open thread – February 28-29, 2020

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,711 comments… read them below }

  1. Another JD*

    Any tips on sharing an office? I’m an attorney, and due to space constraints, I’m going to be sharing an office with our new associate. She’s mostly going to be doing transactional work, while I’ll be doing litigation so I’m more likely to be on the phone. Any ground rules I can set, since I’ll be in the new space first?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m not sure that “I was here first, so these are the rules that I have set for our shared space” is really a great start for space-sharing.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I’m not sure what kind of “rules” would be reasonable here. Your questions below are absolutely excellent questions for a shared space, but none of them are rules that should be unilaterally established by one party – they’re discussions to have after both parties are present, with the possible exception of food issues a la “I have a lethal allergy to (eggplants) and absolutely cannot, at the risk of my life, have (eggplant) in this space.”

          Maybe that’s what Another JD meant to ask, what kind of rules should they be making in tandem with the new person, but the way they phrased the question with the “since I’ll be there first” really comes across as wanting to stake claim on the space, which is not really a way to begin a good space-sharing relationship.

      1. FormerFirstTimer*

        Yeah, I get that you’re there first, and you are more senior than the new associate, but you may want to try to be a bit more democratic when it comes to setting ground rules, just so you don’t make her miserable off the bat.

        1. Another JD*

          That probably wasn’t phrased in the most eloquent way. I’m buried in work and thrilled we’re getting some help, just nervous about sharing close quarters with someone I’ve never met. My only true non-negotiables are scented products (they trigger migraines) and background music without headphones (I can’t concentrate).

          1. Elenia*

            Oh yes, music. That did make me sad, as I went without music for a year, but no one had to ask me, I just turned it off immediately. Now I have my own office and don’t have to share and listen to music all day!

          2. Veronica Mars*

            I feel you on the migraines. With that I think you can plainly lay it out day 1.

            For the rest of it, I think you’re going to have much better luck addressing things as they come up. If she starts playing music out loud (which, who the heck does that anyway?) just kindly ask “would you please wear headphones when listening to music?” the very first time. Don’t sit there and deal with things letting your tensions ever-rise. Just ask for what you want. People aren’t mind readers. And, by the way, be prepared for her to ask things of you also. Thats how space sharing works, its a two-way street.

            1. Wired Wolf*

              A lot of my co-irkers have yet to grasp the concept of headphones/earbuds, mainly the cooks or cleaning staff. A lot of telenovelas, bad anime and WWE is streamed in the break room as well, all of this is blaring on crappy cellphone speakers.

          3. A Teacher*

            How are you going to police the scented products though? Fellow migraine sufferer–so I get it–certain scents are bad triggers. really bad triggers. I also teach in a classroom with lots of other bodies in and out. Its pretty hard to regulate the deodorant and face cream one buys–and yes they can have some strong scents. You may have to compromise on this a bit.

            1. WellRed*

              I would assume they don’t mean face cream and deodorant. That would be unreasonable (and also a sign your office might be too small ; ) More like perfume and maybe hand cream.

              1. Veronica Mars*

                I don’t think its unreasonable. Sorry, but my right to live migraine and asthma free outweighs your right to use Axe deodorant when there’s hundreds of less-scented products out there.

                Obviously there’s levels here – I don’t expect people to spend extra money on the super unscented stuff I use in my home. But if I can smell your deodorant a few feet away, really, its probably not a problem for more than just me.

                1. Sleve McDichael*

                  Coming in late here, but as someone who uses unscented deodourant, I can tell you that a majority of low and mid -priced brands stock an unscented option for exactly the same price – and I live in a non-capital city on an island off an island. So it’s not at all unreasonable to ask someone to switch. Even if they can’t switch brands for medical reasons, switching to roll-on rather than spray makes a big difference (and most medical deoderants are roll on anyway, so I would have some serious side-eye for anyone who said the only thing they can wear is Axe body spray).

            2. Another JD*

              I hope my new coworkers would be reasonable, but if it comes down to it, I’ll put in for an ADA accommodation. Scents can give me migraines, hives, nosebleeds, and allergy/asthma attacks which interfere with major life activities such as thinking and breathing.

            3. Veronica Mars*

              My work provided “dedicated fragrance free zone” signage explaining what is prohibited (perfume/cologne, heavily scented shampoo, lotion, and laundry detergent). Not saying everyone follows it, and WAY harder at a school. But for the most part people are respectful. And its way easier when its just a few coworkers you spend every day with.

          4. FormerFirstTimer*

            Those are both really reasonable and pretty common in shared workspaces. If I was the new associated I wouldn’t have an issue with either as long as they were presented in a nice way.

      2. Jessica Fletcher*

        I agree. OP should approach it as an equally shared space. It is both of their office, not OP’s office the new associate is going to use. OP doesn’t get to be the office dictator just because they already work there. That’s a recipe for letters to Alison. I’d say OP should read posts here about shared offices to get an idea of the decisions both of them will need to make together.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think these things go better when hammered out ahead of time. The OP should think about her important issues — scents, noise — and her likely annoying behavior like lots of phone calls and ask her officemate to identify her key issues and then work something out. Shared space and lots of client phone calls are IMHO not compatible — how does the rest of the office deal with the privacy violations as well as the noise involved?

          But hammer out basic rules together and then schedule touching base coffees or whatever through the first couple of months to adjust. Don’t just wait ‘until something bothers you’ — anticipate the obvious and identify a procedure for dealing with things that come up — all with the attitude that of course there will be frictions in sharing space and so we need to be open to adjustments.

    2. Elenia*

      1. What do you want to do about conference calls? Speaker or headphones? Regular calls are just a necessity.
      2. Scents and perfumes?
      3. Storage space?
      4. What to do about sensitive calls?
      5. Do other people report to you or her? Will they be popping in and out of the office all day long? Will there be sensitive conversations? How will those be handled?
      6. Foods? Are there any strong allergies anyone should know about?
      7. Plants or other decorations? Will everyone have their own space?

        1. Elenia*

          I shared an office with a WONDERFUL office mate for a year, and we learned a lot! These are issues that came up when I shared on office with a terrible mate.

        2. Mama Bear*

          Agreed. I think that asking for no perfumes and headphones is reasonable but you should also address your own phone calls and meetings. I think the biggest thing is just to be respectful of one another. I didn’t mind people eating at their desk near me as long as it didn’t smell weird, but some of my former officemates (open office) needed to be asked/told to clean up after themselves. I disliked the configuration which put me back to back with someone and we’d crash into each other if we rolled our chairs back at the same time. I’d also look at the office configuration and see if there’s a better way to use the space that suits you both. Like setting up a dorm room in college.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        These are great questions, but I wouldn’t necessarily start out with a big conversation or meeting where you go through these kinds of questions up front. We’ve recently been doubled up in our offices, and most of the pairs seem to get along fine without formal rules or negotiations. To be fair, my department is mostly people of good will who are decent human beings who understand social norms around sharing space, which isn’t true everywhere, but I might start from the assumption that your officemate will be a member of the 80% of the population who are reasonable to share space with.

        If it turns out that you have really incompatible styles or that straightforward “hey do you mind using headphones for that?” or “could we split space on the bookshelf?” or “is there a time in the next couple of days when you’ll be out or should I book a conference room for a private call?” type things don’t go smoothly when they come up naturally, that might be a time for a more focused discussion.

        1. Artemesia*

          I find it much less stressful to have the discussion at the outset and hammer out the obvious — and acknowledge things will come up and need to be revisited — objecting for the first time when annoyed creates more resentments and the sense of being nagged. YMMV

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            YMMV for sure. If someone brought a couple of key things up the first day as I was settling in I wouldn’t be phased, especially if it was something health-related like an allergy or perfume/scent issue. But if someone scheduled a meeting with me to talk about how we were going to share space and brought a list of questions I’d find it kind of off-putting and wonder how high-maintenance my new officemate was going to be. If someone suggested we have regular coffee meetings to check in on sharing space, as someone in this thread suggested, I’d be even more braced for things to get weird.

            In the offices I’ve worked in even bringing up music proactively would be unnecessary and seem a little off. The general assumption is that you use headphones anywhere someone else might overhear the music.

      2. Booksnbooks*

        Would you actually change your eating patterns based on this? Just curious, because I have a allergy that makes me cough/sneeze/act like I’ve got a really bad cold when I can just smell the product. But I’ve always thought it unreasonable to ask someone not to eat it or for a group not to go to a restaurant that serves it, even though my chest gets tight when all this is happening. I just bring packs of tissues and deal. It would be heaven if someone in a shared tight quarters didn’t consume it, but I’ve never, ever feel like I could ask.

        1. Another JD*

          Ask. If I can minorly modify my behavior so you don’t get ill, then I will. If it was coffee that would be hard, but anything else and I’d do my best to accommodate. Even with coffee I’d make sure it was in a cup with a tight-fitting lid so the aroma didn’t spread, and try and finish it before sharing space.

        2. Artemesia*

          In sharing an office of course you can ask that a trigger food be avoided. Obviously easier if it is one thing and not something ubiquitous like tea or coffee or bread. I like tuna but could live with not having it in the office if it bothered an officemate.

        3. Tywin*

          I would if I were in those shoes! I come from a family with severe peanut/tree nut allergies and I’m used to accommodating others in that regard. When we dine out, we ask that they put allergen notices on all of our meals in the kitchen so that there’s no fear of someone else at the table flinging an errant walnut and causing a reaction. Plus that way the people with allergies can try a bite of other meals. What food/allergen triggers you?

    3. CTT*

      I don’t know what your firm’s transactional practice is like, but I’m a transactional associate and I am on a LOT of calls (weekly checklist calls for each deal, negotiating docs, etc.). The attorneys running her deals may prefer she join them in their offices for her calls, but I think you should work out some sort of call etiquette early.

    4. Celeste*

      Is there a separate meeting area or conference room? If so make a calendar for it now before you both plan to use it at the same time for a meeting or a just a project that needs to be spread out.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      Having been both a transactional and litigation attorney, I can assure you that transactional attorneys probably spend as much or more time on the phone, although the fact that she’s junior will reduce that. It will be critical that you both have good phone headsets. Also, I shared an office when I was a summer associate and having clear rules about people coming by and chatting was key. There needed to be a clear option for either person to say “Hey, I’m trying to work here, do you mind moving the conversation elsewhere” without any hard feelings.

      1. Another JD*

        She’s junior, so to start her work will be running through me and the partners. When she’s up to speed she’ll be doing more calls, but I don’t anticipate that for awhile. We’ll probably have to hot desk to the conference room or a partner’s office for longer calls.

    6. Mid*

      Take sick days when you’re ill. There’s no escape if you’re sharing an office, and if you’re more senior, you have more flexibility to do that than your new coworker does.

      1. Another JD*

        I’m excited we’re getting a new person so that I can actually take a day when I’m sick without dropping the ball on work projects.

    7. MCL*

      I’ve shared an office for about 3-4 years with the same person. We partner on many projects, so when we reshuffled space on my floor we moved from two offices to one. We do work really well together overall, but here’s what helps:
      1) Noise cancelling/abating headphones. If she is meeting someone in our office or on the phone, I wear them and put on some music so that I can focus. She does the same.
      2) This is something I’m working on – figure out when office-mate can be interrupted without huge disruptions. If Office-mate is clacking away on her keyboard, I try not to interrupt her as she’s probably working on composing something. I try to be sensitive to her body language and we chat at natural breaks. If I need her input on a work issue, I try not to pepper her with conversation. I think it works out for the most part.
      3) It is helpful to have a shared calendar or some means of kind knowing each other’s schedules. Co-worker has been part-time up till recently and I am often asked if she’s around. Sometimes she’s stepped out, sometimes she’s gone for the day. The other issue is that sometimes someone will ask me a question that only she would know the answer to – people sometimes think we’re interchangeable. Just be cheerful and know that it might happen sometimes!

      1. MCL*

        Oh, and if have to hold private/confidential meetings, I do it in a conference room. If either of you ends up in a role that does a lot of private meetings you may need to lobby for your own space. My need for confidentiality is rare, so it works out for the most part.

    8. RecoveringSWO*

      Take a quick look at whether you or your new associate could face attorney-client privilege issues if their exposure to a phone call would constitute a waiver. It’s probably not an issue, especially if you’re work is connected, but it’s something to address.

    9. Aquawoman*

      Are you worried that the sound of them flipping through the contract pages is going to interrupt your calls? Seems like they got the worse end of that deal.

    10. drivesmenuts*

      I am in a slightly similar situation: I already share an office with four other people. They are excellent office-mates and everyone respects each others’ privacy and workloads. There’s a lot of good conversation that happens but also plenty of quiet work time. I am expected to move offices to share with two new office-mates. These two have already shared an office for a few years. The big problem I am anticipating is that one person is a reactionary pessimist who likes to complain, the other is a over-thinker and over-talker. I tend to absorb the personalities of the people around me and I really don’t want to be in an office with these two. They will ruin my happy groove that I have found. I used to work for both of them and know how terribly defeating they can be. They hate it here, they hate everyone, they have terrible solutions to problems, and they tend to just complain than actually try to change things. I have spent a year trying to get that out of my system since I stopped working for them.

      Can I tell management that I won’t switch offices? What’s a good excuse to use, other than “these people are terrible and I don’t want to be around them”?

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Tell your manager how much your work habits have improved being in the office of 4, and that you’d like to stay there. No need to complain about the other guys. Good luck!

        1. Ermmm*

          So smart! Totally perfect approach – make it about how well you work in your current environment and it’s made a big difference for you in the past year, you have improved on X, Y and Z due to your ability to concentrate or bounce ideas off like-minded people, etc.

          New Job So Much Better is brilliant!

        2. CM*

          I would complain about the other guys — you could do it as a second step, maybe, but I think it may influence the manager’s decision to know both “drivemenuts likes their current situation” and “drivesmenuts will be unhappy and less productive in the new situation.” So in addition to “I’m more productive where I am” I’d add, “Having worked with [coworkers] before, I know that our work styles can conflict with each other. I would find this to be a stressful and unproductive work environment for me.”

    11. Dust Bunny*

      I share an office with an intern and, until recently, another coworker.

      A lot of it is basic courtesy: No loud music, keep your stuff under control, don’t read things aloud under your breath, etc. Basically, your rights end at each others’ noses/ears/close personal spaces.

      However, unless you have needs that are above and beyond the norm–life-threatening food allergy, frequent conference calls, etc.–I would start out assuming that she’s going to be a reasonable person and address things only if needed. We didn’t have a big meeting amongst ourselves and ended up never mentioning any of this because everybody by default wore headphones/kept her things under her desk/didn’t microwave fish and there was no reason to bring it up.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look at the 5S guidelines–they were originally designed for Factory type work spaces, but they can be useful in shared office space as well.

  2. Another JD*

    Any tips for helping onboard a new attorney? I’m currently the only associate, but we’re hiring two junior associates that will be starting in a few weeks. My onboarding was basically filling out the I-9 forms then being given a pile of work to start on. It was less than ideal.

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      Will they be working with the same clients? I’m in house, but an excel sheet of ongoing projects and 1-2 lines giving a really broad view was helpful when I was getting my feet under me. Naturally I had to do the work to get up to speed, but having a framework made my first few weeks much more productive.

      If they’re going to be on different projects, then I think making yourself available for a couple lunch conversations about workplace culture would be useful.

      1. Veronica Mars*

        Yes, this. When I was in a rotational program (changing jobs every 9 months x 4) we had a ‘job contract’ we built together the first day and used as a tool during weekly check ins, and I liked it a lot.

        It started with big picture learning goals, then what project would support the goals. Over time you added a timeline and status to milestones. This isn’t a huge big thing. It was like 4 goals total and maybe a milestone for every 2-4 weeks, with some project supporting multiple goals.

        It was also a great document for 2 way discussion – because sometimes I’d say “oh, hey, I’m surprised you didn’t list learning TPS reports on here, I was really looking forward to that” and they’d find a TPS project for me to work on.

    2. AttorneyToo*

      You need to set forth expectations for how to handle workload (i.e. what must be done first.). They need to know how you or someone else will be tracking their workload to ensure that they are not missing deadlines or important meetings. They need to be trained on e-filing and your internal filing system as well as how they will be submitting their time sheets for billing. It is also important that you remind them about their ethical obligations. I hope this helps.

      1. Elenia*

        I also talk to them straight up about the culture of the office. Better to give them a little heads up about anything weird (lights, stuff like that) then have them get cursed out or talked about.

    3. Class of 2015*

      Check out her resume and how much experience she has. Someone with no professional experience will need to have way more spelled out for her. For instance, when I was a new attorney I asked my supervisor how to use the fax machine, and she nicely pointed out that I needed to ask our admin assistant instead of her, and that I should be mindful about finding the appropriate person to ask questions of. It was my first office job, so I appreciated guidance like that, and it was said in a tone of “let me help you with this” rather than “You’re dumb and you messed up.”

      If you notice that the new associates aren’t conforming with the dress code, or if they’re taking way longer for lunch than is acceptable in your firm’s culture, say something. If there are tips and tricks (“Bob hates email and gets buried in them, so go talk to him in person”) or “Kevin loves email and doesn’t want to see you in person ever”) be sure to let them know.

    4. Emmie*

      Junior associates may need more guidance on the law. Pointing them to useful sources will speed up their learning curve, and help them be more productive quickly. i.e. If you’re looking at regulations impacting x issue, you’ll want to check these Admin regulations, and this state agency website for the current / archived manual.

    5. Coverage Associate*

      Though it was awful at first, providing sample time entries and templates eventually was really helpful.

      Some explanation of the duties of each support person is also important. Do you ask your secretary or a copy person to make copies? Do lawyers do their own redactions? Who orders supplies? Do lawyers set up all their own documents, or should secretaries first create a template?

    6. Coverage Associate*

      Also, tips for email: What folders to set up immediately, what to save, what can be deleted.

      Also, documents generally. Are you all electronic? Who maintains client files? Like, if something that obviously needs to be saved comes in, does it just go to a file clerk, or do lawyers maintain their own files, etc.?

    7. Contracts Killer*

      I’m an attorney too, but it looks like the other attorneys have the legal stuff covered. Here are my suggestions for on-boarding ANYONE, but in particular attorneys:
      – Explain internal soft and hard deadlines.
      – Explain office culture, in particular, norms about eating at your desk, doors opened or closed, email v phone, popping by v setting meetings, if your office uses Slack, Jabber, or other messaging, etc.
      – Let them know about any building/local discounts, the best places to park, shortcuts and indoor/covered routes to walk in bad weather, closest vending machine, closest restroom. These tips always seem to be appreciated.
      – Sharing an office, it may also be helpful to set a dedicated window each day for the new hire to ask you questions and have work reviewed. That will give her confidence that you will be helpful, and keep you from being constantly interrupted. Maybe dedicated phone call times, too.

      Good luck! The fact you’re even asking for advice tells me you will be a considerate roomie.

    8. AJK*

      Does your firm have paralegals or legal assistants? If so, it might be helpful to have them meet with the people they’ll be working with so they know what everyone’s roles are. I (a paralegal) generally meet with a new attorney to talk about our procedures, mostly the office stuff, but also to let them know what they can delegate as they get more familiar with the way things work. A lot of our very junior attorneys have no idea what a paralegal is or what we do, and since every firm uses their paralegals and support staff a little differently, it helps to lay that stuff out clearly from the beginning.

      1. Black's Law Dictionary*

        +1 Agree! There are so many tasks that attorneys just don’t need to do that paralegals/legal assistants can do for them. Also, give the attorney several choices as to how to record his/her time. On a calendar? On an Excel spread sheet? Enter the time into the system on his/her own? There’s most likely a standard for how the time is input into the system, but every attorney has a different style (comfortable for him/her) of recording daily time so that it can be input into the system. It’s helpful if the attorney is introduced to anyone who will be working for/directly supporting him/her and what that person does/does not do. Clerks, runners, assistants, paralegals … everyone has a different set of tasks.

  3. Combinatorialist*

    What do people do for stress relief during the work day? This is a more general problem of mine that I will probably ask about tomorrow as well, but I’m realizing I don’t have great stress relief techniques.

    1. Elenia*

      I take a walk almost every single day. It gives me peace and quiet and a little downtime. I don’t walk with anyone, since I am strongly introverted and my position is very extroverted, so I walk alone and I think or read on my cell phone or practice my DuoLingo.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        I’m very fortunate to have a public library across the street from my office. I’ve gone over there before when I had a headache and it was a busy, bustling day in the office. I just needed some peace and quiet! I know it’s not always feasible to leave your office to find some peace, so taking a walk is a great idea!

        1. KimberlyR*

          This doesn’t ring true for me. If you were truly Leslie Knope, you would know that you hate the library!

          (Just kidding! I wish I could escape to the library for peace and quiet during my workday.)

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        BIG fan of walking. I’ve been known to come back from break soaked from the rain (wore a coat and hat but the rain will run off the coat and onto the pants) but it’s worth it.

    2. Misty*

      Have you tried deep breathing? It may sound dumb but it’s helped me a lot. Where you breathe in counting to four, hold for five, and then breathe out counting to six (or you can count to whatever works for you). The best part is usually people can’t tell if you’re concentrating on your breathing.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Spotify has quite a few deep breathing, guided meditations. Some are only 3 minutes long and are perfect for a quick recharge.

        I listen to a lot of very mellow focus or yoga-type music playlists these days. Keeps blood pressure low and helps me tune out distractions. Put on headphones and type away…

      2. ...*

        I thought this was cheesy for 30 years and finally tried it a couple times and it WORKS. I breathe in deeply, hold for 3 long seconds and slowly release. I’m sure there are different techniques you could try. Sometimes I will just go into the single stall restroom, deep breathe and wash my hands. It makes me feel better!

      3. Artemesia*

        There are a bunch of on line videos to use for 5 minutes deep breathing exercises; here are a couple I use.
        By googling you’ll find many others.
        There are also lots of peaceful videos to focus on to try to get to a calm place like these. I find them useful before bedtime to calm down but should work on a stressful day in the office.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I like to interrupt my day by taking a walk outside; 5-10 minutes helps me clear my head.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Me too! Getting out of the building seems to be the key thing for me to benefit from the time away; it’s not the same if I just go to the break room.

    4. De Minimis*

      I try to get out and walk at least twice a day, usually at mid-morning and also around lunchtime. I’ve done this for years and it’s really helped.

    5. Bubbles*

      Basic stretches you can do in your chair or just standing up next to your desk really help. Rolling ankles and shoulders, etc. You can YouTube examples.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Oh yeah, shoulder stretches and ankle rolling can totally help when stress gets your muscles all tense. Try “writing” the letters of the alphabet in the air with your foot. It can get your ankles moving in ways they typically don’t and you can get a pretty good stretch while you’re still at your desk doing work.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Walk around the floor/building. Make a cup of tea. Sit quietly by a window for 10-15 minutes. Eat some chocolate. :)

    7. AppleStan*

      Aside from stress balls and fidget spinners?

      I get up and walk around the office, and if the weather isn’t bad, I’ll walk around outside. Just a quick 5 or 10 minute exposure to outside can boost my spirits and relieve some stress/tension.

      I think there are also some stretches that you can do at your desk – some google-fu might help with that regard.

      1. Aquawoman*

        I was going to suggest toys also. I have a paper yoyo, one of those little wheels on rails flippy things, a squishy cat.

    8. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think being able to leave my workstation is one of the best stress relievers I’ve found. If your office is in an area where you can step outside for a quick walk around the block, that’s something that’s always helped me.

    9. Zap R.*

      Go for a walk at lunch if you can. If there’s an unused room you can duck into for five minutes to do some stretching/low-key yoga poses, that helps too. Set alarms on your phone or download a browser plug in to remind you to get up and move around every 90 minutes or so.

    10. londonedit*

      I definitely always try to get out of the office for a walk at lunchtime. Even just 10 minutes or so is enough to get some fresh air, or if the weather’s nice and there’s somewhere nice to sit near where you work, you could eat your lunch outside or just sit for a few minutes and do nothing.

      Also this is why tea is so important in British offices – it gives you a natural excuse for a break. You can wander to the kitchen and have a couple of minutes to yourself while you’re making your cup of tea – even longer if you’ve offered to make a round for the other people in your immediate office vicinity. Tea making can also provide a good opportunity to have a quick chat with people, whether that’s work-related or just having a brief conversation about last night’s football or whatever your weekend plans are.

      1. 404UsernameNotFound*

        THIS. I have to get up at least once every hour because I’m out of water again, and at least one of my favourite colleagues is also generally out there making a cuppa – gives us a perfect opportunity to rant about the trains or fanchild about whatever retro games we were playing at the weekend. Or, alternatively, moan about actual programming in a semi-productive fashion since it inevitably leads to “oh, my meeting just got cancelled, I’ll scoot over and have a look if you like”.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, I don’t know how many times I’ve ended up with a helpful suggestion, or been able to help someone else out, thanks to a quick chat while making a cuppa!

    11. Kenzi Wood*

      I used to listen to meditation music, like, nonstop. Breathing exercises, lunchtime walks, and playing my favorite video game in my car during lunch kept me sane.

      1. Lemon Squeezy*

        100% on the car time during lunch. It’s my recharge period, whether it be for uninterrupted reading or power napping after a very stressful morning.

    12. Jack Be Nimble*

      I get up and go for short walks (my office tower is attached to a mall/convention center, so there’s places to walk even in winter), get coffee from a nicer coffee shop, and work on crossword puzzles during downtime. If things are really tense, I’ll find an open call room and take a few minutes to collect myself.

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ll close my door and do some stretching, take walks and text my feels to my people or tweet. It helps from the pile up issues!

    14. blink14*

      I always take my lunch break, the only exceptions being if an event or very rare meeting falls during lunch. I never take my lunch break at my desk. I almost always read during those breaks, which I find keeps my mind engaged but helps relax it by engaging in something different to my work tasks.

      I also try not to sit for more than hour at a time – I’ll take a quick walk around the floor, use the bathroom, etc.

    15. Muriel Heslop*

      Five minutes in a dark supply closet with deep breathing and occasional zen music with my ear buds. Walk the halls between classes (totally empty). Pretend to be on a call in my office and just doodle. Breathing fresh air!

      None of these are groundbreaking, but I find when I am focused on doing things to manage my stress I *do* them and it really helps. Good luck!

    16. Mid*

      My building has a gym, so I work out in the middle of the day.

      Otherwise, seconding what everyone else has said—deep breathing, grounding exercises, talk a walk, try to go outside if possible.

