humility. I don’t really know.

        2. Delta Delta*

          I once had to teach a coworker about subtweeting. She fundamentally misunderstood twitter, and at the time this happened, I had been a longtime twitter user (I think my internal user id number is under one million). I was in this long thread about some topic and subtweeted about the thread in a separate thread. It was appropriately vague. Coworker had stumbled upon my twitter account and read what I tweeted, but not the thread, because she would not have been able to see it for various reasons. She confronted me a couple weeks later, alleging that I had done her wrong, assuming that particular tweet was about her (which had nothing to do with her). I had to go way back into my own stuff, show her the thread, show her the offending thing the other person said, show her what I said, explain private twitter accounts, and explain subtweeting. Her response was “oh, this is why I don’t get twitter. it’s so complicated.” Also, she’s a terrible person. This was years ago and honestly, now I wish it had been about her.

        3. Veronica Mars*

          Yep. As soon as I read that line the LW lost all sympathy from me. If you’re the kind of manager who asks your sister to pray that your problem employees get “removed” … maybe there’s a reason the previous manager badmouthed you and things have been hell since you arrived?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            That thought did cross my mind, yes.

            That’s a pretty… unorthodox management strategy.

          2. Middle School Teacher*

            Perhaps she should pray for some management ability? (But what you said crossed my mind as well.)

            1. Anon anon anon*

              I think that’s a good idea. I am religious and pray about work, but my work prayers are about me, not other people. For example, today I prayed that I would have patience when I wasn’t getting information as quickly as I had been expecting, rather than praying that other people change what they are doing and get it to me more quickly. Prayer for me is very meditative and meditating anout other people doing something isn’t as helpful as meditating on what I can do. I think God helps but I have to make choices and do my part as well.

          3. TootsNYC*

            yeah, as a Christian who prays, I lost all sympathy at that point.

            I just don’t think you should tell God how to solve the problem. You present him with the problem, and you ask for general solutions (peace in the facility, for a solution to the problems with a specific someone, for strength to deal with the difficulties…)

            Also, I had a boss who made my life very difficult. I felt she was wronging me.
            I prayed for blessings for her daily. Because THAT is the love the God calls us to.

            I’ve prayed for presidents I disagree with, some even that I nearly hated. Nancy Pelosi prays for our current president, and I am very confident that she doesn’t pray he would get removed.

        4. Marthooh*

          @Ego Chamber: “…wtf to any prayer chain that’s into praying for specific people to get fired from their jobs?! ”

          To be fair, LW might be hoping they die or move to Maine or get promoted to an off-site role or something. Although praying for the facility to become “peaceful” is just asking for an ironic smitedown, like JustAThought said.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            I take no issue with the part about praying for the team to become peaceful and harmonious and pass a blunt in a meadow while making daisy chains or whatever, it’s the part where she tried to tell her god how to do (presumably) His job and the specifics that sounded a little unchristian to me (or else very, very old skool christian). #removed #thepowerofchristcompelsyou

            1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

              Yeah, praying for someone to lose a job/get hurt/or to experience anything else negative, is not christian to me.

            2. Safetykats*

              I love this. I totally want to make daisy chains while passing blunt in a meadow with at least some of my immediate work group.

      2. Betty*

        Please point out the bit in the letter where it says “email” and “work email”. The header says “text, the letter says ” message” and I assumed it would be her personal phone as she had her sister’s name in it and it’s much easier to accidentally fatfinger select a wrong name from a phone contact list than to mistype a whole email address.

        1. Fikly*

          The email went to a work person, and why would a work person be in the contacts for her personal email?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            “…why would a work person be in the contacts for her personal email?”

            I have work contacts in my personal email. It’s in the event I can’t access my work email for whatever reason, but still need to contact someone at work, mainly because of the company closing due to weather or something like that. I have my team members’ and boss’s email addresses in there.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I’ve had three jobs that wouldn’t issue staff emails or phone numbers to staff below a certain title, even if they needed it to do their work. I conducted tons of work business in my personal email, and on my personal phone. It’s dysfunctional, but it is what it is.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I have my co-workers’ numbers on our personal phones. Not all of us have smartphones, and none of us have hands-free devices for the car. Text is best to reach someone off-site or after hours when there is a time-critical question about their hot project.

          2. M*

            Phones will often draw contacts from a communal pool from all accounts when you’re sending emails. It’s not all that uncommon.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              True, and it’s totally possible OP had the employee’s phone number in case of an emergency and that’s how she accidentally sent it to her instead of her sister.

          3. Zillah*

            It seems like it was a text, but I’ve had jobs where we used google drive a lot, so I had coworkers’ private gmails. It doesn’t seem that weird to me.

            1. Ella beebee*

              At my last job, only managers and above had offices/computers etc. and so most people didn’t have work email since they couldn’t check it at work, and we were asked not to use personal email for work discussions. If we had to communicate we used cell phones, mostly texting, and basically everyone on a team had each other’s numbers.

              At my current job we all have email, but still communicate by text a lot because we are not often by our computers during the day. My sister’s name and my current boss’ name sound very similar (think Katherine and Kathleen) and I am amazed that I haven’t accidentally sent my boss a message meant for my sister.

          4. TootsNYC*

            and this was a text, and often managers and employees contact one another by text for things like “I’m sick today, and I’m telling you early so you already know by the time you get to the office.”

      3. Armchair Analyst*

        Yeah, in general I like Abraham Lincoln’s line about praying that we are on the side of the Divine Master, rather than praying we are on His/Her side. My husband’s faith prays primarily that “the Divine will be may be done, and work through me,” which, I guess, usually is what happens, maybe? How do we know? Ah, that’s another thread and another site. Not here, not now. But yeesh, OP#1, talk to your relative about formats of praying – it’s really very interesting.

        1. Polly Hedron*

          Yes, Lincoln said
          “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

          1. thebobmaster*

            I apologize if this is off-topic, but I just wanted to say that I absolutely love that quote.

      4. Quill*

        Doesn’t matter if it’s religious or not – she should be using a personal email, not a work one, to email her sister, period.

        At the very least praying to “resolve stress and inspire everyone to get along better,” is far, far less of a damage control issue when it gets spilled. Not to mention asking God to do the managing for you isn’t a good look.

          1. Quill*

            Ah, that does make it a little less of a hard line between work communication and not.

            (Though it makes me wonder how her text is set up because the way mine is it would take work for me to mistake “sibling’s firstname from work” for “sibling.”)

            1. Dragoning*

              I…have everyone in my phone, including family members, as First Name Last Name? I don’t think that’s uncommon?

              And it’s incredibly easy to click “Tom From Work” when it’s directly beneath “Tom”

              1. Quill*

                I usually don’t have to go into contacts to initiate a text with family, the text thread is already way up there in my messaging app… and I have photos of my family and close friends in my contacts so that also helps.

              2. Anonapots*

                This. I have two friends whose names are the same first three letters and different last letters. They have on occasion received texts meant for the other.

              3. NotAnotherManager!*

                Incredibly easy and can, let’s say, end up in a very uncomfortable meeting with HR when someone at work and the person one is having an affair with have virtually identical names. (HR says my team keeps their lives interesting – they’re overall amazing, but, when they screw up, they like to do it big time. And it’s always the last person you’d expect, if someone told you the specifics with no name.)

              4. TootsNYC*

                and in fact, Tom From Work might show up as the first choice, if they’re alphabetical, or if they are the one most recently texted.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Similar names can be diabolical…all it takes is Josie Smith and Josie Smythe and a phone that prefills for you.
              That is a chain unto itself.

        1. Dragoning*

          It was a text, not an email. Not all of us have work phones and have our coworkers in our personal one.

        2. Not Me*

          It’s completely fine at a lot of employers to use your work email for the occasional personal email.

      5. yala*

        ” if you’re going to invoke prayer, you might think about praying for people’s hearts to be softened, and for everyone to get along better, rather than for people to be disappeared from the workplace.”

        Was thinking that.

        Like “remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility” is…pretty yikes. If I were in a prayer group, and something like that came up, I’d be pretty uncomfortable.

        I have coworkers I butt heads with, and I’ve prayed about it, but never actually considered praying that they just…go away. I generally pray that I perform well, that I handle myself professionally, etc., because those are things about *me* and praying about it helps me be more mindful.

        But also, now I feel bad for the employee, even if she’s been behaving badly. Knowing your manager wants you GONE is never a good feeling.

        1. JelloStapler*

          Right- it was a “help me figure out how to address this or have peace of mind that I did what I could”. May I have jokes with a personal friend in person over a glass of wine that I would love the employee to find another job and move on? Sure. But not in email and not so directly.

        2. TootsNYC*

          If you pray for peace in the workplace, God might decide that the way to do that is to remove that employee. But He sees further down the road than you, and He can be trusted to solve the problem in the best way. Right?
          His omnipotence and omniscience is why you are praying to Him, after all.

        3. JustThisOnce*

          Imagine praying that and the employee was “removed from the facility” because they died in a horrible accident. I would hope that the OP would at least have to decency to be horrified at that point.

    2. Massmatt*

      Not only that, she intended to send this work-related prayer to her sister. What, she couldn’t make this prayer herself? AND she sent it to a coworker with a similar name, that’s really careless!

      I’m trying very hard to be kind here, LW I think you should seriously consider whether these are just isolated mistakes or is there a larger issue with your judgment. Perhaps this can serve as a wake up call for you deal with your management challenges more directly and effectively.

      1. Impy*

        I dunno, I made a lot of ‘mistakes’ in a job that in retrospect I was subconsciously trying to get fired from.

      2. JJ*

        Making prayer requests of others is very common in a lot of circles, I wouldn’t judge OP for that part.

        1. Fikly*

          If a prayer request is the only way OP is managing, I will definitely judge OP’s lack of management.

          1. Anonapots*

            The assumption this is the only way she’s managing, instead of it being a request for help in a difficult situation, is weird. I don’t get why so many people, including Alison, are making it.

          1. Diamond*

            Yeah… in my church circles people ask for prayers but we don’t name names and the request would be more along the lines of “pray for guidance/wisdom/peace with this tricky situation”. We would never literally pray for someone to gtfo!

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I’m judging because the OP chose to basically ask god to smite (fire) her enemies, rather than pray for peace (the problem employees get another job, or they somehow work out their issues).

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            OK, can’t edit, but they were vague, so I made a bit of an assumption there, it’s possible that’s what they meant by “remove”…but by ruling out having them learn to work peacefully together, it still feels to me like they were trying to ask to get them fired, rather than to have their issues resolved.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I can see her doing it out of frustration, and sending it to the sister, who may have understood or assumed it to be out of frustration and not necessarily serious. But definitely a lesson in double-checking your recipient before you hit send.

            2. Secret Identity*

              I’m just gonna be honest here – I have a coworker that I absolutely can’t stand who has made my working life pretty miserable over the last few years and I’ve definitely prayed for them to go away. For one thing, I’m not in a position to manage this person and have no say over whether they go or stay – in fact, in terms of seniority, they’re over me.
              For another, I don’t wish anything bad on them – only for them to go away. They’re well past retirement age, so I really hope they’ll decide they want to travel and enjoy their family and see the world. I hope they win the lottery. I hope they decide to move across the country to live closer to their child.
              So, praying for someone to be removed may not always be a bad thing. I desperately want this person to go away, but not because something terrible has happened. And, fortunately, I believe that God understands my heart when I’m praying and knows I’m not asking for them to be fired or become ill or anything bad. I don’t believe God is some spiteful genie who will punish you for not wording something just so or will punish someone else because I didn’t specify exactly how I wanted them to be removed. That’s my personal beliefs, though.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I don’t want to rag on the LW, but what you said sounds to me to be a lot more charitable and generous, and less self-involved, than the LW’s wish. And I’ve ragged on clients and coworkers in private to blow off steam, but if I believed in prayer or actualization or whatever, I’d probably be much more careful. But I believe in psychology, and I know that if I complain to confidantes it helps me to be much more positive face-to-face. So I do think there’s an important distinction.

        3. Lora*

          “Dear Lord, please bring your wisdom to our pathetically ignorant sister BadEmployee. Lead BadEmployee to the path of the unemployment office, and allow the righteous to prevail in this facility. In Your name we pray, amen.”

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            LMAO! That sounds like one of my prayers (I’m petty as hell, but the lord knows my heart, so he’s not surprised).

          1. GoatGal*

            Yes, that is the issue, not the prayer! She shouldn’t be bringing information about other people at work to someone outside.
            Asking sister’s church to pray for oneself e.g., “Lead OP to management skills, good communication skills, and compassion” is very different than “Please have this employee I don’t like leave the workplace.”

            1. Anonapots*

              Your 2nd paragraph is true, but your 1st one is not true at all. Unless their job is top secret, there isn’t one person who reads this blog that doesn’t talk to someone who doesn’t work with them about employee/policy frustrations. Most jobs aren’t special cliques where you’re either an outsider or an insider and the majority of people seek insight or reassurance from outside sources.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                This – everyone, including managers, talk about work and problematic coworkers with others outside of work.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yup. Often without identifying details and always without specifics of customer-related anything, but sometimes you need *someone* to be agog with you at the intern who asked if he could go get some tupperware grab dinner from a company-sponsored lunch (before all participants had made it through the line). I mean, at least he asked rather than assuming?

          2. Anonapots*

            Are you serious? You’re telling me you don’t talk to your friends/partner/confidant about things happening at work with staff? I think that’s not entirely true.

            1. MOAS*

              lmaooooo if no one was supposed to talk about work outside of work, this blog would cease to exist.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                But when we’re on this site we theoretically camouflage people by saying “let’s call them Fergus&Jane” and our companies by metaphors about teapots&llamas.
                This was specific by employee name, which I agree that makes it very different.

                1. MOAS*

                  Yes, but it was to a person, not to this site. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has people outside of work that know the company I work for and some of my coworkers. I agree that this wasn’t a great thing to do, but….that’s a pretty unusual stance to say that no one in your physical life should ever know anything specific about your coworkers.

              2. Jessica*

                Like, I dunno, I’m Jewish, so the only prayer “lists” we have are prayers for healing (which is just a list of names, not details) and yahrzeits (anniversaries of death on which we name and remember the person who died), so maybe I’m just not getting this, but…

                …when you ask a minister to add a prayer that someone be removed (BY NAME!) to their “prayer list” aren’t you making it the entire congregation’s business?

                That seems a pretty far cry from just venting to a friend over drinks.

          3. Jennifer*

            Many people vent to friends and relatives about work problems. I do every night with my husband over dinner. It’s good for your mental health. Unless you work for the CIA or some other place where confidentiality is paramount, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

        4. Observer*

          The real problem here is not that she’s making a prayer request. It’s WHAT she asked for, and the context. As Alison points out, it looks like she’s praying INSTEAD of managing.

          Now, if she has sent a prayer request saying something like “Grant me the wisdom to manage my problem employees well (~~no need for names~~) and grace my efforts with success.” No one should have any problems with it. There are no names, there is no implication of a request to harm anyone, and it shows that the person is TRYING TO MANAGE but they just need some (divine) help which is no disgrace.

        5. Artemesia*

          Praying for the death or ‘removal’ of other people, particularly your employees, is a bit different than ‘praying for people.’ I’d read it as a threat and probably have had this person on probation or fired.

          1. Anonapots*

            That…is an odd response. We’re not talking about a mob movie where “removed” is code for killed. Who said anything about death?

        6. Clisby*

          Hmmm. I’ve seen plenty of prayer requests for things a requester has no means of accomplishing on their own (e.g. prayer requests for the recovery of a dangerously ill family member.) This is the first time I’ve seen a prayer request that basically says, “Please tell God I can’t be bothered to do my job, so I’d like her to just remove the problem instead.”

      3. Sleepless*

        I used to be an evangelical Christian. Asking others to pray for a problem you’re having is very normal and expected. Asking for prayers that the person be removed would be seen as sort of childish, though. Most of the time the prayer request is more focused on the person making the request…”please pray that I can be kind and gracious to this person.”

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, this whole thing honestly sounds… mean. The OP is in a position of power over this woman already, she has the ability to handle this situation, but instead she… asks God to get rid of her? I’m sorry but I’m not exactly shocked to hear that the previous manager badmouthed her if this is her standard operating procedure.

        2. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

          I am a believer in the power of prayer…but this sounds like an extremely childish prayer, and if a grown adult said/wrote this to me, my reaction would be “Huh? You’re kidding, right?” To feel this way is totally normal, but think it’s OK to actually write it for (literally) God and everybody to see is…not good. It’s just so *mean*. It’s the spiritual equivalent of passing a note in fourth grade to your friend Nicole about how smelly Missy is. See? Mean.

          I don’t know if the OP can come back from this, honestly – again, it’s just so *mean* – but Alison’s scripts sound like the only possible way of healing this.

          1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

            LOL – I hadn’t read MCMonkeyBean’s reply when I wrote mine, but yeah, it’s really is *mean*.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is what struck me as odd. I’m not evangelical, but my spouse was raised in an evangelical church and most of his family still belongs – and I think praying for ill to befall someone else to make one’s life easier would be seen as pretty selfish and something one should almost be embarrassed to ask God’s intervention into. I think more prayer requests are for those who are ill or suffering major (job loss, house fire, etc.), too. Strength to conduct oneself in a manner befitting a disciple of Christ? Absolutely and quite common. Asking for the person giving you a hard time to come to Jesus and conduct themselves in a more Christly manner? Maybe. Asking God to “remove” your problem coworkers from your workplace? Nope.

    3. LGC*

      …as LW1 found out (to their deep chagrin), God works in mysterious ways.

      (Also, I am so sorry LW1, but – while I feel bad for your (completely self-inflicted) misfortune – this is also completely something out of a sitcom. Someone please write this script.)

      So, yeah, I’m also going to hop on the train and say that you…really botched this. You’re allowed to be frustrated, but – to be really blunt – your team now knows that you were literally praying for people to go away. Aside from any theological concerns, and aside from the lack of management, your team now has concrete proof that you don’t like certain people (especially if you named your difficult employee). Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be perceived as fair going forward.

      Although – I do want to know, can LW1 be fired for this? On one hand, I would think that this is something where they could be, and perhaps maybe they should be demoted or at least moved off that team entirely (in addition to discipline). On the other hand, I’m extremely judgy and it’s quarter to 1 my time, and (more importantly) this is an expression of their religion. On the other other hand, the reason they’d be fired isn’t because of their religion, it’s because they’ve made themselves unable to do their job. I’m leaning towards “yeah, but it’d be a bit out there,” but I’m like 51% sure this is the right answer.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’m guessing praying on company email for a co-worker to be struck dead (well, ‘disappeared’) by God is probably not protected religious beliefs. Of course this is a firing offense. The OP will be awhile digging out from under this but Alison suggested the only path to doing it.

        1. Rose Metal*

          To be fair, she does say “removed” which doesn’t really carry the same connotations as “disappeared”… but did anyone else notice that she’s been the manager of this/these “problem employee(s)” for 2 years?!!!

        2. Jackalope*

          Yeah, to give her what credit she’s due, she just didn’t want them at that location anymore. I mean, God could answer that prayer by having them get promoted to another office with the same company even, and if the LW didn’t have to work with them she might consider it a win.

        3. Betty*

          Nowhere does it says this is company email, and I think it is implied it’s a personal phone. (See above in this thread.)

        4. Anonapots*

          It was a text. She accidentally sent the text to the wrong person. She wasn’t emailing on her work email or otherwise.

        5. Sleve McDichael*

          Where does it say in the letter that they prayed for murder and/or smiting? Why couldn’t they be ‘removed’ by finding a job they are better suited to where they are happier? Being in a job where you feel like you have to be passive aggressive and things happen that are ‘your fault’ can’t be anyone’s idea of their ideal working environment.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        Can LW1 be fired for this?”

        So healthcare is really weird about what it will and won’t fire people for. I’ve seen people be fired on the spot by someone on a power-trip and I’ve seen the most incompetent people kept in their jobs for years or sometimes decades because “we’re already understaffed we can’t afford to lose anyone.” As long as they’re not blatantly violating HIPAA or other laws/regulations (or upsetting someone on a power-trip), they tend to stay.

        I don’t know of any law against someone being fired for obliterating their ability to effectively work with their coworkers/team/subordinates, so she probably legally could be but I kind of think it would have happened by now if it was going to. (See above: healthcare is really weird.)

        The thing I’m wondering is whether LW1 was actually given the authority required to manage her team. If someone is turning to their god to get someone fired, it usually indicates that the person doesn’t want to do the firing or isn’t allowed to, and healthcare is definitely one of those places where “managers” often don’t get the authority they need to make the responsibilities they’re given make sense. Imagine being told you have to make sure your team follows their schedules but you’re not allowed to write anyone up. It super sucks.

        1. PollyQ*

          Very fair point. LW may be in one of those awful positions where she has responsibility but no actual power.

          As to the legality, I’m no expert, but I suspect a lot of companies would be reluctant to fire her due to the religious angle, even if they had the legal right to do so.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            It sprang to my mind immediately that that might be the case, LW has been asked to manage without being given any authority to do so.

          2. MsChanandlerBong*

            I am in that situation now. I’m stuck working with a team of people who don’t have the skills for the job and have no ability to be proactive or do anything other than exactly what we tell them (they can’t anticipate anything, take an extra step, etc.), but I can’t get rid of them. My boss thinks we need them for coverage, but frankly, I spend more time fixing their work, reminding them of work they’re supposed to do, asking them why they didn’t check X, Y, or Z, etc. that I could probably just do all the work they’re supposed to be doing, and it would be a lot less hassle.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Ugh, I’m sorry that sucks. That level of “management” is like glorified babysitting (and a lot of the time babysitting would pay better). I hope things improve for you soon somehow.

