I was forced to sing at a company dinner, coworker ties up our only bathroom, and more

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

1. I was forced to sing at a company dinner

Recently I left a job of 10 years because of a great opportunity. Two weeks into this job, I’m at a dinner with my whole team, high bosses, and special guests. One of the high bosses told me and the other new employee we had to sing right there and then. We ignored it at first, thinking surely he was kidding. Then he said, “You can either sing here and now, or you can turn your badges in on Monday.” When someone tried to stop it he said he needed to “haze the new hires.” We sang, but could we have gotten out of this somehow?

Your boss is a jerk, but I’m skeptical that he’d really fire you over this. I mean, I get that he explicitly said he would and you didn’t want to take the risk, but I’m still skeptical that he’d do something as counterproductive as going through an entire hiring process, cutting loose other candidates, starting to train you, and then firing you because you declined to sing. Maybe I’m wrong — certainly some people abuse their power in absurd ways. But there’s a decent chance he thought it was all in good fun and thought you knew firing was never seriously on the table.

As for getting out of it, you could have tried, “Ha, sorry, I’ve got a sore throat and there’s no way” or “I’d never subject friends to that” or offering up a limerick instead or all sort of other evasions — and with an even semi-decent or semi-reasonable person any of those would work. But maybe he’s not semi-decent or semi-reasonable.

Power abuses are awful precisely because of this quandary: the person with less power doesn’t feel they can risk finding out what happens if they push back.

2. Coworker ties up our only bathroom

I work in a small office, and we have only one bathroom. One of my coworkers tends to take extremely long bathroom breaks. Just now, they were in there for around 50 minutes, and I was busting to go. As I came down the (fairly noisy) stairs, they flushed and started to finish up, leading me to think that they’re just on their phone in there and getting distracted, and were jolted back to reality by the footsteps.

How do I handle this tactfully? I’m sympathetic that they may just need that much time to do their business, but I’m getting pretty fed up with having to hold it for so long.

The noisy steps are your friend here. If you need to use the bathroom, tromp loudly down the stairs. If your coworker is just goofing off in there, presumably that’ll alert them that someone is waiting. It’s also not unreasonable to knock on the door after waiting a few minutes, to confirm there’s someone really in there (unless the, uh, auditory feedback is such that there’s no way you wouldn’t know).

But really, this is an office problem. One bathroom might not be workable for a group of people. Some people have medical reasons that longer bathroom stays are necessary, whether or not your coworker is one of them. It might be worth raising the issue to whoever manages your space and asking about alternative solutions. (Realistically, there might not be anything they can do — small offices do sometimes just have a single bathroom. But if the problem is on your radar, it should be on theirs too.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Did I blow my chances by mixing up the interview time?

I recently had an interview with a top notch company. It was a phone interview scheduled for 9 am EST, but I thought it was CST. So when I received an email asking where I was on the conference line 30 minutes before I thought I was supposed to dial in, I was mortified.

I didn’t get in touch with the hiring manager until 30 minutes after the scheduled interview but it seemed to go well. They seemed engaged and pretty interested in our conversation.

I apologized for the oversight and while I was told it was okay, I am sure they wouldn’t just outright tell me a blew it because I screwed up the timing. Did I totally blow my chances at landing this gig because I got the time mixed up?

It’s impossible to say from the outside, but I wouldn’t assume you blew it. This kind of time zone mix-up isn’t uncommon. As the interviewer, I’m mildly annoyed when it happens but not enough to reject a candidate who’s otherwise good (although if there are other signs of disorganization/lack of attention to detail, it will contribute to an overall picture that’s more likely to be a deal-breaker). There are interviewers who will consider it a major strike against you, though (just like there are interviewers who are will reject you over a single typo too — although they should read this). So there’s no way to know until you find out whether or not you’re advancing.

4. Should I take a lunch break if I’ve missed part of the workday?

If I miss part of a workday due to a doctor’s appointment, should I still take a lunch break? For example, I have to leave today for an appointment at 2:50. Is it weird/wrong for me to still take my lunch from 1 pm – 2 pm?

It depends on how your office does things. At most places, if you were leaving at 2:50, it wouldn’t be cool to take an hour-long break just beforehand, but a shorter break or a break earlier in the day would be okay. But other places have rigid policies about when lunch must be taken (or have state laws requiring that non-exempt workers take a break of X minutes after Y hours of work). As a general rule, though, if you’re leaving early, you’ll look like you’re not managing your time well if you take an optional hour-long lunch right before you head out.

5. Can I use acronyms on my resume or must I spell things out?

I’m updating my resume and am having a hard time deciding what to do about acronyms. In my profession, acronyms are rampant and vary from being widely recognized across the country, to specific to one state or sometimes even one localized area. Some sample lines that I might include on my resume would be “Facilitated SLT through ABCD cycle and implementation of sitewide EF and GHIJ” or “Coordinated services including AAB, BAC, and AEL training for 300 clients annually.”

Those are fake acronyms, but the gist of the lines are right from my resume. If I’m applying internally within my company, must I spell out each acronym at least once before using acronyms only?If I applied with those lines exactly as-is, hiring staff viewing my resume would know all of the acronyms, but I still wonder if it’s better to spell them out to be safe (they’re just so long!). If I were applying out of my company or out of state, I’d probably try to gauge which ones are universally recognized in my field, and in that case should I also still spell out each acronym at least once?

Spell them out. If you’re using them multiple times, spell them out on first use and put the acronym in parentheses. There’s too much chance that someone reviewing your resume at some point in the process won’t know what they are, and that you’ll look like you’re so steeped in jargon that you’ve lost your sense of what is and isn’t intelligible to laypeople.

{ 687 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    OP #1– Yikes! Making people sing (impromptu!) is so bizarre and very much a jerk move.
    I’d keep an eye on the boss for any other weirdness and/or “threats” to fire you (or anyone else).

    1. Avasarala*

      Yes, definitely ask around if this guy is known to be a jerk. I’d start with the person who tried to stop it, they seem to have a sense of propriety.

      And remember OP, you left a job for a “great opportunity” so you can find a new one if you have to. You might have more power here than you think!

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think the OP needs to ask around. The High Boss is either a major jerk or just a mean drunk. I don’t think there is any other way to read “I have to haze the new hires”

        If the latter, hopefully you can stay away from him in situations where liquor flows. Otherwise, what you really want to look at is the overall culture. Because it concerns me a bit that anyone thought “haze the new hires” is a good reason for ridiculous behavior.

      2. Granny K*

        I have the ability to sing like Ethel Merman, which is a talent nobody needs to hear. If someone ‘made’ me get up and sing, I would get up and sing “Everything’s coming up Roses” in it’s entirety (it’s a long song) which would ensure that Nobody Would Ask Me To Sing Ever Again.
        In fact later, when _I_ needed to threaten someone, I could then say: Hey…don’t make me sing.

        1. Megpie71*

          I’ve found the best solution for impromptu requests to sing, if you can pull it off, is singing a quarter-tone flat all the way through. Or otherwise off-key, off-rhythm, off tune, or otherwise just “off”. Make the fulfillment of their request its own punishment.

          (This advice brought to you by being the child of a tone-deaf mother, and spending most of my childhood Sunday mornings listening to an elderly congregation murder hymns, each in their own key).

        2. rigger42*

          I’d applaud! :) However, some of those people who failed to dissuade him need to have a serious follow up on how he’s creating a hostile and negative impression on new hires. I know a fantastic singer with severe social anxiety, and it sounds like torture — though she’d probably give him an unamused stare, a fake laugh, and go back to her food.

    2. Scarlet2*

      Yeah, honestly I thought the answer to OP1 downplayed the severity of the situation. I agree that it’s not something worth quitting over at this stage, but the whole context of high boss forcing the new hires to do something a lot of people consider publically humiliating by “jokingly” *threatening to fire them if they don’t comply* sounds a lot like bullying to me. I really don’t think that “there’s a good chance it was all in good fun”. When you have authority over someone, it’s not “good fun” to threaten to fire them, and I don’t think the fact that high boss might not have actually intended to go through with it makes any difference at all.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yep. And “haze the new hires” is objectively terrible behavior. Hazing is never appropriate in any situation. Treat team members – even new ones – with dignity and respect. I shouldn’t need to say this, but here we are.

        1. EPLawyer*

          That’s what got me more than threat to fire. Why does he think he has to “haze” the new hires in the first place? Is he still in a fraternity? Does he expect people who have gone through the entire hiring process to still have to prove how much they want the job?

          I would keep an eye out for any other warning signs that this place is cuckoo for cocoa puffs. And breathe a sigh of relief if you don’t have to work with this high boss too often.

          1. Sans Serif*

            Yeah, my eyes widened when I saw the word “hazing”. This guy sounds like some stereotypical frat bro who thinks it’s funny to harass and bully those he has power over. I’d keep my eyes open for other signs that he’s a jerk and also note how much it affects your work atmosphere. Who knows, maybe in the end, it won’t matter that much in your day-to-day work. But it’s just something to keep in the back of your mind in the future.

          1. whingedrinking*

            My name is no
            My sign is no
            My number is no
            You need to let it go
            You need to let it go
            Need to let it go
            Nah to the ah to the, no, no, no

          1. wendelenn*

            Want to move ahead, but the boss won’t seem to let me, Lord, I swear sometimes that man is out to get me!

        1. RC Rascal*

          How about something so annoying they drop them he tradition.

          I vote 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Yes! With plenty of “c’mon, everybody join in!” between the verses while looking directly at the boss. If they start telling you that’s enough, insist that you’re no quitter and will see it through.

          2. Clorinda*

            Or the annoyingly simple.
            “A, B, C, D, E, F, G….”
            Although, if I could find the right starting pitch, I’d put my hand on my heart and sing the National Anthem as best I could (which is not that well).

          3. JustaTech*

            What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor would be my choice because you get to make up the lyrics of terrible things you’ll do to the drunken sailor. “Make him sing/ for the new boss” comes to mind.

          4. Charlotte Collins*

            I am a terrible singer, but if forced, I would choose one of the following:
            “Henry the Eighth” by Herman’s Hermits. I am a small American woman, but have been able to sing it exactly like them since my dad taught me when I was 4.

            “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” another Dad favorite.

            “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” because you basically shout through part of it.

        2. Rosemary*

          Or perhaps one of those endless looping ditties, ala “The Song That Never Ends”. Have a staring contest while you wait for Jerk Boss to crack.

      2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        If it was the OP’s immediate boss, I think it would have been worth escalating the situation right then by refusing – just ignoring the person first and then seeing what happened. Then “no thanks” and staying seated. If he’s going to be like that, escalate now so if he’s like that day-to-day the OP wouldn’t waste time at that workplace. If that’s the start, the job will be hell.

        Because it was a higher-up, it’s less clear what is appropriate – perhaps the OP won’t interact with that person and so this kind of crazy behavior will be rare enough to avoid. Time will tell.

      3. Just Another Manic Millie*

        “Yeah, honestly I thought the answer to OP1 downplayed the severity of the situation.”

        ITA. Alison said, “I’m skeptical that he’d really fire you over this,” but I’m not so sure that she’s right. I once found out that I was about to be fired (as soon as my supervisor hired my replacement) because he had a rule that his secretary had to be fired before she worked there for one year so that she would never be able to take a vacation or get a raise. At another job, I was fired because a co-worker heard someone praise me and got jealous and told the branch manager that if he didn’t fire me, she would quit. (The branch manager told me that she said this, so it’s not a guess on my part.)

        And at another job, where I was baited-and-switched into being the receptionist, the owner would decide every few days that I couldn’t give Fergus his calls. If anyone called in for Fergus, I was told to say that he wasn’t in and take a message. Every ten minutes or so, the owner would run out of his office to the reception desk and shout, “Are you giving a call to Fergus? Because if you give him a call, you’re fired!” I always told him that I wasn’t giving any calls to Fergus, but he kept running over and shouting and threatening to fire me. I have absolutely no doubt that if I had given a call to Fergus and the owner found out, I would have been fired, even though Alison claims that it would have been counterproductive.

        I asked the office what the problem was with Fergus getting calls. She said that Fergus wasn’t doing anything wrong. The owner banned him every few days from receiving calls because he just felt like it. “Well, it’s his company, so he can do what he want” was said very frequently at that company.

    3. Lurking Tom*

      Yeah, I’d actually start looking for another job. I was once in a “do X or you’re fired” situation at a looooooong ago job & promised myself that I’d never let that happen again. Thinking you might be fired at any minute over one random thing is awful and just hangs over you like a dark cloud that never goes away.

      1. Antilles*

        To me, the *only* exception would be if this ‘high boss’ is far enough above OP that they barely interact on a day-to-day basis, so you can just nod politely once a quarter at the all-staff meeting and otherwise just never deal with him.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Even with the exception you mention, you have to keep in mind that if this person wasn’t someone you interacted with regularly, he’s the one making the big decisions. And someone who thinks it’s okay to “haze” the newbies and threaten to fire them when they don’t comply is someone who makes really bad decisions.

          I’m not sure what I would have said, but there’s no way in hell I would have complied with his demands. Nobody is forcing me to do something at a work event that has nothing to do with my job.

      2. paxfelis*

        I’d be very tempted to say something about that not being how I had planned to meet the entire HR department, but if he insisted…

      1. Dragoning*

        I don’t understand, Probably the majority of people aren’t even particularly good at singing. It’s like asking someone to solve quantum physics problems in front of everyone–designed to cause humiliation.

        1. Elenna*

          Well, the boss said he was “hazing” the “newbies”, so “designed to cause humiliation” sounds about right… :(

          1. Kat2*

            In the situation I probably would have done exactly what OP did. But getting to examine it from the outside, this is great language…I would like to have said, “Clearly you’re joking – hazing was invented to humiliate people, and that wouldn’t be a very appropriate way to welcome employees! Ha ha ha!”

        2. Salsa Your Face*

          Even for those of us who are good at singing, it’s not fun to be forced. My former coworkers knew that I used to be a professional singer, so they constantly tried to goad me into karaoke. Karaoke is terrifying! There’s no rehearsal! Everyone is staring at me! (Performing in front of 50 people is WAY WAY WAY different from performing in front of 1000 people. In a theatre, I can’t see the audience member’s faces.) Not to mention the fact that it’s kind of lame when people try too hard at karaoke. I literally walked out of a team building event once. It sucked. The people at my new job don’t know I can sing and I plan to keep it that way.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I was once nudged into doing karaoke at a friend’s birthday in a local gay bar; I said I was willing to do “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrisette. The person who queued up the song for me couldn’t find “You Oughta Know” and chose another Alanis song. One I didn’t know, like, at all. Okay, I thought, I’ve got enough time to find a video of it on YouTube and watch it on my phone, pound my drink, and fumble my way through the song before sitting down and ordering another beer. It’s not like tipsy white women who suck at karaoke are that unusual.
            And then about halfway through the song, the machine broke down and stopped displaying the lyrics properly. I kept trying even when half the words were missing before finally giving up. I wouldn’t say it was my worst nightmare, but it’s pretty close. (All credit to the room full of people, mostly young gay men, who clapped for me anyway. )

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Yeah, I mean, I’m part of a hobby where it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that people will have a song ready to go at all times, but we are all very aware that this is not a normal thing in wider culture that is true of most people now that recorded music is a “thing” and most people don’t sing for their own/each other’s entertainment on a regular basis. (And we don’t make people sing if they don’t want to, because we’re not jerks.)

    4. Another JD*

      I’m tone deaf, and would totally have launched into “Baby Shark” complete with the hand motions. Why yes, I do have a toddler, why do you ask?

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I was thinking of “Just You Wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins” from My Fair Lady, looking straight at the sadistic lout.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Or “Sing” from A Chorus Line, where the entire song is about how the person singing it can’t sing.

          1. anonymous 5*

            or “A Word on my Ear” by Flanders and Swann…though that’s actually a brutally difficult piece to sing, and pretty well needs an accompanist capable of playing an equally-brutally-challenging accompaniment…

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        I also have a toddler, and I commented further down about how I’d likely freeze and forget everything except the songs I sing on repeat to her. They’re burned into my brain.

        Send help.

    5. Zap R.*

      It’s like when someone goes “I don’t know that song! How does it go? Can you sing it for me?” and then you’re like “I’d rather not” and they’re like “Just hum a few bars” and you have to hum off-key to save the conversation because the person you’re talking to refuses to read social cues.

      1. A.R.*

        Oh no, I just realized I do that on occasion and that it’s probably a faux pas. Thank you, I’ll not do this any more!

    6. Marko*

      I had a boss years ago who told his subordinates that if they weren’t making their people cry, they weren’t doing their job.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I am reading “Brotopia” and that management style sounds familiar.

        And at my old job, the new CEO came from GE and brought a bunch of GE people with him, who told managers they were being too nice.

    7. Xantar Fearless Aeronaut*

      I think it’s worth noting that someone apparently tried to get the boss to stop, so at least the ENTIRE company isn’t made up of unreasonable people. This is a flag for OP, but if it’s a one-off event, the job might still be worth staying with. OP should definitely be on the lookout for other hinky behaviors, though.

    8. TootsNYC*

      what a way to make a bad early impression on your direct reports!

      I once worked with a group of people who had a ritual of going to get Mint Milano cookies in the afternoon for snack.

      I hired a junior person, and we made her go buy the cookies on her first or second day–we gave her the money, and the place to buy them was in the building lobby. But she was pissed off and told us so. We really did think of it as a bonding/initiation kind of thing (which is what hazing is intended to be), and because it wasn’t that onerous, it didn’t occur to us that it was a bad thing.

      But we hurt our relationship with her by insisting after she indicated she didn’t want to.

      I learned something important from that.

      1. Betsy Scott*

        Years ago, I worked for an insurance company and on the third day, I was asked to get a policy stretcher from a certain department. When I got there, I was told that I had to go to a different department. This went on several times until someone told me what was going on and there was no policy stretcher. When I got back to my department, everyone was laughing. I laughed too. I thought it was funny.

    9. AKchic*

      I am such a brat that I would say that I only know off-color sea shanties that would put the company in a legally compromising situation, but hey, if they want to put themselves in more of a quandary, fine, I’ll sing, but I’ll announce that I was told I had to or be fired; or they can tell everyone right here and now that they are firing me, because I will happily announce it on my way out the door. Take your pick.

      The boss has just shown himself. Believe him.

    10. Kat in VA*

      That would really suck for me. I have a neurological speech impediment and a severed laryngeal serve from surgery.

      Making me sing would be simultaneously mortifying and spectacularly cruel.

  2. Massmatt*

    #1 being made to sing as a hazing ritual is weird, and threatening your jobs over it is weirder still. How drunk were people at this affair?

    Judgment is the first thing to go when people drink, long before coordination etc.

    IF they were drunk, I would have been tempted to give a full rendition of “99 bottles of beer on the wall” shouted at full volume. And I’m a terrible singer, but I make up for it in volume.

    But given this is a boss and he can probably fire you for any reason (especially if you are only on 2 weeks) discretion is probably the better part of valor. Sing something short and get it over with, and then follow up afterwards—is this what the boss is like, or was this a fluke?

    1. It's a Yes From Me*

      I love that idea! It could be introduced: “Here’s a song classic that you probably know. Feel free to sing along! 99 bottles of beer on the wall…”

      1. Antilles*

        I love it too, especially if you commit to it. We’re not bailing out a couple minutes in. Nope, you wanted singing buddy, let’s go, all 45+ minutes it takes to go from 99 down to zero.

        1. Quill*

          Most of the songs I know word for word will also get you banned from singing on a schoolbus, so if they want an encore

          – the wheels on the bus
          – I know a song that gets on EVERYbody’s nerves (EveryBODY’S nerves, and this is how it goes)
          – Jingle bells, batman smells
          – Murder Barney the purple dinosaur
          – Worms? I hate worms! (does not have a tune. at all)
          – The Yellow Bird (both the brownies and the eagle scouts version: brownies version is longer and more cheerfully vicious, eagle scouts version ends up going into ‘be prepared’ after a certain point and loses points for relying on scotch and crotch shots to try and compete with the brownies’ enthusiasm for decapitation.)

          Probably the only other song that I could drop at will without excessive “what the heck are the lyrics” mumbling is bohemian rhapsody.

          1. Clorinda*

            Bohemian Rhapsody? The whole thing? This would ABSOLUTELY be the only possible choice if you could do it.

            1. Quill*

              Oh, I’m not saying that I can DO it, just that I know the words.

              I was a theater kid and by the time we started doing musicals I was unceremoniously dumped onto the technical side of the operation. I come from a family who, when singing in church, were told “the lord can hear you however quietly you sing,” (so please, please make it so he’s the only one who can!)

              1. TootsNYC*

                at my church, the pastor said, “God gave you that voice, he knows exactly what it sounds like. And he expects to hear it.”

                1. Frog Voice*

                  My pastor says “If God gave you a good voice, use it to praise Him; if He gave you a voice like a frog, throw it back up at Him.”

          2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

            “Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts.” Bonus if the boss is still eating.

            1. TootsNYC*

              granny’s in the cellar, lordy can’t you smell her…

              (I once was stuck on a huge plane for hours, with 5 seats in the middle, section, and the kids in the row behind me were getting antsy, so I taught them ALL those songs: McDonald’s is my kind of place, they feed you rattlesnakes….)

            2. Filosofickle*

              I was just telling my BF about the gopher guts song! We were talking about how gross kids are. (Remember the Diarrhea song from Parenthood?) He’d never heard of it. I was like…you went to camp in the 70s/80s how do you not know this?

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I got a concussion a few years ago in a car accident. I don’t remember much about that evening, but I’m told I gave a rousing rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to the assembled bystanders.

          3. Texan In Exile*

            I was so impressed with my brother in law when I discovered, at his wedding to my sister, that he had taught his 14 year old daughter all the words to Rapper’s Delight. I am thinking I need to learn that song just for this eventuality.

