updates: getting pregnant at a new job, boss said I’m lying about my health, and more

It’s the last week of “where are you now?” time at Ask a Manager, where I run updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. Is it bad faith to try to get pregnant when you’re in a new job? (#5 at the link)

I did get pregnant very soon after starting my new job. I wanted to give it some time to integrate and to prove my value to the team before telling my manager so I waited until well beyond the 12-week mark. As I got to know everyone, my gut feeling was that they would respond positively, but I still felt like it was wise to get through my 90-day performance review before mentioning it.

In the end, I told my manager about halfway through my pregnancy and she was wonderful about it. She let me know there’d been discussion about implementing a parental leave policy in 2020, and they ended up finalizing the details ahead of their original timeline so it’d be available to me this year. Everyone was so, so supportive and I’ve never felt even the slightest reservation from anyone that I got pregnant so soon after being hired. My team came up with a plan to cover my workload while I’m out and I know it’s a stretch for them, but they have been nothing but supportive and happy for me.

My employer brought in a generous parental leave policy, which I am now using to spend time with my baby. I am grateful to have started working with such kind and lovely people before having my child – everyone’s been so excited for me. They’ve honestly been a model for how every workplace should receive this kind of news.

2. Employee’s boyfriend keeps making her late for work

I wrote in a few months ago about my otherwise stellar employee who had started being consistently late every day, by more than a few minutes. I was relieved that Alison and the commentators were unanimously against the idea of speaking to the boyfriend (who also works at the company) directly, and I followed everyone’s advice to bring up the lateness as a problem unrelated to any external factors. I spoke to my employee again, reiterated that the nature of the job means people need to be at work on time (or thereabouts, a few minutes don’t matter) to complete their tasks so others can do their own work. I offered to change her working hours to start later and redistribute some tasks, but she declined. I’m pleased to say she’s been on time ever since we had that conversation, I don’t know what happened in her relationship to make her able to leave on time and I also accept this is none of my business! So, problem solved.

Thanks to everyone who added comments – they were all helpful and insightful – and I was also interested to read comments from people who genuinely had difficulty in waking up/getting up. I think one commentator described themself as being out of sync with society’s schedule and someone else compared getting out of bed to trying to walk through molasses. I had no idea this could be a physical problem some people suffer with, I thought being unable to get up was merely unpleasant, so thank you to those people who shared their stories. I’ll try to be more tolerant of anyone who struggles with waking up in future!

3. My boss told my office I’m lying about my health condition

Before my letter was published, I had gone to my boss’s new boss (we’ll call her S) to address the issue. During the course of this conversation, S told me that my “boss” (T) wasn’t actually my boss. T had just been there the longest and took the corner desk when a new season started and she was the only returning staff. The entire rest of my office had been told by T that she was in charge, and because we had virtually no supervision (our actual boss worked in an office across campus), we accepted it.

Since then, T has had her hours drastically reduced and has said not two words to me. I also got another job in late July, which was full time and offered benefits! Unfortunately, this new company was involved in Medicare fraud, and, by the time I quit not ten weeks later, owed me just over $700, which was only paid when I threatened to take them to court.

Today was my first day back at the part-time job written about in my original letter. I’ve put in countless applications over the last year, but I don’t have much hope. I wish I could end on a more up lifting note, but that’s where things stand for now.

Update to the update:

I was just offered an incredible job in my field that I know I will enjoy and be successful at, and that pays well. For those folks who were saying “Just get another job, it’s not hard,” I should say that this job, the first full-time job I’ve been offered since the nightmare company grounded in Medicare fraud and wage theft, is at least a 2-hour drive each way; when I say job desert, I mean it. This job, I honestly believe, will be worth it.

I am so grateful to you and to everyone in the comments who were so supportive and really encouraged me to not normalize the kind of behavior I had experienced in my original letter. I appreciate you, and I hope all y’all have a great season and joyous new year.

4. Exit interviews in a toxic workplace (#3 at the link)

First, I’d like to thank you and the commentariat for all your advice and insight. The good news is that the problem solved itself – no exit interview was even mentioned, let alone conducted. In fact, it seems that the company gave up exit interviews altogether. Every work friend or acquaintance who left after I did (and there were plenty) said they hadn’t had an exit interview either.

Even better news is that I’m out of that toxic workplace and am now self-employed and enjoying what I do. Less money but my mental health is so much better!

5. I have a crush on my employee

I gave it six months, I still felt the same, and for this (and other reasons related to career goals) I took another position.

But there is more to the story than that. I’ve realized in my new position that I’m mistaking a professional relationship I value for feelings for a person. I’m still working through that and trying to clarify it for myself, and that part is more difficult to summarize. The important thing is that I no longer manage someone where I have confusion over separating the personal and professional.

{ 379 comments… read them below }

  1. Lance*

    Wow to #3. T sounds like a very real issue (claiming to the entire office that she’s the boss… seriously?), and it’s a good thing her new boss has clarified the fact that she’s not. With the reduced hours, I kind of wonder if she’s on a PIP or something as well… but either way, I imagine it’s a pretty good step forward for that office.

      1. Amanda*

        Full disclosure: The minute I found out about it, I told the coworker who had alerted me to the situation in the first place, and by that afternoon, everyone knew.
        It got pretty tense whenever fake boss was in after that.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Wait, wait… so this is the “boss“ referred to in your original letter?

          The one demanding your medical info? Really?!

          OMG the *gall* of some people!

          I am almost -giddy-that she was outed! LOL

    1. Snow globe*

      I’m wondering what was up with the *actual* boss. Even though they are in a different building, it boggles my mind that actual boss never had any interactions with the staff that would lead them to figure this out.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        Dingdingding! Like so many letters, this is another “your manager sucks” situations that’s hidden by workplace shenanigans which can be related back to management’s failures.

    2. Edith*

      This happened to me! “Betty” never explicitly told me she was my boss, but she let me believe it for an entire year. It was my first real job, she would assign me work, and she had a large office right next to the bullpen I worked in, so it seemed like a reasonable assumption. I even introduced her to people as my boss and she never said a thing.

      I would call in to her when I was sick and ask her for days off until one day when I got a terse email from her that I should ask her boss “Jane” from them on and I finally realized Jane was my boss too, not my grandboss. I assumed Betty had spent the year running interference between me Jane and that Jane must have told her to knock it off.

      But no! I found out years later Betty never told Jane when I called in sick or took a vacation day! Jane might ask where I was and Betty would say “I think I heard she’s sick today.” To my actual boss it looked like I no call no showed multiple times that year. I don’t know how I didn’t get fired.

      Betty was a real piece of work.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Betty sounds like she was, but Jane doesn’t sound much better. How do you go a year without having a conversation with your direct report in which the reporting relationship becomes obvious?! No “hey I need you to call me when you’re out sick,” no reviews, no discussions about timesheets?
        I can see how an employee without prior work experience might miss the signs, but Jane??

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’ve literally never in my life had a boss that didn’t meet with my on my first day to get me started. I can’t even fathom how a boss could go an entire year without having a “hello, it’s me, the boss of you” conversation with an employee.

          That’s leaving aside the whole thing about calling in and asking for time off. There should have been an actual procedure for that that was communicated to every single employee. That workplace sounds bananas.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Yeah, but if your real boss came looking and was told you were sick/out, why didn’t real boss shoot you an email saying “BTW you should clear PTO with me, your boss”? It’s crazy that the real boss just let it go on.

          1. CrickettheCat*

            You’re absolutely right, but I needed to chime in to let you know that the phrase, “Hello, it’s me, the boss of you,” just made me snort. Something about it just tickled me, and I love it. Thank you!

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet, to go over the org chart?

    3. NerdyKris*

      This is like the horrifying flip side to that time I worked at a help desk where 8 “team leads” managed the entire body of about 90 (between 12 and 40 at a time) call takers as equals. Due to tensions between the day shift leads and me on night shift, they started telling people I wasn’t really their supervisor. It led to so many issues where people thought I was like the person described in that update, since I obviously had to manage people who were working during my shift, even if they were day shift people.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        8 different leads for the same group?! That sounds like a recipe for disaster for all the reasons in this thread. Wow.

    4. Public Sector Manager*

      I had this same experience with a job I started a long time ago. I went to work for a small government agency, and I was joining another attorney who had been there for about 11 months. This other attorney claimed to be my boss on my first day. Fortunately, the agency had an organization chart on its office website and I was able to uncover the lie pretty quickly. For reasons totally unrelated to my issue, this other attorney was fired right before getting off probation.

      I don’t know what people are thinking when they pretend to be a manager when they’re not. Eventually they will be found out.

    5. Sara without an H*

      My question is…why was “T” still there at all? And I have serious doubts about the remote “real” boss.

  2. EPLawyer*

    #3 is HILARIOUS. Boss isn’t the boss. Just said she was. Then claimed the OP was the one lying. Looks like grandboss fixed the problem though. Non-Boss found out the hard way what happens to liars.

    I am sorry you have such a long commute #3. But its better than a place where someone can claim to be the boss and no one notices.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I think someone could get away with pulling a stunt like this at my workplace. My boss took me out to lunch on my first day, and I never saw him again.

          1. Ali G*

            This all reminds me of all the short ghost stories that end with “and she was ghost the whole time!”

              1. RabbitRabbit*

                Shit. If I end up haunting my old office as a worker ghost, I am not looking forward to that afterlife.

                1. ClashRunner*

                  I don’t know, I had some old coworkers I **really** do not like. I wouldn’t mind haunting the crap out of them for a while.

              2. The Beab*

                I didn’t know my boss was dead for three months.

                I had an on-campus job teaching individual swim lessons, and each weekly check was about $20. So I’d wait until the end of the semester to pick them up. She contacted me via email about doing lessons that semester. I agreed, and she matched me with a family with two girls. I have lessons every Saturday morning for most of a semester, and then I got a call from a different woman who supervised the group lessons asking if I wanted to teach group or individual lesson spring semester. During the course of the conversation it came out that she didn’t think I was working for them at all. Apparently my boss never wrote down that I was teaching the sisters and I wasn’t in the system? And she then died, but no one told me. the parents had been paying thought and it was cleared up and I got a lump sum check for that semester.

          2. Phony Genius*

            Is this like the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer just started working somewhere, and eventually got fired? Except, he was never employed there in the first place.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              My recollection is that his “boss” knew this all along, and was disappointed that the quality of the free work was so low.

              1. Mr. Shark*

                Yes. The conversation was something like,

                “I don’t even know what this is. I’m going to have to let you go.”
                “But you don’t even pay me!”
                “That’s what makes this so difficult.”


            2. whingedrinking*

              Terry Pratchett once said that at Oxford or Cambridge, if you found an unoccupied office and routinely turned up in the dining hall, you could just about declare yourself a member of the faculty and no one would ask too many questions.

      1. LizzE*

        Wow, how is that possible? All my jobs have involved massive interfacing with my bosses. Even if I worked remotely, email, chat and teleconferencing/phone calls would still be a constant in my day-to-day.

        But I guess jobs and industries differ in that regard.

        1. Junior Assistant Peon*

          I was exaggerating a bit when I said I never saw him again, but I’m convinced that if I don’t give notice and just stop coming in when I line up a new job, they’ll probably keep paying me for at least a few months before anyone notices!

      2. Asenath*

        I worked in a small very independent group – we knew who we officially reported to, but rarely saw them, and there was a kind of unofficial hierarchy based on seniority. That was not an “I am your boss” thing so much as “Gertrude will probably know what to do about this”.

        But then there was the time we discovered that due to changes in the extreme top of the hierarchy we had officially been reporting for months to a very senior person none of us had even met. We found this out when a series of meetings to discuss further reorganization were held with the wrong people – let’s say they invited everyone who did camel maintenance to a meeting on organizing finances and human resources, and vice versa. I know our job titles were opaque, but that was bizarre. I think they quietly dropped some of these changes later.

    2. Heidi*

      This is the like the twist ending of an O. Henry story. OP complains about the boss, only to find out that she’s just a jerk pretending to be the boss. She even asked OP to bring in MEDICAL RECORDS so she could figure out what was wrong with her! And said she told everyone OP was lying about her medical condition! When she was lying about being their boss the whole time! That was a lot of exclamation points, but…yikes.

      1. NerdyKris*

        People tend to assume everyone has the same motivations and standards as them. When someone is a liar and manipulative, they just assume everyone else is as well.

    3. Amanda*

      Hi there! I’m the person from number three!
      Unfortunately, I lasted a whole 2 weeks at the new job with the wild commute. I was instructed to go online, pretend to be a patient/family, and leave positive reviews so as to improve the company’s “dismal” image. The employee who provided the most of these positive reviews each month would receive a financial reward!
      I’ve been told that’s not uncommon for some industries. However! It was a pediatrician’s office. I was supposed to go online and manipulate adults looking for medical attention for their kids into believing that that office was exceptional. I mentioned, upon getting the e-mail, that it sounded pretty unethical, and a few hours later, I was back to searching for a new job. Pediatric medicine is NOT the place to lie to and manipulate people who are depending on you.
      2019 was my year of terrible companies, I suppose. In hindsight, the situation I first wrote in about is hilarious. Here’s hoping the future gets brighter!

      1. EPLawyer*

        I am so sorry you are job searching again. On the other hand, good for you for standing your ground on this one. Kids’ health is not to be messed with. If you want a better image, oh I don’t know, do a better fricking job.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Is there a way for you to report that to your state’s medical board? That’s super shady, and if there’s a way for an official agency to know about it, they should.

        1. Zelda*

          Or report to the review sites. Some of them will keep a closer watch for fraudulent reviews.

          Thank You, OP3, for your strong ethics on this, at significant personal cost. The universe owes you one.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            I worked for a place that was offering free stuff in lieu of 5-star reviews. I reported it to the review site multiple times. “They are offering free stuff in exchange for excellent reviews. If you call the office at (number) they will be able to confirm this for you, as they have it in their promos binder for the phone staff to reference.”

            Nothing happened: I wish I’d gotten a picture of the binder.

      3. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Well, at least you don’t have a 2-hour commute any more! Sure hope you can find a decent job soon. Your saga reminds me of the person who worked on a Hellmouth.

      4. 'Tis Me*

        That’s terrifying and horrific, and I’m so sorry you have to start searching all over again – but hopefully you will find something genuinely awesome soon!! (And if it’s a way away, where working from home at least some of the time is allowed!)

      5. Sick Civil Servant*

        Thanks for having ethics! Those of us who have kids appreciate it! Seriously, good for you for having ethics!

  3. Jennifer*

    #2 Went back and looked at some of the original comments. People are really passionate about being on time to work. Wow.

    I’m glad that this employee was able to work things out somehow. It wasn’t our place to pass judgment on her boyfriend because none of us know him, or her for that matter. She just needed to figure out a way to get herself to work on time, period. It sounds like she’s done that. Good for her.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I think most of us who have issues with people who are late to work, are also people who were in a coverage position and Desperately Needed To Pee And Fergus Is Thirty Minutes Late OMG When Will He Get Here.

      1. Jennifer*

        The hostility in the original comment section was really uncalled for in my opinion. Multiple people suggested he was an abuser that was making her late in order to control her, when there was no information to suggest that. There are many decent people who have a little trouble getting out the door on time in the morning. Doesn’t mean they get a pass if they have a job where timeliness is important, but people calling him a lazy abusive jerk was way uncalled for.

        I’m from a culture where being a little late isn’t a big deal and I purposely seek out jobs where I have flexibility so I’m sure that colors my opinion a bit.

        1. fposte*

          I think those of us who love punctuality are often inclined to see the world in very clear and binary terms, and it can be a challenge for us to realize that some people aren’t so much breaking what seem to us like obvious rules as not seeing it/not being able to see it the same way. I’ve relaxed my thoughts on timeliness a lot in the last 5-10 years, and I think that’s for the better.

          (It helps that I am a super messy person and I know people feel about tidiness the way I used to about time, and I know how wrong they are :-).)

            1. Merci Dee*

              Hear, hear!

              Though I will admit that I’ve generally improved with keeping tidy in the past handful of years. It helps that my daughter is in her teen years and steps up to take care of some chores between the time she gets home from school and I get home from work. I don’t walk into the house anymore and siiiiiiiiiigh in defeat because I feel like all the cleaning is on my shoulders, like I did when she was a toddler.