          1. SomebodyElse*

            Yeah, not so much if the LW boss or HR doesn’t believe in firing people. Even in an at will state, I can’t go willy nilly firing people without the backing and support of my boss and HR.

          2. Anonapots*

            At will doesn’t matter if company policy dictates how firings happen. Very few places will fire anyone on the spot unless it’s for something egregious, even in an at will state.

          3. Turtle Candle*

            Normally I’d agree, but I’d definitely run it by HR (so they could run it by legal) because it is tied directly to their religion.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              This is a fair point (especially running it by legal) but religion isn’t always the fired-proof shield some people like to treat it as. F’rex, I used to work with someone who was eventually fired because he wouldn’t stop proselytizing to uninterested parties and making comments about how “inappropriately” the women he worked with were always dressed—think “short” knee-length skirts, shoes with heels “like prostitutes,” and “very low-cut tops” that weren’t crew neck cut.

              Turns out 1) a company standing by and doing nothing while one coworker constantly tries to push their religion others can be considered a form of religious discrimination and 2) sexual harassment still counts even if you’re “only advocating a more modest style of dress.” Who knew? (Legal knew, and they were horrified when they found his manager hadn’t addressed any of this for years because “it’s his religion.”)

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Oh yeah, it’s not a perfect shield, but this is one accidental email misfire about something that’s super common in religious communities and families both (talking to a trusted person about a work issue–and yes, sometimes when I’m venting to family I’ll say ‘I wish they’d just can her already’), so I don’t think it’s quite the same as constant proselytizing and sexual harassment. Which is why I’d run it by HR first.

        2. bluephone*

          Heh, I know a chief resident who blatantly violated HIPAA (and lied on various forms and patient charts) who hasn’t even gotten a slap on the wrist, let alone fired. Healthcare generally just cares about it is if they have a warm body with a pulse. That’s partly why so many “angels of mercy” get away with their crimes for as long as they do– they’re usually the ones who *always* pick up extra shifts, *always* work overtime, etc, etc. Obviously, #notallhealthcareworkers who take extra hours and overtime are serial murderers. But when you read about different Angel of Mercy killers and wonder how they could have escaped suspicion for SO long, how was the pattern not obvious to anyone else…the answer is often that hey, hospitals are notoriously understaffed and hospital admin will be twice-damned if they’re going to pay one more nurse’s salary to address said understaffing (not limited to nurses, obviously).

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Understaffed, overworked, largely unappreciated. Even the places that are willing to pay for more nurses and are always hiring can’t keep up with the constant turnover. Sounds like a dream job amirite?

            All the good people I know from healthcare left after getting seriously injured trying to follow instructions that were against policy because they were told they could go home and not come back if they didn’t do whatever it was. (Usually it was lifting a patient by themselves who should have been lifted by two people or an actual lift. Lots of debilitating back problems coming out of healthcare—and since they weren’t following policy, it’s not covered by worker’s comp. Funsies!)

      3. Veronica Mars*

        Honestly I think ‘Problem Employee’ has a potential libel case, if this minister is out in the community telling an entire congregation about how she’s such a horrible employee that God’s help is needed ‘removing’ her?

        I’m leaning toward ‘once you choose to bring religion-as-a-form-of-defamation into the workplace it’s no longer a protected class’ but obviously I don’t know how this would actually shake out in a legal way.

        1. Betty*

          This is really not how asking someone to pray for (or against!) someone typically works. I would be shocked if the sister ever mentioned it to anyone, even if she is a minister. I would expect her to pray privately about it, not to preach it from the pulpit! That would be incredibly weird.

          1. Veronica Mars*

            She specifically said that she submitted it as a prayer circle item, and I’m assuming by name because the employee was identified from the text.

            I mean, listen, I’m with you. At any church I’ve ever attended, this is categorically Not A Thing That Would Happen but we’re talking about a church where it is ok to pray against someone, so…

            1. Betty*

              No she didn’t. She said “to put a request on her prayer list”. I know our priest has a prayer list for his private prayers, and many of my Christian friends keep private prayer lists so they can remember to pray for the people they promise to. It was still a silly thing to do, but the context is totally different if it’s a private prayer list vs a public prayer circle or intercessions during the service. The latter would be an incredibly stupid and mean thing for the LW to have done. The former is the equivalent of having a bitching session over coffee with the sister. Still bad, because LW should be managing, but totally different in terms of culpability.

              1. Veronica Mars*

                Ok, thats fair, and if thats the case I’d be much less judgemental of the LW.

                In my experience, the prayer list is disseminated like a weekly email newsletter so the whole congregation would indeed hear about it.

                1. Anonapots*

                  Even if they did hear about it, it wouldn’t be actionable as a libel case. I mean, the employee can sue for any reason, but it would at best be a waste of time for everyone involved and at worst a waste of time and money for the employee.

            2. Yorick*

              It was to her sister, not the minister. I’m not religious, and neither is my sister, but I can definitely imagine asking my sister to pray that someone goes away, as a joke about how annoying I find them.

              1. Armchair Analyst*

                I think the sister *is* the minister – yes, in many churches, women can be and are ministers.

              2. Yorick*

                I missed that. Still, I doubt a minister would read out the name of a problem employee that was being prayed about.

                1. Quill*

                  I’d also hope the sister has experience wording prayer requests more… vaguely than OP did.

                  “Please pray for the resolution of a difficult work situation for OP 1, who is seeking guidance on dealing with conflict in her workspace.”

                  I’m guessing the problem with OP’s framing of the request is because she’s making it of both her sister in her role as “confidant who I can be way less than polite about my workmates with” and her role as minister at the same time.

                  Or the whole workspace is, as I mentioned upthread, knee deep in passive aggressive bees.

                2. Yorick*

                  That’s exactly what a minister would actually pray for when receiving that prayer request, too (at least I’d hope).

                3. Turtle Candle*

                  I’ve attended many churches over the years, ranging from ‘very very conservative and strict’ to ‘very very not,’ and that’s always how I’ve seen these things. Pray for the resolution of a difficult situation, X has a friend with cancer so pray for them, etc. Even for positive prayers, because X’s friend might not want everyone to know they have cancer, or Y’s nephew might be embarrassed that all her church friends are praying for a safe and fun basketball trip, or whatever.

          1. Observer*

            In this case, that’s not even an issue. Because what the OP sent was not a statement of fact, but of opinion. In the US (no idea about the rest of the world), opinions are not treated as possibly libel / slander.

        2. Marny*

          Not to be pedantic, but that’s not libel. Expressing opinions about someone isn’t libelous. Telling an actual lie can be libel. It’s the difference between saying, “This employee stole $100 from the cash register” vs. “This employee is a jerk.” If she didn’t steal, then telling people she did can be libel. But saying she’s a jerk wouldn’t be (regardless whether she’s actually a jerk).

        3. PollyQ*

          It’s not libel if it’s an opinion, and I doubt her actual name would be read to the congregation.

      4. hbc*

        Pretty sure she’s allowed to believe in or pray for whatever she wants, but that there’s no religious right to badmouth your employees and have it get back to them. Plus, most employee handbooks have stuff in there about electronic communication of company information–pretty sure you’d be on the hook if you sent something like “Please pray that this secret merger goes well.”

        1. Daddy Duck*

          I think the issue isn’t prayer, but that she is talking about company problems to an outside group instead of dealing with them inside the company (defamatory talk). She referred to the person by name or identified enough to be easily recognized. In the religion I was brought up in prayer list or prayer circle requests were published in the church bulletin or emailed to the (large) number of people who had agreed to pray for others. This is not a venting session with your BFF, but just as good as taking out an ad in the local paper or posting on a public FB page.

          1. Daddy Duck*

            If I was her manager I would fire her, or at least take out of management and never again consider for any type of promotion where she deals with sensitive information or people.

            1. Anonapots*

              This is a weird and probably not actionable stance. There is no sensitive information here. The OP sent a text to a person she thought was her sister, but turned out to be someone else. It said another employee was a pill and please pray for this employee to move on. There’s nothing sensitive about that. Was it mean-spirited? Yes. Is it an offense you can be fired for? If you’re the kind of manager whose first reaction is to fire instead of correct and coach, you might be a bad manager, too.

      5. yala*

        It’s hard going as an employee when you know for certain that your boss doesn’t like you and wants you GONE. If there’s that vibe for multiple reports, then it would make sense, at best, for LW to be moved to a new team without all this bad blood, if at all possible. No one in this situation is going to be able to perform their best as it is.

    4. Jh*

      I find it really awful that op1 would seem this an appropriate request of God… And I am not a religious person.

      I mean really op1… Let’s imagine that perhaps the backfiring here is a message from above perhaps?

      1. Artemesia*

        Yes the OP’s outcome here almost made me believe that Yeah there might be a God. It certainly acted decisively to put her in her place on misusing prayer.

    5. Archaeopteryx*

      Op1 calls to mind that old story/joke about the man who insisted on staying in his house when a flood came. He ignored warnings from his neighbors, then an offer of rescue from a man in a boat, and a rescue from a helicopter, each time saying that he didn’t need it because God would save him. Finally the flood overtook him, and when he got to heaven, he angrily asked God why he hadn’t saved him. God said, “We’ll I tried to save you three times, but you turned me down.”
      Point being, praying that it goes as well as possible when you fire your employee is one thing. Praying for God to do your job for you so that you don’t have to fire them yourself isn’t a great strategy.

      1. GoatGal*

        That is one of my favorite “church jokes” – pastor told it from the pulpit when I was a kid. Right up there with The Mississippi Squirrel Revival by Ray Stevens. Be careful what you ask for – the answer may not be in the way you expect.

        1. Anonapots*

          My family’s favorite church story is when their pastor was preaching a sermon on something like difficulties and he said, “Joseph [I think it was Joseph] tied his ass to a tree and walked 50 miles.” According to them there was a pause and then everyone lost it laughing at the image in their heads.

    6. The Prayerful Pose*

      I’m glad this finally came up. honestly, the LW comes across as an awful person here….praying for someone else’s misfortune? That’s unseemly.

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        Who says that they prayed for misfortune? Why couldn’t they be ‘removed’ by finding a job they are better suited to where they are happier? Being in a job where you feel like you have to be passive aggressive and things happen that are ‘your fault’ can’t be anyone’s idea of their ideal working environment. Why not give the benefit of the doubt?

        1. Avasarala*

          It says “remove [that worker] and any other problem employee” and to make the workplace “peaceful.” So those people are making it not peaceful. If the OP had prayed benevolently that this person finds a job that they’re passionate about, I doubt it would be the sh!tstorm OP finds themselves in now.

    7. Sleve McDichael*

      Ok, now I feel bad for saying further downthread that the commentariat would be supportive. What is with everyone being so horrible to LW1? Aren’t we supposed to give the letter writers the benefit of the doubt here? What’s so hard about giving LW1 the benefit of the doubt that they meant ‘remove’ as in ‘let them win the lottery or find a new job where they are happier and hopefully even better paid to boot’?

      I’m disappointed.

      1. Avasarala*

        Honestly even if they had said that, it still doesn’t make them look good.

        Can you imagine hearing that your boss is secretly praying for you to leave your job–even to find a better one? That they secretly think you’re unfit and are hoping, literally asking a deity to make you leave? That would make me feel horrible, even if I was on a PIP working on it with my super kind boss.

        Plus the negligence of having the gossip accidentally sent elsewhere, plus asking someone else to ask god just sounds like hoping someone else solves OP’s problem. Not a good look all around.

  4. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #2

    Keep in mind, too, that at a lot of places you accrue your PTO each pay period rather than getting it all awarded at once up-front, which would mean you wouldn’t have enough accrued to take all of these trips. By raising it at the offer stage, you can often get them to agree you can take the time unpaid — but again, it’s a lot to ask for when you’re new.

    Wanted to add that some places that have PTO accrual will let employees go into the hole on PTO meaning you would have a negative balance in your PTO bank until such times as you hit 15 days of accrued time off (if you only get 15 days, your end balance will be 0 instead of a negative balance).

    1. LGC*

      There’s some oddities with that – like limits on how far you can go into the hole, for example. OP2 could still run up against a cap in that case.

      I also thought of something – does she need to mention the wedding activities in the summer and fall? Those are short enough where she could hold off on mentioning those. It makes it seem a little bit less intimidating if she’s just talking about a long weekend and a vacation (or even just a vacation, depending on how she times her start time and the bachelorette party).

        1. LGC*

          Speaking from my experience, I’ve actually told people to NOT tell me about taking days off months in advance (like, let’s say, a November wedding in January) because I’ll inevitably forget.

          The big priority might be the Europe trip – if LW1 can just start after the March bachelorette party, that’s two fewer days to worry about. If she can – let’s say – negotiate to take part of the European trip (or all of it) unpaid, and that’s feasible for her financially…it just becomes a few long weekends in the summer and fall.

        2. doreen*

          Yes, the OP doesn’t even have a new job- she’s just at the point of looking for one. Which means she has no idea of the culture at her eventual workplace – time off wouldn’t be approved six months in advance for a current employee at my job under normal circumstances.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s actually a good idea – I would be tempted not to mention the two day bachelorette parties either; however, there’s some risk to that. As a new hire, she’ll have no way of knowing whether someone else has those days off, and her request could be denied if she asks after she starts. So I guess that’s why Alison’s advice suggests OP consider letting those dates go or trying to be more flexible about them (i.e., only attending for one day).

        1. Colette*

          I think it would be way worse to not mention the bachelorette parties if she is planning to ask for them off anyway. If she can skip them, she should do that; if she wants to go, she should ask for them up front. It’s perception again – she doesn’t want to negotiate some time off, and then continue asking for more and more time off.

      2. Yorick*

        Well, maybe, if she isn’t supposed to take vacation during the probation period. We can’t use vacation time for the first 6 months at my current job, unless it was negotiated before we took the job.

        1. LGC*

          It really depends, though – both on when she lands a new job (because it sounds like she’s still interviewing) and how long the probationary period is. At my job, it’s three months (90 days, to be precise), so if she got hired here in March she’d be clear for the summer and later things.

      3. Colette*

        The November day is probably far enough to leave out of the request, provided that she will have enough vacation time by then to take it, and provided it is not attached to a major holiday such as Thanksgiving. If the wedding is November 4 and she gets 4 weeks vacation a year, she’s probably fine to not mention it (if she starts soon). If it’s the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend or she won’t have enough vacation for it, she needs to mention it now.

        August I’d mention regardless, because summer is prime vacation time and harder to accommodate.

      4. Daisy-dog*

        It is highly dependent on the role & industry. When I was in customer service for instance, I needed to request my non-negotiable dates in December of the previous year and cross my fingers that they got approved. I definitely missed a bachelorette party when I was new to that job (though that was because the MOH was being snotty about scheduling it). In my current role, I don’t need to provide any notice.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We allow people to draw on future PTO in certain circumstances but would never allow it for someone in their first year.

      That aside we’d be fine with these 15 days though, they’d just have to be unpaid given the situation. We’ve had a few new hires lay out these kinds of plans at the offer stage and never flinch.

      1. Irene*

        #OP3 I’ve gone through this recently. What helped me a lot was the advice of my hairdresser. She put some white highlights in on the top of my head only, then put through a toner rinse. This broke up the “line” and it all grew out gently. I’m so pleased I stopped dyeing my hair and I’m delighted with how it looks now.

        1. JessaB*

          There is the other option as well, dye the bottom half to match the top and slowly trim it off as actual hair grows out. There are some trends now of people dying their hair grey or silver grey. Just get the hairdresser to blend down into the darker hair. Or you could go into some kind of ombre thing from grey to dark, if the OPs industry would go for that.

          1. AnonForThisOne*

            ^^^This. A friend did it, as she felt herself wavering as she grew her hair out, and it looked amazing, and there was a much shorter “staring” phase.

          2. Anonapots*

            I have many gray hairs, but not a lot. Because of where they are, I’m currently only getting silver highlights so they blend in. I love the look. Eventually I might go all silver, but right now the highlights accomplish what I want.

          3. JSPA*

            I first saw it on young people in Argentina maybe 3 years ago (not counting Japan, where I figured it was an anime thing…though maybe it’s an anime thing worldwide?) then Brazil, then florida. Just saw gray on a teen with a pokemon-looking haircut this week in the midwest. It looked great each time.

            The only risk is that stripping color from hair can go very, very wrong if you DIY (and some salons won’t touch it, either) so either try a single hank first, or do a couple of inches at the bottom (and be ready to cut it off if need be).

            But really, there are worse things than channeling Bonnie Raitt.

  5. Allonge*

    LW3 – my closest and dearest colleague had a fairly drastic cut (from shoulder-length to rather short) and a full bleach and colour to white blonde in this same situation. She looked great (some people did not recognise her though, as she was a redhead before!)

    That said, Alison is 1000% right that you don’t have to do anything – people will deal.

    1. Windchime*

      A couple years ago, I started getting a lot of blonde highlights in my hair to help blend the gray roots. And then I decided to stop coloring it all together and honestly, it’s been pretty easy. My roots were super noticeable before that, but now the color is almost grown out and I only have about 2″ of blonde on the ends.

      There are a lot of You Tube videos about growing out your hair. People take all kinds of different routes, and everyone’s hair looks great. Yours will, too, and people will get used to it. Lots of people cut their hair super short and that makes it easier to transition, but I chose to keep mine touching my shoulders so it’s been over 18 months. Almost done!

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Do you mean everyone on YouTube looks great, or everyone in general looks great?

        I am in my early 40s with a lot of gray (color every 4 wks), so I sympathize with the OP, but I’ve seen some pretty terrible gray roots on people. A hard line between the 3rd color you have been dyeing your hair (like ends to ~2″ from roots) then a blend of your natural color/gray looks bad on many people. It’s only my personal opinion, but I don’t think it looks professional, and I’d feel weird meeting with clients with my hair drastically different colors. But, I don’t have a type of job or industry where you can be a creative individual type, either. I would have the same opinion if someone was doing platinum blonde and let their dark brown hair grow in with no blending (again, can be cool for some and work in some industries, but in mine, not so much.)

        I’d work with a stylist to figure out how to blend it as it grows in, or go to a shorter style. Two of my aunts went the short cut route, and a coworker went from a beige blonde to gray and it looked fabulous the entire time.

        1. Media Monkey*

          i totally agree – i have been covering grey since i was at university and it is pretty bad now. i get it coloured every 6 weeks and the roots for that last week are awful. my problem is that blonde highlights wouldn’t help since my hair is dark. my hairdresser says there’s no option to go light enough to blend without a full colour change. i could get the whole lot dyed grey but i’m no keen on that (my hair is curly so i think i would look frizzy and wild grey in a way that brown doesn’t).

          1. JSPA*

            Silver looks particularly distinguished even when curling in all sorts of ways.

            But really, having some extra character and contrast in your curly hair isn’t going to make half as much of an impression on other people (teen kids or judgmental mom potentially excluded) as it does on you yourself.

            A variety of hair dyes would not pass muster (for carcinogenicity or toxicity) if they had not been grandfathered in (where regulated) or escaped regulation for being “cosmetic” (where not regulated). If it’s a choice you’re willingly taking on yourself, or something you get a huge kick out of–fine! But if it’s done to assuage a creeping sense of “should,” if you’re old enough to be getting grey, you’re old enough to be putting some of life’s free floating “shoulds” to rest.

            1. Media Monkey*

              i don’t think my hair would be silver., based on the roots it is a mix of white a darker grey. i would have to put a lot more effort into hair care and styling if i let it go grey (which would def take more time than the colouring), i also work in a very young industry and don’t especially want to advertise the fact i am at the older end. i’m not in the US so i think we have very different regulations about ingredients and chemicals here (UK)

      2. OP 3*

        I am working with my stylist to make it look more professional for me. I had lowlights in the “T area” to the “line of demarcation” from brown to salt and pepper wouldn’t be super apparent. It has worked well for that issue. But even though there is no straight line anymore, the growth is definitely apparent to me.

        Also, only men have stared. And not so much as staring while talking because you’re thinking of a specific word or something, like straight up staring and looking at my face, then looking back directly at my hair. It makes me feel so self conscious. Like they’re assessing my competency (since they are higher up VP level folks etc.)

        Also, bleaching is super damaging to my hair. I’m really hoping to avoid it if possible. And I already have super short hair.

        Thank you everyone for being so nice in the comments. I am a feminist (and proud of it); but I never really thought about letting my grays grow out could be an ‘owning it’ type of thing!

        1. sunny-dee*

          If you don’t want to dye a color, you may actually be able to work with a stylist and dye it gray. Although that really depends on how dark your natural hair is — I have very dark brown hair, so trying to do anything lighter would require bleaching, which is a hard no for me. (And I’d probably end up with dark roots instead of gray ones!)

          But that may be one way to be one-and-done — get a close gray and the out-growth won’t be as apparent.

            1. Jadelyn*

              That’s what my mom did when she decided to go natural with her grey. Her stylist worked with her to remove as much of the old color (bright red) as possible, then tone it down to a dyed white-blonde/grey, then keep heading in that direction over time, matching the dye to her natural grey, until it was all just her natural grey.

          1. Boldly Go*

            That’s exactly what I was going to suggest. I stopped coloring my hair years ago and embrace the grey. Mainly because I hated when the roots started to show. Even if it was not really noticable, it was very noticeable*to me* and drove me crazy.

        2. Renata Ricotta*

          It sounds like you’re handling it really well and these dudes are just super rude! Does it help to remember that there are a subset of men in the world who have somehow never bothered to get the memo that staring is rude and people notice them doing it? (I’m sure there are women too, but in my experience it happens a lot more often with men). See, e.g. the men who unabashedly stare at women’s chests while speaking to them, as if the woman has no idea what they’re doing or something. It’s disconcerting and hard to maintain confidence through, but it’s on them for sure. I’m sure you look great!

          1. OP 3*

            Renata Ricotta, I LOVE the suggestion of saying is there something on my head while touching my head. LOL! I hope I have the presence of mind to do this when it happens again!