          4. Tina*

            I’m dying to hear/read the Yellow Bird now.
            My go-to annoying song is the Paratrooper Song (to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.)

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” and “This is the song that doesn’t end….” are also viable possibilities.

    2. Definitely not Maria Callas*

      IF they were drunk, I would have been tempted to give a full rendition of “99 bottles of beer on the wall” shouted at full volume.

      I mean, that’s exactly the kind of thing you should have done.

      1. linger*

        My go-to for forced karaoke performances is “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash. As long as you can more or less keep to the rhythm, the melody doesn’t matter — and the lyrics send a message about how you feel about doing this.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          I’ve just spent longer than I should have “composing” lyrics about the situation to the tune of Greensleeves. They’re probably more likely to get the singer fired than not singing in the first place, but it amused me to go through the exercise.

          (I’m particularly fond of the chorus, to be sung at full volume:
          “Oh Ask A Manager,
          what am I supposed to do?
          Ask A Manager,
          at least my post wasn’t number two!”
          I’m very sorry…)

        2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          Love it! I guess “F**k You” by Lily Allen wouldn’t be a wise choice. But I’d be so tempted. :)

          1. Anongineer*

            Oh I definitely would have gone for this song. Or Happy Birthday. It depends on how badly I want the job!

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        I would love to burst into a full broadway belt of “What Is this Feeling” (unadulterated loathing) from Wicked. I might also go back to my choir background and deliver a slightly off-key, but very loud version of O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.

        Seriously, though, I would ask around and try to figure out exactly how much influence this jerk is going to have on your day-to-day work and act accordingly (start looking maybe).

        1. LizB*

          Sure, boss, I can do O Fortuna… but I’m a soprano 2, so it’ll be the weirdest note in the chord, is that okay?

          (See also: the video “All I Want For Christmas Is You, but just the Alto part from my high school choir arrangement”)

          1. Shadowbelle*

            Coloratura here. I’d go as high above C6 as I could manage on the spur of the moment, and as flat and as loud as possible.

            That’ll larn ’em.

              1. Shadowbelle*

                Totally! Therefore: “So bist Du meine Tochter nimmermehr!” Or, as translated for the occasion, “So bin ich Ihr Mitarbeiter nimmermehr!”

                In other words, you make me do this, I will make you suffer, and then I am out the door. Seriously, I wonder how WTF Boss would react to a full-throated aria?

                1. Nessun*

                  If I were the boss, I’d be on my chair applauding! But then, if I were the boss, I wouldn’t have made you sing, because that is a horrible power move and so, so awful.

            1. Lalaith*

              I haven’t seen it, but I can imagine it’s pretty similar to the tuba part. (My husband’s brass band did an arrangement of this for their holiday concerts this past season, and he, as a tuba player, was very bored with it.)

            2. SusanIvanova*

              The Durufle Ubi Caritas was written for altos. Four pages long and sopranos only sing on two of them.

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            I could totally join in with you on the weirdest notes. I sang alto 2 (and sometimes tenor) in high school chorus and for a long time didn’t know the melody to some pretty standard Christmas carols as a result.

            1. we're basically gods*

              I’m constantly forgetting that I can’t *actually* sing Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. I can sing the alto 2 line no problem, but the actual melody…whoof.

    3. T3k*

      I was thinking of doing a deadpan version of the alphabet song or try Die Eier von Satan (it sounds evil but it’s actually a cookie recipe in German).

      1. Snarky Apples*

        I was thinking some sort of industrial song, like Daisy Chain 4 Satan or Jesus Built my Hot Rod. But Tool is just as good, if not better.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I live for drugs. It’s great.

          Or my personal favorite, Headhunter by Front 242. Only I’d just try to mimic all the synthesizer bits.

      2. Arabella Flynn*

        And the title, while technically clean (“the eggs of Satan”), is actually off-color slang. Any actual German speaker would understand that as “Satan’s testicles”.

    4. Medico*

      I’d be so tempted to sing a little ditty I learned in high school French. Roughly translated it goes ‘Lark, pretty/jaunty lark. Lark, pretty/jaunty lark. I will come and pluck your head.’
      Apparently it was all the rage in the lower classes just before the Revolution.

      1. Medico*

        ‘Lark’ being a nickname for the nobility, I should add. Based on they dressed and comported themselves.

        1. Elenna*

          …I’ve known that song since childhood and it suddenly makes so much more sense.

          (Anglophone Canadian who was in a French immersion school as a kid, in case you were wondering.)

        1. SarahKay*

          English person here, and I didn’t recognise it either until you gave the French name. And bonus – now I know the translation to a song that I’ve often sung the French version of :)

        2. OtterB*

          I am now one of today’s 10,000 (ref xkcd). I knew the song from childhood but not the context at all.

        3. LizB*

          …so that’s why the only part of the lyrics they translated for us in my elementary school French classes were the body part words.

          1. Mary*

            The first known printed version in France dates from 1893, in Canada it showed up in print in 1879. The theory that it originated in France rests entirely on the say-so of Marius Barbeau, but it seems that this is an area where he may have gotten it wrong.

      2. Mary*

        Jaunty (Playful, jolly, cheerful) is actually not at all a good translation for gentille (kind or nice).

        French Canadian culture can seem very strange sometimes. Might seem less strange if you consider that people ate larks back then, so it’s the sort of song you might sing while preparing dinner. They were also considered annoying birds that woke you up in the morning before you were ready to get up (bird had a reputation of parting lovers, carrying bad news and being a gossip).

        My favourite version of this is the so-called “Russian” version sung in a minor key “je te plumerai la têteski”

      1. Randomity*

        It’s a shame “help me I am in hell” is instrumental, but “the hand that feeds” would also work

        1. we're basically gods*

          Oh, I disagree. I think bursting into a rendition of an instrumental song would be delightful!

    5. Princess of Pure Reason*

      I’d go with Senior Service by Elvis Costello, while looking the big boss right in the eyes. Gumption!

      I want your company car
      I want your girlfriend and love
      I want your place at the bar

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        I’d prefer hard core hip-hop, deadpan with the right rhythm:

        I’m the insane n***ger from the pyscho ward!
        I’m on the trigger,
        and I got the Wu Tang sword.
        So how you figure?
        You can’t even f*ck with mine!
        Hey you Rizza, hit me with that sh*t one time!

        1. Anongineer*

          Ludacris has a song that would also work in this vein – Get Back (10/10 recommend whenever you’re angry). Favorite part is:

          “Hey! You want what wit me?!
          I’m a tell you one time, don’t f*ck with me!
          Get down! Cause I ain’t got nothing to lose
          I’m having a bad day, don’t make me take it out on you!”

    6. Everdene*

      I am a reasonably good singer (national choir with annual re-auditions) and I would find this request horrific. Being made to sing out of context when unprepared is the thing of nightmares*.

      If you are able, refusal is the best option but most people do not have the privilage of being able to risk losing their job like that. Any boss that considers hazing (of any kind) appropriate would be a red flag to me and I’d start job hunting again because this is unlikely to be the last unreasonable thing you are asked to do.

      *Singing when others don’t want me to? Do it all the time. Can’t help myself. But that spotlight? I’d be paralysed with indecision on what is even an appropriate song to sing.

      1. Meepmeep*

        I just know I’d come out with something completely and horrendously inappropriate for the occasion. I mean, I like to sing and I have a decent singing voice and have sung in choirs and I’m used to performing. But put me on the spot like this? You’re getting an obscure operatic aria, and I hope you like badly sung fioritura.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m trying to imagine what I would end up with and it would be either a children’s song (they’re all firmly implanted in my memory) or, more likely, something out of the Episcopal 1982 Hymnal. “And did those feet/ in ancient time/ walk upon England’s mountains green.”

          There’s nothing like being randomly ordered to sing (or recite poetry or whatever) to just make your mind go blank.

          1. Tina*

            I know literally no people who can sing Jerusalem right through without dropping into inaudibility on either a high or low note, so I’m impressed!

          2. Third or Nothing!*

            Hey me too! I sing to two songs to my daughter every night – her special lullaby and usually a hymn. I’ve sung them all so many times they’re firmly stuck in my brain forever.

        2. paxfelis*

          I’m trying to think of what I would sing, no pressure because this is hypothetical, and what do I have stuck in my head but “Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand…”

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I would totally give you a standing ovation!

            Plus, it beats “It’s been a long road, gettin’ from there to here…” (which gets inexplicably stuck in my head quite a lot despite my hating it!)

          2. Browncoat Blueberry*

            Oh lord, if you sang that around a drunken Blueberry I would probably start crying and singing along.

    7. June First*

      Oh, wait, I’d choose “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music for content and because I know every single awkward lyric/flapping motion.

      You know, if I didn’t need the job.

      1. Phantom*

        Hello, kindred spirit! That’s my daughter’s favorite song, so I also know most of the awkward flapping motions, as well as when to scoot up the stairs backwards. I’d love to see someone react with that. Also, your username is my birthday. :)

        1. June First*

          Hello, friend!
          We also have to add in a couple of tics for when the record used to skip. “The suuuun has-suuuun has-suuuun has gone to bed and so must IIIIIIII…”

    8. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      For maximum number of verses, I’d suggest “I’m Henry VIII”

      “Second verse, same as the first…” and continue to infinity, or we get kicked out of the restaurant, whichever comes first.

      1. Mill Miker*

        “The Song that Never Ends” would work well for this as well. Especially if you can work up to getting really indignant at someone trying to cut you off or interrupt.

        1. Quill*

          Oh god that one, I live in dread of when my neighbors’ kids learn it. (but not as much as the neighbors do!)

    9. Third or Nothing!*

      I think I would have gone with “Do You Hear The People Sing?” Sung deliberately off key and while staring Jerk Boss in the eye the entire time.

        1. RVA Cat*

          There’s also plenty of songs known for iconic movie moments – I’m thinking Bowie’s “Cat People” (Putting Out Fires With Gasoline) from Inglorious Basterds….

    10. Phony Genius*

      I would try to make them all participate to make them realize how ridiculous this is. You can do this by insisting they sing backup, like the “awimaweh” part in “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Or in rounds, like “Row Row Row your Boat.”

      One other song came to mind while typing this: the “Spam Song” from Monty Python. Appropriate today as Terry Jones just died. He played the waitress in that sketch. The others at the table could sing the “spam spam spam spam” part.

    11. Observer*

      is this what the boss is like, or was this a fluke?

      This is what the boss is like. When people show you who they are, believe them!

      The only question here is whether he does this only when he is drunk, and if so does he keep his drinking to the occasional work event or not. But this is who he is.

    12. Lynn Whitehat*

      Something like this happened to me once. I sang “On My Own” from Les Miserables all the way through, and really gave it my all. I think they were expecting me to mumble my way through “Happy Birthday” or something. I am an OK singer, but nothing special. It was pretty fun watching the frozen smile of the lady who insisted I had to sing, while not *quite* hitting the high note on “the world is full of happiness that I have never KNOOOOOOOOOOWN!”

      It was a training class that was kind of dumb in the first place. And the instructor totally refused to understand that we had actual jobs, which this training was keeping us from. So at the breaks, we would all run to the pay phones (because it was that long ago) to try to handle the highest-priority things at our real jobs. And she had a rule that if you were even one minute late back from break, you had to sing. I had about a day to observe, think about what I thought of this, and what I wanted to do when my turn came up, as it inevitably would.

    13. we're basically gods*

      If you had a timer handy, you could say that you’re a huge fan of John Cage, set a timer for four minutes and 33 seconds, and then give it your all.
      By which I mean, stand there in silence.

  3. Massmatt*

    #5 I agree with Alison’s advice, spell out the acronyms once. My field is rife with them, I get wanting to just use the acronyms (which were invented to save time) but not everyone is familiar with every license, designation, qualification, etc, especially if some are regional. The person doing the preliminary look at your resume might be in HR and not be familiar with even commonly used acronyms.

    Also, if the job deals with the public, a hiring manager might wonder if you are going to alienate clients, patients, or customers with lots of unexplained jargon.

    1. OP #5*

      OP here! That’s what i figured, even though in this particular field it’s equally as likely that someone in HR will know the acronym but not what it stands for spelled out. Many of the acronyms are used without ever using the real words; for some of the acronyms, people don’t even recall the actual words and sometimes do a best guess if pressed. For example, TRA might have originally meant “teapot review and assessment,” but no one remembers that anymore and so people say “did we already do TRA…teapot research action…no, teapot review area…teapot…never mind…did we already do it?”

      1. Massmatt*

        I confess I have had to look up some acronyms on my resume myself to spell them out, it’s amazing how many take on a life of their own and the actual definition gets lost.

      2. Smithy*

        I recently heard somewhere that “posh” was originally an acronym in regards to luxury boats/yachts. So certainly there are acronyms that entirely take on a life of their own and spelling it out can look jarring. However, I think this is also a case where it can be effective to ask yourself if there’s any other way of articulating your primary achievement or work?

        If it truly is a case like “posh” where knowing “port out, starboard home” is wildly unlikely – then certainly ask peers and use your judgement. Another approach I take with acronyms in my resume is to view them as a more descriptive version of etc. A version of this might be like – “Submitted 50 grant applications to government and multilateral donors – such as UNDP, USDA, ECHO”. Maybe HR knows the alphabet soup, maybe that will only be useful during an interview – but the main achievement is identifiable without those details.

      3. learnedthehardway*

        I would spell out any acronyms that are company-specific – in fact, I might even put those in plain English, rather than the words of the acronym, if the acronym refers to a specific program that only someone in your company might recognize.

        For industry-wide or other universally known acronyms, I would leave the acronym as is. Eg. GAAP for accountants. If someone is recruiting accountants who know “generally accepted accounting principles”, they’re going to look for “GAAP” as a keyword, not for the written out version.

      4. JSPA*

        There are cases where, if anyone seriously involved in hiring needs the acronym spelled out, that’s a flag (of some color). If you say you organized your company’s LGBTQIA group’s participation in [your city] Pride for three years…or you are in drug development and took a product from inception through FDA approval, and you’re applying to another drug development start-up… it’s bad news if either of those things have to be spelled out. More broadly, if the NY Times or other major newspaper style sheets and usage presuppose familiarity, you can, too.

        1. Mike S*

          There are also a lot of cases where you have collision between different acronyms. I remember an article in a tech mag a few years ago, where the author was talking about providing services to Small and Medium Businesses. I was confused as to what he was doing with Server Message Blocks. (Yeah, and my acronym predates his by over a decade, too.) It took a while to figure out.

          1. JSPA*

            Yeah, spelling it out is the default. I’m cutting out the special case where ignorance of the acronym actually means something problematic about the people running the organization, and there’s no realistic point of confusion.

            The New York Times no longer explains “L.G.B.T.” (that’s their standard format, and if you’re an adult who reads the news in english, you’re expected to be able to process the acronym without having it spelled out for you.) And if a startup is trying to develop a new drug in the US, everyone involved in hiring better know what the FDA is, in the context of drug development (but do spell out CDER).

        2. Massmatt*

          NYT style sheet is unlikely to include professional designations, organizations, licenses, trade associations, training programs, etc that are going to be on a resume.

          You may think it’s a “flag” that someone looking at the resume doesn’t know what ASU or CMFC is but it’s common for the person making the first cut on applications to be someone in HR, especially in larger organizations. They may be hiring for many different fields. think of a hospital; there are likely to be medical, accounting, nursing, insurance, regulatory, and probably social work acronyms.

          If you are not making yourself clear to the person looking at your resume the resume is not doing its job, and you will not GET the job.

          1. JSPA*

            It’s a flag only if it’s something that ANYONE involved in hiring–and yes, that includes HR–should be aware of. There are not many such acronyms, but they do exist.

            I’m standing by my examples, which are far more universally referenced and used than yours, and don’t have the problem that yours do, with being ambiguous. Google ASU and on the first page you pull up Arizona state, Alabama State, Angelo State, Appalachian State and Albany state…and that’s just the universities.

            Google FDA (remembering, too, that I specified that this was in the context of a startup drug development company!) and you have to go four pages into the results before you find a single one that’s not about the Food and Drug Administration.

            CMFC is more specific, but has…334,000 hits (a great many of them explaining the term) vs ~ 246,000,000 for the FDA (most of them websites for the FDA or popular press articles referencing the FDA).

            It’s analogous to Type 1 vs Type 2 error.

            Do not mistake a very common acronym in your niche field for something in common parlance!

            however, also,

            Do not either overexplain or cut someone slack for being confused by an acronym that literally anyone hiring in the field should know. DNA, FDA (in a drug development context), LGBTQIA: in the US, you should not have to spell these out. If you do, you have to question whether you’re being hired by a real company run by real people, or by a mass of bees wearing a trench coat.

      5. TootsNYC*

        also, no one will MIND if you spell them out the first time.
        I’d personally just assume you were being formal because it was a resume, and maybe that you didn’t want to have to have two versions in case you ever went outside the company.

        1. JSPA*

          Deoxyribonucleic acid? No. United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (when applying to an international aid nonprofit)? Probably more confusing than otherwise; people will recognize UNICEF faster. If your parents’ friends or kids’ friends (as well as your own friends) would recognize the acronym, you’re probably on fairly solid ground using it.

          Ditto if you worked for someone whose professional title is D.D.S., M.D., Ph.D. or C.P.A. (the last, in particular, if you’re applying within a financial field).

      6. TootsNYC*

        I remember when HTML slid into being its own word; I was copyediting at a tech magazine, and we didn’t spell it out. Mostly because of our audience (but very soon even mainstream publications stopped spelling it out and just wrote “HTML, the programming language of the web,” because nobody cared about “hypertext markup language” or knew what it meant).

        I said in another comment that most people won’t mind if you spell it out.
        But if it is something like that–industry wide–you’ll need to make a value judgment.
        Basically if someone in your industry but not in your company wouldn’t recognize it, spell it out.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes, unless it’s such a common acronym that more people know the acronym than what it stands for (DNA, CPR, NFL), spell it out. Even if the longer form still isn’t familiar to the reader either, it’s easier to look it up and know you’re reading about the right thing if you have more than a TLA* to go on.

      *Three-Letter Acronym ;-)

      1. Anonariffic*

        Spelling it out also eliminates any possible confusion about the meaning, especially if different groups or companies might have similar or identical acronyms with different meanings.

        Starting an enthusiastic conversation with somebody after hearing them mention the WWF and figuring out partway through that one of you is talking about wildlife and one of you is talking about wrestling is a very peculiar experience.

          1. Adric*

            It shouldn’t happen too much any more.

            As I recall, the WWF sued the WWF over the use of “WWF” and in order to settle the suit the WWF agreed to change to “WWE”.

            Hopefully, that’s all cleared up now.

            1. JSPA*

              Presumably world wildlife federation and world wrestling federation? Seems like context would be adequate to distinguish, 99.99% of the time.

              1. Quill*

                Not always, as a small child I legit thought that wrestling (which I had no exposure to) involved pandas (which were on the WWF newsletters my parents got)

                1. LunaLena*

                  My husband has a t-shirt that has the WWF panda logo, but with another panda standing next to it holding a folding chair above its head. Every time he wears it in public people high-five him or say “nice shirt” while laughing.

                2. JSPA*

                  This is sweet!

                  More than willing to agree that if the hiring manager is a small child, this sort of confusion is likely. (On the other hand, the “no candy for the hiring manager” rule would also not be in play.)

        1. Massmatt*

          When the World Wrestling Federation lost the case and had to change the acronym, they sold shirts saying “Get the F out!” A friend of mine still has one.


        2. Tara R.*

          This has happened to me before when someone was talking about a mutual friend’s girlfriend and I thought they were talking about a recreational drug often called by the same name. They said something along the lines of “What do you think of [name]?” and I responded with “Well, not really my cup of tea, but to each their own.” That was an extremely confusing conversation until we figured it out!

        3. S. Ninja*

          Or, yesterday at my work, I got asked to go find someone’s LEM certification. I had some very weird mental images before I remembered it has other meanings than Lunar Exploration Module (Lay Eucharistic Minister, in this case)

    3. Maria Lopez*

      I agree. You can even set Word or in my case the EMR (electronic medical record) to just print out the words when you put in the acronym, so it looks like you did a lot more typing than you did. Our EMR even had a second option of using a “dot” acronym (.emr) if the acronym happened to actually spell a word.

      1. OP #5*

        EtG and Anonariffic- good point re: having more than a TLA or a nonspecific WWF to go on! And as Massmatt also noted initially, it grinds my gears as well when my staff sit in meetings with our “clients” (who in my area are definitely laypeople, and who enter our space already with less privilege and less what I’ve decided to call white normative cultural capital) and rattle off acronyms and jargon and while the clients sit there silently nodding, not wanting to speak up and look uninformed, or push for a more respectful and client-centric experience.

        It’s now bedtime on my side of the world, so thanks for the replies to my not-very controversial question amidst what looks to be increasingly spicy convos around some of the others. :-)

        1. Ali G*

          See and in my world there is only one WWF – World Wildlife Fund. I have no idea what you meant there!

          1. Maria Lopez*

            LOL! Even within the medical profession there are acronyms that are very common for one specialty and the same letter jumble is something else in another specialty, or another for the general population. T&A mean tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (or more crasslt t!ts and a$$). SOB means shortness of breath. I can’t tell you how many times a patient thought the doctor was calling them a son of a bitch.

      2. AnonForThis*

        My auto-correct changes “grun” to “greyed out and unavailable” and “screv” to “take a screenshot for evidence”. And a few others. It’s very handy!

        1. Salsa Your Face*

          Yes, autocorrect is great! I used to use mine to access contact information. I was constantly having to insert contact info for one of about 30 people into a templated document. Instead of looking it up every time, I spent half an hour one day programming my autocorrect. If I typed janeemail, it would correct to Jane’s email, janeoffice was Jane’s office number, and janecell was Jane’s cell. Saved me so much time.