              1. 'Tis Me*

                Another person who is untidy and often late. My big youngling is not a morning person, and does not understand concepts like “please hurry up” (she’s 5). My little youngling has just turned 2. She desperately wants to be grown up and independent and will spend 20 minutes trying to put socks on if allowed to, oftentimes refusing all suggestions of help in the meantime, and therefore things like getting her in clean, dry clothes so we can get out of the door can be a real battle (I have taken her with wellies over bare feet and bare legs, wrapped in a blanket in the pushchair, more than once because physically trying to gently wrestle a furious, sobbing, kicking person into order is horrible, even if she’s fine within 15 seconds of me finishing). I’m pregnant with another one and at 28 weeks still getting morning sickness (I had it all the way through with the other two so this isn’t shocking but is irritating and doesn’t help with getting us ready to leave the house on time. It’s typically worse between about 9 pm and 9 am; waking up to throw up is not unusual, and neither is having to sprint to the loo in the middle of getting the girls up and ready… On the plus side it means that when the little one had a tummy bug she understood the concept of “into the bowl” as she has seen me vom enough times?)… The husband is also not a morning person and typically gets up at the last possible moment when it’s his turn to take the big one to school; he argues that he doesn’t know how to do girl hair and doesn’t know where their clean clothes are so I have to do it *rolls eyes* (he actually does more of the housework than me and a lot of stuff with the girls – but night time wakings and mornings are on me…).

                Throw in an autoimmune condition that involves chronic exhaustion and two chronic pain conditions.

                Mornings are tough.

                1. seller of teapots*

                  I have a 3 year old (tomorrow!!!) and a 10 month old and, omg, this makes me laugh. My youngest is Very Independent. Her pediatrician picked up on it after seeing her for legit 15 minutes today. I see my future in your post.

                2. 'Tis Me*

                  She has long curly hair; it would tangle terribly if she had it in a ponytail… He has at a pinch managed a sock bun for her though which worked OK!

                3. 'Tis Me*

                  Happy birthday for tomorrow to your big little one!

                  Independent second children are amazing in so many ways – but when their desire to do it by themselves is at complete odds with what you need them to do it can be a little bit like clashing with a force of nature!

                4. Jay*

                  My kid has curly hair and would not let us touch it when she was a toddler. I kept it short until she was old enough to actually deal with it herself (I think she was 8). It still looked messy, but we could get the tangles out fairly easily with conditioner in the bathtub. I took her to daycare in pajamas more than once and then started putting her to bed in her clothes for the next day – she lived in leggings and tunics/Tshirts at that age so it wasn’t all that different from PJs anyway. And my husband managed to learn how to deal with curly toddler hair before I had it cut short and do dance buns later on. Men are perfectly capable of seeing dirt, cleaning dirt, and doing all the other things they often are allowed to refuse to do. There’s nothing on the Y chromosome that makes it impossible to care for the space you live in or the small people you’re responsible for. It wasn’t any fun having the discussions about the balance of responsibility but we had them until I wasn’t doing more than my share. You’re about to have three kids. He needs to step up. If he doesn’t know where the clean clothes are, maybe it would help if he did the laundry and put them away. Just say no to man-babies.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’m tidy, but I’ll generally arrive ten minutes one side or the other of my work start time. I’m probably more often ten minutes late than ten minutes early, but that’s my general range.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            ‘I think those of us who love punctuality are often inclined to see the world in very clear and binary terms, and it can be a challenge for us to realize that some people aren’t so much breaking what seem to us like obvious rules as not seeing it/not being able to see it the same way.’

            You just described my father. We weren’t just on time for church, doctor appointments, school plays, or family visits – we were 30 minutes early. My fathergot irritated if we kids were a little slow just walking to the car, because we were going to make him late. I can’t remember how many times we heard, ‘We weren’t expecting you so soon, we’re not ready yet…can you wait out here for while?’ It never made an impression on him.

            When we had people over, we were all ready and waiting 30 minutes before our guests were told to arrive and he was touchy about that, too: ‘Where are they? Why aren’t they here yet?’ He never understood why people would show up ‘late’ – meaning, the time they were told to show up. I have no idea where he got this idea, none of his family were like that.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              I love punctuality but judge it by results. I might look at my watch 5 minutes before someone is scheduled to arrive and get worried, but I know that is not late.

              I do get anxious if people don’t appear ready to leave on time, but don’t judge till that time actually comes.

              And expecting people to be 30 minutes early is nonsense.

            2. AKchic*

              My husband is like that. Because his mother is chronically late to the point that she will be late for her own funeral (if anyone actually pays for her to have one, which I will certainly not waste a single, solitary penny). The woman refuses to abide by any kind of set appointment. If you tell her something is set for 3pm and she likes you, she will be an hour late. If she loathes you, she will show up an hour early and demand to know why you aren’t ready, how dare you not be prepared, you really are unorganized and she should have expected it from you, I mean really, you are such a terrible person, fine, she knows when she isn’t wanted, she’ll visit another day when someone else organizes appropriately and has food ready, hmph (or, like Christmas 2016, she’ll just bring an entire meal because she disapproved of the chosen meal and decided to “save” the holiday, after being clearly told not to, and that her own son picked out the theme, to which she insisted he would never because he would never break “tradition”).

              My husband will leave an hour early to drive 5 minutes to work. Because “the roads might be bad” (the weather was fine, the roads were dry). It got so bad that he was dropping kids off at school so early that the teachers were calling me to come pick them back up because they were arriving before the before-school program even started (and the kids weren’t even IN that program). I had to start making him set an alarm in the morning and he’s not allowed to take the youngest to school before that alarm goes off.

              All of this because of his own childhood history with constant tardiness due to his mother’s issues.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Yeah, my dad’s mom was routinely late – but my dad’s reaction was to always strive to be 10 mins early to everything. 10 mins is t the end of the world level early – and we routinely got used to saying something along the lines of “what last minute things can I help you with” for events at other people’s homes.
                But again, 10 minutes is a world of difference from an hour.

            3. Helena*

              I’m not a late person at all, but I actually think it’s pretty rude to be early to somebody’s house – I generally arrive 30mins after the time they told me, so they have time to get everything ready and catch a breath. I have had people turn up an hour early to parties, and I was still in the shower (after preparing everything else).

              Obviously I’m on time if we are just meeting at their house and then going on from there, or if they have given me a mealtime to arrive for. But if it’s a party over several hours? That’s an opening time, not a deadline.

            4. TrainerGirl*

              Was your dad in the military? Mine was, and even though he only did 2 terms, he is still a stickler for this. He has learned not to arrive early, but if we are supposed to leave at 6:00, he is herding everyone at 5:55, even if we just need to pick up a purse/coat and walk out the door.

          3. anon4this*

            I think part of it (for me anyway) is we don’t measure time accurately or correctly (and just thinking about time zone and the states that do and don’t participate makes it particularly meaningless for me) and because “flexibility” vs “punctuality” seem to be particularly subjective.
            I also associate “Type A control freaks” with obsessing over being on time, which I think is a bias on my part because *sometimes* (but only sometimes) is it actually necessary to be on time.

          4. Tau*

            Yeah, it seems like every time punctuality comes up as a subject on this blog we end up with one group of people who don’t understand how punctuality can possibly be difficult and therefore assume that when people are chronically late it’s deliberate, and another group of people with chronic lateness problems trying to explain that it’s really not that simple. From what I’ve seen, these conversations actually end up fairly successful on that front, but… well… it’s a big commentariat and not everyone reads all the comments on every post, so the next time it comes up the whole process repeats.

            I’ll admit that as someone who falls into group #2 (I’m autistic and being on time to things is effectively fighting a huge battle against my own brain – I think the tidiness thing is a good analogy, really) it’s been frustrating to observe!

        2. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

          I’ve worked places where the staff that answers the phone rolls in 10-20 minutes late on a daily basis leaving everyone else to scramble while trying to get their day going. It would be like the MD having to field patient phone calls while the receptionist shows up 15 minutes after the office opens every day and the boss refuses to address the situation. It’s unprofessional and makes the business look bad.

          1. Torgo*

            That depends on the business, the position, and many other factors. For some offices, including the one in the original letter, arriving a few minutes late to one’s desk doesn’t indicate a lack of professionalism.

          1. 'Tis Me*

            When I was at school, my teachers generally took my getting there as their cue to start teaching on the basis that I would probably be the last person to arrive. The few times I arrived early this caused quite a bit of confusion for everybody arriving after me but on time…

          2. LadyL*

            Ironically I am both a late person *and* a wannabe teacher’s pet. Having the comportment of a IDGAF slacker and the heart of a neurotic authority-pleaser is one of many reasons I have problems with anxiety, haha.

          3. anonymouslee*

            That’s common on the internet as a whole. Everyone has a critique and knows that they would have handled the situation better in x, y, and z ways. Not a lot of room for other perspectives or context a lot of the time.

      2. Cookie Captain*

        If a peer’s lateness didn’t really inconvenience me much (not really the case in this sitch), generally I would 100% not care when they arrived.

        But if they were working 10-15 minutes less than me every day as a result, I would be peeved. Some of us have an overdeveloped sense of unfairness.

        1. Jennifer*

          If I’m 10 minutes late I work 10 minutes longer. That’s what most people here do. As long as work is done it doesn’t matter. I know that’s the case for all jobs.

          1. Cookie Captain*

            The LW specifically said when they first wrote in that the employee didn’t stay later to make up the time, because it was pointless when everything had been completed for the day.

            1. Jennifer*

              That’s true. That honestly wouldn’t bother me as a coworker. It’s just a few minutes. As someone mentioned above, some people have an “overdeveloped sense of unfairness.” Maybe I do too, when it comes to other issues, but not with someone being a few minutes late.

              1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                See, as a co worker that would drive me nuts. 15 minutes extra a day is more than an hour a week. Is co worker be paid to blow off an hour a week while I work my 40? If they get an hour a week, so should I–but I bet if I left every Friday an hour early, they would complain. If you’re going to be late, make up the time.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          But even if someone is working less time than you every day, if it doesn’t negatively affect you and your ability to do your work, it’s really not your business. It may be a situation where you don’t know the whole story.

        3. Chronic Overthinker*

          There are some roles in every business where timeliness is important. If I’m not here on time or early, phone calls go unanswered, clients have to wait longer than usual and the other support staff is pulled away from their work. I routinely arrive 10-15 minutes early to get everything ready for the day so that when our doors are open, I’m ready to work. This may not be true for OP, but I can see where consistent tardiness would be an issue in an environment where it’s necessary to be timely. My two cents.

      3. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, when I worked retail, I was very good about arriving perfectly on time because I understand the need for coverage. Office jobs where I’m working through emails sent from Australia or India? Who cares if I’m here at 8:00 or 8:15?

      4. ArtsNerd*

        Yeah, in this case OP’s report being late had a direct impact on her work and coworkers. That’s not the same thing as the boyfriend being late, which did not. I’m so glad OP and employee got it resolved without bringing any personal relationships into the conversation!

      5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        There has only been one time that someone’s lateness really got under my skin. We had a meeting we had to do every other week with folks in a different time zone where 8 am was the time that worked best for everyone. She was the facilitator and agreed to the time but was always at least 10 minutes late, often as much as 30. When we talked to her and she agreed that she couldn’t manage the 8 am we bumped it to 9 am our time. She still came late every. dang. time. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if she hadn’t been the facilitator and, you know, in charge of leading the meeting. Otherwise nice person and OK to work with, but I almost lost it on the project where we had these meetings.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          That would annoy me.

          Also, if a meeting is supposed to start at 10, that means it should be ready to go at 10. Not let’s start setting up at 10.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            At minimum one should be in the building at the start of your meeting. It was a trying experience especially for the folks in the other time zone. For the 9 am meeting we’d be pushing on their get off work at reasonable hour time even if we had started on time. Needless to say they were even happier than I was when that project ended and to my knowledge none of us ever worked on anything she led by choice again.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, the time I got most annoyed at perpetually late coworkers was when I was running a meeting for a team in California and a team in Shanghai. Our company actually did have flex times… but you were supposed to be in for your meetings, and because of timezones, that meant that if someone was late on either side it was really annoying. On the one side, people in Shanghai who were getting in at 8am when normally they didn’t have to be in until 9:30am would be understandably irked that they got up early to sit around waiting. On the other side, if we scheduled at 9 or 10, people in California who were staying later than normal to accommodate meetings got annoyed if the meeting started late because then they’d have to stay even later. Add to that the fact that sometimes the lateness would make the meeting run over into someone else’s meeting slot, requiring a last-minute shuffle to another room with remote access, and….

          Nobody was very happy.

      6. Quickbeam*

        Yep. I’m a nurse and after a 12 hour shift nothing is more annoying that a 15-30 minute delay in giving report and leaving.

        1. bluephone*

          Daughter of a retired nurse and omg yessss. There’s also the classic (later-season) ER episode where a much-loved, longtime nurse was let go for “working past her shift end time too much” or thereabouts. One of the other nurses (maybe now above her in terms of job title or whatever??) gave her sympathies and how much it sucked. Fired Nurse was like, “yeah it does suck…especially because most of that time was me covering for you because you were late to your shift.”
          DUN DUN DUNNN

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          When I worked a shift that required you to wait for your relief, there was one coworker who clearly had more sympathetic reasons for tardiness and figured out a pretty good way to deal with the impact of his tardiness on the team. (Caveat: this was a correctly classified salary position, so OT is not a problem). He would show up late once out of every 4th or 5th shifts, never by more than 20 minutes. But because he knew that he was late more often than others, the next time he was scheduled to relieve the person he was late for he ALWAYS showed up 30-90 minutes early to relieve that person. It did not matter whether he was late by 2 minutes or 20 minutes on the previous shift, he wanted to make it up to that person. Once, he wasn’t scheduled to relieve someone he was previously late for within the month of his “late show”, so he literally just showed up outside of his scheduled shift to relieve this person for an hour before their turnover. It got to the point where people were excited to see him scheduled as their relief in hopes of banking a shorter shift later. It certainly prevented anyone from complaining to management, hell I’m sure others would have gladly traded shifts if they didn’t want to be relieved by him. The moral of the story though was that someone with lateness issues was still able to recognize the strain on their teammates and find a way to alleviate it, even if he couldn’t be consistently on time.

      7. Sarah N*

        Yes, thank you! I’m all for flexibility on timeliness when it doesn’t impact anyone else (which is true of many jobs). I don’t think bosses need to be obsessed with being on time when it truly does not have any negative consequences for others. But sometimes it REALLY DOES, and the on-time people who end up suffering because of the people who think lateness is no big deal have a right to be annoyed about it.

        Signed, someone whose office is the next one down from the receptionist’s desk, and thus who gets constantly interrupted when the receptionist is not on time, despite the fact that reception is IN NO WAY part of my job duties.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      As someone who struggles to get to her office before noon* I didn’t read much of the comments the first time around. Revisiting the original post: I had no idea that the trouble getting up in the morning is part of my ADD! And a million thanks to Seeking Second Childhood for saying that vivid dreams that are hard to shake is a possible symptom of sleep apnea! I’ve wondered for a while if something like that was going on, but since I don’t snore, chalked it up to my mild hypochondria.

      This gives me two new avenues to discuss with my doctors! This could be a game changer.

      *It’s not okay; I’m not defending it. My work gets done at a high level / doesn’t require coverage, which is why I don’t face disciplinary repercussions.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s why it bothered me that so many people jumped to the conclusion that this guy was evil. There are many reasons why someone may have trouble getting up in the morning. Let this employee work it out with her boyfriend (which she did) instead of making these hyperbolic speculations.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I can absolutely imagine a situation in which someone does this as a method of control and abuse. But it’s certainly not the most likely situation.

          I read something along the lines of “your personal preference is not everyone else’s moral imperative” which I think applies to this kind of social etiquette. Lots of cultures have a flexible understanding of start times and punctuality, as you pointed out above. They’re not wrong or rude for it.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            (Hit submit too early)

            It’s only when there’s a shared expectation of punctuality that rudeness comes into play, and even then it’s rarely about a lack of respect IME.