            Also, yes, mean staring at chests while talking to you is totally a thing. Whenever it has happened, I’m wearing totally appropriate tops with not ‘too much’ (whatever that is) skin showing. So let’s not even start with blaming the victim.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Yes, men staring at chests is definitely a thing, and I’m sure it’s why the line “My eyes are up here” was coined!

        3. Marny*

          If you notice them staring, it really is ok to say something like, “Oh gosh, is there something on my head?” I’d say it completely sincerely as if you’re not sure why they’re looking, just to make them realize they aren’t being subtle.

          1. Observer*

            I was thinking that. These men are just RUDE.

            The only thing that I can think of that might make is a bit less obnoxious is that they are confused that someone who looks so young has gray hair. But still…. Act your age, guys!

        4. Shadowbelle*

          My mother’s response, to anyone who suggested that she dye her grey back to its youthful color, was:
          “I worked hard for every grey hair I have. I’m going to show them off!”

        5. Clorinda*

          If you keep your hair super short, the transition period shouldn’t be that long. In the meantime, there’s temporary dye, so you can use temporary dye for a few months until the permanently-dyed hair has been cut, and then let the temporary dye fade.
          I’m transitioning too! My hair was long, so I let the gray grow out four inches then cut it into a bob. As soon as the gray hit two inches, people started to say it looked good.

        6. JSPA*

          Tell yourself they’re imagining you as Annie Lennox, in the white-blond phase. Which (depending on age) may be true.

        7. Corrvin*

          Coming in late, but my mom went about half-gray in her 20’s and colored it until she finished college in her 40’s. When she decided to go natural, she worked with her hairdresser who had a plan that took almost a year. At the beginning my mom’s hair was dyed the dark brown that it was when she was younger.

          For the duration of the plan, my mom’s hair stayed pretty short– about 3-4″ long. Every six weeks the hairdresser dyed it a different way, starting with lighter browns, then highlights, and then lighter highlights, and toward the end it was just colored various shades of blonde, and at that point the grown-out gray blended in quite a bit. (I didn’t keep notes, because I got my dad’s hair and have one gray streak at 45 and will look roughly this way until about 60.)

          At the end, my mom had her natural steel-gray hair, shading to darker at the back of her head. Since she had been having it all sorts of fancy colors, a lot of people complimented her on this latest “dye” as well, to which she got to say “oh, it’s natural”!

    2. Ego Chamber*

      There are seriously a million different ways to handle it and I’ve never seen one that was professionally damaging as long as the company/industry isn’t bonkers.

      Going to a stylist for a consultation on ways to grow out dyed hair is a good way to go (make sure to tell them the purpose for the consult on the phone, some stylists have no idea how to handle this). Don’t feel pressured to make a decision immediately. Go to multiple stylists if none of the ideas sound like what you’re looking for.

      YouTube can be good for ideas but I wouldn’t recommend doing any chemical process or cut to your own hair unless you’ve done that before and know what you’re doing. It’s a skill and it’s worth the money to pay a skilled professional to do it right. (Especially if your hair is dyed black: I’ve never gotten permanent black dye out of my hair without a pixie cut being part of the process because it stains too deep and eventually you will hit a wall.)

      If you just want to grow it out without fussing with it at all, that’s a valid option too! :)

    3. Anon woman with breast cancer*

      Agree with you and this idea is a good one, and agree with Alison’s good advice. I have no hair right now and am excited to grow it back and grow it ‘out’ as it looks like it may come in mostly white-grey. from the fuzz I currently have. At 50+, I had one or maybe 2 grey hairs before the cancer, so I hope to have a lot of grey so I can look my age a bit more come summer with my buzz cut look. I’d say to the OP, tho, that you should do what makes you feel strong and powerful and comfortable.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        Agree — do whatever makes you feel powerful. I caution against the going blonde/light via chemicals route, though — it tends to break your hair ultimately (cautionary tale here) and you will still have a root situation at some point. There is no way to colour your whole head the colour of grey hair “permanently” — it’s always a series of toners and washes. If you are self conscious, try a few highlights — and as Alison said, it’s probably more your awareness than anyone else’s perspective. It will grow out quickly.

        1. Parenthetically*

          +a million to doing whatever makes you feel powerful. I absolutely love the idea of doing a big chop and starting fresh, but I also love the Gaby Melian version of just growing out salt-and-pepper hair without worrying about the dark auburn at the ends. People can deal!

    4. OP 3*

      I know people WILL deal, but the judgy staring is disconcerting. Especially since they’re coming from VP level and up, and only males.

      Plus, I might be looking to switch jobs so interviewing with this makes me not very confident.

      1. Silver Fox*

        OP, I also started noticing grays in my teens and covered it up for years before getting so sick of the hassle of dying. I’m in my late 30’s and stopped dying a few years ago and I just want to say that the growing out period sucks, but it will be over soon! If you are trying to avoid damage, there is only so much a stylist can do to cover it up. I also felt self-conscious during the grow-out, but now that my hair is almost completely silver, I get SO MANY compliments (some from people who think I dyed it this color!) Stay strong!

      2. Ralph the Wonder Llama*

        For a subtle grow out, consider a few highlights (baby lights) plus considerably more highlights (full highlights) where the full highlight color is actually the color you have been coloring your hair or your natural color, if that is different. This will allow the gray to subtly grow out without a hard line of demarcation. You cam also add in or substitute one of these with honest to goodness gray highlights. I have decided to quit covering gray as it is not quite salt and pepper yet – there is a lot of nongray hair, but the root grow out has become quite obvious. I am babylighting the color I’ve been coloring it which is auburn, heavy highlighting it the natural color of the nongray hairs which is an ashy charcoal (sigh) and having teeny little highlights of gray at the temples where it is mostly gray and would otherwise have a very obvious line of demarcation. The cost of all this is extraordinary, but I am very pleased with my gray grow out and not at all self conscious about it.

      3. DeeEm*

        I could have written your letter. It’s eerie! I’m still coloring, but I abhor going to the salon frequently. I have DARK, LONG hair, however, and the roots are noticeable. I also work in HR, with VPs, etc. My former boss would comment on other people’s gray roots, so it started to make me take closer notice about my roots and whether that impacts how professional I appear. Right now, I’ve chosen to do semi permanent root touch ups at home to give me some breathing room between salon trips (for time and money). But, like you, I’ve thought about how to grow out my gray — and short of fully bleaching my hair or chopping it off super short, I don’t think there’s a good solution. It’s either keep dyeing or have funky colored hair for a while.

      4. Close Bracket*

        “Especially since they’re coming from VP level and up, and only males.”


        I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

      1. M. Albertine*

        When I decided to stop coloring my hair, I worked with my stylist to do a combination of low- and highlights to make the transition less noticeable. I love rocking my grays, now!

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I didn’t see this so apologies if this has been suggested already, but I’m using a color depositing conditioner to soften the gray roots and that really seems to help. My base color is light- to medium neutral or ash brown (usually a 6.0 on box dyes) and I’m probably 1/3 gray at this point but it’s patchy so I’m not ready to grow it out for real.

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        I’m playing around with growing out mine as well. I know you’ve already commented on the whole getting highlights and asking “is there something on my head?” when people are being rude, so I won’t repeat those options. Most of the time I’m fine with what’s going on with my hair, but when I start feeling a little self conscious I’ll wear a scarf as a wide headband or something like that. It’s kind of a bunt, but it makes me feel better and really does look good now that I’ve played around with it and figured out the best way to tie the scarf.

  6. Sleve McDichael*

    Letter Writer #1, as you believe in God, I assume you would be acquainted with how sometimes God has this way of answering prayer in ways you don’t expect? This is one of those times. This incident has incited you to go to Alison for help, and while the help is not the kind you were expecting, rest assured that it is excellent. If you follow her wonderful advice that can be found all over this blog you will be able to get the results that you were seeking, and not only that but you will grow as a manager and as a person. God is forcing you to grow through this painful experience.

    Alison has some really excellent advice on how to step up as a manager and be the best that you possibly can be, so even though her response might have stung a little I strongly advise that you go back through the archives and read up on all her advice to managers, and the updates, the success stories and the tales of employee growth after their managers stepped up to be more assertive in their style.

    You have everything you need here, including a supportive community who can help you on open thread days. Good luck and God bless!

    1. Betty*

      I very much agree with this perspective for the LW. It’s time to think of this as a sign that you need to either leave yourself or become an effective manager. A more appropriate prayer would have been to soften their hearts or to give you the strength to do your job.

      If you have the authority to fire someone, start that process. If you don’t, Alison has plenty of archive letters about how to be a manager who has no formal authority.

    2. Fieldpoppy*

      So much yes to this comment. It sounds like you feel like things are very much out of your control — looking for ways to step into the role you have — maybe with some mentoring from your boss? — is your best plan here.

    3. Sharrbe*

      What? We pray to help ourselves be better people, we don’t pray for something that will hurt others but benefit ourselves. Obnoxious and passive agressive people need jobs and health insurance and have families to financially support, too. How would you feel if the tables were turned and you were at the receiving end of such a message?

    4. Solar Moose*

      Venting is one thing, but I’m shocked at the idea of sending that sort of message to a minister for a prayer list! God isn’t Vindictive Santa Claus.

  7. Gleeze*

    LW3 – I agree you don’t need to address it. People may realise you look slightly different but can’t place why. But I doubt most people would notice or think anything of it. I think more and more people are embracing their grey hair and it looks really great!

    1. Massmatt*

      I am all for embracing the grey, I am going more salt than pepper each year, but I really doubt people aren’t noticing, they are STARING.

      IMO at his goes beyond just grey hair, or someone who dies their hair a different color, people do that all the time. It is odd to see someone with, say, 8 inches of hair and has a couple inches of grey and the rest brown or whatever color.

      If you don’t care, and your job is one where you can have bi-colored hair, fine. But it sounds like you do care; you don’t like people noticing/staring at your hair. But that’s what people do with things that look unusual or odd. Either get comfortable with that or work with a stylist for another solution

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Alternate theory: LW3 is self conscious and is assuming people are staring at her hairline when they’re really not. Maybe they’re spacing out and not quite making eye contact. Maybe she just happened to look at them when they were glancing (not staring) at her regrowth.

        I see people every day who appear to be months between dye jobs and I manage to keep myself from staring because that is horribly rude, like eye-f*cking someone’s scars or birth mark or the stain on their shirt to the detriment of real eye contact. (Also all those things aren’t interesting to me. What sheltered lives these people must lead to be so fascinated by a lapse in artificial hair color.)

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think there’s a difference in look between “lapse in artificial hair color” and “deliberately growing out the grey” – and LW probably doesn’t yet look like she’s in the latter group. When a friend was deliberately growing out her grey she made a point of telling everyone that that was what she was doing, and wearing different hairstyles which made it look more deliberate. If LW3 does feel self-conscious about her hair colour, that could be a useful way to go, like when people are growing out bangs and choose interim hairstyles which incorporate the current length of the front of their hair. That would be a conversation with the hairstylist.

          Yes, obviously, staring isn’t always actually staring, and actual staring is rude. But people’s attention is caught by anything that isn’t middle of the road, and if you dislike that attention and there are options open to you then I feel you should do what you feel helps you.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          Or I’ve definitely stared at someone when my internal dialogue was “are those new glasses? there’s *something* different but I can’t place it” and it turns out that their hair is now six inches shorter and blue when yesterday it was blonde.

        3. Artemesia*

          Hollywood types seem to run around with an inch of roots to their blond hair routinely — I have always wondered why as it looks terrible — but they don’t ask my advice.

        4. OP 3*

          Ego Chamber, no – they’re definitely starting. I’m not imagining it. It’s not even a far off middle of nowhere stare where you’re trying to think of a particular thing or formulating their words. This is while they are speaking to me or I am speaking to them, they look at my face, then my hair, then back at my face.
          I wasn’t self conscious when I decided to grow it out. After years of struggling with this decision, I am (not was) finally at a place to decide to grow out my grays. I just didn’t anticipate rude men staring at it.

          And not one woman has stared or commented on it BTW.

          As mentioned above in a comment, I shall strive to have the presence of mind to ask ‘is there something on my head?” while touching my hair.

          1. The Leirum*

            I did the same thing at 35 – gave up coloring and grew out my grays. I’m very happy with it now and often get complemented on my hair, so hang in there, you will be glad you went through the growing pains (so to speak)! I second Alison’s advice to talk to a stylist if you can. Mine cut my hair pretty short (2-3 inches?) and I wore it kind of tousled on top, so there wasn’t a defined part where the line was evident. I had to keep that up till the dye was out and now it’s down to my shoulders again.

          2. Kat*

            I LOVE that approach. Put the discomfort back where it belongs.

            For those days where you just don’t want to deal with it, can you rock the wide-headband look?

          3. Ego Chamber*

            Ugh, rude dudes suck (yeah yeah #notalldudes but #seriouslyitsalwaysdudesamirite).

            Your previous comments weren’t here when I posed (insomnia) and I felt that gross flavor of empathy when I saw your comments upthread that it’s older VP-level dudes doing the staring. I’m in favor of calling them out by asking what they’re looking at. Shame is a powerful motivator for those who can be shamed and it’s something we should wield judiciously. This definitely qualifies.

  8. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Re: #3 — I’m also in my late 30s and growing out my grey hair (more out of laziness than anything else). If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that people LOVE IT. No one noticed my roots in a negative way when they were still short enough to be called roots, and at this point I get a few compliments a week about the colour (“colour”). I have brown hair so it was definitely noticeable — and I don’t have to interact with the public so I can be less polished — but generally speaking it’s been fine.

    If you can get away with it, I’d definitely consider doing a balayage of grey with shades of a fun colour like pink or purple — not to hide your grey, but just for fun.

    1. PossiblyEnoughDetailToBeIdentified*

      I’m not sure if pink or purple would work if OP does’t want stares though!
      I worked with someone who came in with blue hair. Bright Blue. Smurf Blue. She’d been a brunette and blonde before then, but it was the blue that drew the stares and the comments.
      She’s since transitioned on to full grey and no-one batted an eye. (I’ve been told that the grey isn’t natural either – she’s gone for the ‘trendy’ version).

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        “She’s since transitioned on to full grey and no-one batted an eye. (I’ve been told that the grey isn’t natural either – she’s gone for the ‘trendy’ version).”

        Wait, this is a thing? I’m not familiar with this “trend,” lol!

        I wish my hair would just go completely grey already. My mother had beautiful snow white hair by her mid 60s, but I’m nearly 70 and still waiting. Meanwhile, my formerly chestnut brown is salt and pepper and looks really washed out and blah (to me, at least) when I don’t color it.

    2. Liza*

      Yes! I was going to say that people may be admiring your hair, OP #3. I remember once seeing a woman in a public place with about 3″ of gray roots showing above dyed hair. If I hadn’t thought it would be rude, I would have gone up to her and told her that I seriously admired her courage in deciding to go through the awkward transition to let her gray show.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Okay, but “admiring your courage to go through this awkward transition” is pretty much the opposite of “admiring your hair.”

        1. Liza*

          Not necessarily; just recognizing that it does take courage in this society, even if the hair looks beautiful all the way through the transition. I realize that what I wrote wasn’t clear about that, though, so I’m glad you pointed it out.

    3. Mbarr*

      I second the dash of bright colour. One of my former bosses was pure grey with a bright blue streak (she was a Manager in the Finance department of a Tech company if that matters).

  9. Shakti*

    LW 3 grey is really trendy right now so if you wanted to (although again Alison is 100% right you don’t need to do anything) you could go to a hairstylist and ask to dye your hair all over grey or so grey and whatever your other natural hair color is highlights/or balayage. I found a couple of grey hairs in my 20s and it was effecting how I felt about myself and I dyed my hair silver and immediately felt amazing and stylish. I think picking what makes you feel best about yourself is the best choice! If that means waiting it out and enjoying your new grey roots or getting it dyed grey or anything you like!

    1. Ego Chamber*

      PSA: Artificial silver/grey hair is hard get and hard to maintain. It means getting your base to platinum blonde and then overtoning with a pastel blue/violet/ash shade. I love my dyed grey hair (late 30s and still waiting for the real thing, unfortunately) but it is a process and the maintenance never stops.

      That being said, if you have a good stylist and are interested, go for it. It’s super fun.

      1. Liane*

        This level of processing done just once can be enough to damage fine hair. I have very fine hair that bleaches in under 10 minutes with 20 Volume and have been warned not to try out “silver” shades for this reason.
        Also, it can take a VERY long time for hair to completely grey. My hair has had wide grey streaks for years–that is why I prefer to bleach to a nice blonde. So it may very well be months of redoing silver if she went this way.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Also, it can take a VERY long time for hair to completely grey.

          True. Mine started greying very early (late 20s) and is only 20% in the back, according to my previous stylist, so I’ve chose to keep coloring it, especially since I’m job hunting and don’t want to be dismissed by ageist jerks. Of course now I have to do it myself, but I was able to find a close match to the root color at Sally Beauty and now it’s the bronde-fading-into-blonde look that’s on trend (I do need some highlights but that will have to wait). I won’t stop until it’s totally grey (I’m hoping for pure white like my dad’s). Hopefully I won’t be job hunting at that point.

          But my hair is very long and I refuse to cut it. The OP is a step ahead of the game with short hair.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, I did this a couple years ago and keeping my hair the appropriate shade of grey was basically a hobby. It’s beautiful but not a low-maintenance option, that’s for sure!

        1. Fieldpoppy*

          I do not recommend this — colouring your hair “fun” grey is a very different scenario than other kinds of colour. You have to strip all the colour out of your hair, and maintain it with toners frequently reapplied, and they can have a blue tinge. I tried this for this same reason and the desired colour only lasted about 10 days (even with the blue shampoo) and it permanently damaged my hair. I went back to the highlights route.

          1. Joielle*

            Wow! I kept it for about a year before I got sick of doing it. You learn the bleaching process pretty fast. It’s not complicated, per se, just tedious. I thought it was fun, but definitely not for someone looking for a simple hair routine.

            1. Fieldpoppy*

              I paid a fancy guy a lot of money to do it and this was the result for me, so I think it is very hair-dependent. I have fine, light hair but it just wouldn’t take the grey.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            2nd PSA: You don’t need to damage with chemical toners. I maintain grey with Manic Panic (Blue Steel, Alien Grey, Dark Star) and/or Ion (Titanium, the semi-permanent version). Semi-permanent dyes are basically conditioner with a lot of color pigment added, there’s no chemical damage because they don’t require developer. To keep grey, you need to add more grey to the grey when it fades enough for yellow tones to start showing through, which is usually somewhere between every 2-6 weeks. This sounds like a lot (and it is) but chemical toners are needed just as frequently and the damage accumulates over time.

            3rd PSA: The blue tinge is real! My trendy grey looks slate in natural light and most artificial light but in photos it is very blue (or very lavender). Surprise!animehair isn’t ideal for conservative workplaces, so be warned. ;D

      3. OP 3*

        Yes, what Ego Chamber said. I don’t have fine hair, but very thick hair. Bleaching it a couple of times in the past has shown me how damaging it was for me. Not just roots but all over. I don’t know if I want to go that route.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          I think highlights would be a great strategy to ‘blend’ the grow-out line without damaging your entire head. I have very fine hair that doesn’t react well to bleaching, but strategic highlighting / particularly balayage (which is only the ‘top’ of the hair strands) works well for me. Also, Olaplex treatments really do work miracles to mitigate damage.

          (amusing side note, google thinks ‘balayage’ should be ‘jambalaya’)

      4. Shakti*

        For me personally I never had any issues with my hair and dying it silver or super white platinum (I didn’t realize this was a lucky thing!), I also would go several months without dying it and roots and expenses were really minimal, but I do understand that hair varies so there can be issues. I do want to say though there are professional low expense and maintenance ways of doing it

    2. Veronica Mars*

      Yes I LOVE the grey-blonde look. So much so that I once gushed at a stranger about how much I loved her hair and who is her colorist… turns out it was natural grey but in the most awesome lilac shade. Oops.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have had people do that to me. My gray is no joke silver and it looks like I am doing it on purpose because it is graying in a way that looks like highlights. Thank you genetics!

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          My mom’s hair (she stopped dyeing it about 10 years ago) is the most lovely sparkly silver-white. She looks 10 years younger than she is and I’m so so hopeful that I inherit it. Lucky you!

      2. Quill*

        My grandmother always got massive compliments on her hair (it didn’t go grey, apparently it just went snow white over the course of only a couple years, and she never dyed it) and now I put up with my mom complaining about how her blonde hair won’t get with the program and go grey coherently every few months when she gets the roots touched up.

        I’m hoping by the time I go grey nobody will bat an eye, because I doubt I’ll even want to bother with that degree of hairdressing, especially since I have extra dry curly hair and dying is not a good option.

        With luck I’ll go the way of my grandma though, since she was a brunette too. :)

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          My hair is dark auburn and the few hairs that aren’t coming in the normal colors (i.e. brown or copper – it is auburn, after all) are coming in pure white. Now I am super curious what a full head of snow white hair will look like one day.

          1. Leisel*

            Mine is doing that, too! I have very fine-textured dark blonde/sandy brown hair. Every now and then a pure white hair will come in, so white it’s basically transparent. I’m hoping it’s an indication that I’ll have all-white hair someday like my grandmother, whom I take after quite a bit. Crossing my fingers!

          2. Lucien Nova*

            Very dark brown hair here, and that’s exactly what mine’s doing too. I think it looks great – I absolutely do not look my age, thanks to perpetual babyface, and I’ve been told it lends me a rather distinguished look that brings me somewhat closer to actually looking like I’m 32. I have considered trying to go entirely silver/white, but considering what happened to my hair last time I bleached it, probably not a good idea…

            (Fun fact: the roots of my eyelashes are also colorless and I’ve had a few lashes grow in white!)

