my favorite posts of the decade

It’s the end of the decade. Here are 20 of my favorite posts of the 2010’s.

My favorites of the weird

My coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master”
Because come on.

A coworker stole my spicy food, got sick, and is blaming me (and the update)
Because total ridiculousness so rarely gets such a satisfying conclusion.

My coworker has started faking a British accent
Because I love a spectacle.

An employee is putting magic curses on her coworkers
Because black magic is an occupational hazard.

I had to prepare a meal and entertain 20 people for a job interview — and so did 19 other candidates
Because companies like this keep me in business.

I bit my coworker
Because this could happen to you too if you stay in a dysfunctional place for too long.

My favorites of the useful

Do you have to control your emotions to be professional?
Because this comes up so often for so many people, and it’s not always intuitive.

What your interviewer says / what you hear / what they mean (and its companion piece)
Because clearing this up would clear up so much stress and angst for people.

I yelled at our intern
Because it gets to the heart of how managers should operate.

How to make your boss adore you
Because this works.

What to do if you hate your job
Because this will make you happier.

Combating unhealthy power dynamics during a job search — the ones in your head
This one too.

I’m hypersensitive to criticism — how do I fix this?
Because it’s about how we learn things from our families that we still carry as adults, long after they’ve ceased to be helpful.

What should a salary negotiation sound like?
Because I get told at least once a week that it helped someone get more money.

My favorite of the rants

“Do what you love” is not great advice
Because this has messed with so many heads.

Employers, stop labeling millennials
Because those labels were always BS.

My favorite updates

My company wants to sponsor me for a service dog, but I’m not sure I should accept (and the update)
Because of happy endings.

Update: I manage someone who was terribly harmed by my family — what do I do?
Because this was handled with incredible care and compassion.

I don’t want my coworkers to know I’m living off cupcakes from the employee kitchen: the update
Because the community here helped to change someone’s life.

Want more? Here are my lists of favorites from 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

{ 100 comments… read them below }

  1. Not So NewReader*

    Regarding “my favorite updates”. Onions. Everywhere. I read all three back-to-back and oh my…

    1. Stay-at-homesteader*

      Definitely having a good, cleansing New Year’s cry right now. I’d never seen the one from the letter-writer who was living off of the office food. I’m a bit wrecked, in a good way. Wherever she is I hope things have only gotten better!

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      Same. Interesting I had never read the other two – just the service dog ones. Those were amazing.

  2. MeTwoToo*

    I always wondered how the black magic curses one turned out. Here in Florida there was an incident at a medical facility where a nurses aide was upset and ‘cursed’ a supervisor. When the curses apparently weren’t working fast enough she poisoned the supervisors food in the communal fridge. After the supervisor got sick the aides coworkers outed her to management and she was fired and charged criminally.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      When the curses apparently weren’t working fast enough she poisoned the supervisors food
      Multiple choice responses here:
      – Holy Moly
      – Jaw, meet Floor
      -Whatever happened to “use your words?!!” (or, Look for Another Job, or even Quit in a Rage?!)
      – are some people really this dense when it comes to distinguishing Right and Wrong?

        1. Quill*

          I mean, she should have, I don’t know, written it all down on a lead tablet, rolled it up, and thrown it into a spring in Bath. That’s one of the traditional routes!

    2. Fikly*

      They waited until she got sick to report it? Not, you know, as soon as they knew? The coworkers should have been fired and charged too!

      1. MeTwoToo*

        I think what happened is that the supervisor got sick and the coworkers reported that she had been cursed by employee. The investigation that followed revealed the poisoning.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Or possibly what happened was she went around saying “I’m going to get them” and people took it as hyperbole, but then when the targets turned up ill were all “oh crap, she really did it!” rather than anyone literally knowing she used poison in advance.

  3. Starfire117*

    What happened in 2018 and 2015? Were those years such sh*t shows, you couldn’t get them down to a single list?? :D

        1. CastIrony*

          I wish we could have archived all of Hellmouth’s updates that happened on every open thread.

          1. So Not The Boss Of Me*

            Oh dear. Is there a search function to find these updates? Because I need to know what happened, but reading every open thread is beyond my ability.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            AHA I actually did that at one point because I’d gathered them to share with a friend off-list. I’ll find my link and post it in a reply.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              My summary:
              That was after she left the Hellmouth for another property management job at a place with only the normal leevel of insanity, but before her state job came in. Maybe someone else can gather the rest because my coffee break’s over.
              I did stumble across this before finding my summary, so one last bit before it goes Open Source. ;)

              1. Quill*

                I would ask OP for an update about everything else that happened between the hellmouth and now, but I’m afraid to look in the rearview mirror and see that it wasn’t actually there.