    4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      My rule of thumb is “if in doubt, spell it out on first it use” unless the acronym is extremely well known to the point that rarely anyone ever uses the expansion – say USA, IBM, 3M, ISO (with a standard number, like ISO 9001) or etc.
      In reports, if acronyms are rampant I may use footnotes or a list of abbreviations to decrypt them but I don’t think that would work for a resume.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Wait does 3M stand for something?? Haha, I did not even know that.

        I just googled it and I’m having a hard time connecting “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company” to the cat-shaped post-it dispenser sitting next to me lol. Which is probably exactly why they go by 3M now…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Imagine my surprise when I learned that the 3M that publishes my medical coding software is the same as the 3M that makes post-it notes and scotch tape.

        2. Adric*

          That actually makes a reasonable amount of sense.

          3M started out making sandpaper, which obviously involves sand, paper, and an adhesive to stick them together. If you leave out the sand you have paper and adhesive, which is pretty much tape, or Post-It’s (TM).

          1. Nekussa*

            In fact they were trying to develop a super-STRONG adhesive, but one of the experimental batches went awry and resulted in this substance that was barely sticky at all. What good is glue that isn’t very sticky? Well they sure did figure out a use for it!

          2. Tina*

            I understand one of the reasons for 3M’s weirdly broad product range is a (possibly now-gone) policy of allowing employees to research and test their own inventions, on company time, using company equipment, on the understanding that the company owns the invention but will cut the employee in.
            If you’re going to hire lots of bright people, may as well get full use out of them.
            And if you’re going to invent something, you’ll probably get more money and mileage out of ‘a cut from 3M’ than out of patenting and selling it yourself.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      Coming to say this. Spell them out upon first mention with acronym in parentheses afterward, partly because that’s how you do it in most style formats (AP, APA, MLA, etc.) and partly because you can’t assume that everyone who will encounter your resume will know your terms, no matter how common you think they are. Don’t make people reading your resume do the work to figure out your meaning. Engineers may know, but HR people won’t … or vice versa. Or they use different software, or they use a different acronym at another school or company, or the acronym changed and you don’t know, or the hiring manager was educated overseas, or or or.

      I’m an editor for a government agency, and I spend way too much time chasing down acronyms and guessing wrong.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      The one exception: If it’s mentioned in the job description, you should not spell it out. I would be laughed out of the door if I talked about my “Structured Query Language” skills.

      1. Elemeno P.*

        I agree. If I’m applying for a building inspection job that requires intimate knowledge of OSHA and ADA, it would look very out of place to spell those out.

        I would argue the same for internal applications referencing a department that usually goes by acronyms, but I’m not sure if others agree.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          Yup. There are certain acronyms that are never spelled out unless to explain their origins – HTML, IBM, SQL, Lasik. I’d say ADA and OSHA are similar in professional environments in the United States.

          Others should be spelled out unless you are completely certain the reader know them. For a resume, spell out – resumes can travel.

          Worth noting that even some acronyms that are 100% known should probably be spelled out to be respectful/formal. Just as an example, in formal writing I don’t think it’s appropriate to use US or UK as nouns, particularly in a list with other countries. It’d be United States and United Kingdom for me, unless space was at a massive premium. Using them as a adjectives is not as bad: the US Government.

          1. Smithy*

            After reading and thinking about a lot of these – I do think this may also be one of those cases where industry specific networking and insight would be helpful.

            As someone who works in international humanitarian work – UNICEF is so common that to see it spelled out is far more confusing. However, most other UN agencies have a “non-acronym” version that can also be shared and I usually think is helpful. I work with lots of people who manage US government grants, and so while USAID would be a “we all know that” – were someone to be working a lot with a US agency like NIOSH – that would not be viewed the same.

            All of this is to say that while the general rule of “don’t make your resume alphabet soup” will always stand, I think that going to peers or mentors to help refine specific cases is likely necessary.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              I agree with overall your point, but don’t think UNICEF is an appropriate example – it’s no longer an acronym but just a name. The words in the spelled out name are not right anymore – the E for “emergency.” They don’t even spell it out themselves.

              On a resume I’d write US Agency for International Development if I’d worked there – that’s respectful and formal. In extended text stating that I’d worked on a project funded by the agency, I would use the acronym, particularly if using as an adjective (“USAID-funded”)

              1. Smithy*

                United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was the original acronym, but then in the 50’s the name was changed to United Nation’s Children’s Fund. But not the acronym? Regardless, on a resume I would never use the name United Nations Children’s Fund and expect a general HR practitioner to assume UNICEF.

                The UN system however I think is a great example where the acronyms and the written names often don’t match. UNHCR stands for the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, however the agency is written as the UN Refugee Agency. And then just to be fun there’s also UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) which adds that lovely wrinkle question of “is that a typo or not”.

                All of this is to say that whether something is a name (aka UNICEF) or an acronym that benefits from explanation (USAID/UNHCR) is likely far more industry specific and benefits from industry perspective.

              2. JSPA*

                NAACP is one you don’t see spelled out all that much. Its long, august and inspiring history can’t entirely override the current-day awkwardness around “colored.”

                UNCF still goes both ways, but presumably is heading in the same direction (and alternatively, goes by the “United Fund,” which does not match the acronym, but gets around the dated-to-the-point-of-awkward terminology).

      2. Nesprin*

        Ditto for laser. If someone spelled out light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation I’d have a very hard time hiring them.

        1. OP #5*

          OP here! Acknowledging the very real phenomenon of confirmation bias (my initial hunch was to spell some of them out 1x, but leave those “OSHA” “HTML” type ones as is against Alison’s advice!), I’ve come to the conclusion that at least for my resume the way it’s currently written, it could look more out of touch to spell some of the acronyms out than to risk confusing folks in HR. I’ve settled on a mix on my resume- for the less common acronyms that are NOT used as standalone words, I’m spelling once with abbreviations in parenthesis, then for a few that would look very odd to folks spelled out, I’m sticking with the acronym. My very trusted and well-connected mentor did review my resume and while they made assorted other fine-toothed comments about verbiage and underselling myself (oops), they made no mention of the acronyms, and I trust their judgment as much as I trust Alison’s. Thanks for all the discussion and feedback everyone!

        2. Snarkansas*

          Scuba is another acronym that’s just a word now. (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)

    7. Goldfinch*

      The only acronyms (of any type, including initialisms) that I don’t spell out are ones that have become words in their own right. This happens either through frequent lay usage, or through industry brute-forcing them via trademarking/branding (which is increasingly common in trade societies and regulatory bodies).

    8. Mary*

      I used to work with doctors and had to learn SO many acronyms, and I’m still angry that MRCP is Member of the Royal College of Physicians and ARCP is … Annual Review of Competence to Practice.

    9. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I’ve heard stories of an interviewer accidentally using an internal acronym, the interviewee pretending to understand, and the interviewer catching on that the interviewee is bullshitting.

      1. Formerly Ella Vader*

        I had once mentioned on my resume the finite-element-method (FEM) calculation software named ABAQUS (pronounced like abacus, and I don’t know whether it originally stood for something). An interviewer who didn’t work in that field looked at my resume during the interview and nodded sagely, “Ah, yes, aqua-bus, good … “


    There’s no way to say noticing typos is racist (against X race) without implying that people of X race are worse at proofreading, which is a road I don’t think we want to go down.

    I don’t doubt that people are unfairly harsher in judging the writing (and lots of other things) of people of certain races, but the way that link frames it is unhelpful at best.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You misunderstood the research. It found that people judge typos more harshly when they believed the writer was black. Which is right in line with other findings that people excuse away things in candidates from non-marginalized groups (“I’m sure that was a one-time error; he’s clearly smart and driven”) that they don’t excuse in people from marginalized ones.

  5. msroboto*

    #1 and that’s when you take out the badge and drop it right there.
    I’ve done it but I was working two jobs and my part-time job the relief did not show up. No surprise. My deal was I get to leave at 2:00 to make it to my 3:00 full-time job.
    You can’t leave.
    Gave him my badge and clocked out.

    1. Lena Clare*

      That would indeed be satisfying, but many people only have 1 job, so it isn’t feasible to do for practical reasons!

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        I understand that jobs don’t grow on trees, and many people are in a situation where they have to put up with something at work in order to survive BUT…nobody is forcing me to do something like that. No way in hell I’d allow myself to be treated that way. Some people may not think it’s a big deal, but he is bullying the newbies and that’s gonna be a no from me. What stops him from continually threatening to fire people if he thinks it’s funny? Nope, no way, no how. Here’s my badge.

    2. Blue Horizon*

      I think I would have responded with something like “OK, I’ll talk to HR on Monday and sort out the details. It’s been nice working with you!” But lightly, with a smile (of COURSE you’re joking, how could you be doing anything else?) Then on Monday I would pretend it never happened and come to work as normal.

  6. Definitely not Maria Callas*

    #1 will not like this, but I say: tone down the outrage a notch.

    The kind of hazing we need to be concerned about is where victims are, say, forced to binge drink alcohol, or subjected to physical abuse, or the target of racist attacks. Being forced to belt out “Lady in Red” at karaoke night after a couple of glasses of wine ain’t it. Complaining that this situation was abusive devalues the experience of people in truly abusive situations.

    I have seen anti-hazing guides that even suggest singing as an appropriate alternative to hazing.

    And yes, the boss was almost certainly joking when he said the alternative was to turn in your badge. If he says things like that in the office, you’d have a legitimate beef. Saying in in a lighthearted way at a fun social occasion is completely different. Context matters.

    I get that not everyone is the next Maria Callas, but sometimes a willingness to take yourself a tad less seriously and make yourself look a little silly goes a long way. So belt out that rendition of “I am a Thoroughly Modern Major General.” That’s the point of an exercise like this.

    1. Anonymouse*

      I disagree with you here. While no this is far from an egregious hazing ritual, hazing by its very nature is designed to humiliate the target and that has no place in a professional setting-even one that is a social gathering. A company or boss that openly says that they need to “haze the new hires” is likely promoting other unprofessional behavior and either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the power dynamics at play and probably would think nothing of abusing their power in some other way.

      1. Avasarala*

        I agree. Hazing is designed to humiliate people with less power and social connection to resist it. I’m very suspicious of an anti-hazing guide that suggests making newbies do X instead. The issue is not what X is. It’s that you’re embarrassing people in front of others for your own amusement.

        I agree that the boss could have been joking… but if that was obvious, then OP wouldn’t be writing in for help. And it’s pretty inappropriate to joke about hazing new people in front of “high bosses and special guests”!

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Definitely! And if the goal was to take oneself less seriously, as someone suggested upthread, then the higher-ups would probably be doing it too. As someone who also just started a new job, I’d have been uncomfortable doing this, but a little less uncomfortable if the partners got in on it (especially if they went first!).

        2. The Bean*

          Yeah there’s a certain type of person who when they have power likes to “joke” in ways that makes subordinates squirm, and they wouldn’t make the same sort of “jokes” towards a superior. Like, yeah OP probably wouldn’t have been fired but it’s telling that this is the sort of thing that amuses this guy.

      2. UKDancer*

        Agreed. This is just a humiliation tactic. Especially given the fact people had no notice of the request. If they’d been warned in advance and could make a plan that’s one thing but to spring it on someone indicates a desire to watch them squirm.

        Also something doesn’t have to be military style hazing to be a bad thing to do to new staff.

        Personally as someone who sings out of tune and can’t carry a tune in a bucket I would hate this. I don’t want the senior management and stakeholders to remember me for my lack of voice. I want them to view me as a talented professional.

        I’d be surprised if many people would view this positively. I mean I’ve one staff member who sings in a male voice choir who would leap on the table and lead a rousing chorus of Cwm Rhondda, but he’s unusual. Most people I work with would hate this and never trust management again.

      3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        THIS: “I disagree with you here. While no this is far from an egregious hazing ritual, hazing by its very nature is designed to humiliate the target and that has no place in a professional setting-even one that is a social gathering.”

        This was singing as hazing – not physically harmful but the escalation to being fired showed it was designed to reinforce power dynamics. Not “Let’s all agree to sing as a shared experience.”

        1. EPLawyer*

          “but the escalation to being fired showed it was designed to reinforce power dynamics.” BINGO

          This is why it was wrong in a nutshell.

      4. Quill*

        The acceptance of any kind of hazing because it’s “not dangerous” perpetuates systems wherein abuse of power is not only tolerated, but encouraged, so well said mouse.

    2. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Yes, of course there is a whole spectrum of abusive behavior and telling your employee to sing is on the lower end but it’s still trying to force an activity that isn’t a work duty so that’s going to be a hard no for a lot of people, myself included. The upper level boss specifically use the word “hazing” – there’s absolutely no place for hazing at work, social hour or otherwise. It’s not about taking myself less seriously; I’m an adult and I’m at work to work. I’m not there to perform like a goddamned circus monkey.

      1. Scarlet2*

        This, exactly. I can’t believe there are actually people who defend “hazing” at work and who seem totally comfortable with hierarchical superiors publically humiliating their employees. Jesus.

      2. Ian*

        To each their own. Singing is really high on the list of anxiety-inducing activities. I’d much rather be yelled at.

      3. Bagpuss*

        This. Being forced to sing in public isn’t as bad as being forced to drink, or being subjected to physical abuse, but it’s not appropriate in a work context (unless you work in the performing arts and it is part of your job!) , it’s an abuse of power and has the potentially to be very upsetting and humiliating.

        thinking back to when I started my first job out of university, when I was very self-conscious and lacked confidence, I would have found it truly horrible – being publicly humiliated in front of a lot of my new co-workers who I barely know yet, but who I am expected to go in and face again on Monday morning? I’m not sure I would have made it to the end of the evening.

        If the evening had been karaoke and had started with the boss performing, then other coworkers then me as a new person, I’;d still have hated it but it wouldn’t be quite so bad, but it’s still very bad management to make anyone do it at all.

        (We have, in the past, had work events where there has been karaoke, but it has always been 100% voluntary, and the senior people present kept an eye on it and made it their business to step in if anyone appeared to be being pressured by coworkers to perform, and gently re-iterate that no-one had to sing if they don’t want to. Which did mean that everyone had a good time (and word presumably got around , as a lot more people came to the second event than the first! )

    3. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      Actually, your comment points out another problem with forcing people to sing – it’s far more awkward and embarrassing for someone who is unfamiliar with whatever they’re being asked to sing. Not everyone knows Gilbert and Sullivan or “Lady in Red.” It would be very easy for something like this to have – intended or otherwise – shades of classism or the like.

        1. MsSolo*

          I dunno. Put me on the spot without warning after a few glasses of wine and you’d be lucky to get Mary Had a Little Lamb out of me. I just don’t have a good memory for lyrics. Maybe an ad tagline? “You can’t get quicker than a quickfit fitter!”

          But yeah, part of the context is whether they’re being asked to sing anything, or if they’re being asked to thing something specific. If it’s specific, the classism thing absolutely kicks in, but even if not, there’s a big risk that the kind of music your latest employee is into isn’t appropriate for work events, and they’re going to struggle to bring anything else to mind in the moment.

          1. Mongrel*

            “I dunno. Put me on the spot without warning after a few glasses of wine and you’d be lucky to get Mary Had a Little Lamb out of me”

            When put on the spot I tend towards the inappropriate for polite company (at the moment it’s Little Big, hilariously Russian).

            “I think almost everyone knows one song, or verse of a song. This isn’t classist.”
            And what about the introverts and people with some form of social anxiety?
            You lost me at stand up in front of all these people….

            1. Violet Fox*

              A friend of mine actually quit his job because his company had been bought and part of their “fun onboarding day” included preforming songs or sketches infront of people.

                1. Violet Fox*

                  He’s a software developer, working for companies that contract with the public health systems. Really really not not theater.

          2. File Herder*

            You’d be lucky to get anything other than selections from The Rocky Horror Show or Jeff Wayne’s musical of War of the Worlds from me. And possibly not the vaguely safe for work songs from Rocky Horror.

            1. No Longer Working*

              The letter didn’t mention karaoke at all, yet a lot of the responses here are assuming that. The best choice here would have been to sing the Happy Birthday song, which doesn’t involve real singing. A few seconds, and you’re done.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                Yup. I will also add that I sing, quite a lot, sometimes I get paid for it… and if I’m put on the spot I cannot remember lyrics to anything except “Happy Birthday.”

            2. AKchic*

              Maybe some Doctor Horrible. Little bit of A Man’s Gotta Do while staring directly in the boss’s eye?

          3. Third or Nothing!*

            Put me on the spot and you’re going to get one of the songs I sing to my daughter every night – either her special lullaby or a hymn (the one currently playing on repeat in my head is For The Beauty of the Earth…make it stop!). And I don’t think either would go over well.

            In my fantasy recreation of this scenario I like to imagine I’d belt out Do You Hear the People Sing? but I know I’d blank and go with something I’ve sung over and over and over and over and over…

          4. TiffIf*

            I was just rewatching Sister Act 2 for the first time in a very long time, and there’s a scene where Whoopi Goldberg’s character is having each member of the the music class sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (A music class is a place where having people sing is totally appropriate and normal) until she gets to one class member who doesn’t know “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (she has an accent and is implied to be a non-native/immigrant). Some of the other students start laughing and Whoopi Goldber comes down on them and asks the student to sing whatever song she does know.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Or anime end-credit songs! I would cheerfully belt out “The Real Folk Blues” as a torchsong!

        2. Harper the Other One*

          What song you choose, though, is absolutely going to be a class indicator to a lot of people. Music has HUGE cultural connotations and if you’re already feeling like an outsider at work, and then you sing a song from the “wrong” genre, it’s not going to make your life easier. Even nursery rhymes vary by culture, so what happens when someone sings one that nobody knows and gets told that’s “weird”?

          The real insidiousness of classism is that it’s stuff we don’t even notice.

          1. Cindy*

            Class, race, religion, and nationality.

            The ONLY song I know that’s close to universal in the USA is the Happy Birthday song. That’s also close to universal, not universal.

            It’s also something that has slightly different lyrics in different places.


            I did just bother to look it up. The Birthday Song is considered the most widely known English language song followed by He’s a Jolly Good Fellow. The later sung mockingly might be appropriate.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              “Take this for example, young brothers want rep
              ‘Cause in the life they’re living, you can’t half step.
              It starts with the young ones doing crime for fun
              And if you ain’t down, you’ll get played out son.
              So let’s get a car, you know, a fly whip
              Get a dent puller, a screwdriver, and be out quick
              With a dope ride, yeah, and a rowdy crew
              We can bag us a Benz and an Audi, too.”

              I know more by heart. Would not be appropriate in most offices.

                1. Heather*

                  I was thinking Richard’s “I want to shoot him with a crossbow” song, but that is so much better!

        3. DerJungerLudendorff*

          And when in doubt, you can always quickly teach everyone the Internationale or the Marsseillese. I’m sure you can find many eager to learn in that situation.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I looked up the English version of the lyrics. That would’ve been cool, to be honest. The look on the boss’s face would’ve been priceless, hopefully there would’ve been a video.

        4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          The songs I know enough words to sing are mainly hip-hop. Pretty hardcore hip-hop. I’m black and singing that in the first week on the job would not be good in most places – it would stereotype me.

        5. Allison*

          I know plenty of songs, in theory. But put me on the spot to sing one of them and suddenly my mind is a blank. What songs do I know start-finish? What songs would I sound half-decent singing? I don’t know! I’m not Rachel Berry and this isn’t an episode of Glee, I don’t have a little number I’ve been working on, I got nothing!

        6. Nope, not today*

          I know plenty of songs – while they are actively playing, I know all the lyrics and can sing along (terribly). But one second after they end? I cant give you the beat or the rhythym or more than two or three word snippets…. my musical memory is very bad. In addition to that, I find the idea of singing in public to be absolutely mortifying, I wouldn’t physically be able to do it even IF I could remember a song.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Ditto. I actually have studied voice for several years, and could (probably) sing in public without humiliating myself. But most of my performance experience has been in church. Had I been in OP#1’s position, Bully Boss would have been treated to a quick rendition of “Regina Caeli.”

        Now I need to go look up the lyrics for “La Marseillaise.”

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m an immigrant in the US, and as such, of course I have an accent and always will. I can just see myself singing whatever song I can think of and the boss then spending the rest of (the evening? the month? my tenure at that company?) making fun of the weird foreign accent I sang it in. He sounds like the type to do it. Also I do *not* know the lyrics to Lady in Red off the top of my head. If he had called on me, he would’ve probably gotten a Happy Birthday song.

        1. Pommette!*

          Exactly! This hazing excercize sucks for everyone, but it’s a lot worse for some people than others. That’s exclusionary.

          I know some songs, sure, but none of the “classics that everyone (in the US) (supposedly) knows”. I don’t just not know “Lady in Red” lyrics off the top of my head: I don’t know the song at all. The songs that I do know are culturally-specific, not in English, and would 100% get me derided by someone as insensitive as the OP’s boss seems to be. (Especially since I can’t carry a tune, but that’s an other story, and a burden I share with lots of people who grew up speaking English and know all the lyrics to Lady in Red).

          Song lyrics are often really strange. You don’t notice the weirdness when it’s music that you like and are familiar with, but you do when the musical tradition is foreign to you. I wouldn’t want the songs that I do know, and like, to become jokes for my new colleagues.

      3. Cool beans*

        I had the same ‘hazing’ ritual at my old job and we had to choose on the spot. I ended up doing the first verse & chorus of ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls.

    4. Violet Fox*

      Except that it is an abusive situation exactly because it is abusing power over people in order to publicly humiliate them.

      Threatening someone’s job, for real or for funnies in this sort of situation is a very big abuse of power, because you are basically saying “be unemployed/put yourself in financial trouble or humiliate yourself” and if someone has only been employed for a few weeks how are they supposed to know if it was a “joke” or not.

      There are some things when it comes to power dynamics that are just not ever okay.