          3. Coppertina*

            Mine is dark strawberry blonde (strawberry red?), and at 55, I only have a scattering of pure white hairs here and there. I’m in no rush to do anything about it though have received suggestions to try toner only or babylights. I’ve also heard from folks who had similar hair color when younger that their color simply turned a sandy shade or even a Dreamsicle tone. The random white eyebrow hair is fun and always seems to be longer than the rest.

  10. Dennis Feinstein*

    Ooh I empathise with OP1. I once sent an email complaining about employee to that employee. That was nearly 20 years ago and I STILL feel sick when I think about it!
    Alison’s advice for rectifying this situation is excellent, as usual. And it is a really good lesson for any manager to learn: 1) Don’t complain about employees to others. 2) Don’t put it in writing – say it to the person’s face. 3) DOUBLE CHECK who you are sending emails/texts to. I am now OBSESSIVE about checking the recipient!
    In my (sorta) defence, I was an inexperienced manager who had gotten a management position that I didn’t really want by default (a maternity leave fill-in) and one important lesson I learned from that whole experience is that I do not enjoy managing people. So OP1 it’s worth considering whether you actually like management and if you’re actually suited to it.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Same although mine was over IM – supposed to go to a work friend who asked about a particular meeting regarding the issues I was having with severe overwork but instead went to my boss who’d I’d just had the meeting with. Luckily for me, he was very understanding with my frustration and the need to vent since the meeting didn’t go the way it needed to (he was a great guy and manager but his hands were a bit tied in this situation). He ended up thanking me for the error since in my attempt to be someone professional in the meeting he didn’t realize how poorly management’s responses to the issues came across.
      However, the time between when I hit enter on the IM and realized it sent to the wrong person and I got that response was the closest I’d ever come to a panic attack.

      1. thebobmaster*

        The worst thing you can see on screen after you send a text/IM to the wrong person.

        *chat bubble* ….

        1. Dennis Feinstein*

          She actually wrote back: “I don’t think you meant to send this to me” and I almost threw up in my mouth.

  11. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #3 Embrace the gray.
    If you find people staring, or if they say something, just make some lame joke about wisdom or character, have a laugh and move on. Very very few people will think less of you for having gray hair. Those people are idiots.

    1. Artemesia*

      The grey isn’t the issue, it is the ratty way it looks growing out. There is a stage where it just looks slovenly as if you couldn’t be bothered to keep it up. There are strategies for making it less immediately noticeable. I lowlighted for awhile so it came in in vertical rather than horizontal stripes and that worked moderately well in front, but not so much in back. Some people use shorter feathery hair styles. Temporary colors don’t work because there is no such thing on grey hair — anything you use will stain. I love the grey and at a certain age (much older than the OP ) dark dyed hair begins to look aging and haggard. Blonds can manage to continue into old age with dying their hair but brunettes need to give a hard look at some point. there is a reason so many women have caramel colored unnatural looking hair in old age — IMHO it actually looks better to go grey.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        If I can briefly derail on this, what temp colors were you using that stained grey hair (brand/type please)? I always have the opposite problem: semi-permanent color not taking to grey hair because it’s so much courser than pigmented hair, so I’m really curious if there’s a way for me to make this work.

      2. blackcat*

        My aunt went through a pixie cut phase to deal with this. She did a tight, styled bun for the first 3-4 months of growing it out, then chopped to a pixie cut.

    2. Quickbeam*

      At 50 I stopped dying my hair. my natural color is white. I have butt length hair that grows fast. It was only at the roots stage for about 6 months, then it was pretty my whole head. I wore a pony tail or a bun much of the time at work. Every 6 weeks I’d get a couple inches cut off until the dye was all gone.

      Even though it was dramatic, no one seemed to notice or comment.

  12. magonomics*

    Since these are bachelorette/wedding related I suspect the letter writer is in their 20s/doesn’t have a ton of seniority.

    15 days over 8 months equates to 20 days of PTO a year, which is on the high side. Taking that much your first months at a company isn’t going to come across well, especially if you are not senior.

    My advice: skip the bachelorette parties, and ask about the Europe trip and weddings you are in. Those are the types of things employers will understand.

    I’m only a few years removed from this phase of life, but I remember it well. It sucks but believe me your friends will understand.

    1. Jennifer*

      I agree. I’m glad I’m not in my twenties anymore because it seems now weddings demand so much more of your time if you’re in the bridal party.

    2. Orange You Glad*

      I came to say the same thing!

      Also 2 days off for a bachelorette party? When did they stop being a night out at the bar?

  13. SisterSpooky*

    LW #3- 1,000% you owe no one anything and if they think your grow out is weird, they can kick rocks. That said, my mom (in her late 60’s) recently decided that after 30 years of dying her greys she wanted to embrace it. She went to a colorist who helped her with a transition plan that helped the grow out feel less drastic (so there was no hard line of grey vs not-grey hair, it blended as it grew). This is an available option, but obviously only if that’s something that would make you happy.

    1. Moi*

      My MIL did a similar transition. She was going from blond to grey, and worked with her long-time colorist to ease the grey in. It worked really well, but the color difference from before and after wasn’t a lot since she was such a light blond.

  14. Artemesia*

    It may be too late for grey haired OP but when I quite dying the hair, I lowlighted for awhile so that the grey came in streaky instead of in an Agnes Varga kind of straight line. I thought it blended quite well especially in front. But to be honest when I saw pictures later, it didn’t look as blended as I imagined. But by doing it this way, I was able to do it more gradually and I felt less self conscious about it.

    1. Bluebell*

      +1 to this. I’m growing my grey out now. My stylist has offered to do lowlights for me if I feel I need it. Luckily, the first 6 months have gone well, and mostly I’m receiving compliments. But I’m pretty sure I’ll want lowlights in the next few months, because I don’t want a pixie cut.

  15. t*

    Lw 3 – I felt self conscious when I was growing out my grey hair and opted for semi permanent lowlights to help ease the transition. I think it hid the transition well. Now I have about an inch of color left, and it blends with the grey so I’ve stopped coloring. Woohoo no more color (until I get tired of the grey ;))

    Also, I use a purple shampoo to help keep the grey from looking too dull. This may help as well.

  16. Colin*

    LW1: I think you’re going to have a very tough time of it if you end up objectively needing to fire this employee, because you’ve just put something in writing that makes you look not very objective at all. Of course it’ll depend on the jurisdiction, but this could look very bad if such things as employment tribunals exist where you are. (I wasn’t completely clear from your letter whether you’d named the employee in question, but it sounded like you had.)

    As Alison says, it may just about be rescueable with a lot of work, but I’d also seriously consider whether it’s possible for you to continue managing this person. Do you have any scope for treating it like some other conflict of interest (e.g. a family member or a friend outside of work) and arranging to transfer this employee to a different line manager?

    1. Not All*

      Want to lay odds on whether the employee is of a different religion or atheist? I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so Christian that they think a prayer circle to get rid of people is a GOOD thing who didn’t bring their religion into work constantly in incredibly inappropriate ways.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        The people I know who are that sort of Christian tend to think other sorts of Christian aren’t Christian enough, so I’d give everything you’ve said here and below fair odds. It also sounds like LW1 may be in a job where the “managers” get all the responsibility and none of the authority, so maybe that’s why it took such a hard weird turn (not defending the prayer circle in lieu of management but people can make some bad decisions when they feel cornered).

        1. Quill*

          Tangentially, in my tweens I once got dragged to a “party” (read: youth group) where a boy of about my age 100%, legitimately, thought that Catholics weren’t Christian. It ended with a prayer for the group’s guests to come to Jesus that was doubly awkward for me since I was a baby atheist still parentally mandated to attend Catholic church once a week.

          Tone deafness can be self-reinforcing in some religious circles, I would not be surprised if OP’s mixing of the norms in their religious and professional life has interfered with their management more than they realize.

          1. Artemesia*

            I did my career in a big southern city in the US and it was commonplace that Catholics were not Christians. My husband was Catholic and so our son as a toddler told playmates he was Catholic when they asked him; they made a big deal about how he was ‘not Christian’ and going to hell. This is little kids. Imagine their parents.

            1. GoatGal*

              I lived in a small southern city and my husband was raised Catholic. I don’t have to imagine it. This happens. They also invite your children to bible school with their kids and baptize the visitors without telling the parents.

              1. Quill*

                Yeah, I got a feeling that this particular church had migrated from some southern evangelist branch… at the time I thought it was an improvement from the previous church my best friend’s parents went to, which banned harry potter, and lead to me becoming a full time book smuggler for friend and her church friends. :)

                Weird growing up where you got both the stereotype of being the good influence “good catholic girl” but also had every adult in your best friend’s life actively campaigning for you to be “saved.”

                (I ended up holding a faux seance with a bunch of evangelist girls, with whom I was highly popular for being the book smuggling bad girl who read science fiction and went to the roller rink with boys.)

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Similar experience growing up in a nonreligious household re: friends and their parents inviting me to church and youth groups and trying to “save” me. I was constantly hearing that Catholics aren’t real Christians, Lutherans aren’t real Christians, Baptists aren’t real Christians. Now whenever I start to worry about the different factions of the atheist community going at each other’s throats, I remember all that nonsense and feel pretty okay.

      2. Don’t Pray for Me*

        The only job this prayer circle thing would be appropriate for is a Nun. Does OP have a history of dragging religion into secular activities? That’s a problem. Maybe previous Supervisor knew this?

      3. Don’t Pray for Me*

        Also if Employee gets fired she can claim religious discrimination. How about a PIP before a prayer circle hoping problematic employee magically disappears?

      4. Mel_05*

        Well… she wasn’t trying to have a prayer circle at work. She was emailing her sister to ask her to pray about it. Would you feel the same way if she’d emailed her sister just complaining about her employee?

        Also, prayer is a core piece of the Christian faith. I think most Christians you know pray about problems in their lives, but you wouldn’t really know about that unless they told you.

        1. SunnySideUp*

          1) She didn’t email, she texted.

          2) She clearly opted out of effectively managing her employee, prayer circle or no prayer circle.

          1. Mel_05*

            Not sure the distinction between email or text matters here.

            Yeah, she needs to manage her employee. But being a bad manager isn’t bringing religion into the work place as several people seem to think it is.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes actually, I do think there is a huge difference between just venting about an employee and asking someone to pray they are removed. If no one at work ever found out then the former doesn’t impact anyone, but the latter is specifically done with the intention/hope that it will actually have a negative outcome for the employee.

        3. Daddy Duck*

          Prayer circle in my experience is asking a bunch of other people to pray about your issue. The problem isn’t her praying but putting work/ employee information into a public forum.

        4. Artemesia*

          the text is awful but much more awful than if it had just been a complaint about the employee. Even an atheist should be able to see that praying for guidance and praying for an employee to be damaged in some way, are not the same. If you believe in God as the manager does, then this is a major threat. It is similar to the devotee of witchcraft cursing her fellow employees; whether you believe in this junk or not, it is an active threat.

          1. we're basically gods*

            I think this is a really good framing– praying to the Christian God for an employee to be removed is as inappropriate as it would be to invoke any other higher power.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Invoking a higher power wasn’t the issue. If this manager had been praying for the employees’ removal on her own or casting curses during the full moon or anonymously shitposting about her troubles on Twitter, those are all valid coping mechanisms, as long as she also at least tries to do something useful to resolve the situation. (The thing I don’t like about saying “it’s in God’s hands” is that it means “I give up,” which is not an okay thing for a manager to say about their job.)

        5. A*

          Yes, it would make a huge difference. I would be far less offended by being the topic of venting (although still inappropriate for the boss to be speaking ill about their employees in such a manner) than being the target of a prayer circle that is asking a ‘higher power’ to terminate my livelihood.

          They have freedom of religion, I have freedom from religion. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want my name (and work history/performance) kept out of a religious organization, group, etc. unless I have consented. Honestly though, the fact that this is even a question in your mind leads me to believe that we would never see eye to eye on this. I *literally* can’t even.

      5. A*

        This. Out of everything in the letter, this is what jumped out at me the most. Words cannot explain how deeply, deeply uncomfortable I would feel if I found out that my boss had wanted to add anything in relation to me to a prayer list, let alone something wishing ill-will.

        I don’t think it’s something I’d be able to get over. Forgiving the mistake of sending it to someone else in error, sure. But I don’t think I’d be able to get over what, to me, that says about their judgement. The fact that OP only sees an issue with the mistake of sending it to the wrong person, and not the request itself, tells me all I’d need to know and I’d be job hunting (or speaking to HR depending on my relationship with them) the next day. I respect their religion, but keep it the heck away from me and the professional arena. And I say this as a humanist.

    2. Betty*

      Where on earth are you getting this whole prayer circle thing from? It says she asked her sister personally to pray against this employee – presumably privately. Still wrong, but a totally different kettle of fish to asking her to air her dirty laundry in public.

      1. EPLawyer*

        She said submit it as a prayer circle item. Now the prayer circle was not at work but at the Minister Sister’s place of worship.

        However, regardless of text/email/location of prayer circle, prayer is not a substitute for good management.

        1. Mel_05*

          It says she asked her sister to add it to her prayer list. Probably her private prayer list. There’s no mention of a circle or even of telling the church about it.

        2. Betty*

          No she didn’t. “I asked my sister, who is a minister, to put a request on her prayer list.” Most ministers and many Christians keep lists of people or things they have promised to pray about privately, so they don’t forget. Please feel free to quote the bit of the letter where it says this was a public prayer circle. A private prayer list is a much more reasonable assumption. Otherwise the LW is a fool for airing her dirty laundry in public.

          1. Daddy Duck*

            I am not sure we can say this is a private prayer list. I have attended churches where the prayer list is published in the weekly church bulletin and handed to everyone attending church that Sunday.

            1. Jen2*

              Ok, but you seem to be the only one. The rest of the commenters are operating under the assumption that this will not be shared with anyone other than the minister, which seems to be a much more common way of operating. My church occasionally mentions prayer requests to the entire congregation, but only when that’s what the person wants. And even then, it’s limited to health concerns or similar issues; they would never share something like this.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                “Ok, but you seem to be the only one.”

                This is demonstrably not true based on all the other comments up to this point. Even if the assumption is incorrect, there’s a substantial number of people who made the same incorrect assumption (likely based on our own individual experiences with prayer lists/circles/chains and whether they were private or shared) and no clarification from the LW either way so far.

            2. Betty*

              Right, but why assume it’s public? If we’re supposed to give the LWs the benefit of the doubt, I think that extends to intelligence as well as motivation.

    3. hbc*

      I don’t understand this. She didn’t send something like “Pray for this chick to go, she irritates me for non-work reasons.” As long as her opinion is based on reasonable performance-based issues, OP can think that her team would be better without her. Whether that’s expressed to her boss, the employee, her mom, her prayer group, her therapist, or put it on a billboard doesn’t make it a more or less objective opinion.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Abdication of duties and/or unwillingness to perform basic job duties, if invoking divine power was the extent of the employee’s management skills.

            Threats made against subordinates if the employee believes the manager’s invocations could have a real world effect or if the manager believes their action could have a real world effect.

          2. A*

            It also leaves the employer vulnerable. This could absolutely be pointed to by the employee if they were fired down the line.

            …on top of, of course, the horribly inappropriate decision to speak about your direct report to a prayer circle (or even if just the sister, still not ok to pray for the demise of others livelihoods). It speaks to poor judgement. Regardless of whether you think it is appropriate/ok, the fact is it’s a divisive topic and one that successful managers will recognize as something they better not wade into.

  17. Not All*

    Wow. Looks like the outgoing manager had reason for warning her staff that LW1 was coming in & was going to be awful. I wonder how many of the warnings involved bringing religion into the workplace? I’d take a VERY hard look at what type of pushback this employee has been giving before even consideringany type of discipline or PIP at this point. From the letter, I’d lay decent odds they have very good cause.

    1. TechWorker*

      Now… I’m not religious and never have been (went through a rather militant atheist phase in my teens tbh) but I don’t think there’s any evidence for this from the letter. I don’t think it would be particularly unprofessional of LW to complain to their sister about an employee, in private/without identifying information, and asking someone to pray for you is not really that far off/doesn’t imply religion is being forced into the workplace elsewhere.

      (Of course what happened is 100% not ok, but I don’t think it logically follows that LW is awful and is pushing religion on their colleagues)

      1. Mel_05*

        Yes, exactly. People praying in their private lives is hardly on par with asking their work team to huddle up and read the Bible together.

      2. Betty*

        Yes, people are making incredibly weird assumptions about what is going on here. It’s surely on a par with privately bitching about the employee to her sister. The LW sent a text message from her personal phone to her sister. The fact that it was asking her sister to pray against her (privately) isn’t really the problem here. It’s that LW can’t manage the problem employee and now everyone knows she’s been bitching about her. I wish people wouldn’t spin these fantasy stories about what LWs are doing based on nothing in the letter!

        1. GoatGal*

          I don’t have a problem if the LW was asking her sister to pray for her privately. As many others have mentioned “prayer list” is not a private thing in many churches – it is a public group. I think this may be a cultural difference depending on your religion/region.
          I do have a problem with giving the name/identifying characteristics of a subordinate you are having problems with to anyone outside the company and asking others to pray that person is removed. If it was just her sister that can be considered privately bitching, if it is to multiple church members that is defamation.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah. I really don’t get where the OP is (deliberately) bringing religion into the workplace here — what they were attempting to do is the other way around, bringing work into their religious space, which is pretty normal for praying folks! The part where it intruded on the workplace was the misdirected text, which is an awful botch on its own merits and doesn’t need to be hyperbolized into the OP preaching at the office or whatever people are imagining.

      4. Close Bracket*

        No evidence in the letter … except for the part where she asked her sister to pray to remove the problem employee. Bc it is very clear: LW did not ask her sister to pray for her. She asked her sister to pray to remove a problem employee. That kind of person warrants a warning to their new group.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t think that’s a fair assessment based on the letter. One manager should NEVER bad mouth a new manager coming in to take over their team because it only sets them up for failure. I’m not saying that what OP did was right, but making the assumption that it was okay to bad mouth the OP before they started is just as wrong if not more so.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Agreed. It almost feels like the previous manager set OP and this employee up to fail in their working relationship.

  18. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    LW3: I agree with everything Allison said. I love too how handling it as Not A Thing sets a positive example for women in their 20’s, early in their careers, whose thinking will be influenced by how other women navigate this stuff.

    Maybe though, with some of the people you’re closer to at work you could just casually drop it into conversation? It truly is no one else’s business, I only say it because sometimes there are sensitive reasons why people choose to grow out their grays. If someone I considered a close work buddy did this and never mentioned it I’d wouldn’t bring it up (lest I make them feel more self-conscious), but I’d also be (privately) keeping a side-eye out for any signs that they might need more support than usual. Eg: some people eschew chemicals during cancer recovery or pregnancy, let personal appearance go during depression, or have a financial situations that put the hairdresser out of reach. Not that this changes how you should handle it in general, but a matter-of-fact “letting out my silver fox, can’t wait to rock it!” lets those closer to you know to cool the side-eye. (Of course if you end up going for highlights to blend it in this becomes a moot point, and your intent will be obvious.)

  19. M. from P.*

    Regarding OP1, my first thought was that the letter writer must have felt unable to deal with the situation. I wonder how much authority she was actually given to effectively manage the employee in question if she thought her only recourse was a miracle. It’s certainly possible that she was just unwilling to do it, or did not know how but it’s also possible the environment (including her own manager) was not supportive.
    Also, the OP explicitly states in her letter that she already looped in her manager.

    1. Mommy.MD*

      What would Jesus do? Jesus would have talked straight forward to the irksome employee. Wishing for a miracle without putting in the work won’t help.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        We don’t know that she hasn’t talked to this employee time and time again about her behavior, and this comment is saying that even if she did, OP may be working in an environment that doesn’t give her the power to go beyond just talking and that’s why she sent the frustrated text to her sister asking for prayer.

      2. Amy Sly*

        One of my favorite memes, based on Matthew 21:12.
        If anyone ever asks you “what would Jesus do?”, remind them that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Yeah, while OP created a big mess, she does give me the impression of someone who is at the end of their tether. This letter reminds me a lot of the time I spent in Alabama, where the culture was very much that direct confrontation and communication was Not Done. (Yes, this was as maddening as it sounds.) This was also an environment, where it would be 100% normal to pray for/about work issues and colleagues in your personal worship. (Or during work! Which, again, not fantastic.)

      If I were the OP, I would use this as a chance to really reevaluate how successful I could be in this role and how happy I could be doing it. The email obviously isn’t going to make a difficult situation better, but I think OP would benefit from considering, with the cultural and management structures that exist in her workplace, whether she has the tools and the authority to change things.

    3. sunny-dee*

      This is what I thought, too. This may be one of those places where firing someone is next to impossible (either because of actual bureaucracy like government or just because it’s the culture of the place). If the OP can’t manage and has limited support from her management and / or HR, there’s not a lot she can do.

    4. Starbuck*

      Yes; why bother praying for this person’s removal if you have the ability to just fire them? Which makes me think they don’t have that ability.

  20. DiscoCat*

    #3 Gray lady here, I’m 41 and have been growing out the gray for the last 13 months. I’m mixed race so the hair tends to get frizzy and strawy as well. I never made it a topic at work, because what I do with my body is my business (within reason), especially if the habit of doing something cosmetic (as in not necessary or medically required) to it is rooted in women being required to look decorative and pretty, regardless of their work performance or role.
    I’ve noticed looks, but again I was in a highly dysfunctional and toxic department, where people become targeted for anything really, so I managed my initial discomfort by tapping into my feeling of defiance and enjoying the freedom. I was also living in a northern European country, where people don’t get their noses into your business, at least to your face. It’s growing out, I like it feeling healthier and thicker, but the grey is not as evenly distributed or light silver as I’d like. In principle I stand by it and all the feminist sentiments it represents, but I just realised I don’t like it, perhaps also because it’s a souvenir from the past months, where I almost burnt out at work and I left without a proper farewell after getting ill (my contract was over anyway and I moved to a different country last month to join my fiance). Anyway, long story short, LW3, you’ll have 3-4 months of occasional awkwardness, but stick with it and see it out for your sake, you can always go back if YOU don’t like it.