              2. Iris Eyes*

                Thank you! The Hellmouth Saga had me tuning in more regularly than any TV show this year. My gast was flabbered more times than I could count.

                And will ever be my best example of why its important to have f-you money because no body want’s to be trapped by their finances in a place like that.

  4. alienor*

    I just finished a pretty lengthy hiring process where I interviewed 10+ candidates for the position, and because of “What your interviewer says/what you hear/what they mean,” I tried as often as I could to use language like “If you move forward in the process” vs. “When you meet with…” I don’t know if it helped that much, but I did notice that my co-interviewer would just blithely say things like “You’ll work on X” and “You’ll fit in great with the team,” and it made me squirm to think how people were probably receiving those comments!

    1. Melissa*

      I was in a sorority in college and it was very clearly explained to us to always use modifiers like ‘if’ rather than ‘when’ so that we couldn’t be advised of making promises to women during recruitment. It’s something that’s stuck with me.

  5. Myrin*

    I sometimes think about the second-to-last OP – such an thoughtful, kind, and tactful literal gentleman. I’ve seldomly been moved so much by anything in my life, honestly.

    1. TimeTravelR*

      I somehow missed that one and the update when they came out. That was an amazing letter. It would be great to have such a compassionate boss.

  6. Nobody Here by That Name*

    “Go get your dog” was always so meaningful to me. I have health issues and had debated for years about getting service dog, often telling myself I didn’t deserve one. The original poster and the people in the comments were helpful in giving me an outside perspective about it being okay to take care of myself.

    Fast forward to today when my sweet service dog is at my feet right now, playing with a toy, and making my life so much better. :)

  7. AamAdmi*

    I love these summaries Alison. I haven’t been able to read all the threads when they go up. So it is nice to have a summary of favourite posts, book suggestions, bad bosses, etc to review at the end of the year when I have some spare time over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

  8. J.B.*

    I think I read all of these the first time, but am able to absorb more of the emotions one and love the good news updates!

  9. Blackcat*

    “I bit my coworker
    Because this could happen to you too if you stay in a dysfunctional place for too long.”

      1. bluephone*

        Oh man, yes. I have a feeling the OP is still at that nutbar company, convincing themselves (to less and less avail) that it is totally normal to respond to situations by biting past the age of 2, all the people who work at “non-bitey” workplaces are just sheeple, man, why if we all bit our coworkers and stomped on their feet then the world would hold hands and buy each other Cokes, etc.

      2. Anon or not*

        I missed that letter on the first go around. So, I went back and read the letter and all of the comments. It was fascinating watching some of the contortions that some (most?) of the commenters went thru to make the biting victim the bad guy.

        1. Close Bracket*

          It’s possible for there to be more than one bad guy in a story. Sure, don’t bite your coworkers, but you know, don’t be such an ass that someone wants to bite you, either.

          1. Blueberry*

            Yeah, this. He sounded absolutely awful in so many ways. Which doesn’t mean biting him was appropriate, it wasn’t. But it was understaandable.

    1. CastIrony*

      I read it just because I did something similar to a superior who was yelling inches from my face, so I have every empathy for OP.

  10. Radio Girl*

    I am so impressed with the manager whose employee was harmed by one of his estranged family members. Well done.

    I would like to work for someone like him.

  11. Feotakahari*

    The “master” one interests me in comparison to the woman who refused to travel because her husband told her not to. They seem like similar situations to me, but just invoke the word “religion” and the latter becomes so much more complicated.

  12. Quickbeam*

    Re: the “do what you love” advice…..I am a nurse but am passionate about knitting. Really round the bend about it. Many in my shoes have opened a knitting store only to find that the downsides of knitting retail are pretty legendary.

    Yet on a daily basis, someone says “ hey, you should open a yarn store!”. Nope, I’ll just be a customer, thanks.

    1. bluephone*

      Some of the things I love: reading and writing (particularly fanfiction right now). Watching Star Wars. Collecting and using stationery products, including fountain pens. Ice skating. Running. My day job is a writer but it’s technical writing and the pay isn’t great. Even Olympic-level figure skaters who started training at age 2 can find themselves without a chamber pot to pee in before they’re even 25 (to say nothing of the health issues and chronic joint problems). Same with running. And I can definitely tell you that being successful in the fountain pen/stationery industry means that 90 percent of your business has to revolve around non-fountain pens, no brick and mortar establishment, and going as long as 5+ years before drawing a salary for yourself (and even then it’s probably not Rockefeller money).
      “Do what you love” is rich people nonsense designed to keep the rest of us poor and dumb.

      1. Beancounter*

        I don’t think the advice was designed to keep people “poor and dumb,” but I believe the best in people. I think it was meant to bring more fulfillment to people’s work, as a response to the “get a job and work for the same employer until you retire” mentality from decades past. But again, I believe the best in people.