    17. Holy Moley*

      Stress balls and getting away from my desk even if its just for a shot walk. I work in a very large building so Im able to take a good walk to clear my head if I need to.

    18. Champagne Cocktail*

      I second getting away from your desk even if it’s just for a few minutes. If the weather is too back to go outside, just moving around seems to help a lot.

      I’ll usually make a cup of tea. 3-5 minutes of steeping time is an opportunity to be away from the desk and breathing.

    19. CupcakeCounter*

      A few ideas (several have already been suggested):
      -take a brief walk, ideally away from your area (outside if the weather is good, a different floor of your building if not)
      -stress ball/putty – helps my husband’s anxiety and ADHD
      -Music: I have 2 playlists on my phone – one that is soft, soothing calm music for if I am worked up and want to chill and another that is hark rock/metal for when I am pissed off and need to feed that (seems counter intuitive but really helps…I silently scream along so there is a little bit of a release). Sometimes I will also put on my son’s goofy kids songs like I like to Move it from the Madagascar movies, the bunnies version of Baby Got Back from Sing, etc… or my vacation playlist (all of the songs are about beaches or cocktails).
      -Read – usually a very light romance or something with comic relief
      -Go out to my car, drive to the far back of the parking lot, and SCREAM

    20. Bunny Girl*

      If screaming into the void isn’t an option, deep breathing, stretching, and scheduling breaks is my go to. I’ve found that if I go for a little walk around the building every hour or two I tend to get less stressed out than not. I also use one of my breaks to meditate for just a couple minutes (I use HeadSpace!). I also make sure I leave the office for lunch to get out and reset.

      The Georgia Aquarium also has several live webcams that I’ve found very relaxing.

      1. Poppleton*

        Just wanted to say thank you for the aquarium web cam recommendation- this will be my new down-time viewing on breaks at work!

    21. Viette*

      I move a lot at work so I don’t need more movement to shake off the stress; I like either watching zoo/aquarium webcams or, actually, meditation. I’m not very good at meditating but it’s valuable to me. I also like taking 5 minutes to do part of a crossword or some other mentally engaged but low-stakes task. I would say try whatever is the most different from what you do in the rest of your workday, whether it’s get up and move or sit down and rest, collect your thoughts or make your mind blank.

    22. WineNot*

      Sometimes I will go into our single person bathroom and turn the light off, lean against the wall and just in the dark and breathe for a few minutes. Kind of shuts the rest of the world out for a few minutes. If the sun is out, I will also sometimes go outside and just want in the sun. Seems to help me calm down!

    23. Salsa Your Face*

      I know this sounds dumb, but I have my computer background set to rotate between a folder full of 50 or so beautiful, scenic images. It changes every 15 minutes. When I switch between programs I briefly see the background–I never know which picture it’s going to be–and I take a moment to breath deeply and appreciate it. If scenery isn’t your thing, use puppies or family pictures or whatever floats your boat.

    24. The Great Octopus*

      So there’s a famous personality who’s kind of an odd ball (Andrew WK) and he once posted about how you should stop what you’re doing and “take a deep breath, improve your posture, and visualize yourself riding a dragon with me” and it never fails to make me giggle and relax.

      Super odd thing, but it seriously works. Try it – take a deep breath straighten up and imagine riding a dragon. Without fail (at least for me) it releases the tension I’m holding and distracts me enough to relax and regroup for a few minutes.

    25. Mad Harry Crewe*

      I knit lace, and find it’s a really good mix of attention/inattention. Once I’ve got a repeat memorized, it doesn’t require my whole focus, but it does provide an anchor so I can’t just mentally hamster-wheel myself to death. It’s also a very pleasant tactile sensation, which is kind of grounding. And at the end of 15 or 30 minutes, I’ve made real progress on an actual, physical object that will bring someone joy. It’s portable and doesn’t take up much space, and sometimes it starts conversations (but if I don’t want to chat, I can briefly acknowledge/answer a question and then turn my attention back to my work).

      Obviously other hand crafts will do the same, it doesn’t have to be knitting.

    26. CM*

      I used to meditate at lunch, which worked well until it didn’t. If this is an SOS destress situation, there’s also a song called “weightless” that was proven to cut stress by 60% or something. I don’t really get why, but listening to that feels good. Also, this is hard to explain, but there’s a thing you can do with your arms – cross your wrists, clasp your hands, and then bend your elbows so your crossed clasped hands are under your chin. That also immediately feels soothing.

    27. Working for yarn*

      Something I do at home but that is helping me at work is meditation. The work stresses/brain trolls/family stresses start rolling, and instead of not noticing (or ignoring it) until it’s a massive avalanche of horrible stress, I’ve started to notice it when it’s small and manageable. I can then step back, regroup my thoughts, and get my frontal lobe engaged instead of my amygdala (logic brain instead flight or fight). It has helped me with “some” of my procrastination, which is usually due to stress. I have good days and bad days, but the good days have started to out number the bad days.

      Caveats: I practice at home, not at work. It has taken me 2 months to get to this point (I made a goal of 15 minutes of meditation every day for 2020 and so far I’ve only missed 4 days, which makes me happy). I really had to commit to my goal (have a goal tracker app for that now) because there are days when even 15 minutes seems like too much. I use a mediation app (which is ~$75 Cdn for a year) to help – the app has everything from 2 minute meditations to an hour or more. It also has guided meditations, or just background music/sound for a set period of time. I could see though using some of the less than 5 minutes meditations to help with stress at work, and I may start doing that when I can sit outside during lunch (too much snow at the moment).

    28. Diahann Carroll*

      I do yoga or go to the gym for a half hour to an hour (I work from home). If you don’t work from home and your office doesn’t have a gym onsite, I agree with the others saying you can take a walk, get up from your desk and do stretches, and go take a coffee or tea break.

    29. DaisyJ*

      I make sure that I leave the building or my office for at least a few minutes a day. Some days I am gone my entire hour lunch break just sitting in my car – others its a quick five minute walk around the parking lot. Just need a bit of space and my stress level usually goes down.

    30. Combinatorialist*

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions! This has been really helpful. Many of these things are things I used to do, but haven’t been doing recently. Partly because the logistics of some of them are hard/different in my current office, compared to how I have done things in the past. However, while a few of these logistics are deal-breakers (I absolutely cannot go to my car during lunch, though I would love to go play my favorite video game for a few minutes), I can achieve many of them with a little more forethought and planning and adjusting of habits. And what this has shown me is I need to put that effort in now to figure out how to make more of these things possible.

    31. theletter*

      so this isn’t an immediate fix, but I found that getting a high impact workout (like a crossfit or weightlifting) in the morning can help me feel pleasantly relaxed and focused during the day.

    32. Not So NewReader*

      Oddly, the more worried I am then the more being organized helps me.

      I try to identify the thing(s) that concern me the most. I target those things to see if the task is organized in a logical manner. I tried to estimate what I will need for the task that will take the longest to get and then I start trying to get that hard-to-reach thing.

      When I am stressed, the basics get by me. I make sure I write down deadlines on my calendar. I make a daily to-do list each night before going home. I have a huge glob of keys that I need to do my job. Knowing me, I will absent-mindedly set the keys down and get derailed by something that is actually a very deep dark pit. Then, later, where are the damn keys? Solution, put the keys on a lanyard and not allow myself to put them any where but on my neck after using the keys. This stuff here comes under the heading of “take care of the stresseers you already know about.”

      Stress prevention: A recent example at work there has been a change where keeping track of all X’s is important. It did not used to be important. It’s a royal pain to do, also. [Insert uproar here.] But reality, it’s now part of my job and I can see if I do not have that information organized it WILL bite me in the butt. I took the time (that I do not have) and made myself a spread sheet for tracking X’s. I printed it out and showed my boss. She made the additions or corrections she thought we needed. I now have a spread sheet in each file for all X’s. I feel a lot calmer about the tracking and I see my boss feels very confident that we are totally on top of this change. Nothing like having a happy boss, ya know? We are walking through this uproar like it’s just nothing major for us. I have recouped the time spent many times over by now, because I am not spending hours each day trying to piece together the tracking.

      Oddly, stuff at home can be supportive. Younger me would get up 45 minutes before work and race around trying to get out the door. Boy, that was a bunch of unnecessary stress and it did set a tone for my day.
      I have also done the thing where I keep driving a car that really needs to go to the shop. Don’t do that, the worry from driving an unsafe vehicle is not worth the “savings” in time. Don’t skip meals, eat something even if it’s just a protein bar. Fighting hanger on top of fighting stress is just too much. Work and eat if you have to, but do eat. Days are a lot harder when we have no fuel in us.

      In short, look at the predictable sources of stress and do something to stop or lessen the impact from those sources. There are always unforeseens. But it has been my experience that preparation for predictable problems makes those unforeseens easier to handle.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        This is 100% my usual go to, but apart from the desire to do less of it, I recently discovered an intolerance to ALL my favorite foods so it isn’t even effective for me anymore.

    33. Chronic Overthinker*

      One moment meditation is great. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths while focusing on your breathing and open your eyes. You can try for longer, but if you’re in an office setting sometimes you only have 30 seconds to a minute to de-stress and this works great.

    34. SI*

      Do you like tea? I’m not talking about terrible tea bags that get oversteeped and turn bitter, but good loose tea.

      I hated tea until I started brewing with loose leaves and water at the proper temperature. Now, I find putting water in the electric kettle and making tea in my little gaiwan (Chinese cup with a lid) and drinking it to be rather relaxing. Part of it is the tea tastes really good and the other part is just taking the time to relax.

      At my last job I just put the infuser basket in the mug and would do quick steeps. My friend had co-workers that would happily pull out an electric kettle in the afternoon, brew some tea, and take a small break.

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

      We walk around the office complex after lunch. And sometimes we’re lucky and we play Mario Kart at the playroom. My manager, on the other hand, attended the lunchtime yoga lessons.

    36. The Beagle Has Landed*

      A couple of things, the first two involving leaving my desk as many have suggested:
      (1) go get a cup of tea. I have just acquired the cutest tea infuser that’s a shark who hangs on the side of my teacup and makes me smile every time. Plus the tea is so much better when you make it with loose leaves. A friend of mine brought back an amazing tea assortment from London and I am hooked! The only thing I now have to calibrate is how late in the day I can drink it before it keeps me up at night, as none of it is decaf.
      (2) get up, take your phone, put in headphones, and blast a “mood lifter” or “confidence booster” or “stress relief” or some other playlist like that on Spotify as you walk (fast) around the block. Both the walking and the music get me out of my funk.
      (3) journal your feelings in the moment, or write an email that you will never send to the subject of your stress. No holds barred, let it all hang out. Maybe send it, but I strongly advise at least sleeping on it first. I did that on Monday when I got some bad news about a job I was passed over for (the job I am actually currently doing – full time, specialized, work while also getting my “real” job done) and I just reread it and cringed about how it would have gone over had I sent it. But in the moment, it really helped me get back my perspective to get it out of my system!

    37. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      One thing that has worked for me has been to put in my ear buds and listen to motivational speeches and videos I found on YouTube or podcasts. Oprah has some great speeches and there are so many others. Also love Matthew McConaughey’s motivational speech. If you search for those, you’ll find even more. I just listened to a bunch on my phone with my earbuds while working.

      1. allathian*

        Good for you! That wouldn’t work for me, though, as I write for a living and I can’t handle listening to anything other than possibly instrumental music at the same time.

    38. MysteryFan*

      Sadly, when I had a very stressful job, my coping strategy was Twinkies from the canteen in the basement! In my defense, it was 30 years ago when Twinkies were (sorta) good.. lol

    39. Sepia Apama*

      Personally, I get the most stressed at work when I get too invested in a project, and its failure then makes ME feel like a failure, even if it was totally out of my hands. So, to de-stress, I practice non-work-related skills for a minute or two. Sometimes I bring a sketchbook and practice drawing or calligraphy while I wait for a conference call to start, or knit a row of a scarf at the end of my lunch break, or do an exercise on Duolingo while I reheat my coffee. It’s a tangible reminder of my self-worth in a challenging environment, and really cheers me up.

    40. Princesa Zelda*

      If I can get away for a quick 15-minute break, I usually go outside and sit with my eyes closed, taking deep, slow breaths and focusing very hard on something that is Not Work. Not Work could be anything — I often write fanfiction in my head, but sometimes I think very hard about cats or superpowers or what I am going to have for dinner. It’s not meditation, because I absolutely suck at meditation, but I find it calms me down really effectively!

    41. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Ditto on the walks. TAKE YOUR BREAKS and walk around the block.

      Flowers. There’s a market up the block from my office with a floral dept. so I can take a short walk and extra-treat myself. There’s always something on special for only a few dollars. Look away from the computer/paperwork/evil client and enjoy the blooms.

    42. rhyme and reason*

      I brought in some small nerf guns and put them in our rarely used conference room with a target.

  4. Misty*

    I posted on 1/24 questioning if I should change my major, on 1/31 saying I would stay with social work, on 2/14 that I was thinking of changing to english, and on 2/21 my decision to switch to Geography with a minor in professional writing.

    I am excited about my new major, this summer, and next semester. I signed up for two summer courses, found a summer job, and am happy about my decision regarding my major. All the papers I’ve turned in, I’ve gotten As on.

    I have been struggling with extreme anxiety and depression for the past couple of weeks regarding my current social work classes. (I have a therapist so don’t worry) For example, when I try to write an essay on an assigned and depressing topic, it usually ends with me crying. One essay I wrote by the end I had thrown up, was crying, and couldn’t stop shaking for hours after. Obviously I am not 100% cured of my PTSD but it is much easier to cope when you’re not taking classes daily on abuse and writing essays on the topics such as elder abuse, oppression, racism, discrimination, ect. I think things will be better next semester when studying something that isn’t as painful.

    I’m trying to focus on the positives which is that I picked a major that I’m excited about, I have a summer job lined up, and my grades are good. By the end of this upcoming week, I will be halfway through the semester since there are only 14 weeks of classes total.

    Not the most positive update but I’m still hopeful that things will be better after this semester. At least I know Im making the right choice leaving sw.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I remember your post about SW. I’m so glad that you have a change in sight and that you’re able to (successfully!) work toward it. Really wonderful job–inertia is a nightmare and it can be so hard to change tack even if something isn’t working, but you’re doing it!

    2. DG*

      If you are studying geography and professional writing – please think about taking some GIS courses. There are not a lot of people who do GIS that have the technical writing skills that go along with it. You’d be a good asset to teams that build GIS products and then need to do white papers/technical specification writing for those tools.

      Best of luck to you! I love geography and its an excellent career path.

      1. CheeryO*

        Misty posted last week too and mentioned GIS specifically. I think that’ll be a really great combination of skills!

      2. Misty*

        Yes! My school has multiple GIS classes and I’m going to take them all :) I’m really excited about it. I also have to do two internships to graduate which I think will be awesome experience also.

    3. ten-four*

      Oh wow, I’m SO proud of you for switching away from Social Work! There is ZERO need for you to put yourself through such a miserable experience, and I’m so happy for you that you made such a healthy and happy choice. I hope you learn a lot from your summer job and your new classes, and start building out a career that you can excel in, make money from, and find contentment with!

    4. Sara*

      You have made a great choice for yourself. Social Work is not for the feint of heart and I know people who went into it and suffered terribly themselves as a result. Geography is a great growing field and coupled with writing skills… you are setting yourself up for success. Congrats!

    5. GeoRunner*

      Fellow geographer, here! Graduated with my degree in GIS in 2016 and have been working in geography since. There’s a fun little trend in geography, and that is almost nobody that ends in geography started out in geography.. it’s often a path people find along their way. I started off college thinking I wanted to work in the medical field, and quickly realized I wasn’t cut out for it mentally/emotionally. I hope you find yourself in good company within geography! Best of luck!

    6. MCL*

      I also had a year of tough sledding in a major that was a bad fit through my first year of college, and I remember how miserable I was. It was such a relief to turn away from it and turn over a new leaf – like a new chance at my academic career. I hope this is also a breath of fresh air for you. Best wishes.

    7. Frankie*

      Just wanted to commiserate! There are a number of careers I had to rule out because I couldn’t detach from the really serious, bad-in-the-world stuff they confronted day-to-day. Even people who go into those professions with really good boundaries can burn out. It sucks to move away from those areas where a lot of help is needed but good for you for being realistic about your current limits and taking care of yourself.

      And just know that if you ever want to change your mind, your major is not do-or-die. You’ll learn, grow and probably change careers multiple times through your life.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      It’s almost a mantra for me: “Just because I understand a problem does not automatically mean I have to help fix it.” You don’t have to do social work because you think you should.
      Put yourself in places where you will flourish, not flounder.

      This sounds like a really cool choice and I am excited for you!

  5. Anongineer*

    Hi all!
    I posted late last Friday about the security guard who said creepy things like “oh you’re so pretty seeing you leave always brightens my day” and followed me to my car. I’ll post a link in a comment.
    First, a huge thanks to those that commented last week – I was frustrated and weirded out but wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had told some friends over the weekend, and they ALL started with “oh, he likes you and just doesn’t know how to express it” to which I strongly pusehd back. You all pushed me towards reporting to HR, which I had planned to do. I was somewhat concerned about retaliation – I know it’s very unlikely, but I like to consider all possible decisions and be prepared for the outcomes. He knows where I work, my approx. schedule, and what my (somewhat distinctive) car looks like, so I wanted to be prepared in case he were to confront me or become aggressive or violent (again, highly unlikely, wouldn’t have prevented me from reporting, but my brain works in mysterious ways). Also, Criminal Minds makes you paranoid for life!
    She let me know it wasn’t ok and that she’d be emailing building management to let them know (which she did later that day). She also recommended that someone walk me to my car when I leave as a precaution, which I’ve done. Building management replied that they would be addressing it immediately, and also scheduled a meeting with my HR for this afternoon to discuss the incident in further detail. None of my details were shared, but if I was the only one he was creepy to it wouldn’t be hard for him to figure out.
    I haven’t seen him since last week, which has been good and bad. Good in that I’d like to never see him, bad in that it’s almost waiting for the other shoe to drop in where will he appear next? One of the guys that walked me to my car was joking that I had caused this man to lose his job (side note: please don’t do that people! It already sucks that this happened, don’t make me feel bad for reporting someone who was doing creepy ish on the job) and I called him out for it. 
    So…. in summary: Reported security, HR was fantastic, the issue seems to be getting resolved! Thanks again everyone!

      1. tangerineRose*

        For anyone who hasn’t read this link, check it out. The details are much creepier than the summary.

    1. AppleStan*

      Glad things are moving in the right direction.

      Always remember…you didn’t make him lose his job (if he did), his own actions caused him to lose his job.

    2. stitchinthyme*

      It always really makes me angry when people blame someone who has reported another person’s actions for that person experiencing the consequences of those actions. If that guy lost his job, that is NOT your fault! He made the choice to act creepy towards you, and you are not to blame for feeling uncomfortable or for reporting it, any more than a crime victim is for reporting a teenaged criminal, even if the criminal’s life is then “ruined” because they have to experience consequences. They could have avoided those consequences by not committing the crime in the first place, and it’s wrong to blame the victim for reporting them.

    3. FormerFirstTimer*

      If he loses his job, please don’t feel guilty! You did not cause the situation, he did. If he loses his job its because HE was a creeper and didn’t follow basic, adult transactional “rules”.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Yes to this! I get kids who say, “you made me fail my class” and I am quick to point that they failed the class on their own despite my desire to help them. This is all on the security guard, OP! You did the right thing, absolutely!

      2. BadWolf*

        And there’s a moderate chance that your report was the “last straw” in a series of reports.

        And/or when they told him, “Hey, don’t follow women and tell them they’re pretty (and others are ugly)” who knows how he responded. If he really was “just awkward”, he’d probably be embarrassed and apologize. If he’s a creepy jerk, he probably dug his own hole to get fired.

        1. Jellyfish*

          Yes, this!
          I was once involved in a kinda similar case where several people put in complaints about one worker. None of the individual complaints merited firing him, but together, they painted a very worrisome picture. When management confronted the person, he reacted really badly. That reaction got him fired.

          Each of the complainers felt bad though, as if they single-handedly ended someone’s career. Nope – the complaints were valid, the worker was given the chance to make things right, and instead he lost himself the job.

        2. CL Cox*

          This! And if it was a case of just being awkward, he probably got moved to a different location, not fired outright.

      3. Anongineer*

        There’s a bit of guilt, but it’s followed by a swift mental reminder that his actions caused this, not mine!

        1. Kat in VA*

          It’s this attitude of “don’t make waves” or “don’t make things hard on other people” or “just suck it up and deal, he probably was just meaning *this* or *that* and you’re going overboard” that allows creepers and, yes, actual predators to keep on creeping and predating.

          The onus is so often on the victim to keep sweet, put up with it, and just tolerate the behavior because ohhh, the fallout is soooo bad, they could lose their job, people will look askance at them, blah blah blah.

          Well, if Mr. Creeper/Predator was concerned about their job/standing/social/status/whatever, maybe they’d do better to look at their own behavior and not rely on the social graces of others to let them keep doing their bad behavior?

          What does it say about their enablers that they’d rather allow a dude to act like a total jackwagon than protect a victim who’s doing nothing wrong other than, you know, just existing out in the world on the day-to-day?

          Even if Mr. Creepy isn’t concerned about how his behavior might affect his livelihood, all those other “concerned” enablers out there who’d rather put the stress on the victim than the aggressor underscore how common it is that women (usually) are expected to just deal with bad behavior rather than speaking up and putting a stop to it.

          (incoherent rant, the Red Bull hasn’t kicked in yet)

    4. nonprofit director*

      Wow, you didn’t cause the man to lose his job, his own behavior did. And it’s entirely possible he was just reassigned and didn’t lose his job. You did the right thing, please don’t feel bad for reporting this creepy and inappropriate behavior.

    5. londonedit*

      Yeah, if he’s lost/ends up losing his job, that’s not your fault. He behaved in a creepy and unprofessional manner and that’s what’ll make someone lose their job, not the fact that someone else has stood up for themselves and reported it.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m glad that your HR and the building management are taking this as seriously as it deserves!

      Good on you for pushing back when your friends and your coworker got weird about it. You’re not the person who did the wrong thing, and it’s sucky for people to make it sound like this guy was just a hapless dude with a crush who couldn’t help being inappropriate about it.

      You did good, and your workplace did good, and I’m happy about all of it.

    7. Bernice Clifton*

      Whatever consequences he faced came from HIS employer. That means they also believed his actions were out of line.

      1. TootsNYC*

        That also means the security company is prioritizing their business-and THEY ARE ALLOWED TO.

        For anyone to think that you should bear any responsibility for his firing is for them to think the security company isn’t allowed to look out for their own best interests. Those people are denying the security company its agency in this regard.

        Especially a security company, LOL! The assignment is to keep the area safe, and to make people feel safe. This guy screwed that up for them, and THEY get to decide whether he continues to work for them. He has damaged their business; firing him would be completely reasonable.

        The security company is entitled to the info that Anongineer had for them, and they are entitled to act on that information in their own best interests.

        1. blackcat*

          Right. It’s also entirely possible that this wasn’t a first complaint. He may have been warned about this behavior before.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If he was fired, he lost his own GD job, nobody else did that for him. They train people in that position how to behave and he was being creepy.

      But he probably got his shift changed or relocated most likely, usually one complaint isn’t going to get them fired! If he was fired he had a track record.

      I’m so glad they’re taking good care of you and reacting properly to your unsettling scary situation.

    9. Squirrel!*

      I had told some friends over the weekend, and they ALL started with “oh, he likes you and just doesn’t know how to express it”

      Somewhat off-topic but, I HATE THIS SO MUCH! Why is it acceptable that a person can creep out / harm / whatever another person because they supposedly don’t know how to behave? Why isn’t the onus on that person to learn how to behave better? Why does the person who is experiencing the bad behavior carry the burden of having to deal with it, but only in a very specific nice way that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings? I hate the performative aspect of social etiquette that seems to put everything on the aggrieved party, rather than the antagonist.

      It isn’t just dating either, it can be any sort of negative social interaction, where the person who is on the receiving end of the questionable / bad behavior must deal with it, rather than requiring the perpetrator to stop doing The Thing. I hate it so much, and I don’t know where that expectation came from. It isn’t something that we explicitly teach (in American culture/society), as far as I can tell, but we sure as heck implicitly require it.

      1. hbc*

        My main problem with people bringing this up is: so? Like, it’s pretty clear that he thinks Anongineer is pretty because that’s what he said. Thanks for stating the obvious, friends, but how and why is this supposed to change what she does?

        It’s the very rare stalker/creep who is clutching a brandy while stroking a Persian cat and saying, “I know what will make her uncomfortable, mwahaha!” They’re acting creepy because they either can’t see that they’re causing discomfort, or they value their feelings over the discomfort they’re causing. I find neither situation reassuring.

      2. Viette*

        Especially because this isn’t a hormonal teenager, this is a grown adult employed person. “Oh, he likes you and just doesn’t know how to express it”? Well, he apparently doesn’t know a lot of things, because even if he *does* have a crush on you, as a grown adult employed security guard he should know that generally speaking it isn’t appropriate to hit on building patrons at all, much less in a creepy way.

        OP’s friends encouraging them to take it as a compliment is so wrong. It’s not automatically less creepy because he likes you. OP doesn’t have to be flattered that a creepy person likes them.

        1. londonedit*

          Yup. That sort of comment suggests that Anongineer’s feelings are less important than the security guard’s, and she should let it go because he obviously ‘just likes her’. Nope, that doesn’t give him a free pass to act like a creep, and it’s not Anongineer’s responsibility to put up with behaviour she doesn’t like or appreciate, and that makes her feel uncomfortable, just because this guy can’t act in a professional manner.

        2. Marika*

          I don’t care if he’s a hormonal teenager – the behaviour isn’t ok, period. I had a teacher who said that about a classmate of mine – he liked me and was bad about it. That was the teacher’s response to all of his bad behaviour … Including the day he swung a hammer at my head!

          Funny, the cops didn’t see it that way!

        3. Kat in VA*

          Agree. Whether he likes her or not is immaterial and the friends are wrong. His behavior is making her extremely uncomfortable to the point of being concerned for her safety.

          So whose feelings are more important here? Who gets to win this battle for her attentions/affections? She’s not required to accept his compliments, reply positively to them (or reply at all), or give him any more warmth than she would give a dead leaf on a park bench.

          But if she complains that he’s making her feel upset, somehow she’s the bad guy and he should be given the benefit of the doubt because “he likes you” and “he’s just trying to XYZ” or whatever. So what?