    1. DiscoCat*

      Oh, wait I remember one colleague from a neighbouring department who had a lot to say about how youthful my face and general appearance is and that the gray hair was such a sad contrast…. yeah, I was a bit dumb struck to say anything much really…:-/

      1. Myrin*

        For what it’s worth, I personally think youthful face/appearance with grey hair is an amazing combination – just to provide a counterpoint to that obnoxious colleague of yours! >:|

        (Also, women feeling like they have to dye their hair until they’re 100 whereas there are almost-literally no even middle-aged men with dyed hair has slowly become my pet feminist rage subject over the last year or so. I now make a point of loudly complimenting women on their beautiful grey/white hair which isn’t hard because usually it just looks so good; you won’t believe how many women I know who look a million times better once they let their natural hair come out.)

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          My SIL started greying in her 20s and it looks *so amazing*. And I’m kind of stoked that I clearly got my mom’s hair, because it’s going straight to white and going by hers is going to go through a really stunning salt-and-pepper phase in about 10-15 years.

        2. Kendra*


          My mom is 64, a great-grandmother, and has been retired for seven years, and I’m pretty sure she’d still crawl over glass shards to get a box of the hair dye she uses. Personally, I don’t get this AT ALL; if anyone has earned their gray hairs, it’s her (teacher & principal for 35 years + being a single mom). It drives me absolutely batty that she a) thinks she still HAS to dye, but also b) thinks getting it done professionally is “a waste of money.” (To be clear, she’s well-off, and could absolutely afford it.) Sometimes, the anti-feminists are in our own heads.

          1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

            My SIL’s grandmother, Marian, made her daughter, Mary (SIL’s mother), swear that she’d keep Marian’s roots died even if Marian was senile and in a nursing home. And Mary kept her promise. Now Mary is quite an elderly lady herself and is anything but senile, but she’s made my SIL promise the same. And the thing is, Mary wears her hair in the most…flamboyant colors, colors such as you seldom see in nature, and colors that look, well, kind of silly on her. I’m not talking fuchsia or midnight blue (which would probably be more fun) – I’m talking colors that she thinks look natural and really, really, really don’t such as Day-Glo Chestnut and Straight-Out-of-a-Bottle Red. She’d look much better if she’d just let it go gray, IMO, but I guess if she enjoys it, what the heck.

          2. emmelemm*

            Yeah, my mom’s the same way. (Except she spends the money to get it professionally dyed.) She’ll be coloring at 100. Personally, I think it would look better natural, but What Do I Know, right?

        3. Quill*

          My parents are in their mid 50’s, and you have to go hunting for evidence of what my dad’s hair color used to be these days, while my mom still clings to her bottle blonde, possibly because she likes the faux “oh, are you sisters?” compliments from customer service when we hang out together.

          It’s interesting to watch the hangups of a previous era play out in my mom, when my grandmother bypassed grey and went straight to translucent white hair in her late 40’s and never felt the need to hide it. (Then again, my grandmother was raised in the great depression, my mom was raised in the 70’s and 80’s. Dying hair was probably an unnecessary expense to my grandma.)

          1. Artemesia*

            I could be wrong, but I have been told that there is no such thing as grey hair — that grey hair is when white hairs are mixed with dark which gives a grey appearance — but the ‘graying hair’ is in fact itself white. Mine is on the white end of the graying process now and I think this may be true. I’d love to have it stop at grey.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              When grey hairs are mixed with dark, that’s salt and pepper grey. As hair loses pigment the color fades and it appears grey. Sometimes it fades all the way white, sometimes it stays grey (whether that’s due to the underlying lack of pigment or because the person dies before their hair finishes fading, I have no idea).

              If you hold a few strands of your hair and look at them up close, are some of the strands white and some darker color or are all the strands faded somewhere in between? Grey isn’t usually uniform but I’ve seen more shade range than just white and dark hairs mixed. :)

    2. Charis at the Bad Hotel*

      A public service announcement from someone who has been partly gray for almost ten years now and been on the receiving end of comments from people of all ages: If you want to compliment someone on naturally gray hair, please avoid the tone of voice you would use to praise a small kitten trying to climb out of a teapot. Thank you.

  21. Kat*

    About PTO at a new job,
    A lot of people are telling you to skip the bachelorette parties, but I disagree.

    I’m at that point in life where I can look back on many jobs and all the times I’ve skipped out on events with family and friends for work. Some family members are gone now. Friends who never thought they’d move away have. And those jobs were never the lifelong, well-paid jobs of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. So why sacrifice time with the people who matter?

    I always thought there’d be more outings with friends in the future, but dynamics change with spouses thrown into the mix, no one has time or money once kids start coming, and the fun wedding-related trips that were a great excuse to all get together stop after the marriage.

    You’ll never regret spending time with the people who matter.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      That’s great in theory (and spending time with my friends has always been very important to me), but not many people have the luxury of choosing trips with family and friends over a job that brings in money to pay for those trips. Alison is suggesting OP be willing to skip the bachelorette parties because in the list OP provided, those would be at the bottom, considering she’s a member of the wedding party and it’s more important for her to be at the actual wedding. She may get lucky, but it’s highly unlikely that she’s going to find a job that is willing to allow her so much time off before she’s proven her worth in the role.

    2. Anonforthis*

      Why does it necessarily follow that she has to take off all this time for the bachelorette parties, or not go at all? It might be less convenient, but couldn’t she fly out to be there for a weekend night and come back the next day? If she has to take off time from work to be there, these sound like multi-day affairs, so she should be able to go for part of it (the weekend part) and return to work without having to take time off. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but if she feels like it’s crucial for the friendship, that might be the way to go without asking too much from the job. Plus, she doesn’t want to be a position where she gets ill and has no PTO to use, or has an issue arise with a family member that she has to take unplanned time off for, etc. It’s always better to have a day or two of padding for the unexpected rather than maxing out PTO before you begin a job. My two cents as someone who has unexpectedly gotten the flu and been knocked out for days in a row.

      Also, somewhat unrelated rant — what is with the trend to host multi-day out of town bachelor and bachelorette parties? Most people aren’t in a position to take off several days PTO for the bachelorette, pay for plane tickets, hotel or airbnb, meals and activities for multiple days in a row, then turn around and do that all again a couple of months/weeks later for the wedding, plus having to pay for attire and potentially wedding gifts on top of that.

      1. Dragoning*

        I suspect it’s a combination of a couple things:

        1) It’s really, really common in fiction and movies and rom coms, etc. I don’t know why. But it is. So people see this, and assume it’s normal.

        2) People want to make an excuse to take a vacation with their friends and/or family. We have so vanishingly few of those these days.

      2. Mulberries*

        I’ve seen a lot of hate for multi-day bachelorette parties in this comment section, but if I could speak to it as someone who recently got married and has multiple friends who just got married/are engaged:

        I live on the East Coast, and my two best friends live in Houston and Montana. We grew up in the same neighborhood, but life took us all in very different directions. If we’re going to see each other at all, we may as well schedule a full weekend or a long weekend, just because of the travel time to wherever we’re going. I think that as more people relocate for work or school or family or whatever, and as social media and technology make it easier to stay in contact with old friends, these kinds of parties become more popular since people would need to travel to the bachelorette party anyway.

        That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for OP to bring all this up, or that she shouldn’t skip them, but I completely understand her desire to attend.

      3. Ego Chamber*

        Based on other comments, I may have assumed wrong, but I thought the 2 days off for the bachelorette parties were the whole thing including travel time (since the actual weddings would be 1 and 2 days off also). To me, 2 days off reads as a day trip length drive to get there, party that afternoon/evening/night and drive back the next day.

        I don’t quite understand why this is being attacked as a frivolous, lavish event when it seems like it’s just people in the bridal party getting together who don’t live in the same place.

    3. Yorick*

      I don’t think this is great advice. You definitely may regret taking time off for a bachelorette weekend if it hurts your career. Especially since these weekends aren’t always super close bonding times anyway – there will inevitably be people there close to the bride who you don’t know or may not like.

    4. CheeryO*

      I really don’t love all the people jumping to “Skip the bacheloretes!” without any caveats. Smells vaguely misogynistic to me – there is nothing silly or stupid about wanting to go to a close friend’s bachelorette party.

      I think it’s worth it for LW to at least ask, acknowledging that it’s a lot of time but that it’s a crazy year for weddings. If she can swing taking the eight days unpaid for the Europe trip, that could be an option too.

      1. Kendra*

        I don’t think it at all misogynistic; we’d be giving exactly the same advice to a man who wanted to go to bachelor parties instead. It’s because, of the three types of event, if you HAVE to pick one to skip, they’re the least hard to cut, because they’re slightly less likely to involve absolutely firm dates and significant outlays of cash beforehand.

      2. Fieldpoppy*

        I think it’s because when someone says “bachelorette party” the immediate mental image I get is a drunk bride wearing a toilet paper veil and people wearing dildoes on their heads while shrieking. Just like when you write bachelor party I immediately get a mental image of a guy drunkenly cheering on a stripper on a pool table while smoking a cigar. Neither of these is an association I particularly want to have with someone who works for me, so someone asking for more than one bachelorette party would unconsciously have me label her as un-serious, whether or not that’s fair.

      3. doreen*

        I don’t get how it’s misogynistic- unless you for some reason believe that a man in a similar situation wouldn’t be told to skip the bachelor parties. Sure, there’s nothing silly or stupid about wanting to go to one – but no one is saying that there is. There might be a cost to asking for this number of days off, paid or unpaid before even starting the job – and the cost is likely to be higher for a bachelorette party, a bachelor party or a weekend at the beach than for a wedding or family trip to Europe.

      4. Daisy-dog*

        Did OP identify as female? It is possible they are not, but happen to have 2 close female relationships. Regardless, I would have the same opinion for bachelor parties. Go on Saturday.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t think she necessarily needs to skip the bachelorette parties, but I think it would be a good idea to mentally classify them as “maybe” events and not bring them up now. Asking for that many different trips all at one time will come across as a lot, so I think it makes sense to bring up the big trip, and the weddings that she is actually in as events that she absolutely must be at. Then once you’re settled in to the job and you get closer to the bachelorette parties you can see whether getting that time off is feasible.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The point really is that you have to always compromise in life. You can’t go to every event. And considering the scope of events the OP has coming up, the bachelorette parties are the low end. If she’s invited to them, she hopefully is also invited to the weddings and other events for the couples. So she’s not missing out completely.

      I would be more upset in 10 years to have missed out on possible career development opportunities and jobs than to have missed a couple trips here and there. Being broke or having drawn out unemployment stretches is far worse in the long run than skipping a couple parties.

    7. A*

      I mean, sure. In general I agree – but OP is also kicking off a jump hunt in the midst of it, which is a choice. If they feel strongly about not having to make the slightest compromise (or run the ‘risk’ of having to do so, since of course it might not be an issue) then the obvious solution is… wait on the job hunt. No different than how people often take these things into account when they have upcoming obligations. I’ve had many, many friends stay on with an employer for 1-2 years longer than they would have otherwise because they were getting married, having a kid, buying a house etc. All milestones they knew would require a large amount of their attention and time, including requiring time off.

      We all decide what we prioritize, but sadly it isn’t always possible to do everything at once in the exact way you want to.

  22. Mommy.MD*

    I’m an advocate of separating Church and Employment. I would not be happy to have my job, or firing, submitted to a prayer circle. Troublesome employee should have been dealt with with calm assertion in a professional manner. I’d lose faith in you as an effective manager. (Pun not intended).

    1. CJ*

      Almost every nursing home around here, which is Southern Minnesota, is tied directly to a Christian religious denomination. If that’s the case for the OP, it makes the prayer a little more understandable.

      1. CJ*

        I reread, and I’ll see that it says Healthcare facility not nursing home, but it still could very well be tied to religious organization, especially a hospital.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Yeah, but, prayers for removal of problem employees instead of strength and wisdom to deal with them is… a completely different story. I can’t imagine a single church I’ve ever attended where that would fly.

            1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

              Absolutely. Prayer? Sure. Prayer for strength/patience/etc.? Sure. Prayer for people to *go* *away*? No.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Well, yeah, but that’s kind of a doctrinal thing. (I agree, but I can see how someone who has been run ragged just wants the problem to Go Away.)

      2. Bob*

        The issue isn’t so much the prayer but that’s she’s breaking confidentiality. Employees shouldn’t need to worry that their manners friends will hear about their job struggles. They also shouldn’t worry about their managers telling their family that they want to fire them It would be fine if she decided to have a personal prayer about how to better manage this employee.

        1. sunny-dee*

          There’s no indication that there’s anything related to confidentiality, though. (Aside from accidentally texting a colleague, but that’s obviously an accident.) If she just said, “Jane is the absolute worst to work with and I just want to pray for her to go” … where is the confidentiality in that? No name, no address, no work title, no work details. There’s nothing there.

          1. GoatGal*

            There are details in there: Everyone knows where LW works, and just about all of them will have an idea about her position. How many people who work with the LW are named Jane? I bet many of them know LW has some sort of management duties over Jane, even if they don’t know exactly how it is structured.

            1. sunny-dee*

              Yeah, but literally none of that is considered confidential. I can tell everyone in the world that I work at Example Co and Jane Doe reports to me. I can even say Jane sucks. And not a single one of those statements is anything confidential.

              Confidential information actually has a meaning. It relates to identifying personal data — like name, address, SSN, phone number, DOB. Some companies have nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality requirements for things related to company operations, which may relate to a specific job task or skill that a person has.

              But nothing that the OP said (going by her letter) hits anything that would actually be considered confidential. It is indiscreet and inappropriate, but that’s not the same thing.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Yeah, this. Every employee handbook I’ve ever seen has had something in it about the employer being allowed to disclose my name and picture and some other specific information (usually title, tenure, that sort of thing)—even the call center that had us sign paperwork agreeing not to name the client the call center was contracted to.

          2. Betty*

            Who hasn’t bitched about someone at work to someone? It’s been covered elsewhere in the thread that there is no reason to believe this is a public prayer circle. It seems much more reasonable to me to assume it’s the sister’s private prayer list. “I work with Jane and hate her” is not confidential. It’s certainly imprudent and shows poor judgement as a manager… but let he who is without sin cast the first stone here.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Yeah, unless you work on something with a high security clearance requirement, I think almost everyone tells their friends (let alone family members!) “Ugh this coworker of mine sucks.” And I’ll be frank, yeah, when I’m venting to my friends or asking their advice I’ll use the coworker’s name, because it makes the storytelling easier. I don’t think that’s uncommon. The real problem here IMHO was the misfire–this is the kind of text that you triple-check.

            2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              Public or private issue aside, for a religious person prayer is done with the hope of action by the god. It’s actually an early *action* step – not just an expression of opinion.

              So it’s different than complaining about someone to someone who cannot do anything or even just hoping something happens – it’s literally sending a message to a higher authority for something to happen. Very different.

        2. B*

          Exactly. Pray about me all you want in the comfort, and silence, of your own head. Anything beyond that is inappropriate.

          This is one of the many, many reasons I don’t want to go into management. I actually really enjoy venting, and meet up with friends on a regular basis to vent about work/co-workers etc. It’s definitely inappropriate, but less so as a peer.

      3. disconnect*

        Nope. There’s a way to pray about this, and it’s “God, I’m having a difficult time with this scenario in my life, I pray for your guidance and support in helping me be the best person I can be, I ask for your forgiveness when I am impatient, and I thank you for this life and all its challenges, amen.” Asking God to make a bunch of people not work there is selfish and not actually how God is supposed to work.

    2. A*

      This. I can forgive the error of the message being sent to the wrong person… but that’s it. I’d never be able to get over the rest of it. It makes me question their judgement if they seriously think the recipient was the only issue in this situation.

  23. The Other Katie*

    For LW#3: What about asking your hairdresser to do you a “granny hair” style, and match the rest of your hair to your grey roots? It’s still fairly fashionable and it will all match, rather than looking awkward. Then you can just continue on rocking your grey hair moving forward.
    (If you’ve been dyeing it, this is probably something for professional help.)

    1. OP 3*

      I have dark brown, thick hair. Bleaching has fried my hair from roots to tips in the past. I always go to a colorist and never do my own color. While good advice, I double bleaching my whole head will leave any hair on my scalp! lol

    2. Artemesia*

      I asked about that when I was making the transition. I have fine hair and very dark brunette hair — I was told it would fry the hair to do that and I don’t doubt it. You can’t just ‘dye it grey’ — you have to bleach it out to even attempt that. I went with lowlights for that reason which made it streaky vertically rather than horizontally and helped it blend a bit.

  24. londonedit*

    This might all be completely useless because I’m in the UK and our holiday allowance/culture around taking annual leave is different, but that really doesn’t seem like a lot of days off to me. I’d mention the two days off in March, obviously, because those sound like they’d be just after you were starting work, and I might mention in passing that you also had a week-long trip booked in for June, but I wouldn’t even bother booking the other dates off until nearer the time, as they’re well into the future and only a day or two here and there. However, that’s possibly because I get 25 days’ annual leave a year (plus public holidays); it’s very normal to discuss pre-booked travel as part of starting a new job and it would be very rare for an employer to refuse it or make you take it as unpaid leave; and it’s not usual for people to have to accrue holiday before they can use it. You’re given your holiday allowance at the beginning of the calendar year or the company’s holiday year (pro-rated if you start after the year has already begun) and you can do whatever you like with it. As long as there’s no policy about needing a certain amount of coverage in the office at any one time, and no blanket blackouts on annual leave at certain busy times of the year, or whatever, taking 15 days off between March and November wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow at any of the companies I’ve worked for.

    1. Mem*

      Same. Well, I’m Australian but I get 28 days plus about 10 public holidays so this wouldn’t be an issue.

      We also get four weeks paid personal leave (so sick, carers, funeral, compassionate in one bundle to use as we need). My allocation is a little bit above the base Australian entitlements but still makes me hope that my US friends get something more one day

    2. doreen*

      I’m in the US, and taking 15 days off between March and November wouldn’t be an issue at any of the places I’ve worked since college- but requesting all that time off in February would have been a problem at all of them, because of coverage and possible transfers.

    3. CSmithy*

      I’m in the US and it honestly doesn’t seem like a lot to me, either. I’ve easily taken this much in the first year of every job I’ve ever had, and no one’s blinked (maybe it’s my industry, I don’t know — tech in NYC).

      It’s depressing to think about 15-ish days being too much to ask for in a YEAR.

      1. Kiki*

        I feel the same, but I’m also in tech. It is kind of depressing to me that a lot of commenters are encouraging the LW to skip the bachelorette parties. I understand they are a lower priority than being in an actual wedding or a family trip to Europe, but it does seem like they are just weekend trips and that they are less than once a month. I am likely spoiled, but I would have a hard time working at a company that considered this too much time off.
        I will say it kinda sounds like a lot of time off when you list it all at once, but I kind of think that t

        1. Kiki*

          *that part of the issue is that you don’t need to list some of the later dates? I would be surprised to hear someone bring up a long weekend trip six-to-eight months after their start date in an pre-employment negotiation. Granted, I work in tech and we have a lot of flexibility and unlimited PTO

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          It’s not that it’s necessarily too much time off, just that it’s a lot to ask for all at once. Usually when you’re already in a job these would come up as separate requests throughout the year but bringing all of these up during the negotiations is… a lot. So the bachelorette parties may be important to her, but they would clearly be the lowest priority items on that list so it makes sense to leave them out for now. Then maybe she can bring them up later and see if going would be possible.

          1. Kiki*

            That makes sense! I do feel like a few commenters were actually discouraging the LW from even trying to go to the bachelorette party (not just holding off on asking, which make a lot of sense to me), which bums me out. As someone whose closest friends are far away, events like that are important to me, maybe more so than for other people.

            1. Leisel*

              I completely agree with you! I just got back from a quick trip for a friend’s bachelorette weekend. I was able to see friends from all over the country, a few of which aren’t going to be able to attend the wedding. Luckily I only had to take Friday off, and I even offered to work half a day and catch an afternoon flight, but my boss told me I should take the whole day and go have fun.

              I don’t like that so many commenters are discouraging the trips as well. Hopefully it won’t become an issue for the LW and she finds a position with generous PTO.

      2. Quill*

        It’s more than I’ve ever had, not in total PTO, but in time off not pegged to a close of business like thanksgiving / Christmas / New Years.

        Then again I’ve been stuck in STEM contracting hell for the last 5 years.

    4. Natalie*

      I’m in the US and I agree with you about the later single days/two days. Maybe it’s my employers or region, but it would have always been weirder to bring up a single vacation day happening more than 3 months down the line.

      If you start prior to the dates in March, I’d ask about them but be prepared to let them go if it will be an issue.

    5. Link*

      I’m in the US and 15 days between March in November wouldn’t be a big deal at any company I’ve worked at either. The average number of PTO days in the US is 10, but there are a lot of jobs that offer more than that and OP mentioned that she’s applying to jobs that offer 15-20 days which means she’s applying to better than average employers that offer enough PTO for all of the time off she wants, so I don’t think its a big deal at all.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      They might want to make sure you weren’t saving the rest of your days to use all in December if they get busy at that time…

      But yeah. I had same reaction, but from previous posts here… in US, that is considered a lot of time off :(

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m in the UK, and I agree it’s not a lot of holiday to plan.