        1. Blueberry*

          But it doesn’t succeed in that goal, at all. [insert essay on various ways “do what you love” can fail spectacularly and can wring the joy out of what one loves]

    2. Media Monkey*

      agree. i make almost all my own clothes, and everyone tells me i should do it as a business. which would work out at considerably less than minimum wage and a small fraction of what i actually earn since people won’t pay what that sort of work is worth. maybe when i retire (if ever) and the mortgage is paid off!

    3. Chocoholic*

      I am also a knitter, and people often ask me if I sell the stuff I make. No. I give a lot of it away, but I don’t sell it. My ideal retirement job would be to work at *someone else’s* yarn store. Very part time.

  13. Amethystmoon*

    I remember seeing the curses one before and thought, what, have they never heard of karma?

    I’m glad some of these have happy endings.

    1. Greta*

      I’m a Christian, but it’s my understanding that pagan/Wiccan religions teach that whatever spell you cast will come back to you threefold.

      1. Cg1254t*

        The rule of three isn’t universal to pagan and Wiccan religions. It came about in the 50s.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This. The rule of 3 is a Wiccan thing specifically, and not even all Wiccans believe in it. I’m non-Wiccan pagan and few things irritate me as much as Wiccans trying to get all “but the rule of three!” at me if I talk about doing negative spells (even just talking about them, not even doing them, but it always brings That Type out of the woodwork apparently).

  14. Princesa Zelda*

    I hadn’t seen the “do what you love” column before today, but I wish I had seen it when I was 19 and in a job I couldn’t live on in an industry I was passionate about. I thought I could pay the bills on dreams and love. (Turns out, landlords want money. Who’da thunk?) The founding story of the business didn’t help — if Founder could do it with $20 in his pocket and a dream, so could I! Omitted from the story: he had a family member who paid all his bills for decades while he got Business off the ground, skills beyond “can smile and do basic math,” and even with support genuinely struggled for a long time.

    Now, I’m pursuing jobs that I like, but first thought in my head after whether or not I’ll like it is how much I’ll make. I wish I’d had your advice when I was younger. Pursuing my dreams!!! led to a pretty deep depression, dropping out of college, and feeling like I was a failure, and debt that will follow me for a while yet. Pursuing jobs that I like has led to me to be comfortable and independent and able to help my family.

    1. Jadelyn*

      “Omitted from the story: he had a family member who paid all his bills for decades while he got Business off the ground”

      They always want to omit that part, don’t they? My dad was fond of trying to give me “do what you love” advice because it had worked out for him (he’s a pilot), but would back off if I asked if he intended to 100% pay my bills while I got “what I love” off the ground the way his grandfather did for him when he was my age. Without his grandfather and later my mother supporting him while he got through the early-career poverty phase, he never would’ve made it. Never stopped him from trying to insist that literally anyone should be able to replicate his success, though.

  15. Greta*

    My favorite weird posts were the one about the employee who held another employee down and tickled her, the employee who dressed as a Disney princess on Halloween and interrupted a meeting to ask for candy, and the person who set toilet paper on fire.

  16. MissDisplaced*

    I can’t believe it, but I think I started reading this blog somewhere around 2009 or 2010, so that’s at least 10 years of AAM! Crazy!
    This blog was recommended to me because at the time I was working for a startup and we didn’t get paid for over a month and I wasn’t sure if I should stay (I did, and we did eventually get our back pay) but left some months later.

  17. RUKiddingMe*


    See me realizing that I’ve been reading (if not commenting so much) all these years! Wow.

    I still want an update on the one where the manager was looking for permission to berate her former employee, in the name of “professionalism,” for quitting on the spot when said manager wouldn’t give her two hours to attend her own college graduation.

    Manager thought she would get a “but of course you’re right because…manager…” but Alison “laid the smack down.”

    One of my favs!

    1. Jadelyn*

      Yes! I’ve always wished we could get ahold of the former employee in that post and get her side of the story, lol. Hope she’s got an amazing career now.

  18. HR Lady*

    6 years later “Employers, stop labeling millennials” is still relevant. I need to print this and anonymously leave it on my bosses desk.

    Just a reminder us young “millennials” are now almost 40. :)

    1. Beancounter*

      I think the intergenerational bickering has been going on since the beginning of humankind. Somewhere tucked in my family’s oversized bible, there’s a letter from about 1860 in which a friend wrote to an ancestor complaining: “Things move so fast – you can send a telegram, instantly from village to village! And kids these days – lazy bums with no work ethic and no respect for their elders!” Some things never change.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Thanks for that, Beancounter, and not only has the bickering been going on forever, but it’s bi-directional. None of my younger colleagues has ever told me, ‘Okay, Boomer!’, but some of them think I’m a fossil. They’ve directly stated that I can’t possibly understand technology and I’m resistant to change, even though my very job requires that I update/upgrade our HR Ops technology. As a Lady Boomer, I was apparently sheltered from racisim and discrimination, and I am responsible for the condition of our planet. I must be Republican because all Boomers are money-hungry capitalists – an insult to me, and some Republicans I know. And so on.