      1. Sparrow*

        Yes, exactly this. If this boss is willing to abuse their power over the employee by threatening to fire them over THIS, what else are they willing to do? And there’s virtually no way this is an isolated incident with this guy, either, so OP should definitely ask around and find out of he’s obnoxious but mostly full of hot air or if they need to be genuinely wary of him.

    5. Marmaduke*

      When a manager overrides an employee’s “no” even for something minor, they’ve got to have a very good reason. “We are legally required to do this” or “If you do not do what I’m asking, we will lose a key client” or “What I am asking is a necessary part of your role here” are valid reasons.

      “I want to laugh at your embarrassment” is NOT a valid reason, and that fact that the boss considers it a good enough reason to override his employee’s objections is very troubling.

    6. M. from P.*

      I would trust the assessment of the OP over ours as people who were not there.
      I’m sorry about that evening, OP. I hope you ultimately have a good experience working there.

      1. M. from P.*

        Nesting error – I agree with everyone above, just not the person who said the OP is overreacting.

    7. Rexish*

      I agree that the boss was very likely joking and they propably think this is absolutely hilarious and would love it if this was done to them. But this is not ok, the boss should be able to know that this is not for everyone.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, and it does show really poor judgement. Joking about firing someone, when you actually have the power to fire them, is almost never going to be a good idea, and when they are new and haven’t have the chance to get to know you and your sense of humour it’s much worse.

        1. Automated*

          Joking about firing someone is specifically defined as bullying at our org. and is a fireable offense.

      2. Observer*

        What makes you think Boss was joking? And, even if he was, what makes it ok to make a joke about firing someone when you have the power to actually do that?! At best, it’s the boss saying “Do as I tell you , no matter what, because I have power over your future and employment!

        A “joke” like that is itself an abuse of power.

    8. Never*

      No hazing, no singing, no defending this particular boss. How is this even justified?!

      A tad leads seriously? How about bosses back off and aren’t jerhs instead. Unless my job is singing this is a complete no go and bullying.

    9. Never*

      And if a boss in ANY setting says do this or be fired then a line has been way crossed unless that is part of g direct job role. In a social setting it’s even worse.

      Keep your frat house treatment of employees out of work dynamics.

    10. Fikly*

      Just because abuse isn’t physical doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. And doesn’t mean it’s not just as bad. Abuse is not a competition.

    11. Fikly*

      Just because abuse isn’t physical doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. And doesn’t mean it’s not just as bad. Abuse is not a competition.

    12. Rectilinear Propagation*

      “It’s not offensive to me, therefore the LW is overreacting” is a terrible take. So is “It’s OK to do something bad as long as it’s not that bad (in my opinion)”.

    13. Akcipitrokulo*

      Punching someone isn’t as bad as breaking their leg. That doesn’t mean punching is OK.

      1. Blue*

        I think this is one of those things that seems easy to dismiss as not that bad, but if you dig under the surface at all, it really is.
        I for one just. Could. Not. Do. This. Like, I would physically freeze up and be totally unable to comply, even though in different circumstances singing in company is something I’ll do cheerfully. Under that kind of pressure and in a situation where I knew that my discomfort was the point, I just could not make myself do it, even though I know that giving them a quick verse of Modern Major General is by far the quickest and easiest way to make the situation go away.
        That might be on the extreme end of the reaction spectrum, but I know I’m not the only person in the world who is actually incapable of “oh, just do it so they’ll shut up.” And my experience is that someone who tries to insist you do it is going to keep pushing and make it into a huge scene, however much you try to minimise it and keep it light. Getting some kind of entertaining performance out of you is the point. It is actually a big deal if you *can’t* just do what they want.

        1. Yvonne*

          Amen. My anxiety spiked just hearing about this. People say “I would have done this or that” a lot based largely on what they would like to think they’d do in a situation, but genuinely
          I’d have taken my chances on getting fired and started job hunting immediately regardless of whether the threat was serious or not.

          1. Blue*

            Right – if he was going to fire me for not singing, I’m getting fired. Not actually a choice on my part. It’s not about “getting over yourself” or “being willing to look a bit silly.” I physically can’t do that thing you want me to do.

    14. hbc*

      #1 will probably not like this because there was approximately zero outrage in her post, so it’d be hard to tone it down. “…Could we have gotten out of this somehow?” is hardly an over the top question.

      As for the manager, I have *never* seen a good one who jokes about firing people unless they have a really, really well-developed rapport. That doesn’t apply to newbies, and definitely not after someone has tried to point out that it’s not going over well.

      1. Cindy*

        WRT good managers threatening firing: I’ve also never seen one who hazed in a workplace who didn’t turn out to be a power tripping jerk.

        If I were OP, I’d do one of two things. Either start looking for another job immediately or start documenting everything like this.

        I’m guessing this will get ugly in the end.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        As for the manager, I have *never* seen a good one who jokes about firing people unless they have a really, really well-developed rapport.

        Same. This spring, it will be 23 years since I started working in Corporate America. Six jobs total (plus a company where job#3 sent me to work in a consultant role), both startups, small companies, and large corporations. Not once have I seen any manager (good or bad) jokingly say to their report that, if they don’t do (random thing not related to work), they should prepare to be fired. Not once have I seen a manager talk about hazing new hires. This is not normal. To Alison’s opint, having been on the employer’s side of the hiring process myself, this is something that takes a long time and multiple people in various senior/manager positions bust their a$$es to interview and properly evaluate the candidates, and to choose one that is the best fit. And then the HR, IT infrastructure, the person’s team, all put in a ridiculous amount of work to onboard and train the candidate. For a manager to then threaten to fire them for not singing, even as a joke, is utterly bonkers, and would frankly make me question if I want to work for someone with this much of a gaping hole where their professional judgment should be.

        1. Sparrow*

          Yeah, I’ve heard a boss jokingly say “or you’re fired” about something, but there was a very strong rapport there and it was about something completely silly and absurd (so it was very clear that she wasn’t serious). But that’s just not a thing you can say, even jokingly, to an employee who doesn’t know you yet. And even if they aren’t actually serious about the firing, pressuring the employee to do something they’re uncomfortable with (ESPECIALLY when it’s just for personal amusement!) makes the boss a jerk, and I would be very, very wary of them.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Someone having it worse does not negate/resolve/wash away OP’s concerns.

      There is always someone in a worse position than the current writer on any given day. I am not sure how this helps the today’s OP.

      Additionally, foolish people, like OP’s boss, test the waters with stuff like this. Once they see they can get away with it, it’s not unusual to see them try another and worse stunt. OP, is exactly correct in being concerned here. This boss is sending out a message, “I very little sense of what being professional looks like.”

      I am hoping we can drift away from the answer of “someone else has it worse” and focus on the OPs actual concerns. Hopefully, people who do have it worse will write in to Alison for advice also. Perhaps OP will inspire them to do so. There are many good discussions here on AAM. Alison provides a safe place to talk about many different types of difficult topics. These are topics that our society DOES need to address, most certainly. If Alison’s forum can contribute to waves of change, I can support that 1000%.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        It always strikes me as close to the inane ‘you’re not really disabled because you’re not in a wheelchair!’ crud I’ve heard.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I think we’ve all got it backwards: you’re disabled *because* you’re in a wheelchair. (Those things are very sneaky, you know. You just sit down for a second, and BOOM, disabled.)

        1. LunaLena*

          My first thought was that it sounds remarkably similar to “those people over there aren’t offended, so you’re just too sensitive and should stop complaining.”

    16. MCL*

      Not only was this a cruel thing to do to a new employee, if I were in OP’s shoes I’d wonder what the next stupid sh*t I’d be asked to do with the “or else you’re fired” threat being lobbed at me. My trust in this boss would be highly strained. I really would find this kind of thing humiliating.

    17. EPLawyer*

      This is a JOB, not trying to get into a frat/sorority. Hazing has no place in a job. I would add, it shouldn’t be used in frat/sororities either, but that’s not the issue here.

      Professional position — professional conduct. Period. A boss using his power to “haze” new hires is wildly out of line. Even thinking he should do this is not acceptable.

      1. Cindy*

        There are very, very few places where hazing should be tolerated. In fact, recent studies on it in the military, sports, and fraternities shows that it does the opposite of what’s intended. A lot of people think it’s ok b/c it promotes team cohesion. It doesn’t. It most often promotes team disunion.

        The ugly, ugly truth is that what it does is establish a pecking order. It promotes cohesion of those at the top against a few or even just one at the bottom.

        Do we really think he person(s) at the bottom think the cohesion is worth their suffering?

        I think people often confuse the utility of rites of passage and hazing. Rites of passage can sometimes be positive for all involved. Hazing never is.

        Also, studies are also showing that people conflate hazing with initiation rites. Initiation rites and markers of achievement are positive (e.g., the belt system in martial arts), but hazing never, ever is.

        It’s far past time humans jettisoned this abusive practice.

        1. Scarlet2*

          This is a very important point. I never understood the argument that hazing fosters cohesion. How can you unite a group by singling out individuals for public humiliation? It’s completely counter-productive. The only cohesion it can promote is unity against a common scapegoat.

          1. Cindy*

            Have you ever seen free-range chickens? They often will find one victim and “hen-peck” her to death.

            There’s a reason it’s called the pecking order.

            We really should be better than chickens.

            The reasons they do this: stress, boredom, lack of adequate resources. My guess is humans are the same.

            1. Scarlet2*

              That’s really interesting because English is my second language and I never really thought about the implications of expressions such as “hen-pecked” or “pecking order”. Thanks for that, I love to know where expressions come from!

              1. Cindy*


                I love idioms and expressions. Glad this helped you learn something you might have otherwise missed.

                I will recommend two podcasts for you as an ESL person: Grammar Girl and Merriam-Webster’s word of the day. Just listened to the GG podcast where she talks about the expression “How Come?” And how it differs from asking “Why?”

            2. LunaLena*

              My guess is that humans do this because it makes them feel powerful. I find it interesting how power is intoxicating to so many people, which I suspect is why there are so many stories of abusive bosses or people going “drunk with power” in the workplace. Having power over other human beings generally brings out the worst in humanity, and, when you really get down to it, is one of the major factors in just about every atrocity in human history (the other major factor is usually money; it’s not surprising that the two are often intertwined).

              In the case of those not in power, I suspect the reason is “better them than me.” There’s a story in a Discworld novel that illustrates this, in which a philosopher witnesses a crowd stoning a man to death, and he says afterwards (paraphrasing here) “they had certainty, all right. Certain it wasn’t them in the pit. And they were so glad of that certainty, that they threw those rocks as hard as they could.”

              1. whingedrinking*

                Or the part in The Handmaid’s Tale where rapists are executed by throwing them to a group of Handmaids to tear apart with their bare hands, in full view of the rest of society.

          2. alienor*

            I think the idea is that it creates cohesion among the people who have already been through it because they’ve had a common experience. But, what it really does is unite them as bullies against whatever poor newbie is going through it at the moment (“we all did it and so can you”).

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              What it can also do is foster an “eating crackers” feeling against a particular employee. That employee (whether newbie or not) becomes a kind of “hate sink” where everything they do is annoying, and this feeds upon itself and makes the bullying and hazing worse.

            2. GreyjoyGardens*

              What it can also do is foster an “eating crackers” feeling against a particular employee. That employee (whether newbie or not) becomes a kind of “hate sink” where everything they do is annoying, and this feeds upon itself and makes the bullying and hazing worse.

          3. Quill*

            Hazing fosters cohesive resentment of the hazer…

            Or you could just, you know, make your newbies work together for an extended period and build morale the way a rational human invested in their performance would, instead of deciding a flex of your power is “team building”

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Or you could just, you know, make your newbies work together for an extended period and build morale the way a rational human invested in their performance would, instead of deciding a flex of your power is “team building”

              This. I’ll be willing to bet that 90% of the “team-building exercises” can be replaced with the team just, you know, working together as a team, and that it would lead to better team-building.

              1. Quill*

                “Hi team, we’re test driving your cooperation with this non-frivolous but not time critical task!”

            2. Shadowbelle*

              How about a reverse hazing? Instead of being forced to sing in public, the new employees are asked to throw cream pies at the boss?

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I have actually seen this done at a few places where I worked! Either the literal “throw pies at the leadership” (not actual pies, iirc someone fills a pie shell with something like reddi-whip and gives it to a participant to throw) or a dunk tank (this one is best done in warm weather, right now probably not a great time to do this if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, lol). I’ve never done either, but this really is the right way to do it. If you’ve got to punch, punch up and not down. (And I have suddenly developed a new respect for my workplace’s annual dunk tank after reading your comment!)

      2. Naomi*

        In fact it’s increasingly frowned upon in frats/sororities, too. 44 US states now have anti-hazing laws. My alma mater requires student groups to circulate the state anti-hazing law annually so group members know their rights.

        1. Quill*

          A sorority at my college replaced “must sing the sorority song whenever anyone mentions rush to them” with “gathering on the beach to ritually burn old sorority songs and rules deemed antifeminist, attendance not strictly required,” and I think, after being dragged along for the first burning as an impromptu fire marshall (“Hey Quill, you study chem are we safe to burn this?” “As long as you take it out of the plastic sleeves first and recycle those,”) they did a pretty good job.

          Though it does require having copies of that paperwork…

          1. AKchic*

            eventually, there will be daughters of previous members coming in, bringing their mothers’ copies with them. My mom would have been the type to save all of her old sorority stuff, had she ever joined. She saved a lot of her glee club / high school junk and tried to get me to take it with me to high school the one year I went. She even tried to force me to wear her old letter jacket – to homecoming! I threatened to burn it. She put it away until my sister went to high school, and I think my sister ended up getting harassed horribly for it.

    18. Alton*

      The thing is, regardless of whether it’s harmful to the participants, it shouldn’t be done at work, where people’s livelihood is on the line. I don’t think hazing is ever harmless, personally, but if someone likes the idea of joining a social group where this type of hazing occurs, that’s totally their prerogative. But they should know what they’re getting into and feel free to call it quits if they don’t feel it’s a good fit. At work, there’s an imbalance of power. Most people don’t have the financial or professional security to easily decide that it’s worth losing a job over this. Most people don’t work just because they want to.

    19. CupcakeCounter*

      Nope. If the boss had accepted their original no or stopped them before they got up to sing, maybe. But not only did he force the issue, when people tried to stop him he doubled down. Guy is just an a**hole.

    20. AnotherAlison*

      Ugh, just no. Everyone’s already said it.

      If this happened to me, I would make up a little ditty along the lines of, “I quit. I quit. Eff off. I quit.” I don’t sing, ever. I’m an engineer and project manager. Taking myself less seriously (outwardly), looking silly, and singing aren’t in my personality stack or job requirements. If I’m working in the arts or something, maybe, but there is no universal context for forcing people to do something like this.

    21. kittymommy*

      Um no. Just because singing in public isn’t “as bad” as other abusive practices (forcing someone to binge drinking, assault, etc.) doesn’t mean it becomes okay. Subjecting someone to embarrassing and/or humiliating under the guise of hazing and using unequal power dynamics to do it is wrong. And the person doing the hazing doesn’t get to decide whether or not the behavior is embarrassing/humiliating. It’s not about “taking oneself less seriously” it’s about respecting a person, a (new) coworkers no less, boundaries and personal autonomy. And quite frankly if the only way for an office can welcome new people is through hazing then that office would really look about the healthiness of their environment.

      As a side not, if there are actual anti-hazing guides that suggest possible public humiliation as a “legitimate” alternative those authors are morons.

    22. Lance*

      ‘And yes, the boss was almost certainly joking when he said the alternative was to turn in your badge.’

      And? It’s been gone over time and again on this blog that ‘it was a joke’ is not an excuse for bad behavior.

    23. Ancient Alien*

      Definitely not Maria Callas, please do not ever go into management. Your mentality around this is exactly the type of enabling behavior bosses like this rely on to foist even worse abuses on people.

      “If he says things like that in the office, you’d have a legitimate beef.” Clue Train arriving. When you are at a work social event, you ARE in the office.

      1. Annony*

        Also, we don’t know if he actually said it “in a lighthearted way.” Maybe he was joking but the OP got the impression that he wasn’t (or at least that they couldn’t be certain that he wasn’t) so he said it was not obviously a joke.

        Abusing power is never ok. Ever. Hazing is not ok even if no physical harm is done. The justification that you just need to lighten up and take yourself less seriously is used to ignore sexual harassment and racist jokes. Let’s not go down that road.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        Agreed. Nobody with this “suck it up little Buttercup, think of the starving children” should ever be in a position of power over others.

      3. SarahKay*

        My company requires everyone to take annual anti-harassment training, and one of the things very specifically called out in that training is that all of the forbidden behaviours are also forbidden at work social events. Regardless of whether OP was physically in the office or not, the boss can still fire her, which makes his sucky behaviour…still sucky when on an evening out.

    24. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Telling someone they have to do something they find uncomfortable when it is not directly related to their job is poor management.

      If the only way you can think of to build a team is to make them do embarrassing stuff then you need more management training.

      1. Cindy*

        As I said above, academic studies are showing over and over again that hazing actually harms group cohesion. So it’s not team building at all.

    25. MCMonkeyBean*

      This is a terrible take. For one thing, they did not express any outrage or use the word abuse at all. And more importantly, the fact that some people suffer through hazing that involves physical violence or endangers their lives doesn’t mean this is somehow okay. This is a workplace advice blog so 99% of the time here the situations people are dealing with are not going to be on the same scale as the worst things happening in the world, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still problems!

      Personally, I think OP1 isn’t outraged enough! There is no “lighthearted” way to say “do this or you’re fired.” It doesn’t matter whether or not the boss meant that as a joke, because the new hires don’t know him and have no way to know whether or not he is serious.

      And somehow at the end of your comment you seem to pivot from “this isn’t that bad” into… actually thinking it’s a good thing???? Wtf?

    26. Laura H.*

      Hazing in any form is still gross! While the severity of the task can factor in, the degree of it doesn’t make the hazing any less icky!!

      Also a job (usually) isn’t a fraternity or sorority, where hazing is more common (and not all Greek organizations haze!).

      Hazing isn’t normal, and it’s not ok. Regardless of whether it’s as “innocent” as making new hires sing or if it’s as bad as forcing someone to drink beyond their comfort level.

      1. Cindy*

        Hazing is, IMHO, perpetuating a cycle of abusive behavior. Abused people often go on to abuse as a means of coping.

        Alternatively, the justification is sometimes “I went through it and I’m ok, so you should as well.” That’s never justification. Ditto tradition, the way it is, etc.

        A lot of people who do this think it’s a perk of having achieved a certain status. It was done to them when they were plebes, but now they are kings. They want the perks of being a king.

        I know so many people who have been hazed, abused, or otherwise victimized who think they are ok with it or even think it’s positive. Deep down, it’s not.

        We really, really need to start working on this as a culture and as a human species.

        1. GreyjoyGardens*

          I have seen that mentality of “It was done to ME when I was a plebe, now you get to endure it” from older people who have endured abuse and harassment when younger folks complain. It’s the “uphill in the snow both ways” mentality and needs to die. A reasonable person would be glad that a younger person didn’t have to endure what they did and things have gotten better.

          1. Cindy*

            Agree wholeheartedly.

            This plus “don’t go gettin’ above your raising” are mentalities I will never understand.

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              Me neither! I don’t have kids but if I did, I’d have All The Ambitions for them and want to make their life easier than mine.

              And it *thrills* me to see young women and women of color make inroads in fields that I didn’t really think of entering when I was younger, but might if I was a young woman these days.

          2. Pommette!*

            Especially because it’s never: “I had to walk uphill both ways. I hated it at first, but got better at it over time, until I didn’t mind anymore. Eventually, I realized that all the fresh air and exercise I was getting were really getting me get into a good mindset for school, and helping me to unwind on the way home. In retrospect, I’m glad that I had to do it. I think that it would benefit you, too.” Nope. It’s just: “I suffered, and you should, too.” No thanks!

    27. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It’s not a competition for what is the most outrageous type of hazing. This was 100% wrong and inappropriate and an abuse of power. Threatening to fire someone over a non-fireable offense is an abuse of power and not even close to being okay.

    28. Morning reader*

      If anti-hazing guides suggest singing, could it be that they refer to singing as a group activity? As in, let’s all gather around the piano? I can see how that might be a bonding experience.

      This is not that.

      I am reminded of the scene in Mrs. Maisel where all the performers appear on stage at the end of a show to sing “White Christmas,” and she doesn’t know the words. But it’s a group setting and she’s a performer so she fakes it. That’s a case of, “well, no one told me this was part of the job,” but it’s not hazing.

      LW doesn’t mention if this job is somehow performance arts related. If it were, this demand to perform might be acceptable. Otherwise, not.

      1. Cindy*

        Also, there’s a difference between an anti-hazing guide that is suggesting activities to build cohesion/be rites of passage and one that’s trying to still haze, but trough less horrible and illegal means.

    29. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

      I have an anxiety disorder. So lets start with “I get that not everyone is the next Maria Callas, but sometimes a willingness to take yourself a tad less seriously and make yourself look a little silly goes a long way.” So it’s not a case of just taking myself a tad less seriously, thank you very much. But I’m glad that you lump me having a panic attack in public as “making myself look a little silly”.

      Next, let’s tackle this part
      And yes, the boss was almost certainly joking when he said the alternative was to turn in your badge. If he says things like that in the office, you’d have a legitimate beef. Saying in in a lighthearted way at a fun social occasion is completely different. Context matters.” You know what the context here is? A new hire who has almost NO way of knowing if the boss is serious or not. And who DEFINITELY 100% has the power to carry out the threat. It’s easy to say “A reasonable person wouldn’t be serious” but it’s just as easy to say “A reasonable person wouldn’t feel the need to ‘Haze’ the new hires.” Sure, the chance might be infinitesimally small, but that’s not where the risk assessment ends. You also have to consider the consequences, and for a distressingly large amount of people “losing my job” might translate to “losing everything I have.” So things are so drastically skewed in favor of the boss that most people simply cannot take that risk.