          2. LadyL*

            I have a family member who believes Being Early is Always Polite and any lateness of any kind is DISRESPECT!!! I have tried to explain to them so many times that when I invite you over at 3 I absolutely do not mean 2:15, and honestly anytime between 3:15-3:45 is preferred. They always show up early and seem shocked I’m not ready yet, because they truly cannot process the idea that not everyone operates in the same way they do and it isn’t universally desirable to be so early everywhere. I might try your phrase next time!

            1. Eloise*

              In my family, the “Being Early is Always Polite” people are given a time about 30 minutes later than everyone else. The consistently late ones are invited for 30 minutes earlier than the actual start time, and it all works out.

            2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              My mother is both a morning person and an “early is on time” person. What seems to be working so far is to tell her that I’d like her to come over starting between, say, 9am and 10am. She will be there pretty much right on the dot at 9am but she would probably be there by 8:30 if I told her just 9.

              I am both a night person and can have trouble getting places on time. I wonder if those two things tend to be related in general?

            3. Le Sigh*

              And see, I view showing up that early as rude. If you weren’t asked to show up before 3, don’t show up til 3! 45 min early is ridiculous.

              1. whingedrinking*

                This! My methodology is that when you’re meeting someone for an outing, try to ten minutes early; if you’re going to their home, try to be five minutes late. It gives them time to finish cleaning their house or going to the bathroom or whatever. And there’s a non-zero chance that forty five minutes before go time, they’re not even home. I make mad dashes to the grocery store with half an hour on the clock all the time.

              2. Jackalope*

                I have told my friends that anyone showing up more than, say, 5 min early to a get-together will be assumed to be showing up early to help prep for our get-together. I haven’t hesitated to hand out chores when they show up. This has resulted in those who don’t want to help with prep being on time or a few min late and those who do want to help showing up deliberately early and then we have some one-on-one bonding time over cooking or what have you. Ymmv of course but it’s worked out for me. (And of course if I were to show up early I would cheerfully jump in and lend a hand if desired.)

                1. Le Sigh*

                  I like this strategy. I have friends who sometimes text ahead, say they’re going to be early and offer to come over to help. I don’t mind that, esp. since they checked ahead. And esp. if they’re friends that I’m close to and don’t mind them seeing me in prep mode.

                2. HerGirlFriday*

                  I do this too. “Hey, while I finish getting myself ready, can you put the rolls in the oven/make tea/wrangle the dogs/etc?”
                  The most egregious violators of being early get to take out the trash, fill pet food, or entertain my MIL (who is also always early to the point where my spouse told her to stop it or else we’d make her wait outside).

                3. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  I have a couple of friends I can do this with. One in particular is a very close friend who lived in the opposite direction of my apartment, so if she hosted something on a work day I went straight to hers after work and vacuumed while she showered and got ready. Everyone else, I force myself to arrive 10 minutes past start time.

                4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                  This doesn’t work for me, typically, because the jobs that need doing all need doing before I get in the shower (don’t want grease splatters on my glad rags, and I get sweaty when I’m cleaning the house). I do not want people arriving when I’m half dressed, however good their motives. One ends up having to save or manufacture jobs for the helpful people – folding napkins? emptying bags of chips into bowls?

                  Anyway this is why I don’t go early to parties unless I’ve been asked specifically to set something up.

              3. Pennalynn Lott*

                If I’ve invited you over and you show up 45 minutes early, I won’t even open the door. But I also communicate that to everyone when I invite them. For people unfamiliar with my neighborhood, I’ll even include the locations of the local Starbucks, shopping center, and pubs in the invitation if they get to my side of town early and need to entertain themselves before the appointed time.

            4. Ra94*

              I have a friend who seems to share this view that ‘too early is never rude’. One time, she finished work early, and decided to come over for dinner at 5:00 pm rather than 6:00 pm. I ended up frantically having to tidy the flat around her while trying to keep up conversation and start cooking- it was incredibly stressful!

              1. Le Sigh*

                I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’d ask the person to just go for a walk or a coffee shop.

                This particular strain of early people really irritate me because it’s as bad as people who make their friends wait around forever, but they don’t seem to realize that (and I am a frequently late person for many reasons, so not making excuses). But if you’re super early, you’re basically telling the host that your schedule and way of doing things is more important–nevermind that you’re wildly imposing on the other person’s own schedule and plans! And then they’re so pleased with themselves for being so punctual! a;slkdjf;a

            5. Helena*

              Yeah, that is just super-rude. As bad as showing up on the wrong day. Let people prepare properly, in peace, when they are hosting! Nobody wants to have to run around getting you a drink when they are still half way through cooking, or getting ready themselves.

      2. Degen from Upcountry*

        I was recently diagnosed with ADD and just last week had a family member suggest I get tested for sleep apnea… he said his CPAP machine has changed his life. I’ve been late to work for 15 years and was late to school before that. It’s been a lifetime of guilt and finding out it has some medical causes has been pretty overwhelming.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          I can’t praise my c-pap enough, and it really makes a difference in my early-morning energy and ability to hurry.

          For ADD and sleep apnea together, my husband’s c-pap helped some, but honestly the adderall helped more. The c-pap gave him the ability to get out of bed in time to take the adderall though.

          And yeah, the emotional difference it made for him to finally be able to really internalize that he wasn’t just “not trying hard enough” all those years, I think that was life-changing. I hope you find it so, too.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Derailing a bit from the original subject, but I thought I’d chime in and say that the population of adults with ADHD who do well on Adderall is pretty small. It has the nickname “Madderall” because of how it can enhance anger and rage.

            Not saying that this is the case with your husband, Hapless Bureaucrat, but to let others know that there are lots of prescription options out there besides Adderall. Ex-BF is on Vyvanse now and it works for his brain chemistry better than all the other options he has tried. He also takes a tiny dose of propranolol each day and that *really* makes a difference in how fast (if at all) he goes from zero to ANGER.

            Also, ex-BF has a CPAP, too, and that was a real game-changer for him in terms of not being sleepy All. The. Time.

      3. Close Bracket*

        To be more precise, vivid dreams that are hard to shake are a sign that you are not getting sufficient REM sleep, and having your sleep cycles disrupted by sleep apnea is one cause of not getting enough REM sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is not the only kind of sleep apnea, there are also central sleep apneas, so not snoring doesn’t mean you aren’t experiencing sleep apneas. However, you could also be chronically underslept for other reasons.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          What about vivid, lucid dreams combined with a tendency towards sleep paralysis after waking? :p

      4. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        My husband is both a night person and a world-class snorer (probably has an undiagnosed sleep disorder), and he also struggles to leave the house before 9:30 or 10 each day. But he stays late and gets his work done, so his bosses don’t say anything. (I should also add that he never misses an early client meeting either.)

      5. Pomona Sprout*

        “Revisiting the original post: I had no idea that the trouble getting up in the morning is part of my ADD!”

        I didn’t know this, either! I definitely have ADD and have always had major problems waking up/getting up in the morning, so this explains a WHOOOOLE lot to me.

    3. LadyL*

      As someone who struggles with being on time for a variety of reasons, including some neurodivergent one, I’ve learned never to read the comments on posts like that. There is just a group of otherwise kind and compassionate people who truly believe that lateness is always a choice and there’s absolutely no valid reason why someone would struggle with timeliness, and they truly believe the worst of anyone who isn’t timely. It’s just exhausting and frustrating to see.

      Anyways, sometimes being on time isn’t simple or easy for everyone, and lateness isn’t a sign of disrespect. I’m sure there are things I can do easily that you struggle with, and I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate me sneering at you or assuming you’re a bad person just because of that. *leaves soapbox*

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Alison used to have a stricter view on this, and I’m glad to see her thinking has evolved with new information from people like us. I don’t expect people to know off the bat how hard this ‘basic’ stuff can be for others, but I do expect them to believe us when we tell them.

        1. LadyL*

          I think sometimes when people hear “it’s not easy for everyone” they think what we’re saying is “you are no longer allowed to be upset about this and you have to just sit there an accept it without anything changing” and that’s part of the knee jerk reaction of not believing us.

          Which, no, you can tell employees they are required to be on time and you can tell friends it feels hurtful and dismissive when they’re late to seeing you. You can have expectations, all I’m saying is you can also be kind and compassionate in how you lay out those expectations and you don’t have to jump to moral judgments or assumptions about the person’s values.

          1. Close Bracket*

            they think what we’re saying is “you are no longer allowed to be upset about this and you have to just sit there an accept it without anything changing”

            Well, that is a partly valid thing to say. You can be as upset as you want about something, but like cold weather in winter, some people’s internal clocks are what they are and they won’t change. How you frame things shapes how you feel about them. If you believe that people can and should change and that they are being late *at* you, then you are doomed to a life of resentment. If you accept that timeliness is not a measure of moral turpitude, then you can stop feeling dismissed. So yes, you can have expectations, but you have choices in your expectations, and I recommend making the choices that will maximize your happiness.

            1. Bee*

              Nah, it’s still rude to make someone wait for you. And I say this as a chronically late person with ADD who struggles to get up in the morning and has never arrived at a party less than half an hour (and frequently a full hour) late, but also someone who has fought all those things to arrive at a brunch reservation only 5 minutes late just to have none of my friends show up until 30 minutes later. Did I understand what they’re struggling with? Yes. Did that help me at all, sitting alone in the vestibule of the restaurant for half an hour? No. (And I’m 100% sure they only honored our reservation at that point because the hostess felt bad for me and couldn’t bear to kick me out after I waited so long.)

              Things can be a genuine symptom of mental illness and still unacceptable – just like the yeller in one of yesterday’s updates.

              1. Close Bracket*

                OK, ADD is not a mental illness, and neither is chronobiology that makes people into evening people rather than morning people.

                As to the impact on you, you partly have the ability to control that. So instead of stewing in resentment, focus on things you can control. Your friends’ lateness is not one of those things, but acceptance that your friends will be late is absolutely under your control. How much lateness you tolerate and what actions you take when they pass that are also under your control.

                1. Bee*

                  What? Where are you getting that information? Because every resource I’ve ever seen on ADD describes it as a mental illness, just like depression or anxiety. It’s treated by mental health professionals and defined in the DSM-V. What else would it be? (Being a morning person or night person is obviously not, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)

                  And sure, I can take steps to mitigate it, and one of them is that I no longer have brunch with those friends. But my ability to deal with it doesn’t mean it didn’t affect me or that I can’t be bothered by it. People are allowed to be bothered by actions that negatively affect them, and “just be positive” isn’t actually helpful advice.

                2. OhNo*

                  @Bee (looks like nesting ran out)

                  Many people with ADD (myself included!) prefer to think of it as a neurodivergence. It’s in a vein similar to autism, which is also listed in the DSM-V, but rarely labeled in practice as an “illness”. Marking things like ADD and autism as an illness can be stigmatizing, whereas noting it as just one of the many possible ways brains is a more inclusive approach.

                3. Yorick*

                  Let’s not nitpick language. Either way, Bee is making a valid point: we can understand someone’s reasons and be compassionate, but their actions still affect us, so we can and should expect them to at least try because they care about us and our feelings.

                4. Bee*

                  @Oh No

                  Ah, I think of it as more along the lines of anxiety & depression because it’s often managed with medication and can (at least in my experience, this may not be universal) come in waves, but I do see that position. Thanks!

            2. Dust Bunny*

              If the late person expects to be included as though they weren’t late, yeah, it is kind of saying that. Not all events are endlessly time-flexible.

              The thing is, timeliness may not be a measure of moral turpitude, but tolerance of lateness shouldn’t be the measure, either. If my friend can’t learn after 30 years of being wrong that her time estimates don’t work, I think I’ve been quite tolerant enough, thanks, and I shouldn’t have “compassion” held over my head so she can continue to keep me waiting. I’ll go on my own and she can find me whenever she shows up.

              For the record: I’m aware that anxiety is often a root cause of lateness. But it’s also a valid reason to be early. So if my friend thinks that I should tolerate her lateness because she’s anxious and can’t get started . . . I AM JUST AS ANXIOUS ABOUT BEING LATE. Travel logistics, especially parking in crowded urban areas, are one of my worst anxiety triggers. I don’t mind being early because then I know that if something goes wrong, I have time to readjust.

              1. Close Bracket*

                You can’t change your friend, but you can change yourself. You don’t have to include late people as though they are not late. You can accept that your friend is going to be late and then go on your own and let her find you whenever she shows up. That, or stop making time essential plans with that friend. As I said, you have choices. The choices you are making right now, both in how you deal with her and how you view her, are allowing resentment to build up. I recommend finding new ways to think about your friend and new ways to interact with her (which might come from your new ways of thinking about her). Right now your “I handle it, so she should, too” is not leading to a great outcome for you.

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  I don’t know where you’re getting “I handle it so she should too” out of Dust Bunny’s comment. In fact, they said just what you did — that they don’t wait for their friend anymore. You seem very eager to read moral judgment and overall unhappiness into people who dislike lateness, regardless of the reason.

                  And in fact, since Dust Bunny mentioned that lateness is an anxiety trigger for them, your judgmental response comes across as pretty ableist. “You’re having bad outcomes because of this thing you could totally change, just stop being anxious” is a bad look.

                2. Yorick*

                  Sure, maybe I can’t change my late friend, but my late friend can change. She can at least do her best to be as close to on time as possible. She can at least be realistic and honest about what time she’ll arrive. (That’s when some late people really get me – you’re there waiting, they say they’ll be there in a minute, and they arrive 20 minutes after that). And so forth.

                3. Jennifer*

                  Exactly. The point is, and what I think the Countess and Yorick are missing, is that you can’t change anyone else, you can change yourself. Meet people where they are. The friend is probably always going to be late, but you can change the activities you do with them and your attitude about it. Just telling them, “you shouldn’t be late anymore” won’t change anything.

          2. emmelemm*

            Yeah, it’s the moral judgement part that gets me. I really do try to be on time, and sometimes I fail, and it’s never about disrespecting the person who’s expecting me, it’s because it’s genuinely difficult for me.

            On the other hand, I have an unfailing eagle eye for “detail” and spotting errors and making sure things are right. So many people on this board are like, “I just try and try but I’m not a detail oriented person.” Am I to hold that against them as a moral failing? If they just tried *harder*…

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              Er, many times that is held against people. They get fired for it. (And judged as well.) Heavens, look at all the people excusing late people but whining about early people. Aren’t they two sides of the same coin? If you want people to excuse your tardiness because you can’t get going, then accept when they show up 30 minutes early.

              1. LadyL*

                I can’t speak for others, but when I was talking about my habitually early family members that was basically the point I was trying to make: we all have quirks, strengths and weaknesses. As ArtsNerd put it above, “your personal preference is not everyone else’s moral imperative”.

                AKA my early family member isn’t a bad person just because my preference is that he would show up late rather than early. But then why does he think lesser of me because I struggle with timeliness? We are absolutely different sides of the same coin, which should be cause for greater understanding. Yet in my experience people who tend to be early don’t often feel that way, they often do associate a moral component (assuming disrespect and ill-intention) with people who struggle with time, and are often quite dismissive of attempts to explain reasons why being on time can be a struggle. My example of the ways in which being early can be aggravating was not to suggest that’s actually worse than being late, but was just meant to point out politeness/expectations are often much more contextual than universal.

                In some jobs being detail oriented is essential, and in some jobs it’s more valuable to be a big-picture creative thinker. In some being neat and orderly is key, and in some it’s not. Some jobs require precise timeliness, and for those of us who struggle with time those jobs are often bad fits. In some jobs being late doesn’t matter at all. There’s not just one universal way to be a good human, is kind of the point.

          3. OhNo*

            I often think it must the be same knee jerk, defensive reaction people tend to have when they’re being called out for just about anything. That initial instinct of, “Don’t tell me I’m wrong, I’m not wrong! You’re wrong!” is a very hard habit to break.

            The worst part is, once that reaction kicks in, it can be so hard to understand that nobody in the situation is actually wrong – there are just different, equally valid views of what “right” is.