          No. This has to stop. Women owe men nothing, whether they took the time to stretch or come out of their shells or master their social awkwardness demons to let us know they find us ornamental, or amusing, or intelligent, or beautiful, or anything else. We owe them the bare minimum of courtesy we would extend to any stranger on the street…and if they’re really obnoxious, not even that.

          I’m so tired of being told I have to contort my mind into 30 kinds of mental gymnastics to discern the true nature of why this dude does this, that, or the other – if I don’t like it, I’m not required to hand him all the grace of the Virgin Mother Mary just because he opted to extend himself in my direction.

          This crap starts in grade school, where a little boy pulls hair or pokes or pinches and the little girl is told, “Oh, he only does that because he likes you” – and by extension, just tolerate it (but nicely!) since he likes you and you should be flattered and his need to interact trumps your need to be left alone.

          This one hits close to home because my 11 year old is being hassled (benignly) by a boy on the bus who, from the sounds of it, does “like” her and is awkward about it, as most 5th graders are.

          However, I did not tell her she has to suffer his attentions politely just because HE likes her and HIS feelings are paramount to hers.

          I told her that if he touches you and you don’t want him to, tell him DON’T TOUCH ME. If he says weird things to you and you don’t want to talk to him, tell him STOP TALKING TO ME. His desire to engage with her due to “liking her” does not override her bodily autonomy and agency. I think the sooner we teach all little girls this lesson, the sooner all little boys will turn into grown men who do not think the entire other half of the population is there for their pleasure.

          Signed, a woman who’s been dealing with this crap her entire life and is glad to finally be almost 50 and invisible…but now has three young daughters who need to be taught that their lives are not to be lived at men’s discretion.

          I feel the need to add a postscript that I am not a man-hater; I’m rather fond of men as a whole and especially fond of my husband and my son and my dad and my brother and my male friends, etcetera. This post happened to spark off the disgust and weariness I feel when I see this man>woman scenario play out time and again, on AAM, Captain Awkward, at work, in my friend group, in the stories my daughters tell…and some days, I just get sick of it. Today was one of those days.

      3. TootsNYC*

        That expectation comes from this:

        The creepy/inappropriate/rude person isn’t the one in front of us, so we can’t “problem solve” through them.

        We also don’t believe that they’d pay a damned bit of attention to what we say.
        So we address the one person who IS in the room and you MIGHT listen to what we say.

        It’s really wrong.

      4. Applications FTL*

        I got this type of response from HR after reporting someone who was making me scared to leave the building at the end of the day because I was worried he’d follow me to my car (he waited for me near the parking lot). He was making super creepy comments, would keep trying to draw me into conversations after I told him I needed to go, kept asking for hugs, and grabbed my arm at one point. They said he just thought I was pretty and he must have liked me. Then they talked to the legal team and told me it was sexual harassment.

        So I guess harassment is only a problem if you can get in legal trouble for it.

      5. stitchinthyme*

        One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is how much gender matters here. It’s specifically women who are socialized to be nice and polite in the face of creepy/unwanted behavior from men. Some of the reason for this is practical: men have been known to become violent when they’re rejected, and so women have learned to do their best to soften the rejection for their own safety, because there’s no way to know whether a stranger is likely to attempt to lash out. Men are still nearly always in positions of power over women, if only because they’re physically bigger and stronger.

      6. Not So NewReader*

        “oh, he likes you and just doesn’t know how to express it”

        What, is he in first grade? That is how we deal with little kids not adults. grrr.

        If the guy actually liked you, he would apologize profusely, realize he totally blew it and just leave you alone. FOREVER. The reason why would be that he thought enough of you to put you first and himself last.

        No, creeper likes himself the best and is only concerned for what he thinks.

      7. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I agree. A while back, there was a guy in my circle of friends who was interested in me. It was very clear that I had no interest in him but he was still very persistent. He would email me all the time and I was expected to reply right away. At parties, he would expect me to spend time with him and when I didn’t he’d complain about it to whoever would listen and would then watch And keep track of me throughout the evening. He would act like a jealous boyfriend if I talked to other guys. This happened at several parties and gatherings. He would also insult me for not being interested in him, telling me I was stuck up, yada, yada, yada. Really creepy. It weirded me out so I talked to a mutual friend about it. The friend actually suggested that I apologize to the creep to smooth things over. WTF?? It wasn’t on me to smooth anything over. I owed him nothing. This guy was a creep and that was on him, not me. A true gentleman will back off and move on when a woman doesn’t like him back. So I agree that people on the receiving end of creepiness or any other bad behavior are not to just take it and make sure everyone else is comfortable with it.

    10. chronicallyIllin*

      I did not see the post last week but I am so happy you reported it! That’s so creepy and upsetting! Honestly, the worst part for me is the calling other women ugly and saying it bummed him out– that’s a really weird reaction to seeing people you think of as ugly, and speaks to some weird entitlement which is…. concerning. To say the least. It raises my personal risk assessment quite a bit without even the other stuff, which is also definitely bad enough to justify reporting.

      Can you ask if he still works there? Or to be notified if he stops working there– regardless of circumstances surrounding that?

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        They’re in the fifth grade. OP should make some friends that are closer to her age. But not that co-worker! He’s in the fifth grade, too.

      2. Anongineer*

        They’re good for the most part! I think it’s still part of the kindergarten “oh, Bobby teases you so he must like you” thought process that we’re all taught. Don’t worry – I definitely corrected them about how this was such an inappropriate thing to do.

    11. TootsNYC*

      when I was a total rookie, I was friendly to a security guard at the office once when I was working late (no one else there).
      So he came to the door of my office and suggested that we should have sex. I said I wasn’t interested, and he persisted. I finally said I had a boyfriend, and he said, “he doesn’t have to know.”

      I should have left the office, but I was kind of dumb, so I locked my door and went to the photocopier the longer way to avoid him.

      Months later I was telling some of my peers about this, and the other rookie, a guy who was the assistant to the facilities manager said, quite insistently, “You should have told us. We’d have made sure he never came back. You should feel safe. That was completely not right.”

      You were absolutely right to report this. I’m glad your HR and the security company took it seriously. They should. (The security company especially would be blithering idiots if they didn’t.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        he was actually a little bit mad that I hadn’t reported it, because that meant this guy with totally inappropriate boundaries was around for a while. His boss would have wanted to know–actively WANTED to know, not just been willing to react properly once she found out.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      I hate when people say “oh he just Likes you”. That is such a boys-will-be-boys mentality. Yes he may be awkward for whatever reason but he needs to be told that it is inappropriate. especially since he is a security guard. There is a level of trust and authority in that position and he should not be making you feel uncomfortable.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        When I was in the 5th grade (late 1960’s), a boy in my class would come over to me and punch me in the arm, really hard when we would line up to go to recess. I would yell OWW!!–it hurt and left major bruises! I couldn’t complain to the teacher, because that would make me a tattle-tale, so I complained to my mother, who refused to do or say anything. She acted like she was thrilled that I was getting this attention. WTF, mom!

        1. All Hail Queen Sally*

          I meant to say my mother actually used the phrase, “oh that means he likes you!” which is why she was happy he was assauting me.

          1. tangerineRose*

            That kid was a jerk. I wish the teacher had interfered. 5th grade is more than old enough to know not to punch people.

        2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Reminds me of the little b—–d who deliberately threw a playground ball (about the size of a basketball) into my face from just a few feet away. It hurt! AND I was wearing my glasses. I told the teacher, who scoffed, “Ohhh! Your face is still there!” The kid’s dad was some kind of honcho at a major employer, and I’ve wondered if the teacher’s husband worked under him or if they knew him socially so she was protecting the kid.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I implore everyone who has young daughters to please not say “oh it’s because he likes you” when she comes home from school and says a boy was mean to her.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Mine made this distinction by herself about a boy who’s bugging her – benignly, but still bugging her – on the school bus.

          When she said, “I guess that means he likes me”, my response was, “That doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If he’s bothering you, let him know he’s bothering you and tell him to knock it off.”

          I’m not a fan of telling girls to suck it up and put up with annoying behavior so as not to offend the tender feels of the boys who are annoying them. That’s how social graces work, and that’s how you learn – if you think that showing affection to someone by punching them in the buttocks is cute, you’ll learn quite quickly that most people do not appreciate that form of affection at all, and hopefully correct your behavior.

    13. Buffy*

      Echoing the comments by others that you DID NOT cause this man to lose his job if he did lose it. One thing that creepers rely on is that their victims will be more concerned about not being nice than they will about being creeped on. His bad behavior is his choice and the consequences are his to deal with. The only thing you need to do is to not feel guilty if he did lose his job. Overall, this is something that women need to stop doing. Stop worrying about the creepers feeling the consequences of their choices. Stop feeling guilty for standing up for yourself. Don’t worry about being labels as ‘not nice’. Perpetrators will weaponize that and you will end up dead.

    14. This Old House*

      I had a security guard like that was I was a student worker at one point. He dealt with the public all the time, so I don’t know how there weren’t complaints, but everyone else I worked with seemed to LOVE him. I don’t know if they were just flattered that he did things like propose marriage to 20-year-olds he’d never seen before or if he didn’t do that stuff to everyone, but he made me SO uncomfortable. But I never wanted to be the person who “got” everyone’s favorite guard fired, and other than a few comments, most of it was just his attitude, staring into my eyes for too long while I went through security, etc. I didn’t even know how to bring it up, so instead I just ate lunch at my desk instead of outside most days to minimize the number of times I had to walk past him.

      I’m so glad you reported your creepy security guy, because I’ve always regretted not doing anything about mine.

    15. Fikly*

      Wow, at the guy walking you to your car – if creepy guy lost his job, it was his behavior that was the cause. If he never acted that way, you would have nothing to report.

  6. Manon*

    What should a salary negotiation look like if you had to give salary requirements with an application?

    For instance, if I said I was seeking a salary from $40-50,000 and I’m offered $48-50K, I’m guessing it would be poor form to negotiate more. But if I’m offered $42-44K, would it be appropriate to try to negotiate to the higher end of the range?

    1. J*

      Sure, that’s appropriate. When you give a range you’re leaving room for things like benefits. I accepted my last job at a lower salary under the stipulation that I got an extra week paid time off.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This is the problem with having to name a salary range before you know the full details of the role. I think in both situations, it’s absolutely fair game for you to negotiate. “After learning more about the role and the responsibilities, I am hoping for a salary closer to X.”

      1. Combinatorialist*

        I think if it is near the high end of the range, you can negotiate on benefits. And then if you don’t get what you want on benefits, negotiate the salary on to make up for that. But I think just negotiating the salary when they gave you the high end is going to come off as bad faith

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I think that so long as you are polite and professional about it, and not asking for something wildly outside your original range, it’s completely fair to negotiate. Most candidates have no idea the full scope of a job, so your salary “requirements” are really just your best guess at what is appropriate. I don’t think it’s bad faith to ask for what your work is actually worth.

          If the offer comes in on the higher end, and you’re legitimately happy with it, you aren’t required to negotiate. But I think most employers make an offer with the assumption that you will probably counter, and I think it’s often worthwhile to ask for a little more. If they say no, and you can still accept the original offer.

      2. Mbarr*

        This. I did the exact same thing – applied, asking for $80K, then when I learned about the job, I realized I undershot and asked for $95k (with the expectation they’d bargain me down $5k). I ended up getting $90k.

        I still wonder if I should have asked for more though – I have no idea what my role is worth because I have the title of one job, but do the work of another… It was still a $20k increase from my previous job though!

      3. CheeryO*

        You have no idea how validating this is for me! I applied for a job right out of grad school and provided a salary range, then had an HR phone interview where the interviewer actually suggested bumping the upper end up my range up and said that she would change my paperwork. After my in-person interview, I was offered the top end of my original range and was absolutely dragged when I tried to negotiate. It still bothers me, years later!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I think when you give your expectations, it’s okay to say “Based on what I know about the role so far…”

      But even if you didn’t say that, it’s okay to say “Based on what I now know about the role…”

      1. HM MM*

        This! I’m not someone who will negotiate just for the sake of negotiating, however If I’m forced to give a salary first I’ve trained myself to hedge so that I don’t feel backed into a corner later on. “Based on what I understand so far, I would be hoping for $x-$y, but of course that would depend on the benefits, specifics of the role, etc”. I also always give a range, plus I don’t feel bad about giving a pretty broad range and aiming a bit high. Like if I’m expecting 80-90k, but might be willing to take something as low as 75 or 78, I’ll say 80-110.

      2. CL Cox*

        And if they ask you before you’ve heard any details, you can (and should) say something like, “it depends on the specifics of the position, of course, but I would think $X-Y is reasonable. Because OF COURSE it’s reasonable to wait until you know what your duties are going to be before you decide what a reasonable salary is for that work.

    4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      You can always negotiate… unless you find yourself in the situation I encountered early in my career. I named my range during the interview; the day after the hiring manager called and offered me the job at a significantly higher salary. Benefits in Germany are pretty standard at entry level to mid-range jobs (and excellent compared to US norms), so there was really nothing to negotiate. I took the offer on the spot and stayed with them for over 6 years and two promotions.

  7. stitchinthyme*

    So those of you who have a visible sign of a disability and have done job interviews, do you mention the elephant in the room to the interviewer, or do you just ignore it? I’ve had a cochlear implant for only about 6 months, so I haven’t had to deal with this, and since I don’t have thick hair I can’t hide the processor. I’m already a little nervous about the prospect of interviewing — I do reasonably well as long as there’s not too much background noise, but I do still sometimes have to ask people to repeat stuff — so I’m just wondering if having such a visible sign of a disability will hurt my chances if I should decide to start job searching. (My hearing does not impact my ability to do my job, however. You don’t really need to hear well to write code.)

    1. Alan*

      I would mention it matter of factly. If they’re in any way judgmental or weird about it then consider it a good way of screening for who would be a nd employer
      And good luck with your job search!

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      I also have a hearing impairment. Don’t mention it unless you absolutely need to. Focus on the interview questions and your qualifications. After you’ve been hired, you can go over the specifics on how to meet your needs based on your disability. I speak from experience and it only helps to mention it if you are struggling to hear in the interview itself.

      1. BK*

        Worked with someone for a number of years who wore large hearing aids. When talking with HR about accommodations for the phone equipment, the interviewer said she hadn’t even noticed them. Sometimes, it’s more at the forefront of your mind than it is theirs.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          So far, I’ve been lucky enough not to need many accommodations. I had to ask my coworkers to contact me by email or online chat instead of talking to me for a few weeks last summer because I’d just had the implant surgery but it was not activated yet, and meanwhile I suffered another sudden hearing loss in the non-implanted ear, leaving me about a half-step above totally deaf. And then I had to use an external microphone in meetings for the first month or two after I got my CI, but I just put it in the middle of the conference table with a quick explanation of what it was and no one batted an eye. But as my comprehension with the CI got better, I stopped needing to do that. Hopefully I won’t need anything special at my next job, although I will have to pay close attention to the noise level of the work environment, as too much noise can be a problem for me.

    3. BlindChina*

      I mention the elephant, only if I need them to accommodate it up front. So yes, in your case I would mention it because you may have to ask them to repeat them selves. Just say it very matter of factually just as you worded it her ” I do well as long as there’s not a lot of background noise, but I do still sometimes have to ask people to repeat stuff. So if I ask you to repeat a question, that is why. My hearing does not impact my ability to do my job, however. You don’t really need to hear well to write code.” Keep it mater of fact, not apologetic. After saying this immediately change the subject back to the job. Good luck job hunting!

    4. Superstylin*

      I don’t think you need to draw attention to any sign of visible disability. If you have issues interviewing where there’s a lot of background noise, and for some reason the interviewer decides to interview you in a Starbucks, then by all means ask to interview somewhere else. But otherwise, I don’t believe there’s any reason to mention any type of disability until you’re at the offer stage and only then if you need some sort of accommodation.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      I think it depends…if you happen to notice them looking/staring at it a quick “I see you noticed my processor – I got cochlear implants a few months ago and they have been amazing! Still fine tuning them so in large, crowded rooms I might need you to repeat a question but I’ve discovered that in conference rooms and cubicles they work almost perfectly.”
      Otherwise, there is probably no need to bring it up until after you have the offer (or even later if you don’t need any accommodations).

    6. hbc*

      I would only bring it up if it becomes relevant, and then in a way similar to the way someone with a non-disability-level impairment would mention it. For example, my husband has a hard time picking out voices in a noisy, talkative room (badly timed ear infections as a youngster), so he’ll just say, “Sorry, can you repeat that? It’s a little hard for me with this level of background noise.”

      That’s not to say that no one will discriminate, but naming what the interviewer needs to do for you versus the disability that explains why you need it will make it easier for them to keep moving. Especially if they get nervous because they know they’re not really supposed to be talking about disabilities in interviews.

    7. Tau*

      I have a stutter that is currently impossible to miss. I have a script, which goes roughly like this:

      “As you have probably noticed, I have a speech disorder. It’s usually pretty mild but flares up sometimes. Please let me know if you have any trouble understanding me, I’m happy to repeat myself.”

      Mainly, what I’m trying to do with it is direct people in the way I want them to go. I am signalling:
      – that this is not a big deal, even if it seems like one right now
      – that I’ve got this, I am in control, I know what I’m doing
      – that I’m aware of the problems it can cause and able to compensate for them
      – that this is a topic I am willing to discuss
      – last but not least, I’m telling them how to react and how I expect them to handle it

      This script works wonders, I swear. Reactions to it are generally incredibly positive! My suspicion is that most people are not familiar with speech disorders and thrown when they encounter one, so they’re grateful for me providing guidance and happy to follow it. The flip side of this is that people can come to really weird conclusions regarding appropriate behaviour if left to their own devices, so these days I try to avoid that.

      So yeah! Not 100% sure if the disabilities translate, but from my experience I can only recommend being open about it, and specifically recommend putting it out there in some sort of problem-solution context instead of just “I have this disability. That is all.”

      Oh yeah, for the depressing side of this advice:

      so I’m just wondering if having such a visible sign of a disability will hurt my chances if I should decide to start job searching

      This is honestly something I try not to think about. You know why? Because there is nothing I can do to *not* show visible signs of a disability, and because having seen some of the statistics I think it would be an actual miracle if I was never discriminated against because of it. There’s nothing I can change about that, and thinking about it just gets me either depressed or angry, so I generally try to ignore the possibility completely.

    8. Amethyst*

      It depends, for me, on the interviewer. If I’m getting a great vibe from them, I’ll mention it in passing (“I’ve got a _moderate/severe/profound_ hearing loss so I wear hearing aids & sometimes I might take a minute to work out a word in relation to a sentence’s context/whatever your flavor here.”) if it’s related to a question. Sometimes I’ll use it as a “tell me something about you” answer (other times I use my hobbies for extract-making &/or passion for singing as examples). Sometimes I won’t, either because there’s no need for me to do so, or the vibe says “zip it.” There’s only been one instance where the interviewer knew of my disability & that was because I was interviewing for a position at my own audiologists’ office.

      Keep it light & breezy & move on.

      Mostly people just confuse my earmolds for “really cool piercings; where’d you get that done?” :)

    9. To Lurk, perchance to Post*

      Congrats on your CI! I’m bilaterally deaf but can only get one CI, which I have on my right side. I’ve been implanted for almost 5 years.

      When I interviewed for this company (7.5 years ago) I had a Baha (bone anchored hearing aid) and I did leave my hair down to hide it. I believe the stigma against disabilities (especially hearing loss) would play a role in a hiring decision for me. I’m now an Ops Manager with the same company, in the same department. I have ADA accommodations in place as needed.

      My CI is pretty much common knowledge now. And I wear a bright white CI with multi colored microphones and battery covers… so at this point I’m doing the opposite of hiding it. LOL But I completely understand your desire not to have it become a focus of your interview.

      I would not volunteer. And honestly, they should NOT bring it up. Imagine if you came in using a wheelchair. Would they say, “Hey now!! What’s wrong with those legs you got??” I hope not!

      I recently applied for a promotion that I needed to interview for. When I got to the executive director level interviewer, literally his first question was about my deafness and CART services and his second was about my children. Oh vey. HR NIGHTMARE.

      I’m pretty comfortable with my deafness and CI use and it’s out in the open where I work. But if (when?) I apply and interview for other jobs, I will not volunteer info about my hearing loss unless I needed an accommodation, like CART services. I would only disclose once I had accepted the job.

      I hope things are going well with your CI journey and let me know if you have any questions or need help!

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Heh, I don’t hide mine either – I decorate it with skins and have recently acquired some cute charms (though I wouldn’t wear those to an interview). I figure that anyplace that wouldn’t hire me because I have a CI is probably not someplace I want to work anyway. I just wondered if it was better to just get it out there at the start of an interview. As my understanding gets better, it’s becoming less likely that I’ll have too much trouble during one-on-one conversations.

    10. Jemima Bond*

      If you need/want to mention it, I’d vouch it in terms of, here is a reference to an issue you’re obviously concerned about as a fair and caring employer; that being potential need for adjustments for candidates/employees with disabilities etc. So something like; you may have noticed I wear a hearing aid implant [or whatever you find best to call it] – this means I hear very well now and don’t need any adjustments! Or indeed, this means I hear pretty well but it helps if you face me and don’t cover your mouth when speaking, or whatever.
      Application forms for my dept (and I think this is pretty common) ask of candidates will need any adjustments etc as much for the application process as for the ongoing job if you get it; if I interview someone I’m supposed to spot if they have said they have mobility issues so I know to make sure they are brought via the lift not the stairs, or that they say dyslexia so I know they are entitled to extra time for a written assessment. Etc.
      I’d think of pointing out the implant as just helping them with that process.

    11. Kat in VA*

      I have a rare speech disorder that I refer to as an impediment (sometimes “disorder” can sound a little precious, but an impediment is understood to be something you’re born with, or can’t do anything about – semantics, I know).

      It usually comes up on the phone screen, so I tend to say something like, “I have a speech impediment that can make it difficult to understand me at times. Please feel free to ask me to repeat myself if you don’t understand what I said.” Usually people will do the OH NO I UNDERSTAND YOU JUST FINE and then…ask me to repeat myself several times, which is fine.

    12. Anon for this one*

      I don’t have a visible sign of a disability myself, but I do work with someone who is a highly respected senior/lead ‘llama groomer’ who has… I’m not sure if it’s the same thing you are talking about, but they have a white ‘unit’ on the side of their head (I don’t know how it’s attached and I don’t like to ask!) which is about 3/4 of an inch by 2 inches or so. Sounds like it could be the same/similar thing… In my place, and every other place I’ve worked, someone using a device like this would be treated normally by pretty much everyone they come across (I can’t account for the occasional person with unfounded prejudice) at the interview stage, and during their work at the company.

      In my case the co-worker with hearing problems does speak a little ‘differently’ than ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) which we have to listen out for and actively think about what they are saying, but it is perfectly understandable once you actually listen (something I think we ought to exercise with our non-hearing-impaired colleagues as well… most of us are just hearing “blah blah” and waiting for our turn to talk, and I acknowledge myself as one of the culprits of that).

      I don’t think your device in itself will hurt your chance of interviewing in most reasonable places but if you still feel uncomfortable you could mention it matter-of-factly like “oh, btw I have hearing problems and that’s why I’m wearing this! Just so you know” etc.

      Only anon because I write here and read here including on my work pc!

  8. Queen of Sardines*

    TL;DR: Should I move into the conference room in my (very small) business in order to give staff more space?

    I own and run a small business with 6 employees. We’re currently in a 1500 square foot office suite. There is only one private office (mine), the remaining staff work out of a communal bullpen type area. Yes, the dreaded open concept office. There is also a small break room, a small storage room, and a decent sized conference room.

    Currently I need to hire 2 additional staff members. However, we’re not quite in a financial position to move to a significantly larger space. I’ve tried to come up with the best possible rearrangement of furniture to fit 2 more people, but pretty much everyone hates the proposed arrangement. To solve this, I am now considering working out of the conference room myself, turning my office over to 2 staffers. This would leave everyone else the same or better off than they currently are. However, my own working environment would become much trickier, including, for example, having to clear out of the conference room whenever anyone needs to use it. Some work from home is possible, but not to the extent that it would allow an entire desk to be freed up.

    My question is how this sort of move would be viewed. Would it be seen as being a team player or would it be seen as inappropriate? I don’t want to make it awkward for anyone—for example, people might have fewer meetings because they feel they can’t ask me to leave the conference room. But I also don’t want to make my staff’s working conditions harder than they need to be. Any advice?

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      How often is the conference room actually used? If it would be a daily disruption to your work, then I don’t think that’s a real solution.

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        The conference room is used at least daily, generally more like 2 to 3 times a day. It would obviously be a significant disruption. But part of me is saying, “Well, everyone has to make sacrifices. So if this is the new normal, then so be it.” Obviously, still unsure about this.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          I share an office with 2 other people. Because we are on the phone often, we had cubicles put in the space that have fabric walls. It helps cut down on the sound transference, but we can still talk over/around the wall to each other when we need to collaborate. We had to really Frankenstein the cubicles to get them to fit into the space, but we all ended up with ample workspace and don’t feel too cramped. Sometimes we all listen to the same music, sometimes all of us have headphones on (I use my earbuds when I’m on the phone anyway).

          Depending on the cubicle system you purchase, you’d be surprised at how efficiently you can use the space without sacrificing too much privacy or causing too much interruption for the people who have to share.

          Does your conference area need to be private? If you can fit 3 people into one of the other rooms maybe you could create a new conference area in the open space with some sort of divider from the main working area.

    2. I edit everything*

      Have you asked your employees for ideas/thoughts? Maybe one of them has a gift for spatial arrangement.

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        I have. The problem here is that they invariably run afoul of dynamics that they are not aware of. For example, they put Jane next to Sally who can’t stand each other. Or they put Fergus right under the AC vent when he is the one always complaining of cold, etc. They mean well, but they just don’t know all the variables at play.

        1. Adric*

          Even if if they don’t get the exact seating plan, if they come up with a workable desk arrangement that’s at least a start. You can always swap a couple people around on the seating plan if all the desks fit.

          How practical would it be to just axe the breakroom and turn it into office space?

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            Or Maybe turn the conference room into a break room and the break room into office space? We have a conference/break room at my office. although it isn’t ideal it could work until they can move.

            1. valentine*

              Never give up or share your office. You will always need space to talk to staff and to have confidential stuff.

              put Jane next to Sally who can’t stand each other.
              They need to behave professionally enough that no one knows they ever had beef. I hope you’ll tackle this.