      “I have seen anti-hazing guides that even suggest singing as an appropriate alternative to hazing.”

      You know what time it is? Time to find a new anti-hazing guide!

      In short, it might not seem like a big deal TO YOU, but that’s why empathy exists. You should try it some time!

      1. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

        Okay, that last line was probably a bit too far. This really hit a sore spot with me thanks to a history of being bullied and pressured into doing things that I found humiliating in a public setting during work stuff.

    30. JSPA*

      The problem isn’t the details, but the fact that boss thinks of “hazing” as a psychologically- appropriate way to create team bonding (and literally says so, taking the guess – work out of what might otherwise be an ambiguous situation).

      Boss is over – enthusiastic about karaoke, and can’t imagine it being a big deal? Boss sees “getting over one’s fears, and beyond one’s own ego” as super – valuable, and presumes that karaoke is a low – stakes way to do that? Boss is from a culture (Philippines?) where karaoke has huge cultural presence and importance? OK, maybe not the best assumptions, but we have a basis for respectful discussion. Boss states not just an intent but a need (!) to “haze” every new hire? That’s bullcrap. It’s not necessarily NXIVM. But hazing attitudes create and excuse a spectrum of hazing and domination in work / professional environments that allow NXIVM to happen.

      I happen to think it is hugely liberating to get over oneself in as many ways as possible, including being hilariously terrible at karaoke. But it’s MAKING THE VOLUNTARY CHOICE that holds most of the value.

    31. LQ*

      So interestingly hazing, especially in a work context, essentially says “We need to create strong social and emotional bonds because we don’t have something else that is of high enough value for people to continue within this thing.” At work you would do it because you don’t pay people enough, have a good and engaging enough culture so you want people to (subconsciously, this is a fairly well-described phenomenon even for people who will loudly demand that they would never succumb to it) have done something that is painful (physically, emotionally, psychologically, all are fine for this which absolutely includes embarrassment) so that they later justify to themselves that they want to keep this job because it is something they really wanted otherwise why would they have put themselves through that painful experience to keep it.

      This is a kind of subterfuge that works really well and it shown to work really well. But it is a lie and a cheat and the reason you shouldn’t do it is because you should be providing a good enviroment to folks, decent pay, and using that to keep people instead of tricking their brains into lying to them.

      The point of the exercise like this is to manipulate people into staying at your crappy job through a series of “not that serious” things that escalate into someone who now feels compelled to work 70-80 hours under abusive conditions. That’s the point of an exercise like this.

      1. JSPA*

        Thanks for unpacking the why and how of the mechanism; I’d never thought it through in terms of organizational benefits (as opposed to personal dominance plays and formalized negging). Though I guess negging is hazing, in the context of a relationship, and your analysis of hazing also explains negging. Lots to think about, here.

    32. Observer*

      You are wrong on a number of counts.

      Hazing is NEVER light hearted – and the boss explicitly said that is what he was doing. Also, this is not about “not taking yourself so seriously” – again, hazing is not about that, it’s about HUMILIATING people.

      Anyone who thinks that forcing someone to sing is a “appropriate alternative” to hazing is someone who is not actually trying to eradicate abuse. And in a context when the boss EXPLICITLY states that he “needs to haze” the new hires, it’s disingenuous at best to claim that this was just a lighthearted joke.

      You claim that the boss must have been joking about firing the OP. What is your basis for this? Considering that someone actually tried to stop him, he pushed back and that person backed off, it’s actually quite likely that he DID mean it. Now, would have have done it once he sobered up is a different question, but there is no evidence to point to him not seriously meaning what he said.

      Work events are NOT, and never have been, simply “fun social events”. Trying to claim otherwise doesn’t speak well to your understanding of workplace norms.

      Not wanting to sing in public has little or nothing to do with taking yourself too seriously. I find that assumptions so repugnant and counter-factual that I can’t really express what I think about it without putting Allison in the position to possibly need to block my post, so I’ll leave it at that.

      Lastly, claiming the something is not abusive because you can think of other more abusive situations is exactly one of the tactics used to keep people from recognizing signs of a toxic culture or relationship.

    33. ClumsyCharisma*

      Was that guide from a frat?
      Hazing has no place at work. I’m all about having fun and don’t mind taking a pie to the face or something if it motivates my team but it has to be on a true volunteer basis.

    34. Earthwalker*

      It’s kind of a toss up for me whether I would rather sing in front of the boss or write a serious response in AAM and have 100+ people pile on to say how totally wrong I was. I understand that there are multiple valid and differing viewpoints here, and all deserve to be expressed, but how many “me too you’re so very wrong” comments does this one person need? The discussion seems to have devolved into some sort of virtue signalling. I thought the poster’s perspective was thought provoking and therefore valuable whether one agrees or not.

      1. Observer*

        Well, a lot of these responses address different aspects of the issue with the post. Given how many of them do that, it tells you just how bad the actual post it.

        Also, sometimes that pile on is a good signal that something is really, really problematic and therefore triggering a really strong response.

        Because the point of view expressed in the post is NOT valid, nor does it “deserve” to be expressed. Any viewpoint that dismisses abusive behavior and belittles people for not wanting to be humiliated is not one that deserves to be aired.

      2. Marthooh*

        IMO getting one hundred replies all disagreeing with your comment is really not comparable to the boss threatening your job. Also: thought-provoking comment provokes many thoughts. Y U shocked?

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        How many people on here had an emotional response to this comment because in the past, they have been “hazed” in some fashion and powerless to do anything about it? I am guessing a lot. I am also guessing they would be strongly drawn to responding. I bet a comment saying “I think three pages in a resume is just fine!” would not have caused a “100+ people pile on”.

        I would have to reread the comment to find anything thought-provoking in it. On first read, I didn’t. It just seemed a more verbose variation of “suck it up and sing”, which is not thought-provoking at all; or even original.

        1. Violet Fox*

          *waves paw*. Also #metoo and had it seriously brushed off. Tons and tons of “it’s just a joke.” .

      4. Scarlet2*

        It’s really funny when people get annoyed that a lot of people disagree with a “thought-provoking” comment. Newsflash: dismissive comments are not always “thought-provoking” and people who point out that a comment is uninformed or useless are not necessarily “virtue signaling”.

        Freedom is speech is also telling people their perspective is not valuable or as “thought-provoking” as they think.

      5. Schnookums Von Fancypants, Naughty Basic Horse*

        Virtue Signaling? What’s next, calling us all snowflakes? Newsflash: My comment was actually sincere and in no way stated to earn cred or whatever.

        I must note that accusing a certain subsection of people of “virtue signaling” has become virtue signaling in it’s own right. Perhaps Alanis Morissette should write a song about it.

      6. Avasarala*

        Singing in front of the boss after he demands it as a hazing ritual is embarrassing because you have done nothing to deserve it but be new.

        100+ responses to a comment defending hazing as “not as bad as physical abuse” is embarrassing because you expressed your opinion and so many people disagreed with you.

        These are not the same situation at all. You can consider their opinion valuable, OK, I consider all these responses valuable and thought-provoking.

      1. Observer*

        Agreed. So much so that to me it reads as an “an alternative to things that are illegal or could get your arrested”. If that’s what you are looking for, then forcing someone to sing in public works.

    35. AKchic*

      “Don’t worry about someone pinching your tuchus! It’s just a little pinch, honey! He liiiiikes you! Don’t worry about those catcalls on the street. They are appreciating you! It’s not like it’s r@pe!”

      Hazing is about power and control. When he threatened to fire OP1 to ensure compliance, it crossed the line. It is coercive. It is a threat. The job (presumably) has nothing to do with singing. The OP wasn’t there as an entertainer. While the boss may have been having fun while HE said it, it doesn’t make the message lighthearted or fun for the receiver.

      1. JSPA*

        In case you get pushback for going there, I also went there, inside my head.

        Many things that are “not bad in the right context” are still downright terrible in the wrong context.

        And the experience of someone who was looking to buy into that version of “fun” (or found a way to recontextualize the experience, in real time, that they could live with) has exactly zero relevance to someone who was forced to endure it. Whatever the “it” is.

  7. Chocolate Teapot*

    4. I used to work with somebody who might be best described as more out than in. Our company does not offer working from home for practical reasons, and so we have to be in the office to do our tasks. Former co-worker had various personal issues, to which I was sympathetic, however she would come in late after an early morning appointment, then take a 1 hour lunch break, come back and preceed to spend the afternoon eating at her desk, before dashing out at 4.00pm to catch her bus. Invariably, there would be emergencies whenever she was out, that the rest of us had to deal with, which she could have done herself .

    I personally try to take a shorter lunchbreak if I have come in later or need to leave earlier. I suspect a lot of companies have the flexible lunch break to be taken any time between 12pm and 2pm.

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yeah, I’d probably just eat at my desk and work through lunch that day. Even if it’s not a rule that you do that, it can go a long way in terms of how you’re seen by others.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Same. At my company it’s an “optics” thing (or are we saying it “is/is not a good look” now?) more so than a policy. We have unlimited sick time and are encouraged to use it for appointments and such, so it’s not necessarily that we need to “make up” the time in other ways. I know I just feel weird giving off the impression that I’m working a full day, but then only seen working what amounts to half of one between appointments and lunch.

    2. alienor*

      I usually take a shorter break if I’m leaving early as well – I’ll run down to the café and get something to bring back to my desk instead of leaving for a full hour. I don’t think anyone in my office would particularly notice or care, but I feel better that way.

    3. Gatomon*

      I usually still take my lunch unless the absence is very close/runs into the lunch window, in those cases I grab something on the way out/back. But I also typically have to work late or need to do work overnight (after 11 pm) so I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Instead of coming in late or leaving early I “use” that extra time to cover my absence if I have one that week. I personally really need some time away from my desk to decompress so having an actual lunch is really important for me. If anyone wants to check my work ethic, they can see my 2 am emails :)

  8. Not Australian*

    #1 – I’m afraid my response would have been “In that case you can have my badge now and I’ll get a cab home – good evening.” That kind of nonsense needs to be called out at the time. After all, what would they give as their reason for dismissing you? “Refused to make a fool of themself in public, contrary to company policy.” OTOH I’m in the UK, about a thousand years old, and have never been very sensible; I just hate to see people being humiliated in the name of fun.

    1. Massmatt*

      In many areas, someone can be fired at any time for any (or no) reason, and in many MORE jobs there is no protection during a probationary period.

      I don’t like the hazing at work either, but not many people would be in a position to leave a job after 2 weeks, or take the chance that they could play chicken with their new boss without it ending badly.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        And, if they are in the US, they often have medical insurance from their job. If they have dependents, then their family members’ medical insurance also comes from the job. It would probably feel amazing to throw the badge down and storm out, but then you (generic you) would have to explain to your kids why they no longer have healthcare. This utterly sucks.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      I think it would be doing everyone a favour if those who are able to did exactly that – but understand why someone at start of career or really needs this job wouldn’t.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*


        If you can stand up to dumb work stuff, please do stand up to dumb work stuff. It’ll help people who cannot.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          This is way more than dumb work stuff. I get that not everyone has the luxury of quitting on the spot, but this is bullying and an abuse of power, and I don’t think it should be taken lightly.

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      I think its very easy for most of us to say, “Here’s my badge, I quit”. But think about if you were in the moment. All your brand new co-workers are there, your boss is telling you to do something, and you do it. You don’t think in the moment, you just do. Maybe some people may have the guts to just quit and walk out, but I think a lot of people would just comply.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Not the same as I wasn’t being threatened with being fired, but I walked out of a dumb exercise by a workplace coach brought in by the founder/chair of our organization, being help in the founder’s estate in her presence.

        I don’t play that.

        And a few weeks ago I walked out of another aspect of a training – just said “I’m out” and left.

        And a few years ago did not want to go to a staff retreat and the organizer/my boss said the only way I could do that was to take vacation – so I took the day off as vacation. She did not like that. She tried to force me out of the organization a few years later. Whatever. It’s worth pushing back.

        And it’s also worth practicing not freezing or immediately backing down in stressful situations. We can practice taking time to run though possible responses in our mind, then giving one. Slow it down – think for a moment as big picture as possible , then respond.

        I no longer say “yes” reflexively when stressed. Or even “no.” I pause and think. Practice it.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          Adding one thing – it’s not necessary to say “Here’s my badge, I quit.”

          That’s participating in their nonsense. Make them take it up a notch. Just sit there doing nothing or ignore it and say “No thanks, I’m not singing.” Pass the awkward, don’t help them with it. Pass it back.

          I recall sitting through another dumb and morale sapping staff retreat exercise with a then-boss asking me over and over again (not ordering me) to do something. I just said “no” once or twice and then sat there. Eventually that person had to stop and we move on.

          1. GGG*

            I find that refusing an unreasonable request as if it were an extra canape is a great technique. “No, thank you!” Big smile.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              “Thanks, I’m good.” (my young adult kids taught me that. It’s so fun to use in some situations.)

          2. JSPA*

            A quiet,”it’s against my religion” or “Sorry, it’s contra-indicated” would not be inappropriate. Hard to push back on either of those.

      2. Threeve*

        I would have complied. I’m not ashamed of that. I would have hated it, but I need my job to eat.

        I would schedule a meeting with my boss to ask plainly if I could expect that kind of thing again. Maybe the guy was super-drunk, or on his way out, or almost never interacted with lower-level employees.

        It certainly might make me start job-hunting, but I wouldn’t throw my badge on the table and tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine. (And that’s not even what I would fantasize about. I would mostly just want to key the guy’s car. Well, I actually do want to key the guy’s car).

      3. Filosofickle*

        Right. From a distance, I’d like to think I’d have have refused. (I wouldn’t quit preemptively, but I would call their bluff.) But in the moment I probably would have lacked that presence of mind.

        Previously in threads, it’s been brought up that research shows most people freeze in the moment of, say, harassment. How we think we’d react is different from how we actually do.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’m in the UK and will outright refuse to sing ever. I know my voice is appalling! If pressed into it by a boss I’d force a belch or something.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Don’t quit. Make him fire you. At least in this state they’d have to pay unemployment benefits because that’s not gross misconduct and that’s the only reason a fired employee is denied benefits. We’ve terminated people for being insubordinate before with a massive paper trail even and the state was like “but he wasn’t seen burning the place down so he gets benefits.”

      However if he quit for any reason other than being able to prove discrimination or harassment or retaliation (hard to do), no benefits.

      I’ve learned all this the hard ways.

      1. GreyjoyGardens*

        In my state, too, it’s always better to be fired than to quit (unless gross harassment is involved). My state is VERY pro-employee and the onus is on the employer to prove “cause.” So if I personally were offered the choice “be fired” or “quit” I’d choose the former, unless the latter was a really sweet deal (severance pay, etc.).

  9. Jimming*

    For OP4, this is also a “know your company culture” question. I work from home and can flex my time. I also have a job where I can’t eat while I’m talking with clients so I’d definitely still take a short lunch to eat and then leave for my appointment. But I can also work later that same day or another day that week to “make up” the time I missed. If your company is about “butts in seats” or you can snack while working, the optics might be different.

    1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      #2: We have a coworker who spends 50 min in the bathroom almost every single day, usually more than once/day. We can tell they’re on their phone wasting time because we can hear the ESPN basketball game, or the video game sounds…once I heard snoring. It’s been an issue for years now and boss knows about it but just does a big shrug about it. This person does not have an ADA allowance because I handle certain aspects of personnel & I’d know about it.

      #4: That same person I described above also regularly will take a full lunch even though they took an extra hour or two of personal time to handle non-work stuff. This has happened many times a week for several years now. Again, just a shrug from the boss.

      Hey managers: when you don’t call slackers out on crap like this, it’s as if your slapping the faces of your hard working employees who do value company time. You’re creating a hostile unfair working environment. Have the guts to do something about those people who produce lackluster results and steal company time.

    2. ItsAllFunAndGames*

      I think it would also depend on “how does your company handle you not being around”.
      I work for a governmental agency, my usual hours are 8:30 to 5:00 with a an hour lunch (1/2 unpaid 1/2 paid) and while you can flex lunch, local policy is it has to be taken between 11:30 and 2:00.

      So if I were to come in at 10:30, I have to use 2 hours of leave from either my vacation or sick bank, depending on my reason for being late. So I am for sure going to take my full lunch, since I already “made good” by having to use some of my accrued time off.

      1. Work Hours*


        In an 8 hour day, I get 7 paid hours and 1 hour unpaid lunch. Time off during the paid 7 hours requires using up PTO. If I’m off for 2 hours, I’m going to work to 5 hours to get to 7 paid hours and still take my 1 hour unpaid lunch. No point in “making up” hours by working through lunch just for optics especially since it’d be considered unpaid labour.

      2. Gatomon*

        This was how we did it when I was gov’t too. If I had a lunch-window appointment it might be lunch + the needed leave, so that could actually save me some PTO by scheduling within my lunch hour. We were forbidden from eating at our desks technically (clients in the area) so not taking a lunch wasn’t really allowed, and everyone’s lunch was scheduled between 11 – 2 for coverage.

  10. Massmatt*

    #2 the bathroom issue (Alison, I see what you did there!) how can someone get away with spending this much time at work in the bathroom?

    Ok some people have medical issues, but 50 minutes?! How many people are in this office that someone can disappear this long without someone noticing, not to MENTION monopolizing the only bathroom?

    Yes the noisy stairs are helpful, there’s also knocking, why not knock if you have to go?

    IMO it sounds like your bathroom camper is both rude and a goof-off.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well, if it’s truly a medical issue, there could be an ADA accommodation. Otherwise, it’s possible they’re in there on their lunch hour, or they’re salaried with a “Hurry up and wait” type of job..
      But yes it sounds to me too like OP might want to keep an eye out for hiw this affects her own work and react to THAT directly.
      Also, OP, knock. I’m someone who’s had medical issues in the past, and I’d rather my co-workers knock ton find out yep I’ll be in here long enough for them to go to Starbucks down the block.

      1. LW #2*

        I was sort of under the impression that it was rude to knock, for some reason. I’ll try that. I’m on good terms with them, so I guess I have some wiggle room.

    2. Eleaner*

      Friendly Reminder: For the US offices, OSHA requires 2 bathrooms if you have more than 15 people. 1910.141 for general info and 1910.141(c)(1)(i) for the toilet chart. Enjoy!

      1. JustaTech*

        Ooh, thank you for that! I was wondering if the folks downstairs who want to put 60 people in a space that only has 2 single-occupancy bathrooms would be afoul of OSHA, and look at that, they are!

        I sure hope they move some doors and make the other bathrooms accessible.

      2. LW #2*

        There’s fewer than that of us. It’s a very small office. We’re also outside the USA, but that’s good to know for other readers I guess. Thanks either way :)

    3. Bathrooms*

      Is it possible that the person in question actually isn’t in there the whole 50 minutes? If I was on another floor from the bathroom, I’d really have no way of knowing if it’s been the same person the entire time, and if so, as has been pointed out elsewhere, it could well be a medical issue at play, which would be very uncomfortable to have to get into with a coworker. But, yes, the larger issue is the lack of available bathrooms in the first place.

      1. LW #2*

        Yeah, they were in there the whole time. Our bathroom door happens to be noisy too, so it’s easy to hear in the office when someone enters or leaves.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      I know some of my coworkers sit in the stalls playing on their phones with no shame. I’ve heard the little bing-bong Candy Crush noises. Or they’re taking phones calls, which always makes me feel awkward when I’m peeing and flushing in the stall right next to them. It’s not an issue here, though, since we have plenty of stalls. I’d be more annoyed if they were camping out in the one single bathroom we all had to share.

      1. ExtendedBathroomUserToBe*

        Slightly different issue: Any tips on what to do if you are the employee who needs extended use of limited bathrooms? We luckily have two, but I’ll be returning from maternity leave shortly and there is no other place to pump except for my cubicle. (Yes, I know it’s supposedly illegal to ask nursing mothers to use a bathroom, but my employer gets away with it because the office is a large complex, so technically I could walk 20 minutes to the designated space.) Should I make a sign (bathroom in use for 30 minutes)? I assume people will figure it out as they see me come out with all my gear, but I dread having to potentially deal with knocks.

        1. Nessun*

          Speaking as someone who has never had to pump, I would have no idea how long it takes or what the paraphernalia was. I’d appreciate a sign, so I knew to go elsewhere, and not bother you. I also think it is hideous that you’d have to pump in a bathroom, and the designated space is such a hike away!!

        2. Malarkey01*

          Is there any empty office, conference room, or other enclosed space you can use? Or even ask for a partition you can place in front of your cubicle to close it off when pumping?

          I had to pump 3 times a day at one point, and can’t imagine having to juggle what I assume is a “one seat” bathroom that often. In an office or conference room you can bring documents to read or listen in to conference calls, read email so the time is still productive. That’s how I’d “sell” it to your company.

          Not even getting into the fact that it’s gross to deal with bathroom germs while trying to juggle equipment and bottled milk, etc and you will have people knocking on the door (and reasonably they too need a bathroom so your office really needs to find a solution).

        3. Narvo Flieboppen*

          You’d be paid for that 20 minute walk, right? So take it. Especially if it is 20 minutes both ways. That’s some well earned pay, I say.

          Note: I’m a CIS mostly-white guy, so I may have a skewed view of the nature of these things since I only see it from the outside. But I would totally support a coworker who was put in your situation to take all the time they needed to get to the pumping station and back.

        4. GreyjoyGardens*

          If you’re going to be paid for that 20 minute walk, and it’s not going to result in nastygrams and muttered comments and being bullied, AND you are not going to be physically tuckered out and need a rest (having a baby is exhausting) – then I say it’s OK to take that walk, and anyone who complains can STFU.

          If the 20-minute walk is really a hardship, then maybe there is an empty office or conference room nearer by that you can use? The shared bathroom should probably be a very last resort.