      2. Alienor*

        It’s both interesting and disturbing to me when people view lateness as something other people are doing deliberately to them. I’m pretty good at being on time now, but when my daughter was younger we were late a LOT, partly because kids are hard to get ready and out the door, and partly because of other things going on with our family situation at the time. Never once did I get up in the morning and think “Hmm, we’re supposed to meet Jane at 10, so I’ll plan to be there at 10:30. That ought to be enough to show her she’s not important. Friggin’ Jane.” I suppose there are *some* people who would (I’ve met a few very high-powered execs who were like that) but it’s just so, so much more likely to be the late person dealing with their own issues and nothing to do with the person who’s waiting for them at all.

        1. Madoka*

          You’ve never met my BIL. On time for everyone except the family. He’s always late and then gets upset when we don’t wait for him to eat/go into the show/whatever. Of course, it’s an Asian family and he is #1 son, we we must wait or MIL throws a fit. If anyone else is late, we go in. So, yes, lateness on purpose to put people in their place is a thing.

          There are some people who are capable of being on time to things they care about, but not to things they don’t.

          There are some people who aren’t capable of being on time ever, even when they want to, because they have either internal or external forces that make timely arrival beyond their control.

          For anyone in the latter group, I’m always understanding. But my BIL is doing it on purpose.

          1. LadyL*

            Oof no, the rule for late people is you don’t wait for them. I actually find it really annoying when people do insist on waiting for us late ones (I mean obviously I know that some things require waiting, please don’t reply with examples of events that can’t start without everyone there).

            One side of my family is infamous for being late to everything, so all family get togetherness are buffet. Invites just say the time we expect to eat, and then you just sort of show up sometime around that time with a dish to pass. People are often 4+ hours late (which is actually great because it’s a big family jammed into a small house so having staggered arrivals/exits helps with traffic flow) So whatever food is still there you’re welcome to, but no one complains if pickins’ are slim when they arrive because that’s what happens if you’re late. Always a really chill, nice event that feels very relaxed and enjoyable. Show up when you feel like, eat what’s there, chat with whoever you run into and then leave whenever you want.

            Whereas in his family we all sit and wait until everyone arrives, and if someone is late we all have to just stare at the cooling food (also buffet style) as people grow resentful and start talking smack about the late party and how rude they are. Partner makes sure we’re on time so as far as I know I’m not being gossiped about, but I find the whole thing needlessly stressful and unpleasant for what’s supposed to be a fun family get together.

              1. Red Wheelbarrow*

                I have a good friend whose lateness and same-day cancellations used to drive me crazy. Now when we meet, I always propose a place where I’d enjoy loitering even if he didn’t show up. I bring my laptop, work while I drink good coffee, and keep my expectations of his appearing down to zero. It’s the only way our friendship stays sustainable. (I admit I still resent it just a little, but much less than when I was actively waiting for him.)

                1. LadyL*

                  My method is I always carry a book with me. Learned it from my dad- if we were stuck waiting some please unexpectedly when I was a kid and I tried to whine “Daddy I’m bored!” he would pull a book out of his bag and say “Huh, I’m not, I came prepared” and then start reading lol. To this day I have learned to always be prepared to wait by having something fun to do with me.

                2. Pennalynn Lott*

                  I had both hips replaced in 2013. The incision site of the first one became infected; the second prosthesis dislocated exactly one month post-surgery. Which is to say… I spent a LOT of time in hospital and doctor’s office waiting rooms in 2013 and early 2014.

                  And I loved every freaking minute of it because it was 100% my own time and therefore I could read every single book on my Kindle guilt-free. Dirty litter boxes at home? Not my problem, I’m stuck at the doctor’s office. Trash needs to be taken out? Darn. I’m still at the hospital. Good luck with that!

                  So, yeah, I love LadyL’s dad. :-)

        2. Yorick*

          Sure, most of the time people aren’t intentionally being late to inconvenience the other person. But the other person is being inconvenienced anyway. At least sometimes, this is happening because the late person doesn’t practice the empathy it takes to consider that the on-time person has to wait for them and, gee, that must be unpleasant.

          Honestly, I usually don’t mind waiting for someone who’s late nearly as much as I mind leaving with a late person. I’m waiting at the door! Stop looking at your phone and put on your shoes! We were supposed to leave 10 minutes ago!

          1. whingedrinking*

            My particular quirk is that while I’m perpetually late, it drives me nuts to be told “we’re leaving now” when that is very clearly not the case. When I say “I’m ready to go”, I mean I’ve put everything in my bag, looked up directions on my phone, decided what shoes and coat to wear, etc. and literally the only thing left is to put on said shoes and coat and walk out the door. (Maybe, if I open the door and realize it’s raining, grab an umbrella. Maybe.) In my family, though, “I’m ready” can mean anything from “I have to grab my purse” to “I need to shower”. Aaaargh.

            1. Not Australian*

              Yep, @whingedrinking, that aggravates me too. I’m not punctual to the minute but I’m almost always ready by the time agreed; my other half, however, waits until he sees that I’m ready (coat on, shoes on, bag picked up etc.) and *then* he disappears into the bathroom and I have to sit around and wait for him. Over a lifetime together, that’s the sort of thing that really gets irritating.

        3. HerGirlFriday*

          My wild-card with punctuality is also my kid (under age 10). Some mornings are great, some are at DEFCON 1 because she can’t locate her favorite shoes. I’m lucky that she’s very empathetic and doesn’t want to make me late on purpose, but sometimes it’s just a plain ole no good very bad morning and it forces me to slow down and be a parent first and an employee second. As she ages and matures, this will be easier to deal with (especially when the meltdown is emotional and she develops the tools and brain maturity to handle things better). But in the meantime, BIG feelings are hard and often need a little patience, a pause, and a lot of love to calm down.
          My other wild-card is an extremely poorly designed HOV lane. Once you’re on the entrance ramp, you’re trapped until the next exit several miles down. Several times I’ve had public busses breakdown or be involved in wrecks and shut down the lane for 3+ hours while the only special heavy-duty wrecker on-call arrives. (with a kid in the backseat who needs to pee, of course)

          1. Dahlia*

            I used to baby-sit a kid who did not understand time, and also had meltdowns over feeling “rushed”. She also got big anxiety when actually late. These things do not combine well.

            Mornings were rooooough sometimes.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        It’s not that I don’t believe that people struggle with timeliness or have valid reasons for doing so, it’s that I get frustrated when their lateness messes things up for everyone else. If we’re going somewhere and I say that we need to leave by 10:00, and they’re habitually late . . . there is no meeting in the middle on that. If I miss an event because somebody else couldn’t leave on time, yeah, I’m going to be annoyed and I’ll stop inviting that person to things. And that person needs to accept that my not inviting them is no more disrespectful than their inability to arrive on time, nor is it lacking compassion–it’s the only thing I can do if I don’t want to miss out, as well.

        1. Jennifer*

          If they’re a person you care about and you enjoy spending time with them, don’t do things with them that require strict timeliness. No reservations at that exclusive restaurant or theater tickets or air travel. Sometimes you have to meet people where they are instead of expecting them to become you.

          I think it’s silly to lose a friendship over someone’s being 10-15 minutes late. We all have flaws. Someone has to put up with ours too.

          1. Bee*

            This is what I’ve done with my most egregiously late friend, but it does suck to know how many fun things we can’t do together – no plays or movies or concerts, no one-on-one dinners unless I know I can get a seat at the bar. I like hanging out with her at someone’s home or getting drinks after work, but I’d also love to do Activities with her. And since I’m not going to STOP doing Activities with people who can actually make them, it means I see her less than I’d like.

            1. Close Bracket*

              For those time essential activities, you can ask her to buy her own ticket and arrive separately.

            2. LadyL*

              I mean that’s true of many qualities, friendship compatibility has so many aspects to it. Some of my friends see me less than they might otherwise because I don’t have as much disposable income as they do so I can’t afford certain activities. Some of us aren’t interested in hang outs centered around physical activities, or certain pop culture stuff, or drinking, or if the activity is too loud & social. I mean we all have things that limit us, but there’s this idea that just not being late anymore is just an easy and cost-free thing to change. It’s a bummer if timeliness affects your hangouts, but it’s also a bummer whenever my friends choose to do something that won’t work for me for whatever reason. I don’t see how timeliness is any different than any other accommodation one might make (or decide not to make) based on overall compatibility.

              1. Jennifer*

                Same for when people start having kids or move farther away or get into long-term relationships or any number of other things. That’s life and hopefully your best friendships adjust with it.

            3. pandop*

              Same here, my friend just shrugs and says she has no sense of time, but if you aren’t ever going to work on remembering to check the time, or tell people you are going to be late, or not ‘just pop into 2 or 3 shops’ when you are already late, I am going to make less effort to make plans with you. Because that just shows where I am in your priorities

          2. Hapless Bureaucrat*

            Pretty much. You can take separate cars or public transportation, you can host open houses instead of sit-down dinners, you can tell them the drop dead time is 30 minutes earlier than it actually is. For most of life’s events there are options.

          3. Yorick*

            Well, then they want to know why they’re never invited to that stuff that their friend group does. So you have to invite them, they insist on going, but they ruin the whole activity.

            1. Jennifer*

              No, that’s being a martyr. If you plan something that requires strict punctuality, invite your chronically late friend and get mad when they are late, that’s a problem you created. For whatever reason they will never be on time so stop expecting them to be.

              Plan activities that don’t require a hard start time and include them. Don’t invite them when punctuality is required and if they ask why tell them exactly why as politely as you can.

              1. Yorick*

                I just don’t see it this way. If an adult says, “I want to go to the opera with everybody! I’ll be on time, honest!” and you say, “no, you won’t, you’re not invited,” that’s pretty rude, it’s gonna cause a huge problem, and y’all aren’t gonna be friends anymore.

                A person who could hear “we like you but your lateness ruins events for us, so we’ll do these things without you” and feel fine is probably not a person who would be so late for everything.

        2. LadyL*

          Let me put it this way, I am late a lot, but obviously I can be on time, it just requires some extra spoons (I assume/hope you’re familiar with spoon theory). I have to use those spoons everyday for essential life tasks like work, and I can use them for special events and activities, but you need to understand that it requires effort that leaves me mentally and emotionally exhausted, which isn’t a fun feeling. So if you’re regularly planning activities for us that require a strict adherence to schedule I’m going to be struggling, and eventually I will run out of spoons and disappoint you. So yes, of course I can and should be on time to going to your child’s graduation or your birthday party or etc, but if every time we hang out you expect that same level of timeliness I literally cannot keep up with that. If that is completely unacceptable to you, then we’re not going to be compatible friends. Doesn’t make you a bad person, or me a bad person, just people with really different needs.

          My mom gets anxiety about being late, and we used to fight a lot about that. There *is* a middle ground: when we can travel separately we do, when we can’t I use extra spoons to try to get there as close to the desired time as possible AND my mom uses some of her spoons to try to relax and remind herself it’s ok if we’re a few minutes late. Afterwards we both try to respect the fact that we’re both exhausted from the effort of coordinating together and to not expect too much from each other after all that. But we only got there after we got past the notion that either one of us was right or wrong about it, or more virtuous or whatever.

          1. Jackalope*

            The spoons analogy is perfect for me too. I can manage to be on time when needed; I have never missed an airplane, for example, and I can show up on time for events that need it. Those require me either a) planning my entire schedule out for a few hours beforehand to the minute (for an airplane), or b) spending all day worrying and focusing my work energies on leaving at the exact second required and no later, for evening events, for example. I used to have to take a bus or work that came once an hour and every single morning was stressful trying to make sure I caught it (and “get up five minutes earlier” doesn’t work since I often drag more so I have to get up, say, half an hour earlier). Having a job with a flexible start time (where we have a two hour window to arrive, core hours when everyone is here, and then leaving eight and a half hours after we arrive) and friends who can be flexible on when I arrive makes such a huge difference in not using all of my energy just on being on time. (For people who care more about punctuality we often find some compromise like saying we will meet on Saturday afternoon and then I text them when I leave the house, things like that).

          2. Turtle Candle*

            This stood out to me: “Doesn’t make you a bad person, or me a bad person, just people with really different needs.”

            …because I think these discussions get so heated because a lot of it, quite frankly, is about trying to figure out who the ‘bad person’ is. “You’re inconsiderate and lazy!” “No, you’re an ableist control freak!” You can see some of that right here in the comments.

            I think we wouldn’t have hundreds-of-comments-long arguments about this if it was frame as “some people aren’t compatible,” and, well, becasue this is a work advice site, “some jobs are compatible with a flex schedule and some aren’t,” rather than trying to play Who Is In The Wrong Here.

        3. Environmental Compliance*

          My MIL is ridiculous about timeliness.

          We have been 3+ hours late to a family event because she wanted to vacuum the house, then rewash some dishes, then…. then… then….

          So now we no longer drive with them. They get to drive separate. If she would like to re-dust the house again, go for it, but we’ll see you there, MIL.

          MIL also about had a conniption when we got married. It was on a boat. We knew FIL would get MIL there on time, but MIL’s step mom was even *worse* than MIL at timeframes, and was driving herself to Boat Landing separately. MIL wanted us to wait to start the wedding until StepGrandmom got there (as a theoretical). Nope. I met this woman once before in my life where she was late by 4+ hours to SIL’s wedding and then left after 15 minutes to go buy her own booze because their booze “wasn’t good enough”, and I’m not delaying my own wedding until she chooses to show up. You can tell her the boat leaves at 4PM. If you’re not on the boat, that’s unfortunate. And guess what? StepGrandmom showed up on time, with her friend even, and had a good time.

          1. Yorick*

            My stepmother does this. We need to leave for a 3+ hour drive to a family event. We plan to leave between 12-1. My dad says he’ll be ok as long as we leave by 1:30. Everyone but her is lined up ready to go at like 12:05. She spends the whole morning sitting around, looking at facebook, etc. At 1:29 she suddenly has a whole list of things she needs to do before we can leave. Few of those things, if any, are actually necessary.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Yup! We’ve planned to leave around noon, had everything packed & ready to go by 12:20ish, and then waited…and waited…and waited… and none of what she suddenly needs to do are actually necessary.

              FIL has somewhat minimal patience with this by now and will give her a certain allotment of time, then walk in, calmly tell her if she’s not in the car within 10 minutes they’re leaving without her, and then go wait in the vehicle.

              MIL also does similar things during family events. IE, they’re hosting family Thanksgiving, and she needs to vacuum *right now*…. 2 hours past everyone arriving, as they’re all trying to talk in the room she’s vacuuming. Or cleaning the bathroom in the middle of dinner. Both of which she had already done (or we had already done) earlier in the day during the time when all of us were cleaning the house to prepare for said family over.

              I have friends that are consistently late. I give them a time a little bit earlier, and don’t schedule anything that’s time sensitive. If they’re late, I shrug it off. MIL’s lateness though is a whole ‘nother beast and frustrates the heck out of me.

              1. Eukomos*

                That honestly sounds like something that should be run by a doctor. Missing out on a dinner you’re hosting that has important familial meaning to re-clean a cleaned bathroom is having your life seriously disrupted by whatever urge is driving her to this.

    4. Jerusha*

      Lots of good comments here. Rather than sprinkling replies throughout:

      1) I absolutely struggle with timeliness and ability to estimate how long things will take. Part of that is sleep-phase/chronobiological in nature. I have extreme delayed sleep-phase disorder (not formally diagnosed, but when I don’t have external schedule constraints — like when my workplace is closed for a week and a half at the end of the year — my “natural” sleep period is between about 6 AM and 2 PM). So getting anywhere that requires getting up at a specific time (based on a diurnal schedule), is an uphill slog for me.
      For those who are having trouble imagining it – let’s say you have an “average” natural sleep period of 10 PM to 6 AM. Imagine having a meeting/class that starts at 12:30 AM – and then you have to stay awake and functional until at least 9 AM, the whole time with your body going, “What are you even doing? This is /sleeping/ time! Why are we not asleep?” And then you have to try to go to bed by 4 PM, right in the middle of your late afternoon energy peak (“Why are we lying down? This is /getting things done/ time! Well, fine, we can lay here, but ha! if you thought there would be sleeping.”) That’s what an 8:30 AM meeting feels like to me.
      I can do it if I have to. However, it takes an amount of effort that is not sustainable on a daily basis (contra those who would say, “Well, if you can be on time once, why can’t you be on time every time?”). Part of that is that I really do have trouble going to bed during the “afternoon” energy peak – so if I get up for an 8:30 AM meeting, it means that I probably only got about 4 hours of sleep, and had to set 3-4 alarms, starting an hour before I had to get up for good, to make it vertical on schedule.