              Give them dividers. What about a coworking space?

              Can you adjust schedules so people have different days off? Maybe a weekend rotation or early/afternoon shifts?

    3. Selmarie*

      It depends on how and how often the conference room gets used. A schedule for the conference room would be helpful here, if you do what you propose. That way, claims to the conference room can be made without too much face-to-face displacing of the boss. (I don’t know whether you’d need to put your working times in the calendar; again, it depends.

      And is there a way you can have a “rolling desk” that can be moved elsewhere when the room is needed for conferences? That way, you wouldn’t need to interrupt a meeting to get your stuff. Less ideal I think would be somehow locking it up in a cabinet or drawer when there is a conference, but you could run into needing things while the room is in use for a meeting. Although a rolling desk might also need a locked portion, since you’re the boss.

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        We currently do use an online scheduler. And I would insist that that be used religiously. (i.e., no more on-the-fly dropping into the conference room for a quick pow-wow.) I do like the idea of a rolling desk though. Hadn’t considered that.

        1. Red Fraggle*

          Teachers frequently end up using rolling desks for a variety of reasons, and as long as it has some locking drawers the setup can work pretty well.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          Honestly, it doesn’t sound like there’s an ideal solution. My opinion is that you share your own office, or shove a few people in there and move out into the communal space yourself. We have a completely open floorplan and not even our CEO has his own office. We all share the pain. I think the conference room needs to remain as one (or maybe use your smaller office as the conference room and convert the conf. room into a work area).

    4. WellRed*

      I don’t think taking over the conference room is the way to go. What is it about the rearrangements they don’t like? Can you offer everyone some WFH? Or different work times?

    5. Jimming*

      Can you keep your office and move the 2 new staff into the conference room? You do want to keep a place where people can meet privately with you 1:1.

    6. Nesprin*

      You, the owner/manager who needs the ability to have private conversations and to be able to focus on work seem like the least able to move into the conference room. Is work from home/remote wework type extra desking possible?

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        So a lot of people are asking about WFH. Some amount is certainly possible, but unfortunately not to the point where it would free up an entire station. We work in a intensively hand-off oriented business. So the Rogers file has to go from Jane to Fergus by 10. Then Fergus has to negotiate with Sally as to when she can take it over that afternoon. Then when Sally is done it has to go back to Jane for her approval by 4 so that Jane can get it to my desk for my signature by 4:30 and out to the client before 5. That’s not every single day, but it’s often enough (and unpredictable enough) that someone working out of the office could significantly slow down a key hand-off.

        But having said that, I’m glad people are bringing that up because maybe there are at least parts of the business where that would be feasible. I really appreciate prodding my thinking about this!

        1. Senor Montoya*

          Are there actual pieces of paper or equipment that have to be handed off? Or could you be using some sort of shared documents/drive? Do people have to negotiate face to face about when they have to get to/hand off materials?

          If people are WFH, it’s reasonable to expect them to be reachable within a short period of time — that’s what we have to do. You post your schedule (everyone can see everyone else’s work calendar) and are not expected to be at your “desk” and quickly available during lunch break, phone meetings, whatever would = you would not be available if you were in the office.

          Otherwise, we’re expected to respond to email, phone, and gchat within 30 minutes. (We rarely need to be immediately available — if your business requires faster response, you can of course require it).

          Can you figure out what the expectations and requirements would be for folks WFH? And then put it in writing and make sure everybody knows.

          1. Annony*

            Yeah, it seems like actively using something like slack could have the same result as being there in person so long as people understand the expectation and don’t need to hand off physical items.

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          Since you’re the owner, is your “butt in chair” time more or less important in the office? Perhaps you can work from home through lunch and then finish out the day in the conference room? You can schedule yourself to work/approve docs in the conference room every day from 2-6pm and meetings can happen in there beforehand?

          1. Queen of Sardines*

            This is a really interesting idea. I hadn’t considered the idea of flexing my own schedule to help with the overcrowding. I mean, there are some details that would mean I’d have to arrange it a bit differently, but your overall point is a really intriguing possibility. Thank you!

    7. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      It sounds like this is probably not an option, but I’m not 100% certain from your post — is there no way that you could have 2 people WFH each day, and rotate through? Then everyone might have, say, a set of rolling drawers where they can keep their personal things and bring that with them to their desk of the day. Another alternative option for you might be paying for some type of WeWork situation, if that’s possible near you. I don’t have any experience with that, but it would give your folks a dedicated space to report to, at least.

    8. Red Ghost*

      Even if you can’t afford to move to a larger office, would it be possible to rent a small additional office or space in an office somewhere else where you can either put two employees or use yourself?

        1. Mockingjay*

          Or coworking spaces. Cheaper than leasing an entire unit, especially for only one or two employees.

    9. foolofgrace*

      “pretty much everyone hates the proposed arrangement”

      It might have to be that people don’t like the arrangement but they’ll have to live with it. I can see not moving Fergus under the vent, but if Jane and Sally hate each other, they’ll just have to suck it up, it’s not like they have to talk to each other. (Maybe you could add movable partitions.) Often, our work arrangements aren’t the coziest, and many workers just have to deal with it. I wish I had more say about where I sit, but this is the job I have and if I don’t like it, there’s only one alternative — leave. So I sit where the company needs me to sit.

      1. Holy Moley*

        No one has mentioned that the staff not getting the two spots in your office might feel slighted. Would you give it by seniority? Rank? I can see someone getting mad that two new employees get the office while the rest are in the open office area.

        1. Queen of Sardines*

          No, the two new employees to be hired are entry level and no way they would get the semi-private office space. The space would be determined by a combination of rank/seniority and need. So “Jane” would get a spot due to her senior status and “Emily” would be the other because even though she’s roughly equal to a couple of other people, she is the one who more often has to read long documents. I actually think any sort of jealousy would be a fairly minor issue in this case.

    10. Triplestep*

      I design workplaces. Open space is not universally dreaded – it’s often dreaded because designers plan in lots of shared private spaces for focused work or private conversation, and leadership ends up chipping away at it. I can’t think of a single project I’ve done where some of the programmed shared private spaces – or even the ALREADY BUILT shared private spaces – don’t become “owned” by a single person.

      More people translates to more need for shared private spaces (focus room, phone room, collaboration for two or three people) and the scenario you lay out above is taking 100% of your shared private space away. If there’s any way possible to join the open space yourself while adding two more people, I would suggest that. Leave the conference room and make your current office into a small meeting room by changing out the furniture. I know this might seem impossible – you may reject this right away thinking you don’t possibly have the space, but I encourage you to give it some creative thought. Don’t tell your staff you don’t value their need to have some place to leave their desk and go to work in small groups, make a private phone call, take a conference call, etc. by taking away 100% of their shared private space.

      If you really can’t fit everyone including yourself in the open space, consider putting 3 or 4 people in the conference room and make your current office into that small meeting room. Studies clearly show that no matter the size of the conference room, they are most often used for meetings between 2 or 3 people.

      I’m glad you asked this question; it shows you know space is more then just, well … space!

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        Thank you for this really thoughtful response!

        I did not consider the impact on the shared space. I’m glad you brought that up. I also love the idea of a “focus room” or a “phone room”. I can see carving a small one out of our supply cabinet. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be in there all day, but I could definitely see spending half an hour in there to power through some documents.

        You’ve given me lots to think about. Thank you!

        1. Triplestep*

          I’m glad it was helpful! I am forever having people show me articles on Linkedin that somehow “prove” open space is the devil. But if you read beyond the headline, you will typically see that the chief complaint is there’s not enough shared private space. And it’s not for lack of trying on the designer’s part! It’s well-accepted in my industry that the correct ratio of desk seats to “other” seats (collaboration, phone, focus) is 1:1. But most companies won’t plan a private shared seat for every desk seat in the office, because that translates to more square feet, which translates to more expense. And most companies think they are going to save tons of money by going to open space. Well, they’re not. Not if they’re doing it right. Unfortunately, many are OK with doing it wrong. (Stepping off soap box now!)

    11. TootsNYC*

      can you move walls around?

      Is your own office large enough that it could be split in half, and you take one, and put two desks in the other side?

      Can the conference room be partitioned?

      Or if nothing else, can you move four or five people into your office, and create a much smaller office elsewhere in the space?

      Make your office into a much smaller conference room, and move people into cubicles or desks in the conference room, and make yourself a smaller office in a corner of the space?

      I would think moving a door or adding a wall would be the work of two days at most by a general contractor or handyman type person.

      I think you should have a permanent spot. There is serious utility in maintaining some of the architecture of power. It’s not about power; it’s about clarity of authority. You need to maintain yours.

      1. Queen of Sardines*

        Your last paragraph is a little bit what I was getting at with my original question–and why I’m trying to be so careful with the rearrangement. Managing teams is challenging under the best of circumstances. I don’t want to make it harder on myself by looking like a summer intern that ended up there because someone said, “just stick her in the conference room”.

        Everyone is coalescing around some version of “carve out a space for yourself”. So I’m thinking that’s going to be key.

        1. Triplestep*

          I agree that you need space, but I don’t agree that it needs to be different from everyone else’s or enclosed. You are the boss. Everyone knows you’re the boss and that’s not going to change if you sit in open space. When the boss needs the little meeting room, people will defer to her. If the boss needs the conference room, people defer. Even if you sit in the supply closet, no one is going to confuse you with the summer intern!

      2. Triplestep*

        Adding a wall isn’t a big deal. In commercial spaces, adding everything else when you add a wall? Big deal. You’re creating a new room, so think building code, fire code (strobes, smoke/heat detectors) electrical (moving lighting, adding switches) HVAC (ducts above the ceiling, added supply and return). Most clients who simply wanted to add a wall and door changed their minds pretty quickly.

    12. Mad Harry Crewe*

      If the conference room is in use multiple times a day, taking it over is going to make everyone’s lives harder. As other commenters have pointed out, people get unexpected phone calls, or need to have a quick private conversation. It’s not possible to schedule 100% perfectly.

      I second the idea of putting several employees in the conference room and converting your office to a new, smaller, conference room.

      Is the conference room laid out such that you could carve off a chunk and make a smaller office for yourself?

      Could you invest in smaller office furniture? How often do people need to really spread out in paper, versus doing most of their work on the computer? Is the spreading-out something everyone needs to do, or is it more common in certain roles? Would it work to have little folding or rolling surfaces that people could deploy around their desks temporarily?

    13. I'm just here for the cats*

      How large is the conference room? Does it have 2 doors. You could there be a way to section off part of the conference room so that you have your own entrance and the people coming and going won’t disturb you?

    14. Kw10*

      Could you turn the conference room into cubicles or open office space that you would share with a few other employees, and make your old private office into a (smaller) conference room? That way there’s still a private meeting space.

    15. Mr. Shark*

      Can you maybe cut the conference room in half, and use half of it for two senior people for a semi-private shared office, and then use the rest of the conference room as a conference room?
      You said the conference room is decent size, and since you only have 6-8 employees, it sounds like you should have enough room to cut down on the conference room size and still fit people in.
      The other thing is that it does sound like a little too much complaining on the part of your 6 employees. If you’re fitting two more people in, give your employees the option of where they want to sit, and then plunk the two new employees in the least desirable space. It may not be the greatest arrangement, but they’ll live.

  9. Anonymous for This*

    This is just a (very long) rant about firing people.
    My office has two distinct units, I manage one and Fergus manages the other. Fergus (who was hired 6 months ago) has decided to fire one of his secretaries, Jane.
    To be fair, Jane could not do the job, and despite being in the job for 1 ½ years, has never even risen to the minimum requirements, much less been an “average” employee. However, our previous organizational structure had the Jane working for the Fergus’ department, but reporting to Jill, so no disciplinary action could be taken by Fergus, and Jill had consistently refused to do so (the previous unit manager and Jill butted heads constantly, so Jill refused to issue any sort of improvement plan or disciplinary action for Jane, despite the many forms of documentation showing the Jane’s deficiencies, and multiple complaints from people inside and outside the unit about Jane’s deficiencies). So Jane has been led to believe all along that she was doing just fine.
    Fergus was hired in August, and in November, our organizational structure changed such that Jane now reported directly to Fergus. Three weeks ago, Fergus began providing written documentation to Jane outlining the job requirements that she was to accomplish each day, as well as giving “incident reports” anytime Jane made a significant error. To my knowledge, none of the written documentation was ever written as an improvement plan, and Jane was never specifically told either verbally or in writing that her job was in jeopardy. Fergus has shown me most of the documentation and I’ve pointed out that they need to be more specific and it needs to lay out the consequences, but he did not follow my advice.
    Fergus gets permission from HR to fire Jane, and decides that the best way to do this is at 8:00 AM yesterday morning! He wants to ensure that Jane’s co-worker, John (who has been having work problems of his own and sits next to Jane) knows that Fergus is “serious” and will fire you if you don’t improve by making an example of Jane.
    I spoke to Fergus about it for several days, but he adamantly refused to change his mind about when she would be fired. I pointed out that while no one in the office would be surprised that Jane was fired (her work really was that bad), HOW the firing happened would have an impact on morale and how the office viewed Fergus – and it wouldn’t be the way that he thought it would. I also asked him to consider letting it happen next week or allowing Jane to resign on Monday rather than be fired so she would have health insurance for the month, although that was more compassion on my part than anything else – it’s not like she was being fired for stealing or making threats or anything that would warrant being immediately escorted from the premises. (I think in the end, HR did give Jane the choice of resigning on Monday for just that very reason about maintaining health insurance.)
    Unfortunately, in terms of having to walk out with your things, Jane sat in the very worst place in the office – farthest from the door, so she would have to walk past EVERYONE with her items … like Cersei doing the “Walk of Shame” on Game of Thrones. When I couldn’t get Fergus to change his mind, I told him that I couldn’t tell the people in his unit what to do, but I would be telling my people to themselves scarce as soon as HR arrived (think keeping your office door closed or for those who worked in open cubicles working in the file room during that time).

    At the end, for whatever reasons, HR couldn’t come up until the end of the day, so I sent everyone in my unit home at 4:30 and Fergus decided to do so as well (except of course for John – Fergus still wanted John to see the “example”.) But it was an exhausting experience and taught me a lot about how I would want to handle that situation (luckily, I’ve become a fan of this blog so I know I’ve got good resources here).

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Sorry you’ve had to go through such an exhausting experience. And I’m also sorry for Jane who’s had to endure what sounds like a dysfunctional situation for a long time.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Ugh. This sounds so frustrating. Fergus does not come off at all well in this story, and I HIGHLY doubt that this had the effect on John that Fergus thinks it did. If Fergus wants John to improve his performance, he needs to tell him so in unambiguous words. Making himself into the boogeyman who will fire anybody for any reason isn’t going to make his employees want to improve their performance, it’s just going to make them think he’s a jerk who likes to fire people when there’s an audience.

      1. Anonymous for This*

        To be fair to Fergus, he walked into a bad situation, and then when the reorganization happened…inherited the problem. John has a serious attendance issue (this is the FIRST week John has been in the office every work day since BEFORE Fergus was hired 6 – 7 months ago). Some of it was truly legit, some of it was FMLA related, but a lot of it was…I can’t make it in until 10am when we start at 8am or would say he would be late and NEVER SHOW. Jill also supervised John, and I think she actually did make attempts to hold John accountable, but I can’t speak as to what extent.

        Fergus gave a written attendance improvement plan to John last week.

        So anyhoo…we will see what happens with that.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Bad situation or not, Fergus is still an ass. Firing someone who ostensibly thought she was doing a good job until he came onboard, and then doing so publicly as some kind of “message” to another employee, is horrible. He needs serious management training.

          1. Patina*

            I disagree. Fergus is the only manager doing his job. You might quibble about the details, but he took decisive action when the rest of the management sat around. Jill should also be fired.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Jane should have been given a real performance improvement plan and notified that she’d lose her job if she didn’t improve her performance. If she didn’t improve her performance, she should have been fired quietly, not with a big audience.

    3. CoffeeLover*

      Yikes Fergus is a bad manager and kind of a rotten human being (at least he behaved like one in this instance). You should treat people with dignity and empathy. He shouldn’t be trying to make an example out of anyone. If he wants to manage John then he should manage him. Not make a show of firing someone and making them do the walk of shame so John “smartens up”. Really gross. And wasn’t it obvious what he was doing? How did he explain why everyone else got to go home but John had to stay? I also wonder if HR showed up late on purpose… in which case good for them but they should tell him outright it’s not cool to fire someone in this way.

      I doubt this is the last time you’ll see bad judgment from Fergus.

      1. Anonymous for This*

        I can’t say this was a one-off when it comes to Fergus’ judgment but I can say it was truly unexpected, given his normal modus operandi in the office and with his direct reports. He’s actually usually very patient.

        Previously, Fergus and I managed only the teapot-designers for our respective units, so even though the secretaries worked for the designers and the managers, they all reported to and were supervised by Jill. All of the teapot-designers have offices, so the only ones who are out in the open are the secretaries. It’s sort of hard to explain our office design, but where Jane and John sit, they would actually only see maybe one or two teapot-designers actually leaving, and those people have alternate work hours so they are scheduled to leave at 4 or 4:15 every day anyway. So unless they specifically got up looking for someone (which doesn’t normally happen at 4:30 because this is a part of the day where their work has them tied to their desks), Jane and John wouldn’t realize that everyone else was gone.

    4. Sunflower Sea Star*

      Oh goodness. Anytime a manager wants to “make an example” out of disciplining someone, that’s bad management. Disciplining someone should never be public or done to manipulate other employees.

    5. Veryanon*

      Ugh. I’m wishing that HR had worked more closely with Fergus on his exit plan for Jane, because that doesn’t sound at all like Jane’s dignity and privacy were preserved. Fergus sounds terrible.

    6. MOAS*

      Yikes, that’s bad. I can understand why Fergus would want to fire her because Jill was not doing a good job of managing. But making someone as an example is..ugh.

      My coworker did this yesterday — there were 2 weak performers, and our boss pushed him to fire one to show the other as an example. He did have many conversations with the fired employee but she didn’t improve; AFAIK he did talk to the other weak performer as well that his performance was not great. It’s just gross that the “fire Jane as an example for John” came from someone really high up. ugh.

    7. Dogs*

      We had something similar last year….someone in a different department but cubicle row next to me was fired at 8AM on a Monday….immediately after they came back from vacation. And in this case, there were no obvious performance issues and no performance plan.

      It certainly sent a message….but not the one anyone wanted! And the effects are still impacting the way people talk to that manager/team this year…

      1. Anonymous for This*

        Firing someone when they come back from vacation is just horrific. I also hate firing someone right before Christmas, but if you have to fire someone (meaning you’ve been given orders to do the firing) I think I would rather fire someone BEFORE Christmas (they might be able to return what they’ve purchased or won’t go overboard on non-returnable things) than AFTER Christmas (by then some of the money they spent is definitely non-refundable and you’re not stuck looking at the people you gave gifts to that you could no longer afford to pay off).

    8. Champagne Cocktail*

      Passive/aggressive as all hell to have John see the firing as an ‘example.’ Fergus is a jerk and a bad manager, and Jill made a bad situation worse. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I’d be exhausted too!

      The best time to fire someone, in my opinion, is lunchtime on Friday. People will likely be away from their desks anyway.

    9. A Poster Has No Name*

      Ugh, that all sucks. Fergus sucks. Jill sucks. Management above them sucks for not doing anything about any of this months ago.

      This sounds like a well of dysfunction, Anon, and I hope you’re job searching.

      1. Massmatt*

        This. Several comments focused mostly on Fergus (and he was terrible).

        But—Where was Jill’s manager in all this? Why on earth would you have someone work as a secretary to Fergus but reporting to Jill? That makes no sense. Why was Jill allowed to stonewall any corrective action and keep a bad employee in the organization for a year and a half? And all because she had a personal issue with another manager?

        These are signs of widespread dysfunction.

        1. JanetM*

          Sometimes you get weird org charts. For a long time, I was an admin assistant reporting to the manager of a specific group. I was the only admin who worked outside of the IT building, because my group was faculty / student facing and needed to be on the main campus.

          Then we got a new CIO who decreed that all admin assistants would report to the Business Office, including me (because ITIL says all similar functions must be collocated in a single group).

          So for the next several years, I reported to someone in the Business Office, even though I did all my work for a completely different director. I made it a point to attend Business Office staff meeting every week, even though it was a driving / parking hassle, and even though there was rarely anything discussed that affected me, because I felt it was in my best interests for my nominal manager to see me regularly.

        2. Anonymous for This*

          We have several different geographic locations, and in each location, all of the secretaries report to a supervisory secretary, who reports to the manager.

          But in our location (which is the “main” location), the supervisory secretary directly reported to the division director who oversees all of the locations. So in our location, Jill reported to Jack (Fergus, myself, and the managers of the other locations all report to Jack — the only non-manager who was Jack’s direct report was Jill). Not the end of the world if Jack actually, you know, managed his people. But Jack was worse when it came to management than Jill was. Basically, Jack’s version of a status report is “Is everything going well?” “Sure, Jack.” “Great! I’ll mark down that things are going well on the status check.” Jack *hated* conflict and confrontation, so would passive-aggressively write unclear emails to people when he had an issue with them, but would take no steps to improve things.

          Saying all of this to say, Jack would remark…gosh, Jane’s work is bad. But never hold Jill, his direct report, accountable by saying “What are you doing to ensure Jane improves?”

          Within a month after our office was reorganized to put so that the secretaries in Fergus’ and my units reported directly to us, meaning Jill no longer supervised anyone, Jill took another position, so she is no longer here. But the real purpose of the reorganization was because people “bothered” him here. He works out of another location at least a couple of times a week, and no one comes to him for anything there, whereas here, he would get sucked into the drama between Jill and the person that previously occupied Fergus’ position, or if the secretaries were frustrated with Jill, they would go to Jack.

          Honestly, though, with Jill being gone, Jack deciding to remain permanently in the other location, and the reorganization, the office HAS run much smoother and cleaner. Fergus already has a replacement in mind (he had been granted an additional secretary, and while his first choice for that job accepted (and started today), his second choice is interested in doing Jane’s position), and I suspect John is going to be leaving very soon, or he will shape up (he was honestly a model employee prior, but I think having to constantly cover for Jane or pick up her very heavy slack, as well as dealing with some extremely difficult personal circumstances has driven the negative work behavior we’ve seen here). I doubt the latter will happen, because I think John is to the point where he’s burned out and will want to start fresh somewhere else.

          I am very fortunate that my unit is only suffering from being short-staffed, and not the other myriad of issues that Fergus has had to deal with. Having said that though, I know how to deal with those types of issues appropriately should they occur, so within my own bubble, everything is good.

    10. Anonymous for This*

      The ironic part…John actually left (without telling Fergus) pretty much within a couple of minutes after HR arrived…so I don’t think Fergus got what he wanted.

      Apparently around noon yesterday, Fergus told his people to make sure they were gone at 4:30 pm *and told them why*!!! I don’t think he mentioned Jane’s name, but definitely mentioned personnel changes.

      When I told my people to leave, I spoke to each person individually, behind closed doors, explained that they needed to be gone at 4:30 p.m., but that it had nothing to do with them, and we would speak about the reason today (anyone that has been with our organization for a while knows what this means…someone is getting fired…but we have enough new people that I didn’t want them running around asking questions where Jane might overhear…or might ask, “Oh, do I get to go home too? No? Why not?”).

      When it was all said and done, it did all work out, so to speak. She was able to start packing her things a little after 5 and by 5:30 she was done. Fortunately/unfortunately, her ride was able to wait for her and help her with her things (another reason firing her first thing in the morning would have been bad – I have no idea how in the hell she would have gotten home – apparently Fergus didn’t know that she doesn’t always drive to work/have a car)!

  10. MB*

    Hey everyone, hoping to get your perspectives on my situation. I was recently let go from my job at a strategy consulting firm. I had started in February and initially got positive feedback on my first few projects. Then I was unstaffed to any projects between the end of May and beginning of September, a gap that HR later apologized for and assured it had nothing to do with me. Then my performance on my first project since the gap was much more mixed, although my manager began the project review by saying he wanted me to know that he thought the firm had failed me in my professional development. I then had a meeting with HR where they informed me that this most recent project review combined with my unstaffed summer meant I was no longer progressing on track. Ultimately, this culminated in my leaving in November. While unfortunate, the whole experience helped me realize strategy consulting wasn’t for me and I’m seeking opportunities in a completely different space now. The issue I have is that I’m unsure how to talk about the circumstances that led to me leaving my last job. It doesn’t always come up, given I’m only a year and a half from college and shorter stints at jobs are not uncommon for people of my generation and I genuinely feel it wasn’t the right fit to begin with, but I’m still wondering what the best way to address it would be. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have! Also, a potentially relevant detail is that my old manager has agreed to be a reference and if HR at my old firm is contacted directly they will only confirm my salary, dates of employment, and title. Thanks!

    1. I edit everything*

      I think you could say something along the lines of, “It was a mutual decision that the position wasn’t a good fit, but I’m glad to have gained experience in 1, 2, 3. I’m excited about the X, Y, Z aspects of New Job, which were missing at Old Job.”

    2. CoffeeLover*

      You said you realized consulting wasn’t for you – why not talk about that. There’s no reason to get into the nitty gritty details of your firing. Especially since it barely constitutes as a firing (having worked in the industry, I know I don’t considered it one really).
      Interviewer: why did you leave your last job?
      You: I realized consulting wasn’t for me due to x, y, z. I’d like to focus my career on a, b, c things the role/firm you’re interviewing for has.

      Basically, provide an answer but also put the focus on the job you’re applying to.

      For what it’s worth, I left my consulting job after 1 year and 3 months and it’s never surprised anyone. Turnover in those jobs is super high and most people understand why people leave.

      Also, sorry you had the crappy experience of being asked to leave. They pull that move all the time – and it’s rarely due to some major failing of the person being let go. They’d rather let someone go than invest any kind of effort in developing them or looking into their own short comings. Don’t blame yourself for their crappy management of people and resources. Plus they probably did you a favour in the long run.

    3. jen*

      A couple of good phrases that I’ve heard from Alison and others are “I’m looking for more opportunities for professional growth” and “I was exposed to X during my time at Company, and am now looking to transition to that type of work.”

      Definitely check out the archives here, but in general people want to know that a) you can artfully explain why you’re leaving without poo-pooing your previous employer; and b) that you weren’t fired for something that would be a huge red flag to them. You definitely don’t need to get into that much detail, and it would be unusual for an interviewer to ask for it.