        How about we abandon labels for everyone?

      2. HR Lady*

        Yes, I 100% agree inter-generational bickering has been going on forever and will continue to go on. I get annoyed with blaming everything a young person does on being a millennial. Nope that 13 year old kid did something dumb because they are 13 not because they are a millennial. They are far from being a millennial.

    2. Jadelyn*

      I keep trying to point that out at work when it comes up. “You guys do realize I’m a millennial, right? With a marriage and a mortgage? In my mid-30s? Just say “kids these days”, we all know what’s what you really mean.”

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        It’s like they think that millennials stopped aging at 20 or something.

        I’m not a boomer even though I was *technically* born within that arbitrary (!) period (1963).

        I am absolutely a gen-xer by experiences, pop culture, current events/history, etc. My would be turning 33 in June son was a millennial.

        There’s an old song with a like that says “you’re not a kid at thirty-three.”


  19. voluptuousfire*

    Going to read the “How to Make Your Boss Adore You” post. I have a new boss so this is timely. Thanks!

  20. Jennifer*

    I am feeling super vulnerable and raw today already and that last update did me in. I wasn’t here back then but bless everyone that helped that OP.

    1. I don't know who I am*

      That is one of the few updates that I cry reading, it just fills me with so much joy.

  21. Jennifer*

    The British accent one – my favorite theory is that she was actually British and tried faking an American accent all that time so she wouldn’t stand out but got sick of it.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      I adore the magically-appearing British accent one so, so, so much. I haven’t got a workable theory, though, except that life is a rich banquet as well as a many-splendored thing.

      But I am, and will always be, yearning to find out if the OP ever asked her about it and if so, what did she say? I know the safest approach is to not ask, but if I worked with her, it would almost literally kill me not to make an attempt to solve this mystery.

      1. Jennifer*

        It reminds me of a situation I read about in an online community I used to frequent when I was planning my wedding. People were sharing wedding horror stories and this one woman said that she’d been fighting with her MIL all through the planning process and she was planning to wear a bridal gown to the ceremony. She finally agreed to wear a more appropriate outfit, but then the day of the wedding she walked down the aisle to see her MIL dressed as Queen Elizabeth I, wig and huge costume and all. She never asked her about it. It makes me die laughing to this day.

    2. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I’ve heard of rare instances where people start suddenly speaking with an accent due to, say, a head injury or other medical reason. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

      Though I do wonder if said co-worker started using a more British vocabulary along with the accent.

      1. Jennifer*

        I heard of that with a woman who came out of a coma but it would seem her coworkers would know if she had a major health crisis.

  22. baby yoda*

    LOL the citation of Donald Trump as an ambitious business owner in the “do what you love” post has aged oddly (no political opinion being expressed, just noting how WEIRDLY times have changed).

    1. Greta*

      I bet he wishes he were still an ambitious businessman and nothing more. He seemed much happier then.

    1. Jennifer*

      I know there was some debate as to whether or not that one was real. Maybe that’s why.

      PS quack quack :)

  23. JediSquirrel*


    I had to do generational training at my last job. I had a millennial on my team who PERFECTLY fit the description of millenials in the training.

    The thing is, I also managed a couple of guys in their 60s (boomers) who matched that description.

    And the manager I worked under before I was promoted was in her late 20s, but she matched the description of a Gen Xer. (She and I worked together great, despite our differences in age, because she and I had similar outlooks on work and how it should get done.)

    These age-based descriptions are pure junk. It’s more about how you were raised and trained on prior jobs, I think.

  24. Three owls in a trench coat*

    I know we’re looking at the entire decade here, but I’m surprised “Cheap-Ass Rolls” didn’t make Top Rants.

    Also, “Because Black Magic is an occupational hazard” is a sentence I didn’t know I needed to read.

  25. Close Bracket*

    Biting OP is sort of a hero to me. I’ve worked with some people who really deserved to be bitten.

  26. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    Does Operation Smile still have the same ridiculous hiring process? I remember that when it came out, they doubled-down on the practice and acted like the world was crazy for not seeing how great it was.

  27. RUKiddingMe*


    Just one more round of massive thanks for all the work on this site and especially update season!

    1. RB*

      In the Categories list that appears on the right side of the screen, there should be a Cult Favorites category for letters like Duck Club and Hawaiian Rolls (aka Cheap-Ass Rolls).

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