          1. ExtendedBathroomUserToBe*

            Thanks all for the acknowledgement that the situation sucks. Unfortunately we are all “open space” so not a closet or office at all to beg or borrow. And I would consider the walk, but I live where it will be cold and icy so doing that, especially while lugging a heavy bag with pump equipment might be even worse. But it just occurred to me that my car might be an option, hmm. And at least this will be my second round of pumping at work so I’m a little more prepared. But man, I miss my old job’s dedicated private office. And fyi for those who don’t know- it’s typically 2-3 times a day, for ~ 30 minutes (20 minutes of actual pumping, but you also have to pretty much undress, hook everything up, and then repeat.)

            1. GreyjoyGardens*

              A walk on the ice, lugging pump equipment, doesn’t sound like an option. I’m glad you updated with that. (I live where it can rain heavily, but it NEVER snows, so I keep forgetting about icy sidewalks and so on.)

              And if there is truly no private space, that sucks. Open plan sucks! And it’s not just nursing moms who might need a private conference room or something every once in a while. The bathroom is probably a better option than your car, frankly, so if you can maybe have set times when you pump so that people KNOW the bathroom will be in use on a regular schedule, that will help.

              Good luck – I hope there’s a solution that works for everyone!

            2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              Oh no! I think a sign on the bathroom is the way to go, and I wonder if you can include the contact info of whomever should handle complaints about the bathroom being unavailable for regular toilet use – it sucks that they’re not being more accommodating of your needs but maybe if your HR team hears from other coworkers that this isn’t a workable solution, they’ll be more motivated to work with you to find a solution that doesn’t require pumping in a bathroom, car, or walking miles through ice and snow?

        5. JSPA*

          A 20 minute walk may not constitute adequate accommodation? I’d assume that it’s frankly difficult to keep things sanitary for pumping purposes in a bathroom (where, y’know, other people flush poop). Especially if you’re keeping the milk, but even if you’re just using the same equipment to pump with at other times, when you do want to keep the milk. Sure, people did it for decades, but that doesn’t make it ideal.

          Temporary cubicle re-assignment nearer to the pumping room? Use of an office or conference room with temporary shades? Really, bathroom is to be avoided, even if it’s done by choice (that being, apparently, very nearly Hobson’s choice).

          1. JSPA*

            Fully enclosed nap pod chair? Not cheap, but much cheaper than new construction. Camp cot with privacy bed tent (flimsy but cheap)?Inflatable photo booth (under $200, might need an additional drape for adequate privacy)? Tent plus white noise machine?

      2. Quill*

        I’m always fascinated by people who don’t mute their phone games or use headphones for their media.

        And not in a good way, it’s just like… does everyone NOT yearn for an app that you can use to prevent all other apps except the ones you greenlight from making any noise? Because my podcast listening while playing match 3 with ads as the price of starting a new level self would love one of those.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Most of my stupid phone games, I can turn off their music and sound effects. Can you do that?

          1. Nanani*

            I think the problem is the noisy ads that do not obey mute settings. To which I can only suggest finding an ad-free/less annoying ad-having game, or investing in better adblock

          2. Quill*

            The game obeys it, the ads THAT BILLY MAYES SHOUT AT ME HALFWAY THROUGH A PODCAST ABOUT ARE YOU LIVING WITH DIAHHREA are the problems. (The game does not always obey it…)

            Ideally I’d like to return to the days where I could play stupid, ad-supported games in a browser window but prevent that browser window from making any noise, but on my phone…

    5. Elenna*

      To be fair, if someone disappeared for 50 minutes I’d assume they were in a meeting or something. Although maybe it’s different if you’re in a small enough company that you only have one bathroom…

    6. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      At old old job where the bathrooms were right off the lunchroom, during a lunch break we got to watch two people search for the head engineer because he was super late for a meeting, and a succession of about 10 men try to use the men’s room only to find it locked. We were discussing the possibility that someone had managed to lock the door from the inside as they were leaving the bathroom (it had happened before) when lucky number 11 came by (poor intern) and tried to open it and got screamed and cussed out by the head engineer from inside the bathroom, who seemed to think it was the same person trying the door again every few minutes and not realizing that most of the people in the department are gonna want to use the bathroom around lunch time.

    7. Minocho*

      Well, to be fair I had an issue where I spent about half the time between getting back from lunch and 3 pm in the restroom.

      I went to my manager and asked to take the rest of the day off, because my lunch definitely didn’t agree with me and I just needed to admit I was too sick to be productive and I was better off getting home.

      Especially because I didn’t want to get stuck in rush hour with that issue going on!

    8. KayDeeAye*

      I could absolutely disappear for a 50-minute bathroom break with no one the wiser. (I don’t, but I could.) If I wasn’t at my desk, people would just assume that I had a meeting. I mean, if people started noticing that I did it everyday or something, then they might start to wonder. And when my boss is in an “I need this particular subordinate” mood, she is almost invariably in an “I need this particular subordinate Right. Now.” mood, so if that happened to coincide with an extended bathroom break, she might notice.

      But every now and then, I could definitely disappear and nobody would even wonder very much where I was. It’s not that hard in an office where people are working on various projects, some of which require them to be away from their desks.

  11. Elder Dog*

    “My going rate is $1500 for two sets, but since you’re my boss, I’ll give you a break on that. $200 a song. In advance. I don’t take plastic.” Then I’d hold out my hand and wait.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m actually in the musician’s union. I can’t sing without a contract, and you have to check that the venue is up-to-date on their payments to ASCAP and BMI.

  12. Rexish*

    #4 Echoing pp’s. This depends on the company. Lunch break is not counted to work hours and going to doctor (non work related) is time we would make up. THerefore we do most definately take normal lunch cause otherwise it would be time donated to the company. Whereas in my previousplace lunch was part of the work hours and we didn’t need to make up the time when we ran errands, there I would have grabed a quick lunch.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. There are a lot of variables that make a difference.

      Is the time off coming off the personal/medical time off? if the answer is yes, then definitely take that lunch break too. However if you don’t have to take time off for the appointment (assumed you’re going to make it up that time), then maybe you shouldn’t take lunch and have that be part of you making up the time.

  13. Anony*

    Was there an email confirmation of the time of the interview? Did it say EST? Is the company on the East Coast? I think they may hold it against you if it were written out. If not, probably not.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      If the job requires frequent juggling of appointments across time zones, I’d count it as a point against a candidate. Otherwise, not so much.

    2. Zip Silver*

      Usually Outlook and Google will both correct for the time zone when you send a formal meeting invite, so it’s not an issue. I did recently get a meeting invite from a coworker on the west coast for a 4:00PM 1:1 call, and emailed her to say that there was no way that I’d be hanging around the office until 7:00EST for a routine call.

      1. Paulina*

        I’ve had trouble with this autocorrecting time, though, when I’m not currently in the time zone that I will be in for the meeting (and am transferring the appointment between calendars). In both cases the system didn’t indicate that it was “correcting” the time, nor did it say what time zone it was using, and the first time it even formatted everything so it looked like an email from the person setting up the meeting. They were understanding, but ultimately it didn’t help matters with the project that I wasn’t at the meeting.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Our policy is to send the meeting time in writing in the time zone of the recipient. If there are multiple recipients in different time zones, spell it out, but also use an actual calendar invite so when the person imports it, it will generally self-adjust to the local and be correct in their calendar. But if this were an east coast person emailing a centrail time person, and they knew it was a central time person, and it weren’t an actual meeting request just an email that said “10a EST”, we’d not hold it against the candidate for getting it wrong. (And depending on who were doing the sending, we might hold it against the internal sender for not following the protocol for invites.)

  14. Anony*

    OP 1: this is abusive. I wonder what else this company has up their sleeve. Maybe a job search on the side. What a jerk this man is.

  15. Anony*

    Fifty minutes regularly in the bathroom is not acceptable. She’s in there talking or sleeping. I’d knock on the door. I’d also mention it to Boss if it’s really going on daily.

    1. Zip Silver*

      Or masturbating. It’s nice to think that she’s just browsing IG or ifunny, but that’s also a possibility.

      An average dump, doing the business plus cleanup, shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. I’ve seen a lot of commenters mention the possibility of medical issues, but 50 minutes of struggling would only lead to a prolapse.

      1. Lou*

        You’ve never encountered someone with IBD, I see. To put it delicately, struggling isn’t generally involved, but often being near/already on a toilet for an indefinite period of time is during a flare-up. More to the point, if there’s a medical thing going on that’s her own business, and knowing the reason doesn’t change what the LW should do. Knocking works in all situations, and this office really should have more than one bathroom available to employees.

        1. doreen*

          I don’t think it’s at all clear whether the office “really should have more than one bathroom available” – the OP doesn’t give any specifics about the office or how many people work there. I’ve seen lots of storefront* offices with five or fewer people working there at a time – those places typically have one restroom and it’s not necessarily feasible to add another.

          * I mention storefront to distinguish them from equally small offices in an office building with shared restrooms.s

          1. LW #2*

            Yeah, there’s very few of us, only ~8 all up. Bathroom availability is usually just fine, except that this person usually takes a long time.

      2. Malarkey01*

        But this might not be “average”. My husband had his gallbladder removed and resulting complications mean he does need a restroom for an hour sometimes. Not to be graphic but the problem isn’t 50 minutes of struggling but the opposite problem of everything coming out. He’s definitely not having a good time hanging out with smells but is doubled over in pain trying to get through it.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Oof sounds a lot like what I went through before figuring out I can’t eat dairy. My sympathies to your husband. I hope things improve soon.

    2. Colette*

      There are medical conditions that require long bathroom breaks. We don’t know that she doesn’t legitimately need the time in the bathroom.

      1. Grumbly Tummy*

        Yes, this is an extremely rude comment to make. I used to have very bad days before I figured out my food intolerances where I was a feverish, sickly mess mid-morning or after lunch for 30 minutes. You already feel horrid, you don’t need a coworker banging on the door.

        It doesn’t matter what they are doing in the bathroom. The problem is the office does not have multiple bathrooms.

        1. bankerchick*

          I knew this as I had looked this up when I was transferred to a different office within the same company. Like the OP, we have a person who sometimes takes LONG… bathroom breaks in the only bathroom in the building. Frustrating if you have a brief break in the front line action (bank) and just need to go quickly but someone has been in there 20 minutes already and no sign of getting out. I get there could be medical issues but the rest of us are going to end up with medical issues if we are forced to continually “hold it” . Maybe I can get a doctor’s note taking me off work since I can’t “go” in a timely manner?? I am only half joking…. But seriously, there should be at least two toilets, even with fewer than 15 people.

        2. LW #2*

          I agree completely with GT.

          They’re a good worker, they’re good at their job, they’ve been here longer than the furniture and way longer than me, and I actually quite like them. In all probability the boss already knows (they’re VERY conflict averse and hands-off, but that’s a post for another day). Either way I’m not going to try to report them for taking too long.

          And hell, I’ve had times when I’ve needed to tie up the bathroom for longer than I’d like, and I’m absolutely sympathetic that someone might indeed have issues with their digestive system.

      2. Quill*

        Even without it necessarily being a medical condition… due to muscles and hormones sometimes women have a week per month where they may need to use the restroom on the hour every hour, or a case of the period poops. Which, to put it politely, may continue for some time per visit.

      3. GreyjoyGardens*

        Yes, there are legitimate medical reasons why someone might need to spend some time in the bathroom. But in that case the onus should be on the company to 1) provide reasonable accommodations to that employee while 2) ensuring that everyone else who needs to go can go when they need to.

        OP2, you might be looking at a “needs more than one bathroom” situation and how that can be put into practice. Is there another bathroom nearby? A Starbucks that will let you use their toilet when you need to? Because while you can’t ask people to not have IBD (for instance) you also can’t ask people to cross their legs and wait patiently when they need to go.

        1. LW #2*

          More than one bathroom would be ideal, I guess. Unfortunately it’s not possible, and there aren’t any other businesses nearby that would have publicly available toilets.


    For some reason I can’t reply to my or Alison’s comment above, but: I did understand that the point of the research was that people judge typos more harshly when they believed the writer was black, which is why I said I don’t doubt that people are unfairly harsher in judging their writing.

    My point was that the way that blog post frames the research is unhelpful and distracts from the (important and consequential) message. Its sub-heading alone — “If you notice a lot of typographical errors, you might be racist” — is enough to turn off a lot of people who might otherwise benefit from reading it.

    I say this not to criticize the post or police its author, but to suggest that there might be more beneficial ways for you to convey that message to your readers. I doubt the interviewers who would reject someone over a single typo would be the type to change their minds after being linked to that post, but just the two-sentence summary you wrote in your reply might get them thinking.


    #1: If the high boss literally said he needed to haze the new hires, then I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s the type that would actually fire you if you didn’t play along. After all, he’s not the one who had to put in the effort to hire you, and he might thing anyone who won’t play along won’t fit into the old boys’ club, consequences be damned.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I used to work at a Renaissance festival. I’ve forgotten more NSFW songs than most of my friends ever learned. (The exceptions are all former military.) But I haven’t forgotten all of them…

  18. Lara Cruz*

    Uh, OP#4?

    Allison is wrong. Take your lunch break. This isn’t a Dickensian workhouse, you have the right to eat.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She’s not saying DON’T EAT YOU CANNOT, she’s just saying don’t take an hour break. I do stuff like this and eat at my desk or take 15 minutes. That’s pretty normal.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, I’m not getting the outrage here – nowhere in Alison’s response does she say you should just starve! In the vast majority of workplaces, you can just eat your lunch at your desk if your schedule is tight.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          And I personally interpreted “skip lunch” as “eat at your desk and work between forkfuls of salad”.

    2. Betty*

      I wouldn’t NOT EAT, but I’d either go for a very short lunch break (just enough time to get food and eat it) or bring lunch in and eat it at my desk.

      If I thought I could hang on to do the actual eating (personally can’t) I’d just leave at 2pm and do lunch-then-doctor. Much less disruptive to keep it all in one chunk of time.

    3. quirkypants*

      I think this depends on culture and how hour employer treats the time.

      If you have to use PTO, take your lunch.

      If your employer is flexible with appointments or generally let’s you flex your time I’d recommend you take 20-30 minutes to eat… that’s more typical in the offices I’ve worked in if you’re taking advantage of flex time.

      1. Antilles*

        If your employer is flexible with appointments or generally let’s you flex your time I’d recommend you take 20-30 minutes to eat… that’s more typical in the offices I’ve worked in if you’re taking advantage of flex time.
        Yeah, this is the way I’ve seen it done in flexible offices – you take a shorter lunch or even a work-at-your-desk lunch on days you’re leaving early. Sometimes it’s for perception reasons so you don’t seem like you’re slacking, but more often it’s just a purely practical thing so that you can still get enough stuff done in the shortened day that you don’t end up falling behind.

    4. Commenter*

      I also don’t understand this question. Of your using PTO to leave early, why wouldn’t you take your lunch? That’s like burning an hour of PTO time.

      1. Colette*

        Some places (and in some jobs) you don’t need to take PTO to leave early for a medical appointment. If you have a job where you don’t have to track your time (i.e. you are exempt), you may be able to just go to your appointment and adjust your hours that day.

        1. Commenter*

          I guess I’ve never worked somewhere like that. I’ve always been salary but every minute must be accounted for up to 15 minutes. If I left early but didn’t take a lunch (unpaid) it would like just throwing away an hour of PTO.

      2. doreen*

        That depends on the job – for example, I’m required to work or use leave for 7.5 hours/day and to take lunch if I work 6 hours or more. I’m not burning any leave time, because my time is not calculated based on the 8 hours between the start and end of my shift , it’s based on the 7.5 hours of work expected within that 8 hour period. For example, if my work schedule is 8-4 and I leave at 1 pm, I have worked 5 hours and only take 2.5 hours leave. If I work until 1 pm and take a 30 minute lunch from 11:30 -12N , I have worked 4.5 hours and must use 3 hours of leave.

    5. Lauren*

      OP 4 here – thanks everyone for your replies. I was mostly curious about the optics of it. I’m in Ireland and most people here take lunch from 1-2, so you can imagine how it would look if I came back after my hour lunch and then left 50 min later and wasn’t coming back for the rest of the day. But my boss was ok with it, so I was too. Thanks Allison!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’ve done that a couple of times when I’ve had a doctors or hospital appointment in the afternoon. I’m in the UK and mostly bosses have been cool with that.

    6. Holly*

      This is really office-type dependent. In my field, if you’re leaving early, you eat lunch at your desk – you don’t take a “lunch break” and do nothing for an hour. It’s not about not eating.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I removed a lengthy off-topic and hostile thread here about diet.

      Zip Silver, I’ve warned you multiple times that you cannot be rude here, and and I am putting you on moderation until further notice.

  19. Mx*

    Yes, and skipping lunch is also unhealthy. I wouldn’t be able to skip lunch without my blood sugar dropping too low and feeling dizzy.
    But maybe she can take a very short lunch, like 20mn.

  20. Rectilinear Propagation*

    LW #1 – If I felt like I had to sing a song, I probably would have picked “Albuquerque” by Weird Al because:
    1. There’s almost no actual singing it it. It’s mostly a rambling story outside of the chorus, which is just the word “Albuquerque” said twice (until you reach the end).
    2. It’s over 11 minutes long and I would force them to listen to every. single. second.

    If I could afford to risk getting fired though, I would say, “OK” when he said I had to turn in my badge Monday. And continue to sit there. Smiling. Just…letting it be awkward.

    I really wish I had real advice for this but mostly I just have ideas for making the boss regret it. I can think of a few songs without swear words that would probably make him sorry he asked (though maybe he’d find “No Children” by the Mountain Goats appropriate dinner music) but nothing likely to convince a bully to back off in the moment.

    LW #3 – Just treat it like every other interview: move on mentally and if they decide to continue with/hire you, let it be a nice surprise. It happened, you’ll be more careful in the future. Don’t agonize over it.

    LW #4 – Are you gone for the rest of the day? This might not be doable this time since you’ve already said you’re leaving at 2:50pm but another option would be to schedule yourself leaving an hour earlier than you have to and having a late lunch when you leave. Of course, waiting until ~2pm to eat might not work as well as eating an hour sooner.

    1. Carlie*

      I also thought of Albuquerque! And Trapped in the Drive Through.

      There’s also the whole patter song genre. Couple of lines from River City (The Music Man) or anything from My Fair Lady. Although, I’d be tempted to try Mongoluan throat singing.

      But seriously, that boss is trash.

      1. This is the Way*

        Minimum Wage by They Might Be Giants is another option although it’s only two words and a hee-yah long.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I was raised on Folk Revival and alt-country; I could probably get myself fired if I did sing.

        Joe Hill
        Sixteen Tons
        White Collar Holler by Stan Rogers
        One More Dollar by Gillian Welch
        Working Girl Blues by Hazel Dickens
        Waitress Song by Freakwater
        (To Work) In Tall Buildings by John Hartford

        Gotta Get Up, by the Bottle Rockets, which goes:
        “Gotta get up. Gotta go to work. Then I come home and I gotta go to bed.
        Cause I gotta get up. Gotta go to work. Then I come home and I gotta go to bed.
        Cause I gotta get up. Gotta go to work. Then I come home and I gotta go to bed.
        Cause I gotta get up. Gotta go to work. Then I come home and I gotta go to bed.
        Cause I gotta get up. Gotta go to work. Then I come home gotta go to bed.
        So I can sleep my two days off away and do it all over again.”
        Repeat. That’s the whole song.

        1. JustaTech*

          Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? comes to mind.
          If I knew the lyrics, Monty Python’s “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” would be deeply tempting.

        2. Megpie71*

          “There is Power in a Union” by Billy Bragg.
          “The Internationale”
          “Solidarity Forever” (which has a nice easy chorus the rest of the minimum wage workers in the restaurant can sing along to)
          “The Red Flag”
          (and any other nice little union songs you can come up with, sung good and loud, while looking directly at the bullying boss and smiling at him… or at least showing all your teeth).

          (Or of course, there’s the “Hogwarts School Song” response – “everyone pick your favourite lyrics and key, and off we go!”)

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Ina gadda da vida always makes me think of Manhunter, so that’s a bonus round for me right there!

  21. Best Cat in the World*

    Op #5, the other thing to bear in mind is that acronyms can often have more than one meaning. For instance, in my field, AF could be atrial fibrillation, or atrial flutter. AED could be Automated External Defibrillators or anti epileptic drug. While I do use acronyms plenty in my paperwork, I try and make sure they’re clear enough as to what I mean.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      DNA is the one that causes that issue in my job. If I’m not referring to DNA testing, I make a big point of spelling out Decision Not to Assess or Did Not Attend, depending on which is applicable.

    2. epi*

      I love this example.

      I used to work in cardiology research, and maintained a database of interesting teaching cases that I would abstract from medical records. There were SO many acronyms, and a lot of anatomy and conditions that started with the same letters. I had to create a glossary to keep track of what, if anything, got the obvious acronym and what had to be abbreviated some other way or just spelled out.

      Years later, I did some freelance medical editing and had a client doing research in a different area of cardiology (providing primary care for chronic conditions of adults instead of radiology of congenital conditions in kids). My familiar acronyms all referred to totally different conditions and procedures and sometimes even different cardiac anatomy. All perfectly appropriate in that practice area, I checked. That was a tough one to edit.

    3. Jay*

      As an intern, I was once woken at 2:30 AM by a call from a nurse: “Dr Jay, we were just wondering – what does ERCP stand for?” I said “endoscopic retrograde cholecystopancreatography” and went back to sleep. Now there are MRCPs as well – magnetic resonance etc etc.

      I’ve been a doc for 30+ years and worked in hospitals and offices for 10 years before that. I thought I knew all the TLAs – and then I joined a company that makes up new ones! They’re not medical, per se, but refer to roles and processes within the company. So I’m a PCL (palliative care lead) and thus the SME (subject matter expert, pronounced SMEE, which is just bananacrackers) for my market, and my boss is the RMD (regional medical director) who was just promoted to CCO (chief clinical officer). I’ve decided to laugh at it because the alternative is the CSS (constant silent scream).