    4. Tex*

      I once heard that the average tenure for a consultant is somewhere around a year. That average includes people who have been in consulting for decades, so there is a stunning amount of turnover for people entering the field as new consultants who nope out of it as quick as 6 weeks in.

      While I think you were given a raw deal by your firm since they left you unstaffed for so long, I don’t think your timeline is out of the norm. Your interviewers don’t have to know how long you were staffed on a project, so just talk about what you learned, how you contributed, what kinds of work excited you, what didn’t, and why you want to move on, etc.

    5. Marthooh*

      Keep it short and sweet: “Unfortunately the company didn’t have as much work to assign to me as they had hoped, so I was let go in November.” (Well, okay, keep it short and true.)

  11. ThatGirl*

    Here is my work bummer for the week: My boss was fully on board with me going to the Sweets & Snacks Expo, an annual expo that showcases new trends in confections, snack foods, etc. I was really looking forward to it. I started to register and waited for them to confirm me. And then I got word that instead of the $50 they charge for early-bird registration for distributors (which we are), wholesalers etc. they were now counting my company as a supplier – and suppliers get charged $1950. Not a typo. And not what my company is willing to spend, especially since multiple other people typically attend as well. The expo folks are apparently unwilling to budge and I am seriously disappointed.

    1. Havarti*

      Geez, that sucks. Who are they to reclassify what kind of company you are? Honestly, I’m thinking they did that because they don’t have enough money to actually fund the expo with the $50 registration fees. It’s a balancing act of trying to charge enough to fund your thing but not so much that you scare people away. In my experience, you’re lucky if you break even on these sort of events so they may be trying to wring more money out of attendees.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s a HUGE event – I would think that the companies who are exhibiting more than pay for it. But someone at the NCA (National Confectioners Association – they run it) decided we’d been misclassified for years and made a unilateral decision.

    2. DaisyC*

      That is disappointing, but when things like this happen, I try to step back and think about perspective. *What if* you did go to the expo, and something random and terrible happened while you were there? (one of my co-workers out of nowhere broke her ankle during a trip like that, and it was a nightmare for her) People sometimes say “everything happens for a reason” and maybe that’s true. ‘Blessings in disguise’ mindset helps me a lot when it comes to going with the flow.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t help me to catastrophize about what might have happened there. It would’ve been a fun day downtown for me and a fun work opportunity. It’s not the end of the world that I can’t go, and I can look for other work-related conferences and expos, but Sweets & Snacks is a one of a kind event.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Yeeeeah, I think it’s enough to say “Dang, that sucks!” and sympathize with you. No need to try to make it into a good thing you didn’t go because you might have broken your ankle.

          So: dang, that sucks. Any way to figure out how to be one of the ones who go next year?

          1. ThatGirl*

            Sadly I don’t think anyone from our company is going to get to go if it costs that much per person.

        2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          That stinks and I’m sorry it happened to you. Any chance you could be included in the future?

    3. Marketing Manager*

      This happens to me all the time. Reach out to an actual person and they’ll likely be able to give you the $50 rate once you explain.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Someone from our product development team already reached out and explained we’d been charged $50 in previous years and were told that we’d been misclassified per their parent org. While I could spend some time arguing, I’m not sure it would be worth it.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          Start a blog about how sweets and snack foods are bad for you, citing obesity rates, dental problems, etc., and make them a bad guy! :)

    4. kittymommy*

      I just looked it up (possibly to see if I can attend…. or just show up and look pathetic) and 1.) it sounds awesome and 2.) I too am sad because it’s not open to the general public!!!!

      1. Sleepless*

        My first boss’ parents used to go to it as distributors. We looked forward to a bunch of samples afterward in the break room. :-)

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Is your company a supplier technically speaking? Or a distributor? Why are they “now counting your company as a supplier” — either something has changed in the meantime, or there’s a business relationship you weren’t aware of (doesn’t bode well) or they are trying it on.

      I’m struggling to think of a situation where a company / business unit could be both supplier and distributor of a particular product (as of course it typically goes supplier -> company -> distributor -> possibly other distributors -> end person buying the product/service) which is sort of a linear view of the supply chain admittedly.

      Of course companies could be a supplier and distributors of giant mega-corp companies with different components but I feel that’s not what’s happening here.

      Is it possible the S&S Expo tries this with all/some of their exhibitors every year?

      1. ThatGirl*

        You may not see this – but we are a well-known household brand that distributes and sells bakeware, baking supplies, decorating supplies and confectionary items such as sprinkles, icing, melting chocolate, etc. There are bakeries, restaurants etc that treat us as a supplier, but everything is retail packaged.

  12. Technical Writer*

    Short version: I worked myself into a dying niche, and now I can’t claw my way out.

    Long version: I have 20 years of experience as a technical writer, but in very low-tech applications (mostly old-fashioned industrial products that haven’t changed in decades). I recently finished a master’s degree in Information Systems, and am trying to pivot into a higher-tech specialty like software.

    Of course, experience is wanted even for associate positions. I have no ability to use anything tech-oriented at my current job; the company is a dinosaur serving customers who are also dinosaurs. Requests to do special projects (like build a product catalog app) have been firmly denied. Even if I’m willing to start over at an entry-level software tech writing job, I keep hitting a wall in that I’m either being pigeon-holed as too old to change, or I’m more of a risk than a cheap 22-year-old who will put their nose to the grindstone and not ask questions.

    There is one local company that makes very specialized software that is desperate for a technical writer, but no one is applying because their product is being replaced by a much better competitor’s product, and their market share is down to almost nothing. Taking that job would be a huge pay cut, and would definitely end in a layoff soon.

    Any ideas on how to escape this loop?

    1. irene adler*

      Are you involved with any local chapters of professional organizations in the software industry? Specifically an organization that is attended by folks who hold jobs similar to what you are seeking.

      Maybe networking with folks who attend their events would help with getting tips on how to get the jobs you seek. And to make connections with folks who would know about job openings.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Forgive me for potentially being potentially dense here but does technicial writing have a platform like GitHub/Thumbtack where you can showcase your skills/portfolio by doing some freelance work? Hopefully your employer doesn’t have a policy on moonlighting that they would try and enforce when it comes to this.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      Get involved in an Open Source project, preferably a big one connected to a major Linux supplier such as Red Hat or Canonical. You’ll be working for free, (at least at first) but you’ll have experience working on a piece of major technical infrastructure with a modern idea of technical writing. If you’re in Southern California you should attend SCALE (The Southern California Linux Expo) where there’s usually a track on how to get involved with Open Source projects, often put on by Red Hat.

    4. ET*

      The local company might be a shortcut to some experience, but… huge pay cut is a definite downside.

      You could try contacting TripleByte ( to see if they are interested or a good fit for helping you out; their explicit mission is to take personal bias out of the software engineering hiring process and allow companies to focus on hiring for actual ability. While I don’t think they cover technical writing at all, they might be interested in talking, since your problem is in that same social category. They are also hiring a remote “Writer and Managing Editor” which might be worth taking a peek at.

    5. Undine*

      Look at the local listings for writers and programmers and see what technologies they are asking for in jobs. Then do some of the following
      * Take a course at your local community college in Java, JavaScript, or something else you see mentioned. Or an online course but real world interaction can help.
      * Learn an inline documentation tool and make a sample project in it – Javadoc, Swagger, Markdown. You don’t have to understand how to write code, you have to have a program someone else has written and know where to put the documentation tags. This may need someone else who can set up the machinery for building and displaying the documentation you write.
      * Learn what topic based documentation is and apply those principals to everything you do.
      * Get a portfolio website and upload some of your documentation samples to it.
      * Learn HTML and CSS.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      Do you have time to take on some contract work, even just on a short-term basis? That desperate local company might be willing to contract out some work, and you’d get experience without having to take the lower-pay and higher-risk job.

    7. LKW*

      What about less tech writer and more procedure writer? QA positions are in every firm, in particular those that have heavy regulation (finance, pharma, chemicals). I’d think you could make a lateral move.

      1. Anonnnnn*

        Technical Communication covers a large range of documentation types, including procedures, so this would make a transition more feasible. I’m not sure how you’re framing your job hunt, OP, but using “document” or “policy” instead of “technical” or “writer” might help you out!

    8. whyamihere*

      Have you thought about UX/UX writing? Looks like the skills are very similar, and at least in my city (DC), there’s a lot of high paying jobs in this field.

    9. Grey Coder*

      I’m not sure what kind of technical writing you’ve been doing, but lots of technical writing for software is marketing in the form of blog posts. (“Here’s how to use our software to do this cool thing!”) I’d echo the suggestion to find an open source project to contribute to, and build up a portfolio on medium or github.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Software companies also need technical writers to be proposal writers/managers and content development managers.

    10. Military Prof*

      Have you considered positions that rely upon the same skillset, but are not “technical writer” listings? For example, for every technical writer producing content, there’s a copy editor checking that content (on technicalities, no less) before it is released–perhaps you should look into becoming a copyeditor instead? Depending upon your speed and the breadth of topics you’re willing to copyedit (and to be honest, you don’t need to know much about most subjects in order to copyedit them), you might find that the copyediting route is much more lucrative than content generation.
      You might also be able to apply your personal experience to teaching others how to engage in technical writing, or utilize your skillset in a position that doesn’t immediately sound the same as what you do now–but that in practice, is remarkably similar.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      First up: tech writer solidarity fist bump. (I’m at 15 years myself, primarily dinosaur industrial, too.)
      I’m sorry your area is drying up. Wish I had a suggestion beyond keeping your eyes peeled for something that could bridge where you are and where you want to be. Also, at least around here, it’s who you know. Look to see if there are professional organizations or even a FB group (we have one in Seattle where tech writers share postings they have or know about).

      Good luck!

    12. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      I lead a content team at a health-related brand and a number of the people on my team came from backgrounds in unrelated fields. Finding a writer who can translate technical language into consumer-friendly, engaging prose is not so easy. Look for corporate jobs calling for a copywriter in your area—you may be surprised!

    13. hamsterpants*

      This is kind of a long shot, but where do you live, and, would you consider moving? I live in a city that is generally underserved and let me tell you, the job market is WAY more forgiving on people without experience than in other places.

  13. anon fed*

    I’ve been thinking about this as other posts have brought up coronavirus this week. In a spirit of curiosity and planning, not of panic, I’m wondering how workplaces are handling coronavirus in areas where it’s already an issue, and planning for it in areas where it may soon become one.

    I work in a federal building in the Southern U.S., and the rumor mill is suggesting teleworking for everyone and extensive minimization of in-person meetings. A friend at a major research university on the East Coast says they’re dusting off their old bird flu plan.

    I guess I’m a planner; while the thought of a pandemic is unfamiliar and frightening to me, I feel calmer knowing how to prepare. The post from the boss earlier today was great, but I’m also wondering about more macro planning.

    Best wishes for everyone’s health, especially in the regions already affected.

    1. CheeryO*

      My boyfriend’s company had two people come back from Wuhan right as the news was breaking. The first one returned right before it blew up, and the second was quarantined for a bit and then routed through one of the airports that were testing people. The first one was allowed to stay home for the remainder of the incubation period and the second was given a full two weeks off to self-quarantine, with no charge to his PTO.

      They are able to WFH to an extent, but I believe the second person didn’t have his work laptop with him, and they did not let anyone deliver it to him. It likely had a major impact on their work flow since they’re understaffed and way overworked, but people were panicked and they did the right thing, thankfully.

      1. Rebecca*

        I wonder why they didn’t arrange to deliver the laptop to the door, ring the bell or knock to let the person know they were leaving it, and walk away?

    2. Anon for now*

      My employer has pretty much zero plan as far as I can tell. The word to employees is wash your hands and avoid sick people. The word to supervisors (and I sh*t you not, this is labeled as the org’s “proactive preparation”) is to encourage sick employees to go home. That is the entirety of it.

    3. Bubbles*

      I work in k-12 education so I am in a “butts in the seat” job. Our district sent a letter out to parents (and then two days later decided they should tell employees what the letter said…) regarding the steps they would take. However, they have not addressed the situation with subs or quarantines. The benefits committee met yesterday to discuss options and recommendations.

      What makes this extra fun is that in California, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers are classified as pesticides. We cannot provide them to students or have them used in classrooms unless it is after hours with no students present. To purchase, store, or apply them, we have to complete a pesticide training. That was a year ago – all the secretaries had to do that. They don’t allow teachers to have them inside the classroom. Yet the notice that was sent out to us specifically stated that we should be washing our hands frequently, using hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes between classes to protect students and staff.

      So that’s fun. People are a bit up in arms about the mixed messages. I did discover that you can order hand sanitizers and wipes through our portal but it is all out of stock.

      1. Steve*

        From the science I read a few years ago the hand sanitizers and wipes mostly move viruses around the hands (many aren’t neutralized), so it is much better to wash them.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Stock your classrooms with spray bottles full of 91% rubbing alcohol – seriously. It’s way more effective at killing germs than hand sanitizer due to the higher alcohol content and it hasn’t been banned by your school’s insane pesticide policy, so you technically wouldn’t be breaking any rules.

        1. just a random teacher*

          After an incident with some students deciding to light hand sanitizer on fire a few years ago, a lot of schools around here don’t allow alcohol-based hand sanitizer anymore. No idea if that’s being walked back now. (My school allows alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but we’re more laid-back in general and also will do things like leave a knife out so students can cut a piece of cake for themselves. It’s a combination of school size and school culture.)

        2. Red Light Specialist*

          I was fascinated to learn that actually, higher percentage alcohol doesn’t disinfect better. Standard 70% “rubbing alcohol” is considered the most effective. The time it remains wet on the surface is when it’s killing stuff, and evaporation time is so fast with 91% or 99% that it’s dry before it does the job. Makes it good for electronics and things that are damaged by moisture, but for skin, stick with the cheaper-and-easier 70%.

          My favorite hand disinfectant is BZK-based – benzalkonium chloride. Any chance that makes it past the pesticide law? It’s available for both skin and surfaces, and according to my light research, is at least as effective as alcohol-based products (and easier on skin).

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      Midwest region here. Our corporate team emailed us this morning to ask if we had a pandemic response plan.

      We do not. Well, did not. We do have a section now in our emergency response plan that goes over pandemics/widespread illness.

      Weirdly, though, it doesn’t seem like Corporate has one, which is very strange as they oversee a whole bunch of facilities across the country, and we’re just this one facility. You’d think they’d have one they’d roll out to all of us.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      My employer has a plan but we’re a large hospital/clinic/academic facility, so it makes a lot of sense. Nothing too dramatic yet, mostly focused around patient screening, guidelines on when to use the N-95 masks, etc. Following the local school district’s policy about students who were in mainland China. Basically watching CDC/etc. recommendations and the team updating policy. I’m assuming that if things get scary it’ll be a shift towards ‘non-essential personnel’ (more admin workers, etc.) working from home when applicable, intensified cleaning requirements, probably screening for fever/etc, and that kind of thing.

    6. cmcinnyc*

      NYC here. We will definitely be hit eventually, there’s no way we won’t. City & State on it full time, ignoring the Feds as they are in full chucklehead mode to the point that the state has asked permission to test/process in-state instead of sending to CDC in Atlanta. If they get told no my strong suspicion is they’ll do it anyway and send a second sample to CDC. We’ve been through major disasters before, and have a highly professional environment around that, so I’m not too worried. If schools close, that will be a major disruption (we have over a million school kids, one of them mine), but unless and until that happens, life goes on as normal.

      1. san junipero*

        As a born and raised New Yorker, this doesn’t surprise me at all. NYC is nothing if not resilient.

      2. Nita*

        Yeah. I don’t know what working parents will do if schools close. On the other hand, hygiene in schools is so horrible they’re just disease central. My kid told me they’re not being encouraged to wash hands before lunch – in fact the teachers make sure they don’t go anywhere but straight to the lunchroom. We got him a bottle of sanitizer and blissfully assumed he’s using it as a backup. Nope. Last week it turned out that they’re not given time to do that either. Apparently he just keeps the bottle in his backpack, which is in the closet with his street clothes, and no one’s said a word to him about maybe moving it to his desk and using it *headdesk* (kid is a second grader – he can be pretty mature about other things, but I’ve yet to really get across how important hygiene is)

        1. JohnSnowsPumpHandle*

          The good news here is that because kids are such walkin piles of (adorable) mucus like 50% of the time, and most colds are caused by corona viruses they are likely to have a higher rate of baseline immunity to this particular strain than us adults.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            That appears to be the case from the latest info I’ve read – low rates of complications/infections in kids so far, but the elderly/immunocompromised/otherwise suffering from other major health problems are not doing well.

    7. Lora*

      Global company with sites in mainland China here.

      -The sites in mainland China have been closed until further notice. No travel to or from mainland China, Iran, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy or Japan. For people who live there, they may try to work from home if possible.
      -In the Asia-Pacific region, business critical travel only.
      -Site in Singapore, people must have daily temperature checks from the company nurse. Anyone with even a slight fever is sent home and tested for coronavirus over two weeks. They may work from home or take sick days. We did have one employee who tested positive, they are better now though and have been cleared to return.
      -Minimize visitors. Visitors who have recently traveled in the Asia-Pacific region, Iran or Italy are not allowed on site.
      -People departing from the banned travel regions must be quarantined 14 days before return to work regardless of health status.
      -Personal travel to be reviewed on a case by case basis by the company medical staff.
      Other sites are watchfully waiting. We have company nurses at every site who will do temperature checks as needed depending on the local incidence.

      This may seem overreaching, but we make sterile drugs for injection into patients – our employees already submit to a fairly extensive medical check to ensure they aren’t carrying communicable diseases, have appropriate antibody titers and vaccinations, and they are certainly sent home for the common sniffles as well, with company nurse approval required to return to work. Everyone gets a lot of training about proper handwashing and they distribute hand sanitizer like halloween candy.

    8. LKW*

      My company is enforcing greater scrutiny on travel to and from regions including Italy now. However, people are still permitted/expected to travel. Self-quarantine is suggested where possible.

    9. The IT Plebe*

      I work at a high school in Washington, DC; so like the NYC poster above, it is almost inevitable that we’ll get hit.

      A team of admins and the school nurse had a meeting yesterday and a note was emailed to parents today, which our Director of Communications sent to all faculty and staff before it went out. The finer points were that no confirmed cases are in the National Capital Region, all campus buildings are cleaned daily and have lots of hand sanitizer and tissues, and then bullet points on staying healthy (wash hands, stay home when sick, the usual).

      That said, I am not actually employed by the school; they just have a contract with my actual company (IT, if my username wasn’t clear :)) and they haven’t said a word to us about it.

    10. Quill*

      I’m in Chicago and it’s just… not come up beyond that southeast asia business affiliates keep telling us “we’ll get to it at some point, sorry, virus” and we keep going “ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WORRY yikes we’ll just write down ‘pandemic delay’ as the excuse for not meeting this deadline.”

    11. Rexasaurus Tea*

      Tech company in Seattle here, with sales and development offices around the world. We’ve told people to cancel any business travel to, from, or through China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Italy. People who have recently traveled in those areas are required to self-quarantine for two weeks. Business travel outside those regions continues as usual, but people who are not comfortable doing so are given full support to cancel or reschedule. We have also canceled some customer events that had originally been scheduled to take place in Japan in the next couple weeks.

      Aside from that, we’re business as usual, with reminders to follow the usual recommended processes for hygiene during flu season (wash hands, stay home when sick, etc.).

    12. Rebecca*

      Rural PA here – my company is pretty much butts in seats, but I handle one of our largest customers, and all of a sudden, without asking, I’ve been upgraded to a laptop in case I need to work from home. I might add this happened very quickly, and after the news of the virus started and factory partners in China did not return from CNY. I anticipate if something happens that we have to stay home for any reason, I’ll still be working.

    13. Nita*

      I assume my workplace will default to remote working for anyone who’s able. We’ve test-run the system several times already in major snowstorms, post-hurricane delays etc. Not sure what will be done about our boots-on-the ground commitments, but if things look really bad our field staff do have respirators (the real deal, not face masks). Normally these are used for toxic chemical cleanup, but technically they also have virus filtering capability. But… this is an exception, not the rule. I can’t imagine what people who cannot work from home will do, never mind what will happen to the service industry.

    14. Malory Archer*

      I’m part of a bicoastal company (main offices in SF and NYC). We’re really well equipped to work remotely so we’ll be ok, but they announced this week that they were banning all work travel between the offices for the next month.

      …of course, I happen to be one of the few NYC folks visiting the SF office this week, and we were joking about what we would need to do if the office banned us from going home. (Renegade road trip escape?)

    15. Also a fed*

      My agency (headquartered in the DC area) issued guidance last week. Anyone returning from China should not enter any of our facilities for two weeks. If you have a telework agreement you’ll be expected to WFH and if you don’t you’ll be given two weeks of administrative leave. No word yet on whether this will be expanded to cover other areas with large numbers of infections. And judging by the email address this came from, it is specific to my agency.

    16. I'mBackAfterALongBreak*

      Large company in the Pacific Northwest. We have issued work-related travel restrictions to level 2 & 3 countries and review of travel to level 1 countries. Individuals who take personal travel to level 2 & 3 countries have been asked to notify the company and will be required to work from home for 14 days prior to returning to their office.

    17. A Poster Has No Name*

      Literally just got an email about it.

      Essentially, travel is restricted to affected countries but the offices in those areas are working through what they can to return to work.

      For the rest of us, do the usual not to get sick and here’s an intranet site where updates will be posted as developments warrant.

      We have the ability to WFH, however, and they did some disaster preparedness thing where, at our office, we were all required to log in from home at the same time to test the systems.

      They must have made changes since, though, because people have VPN issues when there’s a snowstorm and maybe a third of people WFH, so I don’t have much faith that if all of us were working from home the VPN would be able to handle it (we have ~7K people in this location). Anyway.

      I’m scheduled to attend a big-ish conference in Vegas at the end of next month. I have heard nothing about any contingency planning from the conference organizers, but it’s obviously a risk. It’s so hard to plan out any distance at all with so much uncertainty about how & when it will spread.

    18. Diahann Carroll*

      My company has sent out a global company-wide notice that business travel will no longer be approved to, from, or within China or any other place that has a significant number of coronavirus cases. Travel to, from, and within other S. East Asian countries have also been severely restricted for employees for the foreseeable future. I feel for my colleagues that work in these countries on long-term projects – some of them are from the U.S. or the U.K., and I don’t think my company is approving their travel to come home either. If they want to return, they’ll have to attempt to fly back on their own dime.

      1. Gatomon*

        That’s awful to leave employees stranded overseas! I hope they are at least continuing to provide lodging and per diem for those employees who can’t get home.

    19. AcademiaNut*

      I live in Taiwan, so it’s been a very active process. Also, the government has been acting quickly, logically and transparently, which is very helpful. Taiwan was hit by SARS, so I get the distinct impression that they had a plan worked out for something like this, and are acting, rather than just reacting.

      One of the parts of recent legislation was job/PTO protection for workers who are quarantined, so that if you’re quarantined by government order, you don’t lose your job, and you don’t lose your PTO on it. They mandated 5 extra days PTO for parents of children under 12, if needed to care for children during school closures (only one parent can stay at home at a time if using this). On a larger scale, a number of international meetings, particularly in Japan, have either been cancelled or moved to remote only, or remote optional. There is an effective mask rationing system, linked to health insurance cards, and people in more at risk professions (like taxi drivers) get more. There is a detailed plan for schools (which are now back in session) regarding what to do if a teacher or student is infected.

      On a smaller scale, we’ve got hand sanitizer everywhere. My job is one where a lot of people can work from home, and they’re not giving people grief for cancelling trips to high risk regions, even if the travel funds are non refundable. We also, fortunately, do not have fully open offices – most people are in offices with three or fewer people.

      My office is also being very quick about forwarding any new regulations and requirements, in both English and Chinese, and explaining how this affects us.

    20. Gatomon*

      Plan? Hah, there is no plan from management. Or if there is one, they’re not communicating it (par for the course – got an email today referencing some meeting that I had 0 knowledge of.). We’re not in an impacted area, but we have tons of people traveling for business and pleasure, so I don’t think we’re as safe as people seem to feel. (We’ve also had a number of illnesses tear through the office this winter, with the latest being a stomach virus. :( I think the last few cubicle additions have pushed us over some critical mass level for infectious disease propagation, and somehow more people are coming.)

      Personally I’m going to start stockpiling food because I have dietary restrictions. I can work from home most days so if it crops up out here, that’s what I’ll do.

    21. Princesa Zelda*

      I (AZ) work for a City, and the only messaging we’ve had so far is the “Don’t panic, wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick.” I am an hourly employee and I have to reserve my sick time for when I am actually unable to come in, rather than “when I feel bad” or “when I have a communicable illness” because that covers, like, multiple months of the year. I get 40 hours/year.

      My sister, who lives in LA metro, works at a restaurant franchise location inside a large multinational entertainment company, and the contrast isn’t as obvious as you’d think! The entertainment company has closed their China and Japan branches and is encouraging people in their France and Florida locations who have recently traveled to Italy to stay home, but they haven’t communicated at all with frontline staff in California as far as she’s aware beyond “wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, also we don’t offer sick time”. Meanwhile, her restaurant franchise’s main manager recently threatened to fire her if she calls out sick. She also doesn’t get sick time.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        California requires employees get 3 sick days (24 hours) a year (or if you’re not full time, I think it’s prorated with minimums based on how many hours you worked). If they’re really saying “no sick time at all” they may not be compliant.

        1. Princesa Zelda*

          Just asked my sister – the entertainment company does give sick time but not enough to actually stay home if you get sick. The restaurant, her actual employer, says that it does, but if she actually tried to take it she would be fired.

    22. nymitz*

      In the southern US, and pandemic planning is part of our core business. WFH is a normal part of our culture and most people do 1-2 days per week anyway. We’ve got a solid continuity of operations plan in place that is updated annually and gets tested every time there’s an ice storm, and we can all hunker down — 75% of our workforce could do WFH for 2-4 weeks and the only impact would be driving our spouses bananas.

      People fighting over sanitizer in the grocery store though? that’s what we’re not ready for.

    23. tamarack & fireweed*

      My partner’s workplace: . She is already a fully remote employee, as are most in her team, so this is quite an interesting exercise for them to turn temporarily completely remote. My partner will not be going to an industry event that takes place three times a year, but then, she was already skipping the next edition (and has been lobbying for those also to be turning into primarily remote events).