      The other part of it is neuroprocessing-related. I have ADHD-type symptoms (haven’t pursued a formal diagnosis, because I already see a psychiatrist to manage my depression, and we discussed it and decided that, since the management is the same either way, there was no reason to expend effort trying to figure out whether I have depression plus (as a separate matter) executive dysfunction caused by ADHD, or whether the executive dysfunction is a symptom of the depression.) But I am absolutely terrible at figuring out how long something will take. I’m more than capable of counting backwards from when I want to leave, based on my estimate of how long it will take me to accomplish everything I need to do before leaving, but since the values I feed into that subtraction process are garbage, the amount of time I allot for getting ready also is garbage. (The only reason I no longer have the same problem with estimating travel time is Google Maps – if I were doing it myself, my travel time estimates would be just as optimistic, and just as useless, as my task time estimates.)

      In addition to being a terrible estimator, I also have problems with switching tasks – I am quite capable of looking at the clock repeatedly and going, “OK, I need to stop and start getting ready in 15 minutes… in 5 minutes… I really should have started getting ready 10 minutes ago… 20 minutes ago…” without actually being able to put down what I’m doing (20 minutes ago!) and switch. (This also turns into what a poster mentioned elsewhere in the thread, that I’m still/suddenly trying to get “just one more thing!” done, even though I’m already 2 things’ worth of time behind.)

      So, given all that, if I have a firm and _exceptional_ time-by-which I need to get there (travel reservation, theater ticket, dinner reservation, sporadic (rather than daily) meeting), I can get there on time/a few minutes early. But I simply cannot sustain that level of effort for every departure, every day, every event. Fortunately, I do not have a coverage-related job – if I’m late, I may or may not (depending on the specific circumstance) inconvenience the person I’m meeting/working with (although I really do try not to!), but no one is waiting for me to arrive and relieve them.

      2) Dealing with family members who sabotage your best efforts, whether deliberately, subconsciously, or accidentally. When I was still living at home, I used to get in fights with my mother about this /all/ /the/ /time/. She’d tell me what time we needed to leave the house in the morning. I’d pick my getting-up time to allow me to get upright, cleaned, dressed, and fed, and be ready to go (by the “everything but shoes and coat; otherwise ready to walk out the door” standard) at the stated time. Except then as I’m staggering through my morning routine, suddenly she’d ask me to empty the sink and load the dishwasher, or fold a load of laundry, or some other task that I hadn’t budgeted time for. So I’d do that, and then she’d be pissed off because I wasn’t ready until 10 minutes after the time she’d told me. Which, duh, you just interjected 10 minutes of some random task into my morning, of course now I’m 10 minutes late! I eventually had to learn to explicitly ask her, “Is there anything else that you need me to do in the morning other than getting myself up and dressed, that I need to budget time for?” (Of course, part of that is also that — of course — my mother is a pretty extreme morning person. Her natural sleep period is more like 9 PM to 5 AM. So for her, a 9:30 AM departure is no problem – she’s been up for hours, she’s had plenty of time to get ready at her leisure and knock out a couple hours of something before leaving. And I think that she just could _not_ understand that I was not naturally up at 9:30 AM, and that I had to wake up to an alarm (rather than naturally), which I set based on what I needed to do between the alarm and walking out the door. So every time she sprung a “but of course you have extra time in the morning to $task” on me, I was going to suddenly (and retroactively!) not have gotten up early enough, because I hadn’t known to budget time for $task.)

      I know I drive my husband mildly bonkers – he served in the Marine Corps, where if the Battalion formation is at $time, the Company is ordered to report 15 minute early. Each platoon is then ordered to report 15 minutes before the Company, and each squad 15 minutes before the platoon. So if you had a “0900” (9 AM) formation, you reported at about 0810, just in case. He’s gotten used to me setting the target departure time about 10 minutes before we’ll actually make it out the door (all I have to do is try to deliberately ignore that I put 10 minutes of padding in, or else I’ll adjust my mental target to the “actual” rather than the padded target, and then be 10 minutes late to that).

      Regarding inconveniencing other people: If someone is depending on me to be somewhere at a certain time, I try to be. (I don’t always succeed, but I do try.) However, I also fully expect that, if I’m late, the event will start without me, and I’ll catch up as I may. (And for work, I absolutely average >8.5 hours/day – if I arrived late, or if I had to leave early one day, I stay late to make that up. And I’m not really sharing duties with anyone – other people depend on my output, but it’s not the case that my work devolves onto someone else if I arrive late in the morning.)

  4. Alexander Graham Yell*

    Glad you took the advice to heart, #5, and I hope that the work of untangling those feelings goes as smoothly as possible.

  5. MissDisplaced*

    I suspect with toxic workplaces, they KNOW it’s toxic and thus don’t really want to do exit interviews and hear about it.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      This, or it does’t even occur to them that employees have helpful feedback because there’s nothing they *should* be doing differently sideyes old grandboss.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Another common characteristic is the belief that no one below a certain level could possibly have insights.

  6. Phony Genius*

    On #3, which of these is a better phrase going forward, assuming we ever get another similar letter:
    “False Boss” or “Fake Boss”?

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      I think false boss is better for #3. Fake boss reminds me of a catch me if you can style situation, rather than someone who actually works there claiming authority they don’t have. I have worked in situations with a “false boss” before except they were upfront about it. The boss position for our office was vacant and posted, so in the mean time we were all being supervised by the boss one level up from a different location. This one coworker was the most senior in terms of rank and was the “boss” for day to day operations.

    2. Dragoning*

      Wasn’t #3 a “Worst Boss” nominee? Probably for the best that they didn’t win, since they were an out-of-control coworker instead!

          1. Phony Genius*

            If, for any reason, the elected Worst Boss is unable to perform their duties, the first runner-up shall become the Acting Worst Boss.

            1. OhNo*

              Or, in this case, the job of Acting Worst Boss will be taken over by the elected Worst Coworker.

              Worst Coworker will then proceed to do the work of neither position, just to make sure they’re a shoo-in for next year’s nominations.

              1. Amanda*

                I’m the person from number 3, and oh my GOSH, y’all are killing me with this. I cannot stop laughing.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Yes, #3 was indeed. I think if this update had come in before voting, Not a Boss would have ranked higher! Pulling all that nonsense while not even in a position of authority to do so…SMH.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I didn’t think to use portmanteaus. The best that I can come up with is “Impostervisor.”

    3. Public Sector Manager*

      I’m just waiting for the False Boss trying to pass off Fake King’s Hawaiian Rolls as the real deal!

    4. CrickettheCat*

      I like “False Boss” because of the way the consonant sound repeats itself between words. Nice flow.

  7. EPLawyer*

    #1 is so great. Nice to know some places are good places to work who understand their employees are humans who do human things.

    1. beanie gee*

      YES! This is the way it’s supposed to work! It sounds like the letter writer’s experience should make others at the company planning to have kids feel good about their workplace.

    2. BadWolf*

      And OP is doing a service to her coworkers by diving in and using their new and improved parental leave right away. If the new person uses it and everyone is still happy, everyone else who needs it can take it. Versus, yes we technically have this thing, but everyone is afraid to use the benefit.

      My job introduced longer paternity leave and made it retroactive (as part of a more balanced-ish parental leave program). If you had a baby the year before, you could take the additional leave now. Two of my male coworkers took it. A few people made some mild grumblings, but I was very happy they took it as it helps prove to everyone that yes, everyone can and should use parental leave (as it works for them).

  8. Mary Ellen*

    To all the people who think it’s super, super easy to just go get a new job — I finally landed a full-time job in my field after looking for nine years. NINE. It isn’t that easy.

      1. catwoman2*

        It took me two years to land a full time job in my field, and then 4.5 years to get out of the toxic job I was in, to a better role. It’s become much easier for me, but I live in one of the top 3 largest cities in the U.S. If you’re in a smaller area, I can imagine it’s a lot harder to break in.

    1. Snoop OP*

      I’m in a situation where i’ve been casually looking for a new job for 3 years. I’m paid well, and enjoy my company so I’m not itching to get out, but I’m bored. It’s been very hard for me to get interviews, I suspect, because I’m in a NPO adjacent role so I have tasks like a npo job, but pay like a for-profit job. I know I shouldn’t complain, but my mind is atrophying.

    2. Goldfinch*

      It took me six years to find a job in my field after multiple downsizings. I worked a bunch of retail/CS positions in the meantime, since I like food and shelter, but I definitely agree that replacing a “career” job can be incredibly difficult.

    3. Lora*

      Oof. It sucks, but sometimes the only way to have a career at all is to move to an urban hub. Been there: at my college graduation, the professor selected to speak to us noted the following:
      Unemployment in the region was >25% and only getting worse. The majority employers in the region were the local government and health care / insurance people whose jobs consisted of issuing gun permits, and administering Black Lung benefits to dying coal miners.
      Real estate values had plummeted in the past 50 years, while in the rest of the country they had risen.
      The tax base had shrunk significantly, so the various and sundry infrastructure issues the region experienced were unlikely to be resolved any time soon.

      I moved as soon as I could. It sucks SO BAD, because everywhere you go the costs of living are much higher: you save as much as you can, which would be enough for months’ worth of expenses at home, but when you get to a region that isn’t in the economic crapper, you have like…a dollar. And even saving up enough to move anywhere at all, is an ordeal – it’s not like you can sell all your stuff on craigslist, there is nobody buying, you just have to get a truck and haul it yourself. And that’s if you’re able to save anything at all, if you’re not trying to support other people on an economically-depressed salary.

      And yeah, a lot of my family still lives there, mostly retired. A few years ago when I drove for a visit, I noticed that even the diners, donut shops and gas stations near the highway had closed for several miles around, so for the past couple of visits I’ve had to pack a spare gas can and a lunch…

    4. Rainbow Roses*

      I was coming to say that. Can’t stand when people say “Just get another job. How hard can it be?” It can literally take years. There was a time where I couldn’t even get a job at retail or fast food.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yes! We moved to a new city about four years ago, and it took seven months for my husband to find a new job, and it wasn’t more than that only because of an incredible stroke of luck. He had an offer within four months, but the offer was pulled because one of his previous employers refuses to provide references (they use the Work Number to verify dates of employment), and the new employer won’t hire you unless they speak directly to your past supervisor.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I know it’s never easy to be sure. But I’ve rarely found it to take YEARS except during the Great Recession of 2009-2011. But granted some fields are also more specialty and harder and where you live matters a lot. I’m lucky in that I can take my skills to many types of industries.

      Layoffs have become so commonplace now that I’ve learned to kind of always be on the lookout and can pivot fairly quickly, even if it’s not the job of my dreams. Or freelance for a while if I must. There used to be a time though when if you lost or quit your job, you could almost immediately pickup a temp job. But that is no longer the case! It definitely makes it hard to quit a bad situation quickly.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        It really depends on your field and work history. The last time I had a full time permanent job was 2001, I think. Part of this is having done two graduate degrees in this time but also hiring in my field radically changed in that time. Most jobs are now short term contracts.

        1. bluephone*

          Writer here who is very lucky to have a full-time-with-benefits job because literally every other job in this field is contract only, freelance only, “permalance,” “contract but maaaaaaybe they’ll bring you on permanently at some point” (aka NEVER so you better hope the recruitment agency has good benefits) and so on and so on.

    6. Daffy Duck*

      Congrats on your new job!
      It took 7 years of looking for a job before I found one related to my field – location makes a HUGE difference, especially if you are not near a major urban area.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yeah, it took me two years to get my first job in my field, and one to get my current one. Local market it’s full of companies with crazy requirements for entry level jobs, such as “recent graduate not older than 25 y.o. with minimum three years of formal experience in iOS Apps development”.

  9. OhBehave*

    #3 Congrats on the new job!
    Don’t you just love the helpful advice of, “Just get another job, it’s not hard,”? There are so many unknowns with letters here that it makes this comment seem out of touch and useless.

    1. L*

      I came here to day that; honestly the privilege in “just get a new job! It’s not like it’s hard” (think: Elle Woods going to law school voice) astounds me every time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think anyone actually said that on the original post though. They did suggest this situation was unsustainable, but I haven’t ever seen people here say that finding a new job is easy (other than perhaps an occasional outlier).

        That said, I do think commenters here are often too quick to default to “leave!”

        1. fposte*

          It’s our equivalent of the reddit tendency toward “Dump/divorce them.” Some of that is, I think, just a hyperbolic way of saying “We think that sucks too!” and some of it is the eternal struggle to remember that a post is just a teeny sliver of a large life experience.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah, all of that, plus the fact that it’s not very satisfying to give advice that boils down to “this person is probably not going to change so you’re just going to have to live with it.” Even though often that’s the case. So even if the thing you have to just live with isn’t what most people would actually consider a dealbreaker, I think it’s just more satisfying to say “quit/dump him/etc.”

            I also think this ties in to a tendency to see “my boss is normally a great boss but [insert irritation here]” and jump to “no, you are wrong, they are not a great boss, and they’re probably a bad person overall!” It feels and sounds validating, but… all of us are irritating or weird or picky or oblivious in some way or another. If the [irritation] is actually more like abuse or bigotry, then yeah, not a great person… but often it isn’t.

    2. Dragoning*

      Yeah, I’m baffled. Who thinks that! I have a reasonably decent job, but I’d have a better one if it was that easy! I’ve been looking.

    3. Observer*

      The advice to “get a new job” is often valid.

      The “It’s not that hard” part? What universe do those people live in? Even in the current economy, there are a LOT of places where getting a new job is not easy, and a lot of skill sets that don’t transfer so easily. And that’s besides all of the other factors that go into finding a new job.

      It’s generally worth it to start looking if you’re in a toxic situation anyway. If it’s going to take 5 years, the sooner you start the 5 years the better. Also, just searching helps reduce some of the issues (SOME, not all or even most.) But there is no “just” about it.

      1. fposte*

        Add to that the concern if you’re bringing in money that supports more than just you.

        However, I think that it’s easy to go to extremes the other way too–a lot of people, I think, stay frozen in terrible jobs out of fear of the unknown, when as you can see from the updates it’s pretty common, if not guaranteed, to be able to find a new job. So I like your approach of “start looking”–it’s a good first step whether you’re inclined to jump too fast or to jump too slow.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          I’ve been guilty of this in the past (staying frozen because I didn’t think job searching was realistic for whatever reason). “Start looking” is a great way to frame it.

      2. RC Rascal*

        It’s not that the skill sets don’t transfer. They do. It’s that employers are unwilling to believe they do.

        Employers want to hire the exact person already doing that job for someone else and are ignorant that their unicorn candidate probably doesn’t want to come work for them.

        1. fposte*

          I think for most jobs you can get somebody with the relevant work experience without waiting for a unicorn, though. I get that it’s frustrating to people who want to transfer skills, but employers aren’t necessarily shooting themselves in the foot for hiring candidates with closer experience.

          1. RC Rascal*

            At the senior level, where I am, they want unicorns. Employers are more likely to accept skill transferability at Manager level & below.

          2. Prof. Space Cadet*

            It also varies by industry. In one of my former jobs, we hired people with transferable skills all the time if they could speak the lingo. In my current field, regulatory restrictions mean that we *have* to look for unicorns. We’ve had cases where we’ve found one-horned goats who would be perfect, but because a one-horned goat is not a unicorn, we couldn’t do it.

        2. Observer*

          That’s not always the case. If you’re in an industry such as mining, for instance, your skills are almost certainly not going to transfer to almost any desk bound type of job, even one that could be done remotely, nor to jobs like homecare aid etc. This is extreme but it’s the kind of suggestion that gets made a LOT, even in policy and program design discussions, and by people who should know better.

          But even when the change is not so extreme, there are often many things that don’t transfer so easily.

          Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter that much if it’s objectively true or not. If employers are convinced that you don’t have the skills, they are not hiring.