    4. we're basically gods*

      And many acronyms have other meanings that can be wildly NSFW– while I doubt it’d be a dealbreaker if someone googled, say CBT, which is an acronym for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and wound up with results for an alternate meaning, they would probably be…unhappy.

  22. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “You can either sing here and now, or you can turn your badges in on Monday.”

    That clearly established the dinner as WORK. Any non-exempt employees who were there would have to be paid overtime for their attendance.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes all it takes is one person throwing their badges down on the table or one person standing up to leave and several more follow. But getting that first person to stand up is tough.

      I would be tempted to visit HR and say, “No where in my job description does it say I must sing. However, I was told if I did not sing I would be fired.”

      Eh, the actual overarching problem is that the boss thinks hazing is okay. People who believe stuff like this can be very difficult to reason with on this topic.
      I wonder what would happen if everyone pulled out their cell phones and took videos……

    2. WellRed*

      What does this have to do with actual letter, which was about singing, not whether they need to be paid for the dinner?

      1. Atlantian*

        Mannheim is saying that, by making at least 2 persons’ employment contingent upon activities that are taking place at this dinner, it is no longer a social event and is in fact a working dinner meeting. Anyone who is classified as non-exempt would need to be paid for their time, adding another layer of awfulness to what this boss was doing to those poor people at the dinner.

        1. Mannheim Steamroller*

          Exactly. The “I can fire you for not singing” aspect of the letter raises a valid HR issue which warrants attention.

  23. Jennifer Juniper*

    If I had been in OP 1’s shoes, I’d have belted out a loud impromptu tune praising the company and the boss at the top of my lungs. I have a good set of lungs and sing like a Siamese cat in heat. The object of this would be to be as obnoxious as possible while complying with the boss’s directive. After a few bars. someone would make me shut up.

  24. HIPAA not HIPPA*

    This! It’s important to remember it’s an “accountability act”, not a female semiaquatic mammal (?) versus male (hippo?). Please spell HIPAA out the first time to catch the mistake that we see way too often. Just sayin’…

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t think this is nitpicking, but rather, an attempt to illustrate the potential pitfalls of acronyms.

        1. Threeve*

          I read the comment as a dig at its frequent misspelling on this forum, but apologies if that’s not the case.

          1. ACDC*

            It sounds like this commenter works in healthcare and sees a lot of resumes for open positions, and those resumes feature a lot of misspellings of HIPAA (which is something you would want healthcare applicants to be familiar with). I don’t see this at all as a dig on “frequent misspelling on this forum”

  25. Timothy (TRiG)*

    That article about how racism affects the perception of typos was really interesting, but for the sake of your blood pressure, avoid the comments. So so much deliberately missing the point.

      1. Western Rover*

        The funny thing about that study is I can easily imagine the key finding happening in real life, i.e. someone’s unconscious bias leading them to more or less harshly judge errors in a memo, but the methodology they give for the study seems like it would awaken the participants’ awareness of their biases and make it quite clear they are being tested on their racism. If I were participating in a study and I “were told that the hypothetical associate author was African American” or I “were told that the author was Caucasian”, I would immediately guess what the purpose of the study was and be hyper-aware of how I was grading the memo. A better approach, I think, might be to have the participants instead meet actors who they are led to believe are the author of the memo and not be told the race of the author.

        1. Observer*

          That’s what makes it scary – you would have thought that people would react that way, and yet this is what happened.

        2. Sleve McDichael*

          I can think of ways to tell the participants without simply handing them a memo and saying ‘This memo was written by an African American, now please read it.’ Perhaps the participants were handed an entire fake biography including photographs, or perhaps the memos had fake authors’ names at the top and the participants were expected to read between the lines of names like Steve vs Tsegaye without being explicitly told.

  26. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #1: After Jerk Boss said the “turn in your badge” thing, you could say something like “Oh, you just crack me up. You are just too funny.” And then to everyone, “isn’t this guy just the best?” And then raise a toast. But then again you might end up with a target on your back. It’s really sad that this guy feels the need to abuse his authority like that.

  27. CTT*

    OP 3, it all depends on how you handled it. I was on a panel interviewing summer associates for my firm via video and one candidate logged on late and chewed out the assistant who had set it up and then complained about her to the interview panel. She was not offered a position. I think as long as you didn’t blame anyone else, apologized sincerely, and then moved on, it’s not fatal.

  28. Not So NewReader*

    OP #1. I end up needing lyrics. I know a lot of songs but I do not know all the lyrics for any song. One thing you might consider is turning to everyone at the table and saying, “Let’s do this together! We can sing (counting song, 99 bottles of beer or whatever).” Pick a song that repeats itself so even if people don’t know it they can join in after a chorus or two.

    Not much consolation really, but a sad story. One place I worked we had to sing Christmas carols. A cohort grew up in such a neglectful home environment that he never learned Christmas carols. He did not know Rudolf or any other seasonal song. I felt so bad for him. But we were being forced to sing. It was my first Christmas after my husband died. I did not have a song in me at all. I told my cohort to just slightly move his lips and it would look like he was singing with the group. I did the same thing. We got through it. Employers have absolutely NO CLUE what they are putting people through when they tell employees that they have to sing.

    1. Clisby*

      He might have grown up in a neglectful home environment, but I wouldn’t assume that based on his not knowing Christmas carols. He might have grown up in a home where Christmas just wasn’t part of the culture. Although, if he’s from the US, I’m wondering how he grew to adulthood without learning at least one or two Christmas carols. I seem to hear them incessantly in the lead-up to Christmas. (I’m not Jewish, but I’m sure if I heard The Dreidel Song 5 times a day on the radio, I’d know all the words by now.)

      1. NyaChan*

        I got quite a shock in grade school during rehearsals for our holiday concert. We had lyric sheets for everything (Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer even) and then all of the sudden the teacher queues up a new song and everyone else just starts singing with no lyric sheets or words on the board. I leaned over to a classmate and asked if I had missed a rehearsal while I was out sick and got a look like I was an alien from outer space. The song was “Silent Night”. I’m Muslim. That was the first time I felt like a complete outsider.

        1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

          There are so many of these stories. Our culture is frightening. I’m sorry you were made to feel outside.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I think there was actually even a scene like that in the most recent season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

        2. Avasarala*

          Oh I’m so sorry. I was raised agnostic-new-age-Jewishish with a pinch of Xmas and can’t sing any words to Silent Night (though I can hum the tune). That song is explicitly religious and I don’t think it’s appropriate for grade school (Also I hate Xmas music). I would have been right there with you, and indeed was as an adult when friends decided to sing “Silver Bells” at karaoke.

      2. Observer*

        Well, not everyone would actually learn the words just from hearing background music. In fact a LOT of people wouldn’t. And lots of people will turn off the radio (music stream, these days) etc. when all the holiday music comes on.

        I would have ZERO knowledge of any of these lyrics. No neglect at all – just grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home where this stuff was NOT part of the landscape.

        1. Jay*

          And for years I knew the words but not the melody – I’m Jewish, we didn’t do Christmas, it was the days before wall-to-wall Christmas music everywhere, and I’m an alto, so when I learned them, I learned the alto line. If I never sing the alto line to “Sleigh Ride” again, it will be too soon.

      3. Close Bracket*

        Or he might have grown up in a neglectful home environment where he wasn’t taught Christmas carols and NSNR knows this because they had conversations with him about it. Look, we are supposed to give LW’s the benefit of doubt that the situation they present is as they present it. Let’s do that for commentors, too.

        1. Observer*

          Maybe NSNR reader actually knows that the home situation was significantly neglectful. But claiming that not teaching Christmas carols is a sign of neglect is a different thing. And *THAT* is what we are arguing against, not whether this person actually was neglected.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, he told me that he never learned carols because a) no one ever showed interest in teaching him or sharing with him and b) he was too busy taking care of the younger children making sure they had something to wear and something to eat. He never learned much about giving gifts at Christmas either. That’s another story.

          Some people have a really rough time of it yet go on to be functioning adults with jobs, homes and lives. But they spend a good chunk of their adulthood “catching up” on all the things that some of us take for granted that we know. We have plenty of people here who fit this description. Because of reading here, I am now convinced that this happens much more often than we are even aware.

  29. 'Tis Me*

    “I know a song that’ll get on your nerves” or “This song doesn’t have any words but these ones” probably… If I could sing, “9 ’til 5” would definitely cross my mind…

    Slightly ironically, my 2 year old has just expressed her discomfort with “Three Blind Mice” – it is a bit brutal when you think about it.

    1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      Yeah, we didn’t sing that one. Awful. I changed the words to Rockaby Baby too. Though my children are in their thirties now and I can’t remember it anymore.

  30. Commenter*

    I guess I don’t understand the lunch thing. I’m salary but still have to use PTO for any absence- even those as short as 15 minutes. I don’t usually take a lunch but if I did I would still take it since I’m using PTO for my absence.

    1. CheeryO*

      I think it just depends on the workplace. I’m salaried and have plenty of PTO, but if I leave two hours early, I’ll shorten up my lunch or eat at my desk so I’m more available if anyone needs me. That means I can charge a little less PTO too, as long as I take at least a 30-minute break after six hours (state law). The point is mostly to be aware of the optics – if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do and what everyone else is doing, you’re probably fine.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Presumably the person asking this question is not taking PTO. In the two jobs I have had, if I left early for a doctor’s appointment I would not take PTO. A lot of places that have busy seasons where you are expected to stay late without any extra compensation try to make up for it by offering that kind of flexibility during slower times.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Not if you adjust the amount of PTO you’re taking — I normally take an hour lunch, if I had to leave at 2:00 I would spend 3 hours of PTO, but if I took a shorter lunch or no lunch that day, I could spend 2 or 2.5 hours instead. (I wouldn’t actually bother with this at my current job — I’ll just take my usual hour, thanks — but if I were more concerned about saving my PTO hours, it might be handy.)

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Every company is different. I’ve worked for places where if you came in and left feeling sick, you didn’t have to put in sick time if you were there at least 2 hours. If you’re salaried and don’t get paid overtime and your boss treats you like an actual adult, they may not make you use PTO if you leave a little early for a doctor’s appointment. But even if you were using PTO for your appointment, depending on the type of job you have and the frequency with which it happens, it can look really crappy to your co-workers if you take your lunch and then leave less than an hour later if they have to pick up the slack because you’ve left. It’s all about knowing your company culture because there isn’t 1 rule for all.

  31. Retail not Retail*

    OP4 – my job is hourly and I’ve had to leave at 1. We get paid for lunch and everyone goes at the same time so we don’t have a choice to work through lunch or what have you.

    Also depending on state laws, you may still have to take your lunch if you’re still working 6+ hours or whatever.

    1. Free Meercats*

      And not just state law; I have to take a 30 minute lunch between 3 and 5 hours into my shift according to me union contract. When the guy in the next office is a state union official, you can bet we follow every jot and tittle of the contract.

  32. Senor Montoya*

    OP #5: OMG. LOL.

    Seriously, though, yes, spell out as Alison advises. I’m running a search right now. I know the industry jargon and acronyms but I do NOT know the acronyms for the last three places you worked. I don’t know all the acronyms used by other depts at this same employer.

    If I don’t know what it is, I can’t evaluate your experience. One item — maybe ok, if the rest of the resume is clear and you look good otherwise. More than that — I’m passing on your application. I’ve got plenty more to look at, and a resume full of mysterious acronyms = fails to communicate clearly (one of the requirements stated right there in the posting).

    1. Mockingjay*

      I work in a VERY acronym-heavy industry (it’s not uncommon to have an acronym within an acronym). Nearly every hiring manager knows what the acronyms are.

      However, HR and recruiters do NOT know these coined terms. These are the people who see your resume first. So please spell it out first. You want to catch the attention of both groups.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      This, exactly. In my last job, we used the same acronym for a software program, a state regulatory agency, and a departmental division. Yikes! Now, maybe the resume would give enough context so that the reader could guess which was which, but even if it did, it would be painfully clear that the applicant was leaving the reader to do a fair bit of detective work. Not the impression an applicant should want to give!

  33. Delta Delta*

    #4 I feel like we need a little more information. If the job is the kind where coverage is needed, it might make sense to do a shortened lunch so coverage is fair. If I’m the backup and I’m expected to do an hour at lunch and 2 hours later in the day, that’s a lot. If it’s not that kind of position, I join the others and suggest shifting it a little earlier (and maybe shortening it, if needed).

  34. TimeTravelR*

    If nothing else, this column prepares me for some potential weird requests, such as to sing for my supper. If that happens, I will say I only know one song, and break out at great volume in my horrible singing voice that “I love to go swimmin’ with bow-legged women…”

  35. CatPerson*

    LW1’s boss must have been a frat rat, but most people leave that kind of thing behind when they graduate from college.

  36. Pretzelgirl*

    #4- This could vary by company and even by department at some places. I would say ask your boss, or take cues from co-workers. I have worked places where it was frowned upon to take a lunch a lunch if you came in late/left early. Other places (most places) didn’t really care. As long as the work was getting done.

    FWIW most of the places that cared were customer service type jobs, where coverage was needed and I was working directly with the public.

  37. Penny Parker*

    My partner works at a place where every job applicant is asked to sing Happy Birthday for the hiring committee. It does not matter how on tune one sings, just that they belt the song out. He works in a place of adult entertainment (casino) and they want employees who are not shy at entertaining.

      1. Penny Parker*

        The only way they are warned in advance is when someone who has recently interviewed lets them know. The hiring committee does not let them know.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      yeah, if I worked at a nicer chain restaurant or casino or something I would expect something performative to be asked of me as part of the interview.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      That makes sense, but if I was asked to do that for an IT job, I’d walk out of the interview.

  38. cncx*

    Re OP2, i sympathize given that i now work in an office which meets the strict legal minimas for toilets per headcount. If someone wants to do their makeup or (and this happens frequently) make a personal phone call since our desks are in open space, there can be traffic jams in the bathroom. i hate it. i especially hate trying to go to the bathroom listening to someone on their phone. I would tell all building and office designers and architects to go big on the number of bathrooms. You can have too few bathrooms but you can never have too much.

    1. Lora*

      Unfortunately this will never happen. I learned this at CurrentJob where I sit in on a lot more architectural type meetings. The way they calculate building space is like this:
      Manufacturing space itself: makes money, therefore they can spend money on a decent design for the manufacturing area. You need extra wide hallways and fancy lifting equipment and daylight for everyone? great, you can have all that. And a color coordinated floor coating.
      Warehouse space: Also makes money, so we can have high density shelving and robotics to manage the stuff.
      Office space: *sigh* if you MUST…

      Unless actual customers or investors regularly visit the office space, it will be small, cramped, noisy and annoying. Even so, they prefer to put a nice big conference room area up front for visitors and everyone else gets a tiny desk in Open Office Hell. How many desks they need depends 100% on how comfortable management is with working from home; I encourage managers strongly to get comfortable with people working remotely, because it achieves the goals of saving money on overhead, minimizing carbon footprints (no commute) and also keeping people generally happy. If you have a large number of jobs who can just as easily work remotely – and remember that every job that’s ever been outsourced is also done remotely, so, kind of a LOT of people work remotely already – then you should definitely do that.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with easy collaboration. It never did. It was always about reducing the building footprint for $100-150/sq ft. Even for the people who really need a workplace (manufacturing, lab work, retail etc) outside their home, do they necessarily need a desk separate from the actual workplace? Most of the time, eh, not really. They need a library sort of quiet area and a cafeteria for breaks.

  39. Quill*

    #1 are you sure you don’t work in one of my nightmares? I was a theater kid, but yeesh.

    #2 How many people are in your office? Because a single, single occupant bathroom for, say, 6 people is far less of a problem than a lone toilet for 15. Your county may have a building code about how many bathrooms must be available in a workplace based on how many people it holds.

    #3 I had an interview recently where my phone decided to spontaneously update and my newly restored default settings screened out the unknown number of my interviewer. I didn’t get the job, but further communication from the company leads me to believe that my being out of state currently was a bigger factor in that.

  40. Buttons*

    OP1 I hope that this jerk-move isn’t an indication of what is to come. “hazing” is such a dude-bro power display that it must make you feel uncomfortable and worried. I hope you will let us know how it turns out for you!

  41. Phony Genius*

    On #2, what happens when the toilet breaks? Ask this question to your managers. Having to consider this question may make them realize that a two-toilet solution may be in their best interests.

    1. LW #2*

      Hm. Something to bear in mind…

      We’d probably have to move premises, though, and I don’t think that’s likely to be on the cards. Still.

  42. Jennifer*

    #2 I definitely agree that making some sort of noise outside is a good idea. If they really are just in there goofing off, that will alert them that there’s a line forming outside.

    Are there any other alternatives? Do you work in a multi-tenant building with multiple floors? Maybe your boss could make an announcement about using the bathroom for its intended purpose since there is only one toilet for the entire office?

  43. Dust Bunny*

    Fair warning: The best revenge I could get on you for making me sing is that you would actually have to listen to me sing. Choose your hazing methods carefully.

    1. irene adler*

      OH yeah!

      All they will get out of me is THE most lackluster rendering of “Happy Birthday” they’ve ever witnessed.

        1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

          This made me LOL because Iris already sounds like she’s being strangled. That would be the BEST response to that dude.

  44. Jean*

    “Hazing,” UGH. Some people just never grow up. I’m sorry your boss is such an immature ass, OP #1.

  45. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#5: I work in property management and we have two completely different certifications called CAM: A Certified Apartment Manager and a Community Association Manager. I would assume most other fields don’t have such closely related certifications, ADMINISTERED BY THE SAME ORGANIZATION, but you never know.

    OP#1: There is not enough alcohol in the world to get me to sing in front of ANYONE. I’m not even sure what I would have done, but it wouldn’t have involved singing.

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Right, and in commercial property management there is also the CAM, ‘common area maintenance’ cost for a commercial unit’s shared snow clearing, etc. It could be quite a tangle!

  46. Youngin*

    In reference to OP #1

    If she had refused to sing, and he did actually fire her for that come Monday, would she have had any legal protections or a lawsuit or something?

    1. irene adler*

      IF there was an employment contract, then one would have to review the terms. Is there something that says employee can be terminated for refusing a direction?
      In the USA, most states are “at will” employers. Employees can be let go for any reason, or no reason, so long as the reason is not discriminatory. Can’t sue for that.

  47. RussianInTexas*

    *clears throat*
    An unbreakable union of free republics,
    Great Russia has united forever!
    Long live the created-by-the-will-of-the-peoples,
    The united, the mighty Soviet Union.
    Glory to our free Fatherland,
    The stronghold of the friendship of the peoples!
    The Party of Lenin is the power of the people,
    It leads us to the triumph of Communism.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      The east is red, the sun is rising.
      From China comes Mao Zedong.
      He strives for the people’s happiness,
      Hurrah, he is the people’s great saviour!
      (Repeat last two lines)
      Chairman Mao loves the people,
      He is our guide
      to building a new China
      Hurrah, lead us forward!
      (Repeat last two lines)
      The Communist Party is like the sun,
      Wherever it shines, it is bright
      Wherever the Communist Party is
      Hurrah, the people are liberated!
      (Repeat last two lines)
      (Repeat first verse)

      1. In the provinces*

        I, myself, would favor Solidarity Forever, but the Internationale or the Marseillaise would be good too. Perhaps best would be “Ça ira,” a song from the French Revolution about guillotining people, but it probably wouldn’t be well enough known.

    2. Blueberry*

      I’m running for pen and paper to start writing down the lyrics so I can learn this magnificent anthem!

  48. Jennifer*

    #1 I think it’s possible that people are taking the word “hazing” a bit too literally. It’s possible the boss just meant it as a joke. He definitely should have backed off when they declined the first time, but I’m not sure based on the information provided that his intention was to abuse or humiliate the new hires. It’s a common phrase and maybe he was being a bit hyperbolic.

    And yes, I know, impact vs. intent and all that, I just don’t know if the boss is the monster people are making him out to be. It might be helpful to the OP to re-frame it that way in her head if she plans to keep working there.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Even if it was meant to be a joke, it’s not funny. OP was only 2 weeks into the job and couldn’t be sure he was kidding or serious. If he hadn’t used the word hazing, it would still be terrible. It’s an abuse of power and a form of bullying if you’re going to try and force an employee to do something that is 100% NOT work related and could cause embarrassment for a lot of people.

      1. Jennifer*

        I agree that it wasn’t funny to the OP. I just don’t know if his intention was to “force” anyone to do anything. It was to make a joke. I think people are projecting their bad experiences with bullying onto this situation when we don’t know enough about this person to make that kind of judgment. Maybe he really is a horrible person. Maybe he’s a decent person that made a poor attempt at humor. Time will tell.

        1. Quill*

          I feel like regardless of intent, he’s a person who either 1) has no judgement about the power dynamics between him, his sense of humor, and his employees, or 2) drank enough to lose that judgement and honestly both of them are a problem for OP.

        2. Sam*

          He threatened to fire them! That’s doubling down if anything ever was, and pretty much gives lie to the whole “what if he just has a terrible sense of humour” thing.

          1. Jennifer*

            I don’t think that was a real “threat.” I do understand that the new hires may have taken it as such.

            1. Observer*

              It doesn’t matter if it was a “real” threat. Is WAS an absolute intimidation tactic – it was saying “I have the power to fire you , so you better listen to me. Ha Ha Ha.” Still not remorely funny or acceptable.

        3. Scarlet2*

          A “joke” that’s about humiliating and scaring someone else (especially someone you have power over) is not a joke, it’s bullying. You don’t have to be the second coming of Hitler to behave in a crappy/abusive manner. If one is really bending over backwards to attribute “good intentions” to this person (and I always have to wonder why some people are so intent on playing devil’s advocate with bullies), at the very best, he has no idea how to behave in a professional manner with his subordinates, which is a big issue in itself.