      In my workplace, there is a list of countries (most of East Asia, plus a few others) that we cannot travel to on institution funds. Supervisors also have been instructed to be generous approving work-from-home requests. But given this is academia getting supervisors in line is a bit like herding cats…

  14. Actuarial Octagon*

    Any advice on how to make small talk with people you know in the industry when you are on opposite sides in a meeting?

    I work as a consultant and a lot of my job is helping clients manage and monitor their other service providers. I may work with a specific service provider on a handful of clients so I know them fairly well. I could for example ask how their new puppy is doing, but I’m concerned about appearing too chummy in front of clients given the relationship structure. I’m sure lawyers deal with this all the time but I find myself totally tongue tied and I can only talk about the weather for so long.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Lawyer here — most good attorneys make a point of being friends with the other side. I am on one side of a contentious issue (I represent banks) and many of my best lawyer friends are on the other side (representing consumers). The main thing is respect — we respect each other’s work and positions and although we sometimes have spirited discussions we agree that we’re both trying to make things better and run smoother for everyone. We all also like puppies. Having that personal connection makes business run more smoothly — if we are genuinely disagreeing on something it is easier to reach a resolution when we have a personal friendship to fall back on. It is important to make those personal connections and anyone who thinks otherwise or who would look down on you for being too “chummy” is not a business person whose opinion I would respect.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I’ve been curious about this for a long time… can you (or any other lawyers) answer?

        …. how far does “being friends with the other side” go? Are you actually friends IRL (on the level of – you would go out for drinks on Friday night and stuff like that?) or just that you know each other and have a history from your previous… I want to say “matchups”… previous cases where you have been on opposing sides and so you get an idea (mutually) of what the other person is like. So when you go up against this person as ‘the other side’… you are both just doing your jobs to the best of your abilities and respect each other, but don’t feel personally invested in the outcome?

        In my line of work I don’t have ‘adversaries’ or ‘the other side’ as such, but I do have people I fall out with professionally but am actually friends with…

    2. Mid*

      I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with asking about their new puppy. I would hope that clients understand that people on both sides of the table are human beings.

    3. Type 2*

      Ask people about any upcoming travel plans. This often leads to a mention of children – and most parents love to talk about their children!

      Don’t ask people directly if they have children, though – that could get touchy.

      Puppies are always a welcome topic.

    4. Marny*

      As an attorney, I usually pre-warn my clients that I know the opposing party and that I’ve found that being amiable and chatty with them is beneficial to my clients. That way, when they see me being friendly (how are your kids? how’s the new puppy? do anything fun this weekend?) they see it as strategy that is meant to help them so they don’t get weirded out about us all acting like normal nice people.

      1. lurker :)*

        I definitely think this is so important ! When the client expects you to have their back in an adversarial process, it’s important to prepare them for the chit chat so that they don’t get the impression that you are being cavalier about their case/problem, and so that they will still trust you!

      2. This Is Still A Sore Point*

        Yes, please do that. Here is a cautionary tale for y’all:

        One upon a time in the last decade, my lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge (and the court reporter) carpooled to my hearing.
        (in my country involunatry psychiatric commitment cases are civil cases filed by prosecutors)

        Logistically, it probably made sense to carpool – the hearing was in the psychiatric hospital, not the courthouse. The subject was whether or not my involuntary commitment would be extended.

        My lawyer was crap all around, including saying ‘Anon wants to leave but I think we all know she has to stay here’ (hello, that’s the prosecutor’s job to say and the judge’s job to decide – your job is to argue why I should be allowed to leave!) but it certainly didn’t add to the image that they’d all driven in together, appeared very chummy, and that my private consultation time with the lawyer was limited to the few minutes the judge and prosecutor (and the court reporter) were getting coffee from the hospital break room.

        When a few months later, I got a letter from government legal aid to tell me that the lawyer they had provided was free and I didn’t have to pay, it included the standard line of ‘you can appeal this decision’. I seriously contemplated appealing the statement that they’d provided me with a lawyer.

        My cautionary tale is thus: if you’re involuntarily committed, don’t rely on an assigned lawyer.
        And if you’re a judge/mediator or client representative, and you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t avoid being friendly with a/the other side, please reassure your client that you are there for their interests and no one else’s.

  15. Anonymous Educator*

    If you got a temp-to-perm position, how aggressively would you keep looking for jobs while you’re working it? Or, I guess another related question would be—what indicators would be best (apart from an explicit permanent contract) that you should look less aggressively?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Does the company have a reputation for hiring their temps, or is it a way to get cheap labor? Are people there encouraging? Do you LIKE the work and environment? I was a long-term contractor/permatemp for 4 years, and after the first few months I realized that they might take their sweet time in hiring me for real, but they liked me, liked my work, had a tendency to keep contractors on for long periods and would do their best to keep me. I did keep looking on and off, but that was mostly ’cause I had no benefits or PTO.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      I kept looking pretty aggressively. When I received another offer, I went to my current employer and let them know- basically “hey, I like working here, I’d like to come on as an employee, but I do have an option for employment elsewhere, I need to make the decision in the next week.”

      I knew they wanted to keep me, and being transparent about both what I wanted (non-contract employment) made them feel like I was giving them a very straightforward option. If they didn’t want to keep me, this was the chance for them to wish me well as I moved on to another position.

      I did get an offer, and I stayed with the job I had previously temped at.

      1. Alli525*

        Exact same thing happened to me – I was hired as a part-time temp with the expectation that my hours would gradually increase as we got closer to the event I was hired to help with. But that meant I wouldn’t be able to take another PT temp job, so I kept interviewing for FT/perm jobs, and told my manager that I was doing so.

        I didn’t even get an offer from another company before my manager convinced the CEO to hire me FT & perm (in a “we’ll figure out what to do with her after the event” sort of way, which was surprising, but that’s what happens when you make yourself indispensible as quickly as possible).

    3. Colette*

      How long can you survive if they decide to let you go? If the answer is anything other than a few months, I’d keep looking.

      1. foolofgrace*

        I also would keep looking. It’s unfortunately not unusual for companies to dangle the carrot of “permanent employment” in front of a temp, sometimes for a long time, while they have no actual intent of hiring someone on and have to give them health insurance, PTO, etc. I may be jaded but I wouldn’t take them at their word. It doesn’t hurt to look around!

    4. Neosmom*

      As a temp, I got strung along by a supervisor who kept renewing my agency’s contract on me and barked at me in April after about 9 months when I asked about converting to permanent employment. He was devastated when I found a great position four months later and tried to counter offer.

      Said he could offer me a better title and include pension benefits. I had to tell him that pension offerings for new employees had ended on August 1.

      Keep looking and cherry pick for the right organization and role.

    5. we're basically gods*

      My last job was a temp-to-hire, and I think it was mostly because the company would rather pay a contracting company to find people to place in low-training roles than deal with it themselves. (I don’t mean to demean the job I was doing, but it was really truly entry level– as in, it probably didn’t even need a college education. Everything I did was easily trainable on the job, and I only rarely used my other skills.)
      But it was fairly clear from the beginning that it was intended to eventually become permanent. The most obvious sign was that my coworkers and boss mentioned the intent to make me permanent a few times, of course. But they also made a point of integrating me into the team and trying to give me perks that weren’t part of my contract, but were available to permanent employees– the best one was that, even though I was hourly, they paid me for holidays when the office was closed! This made it really clear that their goal was to retain me.
      (I did not end up going permanent at that job, because it wasn’t in my field, but based on conversations during my notice period, I’m fairly certain they were waiting until the year contracting period was up and they could buy me out from the contracting company.)

    6. Cap. Marvel*

      I pretty much keep looking until I received a job offer; but pretty casually until two months before my temp assignment would be up. My position wasn’t supposed to be temp-to-perm, but the person who I was covering for was given a promotion when she came back so they offered her position to me.
      Before the promotion news, my company was actually super supportive and told me that they were trying to keep me on, but understood that I needed to do what was best for me. If they were less transparent or seemingly didn’t care about my status I would have taken that as an indication that I needed to look more aggressively.

      1. Amy Sly*

        The team leaders at my doc review job had a similar attitude, basically “We know you didn’t go to law school to get this job, so give us 40 hours a week and do what’s best for you.”

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I would keep looking ‘aggressively’. Best case, you get a better offer that you can move to (perm presumably) without having to worry if you will be made permanent at the existing place. Middle case, you get a perm offer from your current place. Worst case (but has to be considered) they don’t keep you at the end of the temp contract, and then you are already well into the search phase.

      Tbh I don’t think there are any indicators other than an explicit permanent contract that should make you call off the search, if you are after a permanent role.

  16. Count Boochie Flagrante*

    Passed my Series 9 licensing exam yesterday! Now on to the series 10, which I have been told is an absolute bear of an exam. But I enjoy learning and take tests well, so I’m feeling pretty confident that I can meet the challenge.

    1. Ann Perkins*

      Congratulations! I have my 9/10 as well. If you passed the 9, you’ll be fine on the 10. It’s horribly boring but not anymore difficult IMO.

      1. Ellie Mayhem*

        Agreed. I found the 7 the most arduous of all of my securities exams. Well, other than the CFP exam, which was its own special wretchedness.

        1. Anon for this*

          The CFP exam was by far the toughest I have taken. I’m not sure if they have changed the format, it used to be over 2 days, A 4 hour session on Friday, then 2 3 hour sessions on Saturday. I am usually among the first people to finish exams and I was STRUGGLING to get done, especially in the 3 hour sessions.

          One thing I didn’t expect was how stressed I was even AFTER the exam. I had to wait several weeks for the results and I was obsessing over it.

          I found the 6 pretty easy, comparatively, and the 66 surprisingly hard. So much minutia about state laws, ugh.

          I took the 7 recently to be able to handle stock and ETFs, not a major focus for me but I have some clients with them so I needed it. I was among the last to take the “old” format, where they ask about everything. It was “only” 6 hours, LOL. After doing the CFP everything else seems easy.

          Now they have a prelim exam and the other exams are more content-specific, which would make more sense.

          1. Dream Jobbed*

            I came out of the CFP exam absolutely convinced I had failed. Other people thought it was really easy. Some of them didn’t pass, I did. I think if you don’t prepare enough, you don’t know how tricky the questions really are.

            Can’t decide if CFP or EA was the more difficult exam. Passed the EA exam on my first try because I didn’t have any real world (practical) experience to get in the way of what the IRS wanted me to parrot. Could never pass it now. :D

      2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Glad to hear it! I’ve heard everything from “the series 66 on steroids and doubled” to “eh it’s like the 7 but from a manager’s perspective.”

  17. Foreign Octopus*

    Boundaries as a freelancer: I just wanted to touch base and ask whether this was a normal boundary to have.

    I work as an ESL teacher but I also do proofreading, translating, and writing on the side. Last week I had someone contact me for proofreading at the beginning of the week and I said yes, happy to do it, please get it to me by X day if you want me to do it by Y as I’m busy. They didn’t send it to me until Saturday morning and asked for it to be returned by the end of the weekend.

    Now, I had the time to do it, I wasn’t doing anything that weekend, but I try really hard to create a strict delineation between workdays and the weekend otherwise I’ll get burnt out from always being on. My client was fine when I told her that I was unable to do it, no problem there, but I suppose I’m feeling a little bit of guilt about saying no when I could have done it.

    Is it good to be strict about the work-life balance as a freelancer, or should I make exceptions if I know it’s the only thing I’ll be working on that weekend?

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      If you don’t hold boundaries, then you create an unrealistic expectations for the future. Maybe this was just for one weekend, but what happens when that client regularly expects you to accommodate them?

    2. ET*

      It seems healthy and reasonable to draw this kind of hard boundary around your weekend. It’s fine to make exceptions, of course, but I think the slippery slope argument does apply here — how do you know what’s a harmless exception, vs. what is a step on the path to burnout? Will you know before you are already halfway down that path?

    3. Goldfinch*

      From someone who freelances: it’s not about the weekend, it’s about the turnaround time.

      This time, you happened to have the ability to turn a project around in two days, but you would have set that as the standard going forward. Instead, you taught them that you need more lead time and cannot drop everything for them. It was the right call.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Another fellow freelancer–exactly right! (For the same reason, I don’t turn things in early as a general rule even if I’ve finished early–I don’t want clients to expect instant turnaround.) I honestly believe they respect our work more if we are protective of our time.

    4. I edit everything*

      Nooo. If someone sends me something on the weekend, I don’t work on it until Monday. Especially if I’ve given them a project window, which you did. I would make an exception for an established client who found themself in a pinch, but not for a new client. I am pretty strict about weekends/workdays. It’s so easy for work to creep in, and I don’t want to give it a foothold if I can avoid it.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Nah, don’t feel guilty.

      The thing is, you may not always have the time to do it, and it’s a lot easier to deal with clients when you have an established policy of X number of days in advance, or whatever. If you do it on short notice sometimes they don’t take your boundaries as seriously. Even my non-freelance job pushes back when people request (scans, etc. We work with rare books and photographs) on short notice.

    6. londonedit*

      I’ve done freelance work before, and I think having boundaries is really important. On the one hand, it’s nice to develop a reputation as someone who can get things done well and in a timely manner, but there’s definitely a balance between that and the slippery slope of ‘Oh we can send it to Foreign Octopus, they always turn things around no matter how tight a deadline we give them’. There’s also the freelance fear of ‘But if I turn this down, what if I never get another job?’ which is very real and valid, and it can make people take on far too much because they’re scared that if they turn one job down, that client will never contact them again. The problem with that is you’re likely to end up with far too much work and before you know it you’ll be working every weekend to keep up.

      As long as you’re polite about it I don’t think anyone reasonable will have a problem with you saying ‘I’m really sorry but I’m totally booked up at the moment – but please do keep me in mind if you have anything in the pipeline over the next few weeks/months’. Also, do you know any other freelancers in your area who do similar work? One thing I always found helpful was if I could say ‘I’m really sorry but I can’t take this one on – perhaps you could try David Jones, he’s very experienced and may have capacity for this [contact details]. And of course please do keep me in mind for any future projects’. People always seemed really receptive to that and it framed me in their minds as ‘really helpful even when she can’t take on a project herself’.

    7. DarthVelma*

      I think you did the right thing. If you take the last second work this time when you’ve already given them your needed time frame, they’ll expect you to do so every time.

      The only way I would have agreed would have involved charging a pretty steep premium for last minute, quick turnaround, weekend requests.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Yes to your last sentence. If you have time, but it’s a quick turnaround on a weekend, tell them it’s a higher rate. If they’re willing to pay, you get more $$ and they get their work product in time. Otherwise they can wait or get things to you in a more timely manner. It may also teach them to get things to you sooner so they don’t have to pay the weekend price!

    8. deesse877*

      Hold the line!

      Think of it as a form of solidarity with other freelancers: you’re asking for respect for your time, the same kind of respect that is given to wage and salaried employees. By so doing, you are helping to uphold a professional norm. This principle, of course, doesn’t apply if the money is really needed, or if you have professional reasons for wanting a particular job. But if it’s a normal gig, the person was told your expectations, and they tried to cross the line regardless?

      Hold the line.

    9. Peacemaker*

      Personally, I would probably have done it, but I’ve never been very good about establishing firm boundaries, and I’ve felt the consequences from time to time. That having been said, I would probably have contacted the client and told them I could do it, but that weekend work costs more, and then increased my fee 1.5 or 2 times normal. Doing so would “share my pain” with the client, but also let them know I’m willing to make sacrifices when necessary to help them achieve their goals. Of course, YMMV.

    10. Lady Heather*

      If you have a boilerplate contract, terms/fees on your website, etc, add something like:

      Standard fee. Turnaround time: x weeks.
      Significantly higher fee. Turnaround time: y days. Emergency projects are contingent on Foreign Octopus’ availability and are not guaranteed to be accepted.

      (or something like that.)

      Don’t accept short turnaround time projects without charging for it – by charging more, you’re reinforcing that this is an exception and you’ll avoid this turnaround time becoming the new norm. By charging significantly more, you’re sharing your inconvenience with your clients and making them not want to give you close-deadline projects.
      And remember Alison’s often-repeated advice of that ‘I already have plans’ can be sitting on your couch with Netflix and Ben and Jerry’s. This is to lay out expectations to your clients – not to tie yourself to anything.

    11. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      The one time I gave in to a situation like this, I regretted it and vowed to never freelance again. I had a full time job by then, but a former colleague and client called with an emergency need. For weeks I turned my life inside out for him, drove home every lunch hour to check email and phone messages (gives you an idea how long ago that was), and did the equivalent of another full time job for some weeks to meet his crazy deadline–then he tried to knock me down on my rate, didn’t express a bit of appreciation, AND I had to wait months to get paid.

    12. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Do not feel guilty at all. You told them what needed to happen in order for the job to be done by the Date or time they needed it. They disregarded that and then expected you to work over the weekend. Did they even ask what your weekend availability was? Clients who need something done by a certain date or time, and then disregard what they need to do on their end in order for that to happen but still want to hold you to their timeline need to experience the consequence of that.

  18. Wing Leader*

    I’ve been at my job for four years, and I have a coworker who says the exact same phrases to me every single day.

    In the morning when I come in, she says, “Good morning! I see you’re here bright and early.” (I’m just in at my normal time)

    When she goes to lunch, she says, “I’m going to lunch now. I’ll be gone for one hour. I’ve got my cellphone with me, so feel free to call if you need anything.”

    In the afternoon, she says, “Whew, I’m getting tired. Glad we only have a couple of hours to go!”

    On Fridays she says, “I’m so glad it’s Friday. It’s been a long week.”

    And so on and so on. She literally says the exact same things to me every day, and it’s driving me nuts. I just wish she would change it up or at least vary what she says a little.

          1. Zap R.*

            I don’t think it’s a Bethesda game. If it was a Bethesda game, she’d only say “Need something?”

    1. MeTwoToo*

      You work with an NPC. Obviously you are the main character in this game. The programming only goes so far. Maybe consider a side quest for variety?

    2. Tuckerman*

      Can you beat her to it? You see stand up to leave at noon, say, “have a nice lunch!” Or “Happy Friday!”

      1. Lucky*

        Take it one step further. Say “You’re going to lunch now. You’ll be gone for one hour. You’ve got your cellphone with you and I will call if I need anything.”

          1. valentine*

            No. It’s mean.

            I would let this go. She’s got her pleasantries down to a science and doesn’t fill the space with noise. You know exactly how many words you have to endure, and when. Yay.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I wish I could “like” comments. I was going to say the same thing, Lucky. Beat her to the punch and say what she was going to say.

    3. I edit everything*

      Try replying with something completely off the wall, and see what happens. Something different every day:
      “I see you’re here bright and early.”
      “Yes, my bananas threw a tantrum at four a.m., so I figured I’d just come on in.”
      “I was afraid I’d be late today–I forgot to steep the rabbit last night.”
      “That’s so odd, because I didn’t leave the house until noon. I wonder if that glowing circle I drove through was actually a dimensional portal.”
      “Oh, I never left. I like to catch the cockroaches when the come out at night and snack on them.” (maybe not this one…)

    4. CastIrony*

      I have “scripts” similar to her. It helps me talk to people in general.

      Me: Hi! How are you?
      You: Good!
      Me (scripted):
      Option1: Well, that’s good.
      Option2: Well, that’s good to hear.

      1. Yarrow*

        I use scripts a lot too. They tend not to stand out as much as this person’s do (I think, I try to mix it up). I have also been referred to as an android.

      2. CM*

        Yeah, it reads to me like somebody who struggles to make conversation and memorized a few stock phrases to be friendly. It’s weird, but they’re probably trying really hard.

    5. Mkt*

      I feel like maybe I’m your coworker, but with different set of scripts. Not Neuro typical and these constants help me out.

      No real advice, but at least the scripts are all benign/positive. I’ve a coworker who is always negative and complainy- different words but effectively the same song on repeat. Doom and gloom and doesn’t do anything to change. Ugh!

    6. FormerFirstTimer*

      I have something similar with one of my coworkers. She won’t knock on a door, but she will say, “knock, knock”. I know its a small thing, but it drives me up a wall.

    7. Phoenix Wright*

      Is your name Truman Burbank, by any chance? You may want to sit down for a moment, there’s something important you need to know…

    8. K*

      It may just be how her conversation brain works. My grandfather is autistic and talks like this–every time we see him, he says the exact same thing in the exact same tone, word for word, until he finishes his “script.” It doesn’t matter if we respond in different ways, he will always say the same thing. We talk to him on the phone every Sunday and he also has a phone “script” where the beginning and the ending of the conversation are always exactly the same, and often most of the middle, although sometimes he varies it. She’s probably just trying to be nice and friendly!

    9. Arts Akimbo*

      There was an episode of The Office where Jim noted that Phyllis says the same 12 phrases every time it rains, and if she said them all before noon, he’d buy everyone hot chocolates. Maybe instead of being driven up the wall by it, you could celebrate by giving yourself a small treat? Make it fun!

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is pretty standard BEC stuff. She’s just going through her routine, for whatever reason it may be. It happens. It’s like the one guy that used to come to get his paperwork every morning at one of my jobs and did a complete round of “Good morning” to everyone. And the ones who have the same go to phrases. You ask them how they are and their response, even if they saw a werewolf eating a squirrel right there in front of them their response stays the same. “Just living the dream.” stuff.

      At least all of these things are basic and pleasant. She’s not constantly complaining or anything, just awkward scripted interactions that she feels safe with.

    11. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Reply with something “frame-challenging” now and then.

      “I see you’re here bright and early!”… ah, not really, I think it’s the usual time but today I’m here early because (invent something banal)… how come you’re here bright and early, huh?

      “Glad we only have a couple of hours to go!” … huh. Do you feel tired? Maybe it’s a bit stuffy in here… I wonder if we can adjust the air con? (or can I get you a cup of coffee? or anything else like that)

      “I’m so glad it’s Friday” … huh, I can’t wait for Monday myself. What about that?

  19. Elenia*

    Two of my staff quit in the last month. I’m starting to wonder if it’s me, hehe. I know it’s not – one of them moved to a position of more responsibility in the company, and another one was unhappy because of other reasons. Still!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My experience is that staff turn-over happens in waves, with multiple people leaving for independent reasons. It kind of makes sense, because hiring tends to come in wave as well, so the timing of “Time to move on and up” can line up.

      1. Massmatt*

        Yes, I have experienced this also, sometimes it’s people all reaching a milestone at the same time, or they get poached by another employer. And sometimes it seems as though someone moving on just resets people’s psychological outlook “hmmm, I CAN try something different”.

        It’s a good time to make sure you are paying people what they deserve, and see if there are fixable issues that are frustrating people.

    2. Miss Vaaaanjie*

      You could have been my last boss, an Ex. Director (non-profit) with 8-mos in the position when two very long term staff left: one finally retired and another left due to the new ED and the Dev Director the new ED hired. Two months later, I left and a co-worker left due to the ED and the Dev Director.

      So in this case – it was the new ED and the new DD who influenced all our decisions to leave.

    3. Adric*

      I think part of it is most people expect randomness to be smoother than it is.

      For example if you were doing coin flips, obviously “HTHTHTHTHTHT” is an unreasonable sequence, but a lot of people would expect something like “HTTHTHHTTHHTHTT”. If you actually try it though, you’ll probably get something more like “HHTHHHTTTHTTTTHH”. There’s a lot more strings and clumps than you intuitively think there “should” be.

      As for resignations, you probably figure there’ll be one every year or two, but because they’re basically random you think “OK, sometimes it’ll go 3 years or maybe there’ll be 2 in six months.” What really happens is that you go 5 years without and then have 4 in 3 months.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        At one job, there were 4 resignations in 1 day, although 2 were in a couple.

        I had only been there for a few weeks!

  20. MOAS*

    If anyone wants a laugh — harmless practical joke played by coworkers. (I know a lot of ppl here don’t like pranks at the workplace and that’s cool but don’t bash me for posting this or enjoying this).

    A few months ago I moved seats and I changed my desktop background. My favorite aesthetic is a white background with colorful flowers. That was the pic I had up on my desktop.

    About a week went by and my boss burst out laughing. He said why do you have penises on your desktop?

    I….did not know they were penises. I just saw the flowers. I immediately found something else, flowers that were boss-approved.

    Everyone had a good laugh.

    Today I came in the morning and saw that my desktop was changed back to the penis-flowers! I was mystified as to how it happened! Turns out my coworker changed the desktop while I ahd stepped away and not locked the computer.

    I’ve had a rough week personally, so this was a goood way to start my Friday lol.

    1. Jen Mahrtini*

      You might have found this harmless, and it sounds like it was OK in your workplace, but that could easily be considered harassment. If done repeatedly, it could rise to hostile work environment, in the actual legal sense.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Sweet. Buzz Killington popping in right in the first comment. Did you actually read MOAS’ comment?

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Okay, but Jen’s actually right here. It’s one thing to change your coworker’s desktop image to like, My Little Pony or something, but pictures of penises in the workplace do actually count as sexual harassment.

          1. Alan*

            Actually no it doesn’t. I swear some people on here think that any reference to sex of any kind in the workplace is sexual harassment.

            1. MOAS*

              I’m sorry, I didn’t post this to start a discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace, and I am not going to argue whether this is or isn’t. I realize it was my mistake to mention “penis” on this post, but can we all please drop the sexual harassment comments and not gripe at each other? My post was not intended for that. Thank you.

        2. Mellow*

          And the peanut gallery chortles accordingly.

          Time to grow up and keep gallows humor outside the workplace.

          Not that hard to do.

      2. Mrs. Peaches*

        Yeah…changing someone’s background is harmless enough but you lost me at penises. No genitalia at work, please and thank you.

      3. Wing Leader*

        It wasn’t harassment. It was a silly joke, that’s all. How would you explain MOAS putting the background on first, that she was harassing herself?

        1. MOAS*

          Yea I didn’t realize that it was penises and not flowers until someone pointed it out and many others agreed so I removed it right away. It had already been saved on my desktop and I just never got around to tidying the desktop and removing unnecessary items (including that pic!) until today lol.
          It’s now back to the very safe actual flowers.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          MOAS chose the image accidentally. The coworker who played the prank chose it on purpose. That’s the difference. In general, I think changing a person’s desktop image can be a fun and innocent prank. But choosing an image that contains or looks like genitalia on purpose? Not innocent. I’m glad MOAS had a good laugh about it, but I wouldn’t recommend it in general for fun workplace shenanigans.