          1. Yorick*

            Sure, there are definitely skills that don’t transfer. But there are some hiring managers who’ll say, “You use Microsoft Word for writing reports? But we need someone who writes reports in Other Word Processor!” and won’t listen when you explain that you can easily write reports in a new software, because you have a long work history of report writing.

      3. Alternative Person*

        Yeah, I’ll have spent four years at my less than good job by the time I leave and that’s because, where I am at least, the market rarely values experience, the few that value experience want a qualification to go with it, and they don’t have that many vacancies.

        I spent eighteen-odd months saving for the needed qualification and two years doing it. I got super lucky in that part way through the qualification I got hired part-time at a good place, and that was in part because I had the exact kind of experience they advertised for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I only got the interview because I had completed part of the qualification (this place is super selective, for all the good and bad that entails).

        A lot of people I have worked with couldn’t dream of affording the qualification and even if they could, they could be stuck waiting a long time for something relevant to their experience comes up and frankly, some might even be stuck then.

      4. bluephone*

        Classic It’s Always Sunny moment from Charlie after getting fired in one episode:
        Oh, “get a job”? Just get a job??? Why don’t I strap on my job helmet and squeeze down into a job cannon and fire off into job land, where jobs grow on jobbies?!

    4. Linda*

      I’ve been reading AAM for a long time. The advice to search for another job does come up pretty frequently, but that’s because the situations that letter writers’ write in about are often unsustainable. But I don’t think I’ve seen Alison or any of the commenters ever say that “it’s not hard.” I was surprised to see that OP (and now others) saying that.

      I think people around here do acknowledge that job searching can be difficult, but sometimes it really is the best advice to give, including for this OP. That advice almost always comes with some advice for how to deal with the situation in the meantime. I’m not sure what the alternative would be. For some of the letter writers, it would be irresponsible to NOT advise people to search for a new job.

      1. fposte*

        You’re right. I went back to the first post’s comments, and nobody flippantly said “get another job, it’s not hard,” or anything close to that. Some people, and I was among them, did say that this job might not be a match for what the OP needed, but nobody was casual about what that might mean.

        I think also you’re right that generally we advise people to job search when they’re desperate for a change and it’s clear that they can’t make that change happen in the job they’re currently at. That doesn’t mean we think it’s easy; it just means that that’s the only change they have the power to make. However, if even that change would mean a heroic effort, I can understand why that’s a hard thing to hear.

      2. Observer*

        Mostly, I think you are right. But I’ve seen the occasional “just” get a new job or comment implying that it’s not that hard.

        1. whingedrinking*

          Pursuant to the “DTMFA” style of relationship advice, it’s the difference between simple and easy. Quitting a job or ending a relationship is simple in the way that, say, lifting a very heavy rock is simple. That doesn’t make it easy.

    5. we're basically gods*

      My dad, my brother, and I are all software people (principal software engineer, senior software engineer, and web developer, repsectively), and none of us has had a job search lasting less than 4 months. That’s in Colorado, where there are technology companies and jobs aplenty, and in a field where there are fewer potential employees than there are people looking to hire. That’s like, the best case scenario. It’s ridiculous and out of touch advice.

  10. Amy Sly*

    OP#3, as someone with a 75-90 minute commute each way, I do strongly suggest trying to move as soon as possible. That long a commute wears you down in ways you don’t really expect.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This. I had been laid off for a year and a half and when I finally found a job I had a 1.5 hour commute on a good day (one time shortly after I started it took me 2.5 hours each way). I moved as soon as I was able and it made a world of difference. No matter how much you love your job, sitting in traffic twice a day for 4 hours will get old really fast.

    2. Clever Name*

      Absolutely. I recently went from 90 minutes to about 25, and it’s like a whole new world. I don’t think I could do anything more than 45 ever again. If the job is worth a 2-hour commute, it’s worth moving closer.

  11. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    # 4 – I have found that one detail of a toxic work environment is a complete lack of self reflection and willingness to change. In addition, they will only bad-mouth said employee when they leave. So I am glad you didn’t have to give one, since it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. As someone who stayed in a toxic work environment for 9 years (YES – NINE YEARS :( ) I consider myself an expert…yay me.

    what I am a fan of though is GlassDoor, and any other company rating platform. They may not take any stock in their reviews, but a lot of job seekers don, and if you can help one other person avoid your experience, it is worth it. For the record, the review I gave for said toxic work environment got over 100 thumbs-ups for that on glassdoor.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      I’ve used Glassdoor in the past. It’s always going to skew negative (and if it’s full of glowing reviews with no cons, I recommend checking beyond the first two pages to see if they’re trying to push down more truthful reviews.) It’s a helpful way to find out what you can expect in terms of problems. It might be easy to differentiate between mild regular workplace problems and above-average regular workplace problems, but toxic nightmares will be quite easy to spot!

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      I wish Glassdoor was a bit more transparent. I know for a fact my company has had negative reviews removed from there, so it’s hardly an accurate view of what an employee should expect.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I worked for a national company that was franchised (more or less) at the local level. But there was only one listing, for the national headquarters. This is common with a lot of franchised businesses and nonprofits.

  12. Third or Nothing!*

    OP #1: Love your update!! Congrats on your new baby and all the great support you’ve received from your new company! It’s so encouraging to hear stories of companies that understand life happens and that people aren’t robots.

  13. rural free delivery*

    I have a question for OP#3 and for any members of the commentariat who also live in “job deserts”: What would it take for you to move to a place where jobs are plentiful but people are scarce? I live (and manage) in such a place. Every halfway employable adult has a job if they want one. Almost every business has a permanent “we’re hiring!” sign in the window, for both entry level and managerial positions. We don’t dare fire anyone for anything other than the most egregious offenses, because there’s no guarantee that we could find someone less problematic, or that we could find anyone at all! Our state government has started to offer people money to move here, but even that hasn’t solved the problem. What would? What would it take for YOU to move to a rural area of great natural beauty but slight cultural diversity, where you would be sure of finding a decent job but might have to drive to the nearest large-ish town to find things like a bookstore or live music and where you might feel like an outsider until you found enough like-minded people to feel part of a community?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I escaped rural life, you’d have to hog tie me and drag me back screaming and then physically restrain me from leaving.

      My former boss tried to give me more money, a new vehicle, a whole lot of great stuff to stay, nope no thanks! I bolted when the chance came up.

      So honestly, you have to keep throwing the line and offering all you can but really, in the end, many of us simply are too tied to civilization and “city life” aspects to go there. Natural beauty is wonderful. I vacation to the woods and the mountains and the remote beaches in off season. But then I run back to the city after a few days because I crave human activity =(

      1. Quill*

        Personally a bookstore is nice but the make or break is “do I have to drive more than 15 minutes from home to pick up groceries, any form of take out or meal, or my prescriptions?”

        1. EPLawyer*

          I grew up in small towns. They are great — as a kid. As an adult, you get tired of driving an hour to get to a store to buy clothes, books, or anything really. Even groceries was half an hour to get to the nearest decent store. The doctor was half an hour to an hour away. The ER wasn’t much closer.

          Time is worth something to people. Not to mention the cost of gas and wear and tear on your car just to do every day things. That’s why people aren’t moving. They don’t want to have a commute on weekends to get errands done after working all week.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Depends on the kid if they’re great or not! Someone still has to be the outcast and the pool to find friends and hobbies are limited. I guess sometimes it’s great if it’s small enough that everyone makes the teams…but then the quirky weird kid still gets tormented on trips…. sometimes at the encouragement of chaperones.

          2. Quill*

            I like my small city, thanks. (It only counts as a city because it’s in wisconsin, but it has, within 15 minutes of me:
            – multiple grocery stores
            – Takeout in at least 4 regional cuisines, not from major chains
            – multiple pharmacies
            – A small museum
            – car parts / repair
            – a hospital
            – a post office

            It’s just large enough that you still get the best parts of the “county” such as “you’re likely to know someone who keeps bees, chickens, or goats” and “there are large designated nature areas” as well. And too small for gridlock traffic!

            I just wish we had a more comprehensive / reliable bus system…

            1. Texan In Exile*

              I am in Wauwatosa, but yeah, it’s about as big as I want to be, too. (I know, I know. :) )

              We can walk to every single thing we want to do – Hawaiian, Mexican, French, and Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries, the library, grocery stores, including the co-op, drug stores, movie theaters, tennis courts, city parks, the beer garden, hiking trails through protected parklands, the zoo, craft breweries, churches, our dentist – you get the picture.

              If we want big-city entertainment, we drive into Milwaukee or take the train to Chicago. It’s the perfect setup. And I could go smaller for sure.

              1. Quill*

                Then you’ll have some idea of where I live based on the fact that we have a Civil War and a Dinosaur museum. :)

                Back when I was in high school people constantly took the train to Chicago because our restaurant choices were “Mexican, Italian, Chinese buffet, Diner food, or that one German restauraunt” but more food options are slowly popping up in my hometown like tasty little mushrooms.

                (As a side note I have NO idea how as teenagers we had train fare and city restauraunt money, so much of the time, especially considering that we would also go shopping around the train station… I suppose we all mooched $20’s off our parents and had allowance and part time job money saved up that we weren’t using for anything unless we were angling for an ipod or game console we didn’t think we’d get for christmas or a birthday…)

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              I live in Seattle. Caveat: traffic sucks and don’t even get me started on cyclists who think that not running into pedestrians is just a suggestion.

              That said, I get all the country/nature stuff I crave (not a lot tbh) within a few minutes drive, my commute is literally seven minutes, all the stores, coffee, music, night life, etc, etc, etc is basically at my finger tips. The one thing thst nliws is thst the icean (actual ocean not tge sound) is a bit if a drive.

              I’m with TMBL…you’d have to physically restrain me to get me to leave the city.

              Caveat #2: I was born and raised in a big city (San Francisco and other Bay Area environs) so I am a “city girl” at my core…it’s in my DNA, so…

    2. Quill*

      Currently: job security and a wage where I can support myself, solo, where there’s also access to healthcare.

      There are other factors I’d consider in terms of environment beyond city vs. rural – what’s the weather and possible commute like (moving to a rural area can sometimes mean absolutely brutal commutes that are on paper very doable if weather and other drivers didn’t exist,) how inclusive is the local culture (your demographics can play a HUGE role in being comfortable, based on a state or city’s reputation for inclusiveness) and “is moving to an allegedly lower COL location going to drain my finances via cost of moving, or unexpected costs, or removing a load bearing convenience I assumed everyone had (like distance from a grocery store, having to learn how a septic system works as opposed to city sanitary sewers and how you can’t do laundry when it rains…)

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I already knew there’s nothing that would be enough, personally, but the septic system thing didn’t even cross my mind! I would probably end up dying of something very easily avoided but for my sheer ignorance.

        1. Quill*

          It can happen in suburban areas too! My aunt spent 14 years in a house that had no city sewer, with two children and a dog, and the advice she gave me was “NEVER LIVE WITH A SEPTIC SYSTEM”

        2. CatMintCat*

          The only time in my life I have lived with a septic system is when I lived in the big city (Sydney). Rural properties are either a long drop and rain water or, if close to town, sewered like in civilised places.

      2. Lora*

        Oh, I can do laundry when it rains, just not when it snows. Pipes were buried too shallow.

        The bad part is when someone moves in with you and doesn’t quite believe you about special toilet paper and things which are permissible to put in a drain vs things which are not. And they have to find out the hard way that they don’t get to have the fancy soft toilet paper, they have to have the industrial kind.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      This is a such a good question!

      I’ve seen articles about states paying people to move there, but all the ones I’ve read require you to work remotely for someone else, indicating that employers are not swimming in vacancies. I’m curious which ones are like yours.

    4. Dragoning*

      Yeah, so, “Slight cultural diversity”? That’s a problem, for me. A lot of people aren’t going to feel safe there (minorities, particularly)

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I looked at a job in Western Massachusetts, because hey! It’s progressive right? And then I saw the demographics of the town (97.5%) and noped right. out. I’m white and still managed to feel unsafe with those numbers.

        1. Dragoning*

          I know, right? Even as a white person, being surrounded by white people is terrifying at times. Like living in a horror movie.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This assumption is pretty standard. I’m glad you checked it out before leaping!

          Being a white isn’t enough to be accepted in those places either. I don’t blame you for feeling unsafe. I’ve seen people outcast from these places for their religion and their political differences. You’re only safe if you agree with the majorities ideology as well.

          1. Nancie*

            Even if you’re the “right” religion it can be impossible! As a kid we lived in a town where you weren’t considered a local unless your grandparents grew up there…

      2. Quill*

        If an area is 100% full of white people I expect a stepford situation…

        I also find it a pretty good proxy for “if nobody of color wants to / feels safe living here, correlation is pretty high that it’s not a great place to live if you’re queer or mentally ill and that it won’t have any good food.”

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yup. I went to high school in a small town in the South. People were totally open with me about the fact that I would never be considered Southern no matter what I did, NOR WOULD MY CHILDREN, should I have had any. They would say “if a cat has kittens in the oven, that don’t make ’em biscuits, do it?” and smirk at me, all proud of their irrefutable logic. And I am straight, white, and can pass for Christian.

        I would not go back to such an unwelcoming place for anything. Seriously, there is no amount of tax breaks or natural beauty that makes up for being shunned, and knowing your children will be too, for something you can’t change.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “if a cat has kittens in the oven, that don’t make ’em biscuits, do it?”

          I’d want to respond to that with “WTF is wrong with you? And also – you suck.”

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, the exhausting thing I found about my small town was that I was never, ever going to be a local. We moved there when I was nine. If I stayed in the area my whole life and married a local boy my kids might, possibly, not be considered outsiders. Maybe.

          I shared a religion and a racial background with them too, and passed for straight, but that didn’t matter. I wasn’t from around here. I never got anything as ugly as the cats and biscuits thing (ugh) but I did get plenty of comments to the effect that outsiders were unwanted and didn’t belong. (This went quadruple if you were, gasp, from California. Which is a dang shame if people want fresh blood, because you’re chasing off members of the most populous state!)

          As to rural free delivery’s original question: bear this in mind, and figure out whether your rural area has the same kind of feeling, and whether you can do anything to combat that (or if it doesn’t, the impression that it might–many, many people have experiences similar to mine, and if they are not racially and religiously similar probably much worse). Be actively welcoming. Make them feel wanted and not as if they’re on constant probation. That won’t necessarily help you get people, but as soon as they start interacting with you in person (interviews, etc.) it will help you keep them.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      I’m not a people person and I don’t go out that much, anyway, so in theory this sounds great, but, at least where I live, “slight cultural diversity” means “immersed in racists and incestuous small-town gossip and feuds”. I have relatives who moved to small towns (45 minutes from the larger town in which they grew up; it’s not like they were from the other side of the country) 40 years ago and are still “outsiders”, and 40 more years is the full extent of my life if I’m lucky. I mean, I would stay until I found even partially like-minded people if I had any real reason to think that might eventually happen.

    6. Amy Sly*

      All I can say is that I feel you. I commute over an hour to a small town for work, and I’m pretty sure my employer has hired everyone in the surrounding 20 miles who’s willing to show up to work on time and sober and work hard enough to raise a sweat while they’re there. (And yes, they pay very well for the area.)

    7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I couldn’t move to a place that lacked diversity. I grew up in such an area and being the only family from my culture sucked. Mr. Gumption is also from a minority ethnicity and culture and definitely wouldn’t like being so isolated as the only “X” in 100+ miles. Besides, diverse places tend to also have lots of jobs and be diverse because people are moving there to work, and we both have in demand skill sets. Even if a diverse place isn’t as easy to get jobs as your area, we are in a situation where there are plenty of jobs for us no matter where we go. With different skill sets, though, that calculation might be different.

      1. Chili*

        Yes, also grew up in an area like that and I didn’t even realize how toxic it was for me until I left. I couldn’t do it again unless I was absolutely desperate for a job, but I became a software engineer in an attempt to avoid that.