      BUT it’s a lot of holiday to have planned *when you’re starting a new job*. The week-long holiday in the summer would be fine to ask for, but five or six separate unchangeable events in the first eight months of your job looks inflexible, so there’s a danger that you will turn out to be That Coworker who always hogs the best holiday allocation before anyone else has glanced through the brochures.

    8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I think it’s less about the amount of days, and more about the time period they need to be taken in when first starting a new job.

    9. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

      Also in the UK. We have a question at second interview stage about booked holidays, and I would absolutely expect any critical leave requests to be included however far in the future they are. It has no impact at all on our hiring decisions but can help us massively with planning.

    10. That would be a good band name*

      It’s going to be very employer dependent in the US. It would be a LOT to ask for at my current employer where you receive ZERO vacation days in your entire first year. You do get paid bank holidays and 5 sick days, but no paid vacation. Unpaid could be approved for something like the big family trip, but the smaller ones would very much be looked at with an attitude of “we JUST approved you for a long vacation, why are you asking for more time”.

      Now my last employer, this wouldn’t be any big thing at all. You’d have to get the long trip approved at the offer stage, and probably the March ones since they are close to the start date but the others could just be requested as you go.

      My actual advice to the OP would be to try to get a good feel of the attitude towards taking time off in general. And then acknowledge that you realize you are asking for several days and that it’s just been an unusually wedding heavy year. Also, as several others have mentioned, I wouldn’t say they are for the bachelorette since that is going to be viewed as more optional.

    11. Aurion*

      I’m in Canada which seems to be slightly better than America in terms of PTO, but asking for 15 days off when you first start a job would still be…a pretty big ask in every place I’ve worked, especially when none of them are going to be unpaid time, but would be PTO yet to be accrued. It might be better if OP was in a senior position or a highly sought after candidate in a niche industry, but I think OP mentioned they’re 3.5 years into their career?

      In OP’s shoes, I’d offer to compromise in terms of cutting some of the trips or offering to take them unpaid. Objectively it may not be as big a deal for a known quantity employee, but as a new employee who hasn’t build up her social capital yet…oof.

    12. Welling*

      I know, right? I don’t get why the British commenters feel the need to bring this up literally every single time PTO gets mentioned in a letter.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I mean, I find it useful to know that other countries can allow their citizens to have more PTO than we tend to get in the states without their entire economies coming to a screeching halt and destroying the world.

        I’ve had so many employers and trusted adults telling me my whole damn life it’s just not possible to have things like “a whole week of vacation at once” and “affordable healthcare” and any evidence to the contrary is an outlier on the brink of collapse. But let’s not examine what’s gone wrong here, that might encourage us towards violent revolution and demands for change. :D

    13. cncx*

      yeah this is an american thing. I’m an american who has worked my entire career in europe- the only thing i would give a heads up for is the 8 days off; maybe the 2 days off in march as it would presumably be in a probationary period. everything else would be whatever at my european employer.

  25. Mommy.MD*

    Dye your hair grey or silver all at once. When the natural greys come in, it won’t be a noticeable deal. Silver hair is in style now. Olaplex works wonders for softening hair if you know a professional hairdresser who can get it for you. I’m lucky. I do. Not the over the counter one.

  26. Ferret*

    OP1 -Do you have the ability to impose discipline and fire your team members? Because if so this basically looks like asking God to do your job for you.

    1. The Supreme Troll*

      This is where I hope OP#1 could come in and clarify. If she cannot discipline her employees…I can see where the desperation is coming from.

  27. M. from P.*

    To be fair, we don’t know what the OP has and hasn’t tried.
    I’m sympathetic to the OP because I can well imagine a situation when you are manager in title yet get no support from upper management to deal with an undermining employee.
    And maybe would not judge the OP so harshly if she had vented to a therapist instead and the text got misdirected.
    All that said, the whole situation sounds toxic and it may be prudent to look for another position.

    1. Observer*

      Venting to a therapist is a whole different issue. Even just VENTING to their sister would have been less problematic. But “praying” for someone’s *removal* is a whole other other level and very, very problematic.

      I’m someone who absolutely DOES believe in the power of prayer, and asking for a little divine help in doing my job seems perfectly reasonable to me. But I need to be doing my job AND I need to focus on what I need to do not on removing others.

  28. WG*

    LW#5: where you are concerned about your resume being tossed early in the process due to having the same title for 9 years, is there a way to work progression of responsibility into your resume and/or cover letter? You note you’ve taken on some new duties over the years. Highlighting those changes, particularly if they resulted in additional responsibility or accountability, could help keep your resume in the pool of candidates to get you to the interview stage.

  29. Likethecity*

    LW3: I found my first grays at 16 and at 29, I decided to let it grow out. I cut my hair into a pixie cut and kept it a consistently short length to avoid a huge root line. My hair that is not yet gray is almost black, so I was worried about a root line too. However, except for a couple close work friends, no one noticed until I had let my hair grow back out to bob length and had a gray streak a la Stacey London from What Not To Wear. So, grow out with confidence and if you personally don’t want root lines, a pixie cut may be the way to go!

    1. OP 3*

      I already have a short bob. I have had a pixie in the past but didn’t like it for my face (loved it for the maintenance and styling!)

      1. AnotherAlison*

        What about layers in the bob, or long bangs? Or a shag? (Did that come back and leave, or no?) I have a “lob” with layers, but no bangs and I’m pretty self-conscious myself about my part showing my hair growth. A messier hair style without hard lines might be easier, but from your other posts, sounds like you’ve got a good strategy in place already.

        1. OP 3*

          Thank you Another Alison! My hair must have heat styling otherwise it looks like I jumped straight of the 80s! lol. Pixie was even hard for my face because of my hair texture. Good ideas though!

          1. AnotherAlison*

            I hear you on that. My hair went through a very thick and wavy phase in high school (90s). I thought it would be cool to get a shag haircut right before I went to Spain on a student trip. My adapters didn’t work well, and without my hair dryer and large barrel curling iron, I looked like a deranged poodle and have ample photos from the trip to prove it. My hair is still thick and wavy, but not as much now, and the flat iron is my friend. I did go for a shorter bob last year, and it didn’t work with my wave pattern at all. The ends flipped up for a few months, no matter what styling magic I tried.

  30. Rebecca*

    #4 – just my opinion…with items being given away, if there’s something you really like, take that one thing, but leave the rest for a day or so, to make sure others have a chance. If there are still things there, and you want something else, take another thing. Bonus points for bringing similar items you no longer need to the giveaway. I doubt there are the “free things watching” police afoot, but I think it’s always kind to err on the side of not taking all the stuff each time.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I like the suggestion of being quick to bring your own good but unwanted things – so the balance of your give and take is more even.

      Also consider your perceived financial position within the company. Are you the penniless intern or the Rolex-flashing CxO?

      I have a family member who is very quick to take unwanted things home. In his case it’s largely on ecological grounds, as he has a horror of waste and is actively involved in relevant community projects etc. Once you know him, you deliberately invite him to things so someone can be relied upon to take the leftovers home! But if you don’t know all the context, he looks greedy.

      1. KHB*

        Good point about considering the relative financial positions. One of our highest ranking (and I assume highest paid) employees is always quick to attack leftover food from meetings, etc. – even packing up big containers of it to take home for dinner, and even while other, more junior people are waiting right behind her for access to the same leftovers. It’s not really a good look.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Optics here is really important to consider. There’s something really grating about watching someone who can (probably—I don’t know anyone’s life!) afford takeout or a new scarf taking those things in full view of people whose options are going to be instant ramen and frozen veg at home, and popping the collar on their winter coat during the walk to the bus.

    2. Colette*

      I agree. I also think this applies to taking things for personal use – if you’re taking things to resell, for example, you should get an explicit OK from the person giving them away.

  31. Delta Delta*

    #2 – I think if I hired an employee who asked for all these separate times off I’d probably grant them, but would have a little bit of side-eye at the bachelorette parties. Yes, they’re fun, and yes, OP said she’d go, and yes, employers don’t get to say what people use their time off to do. But there’d still be sort of a nagging feeling that OP is making a lot of requests when she isn’t a known entity just yet.

    I’d advocate for framing it differently. OP could say this year she’s got a lot of family-related obligations. She need not say the words ‘bachelorette parties’ because those words feel like ‘I’m blowing off work so someone can make a margarita in my mouth’ (when in actuality it may be ‘I’m supporting my sister while she gets ready for her wedding’).

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is pretty much where I fall. Especially because I have a lot of negative opinions about current wedding culture and find these destination bachelorette parties to be excessive.

      I’d focus on the days for the Europe trip first and maybe just mention something like “I’m also in several weddings and might need a few days for each” instead of laying out a whole calendar of time off that I needed.

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    Maybe it;s because I work in the tech/startup world, but if I wanted to hire someone, taking 15 days off over a eight+ month period would be no issue at all.

    1. Different Kat*

      I am not in tech and I feel the same way. I don’t think the number of trips seems excessive either – life is just like that sometimes. Having said that I would personally rather take unpaid leave than go into the red early in a new job – I went into the red for my own wedding in my first job after school and the next year was realllllly long.

  33. Definitely an atheist*

    Wow, I had not idea religious people prayed to god asking him to make sure people lose their jobs?…..this is wild.

    1. Liane*

      People have prayed for worse things to happen to others, up to and including painful deaths. Yes, it’s disgusting, to me and many other religious folks, to. But it’s pretty common for the non-religious to just wish the same horrible fates on others, you know.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        But when non-religious folks wish those things, they don’t believe anyone has the power to actually make them happen. It seems like praying to God about it veers more into actively trying to make it happen, which is definitely worse.

        1. High School Teacher*

          Yes. This is why I feel SO weird about LW1. I am not religious at all – my parents are atheists and I grew up with zero religion. So someone specifically requesting a prayer for someone to leave, with the belief that it will work, is honestly creepy to me. I don’t think that is acceptable and they should be fired.

          1. B*

            100% agree / am in the same boat. I don’t hate religion or anything like that, this is just so deeply inappropriate.

        2. Delphine*

          People who pray don’t have more surety that something will happen than people who just say, “I hope […].” They’re both hoping for something.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            That’s not the way most religious people have explained it to me, but they’re also the sorts of people who pray about a natural disaster instead of donating towards a charity that will do real work to help when they have disposable income they could put towards that (read: generally lazy, unhelpful people).

          2. B*

            There are different expectations. While this certainly might not be the case for everyone, the people I know who are deeply religious and pray on a regular basis absolutely do believe their prayers are being heard and occasionally acted on. They pray specifically because they expect it to influence the outcome.

            People saying “I hope I win the lottery” or “I hope Jane gets fired” usually don’t expect that to actually happen as a result of them saying/thinking that.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think that’s an uncharitable reading of the LW’s prayer request. Haven’t you ever wished that someone would get a new job and leave a place? Or decide to move across the country?

      (I am not a religious person either)

      1. Blargh*

        Sure, but would you then message other people with “Join me in wishing this person were removed”?

        1. Dragoning*

          Honestly, the way that’s phrased make it sounds like incredibly deadpan human my friends are used to from me…so yes, I might.

          1. Blargh*

            Fair enough!

            Though if you accidentally sent it to the wrong person, and it were about someone you managed, hopefully it wouldn’t be a surprise if it affected your relationships with your other direct reports.

            (And all this is why I’m almost comically paranoid about making sure I’m in the right message thread before sending, let’s say, a slightly risque message to my spouse. What has been read cannot be unread, etc.)

            1. Dragoning*

              Fortunately, I text very rarely–I prefer messaging people on social media, lol. Especially if I’m venting.

              (My boss and my younger brother actually have the same first name, so I have to be careful Boss doesn’t accidentally hear about my Pokemon Go exploits)

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m as not religious as it’s possible to be, and I agree. For all we know, OP was praying that the problem employees all win the lottery and leave the workplace. Mind you, I still do not in the least support what OP did. Also I don’t know OP personally and cannot speak to how exactly she wished the problem employees to be removed. But from personal experience, I’ve had people that I couldn’t get along with at work, find jobs with better pay and leave, or retire, or move away, and I always thought it as a win-win situation. They are better off, and I don’t have to work with them!

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        Or pray that the fertility treatments work, for healthy happy pregnancy and delivery, and the coworker decides to become a SAHM?

        Many candles, novenas, prayer circles were offered up for a nightmare manager who had the above situation. She was horrible before all that, and no one above her would address the issues.

        Welp. Manager’s treatments worked, uneventful pregnancy/delivery, and a beautiful kid. When she turned in her notice, people also shot off fireworks in celebration.

        I don’t pray, but I sure didn’t complain when the manager left to be with her much cherished baby.

      4. High School Teacher*

        That isn’t the same. When a non-religious person wishes someone would leave, they don’t think they actually have the power to make that happen. A person sitting down and composing a message to a minister, asking them to pray for the removal of a person, is just creepy. It is not the same as someone going “wow, I really wish she would leave this place!”

    3. Asenath*

      People in miserable situations have prayed for all kinds of terrible things to happen to those who hurt them or their families. It’s not the recommended use of prayer by any religion I’m familiar with, but it’s a very natural and human response to suffering. It takes a LOT of spiritual maturity and practice to pray for the well-being of someone who’s hurt you or your family.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        That’s very different from praying with a group of other people for the “removal” (by firing or… more drastic means?) of your employee. Whom you can presumably fire yourself with some work.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          But who is praying with a group of other people? OP’s letter said she was trying to send the text to her minister sister to add a prayer for removal to the sister’s prayer list, which is not the same as a prayer circle – a prayer list is personal.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            Not necessarily…when I ask for prayer support from family members all of those requests are then shared with prayer groups, bible study groups, part of ministers prayer on Sunday morning, etc…

            1. Betty*

              Do you not think it less stupid and therefore much more likely that the LW was asking for an addition to her sister’s private prayer list than that she was asking for a named employee to be prayed against at a public prayer meeting?

          2. Daddy Duck*

            Maybe? The sister being a minister confuses the issue. I am not sure we can say this is a private prayer list. I have attended churches where the prayer list is published in the weekly church bulletin and handed to everyone attending church that Sunday. If she just said she asked her sister to pray for her I would not assume it went farther, adding minister and list makes it ambiguous, although I would hope a minister would have the good sense not to pass this type of info along

    4. Bob*

      I am a religious person. We are supposed to pray for the benefit of others. Or for strength and wisdom that we can deal with things properly.

  34. Lynca*

    OP 3: Women on my mom’s side of the family go grey starting in their teens to mid twenties. My grandmother had a hilarious story about letting her hair finally go natural and how people were shocked she had stark white hair in her 40’s. Part of it is people have a set picture of you in their head and if there’s something different we can’t help but notice. But they will eventually get used to it.

    Hair dying is way too much maintenance for me so I have just let the grey come in over the years. I have far more grey/white than brown. I got the trendy grey with no effort! If you feel like people are noticing, I’d talk to your stylist about if there is a way to style it better during the transition or potentially dye the rest to match.

    1. Asenath*

      I’m told that a good hairdresser has all kinds of techniques to make your growing-out period less obvious, but since I didn’t dye my hair I never asked for any. I’m following in the steps of my mother in this – I’m going with natural greying. My maternal grandmother was shocked when my my mother did that; although my grandmother had little interest in fashion and makeup in general, she abhorred grey or white hair, and ensured she never had any! It’s all a matter of personal choice and style, and from what I see around me, almost anything goes with hair, in the workplace and outside it, and at the moment grey and white hair seems quite popular. I’ve seen some very stylish women with hair like that. Mine isn’t; at the moment it’s a bit of a mixture of my natural dirty blond, white and grey, although without the horizontal line you can get if you’re growing out dyed hair. Most people don’t notice or comment.

    2. OP 3*

      Hair dying was a lot of maintenance for me too (every 3-4 weeks) which adds up in time and money. It was getting to the point that I was dreading wasting 2 hours of my time at the salon every months (plus $$)

      It took me a while to want to grow out my grays. A few years actually. I’m doing it because I’m ok with going fully gray now in my late 30s. I could never have done it in my 20s.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m at that point too, OP. I started going grey in my 20s and dealt with it the same way my mum did by dyeing it black. Constantly.

        I’m now just into my 40s, half my hair fell out after a massive health problem and the rest feels just too fragile to dye you know? So I’m growing it out. Anyone who stares at my 2 inches of silver atop the waist-length remainder gets a comment of how I’m going for either a ‘silver vixen’ or ‘evil empress’ look. Mostly the latter as it gets a laugh and I’ve noticed reduces the stares significantly afterwards.

  35. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Vacation leave: Take a look at all the options, the work culture and find out how it works and if it impacts others. Those with less seniority have less options and your leave could even be denied based on what’s going on at work. Can you afford unpaid leave?

    Years and years ago, I needed three days to go to a wedding (I was in the bridal party) and had no PTO as a part-time student worker and I very much needed the three days’ pay. I worked it out in advance with my manager where I would work an extra half hour over a agreed upon number of days to earn the salary to cover the days I would be gone.

  36. Reality Check*

    #3 I just went through this but in reverse. My hair had been colored a few times too many and had gotten all bleached out and fried. I decided to grow it out, with no more coloring, period. I did tell some coworkers what I was doing, to hell with it. My hair was two toned for a while. It took about a year, I’m all natural now, and now I get a lot of compliments.

    1. OP 3*

      Yay! I have dark brown colored hair so the transition is very apparent. I’m hoping to get where you are!

      1. Reality Check*

        My hair had been long, so I cut it shoulder length. This made it easier for the roots to catch up. When the roots were a couple inches out, I had long layers put in. That eliminated a ton of colored hair. It went quick after that.

  37. KHB*

    #4: People are (presumably) bringing in those items because they don’t want them anymore and want them to go to someone who can use them. If you can use them (i.e., you’re taking them for your own use, not to resell or anything like that), then the swap table is working as intended, and you can take whatever you want with a clear conscience.

    I guess that if you frequently find yourself taking items from the swap table that others haven’t even had a chance to look at yet, you should maybe slow down a bit. But if that’s not the case, then I don’t think you need to worry about taking more than “your share” of others’ old junk.

    1. Different Kat*

      I am inclined to agree…a “stuff” table feels different than leftover food to me for whatever reason.

  38. Mel_05*

    For items being given away – just take them!

    The only goal is for the items to fond a new home. If it is something you know multiple people want (fresh garden veggies are popular in most offices) then I would hold back, but if it’s anything else it’s just cluttering things up.

    1. Terry*

      I totally agree! My office has one of these tables where people leave stuff they don’t want and it’s understood that it’s first come, first serve. People rarely leave stuff that’s valuable or appealing to a lot of people.

    2. Turtle Candle*

      I do think that the perceived scale matters. It’s sort of like… if you take a DVD today, and a mug and a t-shirt tomorrow, and then two days later a couple DVDs, nobody’s likely to notice let alone care. If you fill up a shopping bag with stuff at once, that’s going to look odd to a lot of people (whether or not it should).

  39. Random Commenter*

    I feel kind of conflicted here.

    My instinct would be to drop the bachelorette parties because they seem less important.
    That being said, I don’t think it should be up to the employer to determine which of your vacation requests are the most valid. My general preference is to request vacation without saying what it’s for.
    But also, it’s a lot of vacation to request up front, and I can appreciate the employer wanting some context if they’re going to be making a significant accommodation.

    1. Aurion*

      I think it’s the accommodation that’s the problem. If OP were a known quantity (existing employee) who already accrued their time off, it is no one’s business whether the PTO was spent at a bachelorette party or on their couch with their cat. But OP, a new employee, is asking to take PTO yet to be accrued; if OP’s asking the employer for a large amount of flexibility I think the employer should get to know why.

  40. Catalyst*

    OP 3 – I do agree that growing out your grays should not be a thing, people shouldn’t care or judge! Good for you for letting your natural hair grow out! I also think that if more women embraced this, we wouldn’t feel so self conscious doing it.
    That being said, I was in a similar situation, my grey was just getting to the point that upkeep (with my dark brown hair) was too much. My hairdresser put in super fine highlights in the same place as my grey (it took a couple times to get them to the point where they were light enough & there were enough without major damage) and then toned them so that they are greyish in color. I also use a purple shampoo to keep them from turning brassy and giving it away. This was almost two years ago now and I get tons of compliments on my hair color and how well it blends. If you have a good hairdresser they should be able to do the something similar.

    1. OP 3*

      Highlights require bleach, which is SUPER damaging to my hair (having had it highlighted and colored lighter before). I was hoping to avoid them but seems like there really isn’t an option. I already have short hair so might just have to cut off the ends in a few months.

      Also, people ‘shouldn’t’ jusdge but all the stares from (only men mind you) I have received make me feel otherwise. Also, I might be looking to switch jobs so interviewing with this makes me not very confident.

      1. Kiki*

        That’s such a bummer that people are staring. It’s really rude. If it helps, when I have had transitional hair a lot of men would stare at is as well. I asked a few of them about it and they were all genuinely perplexed by it and thought I was intentionally dying it that way, like, just dying my roots dark. They hadn’t put together that hair grows out. I know the staring is still jarring, but it helped me to know that a lot of them were just perplexed and not actively judging.

        1. OP 3*

          Kiki, now that’s a response I wouldn’t have expected! That they didn’t even realize you didn’t actively dye it that way. LOL

        2. Ego Chamber*

          “thought I was intentionally dying it that way, like, just dying my roots dark. They hadn’t put together that hair grows out.”

          I guess this makes sense, just from general proximity to the topic. Men have often been baffled by my “odd” choices in “makeup style” (read: allergies, lack of sleep, decided not to wear any makeup at all, and that one time I walked into a signpost and bruised the side of my mouth somehow).

      2. Curly*

        There is a new treatment called Olaplex that makes all the difference when bleaching your hair. My super curly, dry hair used to just snap off if I bleached it. Now, with Olaplex, I’m rocking blond highlights. It really is a step change in the technology of colouring.