          1. Jennifer*

            “If one is really bending over backwards to attribute “good intentions” to this person (and I always have to wonder why some people are so intent on playing devil’s advocate with bullies)…”

            I really hope you aren’t implying that I’m a bully. I have been bullied. I think people are too quick to trot out that word nowadays. I think people are too quick to assume the worst of people in general here on very little information.

            1. Scarlet2*

              No, I’m saying it’s sadly common for people to try to find excuses for bullies. And no, there’s no excuse for “jokingly” threatening to fire someone.
              If someone threatened to punch you in the face and then said “hahahah just kidding”, would you find it hilarious?

              1. Jennifer*

                Threatening to punch someone in the face is nowhere near the same as asking them to sing. This is getting really weird so I’m logging off. Have a good night.

                1. Scarlet2*

                  I was quite obviously comparing threatening to punch someone with threatening to fire someone… But surely I’m the”weird ” one….

                2. Observer*

                  So, it’s ok because it’s “not as bad”? Besides, it’s not just the singing, it’s the threatening to fire someone that takes it completely out of line.

            2. Observer*

              No, I don’t think you are a bully. But you are trying WAAAAY to hard to justify behavior that simply cannot be reasonably interpreted as anything other than utterly inappropriate, over-stepping of norms and just plain mean.

              Finding someone’s humiliation funny is a classic trait of bullies, so trying to defend the behavior as possibly “just a joke” really doesn’t take it out of the realm of bullying.

              Given all this what other information could you think of that would make it ok for someone with firing power to actually joke that they will fire someone for not doing something extremely embarrassing?

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      But it is *literally* hazing…

      Just because they weren’t force feeding them beers until they pass out or making them streak through a college campus doesn’t change what it is. Making new members do something embarrassing to be part of the team is a form of hazing.

      Someone tried to stop it and the boss insisted. I’m not sure how that could possibly be played off as a joke.

    3. Observer*

      It’s not possible to take this “too literally.” He used that as the reason for telling someone that they either sing or lose their job.

      That’s not a joke, no matter how you look at it.

      And it would actually be very bad for the OP to reframe it as just a boss who is bad at social cues. Because the boss WAS abusing his authority here – joking at the expense of a person who you have the power to fire is an abuse right there, even if he didn’t “really mean” hazing as IT IS COMMONLY USED.

      All the more so as it was not just the OP trying to decline. It was another staff person trying to stop him.

      No one should look at abuse and try to “reframe” it as something innocuous. That’s how abusers keep their power.

      1. Jennifer*

        I’m sorry the OP was embarrassed. I just don’t think someone saying, “you need to sing or I’m taking your badge” is a serious threat. It’s not really funny but I can see someone with a juvenile sense of humor thinking that it was.

        1. Scarlet2*

          Maybe someone with a “juvenile sense of humour” who thinks hazing their subordinates is a good idea has no business being anyone’s boss. Just saying.

        2. Observer*

          It’s more than just a bad joke. Also, keep in mind that someone actually did try to stop the boss. And instead of backing down (with or without sulking or making snarky comments), they doubled down and said that they “need” to haze the new hires!

          There is no reasonable way to read this a just a somewhat regrettable juvenile joke. This was someone with authority using that authority to doubling down of forcing someone to do something embarrassing.

          Also, please don’t insult young people. I realize that this kind of thing is considered “frat bro” behavior, but it’s worth noting that the key characteristic is NOT youth but lack of empathy and basic respect for others.

      2. Jennifer*

        And calling him an “abuser” is more than a bit much. I’d need to know more about him to make that kind of allegation.

        1. Observer*

          People who abuse are abusers. This was abuse. therefore, he is a person who abuses, and he is an abuser.

          1. Scarlet2*

            This. I’m so tired of people who insist that in order to call someone an abuser, one needs to have airtight proof that he’s 100% Evil with No Redeeming Qualities Whatsoever and He Also Kicks Puppies For Fun.
            I’m so over excuses like “maybe he didn’t mean it that way”, “just kidding, can’y you take a joke?”, “maybe he’s socially awkward”, etc etc.
            Abuse is abuse. And threatening to fire a subordinate for refusing to publicly embarrass themselves is at the very least an abuse of power. I don’t care if he “meant” it or not. LW took it seriously and I think everyone in their position would take it seriously as well. I don’t think any reasonable person could argue that it’s something you can “joke” about if you’re a remotely decent boss.

        2. AKchic*

          We know all we need to know. Not all abuse is physical. The abuse still hurts the person being abused. Abuse only has to happen once to be abuse. Abuse, even mental/emotional or verbal or financial is still painful to the recipient of the abuse. It is still about control and power.

    4. Blueberry*

      When I saw upthread that you agreed with “Not Maria Callas” that OP #1 needed to ‘take yourself less seriously’ and that because this wasn’t identity-based hazing it was no big deal, I figured that your +1 was misthreaded and you were agreeing with one of the people who pointed out why that comment was incorrect in many ways. I’m a little surprised that anyone would defend the boss’s behavior as appropriate or say that OP #1 is at fault for being upset by this. I could write an essay about why I disagree with that assessment, but more eloquent people already did; I’m just kind of gobsmacked that anyone would defend such blatant abuse of power and public humiliation.

  49. Dasein9*

    Isn’t “hazing” the word bullies use to make their abuse sound like something socially acceptable?

    1. Threeve*

      To me, it mostly adds a layer of “I’m not just a jerk on a power trip, I’m an incredibly immature jerk on a power trip.”

  50. blink14*

    OP #4 – I also have an hour lunch break, almost always take it 12 pm – 1 pm, and I go to numerous doctor appointments throughout the year. My rule of thumb for myself is this: If my appointment is in the morning and I’m at work by 10:30 am, I’ll take my full lunch hour at my usual time or slightly later. If I’m leaving early for an appointment and its before 3 pm, I’ll take a 30 minute break at my usual time. If I’m leaving after 3 pm, I will take my regular break at noon. It’s pretty rare that I schedule something where I go during the work day and come back, and in the event of that, I’ll consider the appointment time my lunch hour, and bring something I can eat on the way to or back from the appointment.

    Ultimately it’s about time management – if there’s a lot going on and me leaving early will mean something doesn’t get done that is time sensitive, I will factor that into how much time I take for lunch. I also occasionally skip my lunch break altogether when there is a workshop or meeting at lunch time (and food is provided). If I’ve gone to a meeting around the lunch hour and food isn’t provided, I will take my lunch break either before or after.

    My workplace provides an unusually high amount of sick time (no complaints here!) and it is heavily touted as part of the benefits package, so generally speaking I do not feel guilty at all for taking sick time when needed for appointments and taking my regular lunch hour.

  51. nonprofit writer*

    #1 OMG! At my old organization, the CEO had a running joke whenever new hires were introduced at an all-staff meeting. He’d say, “Did they teach you the song?”–and then everyone would immediately start laughing so the new people knew it was a joke. It was funny because OBVIOUSLY no organization would be crazy enough to haze its new hires like that… but clearly some do. That’s so awful and I don’t even know what I would have done because there’s no way I could sing in front of strangers (or anyone except my kids, really).

    1. Anonymousmousmous*

      One of our recent newsletters had song lyrics about what it’s like to work for our company.
      To the tune of Que Sera Sera.

  52. Beth*

    #3, Allison’s absolutely right, this is a very common thing to mix up and if everything else went well this isn’t going to be the thing that takes you out of the running. I work remotely with people in three different time zones, and we still manage to mix it up among ourselves now and then despite long practice!

  53. CW*

    #1 – Yikes. Some people get stage fright, and some people are tone deaf – not everyone can sing like Beyonce or Ariana Grande. But more importantly, sing or get fired? That is really overstepping power. If I were in this situation, I would take this as a red flag and start getting back on the job market immediately. In no way will I take that lightly. Sorry to hear, OP.

  54. ITisnotEZ*

    “There once was a Boss from Nantucket,
    Who asked us to sing for a bucket.
    I stared at my spoon,
    And thought of a tune.
    Then told him, ‘Nah, F*** it..”

  55. Morning reader*

    I am curious about hazing in job settings. I would have thought that hazing was something done only in social situations, but, are there professions in which it might be considered normal or acceptable? Law enforcement maybe?

    1. Nephron*

      The United States armed forces have hazing problems with some specialized units being worse. There were a number of scandals.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think there are probably a lot of places where its “normal,” in the sense that it happens all the time, but imo it should not ever be “acceptable.”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      There’s a reason it’s in many handbooks these days, it’s a thing that happens in every job setting you can think of. Lots of people view their workplace as an extension to their socializing.

      It’s not acceptable. Just like bullying isn’t acceptable BUT we still see “boys will be boys” and “just teach ’em to fight!” thrown around in that case =(

  56. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ah lunches. They drastically depend on your structure. Nobody except myself and another manager alters theirs because we’re flex time and everyone else is shifts. We can sign waivers to remove the obligations required by the state because we have ample time to eat throughout the day whereas those in production are limited given no food in certain areas.

    I would ask around with how others handle it instead of trying to guess. That’s a better check your how your company likes it done setup.

    Especially if you’re working in a team or coverage setup. I have people with a 12pm lunch daily that will take lunch if they’re leaving at 2 and nobody expects different. Nobody is looking for them at 12 because they’re not supposed to be there and most don’t realize they’re leaving at 2 anyways.

  57. Reality.Bites*

    I’d like to sing something from a woman who’s inspired me for many years, Dolly Parton

    Want to move ahead but the boss won’t seem to let me
    I swear sometimes that man is out to get me!
    They let you dream just to watch ’em shatter
    You’re just a step on the boss-man’s ladder
    But you got dreams he’ll never take away
    You’re in the same boat with a lotta your friends
    Waitin’ for the day your ship’ll come in
    An’ the tide’s gonna turn and it’s all gonna roll your way

    Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’
    Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’
    They just use your mind and you never get the credit
    It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it
    9 to 5, yeah they got you where they want you
    There’s a better life, and you dream about it, don’t you?
    It’s a rich man’s game no matter what they call it
    And you spend your life puttin’ money in his wallet

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      And we hoist you on our shoulders and dance right out the room. Where’s a confetti cannon when you need one?!

  58. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Hazing is awful. I once got a new hire to sing for his introduction but that was because he loved the idea. But it went like “I dunno where to start…” “maybe sing us a song?!” (Everyone else) “Yeassss a song!” “Sounds good, here we go.” “You don’t have to!” “But now I want to…and a one and a two…”

    That’s a good time. But most aren’t that way and we’re all very quick to tell a new person just to do a quick intro they’re comfortable with. “I’m John. Call me Johnny. I have seventeen cats and watch a lot of cooking shows in my spare time. I’m glad to be here. *sits*” clap clap clap wrapped up and done.

    We’re chuckleheads but we’re not cruel or into total forced public embarrassment yuck. I know other executives who forced more lengthy speeches but never more than that level of nonsense. But we also pride ourselves on low turnover, so chasing people away is a bad look.

  59. Leela*

    OP 2 – people with some health conditions could easily take half an hour or more in the bathroom, and it’s a living hell for them to work somewhere with only one bathroom. Doubly so, if the company has decided to save money by having the bathroom lights motion-sensing, as many have opted to do. Not saying that’s definitely the case here! But it might help deflate your annoyance with the situation if you frame it that way.

    As far as the footsteps leads to flushing meaning they were probably on their phone, that’s definitely a possible explanation. Another is that they’re mortified to be in there while someone else is coming, especially if multiple people have been coming and trying to open the door which I’m going to guess is happening if you only have one bathroom for a workspace. I myself have been trapped in situations like that due to my health issues, and when someone comes I hurry up as quickly as possible, not because I’ve been screwing around on my phone and forgot to go back but because I figure everyone is pissed about how long I’ve been taking and I’m only just now at a point where I could even begin cleanup and getting out. And yes, I was probably on my phone because I’m not going to stare into space for 30+ minutes and when I head to the bathroom, I have no idea what I’m in for.

  60. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I think the acronyms and abbreviations question depends mostly on what industry you’re currently in, and what you’re moving to.

    For example, if I were to move between intellectual property jobs I would not expect to need to spell out USPTO, UKIPO, WIPO, EPO, ARIPO, PCT, etc. But if I were looking to transition into a different field I would absolutely explain or spell out every one.

  61. Workerbee*

    OP #1: When someone tried to stop it he said he needed to “haze the new hires.” We sang, but could we have gotten out of this somehow?

    I found myself wondering who tried to stop it–another higher up, one of the special guests, ? I appreciate the attempt but it doesn’t seem like there was any follow-through, so I’d keep my feelers out for any other power plays disguised as “just for funsies!”

    I am sorry you had to go through that.

    1. Leela*

      Oof “power plays disguised as ‘just for funsies!’ ” I’ve known so many people like that in a work force. I agree that this is unlikely to stop and in fact I’m more likely to suspect that it was done to lay the groundwork for future power plays. I’d tap back into whatever network/applications OP was using during their job search and good lord get out! What a giant red flag that this person is awful but also totally uncontained by the company who knows it’s wrong, don’t find yourself on the barrel end of that shotgun when it’s not just about singing

  62. Michelle*

    #1- The only 2 songs that I could sign if put on the spot is Sir Mix-A-Lot “Baby Got Back” or “Amazing Grace”. Those are the only 2 songs I know/can remember all the words to. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket so it would be a bad experience for all those that had to hear it.

    #2- If you have a medical issue it can take a while to use the restroom. My son has IBS (along with a few other chronic conditions that exacerbate the IBS) and occasionally it can take 45-60 minutes for him to use the restroom. Another restroom for your office would be best but that’s not always possible. Perhaps you can do as Alison suggested and “loudly” walk up/down the stairs when they have been in there for a stretch and see if they come out quickly.

  63. Oh No She Di'int*

    #1: I’ve noticed a fair bit of bravado in these comments about all the passive-aggressive, “take that!” type protests people profess that they would lodge under similar circumstances. Not to be a wet blanket, but I feel that that somewhat downplays Alison’s very valid point about power dynamics.

    The truth is, if nearly any of us were in that situation, we would have done exactly what OP did. You in fact would not have sung a dirge. You would not have sung a Communist anthem. You would nothave rapped Wu-Tang lyrics. You would have thought of something passable and respectable and would have sung it with whatever dignity you could muster at the time.

    That is why toxic power dynamics are so dangerous. You think you’d do all sorts of protesting and sticking it to The Man. But in fact when a person has real power over you, they have exactly that: real power. Most of us would not risk our livelihoods to test that.

    1. DKMA*

      I don’t think anyone posting these “clever” responses actually is suggesting that the LW should have done that, they are just finding humor in a bad situation. The boss sucks.

      I’ve attempted to post a limerick (it hasn’t shown up, have I run afoul of commenting rules somehow). No way I would have actually done this in response. Mostly because: 1) I’m not that quick on my feet; and 2) What you said. Still think it’s a funny idea though.

      1. JustaTech*

        I absolutely think that a lot of the responses of “things you could have sung” are a bit of L’esprit de l’escalier (French “spirit of the staircase”, or thinking of the perfect witty reply too late).
        I think most of us realize that, in the moment, we’d most likely panic and just stumble through something basic (like the LW did) and then spend a lot of time thinking about it.

        Often times when we have a post like this, with this “witty comeback” comments I think it’s a bit cathartic for the commenters to have a chance to imagine that they would have a a great response, because we know in reality we wouldn’t.

    2. Jcarnall*

      I really, genuinely, cannot sing, and am not shy about saying so.

      Depending on my situation, I likely wouldn’t be smart-aleck about it, but under no circumstances would I actually sing, because I can’t.

  64. Former Employee*

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so I don’t know if anyone suggested it already, but “Folsom Prison Blues” came to mind. Of course, I don’t know all of the lyrics, but the idea of singing “I shot a man in Reno / Just to watch him die.” while looking straight at the jerk boss who decided to pull this cr*p would give me a lot of satisfaction.

    And I am wondering if the “great opportunity” that this job represented to the OP was real or something that was created by the company to lure people in.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Aww, I just thought of that one!

      I like how everyone’s been suggesting songs. I will have you all know that yesterday, on my drive home, I’ve been practicing the Barney theme song. It came out pretty good, if I do say so myself! If at any point in the future, a manager tries to make me sing on the threat of getting fired, I’ll have no compunction about staring them dead in the eyes while singing “I love you, you love me, we’re best friends as friends should be”. Bring it, I’m ready. I have rehearsed.

  65. LemonFizz*

    I once forgot my liscence and had to sing a song to get into a conference. Not a work conference but a sci-fi one. I guess their thought was if they embarrassed people that they wouldn’t forget next year. Didn’t work on me of course because I’m tone deaf and am of the opinion the people listening suffered way more than me.

    Anyways this boss is a total jerk but this is the exact situation where I’d make us all suffer equally. I would scream, not sing but scream, my little tea pot at the top of my lungs. Make that boss think twice about pulling that prank again.

  66. Llama Face!*

    OP #1 I am sorry your boss is a bully. :( But may I suggest almost any song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog? Brand New Day would be a great one to start out…

  67. GreyjoyGardens*

    For OP #2 (heh heh): Some medical conditions do mean that the person will spend a long time in the bathroom. This doesn’t take away from the fact that in a multi-person office, EVERYONE is going to need to use that bathroom at some time. When you gotta go, you gotta go, etc.

    In my opinion, if a workplace is not just a one or two person office, there needs to be more than just one bathroom accessible and available. If this is truly, truly impossible due to there being only one bathroom in the building, would a stopgap be to have arrangements with a nearby cafe or restaurant that employees can use theirs if needed?

    While in the moment, though, I see nothing wrong with a sharp rap on the door and a “Hey, Frank – I really have to go. Can you finish up quick-smart so I don’t wet myself?” If the person is just being inconsiderate (as opposed to has IBD or something) that ought to make an impression.

    1. LW #2*

      For some reason I was under the impression knocking at all would be rude. I like your phrasing, too. For some reason all I could think of was “hey, are you ok in there?” which would really, REALLY be a rhetorical question.

  68. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

    OP #1, I have had this done to me in a previous job as well but it was a college job. I belted out “This is the Song that Never Ends” and was immediately told to stop after I got out the first bit and then started to repeat it. It was the only song that I came up with, on the spot, and, when I was asked why, I said, in deadpan, “if you’re going to haze me, I am going to give it right back to you. And that was the polite version.”. And I sat down.

    That was the one and only time they tried something like that to me. I went through enough shit in HS through bullying that my fs are long gone. I will return the awkward to sender in a way that is annoying compliance.

  69. Jcarnall*

    This doesn’t address the root problem of being ordered to sing by grandboss who wants to “haze the new hires”, but a legitimate response is to announce you will perform “four minutes, thirty-three seconds” by composer John Cage.

    You then stand in silence for exactly four minutes thirty-three seconds.

    Performance over.

  70. Pretzelgirl*

    To the tune of Smelly Cat:

    Stupid boss
    Stupid boss
    Why I am doing this?
    Stupid Boss
    Stupid boss
    its all your fault

  71. I'd Rather Not Say*

    I’m a fan of 70’s prog rock, so if asked to sing, I’d treat them to some early Genesis, Maybe Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, because Supper’s Ready is just too long…

  72. All Outrage, All The Time*

    OP#3 This is not an uncommon problem. I get around it sending an email along these lines: Confirming the interview will be a 9am for you in New York and 7pm for me in Tokyo. I can’t make any sense of EST, KFC, KGB or whatever.

    1. AliceW*

      Situations like LW1 are why everyone should learn The Rodeo Song at some point. Although it’s pretty likely to get you fired or reprimanded at least.

  73. Grammar You-know-what*

    I have to say I don’t appreciate the implication that I might be racist if I reject applicants over typos. I do it because I expect a professional document submitted in search of employment. If you can’t be bothered to run spellcheck and a couple of manual reviews when you know it’s going to be scrutinized by someone who could determine your livelihood, then how am I going to trust anything you write that could be client-facing? I’ve never in my life tried to determine someone’s race from their writing, and even if I was 100% certain that the writer was the same exact shade as I am, it wouldn’t change a single thing. The article you linked was shameless race-baiting, and honestly, I expected better given the quality of this site.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The article didn’t say you are racist. The article reported on research finding that black applicants are penalized for typos more often than white applicants.

      That said, the nature of unconscious bias is that it’s unconscious; if you care about fighting bias, step #1 is to not be defensive about the reality that unconscious bias exists, and to be open to the idea that it might exist in you. It exists in many good people who don’t want it to. That’s its nature. It’s worth learning more about it.

      It’s not race-baiting to talk about research findings or bias. It’s very harmful to say that it is. Please don’t do that here.

  74. LeisureSuitLarry*

    #3. I once had a final interview set up wrong like this. I live in the Pacific time zone. He lived in the same. Job was in same, and all the interviewers were same. For some reason he set the invite in the Eastern Time zone, three hours ahead of everyone involved. I spotted it on the invite and called him to ask. He said “the time I told you is the time it’s supposed to be. ” So I showed up at the appointed time. When he-who-would-be-my-manager and he-who-would-be-my-supervisor appeared I told them that I was glad they hadn’t expected me three hours earlier. They had. They assumed I was a no-show. I told them about the recruiter mix-up and they immediately understood. Apparently his mistakes were well known. I ended up getting the job.

  75. Philosophia*

    Sending wholesale bouquets to the AAM commentariat! Almost all of the pop culture references go right over my head (I’m not disdainful, only disconnected), but a community that also welcomes people who, e.g., do not merely cite but can also riff auf Deutsch on “Die hölle Rache” [hoping the umlaut makes it through posting, as the italics will not], are fans of Flanders & Swann, can carry on a scholarly discussion of the origins of “Alouette,” are seasoned performers who admit they freeze when called upon impromptu to perform, and suggest John Cage’s 4’33” as a way of foiling an unspeakable jerk is a great comfort in this day and age.

    I can also sing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” and “The Wheels on the Bus”—and “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” although I won’t.

Comments are closed.