          1. MOAS*

            Oh I definitely agree w you–in any other office or team, I would never do this. But we’re relaxed here and a lot of us joke around about everything and some (not me) have occasionally played jokes (not genitalia related but other pranks). Working 50-60h a week people need to laugh at stuff.

    2. WellRed*

      A bunch of us once took a group photo and put it as the screensaver of another coworker while he was out to lunch. When he logged back on, there were our smiling faces.

    3. Amy Sly*

      I don’t mind pranks like that. At a finance job I had, the normal “forgot to lock your computer” prank was to flip the orientation of the monitor — only takes a couple of keystrokes if you know the shortcut.

      1. Kat in VA*

        We’re required to lock our screens if we leave our desks (ITAR regulations, federal government stuff, whee).

        So.many.people “forget” to do this that BossMan will lean over and lock their screens for them if he passes by. We’re currently hatching a plan to do something just like MOAS described (minus the penis flowers – probably just a pic of BossMan or me grinning insanely at the owner as their background).

    4. Bubbles*

      I actually really want to see the penis flowers. Not because they are penises but because I wonder how obvious it is!

      One of our administrators is known for being a lowkey prankster. He’s so serious and dedicated that a lot of people don’t realize he is the one doing stuff. Another administrator left her computer unlocked one evening so he went in and changed the background to kittens. He would do this every day for almost a week… she got on the phone with tech support because she thought she had a virus.

      1. Massmatt*

        There was a letter or comment here about a boss who wanted to impress the importance of locking workstations upon employees so whenever he came across one he would open their email, and send an email with “I LOVE YOU!” to a random employee. People quickly got into the habit of locking their workstations.

        1. Windchime*

          In our workgroup, we send a message from the offender’s account saying something like, “Hi, I would love to bring treats for the whole office since I left my computer unlocked. Love, Windchime”. It’s all in good fun and it keeps us in snacks.

    5. Havarti*

      So it was actually penises? Like made into kaleidoscope flowers? Even if they weren’t, people see what they want to see. We used to joke in art class that everything was a phallic symbol. That obelisk? Phallic symbol. That pencil on the desk? Sideways phallic symbol.

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        must resist urge to google penis flowers at work. OMG, I could get into so much trouble!!! LOL

        1. ampersand*

          I googled it in incognito mode–and the results I found are actually quite pretty (they resemble roses; it’s tasteful for what it is). You can’t tell they’re penises until you look closely; from afar you’d think flowers. I did look this up on my phone, and on a computer monitor they’d obviously be larger…but I can see how the initial design is attractive and if you’re not necessarily *looking* for penises you may miss that that’s what they are.

          And on a related note, that is one paragraph I never thought I would write!

          1. LunaLena*

            I sooooo want to Google this now, but I have a bad feeling it would lead me down a hysterical rabbit hole of penis flowers, and I still have a mound of work to do before the weekend starts…

          2. New Bee*

            Same (though I forgot to go incognito…whoops), and I wouldn’t know they were penises unless someone told me.

    6. Arctic*

      That’s hilarious!

      I love that you didn’t notice they were penises the first time around. That is soooo something I would do.

    7. Close Bracket*

      Oh, is that the blue and white line drawing pattern? That one is subtle.

      I kind of think we need a link, but I guess providing one would be sexual harassment. :)

      1. MOAS*

        lol honestly I forgot what search terms I used originally — i think it was something like colorful flowers on a white background, but it was buried on page 2 or 3. It’s been about a year now so I really can’t remember.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      Haha that’s funny. It sounds like you have a laid-back office and boss, and that this little prank helped lift your spirits a bit.

    9. bunniferous*

      I googled in incognito mode. First, these were definitely discreet, so discreet that I absolutely could see how these could be posted accidentally.

      Second of all: you can get this pattern for a throw pillow. Not even kidding.

      (TBH these were only slightly more offensive than a Georgia OKeefe painting, if you get what I am saying. If there was ever such a thing as a non offensive penis pattern this would be it.)

  21. Samantha Jones*

    I start a new job Monday!!

    When you start a new job, what should you do on the first day, first week and first month for a good impression and to show confidence without overstepping? For example, anything you can do to get proper expectations from your boss, team and other coworkers, setting a routine, how to ask what other departments do, etc.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, I feel I’ve overstepped at a lot of jobs, and that’s okay. I think part of being new is learning stuff, and part of being a boss is letting new hires know to correct when that happens. Every company has a different culture and a different way of doing things or making changes. You’ll have to make mistakes and learn.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      I find that regularly check-ins about privatizations/time spent was helpful. “I focused on XYZ this week, do you want me to adjust going forward?” It shows initiative but also willingness to learn and adapt.

    3. AppleStan*

      Do a quick search on the site because I feel like Alison *just* addressed this either this week or last week.

      But basically, I would say get a good night’s rest the night before, show up about 10 minutes early, don’t bring anything on the first day to “personalize” your space.

      Allow yourself to slowly get the lay of the land – learning the inner dynamics of an office can be tricky!

      Don’t hesitate to ask questions, and carry a small (think pocket-sized) notebook with you so you can jot down things to yourself…it’s REALLY easy to think you’re going to remember it all…you won’t.

      Feel free to ask your immediate supervisor questions about office-norms. For instance, if you get an hour lunch, great, but is it expected that lunch is 12 – 1 or are they flexible on that? I once worked in a place that had a hearing run very long so I unexpectedly ended up working through lunch and beyond, so I didn’t get to actually go eat until 2 pm. I came back at 3 pm and the “uber” boss was in my office because someone had “complained” that I was gone. Uh, yeah, because I was hungry and I had to work through lunch. I was informed that taking lunch at that time was inappropriate. Yeah…..that one incident taught me quite a bit about that office’s culture very early on.

      Maybe after the first or second week (you’ll have a better understanding of what will work for your office after you’re there) just check in with your supervisor – “Am I going in the direction you want me to go?” or something similar. I guess I’m saying until you’re comfortable enough in the job to judge on your own that if you’re meeting your performance goals, don’t be afraid to step up and ask if you’re on track.

    4. Solar powered*

      Take notes. Concentrate on learning the role and the actual processing for the job. Work friends will come later as you get the feel for place.

    5. new kid*

      Listen. Absorb. Show that you’re committed to understanding the full context of something before you try to suggest any process improvements. True confidence is willingness to hang back at first, imo. People who come in hot without the context to know what they’re talking about actually end up looking either arrogant or insecure, in my experience. May vary by industry, but every job has some amount of learning curve, so no one expects you to come in on day one and blow them away with your brilliant ideas.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Yes- and if you attend any client meetings, it’s also best to listen and observe. Don’t blurt out an idea the client might love, but is outside the context or scope of what your team does and then messes everything up for your team and causes a lot of grief and tension. (I didn’t do that but have seen that happen.)

    6. Alianora*

      Write things down, and when you have a question try to come up with a solution yourself before you ask.

      I do encourage people to ask lots of questions, but I also want to see that they’re learning. If they ask me the same question over and over, even after I’ve made sure to write the answer down for them, it really makes me lose faith in their problem-solving abilities. Or it makes me think they need hand holding at every step.

    7. introverted af*

      One thing I did when I started a new job last October was explicitly ask – “what are your 30/60/90 day goals for me and what should I be focusing on in those time periods?” We already had a pretty good training schedule to go over stuff like, what’s in our database, different tools we use and how or when to use them, regular tasks I have, so this way I was able to orient myself outside of those trainings or to know what was worth bumping up or not worth pressing on if someone didn’t get back to me about a topic we were supposed to discuss.

      I was also moving to a personal assistant position from having never done that before, so I found it was helpful to have regular check ins to make sure I was on track and discuss what I was learning. If we couldn’t do an actual meeting in my team lead’s office, I would send him an email with everything I wanted to bring up and my questions, and he could respond or send me other things he wanted me to know. I also tried to save up questions I had for particular people – I tried to hit my peer resource once a day or less with questions, same for my supervisors or training staff (unless we were obviously going back and forth on email or something).

      For me, if I can write something down and take notes, I internalize a lot better, and my job has a fair amount of regular processes, so I started an “instructions” section in my notebook that I take everywhere, with the steps for basic tasks I do frequently. I would go through the task once with some help, then try to do it by myself as much as I could the next time but get my work checked, then before I started the 3rd time I would review the steps with someone first, and then generally I knew what I was doing. If I didn’t, I let whoever I was asking know, and asked them to help me go over it so I figured it out and had everything written down correctly and wasn’t going to miss anything else.

  22. Working While Depressed*

    Hi everyone. I was hoping you had some tips for me about starting a new job in the middle of a depressive episode.

    I started a temp-to-hire job in January. I have pretty severe depression and could tell I was declining already, but I was addressing it with my doctors and had it under control. Fast forward to now. I do not actually have it under control. All I want to do is sleep. I can’t motivate myself to do work up to my usual standards. I’m taking advantage of my flexible schedule to leave early (and come in early, since my depression comes with insomnia). When I’m actually at work, I barely do anything. Yes, I am working with my doctors, but it’s a process that takes time, and right now I feel like my job is precarious. No one has said anything to me about my performance, but I’m sure it’s noticeable.

    Any advice for me?

    1. Zap R.*

      Dry shampoo, baby wipes, and (if you are so inclined) tinted lip balm will make you feel at least presentable on days where you’re too tired to shower and put a face on. Go for walks at lunch and set up rituals that you can look forward to each day (eg. making tea at 2:30, reading a good book on the train, having a yap with your favourite coworker)

    2. CheeryO*

      Captain Awkward has an amazing article that I’ve re-read many times over the years – Google “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.” It’s all easier said than done, of course, and I know it’s harder when you’re at a new job and are trying to prove yourself to people who don’t have a baseline for your quality of work, but I think she gives some really good, practical tips.

      1. Havarti*

        Yes, definitely check CA’s site. Came here to recommend it. I hope things get better for you soon, OP.

    3. Fiona*

      Can you give a generic heads-up to your supervisor that you’re dealing with a health issue that is being addressed with your doctors? Mental health = health. People might be willing to cut you some slack if you proactively come to them and let them know this is a temporary slump and that (most importantly) you are acknowledging the situation. Best of luck and good for you for being so self-aware! This too shall pass.

    4. WineNot*

      Would you consider telling your employer? I know you are new there, but if the amount of work you aren’t doing is noticeable, they are probably concerned. Also, they might turn out to be really accommodating and understanding!

    5. Sled dog mana*

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago. I knew that my 90 day review was going to fall about 5 days after the 1 year anniversary of my daughter’s death. I was totally upfront with my supervisor, partly because I couldn’t take any PTO during those 90 days and because I didn’t want him to think I was slacking off because the 90 day probation was up.
      He was great and cut me a lot of slack, as long as Important Things were done properly and on time then it was ok to let minor things go a little. This also worked in my favor a few months later because he felt comfortable that I would be ok with him approaching me about my mental health (just a quick “hey you ok you seem not yourself”) which prompted a visit to the doctor who needed to adjust my meds.
      I wouldn’t say tell everyone but if you have a supervisor who you can approach and you trust to keep it in confidence then tell them and that you are already seeing a professional.
      Also if you have any seasonal component at all evaluate your workspace, I went from basement office with lots of lightning to ground floor with not so much lighting and will never forget how much of a difference a desk lamp made.

  23. Bend & Snap*

    I posted here that I was laid off at the end of January. This week I accepted an offer for a director level job!

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I am very tired and I read dictator level job and I was like Oh! Well… Do what you do.


  24. Pusheen*

    Not sure if this is work or personal but it’s about a coworker so?

    I had a dream about one of them and I can’t shake it off. The dream was really bad, think a violent movie. It was vivid at the time but I couldn’t remember any details as soon as I woke up. 

    This person sits near me, we joke around and I assign work to him occasionally. I have no problems with him and I’ve never gotten bad vibes from him. It’s just…egh. 

    1. Turtlewings*

      Yikes, that’s awkward! Maybe go out of your way to have some pleasant interactions with him in the next few days — jokes, coffee, whatever. Try to overwrite the memory of the dream with better memories from reality.

    2. I edit everything*

      I remember reading somewhere that if you tell someone about your dream, it will stop bothering you. Maybe now that you’ve told us, you’ll be able to move on.

    3. Buni*

      I’ve had the opposite, the luuuurve dream over someone I was not remotely attracted to. Aaaall the awkward, and me spending a whole day muttering to myself “It only happened in your head. It only happened in your head. And I don’t even know why”.

      1. JanetM*

        Oh, gosh — I had the inverse of that. There was someone with whom I did volunteer work to whom I was very attracted; I also knew he was monogamously married. Over a period of a few months, I had repeated dreams about how awful it would be if I made a pass at him, and how it would destroy everyone’s lives. I eventually convinced my subconscious to shut up, that I have better manners than that.

    4. Leslie Knope*

      I had a dream last night that my boss was talking to me through the bathroom stall while I was trying to do my business. And then when I came out of the bathroom they had re-hired the coworker who recently quit (who I was glad to see go). It was not a happy dream. So, I feel your awkward pain.

      I agree with others that you need to have a new pleasant interaction in order to rewrite that weird memory.

    5. Quill*

      I get nightmares all the time that feature a variety of people. One of the things that keeps me from dwelling on them is the anti-anxiety meds, but also actively finding other things to think about: for example, podcasts while doing data entry, etc.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Okay this is a weird comment, so bear with me.

      Is it possible that you could have transposed someone? Do you have anyone in your life who is giving you a hard time? Or have you had someone in the past who gave you a hard time?

      There is a thing where we can put scary characteristics on to benign people in our dreams. It is easier to face the characteristics without seeing the actual person. So seeing the violence plus seeing the actual person who did this to you or yours would be over the top. But seeing benign coworker doing the same violent thing allows us to address/process an issue where we other wise would not address the issue.

      Because the human mind can come up with all kinds of stuff, you may have another cohort who is worrisome OR this dream could be all about a cohort in the past who was worrisome.

      In yet another odd twist once I have clearly identified who the worrisome person is, many times the dream will just stop. Cold, hard stop. If we don’t deal with stuff in real life sometimes we end up sorting it out in our dreams.

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

      I’m with you. I keep dreaming of someone at work. He’s like a CLAMP character come to life, tall, elegant, with eyelashes so long some people may kill for them… But he’s an asshole that loves trashing one of my work friends. Worse of all, every dream with him is super shojo (sans flower backgrounds and petals in the air), and I’m angry with my brain for choosing such a problematic person to feature them.

  25. Spills*

    I have an update from last week! I was the commenter who had accepted a new job offer but was waiting for my Q4 commission check to be paid before giving notice and worried about the timelines.

    Just wanted to give a quick update that the check was received yesterday (a day earlier than anticipated) and I’ll be giving notice on Monday! My new job was very understanding and I can’t wait to get started. Thanks to everyone for your advice!

      1. Clare*

        Fab! It might be different in the UK, but cheques take a few days to clear here and can be stopped by the issuing party. I’m sure you’re already aware if it’s a thing in the US, but might it be worth asking the bank at what point the cheque can’t be recalled by the issuer? Do hope I’m not raining on your parade? Am so thrilled for you and good luck in your new job.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      That’s fabulous! Best of luck on your new job. I’m glad they were willing to wait for you.

  26. Inga*

    Just needing to vent. I’m leaving this job in a few months, and I think the best thing I can do to cope for now is just tell other people about how insane it is. It’s a small student health clinic and the receptionist put up a red stop sign that reads “STOP. PLEASE WAIT HERE UNTIL CALLED FORWARD.” to block the path from students walking up to the reception desk. I understand the concerns for multiple students and privacy, but she enforces it even when nobody else is in the office. Students have to stand in the hall awkwardly until she decides to pay them any attention.

    1. Amy Sly*

      This kind of behavior by customer service people gets whistling, humming, and “In the Air Tonight”-esque drum solos on the counter. I won’t demand service, but I’m quite happy to return obnoxiousness with obnoxiousness.

      1. Inga*

        I often wish I could coach the students on how to push back against this kind of stuff, but most of them don’t know any better than to accept it since they’ve never visited a medical office on their own before.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      She may well be a jerk on a power trip, but also, privacy standards in a lot of health care organizations do ask that patients wait at a certain point until called up to the desk because the person working the desk may be working with PHI from other patients, and they have to make sure the workspace is cleared of other people’s protected info before they call a patient up, it’s not JUST that other physical people in the office might hear something.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Sure, but the sign doesn’t have to be so unfriendly. That’s the kind of thing that makes students go away and not come back, the kind of thing that gives a health center a bad reputation around campus. We had this kind of problem in our counseling center, not helped by big signs that sternly stated that payment was required upfront (in fact, there were so many exceptions to this “rule” that it was inaccurate) and receptionists who were frosty with the students. (Some of that was bad workflow in the office.) New director changed all of it. A much nicer place to send students in need.

        It also sounds like they need to give some thought to where students wait, do they need chairs in the hall, do they need to change how they do intake? do they need to work with the receptionist on communication skills?

        At a minimum, change the sign: For privacy: please wait here. Thank you!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          True, the sign can definitely be worded better! It didn’t sound like the sign was the point of contention, rather the complaint seemed to be about the fact that the receptionist made people abide by it even when the waiting room was empty, is all. :)

          1. Inga*

            This is just the latest in a long list of bizarre choices in this office, so I focused on one thing. This receptionist has a history of giving students such a hard time that they get into the provider’s room and burst into tears. She’s also routinely stopped talking to other staff members over some perceived slight. Management has turned a blind eye to all of it. It’s definitely more of a control issue than real concern for patient privacy. She leaves papers out on her desk all day and never locks anything away at the end of the day. I could go on all day…. which is a big reason of why I will be gone in a few months.

          2. Megan*

            I’m not seeing what is wrong with the wording. I guess adding a thank you would soften it, but otherwise I really am missing what is wrong with “please wait here”.

    3. NJBi*

      Ugh, that’s so annoying! My university’s health clinic had a sign like that essentially to remind students to stay back past that distance or they’d overhear someone else’s private medical information, but you could walk right up to reception if there wasn’t someone there already! Also there was a nice, small waiting area so that you didn’t have to stand immediately in the path of the hallway if you weren’t called yet. Fingers crossed someone with the authority to tell her to lay off notices and is appropriately befuddled by why she’s having students stand around in the hall if there’s nobody at her desk.

      1. Inga*

        Oh no, it seems like I’m the only one who thinks this is a poor choice. The director embraces it. One of the providers saw it for the first time and enthusiastically called out, “Oh! Nice!!” Our students routinely bash our office on social media and it’s always brushed off. I’ve learned that it’s pointless to voice these concerns.

        1. blackcat*

          My college health center had a similar sign (big red stop sign look), but it was coupled with a few more things, including a mask-wearing emoji and the text:

          Are you coughing today? If so, mask-up!
          Please wait here to be called to the desk.”

          The sign was perched on a little table that had the masks, tissues, and hand sanitizer. Somehow the first thing being about putting on a mask softens it.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      The “not paying any attention” part is what needs addressing / thinking about (if you give any brain space to this at all), rather than the sign itself. There are all kinds of places where “please wait to be called forward” (yes, even if there isn’t a queue!) is the standard way to wait.

      If she is deliberately doing ‘whatever’ rather than see people who are waiting to be seen… as I say, that’s the part to be looked into.

      You wouldn’t just walk up into the queue behind someone speaking to a cashier at the bank would you? for example.

  27. Nicole*

    Looking for advice on how picky to be when job searching.

    I’m in a job that gave me some amazing experience, hugely increased responsibilities, and really made me feel ready to take a step forward with my career. I was in fact talking to my boss about moving into a management positions….but through the course of the work I was doing, I saw some serious problems with my organization – all of the managers were seriously overworked, people were going on stress leave left, right and centre, and I was told the expectation would include working weekends and holidays. I also nearly burned out myself – despite being constantly told I was allowed to say “no”, anytime I tried to push back on unreasonable deadlines, I was told no.

    I am now looking elsewhere, because the current environment isn’t sustainable. I know I have the skills and experience to take a step up, but I also know I need to get out of my current company before I really burn out. As a result, I am struggling with my job search. Do I apply for a job that I know I could do, but that I’m not really excited for and would be a step backwards in terms of accountability etc? (It wouldn’t necessarily look like a step backwards on paper because my current company never promoted me). Or do I wait it out to look for a leadership role or something else that gets me excited?

    My partner thinks I should just worry about getting out, and if the next role doesn’t work out, move again. But right now I have stellar references and history of great performance – I’m worried about moving into something I’m only so-so at and potentially making myself look like a less attractive candidate if they move doesn’t work out.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      My approach has been to apply to anything that’s 50% there for me. A few thoughts that I remind myself when looking at a job:

      -A job application does not guarantee a job interview, much less a job offer
      -A job offer is not a a commitment from you to take the job
      -You can’t learn enough about the job just from the description, so don’t discount a job because it isn’t a 100% fit

      1. Mkt*

        I love this advice. So true, and there are so many intangibles that you can’t see from a job posting that may elevate what the opportunity can mean as well.

        Good luck!

    2. CoffeeLover*

      I don’t apply for a huge number of roles, but I tend to have between a 1/5 to 1/10 success rate when it comes to getting called into an interview (the latter was when I moved to a new country). And so far I’d say I have about a 1/3 offer per interview rate. My max time job hunting was 3 months.

      My rambley point is that I don’t apply to that many jobs, and instead I put more effort in my application to the jobs I’d actually want to do. Applying to more jobs while putting in less effort per application doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more interviews. I like to set up weekly notifications of new job postings (posted in the last week) on linkedin for the relevant job titles. Then I look through each one and apply to the ones that I can get excited about. Do it consistently for a month or two and you’ll have an offer.

      I don’t believe you should take a step down, UNLESS there’s something you gain in the process. Ie if you want to change industries, you might need to do a lateral or slightly downward move to do it. Or if you’re really really desperate to move on AND financially in a crunch.

      Of course, there is such a thing as too picky, so you really need to drill down into what’s important for you and where you can be flexible. My rule of thumb was to apply to 3 jobs per week. It feels like a good number for the average role, so if you can’t do that then maybe you need to re-evaluate your requirements.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d cast my net widely in hopes of options and interviews but be very pick about actually accepting new position until you have something you really want. You have the luxury of not having to jump immediately.

      1. A Person*

        I agree with this totally!

        My experience: I went with a job that didn’t seem like the best fit to me (a bit of a step down, I went from managing 1 person back to Senior) because they lobbied super hard to hire me and my company was closing in a few months. Since I was doing ok financially, I regretted it – it ended up feeling like a year wasted, I didn’t like the person who became my manager (who I didn’t get along with well in the interview), and when I got the next job afterwards it seemed like I could have gotten it without the year of “lower” work.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Your partner is a very supportive person.

      I think keep looking with the idea that you are looking for reasonable people. Now is not a really great time to be concerned about how the resume looks. I agree with your partner that if your aim is off a little you can correct it later.

      Figure out what warning flags you missed with this place and focus on getting to a safer place to be. This isn’t a waste of time. It’s okay to set a goal of learning what went awry and working to avoid that again. This learning is something that you will use over and over as you go through your career.

      One thing I did that was helpful was to read advice for the INTERVIEWER. I found it instructive to think about what a good company would do to make the best hire. Think about this, we have to watch the interviewer to see how they handle things. Do we even know how they should be handling things?

    1. Inga*

      Maybe you can keep yourself awake by crafting plans to re-design your local roadways to be as frustrating and congested as possible ;)

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          But it only takes a couple of trips to the planning department, and one dark and rainy night, a crucial shift in stakes at the construction site, and the resulting wall of flame is So Cool!

          Right up until two middle-aged bodies with three spirits fly through it on a scooter.

  28. Sarah-tonin*

    Hi All.

    Earlier this week, I made a not-great mistake at work (I work part-time at this library, and this is my second permanent librarian job so I don’t have a ton of experience yet). Basically, we had a patron come in asking for help doing something on the computer. But he didn’t know how to use a computer and he was hard of hearing and also didn’t want to do what I instructed (he just sat there). Our library does not provide one-on-one help. We can get people started but that’s it. (There are ways to deal with this, and other libraries to send them to that do that kind of help, but I didn’t know that at the time and didn’t know how to say no, so I helped him way more than I should have.)

    This lead to me getting really frustrated (I think mostly because he wouldn’t do anything, like I’ve had people who don’t know computers before and they’ve been willing to try). I had to yell so he could hear me, but my tone came out really frustrated, which is a huge, major no. There were about 10 other people on other computers who heard me, one of whom was a board member (which I didn’t know). My boss was also near me checking something unrelated and heard me, and I’m sure other staff and people heard cause sound travels.

    My boss called me into her office and we talked about the situation, why it happened, and how to avoid it in the future. Basically, she knows that frustrations happen but that it wasn’t a great look for me or the library. She was relatively cool about it, like I don’t think I could have asked for a better reaction from a boss, and we’re going to meet once a month to talk about things (I don’t see her a ton due to scheduling). This isn’t going in my file or anything. I’m not glad this happened, but now I have tools to deal with it in the future.

    But I still feel awful and embarrassed. I hope people who overheard know that we’re all human and sometimes mistakes happen (I did help at least one other person on the computers after the incident). My boss (and I hope my coworkers) know me well enough to know that this isn’t how I act all the time, that it was kind of a perfect storm.

    I sent my boss a message soon after our conversation saying that I really appreciated her taking the tine to talk to me, and that I’m grateful to have tools and tips to better handle things like this going forward.

    Is there anything else I can do?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      The best thing you can do now is forgive yourself for having a human reaction to a frustrating situation and let it go. It sounds like your conversation with your boss went well, and that you responded appropriately to the immediate ramifications. The people who overheard you will have likely already forgotten about it, and so long as you work hard to not let it happen again, you will be fine :)

      1. Turtlewings*

        Agreed, the best thing you can do now is move on and not call more attention to the incident by continuing to bring it up.

        Fwiw, that does sound like an incredibly frustrating situation, exacerbated by you being new and just not knowing you had better options. When I worked in a public library, trying to help people with the computers was by far the worst part of the job. I still remember one woman who seemed to regard it as my own personal fault that she didn’t know how to do things. I’m glad your boss handled it well, and I feel certain you will learn from the mistake. That’s the best anyone can do.

        1. Sarah-tonin*

          honestly sometimes it feels like i went to library school just to help people on computers, or to sit at the desk and watch people on the computers because we don’t get many reference questions. our computers were down earlier this week for at least a few hours and the place was dead, because a lot of people use them. (which was actually really nice for me, a good break.)

          ugh, we get people like the woman you mentioned all the time. they expect that we’ll know how to fix everything, or know all the answers. which is nice, that they think that, but also. there’s only so much we can do, and know, and some stuff really is not in our wheelhouse (i.e.: phone problems).

          i am so glad my boss handled it well, too. i’ve had bosses who would get a lot more upset over a lot less.

          thank you for this.