  41. Been There*

    re: letting your gray hair shine through. I went through the same thing recently. I worked with my hairdresser to transition, which took about a year. It was a series of heavy, then lighter each time, blonde highlights (even though my “original” hair color is darker brown) about every 5–6 weeks combined with trimming my hair each time also. It took about a year, but I was happy with the results. I had no roots showing and it was so gradual, no one really noticed. I love the freedom of not having to color my hair every 3 weeks (my hair grows fast and I hated my roots to show).

    1. OP 3*

      I’m hoping to get where you are soon! I too was very apprehensive about stopping coloring. It took me years to decide I was ready for it. Mainly due to freedom from salon visits every 3-4 weeks. It was exhausting, time consuming, and lots of money!

  42. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I’m not religious at all, but I understand that it’s common for people who are to ask for prayers in various situations. I think if it had been, “please keep me in your prayers as I’m facing a difficult situation at work where I have to make a hard decision” it might have been received differently than “please pray that Lucinda gets fired” (or however it was worded).

  43. CupcakeCounter*

    My MIL just did this and had very dark hair and had been coloring it several shades of brown, blonde, and a little red. She spoke with her stylist when she decided she was done with the hair color and the stylist was able to place a product on her hair that lifted a lot of the color out. She still had a long growing out period but the difference between her roots and the rest of her hair was significantly minimized. Didn’t cover up what she was doing but she was a lot less self-conscious about it since it blended a little better. I think they decided to do 3 shorter treatments both to make it more gradual as well as protect her hair. Cost was less than what she had been paying for her monthly high/low lights.

    1. OP 3*

      I am working with my stylist but there really isn’t anything you can do besides some lowlights (which cover the progress I’ve already made) and I feel will take me a step back. Plus bleach is VERY damaging to my hair so I’m trying to avoid it.

      I already have super short hair so I might just have to bleach and cut the roots out after a few months.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        It wasn’t bleach!
        Not sure what it was but it was designed to only work on the part of her hair that had color applied.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Color remover. Color remover shrinks the artificial color pigments and makes them small enough to wash out of the hair shaft (it sounds like I’m making it up but this is how it works), then you usually use a toner because hair dye permanently alters the base color, it doesn’t just go back to whatever your natural color is.

          Color Fix and Color B4 are off the shelf options. Fair warning, color removers smell like rotten eggs because of the high ammonia content but they’re not bleach-based. They are very drying but not damaging.

  44. Ms Freeze*

    #4: I agree with Alison. Take what seems fair, but if no one else takes anything after you’ve waited a reasonable amount of time, it’s fair game. In my first job out of college, I was extremely broke and shopped mostly sales and couponed what I could. One day, HR put out a huge stack of coupons for $1 a can of a certain brand of soup. Since I sale shopped, I knew that this brand often went on sale for $1/can. The first day, I took 5 coupons. Everyone else ignored them. At the end of the week, I took 5 more. The next week, I took another 5 at the beginning of the week and 5 more at the end of the week. The third week, the soup actually went on sale. I took 5 more coupons at the beginning of the week. At the end of the week, I took the rest of the coupons. I ended up with 80 cans of soup for free;I spread it out over 3 different stores and multiple trips over that week so that I wouldn’t be a total pest. I felt a little guilty at first, but then reminded myself that everyone had equal opportunity to take these coupons over the 3 weeks that they’d been in the breakroom. I ate a lot of soup that fall/winter, but it helped out tremendously.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I agree with you.

      A related situation: we often celebrate office birthdays with cupcakes, donuts, or the like. And invariably we have a variety pack of some sort so that there is one of each kind of pastry. A very predictable pattern occurs: everyone pushes the box around saying, “You go first!” “No, you go first!” “No, you go first!” I always want to shout: “Somebody just take a goddamn donut!” These days, I don’t even wait for that little choreography of false modesty to play out; I just take the donut I want (after the birthday person of course).

      I don’t know the gender of LW4, but I think it’s particularly important for women to assert themselves in these sorts of situations, guilt free. Yes, even with something as seemingly trivial as a donut or soup coupons. My observation is that men will more frequently simply take the item they want and nobody bats an eye, while the women will wait and wait with the assumption that everybody else’s needs are more important than their own. Or if they act on their own needs/desires, then the appropriate response is to feel guilt and shame. These items are there for people to take. Take the donut! Take the coupon! Take the DVD and do not apologize!

  45. Blue Eagle*

    Who accrues 15 days of vacation before they even worked one full year? I sure would have liked this when I was hired at my second job 4 years out of college where the policy was if you were hired before June 30 you received 1 week of vacation that calendar year and 2 weeks the next calendar year and if you were hired after June 30 you received no vacation that year and only 1 week the next year. You didn’t receive 2 weeks till the following year. Boy have things changed in U.S. vacation policy since then!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Who accrues 15 days of vacation before they even worked one full year?

      We did at my last company. Vacation time wasn’t accrued for salaried exempt employees, only hourly workers, so you could pretty much use your time as soon as you started if you wanted to.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Ditto, although when you left they would be calculating how much you had accrued v what you had taken and would make pay adjustments accordingly in your final paycheque.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That happened to my brother at his last job and I figured it might have happened with my prior company, so that’s why I only ended up taking two days off last year – I knew I was actively looking for a new job and would be leaving (and did in May), so I didn’t want them to try to claw back money out of my last check, which was going to be short anyway since I was leaving in the middle of a pay period (I get paid semi-monthly).

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I saved up PTO in anticipation of resigning, hoping they’d include those PTO days in my notice period (UK, so a month’s notice) and I could escape sooner. They refused, which meant for a few weeks I was paid double – by $OldJob for PTO, and by $NewJob for actually working.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Lucky! (We don’t get automatic PTO payouts here in the U.S. outside of certain states like California).

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Ouch. I guess that’s the difference between considering PTO an earnable benefit (n minutes per hour worked, say) or an annual benefit (like a holiday party or summer barbecue). If you left in May you wouldn’t expect to collect 5/12 of a plate of unenthusiastically assembled potluck.

  46. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

    If I had tried to send details of employee performance issues to a group outside the business so that they could pray for said employee to lose their job, I don’t think I’d expect my own manager to “have my back”.

    1. Not Me*

      Right!? I’d fully expect to be fired. If I was the employee who was the reason for the message, I would be livid and fully advocating for them to lose their job. Hold me accountable for my performance at work, in line with our policies, but taking it outside of work to a group of strangers is ridiculous.

      1. Cheese Cheese Cheese CHEESE*

        Whatever they sent was identifiable enough that the erroneous recipient knew who was involved .

      2. Not Me*

        If I sent any information about a poor performing employee to someone else I would expect repercussions. As a manager or HR we have a higher level of expectations on how we handle the information we are privvy to. Sharing any of it with the wrong person is inexcusable.

  47. hbc*

    OP4: There’s no exact number. Well, there might be an exact “fair” number, in that an 11 person office, you should be getting 1 item in 10 that’s put down, and recycling 1 thing yourself in that timeframe. But if I was your colleague, I would never be picking up more mugs or DVDs, so you’d be waiting forever for those things to go.

    If you’re worried about looking greedy, then only pick up, say, the one DVD in the pile of 20 that would be your favorite, or the mug that really speaks to you, and then see what’s left before you go home or the next day. But a lot of that depends on the dynamics of the office, how fast stuff tends to disappear from the table, what the cleaning crew does, etc..

    1. BadWolf*

      Another thing to ponder is how much stuff the rest of the office is really interested in. If the office leans towards people who are still setting up their own house/apartment and don’t have a lot of spare money, treat it more like “1 cookie and then see if there’s any left later.” If there’s one new item a day, space out which day you take something.

      If the office leans more towards people who have a houseful of stuff and/or more disposable income…then they’re probably happy their stuff is going somewhere that it’s needed.

      If you have some weird greedy coworkers who just want to hoard stuff…then dart in and grab it.

  48. Jellybean*

    First of all, as a non-American, this doesn’t look like an odd request at all but I know that in the US, this is considered “a lot” of time off in one year.

    My thoughts are to prioritize what is a critical and what isn’t. If your contract ends in early March, I’d see if you can push any new start date to after the March trip (if that is very important, you have to decide if the person is worth losing a potential offer over). If the family Europe trip is pre-paid, it’s a priority and I think that’s understandable. The July trip, another bachelorette – same deal. Is the person/party worth it? In August, bridal party member, again – totally reasonable and same for November. I’d probably not bring up August/November yet, it just adds to the “and I need this… and this… and this…”

    It seems like you’re in that stage of life (mid-late 20s) where everyone is getting married and having those parties. No matter what anyone says, you are the one who has to decide: is this potential offer worth more or less than this person/event in my life? For example, I’d might skip most bachelorettes, unless it was my sibling or maybe a sister from another mister… only you can answer that!

    I might be old and grumpy these days, but I feel like younger people should not abdicate from life events/milestones because of a job!

    Work-life balance isn’t going to be spearheaded by the employer. If the writer is not desperate, the right opportunity should come along. This might just be my non-American perspective towards time off though?

  49. Mannheim Steamroller*


    If you don’t already have your next job or contract lined up, then you may have to delay your start until after the July bachelorette party (and possibly after the August wedding).

  50. ENFP in Texas*

    “The request was to remove this employee and any other problem employees from the facility and to make the facility peaceful.”

    If God has a sense of humor, and the OP ends up losing her job over this, maybe that is removing a problem employee from the facility and making it peaceful.

    But if the OP ends up staying and learns how to be a better manager because of this, that’s ALSO a way to make the facility more peaceful, without requesting that specific people be removed.

    And my own personal belief – requesting that a deity “do something to someone else in order to make my life easier” is not the ideal way to go about it. Praying for the strength and wisdom to handle a situation, and praying for “the best possible outcome” are how I would have worded it personally.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      And my own personal belief – requesting that a deity “do something to someone else in order to make my life easier” is not the ideal way to go about it.

      Been many years since the last time I prayed, but I remember being taught that there are five parts to a prayer, the first part being telling god that he’s an awesome god, then giving thanks, then confession, intercession for others, and requests for oneself. In no known universe does intercession for others include a request that others “be removed”.

      Also, this used to be one of my favorite prayers, back in my religious days. Took me a while to find an English version of it, but here it is. Note the very first sentence.

      O Lord, Lover of mankind, forgive them that hate and wrong us. Do good to them that do good. Grant our brethren and kindred their saving petitions and life eternal; visit the infirm and grant them healing. Guide those at sea. Journey with them that travel. To them that serve and are kind to us grant remission of sins. On them that have charged us, the unworthy, to pray for them, have mercy according to Thy great mercy. Remember, O Lord, our fathers and brethren departed before us, and grant them rest where the light of Thy countenance shall visit them. Remember, O Lord, our brethren in captivity, and deliver them from every misfortune. Remember, O Lord, those that bear fruit and do good works in Thy holy churches, and grant them their saving petitions and life eternal. Remember also, O Lord, us Thy lowly and sinful and unworthy servants, and enlighten our minds with the light of Thy knowledge, and guide us in the way of Thy commandments; through the intercessions of our most pure Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and of all Thy saints, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

  51. 1234*

    OP #5: I’m surprised that staying in the same role for 9 years can be seen as “bad.” Wouldn’t a potential employer be impressed that someone stayed for so long? I wouldn’t see that as a reason NOT to give someone an interview. In fact, I would think it would be the opposite?

    I’ve never heard of “Jane’s been at Company for 9 years. She’s qualified but we shouldn’t interview her because she’s been at her current job for so long” but then again, on AAM, I’ve read that hiring managers have thrown out resumes with names they couldn’t pronounce or because the company already had a Jane and we couldn’t possibly have another Jane working here…

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I don’t think it is her tenure at her company as much as it appears on paper that she is still doing the same role she was hired for 9 years ago with no visible sign of growth. I was at my last company for 7+ years the reality is that I was still doing a lot of the same work I did when I was hired. However, I’d gotten 2 title changes in that time so on paper it quickly made it clear that I had progressed since I started. I think the OP is worried that a hiring manager will see one role at one company and either surmise that OP isn’t that great at their job or had no ambition to move up when that isn’t the case.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It sucks that that’s the perception though. My mom works for a company where no one leaves. Hell, she’s been there 13 years and doesn’t even have the most tenure in her department – three other people have been there longer. If no one is leaving, there really is nowhere for employees to move up to, so long-term employees get screwed because it looks like they haven’t progressed.

        1. Quill*

          It’s going to depend on industry too… some (like, say, teaching,) you do the same job for 10-20 years because you don’t get “promoted” to a different classroom, you just get, if the district is solvent and the local government cares about retaining teachers, pay bumps.

      2. 1234*

        How did you notate the changes on your resume when most of the duties remained the same even though you had title changes?

        Should it just say:
        Company ABC, Title I Got Hired As, Dates
        New Title, Dates
        – Responsibility/metric 1
        – Responsibility/metric 2
        – Responsibility/metric 3

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          On my resume, I used my most recent title and in parentheses indicated my previous titles and the years.
          For example
          Llamas R Us 2012 – present
          -Llama Groomer II (2018 – present)
          (previously Llama Groomer 2015 – 2018; Llama Handler, 2012-2015)
          The first bullet points were always the items that generated the title change such as “rewrote the process manual after system change/new laws/etc…went into effect for all Llama Groomers company wide” or “streamlined X process saving over 200 hours per week in labor costs” “created process X to track changes in the quality of the wool by animal” and then the more standard tasks/achievements for the role.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      There are some industries where a person staying a long time gives the impression that they’ve stagnated (e.g., certain areas in tech). If technology is constantly evolving in her industry and OP is still in a role that’s using technology from, like, 10 years ago, that’s a problem.

      1. OP5*

        OP 5 here. The comments here are on point: It’s not a bad thing to have been stable for a long time (especially while feeling content and challenged), but I’ll need to easily convey on a resume that I didn’t stagnate. It’s not an industry with a lot of technical evolution, though I do want to show (and have) familiarity with its changing facets.

        Part of it is just adjusting to this stage of my career. The first decade was a lot of 2- to 3-year stints and a lot of title jumps, while the second was creative growth within a single position. In the past I’ve tried to pitch in with whatever’s needed and said I don’t really care about titles—I like that my company isn’t strictly hierarchical—but it wouldn’t hurt to start caring a little. I hope to not worry about my resume for years to come, but want to be prepared and will float the idea with my manager!

    3. londonedit*

      I think the problem would be the lack of perceived career progression. The accepted way that you show you’re an excellent employee and good at your job is to move up through the ranks, getting promoted as you prove to your bosses that you’re capable of taking on more responsibility. Or, you move on to bigger and better things every few years. Staying in the same role for 9 years certainly would show that someone is loyal, but I think a lot of employers would be left wondering why they didn’t want/weren’t given more responsibility over such a long period of time.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Exactly. Obviously OP can explain in person and in a cover letter the responsibility increases and other advancements they have made in the position but on the resume it looks stagnant. Without a title change, they would have to be very careful to point things like that out in the top bullet points.
        *Produce and distribute X report for the past 2 years, previously only a partial contributor
        *Researched and presented to management multiple new software options for Llama tracking when XYZ program discontinued their product
        *Took on purchasing role for all Llama Grooming products and tools

        The point is OP needs to find a way to convey growth to someone who is only going to be looking at a one page resume (my experience is that the resume has to be decent enough before they will read the cover letter which will let her expand on the growth she’s had within the role).

      2. Sloanancy*

        Yeah, although it is very industry dependent. OP says something artistic so I wouldn’t be as concerned. There are small nonprofits I’ve worked at where to not be promoted within a few years must mean you’re not worth much. But once you’re senior-ish, it’s not as weird. And asking for a better title after nine years shouldn’t strike anybody as presumptuous.

    4. Kiki*

      I think it’s the “without advancement” portion that might give even some reasonable managers pause. It depends on what industry and the company, but there is often an expected progression, like 2 years at this level, 2 years at this level, 5 at this level, etc. It sounds like LW #5 is in a role where that’s not the case and that there’s a lot of opportunity for growth within this one role. Even if the LW doesn’t ask for a title bump to help with this, I think it would be really important to convey that growth in their resume

  52. AltAcProf*

    LW3: I’m similarly cursed with premature gray and have reached a point where roots show within a week or two so I’m giving up. I’ve opted for dying only the back of my head and getting face-framing streaks in very trendy grayish purple. Each time I get these updated at the salon I get a bit more gray, working my way back. I eventually plan to have all gray — but it will be a fake silver gray toner that is trendy and perfectly blends my real gray. One of these days I’ll do my real color but today is not that day. But transitioning from my natural shade to the trendy gray lets me still have a young-ish look while allowing my hair to go much longer between treatments. Good luck!

    1. OP 3*

      Yeah, it took me years to decide I was ok with going full gray. And now that I’m growing it out, I realize it is WAYYYY more gray in the front and around the hairline than in the back. Bleach is very damaging to my hair so I really don’t want to go that route.

  53. Parenthetically*

    I’m currently growing out my natural color (which is starting to go grey) and have gotten a ton of inspiration from friends who are doing the same AND from the #grombre hashtag on social media — definitely recommend checking that one out! I’m grateful that grey is a bit trendy now, and that women are feeling less compelled to dye their hair.

    1. OP 3*

      I have naturally very dark (thick) hair, so coloring it any lighter would mean bleach. And having bleached in the past, it is VERY damaging to my hair. :(

      I’m trying to ride it out but a year of judgy looks scares me. Also, I might be looking to switch jobs so interviewing with this makes me not very confident.

      1. doreen*

        I don’t know if this will help you- but when I was still coloring my hair , I used a semi-permanent color, which washed out over a period of time. There was an obvious line of demarcation for a few weeks as my roots grew in – but then the dyed hair faded enough so that there was no obvious line. I was coloring my hair a reddish brown, so there was no bleaching involved.

  54. Mbarr*

    #3 I’m facing a similar struggle. I’m 36 and a few months ago I stopped plucking my greys. Now I’m cursed with a) getting used to seeing grey) and b) I have all these short, wiry, grey hairs poking up all over. I think I feel more self conscious than I should.

    1. OP 3*

      Same here! I’ve been coloring since my late teens/early twenties. It’s a jarring effect for myself (and apparently others).

      1. Mbarr*

        My biggest struggle is the mental, “I should not be ashamed of my greys” and I’m not… But I also know society still values “young looking” people. (The women who dye their hair grey for style reasons are the exception to the rule.)

        I also stopped wearing makeup a few years ago because why should I have to slather chemicals on my face to make society feel better about how I look? … But then I struggle with the, “Wow, she looks tired” double-standard.

        1. OP 3*

          I rarely wear make up anymore. More out of laziness than anything else. Used to be that I would do a quick hand application of a foundation and some colored lip gloss, now that’s dropped off too. For some reason that doesn’t bother me much. But the hair thing is weird for me…

  55. CupcakeCounter*

    Since you have a contract expiring in March and a trip in March, I would probably set my start date for any new job after you return from that trip.
    As for the rest, another commenter advised framing these as family events/obligations and I think that is a good way to go. Specifically for the July bachelorette though, look at the trip and see if you can trim off one or both days. Is the party drivable distance or have you already purchased a plane ticket? If you are able to drive there, ask about flexible hours for that week and work 4 10’s and miss the first day. See if there is a later (or earlier if the party goes through Monday/Tuesday) flight you can take with little or no change fee.
    Also for the weddings, are you taking the days for convenience (take Friday off for a spa day before the Saturday wedding, carpool with a couple others) or necessity (plane travel/weekday wedding, etc…)? Maybe look at those as well and see if those days are really necessary to take off.
    The June Europe trip is a killer due to the length but of the items the most understandable for a new employer – not convenient but understandable since that kind of trip usually takes a lot of preplanning and upfront costs. But if it is possible to stay at your current employer a little longer and get through a couple of the early trips, it might make this a bit easier for you – especially if the current place offers decent PTO or you have some banked. Honestly if it were me and I had the option of extending my contract, I would work at current employer up until the Europe trip. After that it is just a bunch of one and two-day trips which are usually pretty easy to negotiate for.

  56. Allison*

    #2, the only time off you really need to worry about right now is the stuff you’d need to take in the first three months, and any week-long trips in the first six. After that, you put in requests for time off a month or two before you need to take it, and after six months or so you’ll have a better feel for the office culture around days off. If you work a M-F schedule, I can’t imagine them taking umbrage with the occasional Monday or Friday off for weekend travel, but in your first year, it may be wise to limit your trips and time off to the super important stuff, and see if there are some bachelorette weekends you could skip without damaging relationships (or accept, but arrive a little later or leave earlier so you don’t need to take time off).

    You could also compromise by offering to take your work laptop with you, if they give you one, and check in remotely on those travel days so you can deal with urgent issues if they pop up while you’re gone.

  57. OP 3*

    I am working with my stylist to make it look more professional for me. I had lowlights in the “T area” to the “line of demarcation” from brown to salt and pepper wouldn’t be super apparent. It has worked well for that issue. But even though there is no straight line anymore, the growth is definitely apparent to me.

    Also, only men have stared. And not so much as staring while talking because you’re thinking of a specific word or something, like straight up staring and looking at my face, then looking back directly at my hair. It makes me feel so self conscious. Like they’re assessing my competency (since they are higher up VP level folks etc.)

    Also, bleaching is super damaging to my hair. I’m really hoping to avoid it if possible. And I already have super short hair.

    Thank you everyone for being so nice in the comments. I am a feminist (and proud of it); but I never really thought about letting my grays grow out could be an ‘owning it’ type of thing!