    8. AngelicGamer, the visually impaired peep*

      For me, as a legally blind person who cannot drive and would feel completely trapped there to fall into a depression spiral? A personal driver who would drive me back and forth to where the job is from that bigger city. A rural environment, in my opinion, is not set up for people with physical disabilities due to having no safe way to walk, which is sometimes the only way a disabled person can get around on their own. Your town and government should set up ways to make it more accessible as well as attractive like making sure there’s a true shopping center or bookstore there.

      1. Nanani*

        If rural = drive EVERYWHERE, especially to get all the things that are only available hours away, then nope.
        I don’t even want to visit.

    9. Lora*

      Live in a big urban hub now, but when I did live in a job desert:

      My cousins who have to support other family members could never, ever save enough to move away. If they had an unemployed spouse / parent / adult child with expensive issues of any kind, they never were able to save a dime to cover the costs of moving. So, moving expenses and being able to cover a down payment or first and last months’ rent for housing is HUGE. Maybe consider signing bonuses and relocation assistance?

      Another big thing was the two-body problem: there had to be a job available for Spouse. Fortunately his career was fairly portable, but if you are both in specialized fields…good luck. You mentioned rural area with not a lot of services – is there infrastructure? Is there broadband internet? Plenty of jobs can be done remotely, if there is broadband access.

      I specifically looked for places with multiple similar employers and also other industries that might be transferable. One employer of a type didn’t cut it, because what if that one employer sucked or went out of business or moved operations to China? You’d be hosed. I was already *leaving* that situation, where the town I was in had smallholder farming and coal mining and the next city up the highway had steel, all of which had gone the way of the dodo bird for jobs. It didn’t make sense to jump into the next big fad, with the entire region dependent on one thing or one employer. When you say a lot of businesses, are we talking about a lot of different businesses or are we talking about, half the town works at one or two large employers and the other businesses are all service or retail that exist only to support the employees of the big businesses in town?

      If it’s rural and there’s an economic boom, how is the housing situation? I have some friends who moved recently to my Big Urban Hub from the energy industry in North Dakota, which is a similar situation to what you’re describing: lots of jobs, but the housing situation is so bad that people end up living in tents and in their cars, because there’s no housing. They’d rather live somewhere that has housing, even if it’s very expensive, than live out of their cars or in company-provided trailers for months waiting for an apartment to become available. I’ve worked in similar locations, where the energy industry was happy to pay for people to live in a hotel for actual YEARS, and frankly there’s not a ton of people happy to live like that.

      The company I work for now has a general policy of choosing sites far from urban hubs, in an effort to keep pay rates 30% lower than they have to pay for the big urban sites, and we run into similar problems, and the bottom line for us has really been, automate EVERYTHING and invest in a lot of robots. Because, as you note, you’re not going to get rock stars as a rule, and the average quality that you do get is not great even if you do manage to get a handful of good people.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The housing question is incredibly important. I have a friend who took a job in a small rural community, but there were no apartment buildings and no houses available for sale or rent. She had to live two towns over because that was the nearest place where she could rent a house.

      2. Lora*

        Oh yeah, and other people have mentioned diversity: Even moving to major cities, if they are in a country that is decidedly Against, say, LGBTQ+ folks or not very appreciative of diversity, that’s going to limit who you can hire. I recently turned down a promotion opportunity because it was tied to relocating to a city in a country where being queer is actually illegal, so that’s a no from me. They really struggle to get anyone to go there despite a lot of financial incentives, government programs, logistical support and high quality of life, simply because the demographic who would be comfortable and accepted in that environment consists straight married men whose wives are happy to relocate, who are not of the handful of ethnic origins that are especially discriminated against in that particular country. Since about 1/3 of our industry SMEs in the US are actually from those specific ethnicities (they emigrated for a reason), that means the hiring pool is especially tiny.

        And that’s before you get to the government services that many urban and metro regions have the tax base to provide: high quality education, extended education (e.g. Russian School of Math, after school enrichment programs) and special ed / developmental support for children, access to high quality health care with many specialists including mental health care, transit services and nearby airports for visiting extended family, senior citizen services, elder care support, disability support, environmental quality enforcement, refugee support and citizenship classes…

      3. AnonAtty*

        All great points. I recently graduated law school in DC while North Dakota and other regions were paying young lawyers to move there and set up shop. None of my jobless friends took the bait, mainly due to the same employer scarcity (despite ample jobs) that you spoke to. When you’re deep in student loan debt, it’s less risky to keep applying to attorney positions in DC, knowing that you’ve got multiple a well-paying backup industries like consulting or becoming a government contracting officer. Heck, now that I’ve typed that sentence, maybe your company could offer student loan repayment that’s a part of an actual employment contract. Worker protection is all too uncommon these days and if your employer is that big of a company, you might be able to lobby for tax breaks with the program (outside of deducting the loan repayments).

    10. SheLooksFamiliar*

      ‘What would it take for YOU to move to a rural area of great natural beauty but slight cultural diversity, where you would be sure of finding a decent job but might have to drive to the nearest large-ish town to find things like a bookstore or live music and where you might feel like an outsider until you found enough like-minded people to feel part of a community?’

      Me, personally? Nothing could get me to move to even a beautiful remote spot, regardless of job security. I’m a native Chicagoan but now in the suburbs; I’m not only used to cultural diversity, I value and need it. Food, music, art, festivals, museums, diverse neighborhoods, sports – it’s all here and I’m the happy beneficiary. I appreciate knowing there are people like me nearby, and also not like me at all. And if I want to hike in the hills, or play on a beach, well, Starved Rock and Lake Michigan are about an hour away.

      However, I’ve also had to hire people for remote locations. I think people either really like remote living, or they really don’t. If they are paid well and have a good quality of life, these folks usually don’t need much persuasion to move. If they don’t like remote living, even job security and a short drive to a bookstore won’t help much.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I think people either really like remote living, or they really don’t.

        I think this really is the crux of it. I’m 100% city. if I have to drive two or three towns over to go to a movie or a play or the optometrist or a shoe store, I am not going to be enjoying my life no matter what my salary is. But my cousin is 100% country. He had a job in a medium sized city for a while and hated every minute of it.

        1. Dragoning*

          Yes. I grew up in a small-to-mid-size city, went to Uni in a rural area that attracted lots of farmers’ kids, etc, from very small towns or unincorporated areas, and…

          well, they don’t want to visit me in the city, because they’re scared of all the strangers being potential hostiles, and I don’t really want to go out in the boonies to visit them because the idea of having no one around to call for help if something goes wrong is plainly terrifying.

          No getting around that.

    11. insert pun here*

      I grew up in a place like this. I might consider it for triple my current salary, and assuming there was a major city within 2 hours drive.

    12. Faith*

      My husband would love to live in an area like that, but that is not going to happen because both of our jobs require us to be employed by companies with large international presence, usually at the headquarter location.

    13. Retail not Retail*

      Is the town walkable? I spent a summer in a teeny town in montana and I could walk to my job and everything within city limits safely. Sidewalks!

      And out west, being 40 miles from the nearest walmart isn’t a big deal but I played it up with a package issue bc they wanted me to drive out to get it instead of delivering it to my job site.

      A bookstore isn’t necessary but a library is, especially one in a bigger system (i was only there 90 days so I didn’t run out, but they charged for ILL of any kind!).

      I like the city I work in but I hate the suburb I live in – not walkable at all and you have to go to the city for a bookstore. However, I’m staying with family and not paying rent so I’ll live!

      I guess is your town a mini-city or a suburb? Is it self-contained and walkable or a bedroom community full of cul de sacs

      1. Ophelia*

        YES, this is a really big one for me. If I’m going to have to spend half an hour in the car to buy milk, I’m not interested. Small, contained town/city that rapidly gets rural on the outskirts would be fine; bedroom community/endless residential areas with no services are a big no.

        And honestly, a lack of cultural diversity is a big problem for me (and I’m white). Generally speaking, I want to live in a pluralistic, tolerant place. I’m not religious and don’t plan on becoming so, and I’m not interested in living somewhere where everyone is at church on Sunday, and if I don’t go, I’m the odd woman out. Quite honestly, that knocks out a LARGE swath of the US for me.

        1. Ophelia*

          Oh, also – I have two kids. What are the schools like? What kind of childcare opportunities exist? What type of enrichment activities do the schools provide? What is the rate of college admittance for students from the public high school? How far is the commute to school, if it’s regional? Does the school system ostracize children who can’t pay lunch dues (honestly, to me that’s a big issue that is symptomatic of a political culture I would be uncomfortable in, even if on it’s face it seems like a small thing)?

    14. GDUB*

      I would want the opportunity to visit for a few days, meet people, and really get the vibe of the place. I also might want moving expenses there AND BACK in case it didn’t work out.

    15. Pilcrow*

      I for one am intrigued. I’m an introvert and loner that doesn’t really care about community or live music. Need a tech writer?

      I grew up in a rural area (NW Wisconsin); an hour + commute doesn’t really bother me. I had that type of commute for 3 years in college. (I did the math of renting in the student slums or the cost of gas/car and commuting from was cheaper.) I kind of like driving rural areas. Sometimes I think in another life I could have been a long-haul trucker.

      That being said, the ability to work from home during snowstorms or waiting for the cable guy would be a big plus (I’m assuming there are snowstorms or other bad weather).

      If I were seriously considering moving to another state, I would like some some sort of advisor for learning about the area, finding housing, etc.

      My other big consideration would be the COL difference and salary. I would consider a lower salary if I’m confident of having an equally lower cost of living.

    16. techRando*

      I am not in a job desert now, but from what I know: fly people there to interview, pay a large sign on bonus & a relocation bonus. Make sure the amounts are post-tax (take on the tax burden as a company so the worker doesn’t have to) and advertise them heavily within the job posting.
      For the places with low COL/low job market, the problem is often that people just point-blank cannot afford to move away. If you give them that large sign on bonus, especially if you’ll give it before someone has actually finished the move, you open the job up to people who otherwise couldn’t afford to take it. If you can’t just hand over the money before they move, you might be able to pay directly for the moving expenses yourself as a company.

    17. Scout Finch*

      It would be broadband internet for me. But would love to have diversity like my hometown.

      I grew up in a small-ish town (5000 or so). Its saving grace was the local state university. People from all over the world came to teach/attend there (it had an engineering school with a great reputation). When school was in session, population swelled to over 10,000. All kinds of ethnic food & decent shopping options (no Nordstrom, but Belk’s). Professors’ trailing spouses taught in the local (awesome) public schools. And the locals supported the college and their students. It was a small southern town, but not the stereotypical close-minded, xenophobic place that dots movies. It was cool having neighbors from other countries. It was literally the best of both worlds. 75 minutes from the largest city in the state, 90 minutes from another large city.

    18. Bear Shark*

      Nope octopus.gif
      I don’t want to live somewhere where even if I match the limited cultural diversity that I’ll be considered an outsider for the rest of my life. Where at 10pm or on a Sunday there’s no place to get food because the only grocery store and restaurant are closed. Where no matter how terrible my co-workers are they won’t get fired because there’s no one to replace them with.

      I can go visit great natural beauty.

    19. Hillary*

      So I spend a decent amount of time in smaller cities for work. Pretty much nothing would bring me back to rural life, whether the community of my childhood or somewhere else. It took my parents 10+ years to find like-minded people, they spent most of their time with my brother’s teammates’ parents or with college friends visiting from the city until retirement.

      my hometown:
      Is there a decent coffee shop? No. Actually there’s not a coffee shop at all.
      Is there more than one restaurant where I can get a good vegetarian meal? No.
      How about craft cocktails? well, there’s one place.
      Is there an employer for my highly-specialized field? No, my job is pretty much only at corporate headquarters. There’s one plant in town that might need me, but it would be at least a 40% pay cut.
      Is there an employer for my even-more-specialized partner? Nope. Although he could be 100% remote.
      Can we get internet speed comparable to our cable internet today? Nope.
      How far would I have to drive to go to the opera or see a play/musical with a professional cast? Because today I have multiple subscriptions.
      How far will I have to drive if I need to see a dermatologist? How about a neurologist or endocrinologist (to name a couple random specialties)?
      Is there somewhere I can get my hair done in a way I like? That’s a way to drive women away fast. I’ve heard stories of African-American women in my city flying to Chicago because they can’t find someone they trust here, and we’re a big, somewhat diverse city. That’s been cited as part of the reason they leave.
      I’m not thinking about kids, but are the schools ok? In retrospect I was very underprepared for college and it’s not like that town has started spending more on schools.

      Cedar Rapids, Iowa did a decent job at this when I spent time there five years ago. It was a small city but there was culture and community, mainly sponsored by one of the largest employers. If I was looking for a quiet place to raise kids I’d have considered moving there. But less than a week in other small cities has left me ready to never return.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        “Is there somewhere I can get my hair done in a way I like? That’s a way to drive women away fast. ”

        This sounds like a business idea, honestly. Itinerant hairdresser who does all types of hair, and hits up rural areas on a regular schedule.

      2. Temperance*

        Trying to explain to my friends where I live now why I was so excited when I found a decent coffee shop within a 20 minute drive of my MIL’s house was super fun. (After explaining that it was at least a 10 minute drive to Starbucks, and THAT is fairly new.)

    20. Hillary*

      The other thing to think about – it usually takes a good job to uproot someone, not just a decent one. Good pay, good benefits, and the ability to support a good lifestyle. That includes the ability to find a good place to live with a good commute and good child care. I’ve watched people I went to high school with scramble because there’s no rental housing in my hometown.

    21. Bee*

      I’ve thought a lot about moving to the place where my aunt & uncle live – a spectacularly beautiful part of Maine that is enough of a tourist destination in the summer that there ARE bookstores and restaurants and cultural events, but which empties out from October to April. What always stops me is a) the winter they get, b) the things that would be extremely hard there that are extremely easy in NYC, & c) the fact that I’m a single 30yo who just doesn’t know anyone there, which would make those intense winters all the harder to get through.

      So what would convince me to move? Money, as others have said, including relocation assistance (I’d have to buy a car, for one). And an active effort to foster community so that I didn’t feel like a miserable, lonely outsider for a year.

    22. Jennifer*

      I’m at the point where I’d consider it now, if my husband would agree to it, and the company offered a great benefits package.

    23. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m really curious what this place is!

      Everytime we see the stuff about Alaska is looking for state troopers we toy with the idea (my fiance has a security job now). We live in a town of less than 1000 in the Midwest and enjoy outdoor activities.

      But, we also enjoy normal daylight and not being a plane ride away from family.

    24. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      The problem is, for a lot of people with degrees and accompanying debt, that the Venn diagram comparing “small town” and “job desert” is very often a circle.

      As someone working on transitioning to programming (already have a STEM bachelors, so I’m not going to worry about an additional CS degree, although I reeeeeeeaaaaalllllllllyyyyyy respect the people who can go through that funnel and come out alive)…

      …I currently live in a small-ish town in the Northeast, near a bunch of relatives. I had to come here because a family catastrophe knocked me on my ass, and I needed the support network. If it were my druthers, I’d preferred to have stayed in the medium-sized West Coast city I’d been living in, so this wasn’t exactly a decision that I made out of free choice. I’m considering, ***strongly***, heading to a city in the region once I’m able to interview successfully.

      The problem is, there really isn’t a need for “computer programmer” around here. I’ve got respect for the jobs that *are* prevalent around here – tree trimmer, truck driver, gas station people, etc, because they help people get stuff done, and serve real, pressing needs that people have and need resolved ASAP. However, for me to contribute something of value to the world, I think I may have to go somewhere more conducive to my line of work, expenses be damned.

      Otherwise, the part of me that really, **really** wants to be creative and do good stuff for people won’t ever come out, at least not to its full potential. Hence, in my case, “small town” = “job desert.”

      I don’t even want to imagine what it’d be like for someone who’s been more on the creative end of things; we’ve got one zine distro a half hour from here, in a small-ish city, but that’s it until you get to [nearest artsy metro that’s a few hours from here].

      I’ll also vouch for the comments about “slight diversity.” I get by pretty well because I’m large, white, male, big beard. I have a feeling that if I, say, had the look that certain loathsome right wing YouTubers describe as “soyboy” and “cuck,” that I wouldn’t “fit in” remotely as well as I do. I’m developing and interest in Sufism and Tibetan Buddhism; but I also know that there are certain people in town (thank Kether, my relatives are among them) that I can talk to about this, and many, maaaaaaaaaaaaany people (more than just “a few rotten apples”) who will think that I’m just being some Millennial who thinks he’s special and has to have a weird religion or something.