    1. CircleBack*

      As someone who developed a grey streak in my mid-20s and doesn’t feel like spending the time and money to cover it up, I love seeing younger women with grey hair (or really any women with grey hair). The more women who let their grey show, the less self-conscious the rest of us will feel – and the more normal it will be for the men you work with to see it.
      Hopefully the men staring are all just thinking something relatively benign like “I’m pretty sure her hair didn’t look like that before. Or did it? Is this one of those things I’m supposed to compliment, like a new haircut? Or will I look like an idiot because her hair’s been like this for weeks and I didn’t notice?”

    2. AshRadSki*

      OP #3 I recently had a coworker decide to start growing out her gray as well. She really owned it and was very vocal/friendly about it whenever anyone asked, and now its no big deal at all. I have no idea what “plan” her and her hairdresser have, but its really not something I even notice anymore :) She definitely went through a “line of demarcation” period where her roots started growing in, but after that it all evened itself out. Just own it and be cheerful whenever anyone asks, and no one will even think twice about it!

    3. fhqwhgads*

      You mentioned somewhere upthread you already have super short hair. How short do you consider “super short”? And how fast does your hair usually grow? I ask because I’m wondering if this might be a problem that solves itself pretty quickly. My hair is super thick and dark, and I keep it fairly short. It grows between a cm and an inch a month. I guess I also don’t know how frequently you see your stylist so maybe my frame of reference is off, but this intermediate period where it’s growing out and has a visible line of demarcation might be a moot point in 2 months? In which case, obviously it’s up to you if that’s long enough to be worth doing anything about it, but for me I might just ride it out, which I realize may be easier said than done if you feel like folks are gawking.

    4. Paulina*

      staring at your face then looking back at your hair… that sounds like they’re, very rudely, assessing your apparent age, so that would be less about the transition zone on your hair (though that may draw their attention) and more about what your natural hair is. If it eases your self-consciousness, perhaps they’ll consider you look more mature and competent with the gray. You’re doing what works best for you.

    5. Kirsten Donaldson Wheal*

      OP3, I wish you luck! I can totally understand why you feel self-conscious, although I hope you won’t for long. I agree with whoever said the rude dudes probably don’t realise it’s part of an ongoing process…

      I have two prominent white streaks on dark hair and have never coloured my hair. I don’t believe anyone who works with me thinks anything about my stripes, but will admit that I have worried in the past that it might be the thing an interviewer remembers about me. I have used non-permament root touchup spray sometimes. It’s basically spray mascara, so not dye, and washes right out. I can’t say it seems to have any effect on whether I get the job, though.

  58. Jellybean*

    All the advice for #2 to skip or not to skip these events is really missing one key piece of info: the writer’s financial situation. I’m assuming the writer is fairly young (20s-30s) if she’s at a stage where all her peers are getting married and having these parties. If she is financially secure to her own satisfaction, or feels she is in an industry where a period of unemployment isn’t going to destroy her reputation, then it might very well be worth it to lay her cards on the table and hope for the best.

    1. RobotWithHumanHair*

      Admittedly, when I read “8-day Europe vacation”, I got the sense that the LW is pretty financially secure (I couldn’t swing that, much less multiple wedding trips, in even two calendar years), so your advice may be solid.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        My in-laws give us a lot of money, but really only for trips or things that they value. Which has been obnoxious because I have had horrible PTO (5 days in a 1 year) before and told them to not do this. But could be the way it is. So OP may have these trips covered (whole or in part), but not rent or bills.

      2. we're basically gods*

        OP specified upthread that the vacation was a gift from their parents, who had been saving for years.

    1. #2 OP*

      Hi Jules – as most major holidays are falling on Saturdays this year, I’m not too worried about holiday breaks (and super convenient as all my family is nearby). If I end up with a FTE at my current “emplyer” (since I’m contract right now) there is a holiday shut down between Christmas and New Years (company paid “holiday” days) and a summer shutdown over the 4th of July.

  59. Kim*

    I think you can get your hair color stripped or restored to its natural color at a salon. Not that you need to, but you could.

  60. Jedi Squirrel*

    Ugh, it seems like #3 is a bit of hangover from society constantly policing women’s bodies.

    It’s your hair, you can do with it what you want.

    And for everyone else who sees someone growing out their grey and is tempted to comment or question—don’t. It’s none of your business, especially in the workplace.

  61. Employment Lawyer*

    3. Growing out gray hair at work
    If it’s “noticeable,” people will notice. We’re all drawn to look at changes and inconsistencies. But once they notice then most folks are unlikely to give a hoot; they will file it away with a “huh” or “whatever”, and move on. Only an odd bird will actually comment on it.

    But if it makes you uncomfortable to have people notice at all, and/or if you want to avoid the inevitable discussions from the one person with bad boundaries (they always exist), then just do what my friends and family did: Work with a colorist to keep your whole head the same color, and gradually transition it all to gray/white/natural/whatever over the course of a couple of months.

    4. How many items can I take from an office give-away?
    Very few, unless you’re really careful. Unless those items are REALLY valuable to you, it is probably not worth the risk of being perceived as selfish or greedy.

    One compromise, as AAM notes, is to point out that you “would never take more than one, but you’d be happy to take them if they’re otherwise going to be discarded.” But even in that situation, make sure that you track other people who might feel the same way (and the original giver, who may have other plans for any excess.)

    5. Should I ask for a different title after nine years?
    Yes, if you do different things. A different job justifies a different title.
    No, if you do the same thing. Many people hold the same job for nine years.

  62. Essess*

    If you sent out a prayer request and the recipient showed it to the employee, then you must have mentioned the employee by name in the email, right? So does this mean your sister would have used the problem employee’s name in the prayer request? If so, that’s far worse to expose your employee’s professional issues to an entire congregation of people, some of whom might actually know the employee.

    1. Betty*

      Prayer list is not necessarily a public thing. I know lots of people who keep private prayer lists so they remember to pray for people/things that they promised to. I err on giving the LW the benefit of the doubt that it’s a private prayer list and she wouldn’t be stupid enough to ask a group in her community to pray against a named person.

  63. ilisa chaconas*

    LW #3: I grew out my hair 2 years ago. I’m not sur eof the length of your hair, but what I did to mostly cover it was put my hair back. Once the gray grew out long enough, I cut most of it off. Additionally, during that first year, I usedsemi-permanent color on the roots, which washes out over time. Good luck. I receive compliments all the time and I am saving so much time & money every month!

  64. Justin McGuire*

    #3 I started balding in my 20s. Over the course of a few years I decided to go from long and unkempt to short and neat to fully shaved. I got compliments at every change of style.

    So just go for it. People will be kinder than you fear.

    1. OP 3*

      My husband is the same as you. We met when we were 21 and he already had a buzz cut out of necessity. He has been shaving his head for a good 15 years now.

      That being said, it is different for men than women. I know 1 lady who has alopecia and she is completely bald. She rocks it with total confidence but the stares and unkind comments are very frequent.

  65. Jewels*

    When I grew out my grey hair, I wore a lot of headbands at first and then when it was long enough to be in a pixie cut, I chopped it off. I didn’t say anything to anyone at work and now I get compliments all the time for my full head of grey hair. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about what anyone else things!

  66. pentamom*

    LW 3, you don’t need to do anything if you’re personaly comfortable with the way your hair is growing out. But if you want to ease the transition for whatever reason, there is semi-permanent hair color that fades rather than growing out. If you use that for a few months until more of the gray is grown out, you can stop and then your hair will just fade to gray slowly as the dye wears off, rather than growing out as gray.

  67. Daisy-dog*

    #2 – Given that I don’t know your industry or your role, I would err on the side of caution and explain all the dates in your offer stage.

    “I know this might be inconvenient, but I have several family obligations planned for this year. (List # of days/month.) Some of these days can be flexible if need be and I can take the time unpaid if I have not yet earned enough vacation time yet.”

  68. CatPerson*

    GOOD FOR YOU for deciding not to be a slave to the idea that women should be ashamed of their natural hair. I have dark blonde/light brown hair, going grey now, but when I started going from naturally blonde to dark blonde or light brown, I got pressure from people to lighten it! (Not my hubby, though!) My hair is very straight, so I would have roots showing within a week if I did that! Most women who dye their hair show roots before they get it re-done–and they think this looks better than natural color? It doesn’t! Grow out your hair, and don’t be ashamed of your grey. I wish that more people would reject how oppressive maintaining an unnatural color is, so that it would become the new normal over time.

    1. OP 3*

      I have dark brown hair and needed to get my roots done every 3-4 weeks. No need to be judgemental about folks who do color after their roots start showing. It’s a matter of comfort and what the person wants. I was not ready to go completely gray and let it be obvious for YEARS. I am finally at the point in my life where I can do so without shame (imposed on myself).

      1. londonedit*

        Totally. I’m not a fan of my hair’s natural colour, so I dye it a different colour and have done for about 15 years. That’s my choice. I’m now noticing a couple of grey patches when my roots come through – so far, just on the underneath layers, so you can’t see them in the roots that grow out on the top of my head. My plan is to carry on dyeing my hair in my chosen colour until I have a lot of grey, and then like you I’ll be looking at growing out the dye. I might go for some sort of blending technique like highlights or something, but I’ll see how I feel when the time comes. I might grow out the roots a bit and then get a pixie cut. Who knows. As you say, it’s up to the individual and what they feel comfortable with, and it’s not for anyone else to judge.

    2. Mia 52*

      Its up to each individual person. We should not feel shamed of going grey but it is also not shameful is someone choose to dye it. So many people are commenting here “I think it looks better to go grey”. And the person dyeing probably thinks it looks good dyed. Balayage is super trendy to the point that it’s the expected look, so yes, people think having roots looks better than having your natural color show. Neither one is wrong, grey can be great and so can dyed if it makes the person happy or feel good. I color my hair occasionally and its for fun because its exciting to change the look, it is not oppressive.

  69. Forrest Rhodes*

    #1-adjacent: My gran often told me that God always answers prayers; it’s just that sometimes the answer is “No.”

  70. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #1 – I don’t want to pile on, but is this really, really the way you want to construct a prayer request? That all of your problem people just get taken away? I don’t know your religion, but I can’t think of one where this is something that your deity would do. That’s not a prayer, that’s just selfish.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I don’t know. I remember something about a flood wiping out a whole lot of people. /s

      To me, it just sounds like none of the people here are very Christian. I would not enjoy working here.

  71. agnes*

    Re Gray Hair: look around. Do you see how many blonds have black roots growing out? How many redheads have brown roots? No worries!

  72. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    Eeek, LW 1 – you have really put your foot in it.

    The fact that you think your biggest problem is that you texted this request to the wrong person is telling – your biggest problem is that you’re not effectively managing your staff.

    This problem is on you, and you need to pray to be better at your job, not for troublesome workers to be smote.

    Go forth and (work) sin no more.

  73. DroptheDeadDonkey*

    My concern with OP1’s situation is that she has made a third party aware of the name is an employee who she is having issues with. It doesn’t matter that this person is a minister, sharing her name is totally inappropriate.
    Its not a big leap to imagine that OP1 had shared more than a name and discussed the situation in more detail with her sister.
    To me this is the issue and if I was the employee I’d be lodging a grievance against her for sharing confidential information.
    In the UK, she could be fired, at best she would be disciplined. In any event she’s going to find out very hard to manage this team now!

    1. sunny-dee*

      I don’t know about the UK, but in the US, “confidential information” is a very, very small subset of information. Something could be bad management or unethical or outside industry norms and still not be sharing confidential information.

    2. GoatGal*

      Yeah, I think the naming (or identifying) a person you have problems with to someone outside the company power structure is the issue. If I was the named employee I would be extremely upset – this is definitely something to take to the higher-ups in the company. I would also start looking for another job immediately, or at least a transfer away from the LW.

      1. Betty*

        Honestly, I think it’s something that most people do. I’d absolutely come home and bitch about someone I was working with to my husband, for example. Partly to ask for advice, but also really just to get it off my chest. (One time he actually told me he never wanted to hear about [Colleague] again…) But I wouldn’t do it in writing and I hopefully wouldn’t get caught by them or their friends doing it in writing!

        It was a wrong thing to do and LW needs to own up and sort it out, but let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

        1. B*

          ” …about someone I was working with…”

          And that’s an important distinction. Managers are, rightfully so, held to higher standards in this regard and while it might be iffy-but-ok to vent about peers to your friends outside of work it’s another ballgame to be doing so about your direct report.

  74. Observer*

    #1 – You’ve gotten a LOT of flak, and some of it is not very fair.

    There are two things to realize, though. One is that that you’ve gotten a pretty good look at how people are likely to react. Secondly, a lot of what is being said is stuff that you should really be taking on board and seriously considering.

    The most important issue you need to recognize is that your REAL mistake was not that you sent the request to the wrong person. Sure, that was a real error and one that you should strive to avoid in the future. The fact that you vented to your sister with a name and in writing is a much bigger issue but not the biggest issue, either.

    The really big issue is that your request is passive aggressive and focused on others rather than yourself. Praying for your employee to get a clue and start behaving would have been bad enough but possibly passable. Praying for their removal? Ouch! And there are a lot of ways that you could have put this that would have been perfectly acceptable. A request for the wisdom / skill / tools / authority to deal with a troublesome employee (without naming names) would have been just fine.

    Realize that this message comes off as mean spirited. Beyond this it really makes you look like an incredibly poor manager. Not just a poor manager in THIS situation, but poor management material. If I saw this I would really wonder if you have what it takes to manage people effectively, regardless of whether you have been given the appropriate authority. *NOT* because you prayed, but because of how you did it and the content of your request.

    Alison has provided some excellent ideas on how to move forward. Whether or not you wind up doing that in THIS job is a question you should consider (and whose answer may be taken out of your hands.) But if you want to stay in management, it’s really advice you should follow.

  75. Clisby*

    Yeah, I laughed out loud when I read it.

    “Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be very difficult for you to be perceived as fair going forward.”

    If I worked with her, the chance that I would ever perceive her as anything but utterly ridiculous would be mighty close to zero.

  76. Mister Kay*

    #1 – I don’t know if you have a business cell phone, but I would get a separate phone for personal use in order to avoid these types of mistakes. I have 2 phones for this specific purpose in order to avoid mixing business with pleasure.

  77. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I think #1 has been pretty well covered but my only advice that may have already been given but I want to drill it home. Change your sister’s name in your phone if you can accidentally message someone with a similar name!

    My brother is in my phone as “Bro” there’s no way in heck I can accidentally text him that isn’t for him and no way I can text other personal sibling stuff to non-siblings, you know?

    I had this happen months ago when my boss was confused with multiple folk with the same name, only it was hilarious on this end because I was like “I cannot make it tomorrow.” and he was like “Wait, we were hanging out tomorrow?” and I’m like “LOL guuuuuuurl.” “Oh shoot it’s you, I have multiple Becky’s!”

    For coworkers I have it like “Nancy – Shop”

    There are too many people with the same name! I have a Kate, Katie, Katy for example. So it’s like “BFF Kate” “Katie – Shop” “Katy – Chicago” “Katee – LA” so I know darn well who everyone is. It saves you so much hassle to break it out with more than just those names. Even with last names they kind of get jumbled at times, so I’d give them a bit more labeling to save you in the future.

    That doesn’t help you now but if you’re now scared it’ll happen again, that may help!!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My mom is “Boss” in my phone. My boss is (“name”). (He has a pretty unique name.)

      So far no sitcom-worthy hilarities have come from this, but you’ve got me thinking about how I probably need to go through my contacts and organize them better. That said, I add my coworkers to my contacts as “Wakeen – Work”; so I don’t get them confused with “Wakeen – bowling league” or “Wakeen – drinking buddy”.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I put my mom in there as “Mom”

        But I heard years ago to list things as “home” and “mom/dad” because if you’re in an accident and they’re going through your phone for contacts, that’s where they’re going to go first. So it’s partly out of my paranoia LOL

        But I also have the general number for Work as well, instead of just the company name for the same reason as above.

        I also don’t ever delete most text chains, that helps a lot with not getting things mixed up. I have an ongoing text with my brother and mother, so I’d go in there and not just plug in a new one. I only delete ones that are very situational.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah, I only delete ones that are one offs / unwanted. I have a running text chain going with my family which routinely gifs me with 10PM pictures of mooses and that’s pretty much always close to the top in my threads. I’d have to work pretty hard to mistake, say, my brother for a coworker with the same name between that and the photos.

          Of course, I also hoard my contacts and have some people entered as “Lucinda: DO NOT ANSWER” because… you know… people used to call me a lot more and some of them I could not, at the time, get rid of due to being forced to cooperate in school.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            My ex friend who is trouble is listed as “DNW” in my phone, they’re also blocked but I’m extra like that.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Aww man, now I need to go through my phone and rate everyone on a scale of how shit they are at D&D.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          But I heard years ago to list things as “home” and “mom/dad” because if you’re in an accident and they’re going through your phone for contacts, that’s where they’re going to go first.

          That’s why I have ICE numbers. I thought this was a thing. Is it not a thing any more?

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I have ICE numbers as well but lots of people don’t know to look at them if they’re untrained or fumbling. So they look at a call log for your last contact.

            I know too many people who are awful with technology, even though they’re in really high positions, I cover all bases.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              How will they unlock my phone though? I’ll have to look into that functionality for my phone.

              In my case, my mom’s in her 80s and her English is not great, so I’d prefer that whoever calls my family if there’s an accident, calls one of my sons instead.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Adding to my previous comment. Turns out, I already have both of my sons set up as my “emergency contacts”. They are the only two numbers someone can call from my phone without unlocking it. Hah! Past me rocks!

    2. 1234*

      One of my friends knows a lot of people, both personally and through work. He has names on his phone like:
      Bob – Company ABC
      Bob – Company DEF
      Bob Smith

      That way, he’s not texting Bob at Company ABC about his cousin’s wedding and he knows exactly who Bob Smith is.

  78. windsofwinter*

    I’ll join others in advising LW2 not to specify what she needs time off for. I would still ask though. It doesn’t seem like a lot to me in the time period it’ll be taken in.

  79. Happy Pineapple*

    Honestly LW1, and this is speaking as a religious person who prays and attends services 1-3 times a week, you should probably start job hunting. If I were your boss I would be seriously questioning your judgement and competency to the point where I would consider letting you go. Not only did you go to someone outside of your organization with identifiable complaints about your employees, and in writing no less, you also showed that you would rather take the easy way out. Instead of praying for guidance and strength to manage your team and solve problems, you explicitly stated you’d prefer that something potentially bad happen to them (fired, laid off, transferred against their wishes) so that they’re no longer your problem.

    Then there’s how your employee must feel. I can’t imagine how furious, unsettled, and vulnerable I would feel if I found out that my boss told people outside of the business that she wished I would disappear. It would validate whatever negative things were said by the previous manager to make her not trust you. It would absolutely be worth bringing to HR.

  80. Professor Ronny*

    #5. I’ve had the same job title (professor) for 15+ years. I will keep that title until I retire, even if I were to change to a different university.

    1. B*

      Sure, but the overwhelming majority of industries are not structured in a way where this would be the norm or without other potential implications. As usual, academia is the exception not the norm : )

  81. we're basically gods*

    Oof. I think if I had been shown the text that LW #1 sent, I’d be job hunting immediately. At the very least, I’d be telling all of my friends about my absolutely bananas boss who would pray that I would be “removed”. I mean, quitting for a new job with less bananacrackers management would technically be answering the prayer, but for my peace of mind, it’d be so worth it.

  82. Tapdancing Loaf of Bread*

    I don’t like this thinking either. People don’t always have a lot of choice when it comes to wedding events, and may be attending out of an obligation they don’t feel comfortable excusing them from. There are a lot of cultures where missing a wedding event is A BIG DEAL, and there’s also circumstances where you might be so involved with the event itself (i.e. an organizer/person of honour/best person, etc…) that you don’t really have a lot of choice. Weddings can involve a lot of non-negotiable aspects for some attendees, and I don’t think painting some of them as frivolous is really fair and/or helpful.

    That said, I agree that it’s not necessary to say “I’m attending a bachelorette party”. Wording it as “A Commitment” could be helpful.

  83. CastIrony*

    OP #4, Just don’t take too many and prioritize taking what you really want, but if you accidentally do, it’s okay. I’ve done that once by taking 15 potatoes when my workplace was giving away potatoes, versus the three or five everyone else was taking. **facepalm**

  84. Orange You Glad*

    OP #2 – One thing to keep in mind is some places that just give a PTO allotment for the year will pro-rate that amount for mid-year hires. For example, if a company gives 16 days of PTO per year and you start working April 1, then you’d only get 12 days for the remainder of the year. Be prepared with alternatives (such as taking time off unpaid) or compromises (maybe only taking 1 day off for a bachelorette party instead of 2) to make it work. It’s good you’re thinking about this in advance.

  85. Remove Worker and Dog Lover*

    For LW #1: I likely wouldn’t fire someone for just that but as their boss would definitely want to have a serious discussion with them about how they’re currently managing the situation and also talk about professionalism.

    For LW #2, for me the concern would be how many *specific dates* you need off and if realistically we can grant that. Like others have said, 15 days of PTO over an 8 month period isn’t out of the ordinary. Do you have any flexibility over when you can take those trips? And would they fall over any important events or deadlines you might have to be in charge of/be present for? For example, at my organization, we have a big event annually that everyone works on, and ideally everyone on staff is physically present for it. It’s incredibly unlikely I would hire someone who needed to be there working the event, as it would be too much of a hardship, especially for someone in their first year.

  86. Lurker*

    OP 1 – my mother is a highly professional and competent woman. One time she was sending an email to her boss complaining about a colleague. She accidentally sent it to the colleague.

    It was definitely awkward for everyone, but that was over a decade ago. Her reputation survived, her career is doing fine, and she’s well respected. It may seem like a big deal now, but everyone makes embarrassing mistakes sometime. If you handle it well and move on, so will other people.

  87. Ura B. Adperson*

    #1- I doubt this person deserves to lose their job so badly that you need to invoke divine intervention. That doesn’t seem very Christian.

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