      As a final bit on more creative stuff… I do draw as a hobby, and I really miss having good zine/indie comics stores around. And good weird urban art stuff. This might sound really flaky if you’re not familiar with how artsy people work. We take stuff in around us and within us, and somehow accomplish a weird alchemy that makes something brilliant and unprecedented. For that to happen, it really, really helps to be around a lot of other creative people. It’s good for (friendly) competition – you know that people are putting out Xeroxed zines in the local bookstore, might as well finish the idea I’ve been procrastinating on for a long-ass time – *and* to have a nice pool of ideas and energy to soak into. You can draw the zeitgeist down to help you make stuff, instead of having to pull and pull and pull and hope that what you make will be actually good. (There is some of that too when you’re around an art scene, don’t get me wrong; but having the atmosphere is a really good lubricant.)

      So, for people who like to do art, “I need to be around creative people and good work,” instead of just being flakiness and bullcrap, is an *absolute* necessity. Because our very being depends on being able to do this stuff; and if we can’t, even as a spare-time thing (which my stuff most definitely will be), a part of us dies.

    25. Paulina*

      Pay well enough that I’d be able to retire somewhere with a high COL, or have a good nest egg for future moves. No way I’m taking a chance on a one-way trip, but too many companies that tout the local low COL ignore that their employees may want to build finances for a future that may take them somewhere else. Plus if you’re not from there, you may want to travel a lot more than locals.

      The “feel like an outsider until you found enough like-minded people” might be a dealbreaker, though I admit it resembles my current situation.

    26. City Mouse*

      rural free delivery: Can you be more specific about where, exactly, your area is? I am not looking for a new job, but I have a couple of dear friends who are and who love nature and dislike big cities, so your description is making my ears perk up…

    27. Turtle Candle*

      I’m afraid the answer is going to be: spend a lot more money on the problem.

      – Fly people out for interviews on your own dime, arrange transportation from the airport for them–and if it’s hard for them to get to and from the airport (two hours of country roads, say, like my hometown) this may be a matter of paying for some kind of service so they don’t have to navigate small unfamiliar roads on their own.
      – A generous relocation bonus and assistance finding housing, especially if your community is a ‘wait six months for one of the ten total apartments to free up’ area.
      – Be flexible on start date because they’re going to be doing not just a move, but a not insignificant lifestyle change. Things that might have been easy for them in non-rural area will require more planning in rural area.
      – Offer them a good raise, and I don’t just mean a ‘hey the cost of living is lower so that’s sort of like a raise anyway,’ an actual raise. Partly because in my experience a de facto CoL raise isn’t as valuable as it might have been at other times; I’ll be paying the same for my Netflix and Hulu and the same for the stuff I buy on Amazon, more on gas and car wear&tear guaranteed because I can walk most places here, and depending on the area, possibly more for worse Internet. Housing will be cheaper, food might or might not be cheaper, but lots of things won’t anymore, for people used to relying on online services. (I’ll be honest, I’d need to be offered two or three times my salary on top of all these things, but other people may not require as much.)
      – Not a money one, but: make sure that at least within your organization they are greeted warmly and not side-eyed as an outsider, an effete coastal arugula eater, rich cityfolk raising the prices for everyone, or a Californicator. I don’t mean to malign your area (I don’t even know it) but in the two small towns I lived in this definitely happened. And people were so bad at hiding it that you could absolutely tell, sometimes as early as the phone interview.

      This is a lot, and it’s only doable if you have the money to spend on it, but it would reduce the barrier to moving significantly.

    28. Temperance*

      I grew up near rural areas, in a small town.

      There’s honestly almost nothing that would bring me back to a place like that. I don’t care about live music, or being near a bookstore, but I would like coffee shops, bagel shops, a walkable main street, no church as the center of social life, other nerds …

    29. Asenath*

      Well, I grew up in such a place – small, isolated town with a major industry that at that time could provide employment, at least if you had the skills to work in said industry. I could hardly wait to get out, but I was in the minority – most people born and raised there loved it. Some didn’t. Getting people who had never experienced such a lifestyle to even try it was a real challenge. I think mostly people from larger centres, even if they were interested in a more small town and rural lifestyle, didn’t really know what they were getting into and didn’t expect culture shock – in their own country, for heaven’s sake! So when the differences between their more urban homes and the new place really became obvious, they became homesick and left. I think it’s important to make sure they KNOW what to expect – what kinds of facilities are available; how far to the nearest grocery or medical centre or any kind of entertainment that you don’t make yourself. Fitting in socially is key, and very difficult in smaller places, even friendly ones, because they’re used to seeing incomers leave after a few months or a year, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be much point it getting to know someone who’s going to move on pretty fast, particularly in places where “knowing someone” is counted in lifetimes or even generations. Spouses and families are really important – if one person is happy in the new rural job, but there’s nothing that fits the spouse’s skills or the spouse is constantly yearning for the city, the family won’t stay. Young children will adapt more quickly; teenagers won’t.

      I have no solution to the problem of getting people to live in rural areas, since I’m part of the flight to the (small) cities. I like the variety of options of all kinds (work, housing, entertainment etc) that I have here, and like the increased anonymity. But there are people who hate the anonymity and larger size of cities and would move back to a more rural area in a heartbeat – but only if they have the facilities they do like, and only if their family (if they have one) will also be happy to go along.

    30. fhqwhgads*

      This bit right here: We don’t dare fire anyone for anything other than the most egregious offenses, because there’s no guarantee that we could find someone less problematic, or that we could find anyone at all! would put me off, even if somehow I could manage with the rest. If you’e so starved for people you have no choice but to keep someone bad at their job because it’s better than no-one, I as a high performer would probably be driven away, fast. I know it’s sort of a chicken-egg problem because you’d probably rather have all great employees and right now you’re understaffed, but even if you convinced me via great salary and great benefits (100% employer paid health, vision, dental and a no-deductible plan, 401k matching, minimum 3 weeks vacation plus separate sick time that rolls over and at least 10 paid holidays a year, employer-paid life insurance = 1 year’s salary, employer paid daycare) to come out there, if I got there and most of my colleagues sucked at their jobs, I’d probably nope out after a year.

    31. rural free delivery*

      Thank you to everyone who replied, even though your replies collectively confirmed my suspicion that the problem is not solvable, at least not by us. We’re a nonprofit offering good wages for meaningful work and are ourselves more diverse than our locale, but we’re not made out of money and we can’t single-handedly change the demographics of our region.

      A lot of people mentioned driving long distances. In rural areas, the distances are longer but there’s little traffic. So, even though I am technically further from a grocery store than when I lived in big cities, I spend much less time driving there (and am in and out much more quickly too).

      Many people were curious about the state: Vermont, which reliably sends Bernie Sanders to Washington, was one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, which tried (but failed) to maintain its own single-payer healthcare system, and where a transwoman was the Democratic nominee for governor last time around but which is also exceptionally white and which has not been immune to the national upwelling of racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant fervor. The winters are hard too.

  14. Close Bracket*

    I had no idea this could be a physical problem some people suffer with, I thought being unable to get up was merely unpleasant, so thank you to those people who shared their stories. I’ll try to be more tolerant of anyone who struggles with waking up in future!

    Thank you for being so open minded. Even for people without AD(H)D, chronobiology is a real thing.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Only in the last couple of months have I put these two things together.

        I’m on mega flex time [I can start anywhere between 6:30a-9am] and in the summer, I’m here well before 8. Now getting up by 8 is slowly killing me. The sun isn’t even risen until 7:57am.

        I feel like such a beast for my previous POV on “why can’t you just get up tho?” Gimme more of that crow…

        1. Quill*

          Oh, I do the “could be at work by like 7 AM” in the summer too. Seasonal mania! There is a month where a full night’s sleep is 6 hours, and a month when a full night’s sleep is 10… and they match up to the different equinoxes.

            1. Quill*

              December 21st – June 21st approximately. The day with the least and most hours of sunlight in the year, respectively. In my case, seasonal depression goes with not enough light, seasonal mania goes with too much light…

        2. Aurora Borealis*

          if only………. we don’t see the sun until after 10:00 am, and later it’s gone before 4:00. But we’re slowly gaining light!

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            The whole “all day sun” and “all day night” up north would seriously destroy me. This is as far north as I can go it turns out. I feel the 20ish minutes less than when I was back home and I’m only a few hundred miles away!

        3. Bee*

          What kills me is the creep! As it gets darker, it gets incrementally harder for me to get up & out of the house, and I leave the house about a minute later every week. Much like the sun. And it seems fine! So it just slouches to another minute. And then suddenly I’m arriving at work 15 minutes late every day and not totally sure how that happened or how to fix it. (With summer. I fix it with summer.)

          1. Dragoning*

            This is the struggle I’m having right now. I keep telling myself I’m no longer allowed to hit snooze, but it’s so hard.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            This doesn’t happen to me thankfully. I just crunch time for how fast I get out of the house each day but that’s because I’m blessed with that ability at this time, who knows what it’ll be like in another 5 or 10 years!

            But I went from 20 something me being able to sleep until 15 minutes before I needed to be in the car. To mid 30s all “No, I’ll lay here for an hour before I get up and let me eyes wake up along with my brain perhaps.”

            I still don’t “Get ready” any different. I just need to put on clothes [night bather], hair/makeup is essentially brushing and mascara, and then get into my car. But that’s thankfully because I’m only responsible for #1! I know others have lots more to do pre-launch.

      2. anon24*

        My SAD kicked in the same week daylight savings time ended. I’m not exaggerating, I went from sleeping about 4-5 hours average a night (maybe 2 hours on work nights) to sleeping 10-12 hours a night and on work nights when I can’t get that much sleep and only get 6-7 I’m just dead on my feet, falling asleep during the day. I can’t wait for warmer weather and longer days.

        1. Clisby*

          I’ll second that. Every year I can feel myself dreading the beginning of June. Here (Charleston, SC) it’s exacerbated by the horrible heat, so I don’t even want to leave my house until at least October, but I could do with some more dark times as well. How in the world Charleston gets ranked as a #1 tourist destination is beyond me, but maybe none of them come in the summer.

    1. WMM*

      I so wish I had this problem of not realizing it was normal to have to drag yourself out of bed. Wow. I can’t imagine that life.

      1. Close Bracket*

        Do you have the opposite problem, where you do realize it’s normal (for some people) to have to drag themselves out of bed? I’m not sure what you are getting at with this comment.

  15. Coder von Frankenstein*

    OP3, that is… quite an update. Glad you’re out of there!

    But a 2-hour commute each way… oof. That’s the kind of thing that grinds people down fast. Any chance you can work from home sometimes?

    1. Dragoning*

      I’m fairly certain I didn’t move forward in interview process a few months ago because they looked at my location and even asked about my commuting/relocation plans in a phone interview because it was 2 hours each way, and I did not pretend I was going to do that long-term and was planning to relocate if offered the job.

  16. Nom de Plume*

    #5) I’m impressed and fascinated that you’ve discovered that for yourself. A lot of people aren’t self-aware to that level. I kindof know what you mean in terms of mixing up professional regard with romantic feelings. I have a coworker I’ve worked with for many years. Crazy smart, great personality, etc. He’s one of my favorite coworkers, and I enjoy working with him on projects when I get the chance. I had a low-level crush on him for a few years (when my marriage was failing and just after I got out). Luckily, I was able to work through it without things getting weird/awkward. Now my feelings are more of a personal fondness mixed with a lot of professional respect.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Same here. It’s really impressive. OP is going to do great with that level of self-awareness. And I’m glad things worked out for you as well.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Some of my friends and I who grew up in the arts have realized we get what we call “Talent Crushes” on other people. That guy in the row in front of me in dance class who could knock out every step on the first try and make it look effortless? Hot. But if I were to run into him on the sidewalk and not know what a good dancer he was, I might not look twice. It doesn’t surprise me to know that people do this with other professional, non-artsy skills.

        1. Anon Here*

          It’s a legitimate reason to be attracted to someone. It says something about who they are – they obviously care about whatever the thing is, and they have a style that you find appealing. If we can be attracted to people based on what they look like, skills and talent should be fair game too.

  17. KTM*

    OP#1 – that’s such a great update! So glad it worked out. Would you be willing to share some details of the new parental leave policy? I’m trying to advocate for something like that at our workplace and am gathering examples of typical benefits offered, where it’s worked (and how it’s funded…)

  18. ShortT*

    I come from a culture (both of my parents are Greek) where being late is considered acceptable. My father, may he RIP, always worked hard to be on time. He would say, “My problem getting out of bed and managing my time shouldn’t be anyone else’s ****ing problem.”

    To this day, it annoys me when I’ve agreed upon a certain time with someone and, without notice that s/he’s running late, the agree-upon time passes and the person still hasn’t appeared. IMO, we all have the same amount of time each day. Making changes to my schedule without my consent isn’t OK with me. After ten minutes pass, I’m out of there.

  19. StaceyIzMe*

    OP number 5- you might be able to help yourself to get into the habit of mentally rehearsing the reason for a relationship. What I mean by that is that attraction to a person/ personality trait can come up in a host of contexts. But we “pour” our feelings into the acceptable context of a relationship. Remind yourself of what you WANT within a particular channel of relationship (job advancement, better financial and collegial outcomes, for example) and your feelings will often follow your lead. You’re definitely not alone in being “struck” by an attraction, even a long term one, in a professional setting. It’s an almost universal challenge.

    1. fposte*

      Not in the comments section here, if you look; I think OP was either hearing stuff in her private life or just taking things hard because of what a bind she was in.

    1. Scout Finch*

      I hope not. Sometimes Alison runs updates outside of the holiday season.

      Hope your sister has a good update!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s it for the all-updates-all-the-time holiday period (I’m back to normal content on Monday), but I still have a lot that I didn’t get a chance to run, so I’ll be publishing them in the Thursday 12:30 pm ET slot for a while (where I often run updates during the year).

  20. Mannheim Steamroller*

    #4… In fact, it seems that the company gave up exit interviews altogether.

    Maybe the company realized that everyone was lying in their exit interviews for fear of retaliation or bad references.

  21. Dinopigeon*

    OP2: Thank you for this update. I’m one of those people who struggles immensely with waking up. No matter how much sleep I get or when I go to bed, if it’s before a certain time in the morning, I’ll be a total zombie, to the point I can’t drive safely. It feels like being drunk. I understand it’s important to get to work on time and I wouldn’t take a job that started before I could be there.

    However, for a long time I worked at a place where the only rule was everyone had to be in the building by 9am and we were otherwise able to set our own schedule (and honestly, it was still a struggle due to commute, just a manageable one). My team lead got there at 7am sharp every day and made it very clear he considered arriving later a moral failing and a sign of weak character, that could be fixed with willpower alone. Your response is the first time it has ever even occurred to me that my “out of sync” natural rhythm might deserve compassion rather than be yet another thing that’s wrong with me in the working world. I appreciated your remarks more than I can say.

  22. TeapotQA*

    #5, OMG, I thought I was the only one! I too have struggled with a crush at work only to realize it was just the professional relationship I really valued.

    How have people been handling this?

  23. Anonentity*

    OP5, that’s going to end up as a seriously sticky situation if your romantic command centre has somehow gotten wired up into your job. I’m sure you are just desperate to sever that tangle.
    I was going to suggest a therapist’s advice but since you’ve already done that, there is a psychologist’s website I’ve used successfully which examines how romantic feelings are created.
    It outlines 10 major emotional needs which can sometimes get met accidentally (If I had to guess, it’s either admiration from someone telling you you’re doing well/has their respect, or it’s affection which can be as simple as someone bringing you coffee, or intimate conversation which might be merely friendly interest in you by asking about your life outside of work).
    The other thing it specifies is that romantic love creation involves a certain input of time. We spend a lot of time at work so you might want to ask yourself is that time focused on one person and does that time with that person end up being accidentally fulfilling in some way? Different people have different needs, so what’s no big deal for someone else might be a romantic bullseye for you.
    The website is marriage builders if you’re interested.

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