          1. valentine*

            Decide what you’ll do next time this or something else comes up where your instinct is to go above and beyond when that’s not SOP. So someone has never used a computer. Well, that problem is too big for you. You’ll politely tell them what? Or someone wants you to break a rule or to do things that aren’t your job. Write little scripts so that, when the moment arrives, you’ll recognize it and pull out the stop sign instead of sliding down a bottomless well.

            1. Sarah-tonin*

              oh man, i LOVE scripts and this idea! even if a script won’t help the situation 100% of the time, i think even just planning out what i should say will help.

      2. Sarah-tonin*

        Thank you. :) the only thing that wasn’t great about our convo was that I cried. But I’m the type of person who cries easily and over everything, not just when I’m sad or in trouble.

        But I am working hard to not let this happen again, especially now that I have tools and other resources to help me.

        1. SI*

          I worked in the library on campus during library school. Learned to deal with all sorts of situations, from students crying because they couldn’t find the right section of the library or operate the compact shelving, to members of the public that had severe mental illness. Oh the stories I could tell you.

          You’ll figure it out and sometimes, it’s better to let your supervisor deal with a difficult patron.

          1. Sarah-tonin*

            i wish they gave us more hands-on training on what to do in these difficult situations. i learned way more on the job than i did in library school.

            but going forward, i won’t be afraid to pass someone off to my supervisor if needed (and if she’s here).

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Library employee here, although in a different setting. Mercifully, I mostly work through email or I’d have bitten off more than a few heads by now.

      Forgive yourself, and ask for clarification on procedures for difficult patrons like this so you feel more confident about handling the next one, and so you feel–at least I hope you feel–that you have your boss’ permission to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do when it looks like a patron expects more of your time than you’re supposed to give. I’m in an academic library and some patrons expect us to do actual research for them, which is not my job. I am very specifically not supposed to spend more than (it varies somewhat, depending on the situation) amount of time on a given request; beyond that, they need to hire a proxy researcher or come in and do the work themselves.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        OMG I just remembered: We used to have an older patron who did not use email (this was only a couple of years ago) and insisted on calling when he wanted something, but was hard of hearing. Very hard of hearing. But then he’d get mad at you for shouting into the phone at him instead of enunciating more clearly. But if you enunciated, you couldn’t be loud enough.

        He wasn’t mean but helping him with stuff was exhausting. My boss finally insisted that he [boss] be allowed to take this person’s calls whenever he [boss] was in (boss often has meetings in other parts of the building) so the rest of us didn’t have to deal with him.

        1. Sarah-tonin*

          your patron sounds exhausting. i’m glad your boss was able to field his questions so you all didn’t have to.

          my boss is supportive in us not being superheroes (all i meant by that is she knows we have limits) and also not helping someone for more than a little bit of time (like you, it varies). and if we had a patron who we couldn’t help, we could call her. problem is, that doesn’t help for nights and weekends, when we have limited staff.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I am a public school teacher (and a department head) and I do something that I am embarrassed or angry with myself about almost every day. Dealing with people is hard, and when you are learning how to do it it’s even harder. Give yourself some grace and keep growing and learning. You will be great!

    4. Washi*

      Aw, don’t beat yourself up! I used to work in HR at a university that had a computer kiosk set up for people to submit job applications if they don’t have a computer at home. However, our online system required an email address, and the majority of people who needed to use a computer also were folks who did not have emails or really have much in the way of computer skills (one person didn’t even know how to use a mouse.)

      So instead of just pulling up the portal and briefly showing people how to make an account, I was sometimes spending an hour with someone trying to explain what an email is and how the email password is not the same as the job portal password, etc, often with them getting frustrated with me because I wasn’t allowed to accept paper applications. I was definitely not as patient as I would like to have been, and there were a couple times where I cried in the bathroom afterward from the sheer frustration of the position I was in, how hard it was to help people, and how difficult it was for me to be patient.

      I say all this to hopefully illustrate that you are far from alone in your reaction, and probably a lot of people listening understood why you were frustrated. What has helped me move past it is to ask myself “what did I learn about myself and this situation? How can I do better next time” and to try to look at it as an opportunity to work on something I struggle with.

      1. Sarah-tonin*

        thank you for sharing. this is for sure a learning experience. this isn’t the first time i’ve been frustrated, but i can usually keep it in check. not that day, though.

    5. LibGuideMeIntoTheWeekend*

      Another librarian here! It happens. We’re just human after all. And the great news is now you’re empowered with knowledge about how to handle it differently in the future.

      A self-talk check in that has helped me greatly in my feedback loops of feeling bad about things: Is this something that you’ll still be obsessing about and beating yourself up about in a week’s time? A month’s time? Next year? Don’t give this event more emotional weight than it necessitates.

      Public facing librarianship is not quiet nerds reading all day like many people think. It’s a TON of customer service that necessitates a LOT of emotional labor. Make sure you don’t let yourself get bogged down in it or you’ll burn out quickly.

      1. Sarah-tonin*

        thank you for this. i’m glad i posted this, i’ve been getting responses that are so helpful. :)

        but yeah, being a librarian is actually really hard, because it’s so much customer service. and people can be so entitled – like last week was program registration, and our online registration was down. nothing we could do, it was out of our hands and all we could do was wait. but people were so mad, because our programs fill up fast. and one person even said we should get shut down. because they couldn’t register for programs. like, we do a lot of stuff, most of it for free, and i just wish people would appreciate us a bit more? this isn’t related to the post, but lemme tell you, when i was in library school, i did not expect to get screamed at because people couldn’t register for programs that very second.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I feel you on this. We had a one-day glitch a couple weeks back where our checkout software couldn’t communicate with outside software programs, so nobody could check out eBooks. Most people were fairly understanding about it but to read some of the emails we received, you would have thought we had broken into these peoples homes and stolen their kindles from them!

          I’m going to pass on the best librarianing advice I’ve ever received. When customers thank you or compliment you, write it down. When you’re mentioned positively on a comment card or an online post, make a copy. Put all those compliments in a file folder at your desk. Then, when you have experiences like the one you had this week and everything goes wrong and you feel like the worst librarian ever, pull out your folder. Read through all the nice things customers have had to say about you. Remind yourself of all the people you’ve helped and all the good you’ve done in your community. Having an off day doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you a human. You’ve got this, Sarah-tonin. :)

          1. Sarah-tonin*

            i know what you mean! most people with our issue were understanding. there really wasn’t anything we could do, the issue wasn’t something on our end, but not everyone understood (or wanted to understand) that. like, i do get why they were upset, but things do happen and not everything is going to be perfect 100% of the time.

            but omg i LOVE this idea too! :D even just thinking about all the good interactions i’ve had is so helpful. i know i’m not horrible at my job, and thinking of the good is always a help.

        2. AnotherLibrarian*

          You have to let this one go. I know it’s hard. I know it is. God, I know. But if you let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that you should be appreciated more than you will burn out. I’m sorry you have a rough one. It’s hard. There’s a reason I don’t work in public libraries. Deep Breaths and Librarian of SHIELD’s advice about a folder is a great idea. I print out and keep thank you cards I get from patrons and stick them to my wall in my office. Just a little reminder that you can do this.

          1. Sarah-tonin*

            honestly i’m looking for a full-time librarian job that is not in public libraries and situations like this are why. helping people sign on to computers and print things all day and getting yelled at when something goes wrong (situation in a comment above) isn’t what i went to grad school for.

            thank you. <3

        3. Vote Blue No Matter Who*

          Assuming you work at a public library, many programs may not charge a fee but somebody pays for them. Those “free” programs are likely paid for with mostly or all government funds. And those are only possible because of taxpayers. I pay several hundred dollars a year in property taxes allocated to my local library system, but I haven’t set foot in the library for 20 years. Not trying to pick on you, but wanting to point out there is no free lunch.

          1. BrotherFlounder*

            Yes, that’s true, but that fact gets used as a weapon against librarians by a lot of very entitled people who scream “my taxes pay your salary!” They think it gives them a huge say in how things are run or that it should give them the right to demand anything they want, and they want it all right now. So, just pointing out that this might not be the best thing to say to a librarian. They know.

          2. tangerineRose*

            You’re missing out by not checking out the library. As well as books, they loan DVD’s, CD’s, and sometimes board games.

            1. Blueberry*

              I dunno, do we want to encourage someone who would pull out “my taxes pay your salary!” as a verbal club to beat the librarians with to go there?

              1. Sarah-tonin*

                I also don’t know why people feel the need to tell me that they haven’t been in the library in 10+ years. like, okay? are you bragging or something? libraries (and librarians!0 roles have changed big time.

    6. Public Facing Librarian*

      You are doing fine. You are learning and reflecting.
      One good tool when a patron is frustrating is to look at the clock. Say out loud in a firm but quiet voice. I am trying to help but this might be beyond me (the beyond part is not questioning your own competence, the beyond part is you cannot continue this pattern of behavior) I am going to try for five more minutes. When the time is up, excuse yourself and get a supervisor.
      While the supervisor is working with the patron, stay nearby, observe and take notes. Figure out if you need different strategies to help the person.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      To me this is a training issue and I think that because of this sentence here: “There are ways to deal with this, and other libraries to send them to that do that kind of help, but I didn’t know that at the time and didn’t know how to say no, so I helped him way more than I should have.”

      My friend is a lawyer. And she says there is no way that law school prepares a person for ALL. THE. FORMS. that must be completed. For many professionals, the job is the real training, so understand you are not alone, you are not unusual AT ALL.

      I’d recommend asking the boss for resources where you can read up on how to handle tricky situations, how to know where your limits are so you can say NO earlier and learn just how many resources are out there. You can decide to turn yourself into an encyclopedia of this practical knowledge.

      I sincerely doubt that you will hit a bump in the road this big again. But you will find that things come up and some days can feel like the FIRST day of work all over again. This feeling will stop. (In my case it stopped because I just decided that I will never feel like I have learned my job. I can’t hit a moving target, I can only chase it.)

      My current boss and I have set time limits on problems. We allow ourselves 15 minutes to try to figure something out. If we haven’t reach a conclusion then we call in help. This could be each other or it could be an outside source. Happily with setting a time limit it also helps to keep frustration levels down as well as finding a solution quicker. I don’t know what that would look like in your setting, but perhaps you can find your own version of the time limit thing we do.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I think a lot of colleges don’t cover everything that you will deal with in real life based on your major. Computer science classes rarely even mentioned how often programmers will work with existing, undocumented code and how many changes are made.

  29. Zap R.*

    Anyone else here holding down a full-time job with Tourette Syndrome? I feel like I (mostly) cope pretty well but I’m curious to see how others manage.

    1. partnerthereof*

      Not me but my partner, holds down a full-time desk job that just this week switched to full time work-from-home with mild to moderate Tourette’s (I don’t know exactly how it’s classed, but the vocal tics are noises, not words, and the physical tics do not prevent them from performing the majority of tasks in regular life).

      They’d been in therapy for many years before I met them so they have a lot of behavioral therapy techniques that they swear by in being helpful. Of course there’s only so much “controlling” Tourette’s but theirs is certainly alleviated at least some by stress management.

      I know it’s going to vary a lot by severity of tics, but my partner has done their best to treat it as a “background noise” in their life – ie, they don’t acknowledge or make a big deal of minor tics occurring during conversation, so others around them shouldn’t be either, and they’ve been fortunate enough to find a workplace where everyone has followed suit when they did work in the office setting. I don’t work with them to know how it’s handled in office, but when we’ve had conversations where they’ve gotten worked up (excitement, anger, stress, any strong emotion can aggravate the tics) we both tend to just try to wait longer before interjecting with each other so that they can get out what they’re trying to get out past the tics without being interrupted. This was never something we formally established, it just became natural as we got to know each other.

      They are considering a career change that would increase the necessity for public speaking and interactions with strangers that might be anxiety inducing and I’ve definitely wondered how they plan to handle it, but I’m waiting for them to bring it up because I don’t want it to seem like I think they wouldn’t be able to handle the change (obviously I’m biased, but I think my partner is capable and great and would hate to give any other impression)

    2. partnerthereof*

      Darn! I just typed a decently long reply that disappeared when I hit submit. I’ll try to recreate / summarize.

      Not me but my partner. They’ve held the same job for six years or so with internal promotions and lateral moves and is well liked by all. Used to work entirely in the office, went partial WFH a few years ago, and late last year went full time WFH. Obviously managing it while working from home is pretty easy in comparison to an office, but I know in general from being with them so long that they really try to take a “its background noise, don’t mind me” approach to their tics. That is to say, unless it’s severely interrupting the conversation (Which they are fortunate to not have tics of this nature) they treat them as though they aren’t happening and they’ve been fortunate to have coworkers who follow this cue. Sometimes it takes them a bit longer to get out what they’re trying to say vocally, but most of their work communication occurs via IM or email anyway. This, with a background of years of behavioral therapy and stress management techniques, helps keep the tics pretty manageable.

      They are considering a career change that might put them in a position of needing to do more public speaking / interacting with strangers and occasionally deal with higher emotional situation (happiness, frustration, anger, all this strong emotions trigger tics, as I’m sure you well know) and I do wonder how they plan to deal with it, but I haven’t asked because they haven’t brought it up. They really prefer to treat their Tourette’s as a minor detail of their life and to us, so used to it by now, it really is. That plus I wouldn’t want to bring it up and give off the impression that I think they’re anything less than capable and great and able to tackle the challenge, which is what I believe regardless.

    3. Lx in Canada*

      I have it… I’m on a fair amount of medications right now to experiment with how it calms down the tics. My main tic is blinking and sometimes squeaking so it’s not too bad. A lot of my tics are mild or are right now not very existent (due to meds, but that’s a whole other can of worms – they are kind of rough), so that helps. I don’t think people really notice, and those who do are generally nice enough not to say anything.

  30. PhD Panic*

    Anyone else ruminating about an interview you haven’t heard back from yet? I feel like all I can think about are the ways I could’ve phrased things better :(

    1. Goldfinch*

      I could have written your comment.

      I babbled vaguely about a concept that has a clear two-word name, but I had forgotten the name, and panicked by talking in circles. My job involves being succinct.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      As a person running a search that is dragging out due to circumstances absolutely beyond my control (I am calling it The Search That Refused to Die), please know that you may be one of our top candidates but we cannot get back to you with an offer for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with you.

      I want to contact everyone and say, Sorry! So so sorry! We can’t tell you anything! Sorry!

      But I can’t. So very sorry!

    3. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      Yes I am having the same thoughts creep in today. I think I pretty much aced the interview, or at least presented myself and my goals in the best light I could, yet now all I can think about is if I was too casual when I like, laughed when my interviewer said something that was admittedly funny. I’m sure it’s fine but I’m supposed to hear back today. Oh god, let me hear back today and not on Monday.

    4. Not really a waitress*

      yes. Interviewed on Tuesday. Did hear back from my recruiter contact that hiring manger is out on PTO (she mentioned Tuesday her Daughter was sick) so maybe early next week

    5. it happens*

      How’s this for fun? I had a great screening interview last week and they immediately scheduled a hiring manager call. Which the hiring manager did not attend and the person I had such a great conversation with has disappeared… oh well, they called me out of the blue and I am probably too senior for the job, but it’s annoying, nonetheless
      I hope you have a much better experience.

    6. Origamist*

      I had a phone screen Wednesday, sent an email with a follow-up question on Thursday and didn’t get a reply back. Trying not to view it as “oh God they hated me and don’t want to waste any more time on me”. Compounding the anxiety, a coworker at current job also applied to this position and said her phone screen went well. Supposed to hear Monday if I get an interview…

  31. ET*

    Argh… I’m not sure if I am having allergies or a contagious virus, and I don’t know what the baseline for “oh, I should stay home to avoid getting other people sick” should be. I’m exhausted, sniffling, and sneezing. I had a nasty cold a couple weeks ago that came with a fever, cough, and sore throat, and this is not that, but also I’ve taken a double dose of Claritin and it’s helped some but not enough.

    No COVID-19 in my state or even this region of the country yet… and I’m almost out of sick days til April. However, my job can be done from home if need be.

    1. Turtlewings*

      Definitely sounds like a work-from-home day, if you can. Even if it’s allergies, which you don’t know at this point, the sounds of your misery are no one’s favorite soundtrack, and you’ll probably be more productive if you’re comfortable at home.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed. Even if it’s just a cold, I appreciate my coworkers who stay at home (when they can work from home) so they don’t spread it around.

    2. Quill*

      If you normally have allergies sometimes, I’d work from home a day. If nothing else, not commuting and sleeping more may perk you up. And if you start sneezing gobs you’ll at least be able to do it at home.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I’m in the SwampEast and our pollen season is already in full session.

      Is telework an option for you? “Hey, boss, not sure if it’s my allergies or if I’m catching a cold. In case it’s the latter, to keep everyone healthy, mind if I telework a few days?”

      Hope you feel better quickly!

    4. Nope*

      I stayed home with a cold for (taking a Friday and a Monday off) but am still feeling *something*. It’s just lingering and making me feel tired and cranky. Hoping my upcoming vacation will allow me to finally shake it. It just seems like everyone is sick though, and I’m in IT and we’re in the middle of upgrades so I’m touching a lot of computers though I got smart and started using my own keyboard/mouse so I don’t need to touch the (sometimes REALLY gross) keyboards of the laptop devices I’m working on. I hate this time of year.

  32. Free Meercats*

    Corona virus hysteria, how are you seeing it manifest?

    One of our employees, Goober, is currently in South America, not a hotspot area, not in a country with any signs yet. Another employee, Floyd, has bought into some of the conspiracy theories, lock, stock, and barrel. The CIA developed it along with the Chinese and it’s a combination accidental escape from the lab/test on civilians/Chinese false flag attack on their own people – or something like that. Floyd has stated he’s going to wear a mask when the Goober returns. No problem , right?

    No, Floyd has stated that he’s going to wear his Army NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical attack) mask whenever Goober is onsite. Image here:

    Luckily, neither one works for me, so I’m just sitting on the sidelines watching.

    1. PX*


      We’ve just gotten a lot of emails at work about procedures and steps that are being taken and the usual feedback to practice good hygiene. Looks like working from will be the default for most people if it gets worse.

    2. Blueberry*

      One of my work duties is monitoring our company Facebook group (which I hate, though I know it sounds like “Getting to read Facebook for work would be fun”) and I am so sick of the conspiracy theories/racist advice/general fearmongering people keep posting, which shows up on the timeline. ugh.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        On our work intranet, when the topic came up people have been posting their fear mongering “statistics” on the mortality rate, doomsday prepping suggestions, anti vaxxer stances, and MLM remedies with thinly disguised sales pitches. Of course there are the counter arguments with citations, and counter counter arguments.

    3. Tedious Cat*

      It manifested in me this morning but I think I managed to hide it. A coworker told me she was going on a cruise next week and my immediate impulse was to ask what she was thinking. The cruise isn’t anywhere near areas of infection, but it’s the other cruisers that are the variable. After the spread on the Diamond Princess, I wouldn’t want to be in an enclosed area like that right now. But! None of that is kind to bring up to a coworker, so I stuck with “have fun!”

      1. Moinmoin*

        I was thinking about that today. I’m planning a trip to Las Vegas in a couple months and, while it’s not a hot spot for the virus, it is a tourist destination and would require a flight to get there, so there’s lots of potential to interact with travelers from all over. I just don’t really know how big of a deal that should be.

      2. Merci Dee*

        I have a pretty good feeling that your co-worker has already been thinking about all of this on her own.

        My daughter and I have a cruise to the Bahamas that we booked in November and is scheduled for July. I’m watching the progression of Covid-19 with interest, but hoping that things may have calmed down by the time our trip is scheduled.

        My boss, however, is scheduled for a cruise that’s supposed to be leaving Miami in about 3 weeks. She and her husband planned the cruise to coincide with their granddaughter’s spring break so that they could take her along with them. As of now, her cruise hasn’t been cancelled, but she’s thinking of re-scheduling for some time toward the end of the year anyway.

      1. Lora*

        OK, I used to have to actually wear the whole Class B suit including the full face respirator for work, and it is seriously irresistible to check your mask valves WITHOUT doing the Darth Vader noises…every single time. Even when you have been doing this every day for a week. I’m sorry, it just kinda happens. Even when you’re a grown adult with a mortgage and you’re cleaning up something that could easily kill you if you get a hole in your suit. I don’t know, you’re just standing in a kiddie pool full of disinfectant while someone sprays you with an orchard sprayer as you peel your layers off, and you’re like, “kshshshsh…I find your lack of (whatever)…” etc etc. I know, it gets old really quickly, and I’m sorry to say I was this annoying for many years but at least I don’t do it anymore.

    4. Nicki Name*

      My workplace is thankfully conspiracy-free so far. Everyone’s absorbed the message of “same precautions as for flu, with more vigilance”, although I have one coworker who’s extra anxious because allegedly in their country, “we don’t have flu”.

    5. NJBi*

      A coworker in a different department from mine has been bizarrely changing how they clean the (VERY SMALL) office kitchen. Bizarrely changing as in making changes that don’t seem to make any sense to me–like leaving folks’ dried dishes in a stack next to the drying rack instead of putting them in the cabinet, which they would do every morning before people got in. The putting things away at 8am was annoying in its own right, because then they’d be all high and mighty about putting away other people’s dishes, when in fact, people routinely would do it when they got in a bit later and made a morning coffee–as happened if this one person hadn’t already put away the dishes. Why change from putting away dishes to putting them on the counter, instead of just… leaving them in the drying rack? The world will never know. I’ve started putting away any dry dishes that happen to be in the rack when I wash out my coffee mug, since that tends to be in the afternoon. Usually can manage to put anything that’s there away by the time the water gets hot, because again–everybody basically manages their own stuff, the thing is pretty much never full.

      Oh, and how is this coronavirus related? I wouldn’t have thought it was at all, except I was trapped into an unexpected convo when I ran into the person aggressively Chloroxing the countertops one morning,* and they gradually started on a series of extremely xenophobic comments about coworkers in a third department who are from Asia. What!!! I and the third person squished into this tiny room both did a double-take–it was totally unexpected, never would have connected the dots without this conversation and never would have thought this coworker held such xenophobic views–and I made some comments about Oh, idk, I always see OtherDepartment staff do their dishes as soon as the dirty dishes come into the kitchen, which is so nice that they don’t leave them in the sink for later…

      Wasn’t expecting this at all, and it makes me (a white person) feel like I ought to be more on the lookout for ways that this outbreak might be ramping up baseless, xenophobic, racist prejudices against my coworkers.

      * There are no COVID-19 cases or suspected cases in the state where I work, nor in any bordering state for that matter, but of course especially since it’s flu season, it’s a good idea to clean the countertops with a disinfectant. Just, you know… with mindful flu-and-colds thoughts, please, not xenophobic COVID-19 thoughts.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      My favorite is this news report: people are avoiding Corona beer because of fear of the Corona virus!

      1. Junimo the Hutt*

        Agreed. It was just a poll in which a number of people simply wouldn’t drink Corona beer! At all! Not connected to the virus in any way! It’s frustratingly irresponsible of that major media company. If anybody needs me, I’m going to go find a void to scream into.

    7. Not A Manager*

      I know that we generally frown upon people taking pics of their co-workers and posting them on social media, but could this one be an exception? I hope that Floyd is also planning to wear a Darth Vader cape as well.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m playing “cold or allergies” with my current set of mild sniffles and sore throat, and debating whether or not I should start wearing a mask to work so I stop touching my gross face all day. However, we are very much not a mask-wearing work culture, and I don’t want hear a bunch of comments about corona virus paranoia from people. (I have a bunch of fabric masks with anime animal noses/smiles on them, which I bought at a con last year with the idea that I’d wear them at future cons to avoid spreading con crud around since I go to at least three cons during cold/flu season most years. They’re something I already own and are reusable, so it’s not like I’d be acquiring and wasting masks that someone else might need more. I suppose I also don’t want a bunch of “why are you wearing an anime cat mask at work, and how did you come to own such a thing to start with” comments from people at work, which is an additional disadvantage to the particular masks I own.)

      1. Nicki Name*

        If you’re dealing with largely reasonable people, you can point them to the latest info on the virus symptoms, which is that they include a dry cough and fever but **not** a runny nose.

    9. Lonely Aussie*

      My co-workers mostly just think the whole thing is funny… but they’re also a bunch of pricks.

      Work as far as I’m aware has no plans for dealing with it. We work with animals and not only is work cheap with the sick leave (for Aus, we get 11 days) there’s this real culture of coming in sick and infecting everyone else. Things still need to be cared for no matter how many people are in so there’s a lot of peer pressure that you only call out if you or your kids are dying. Basically if it comes to my part of the world, I’m pretty sure I’ll pick it up at work.

      95% of my coworkers have kids, as someone child-free, I’d honestly be fine with them getting like another two weeks of carer’s leave or something if it meant they’d stop using all their sick leave staying home with the sprogs and then coming into work infecting everyone else when they’re sick.

    10. Emilitron*

      I would be so tempted to start suggesting new people Floyd should be avoiding (with their permission, to be in on the joke). “Hey, did you hear Vicki coughing?” “Jeff was out yesterday, I hope he’s okay”. Maybe even make up info “Oh yes my neighbor was just in (sketchiest location you dare suggest), but I feel fine so far”

  33. Job Applicant Question*

    When applying for a job, how do I ask about working remotely full-time when it’s not a deal-breaker on my side (as an applicant)? It is just a bad idea?

    I’m applying to jobs and I’m open to moving, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to deal with it. My career/role is generally remote-compatible, but I know working remote is a big deal when one is looking to join a new team/company (especially if crossing state lines). Still, continuing to work from here is intriguing and I’d like to explore if that’s an option. One team I’m interviewing with is spread out across the globe (though they are a relatively small company), if that makes a difference. And I’m currently 100% remote and in a different timezone from my team, with good success/productivity.

    Any advice or perspectives?

    1. ET*

      I think you should be able to just ask, “Hey, is this job compatible with remote work? I am currently 100% remote and it’s working very well for me, so while I’m definitely open to relocating, I’m also interested in continuing to work remotely if it’s an option.”

    2. Lily in NYC*

      If it’s not a dealbreaker, I wouldn’t ask until you have been called back for a second interview (or maybe not until a job offer).

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I wouldn’t wait until a job offer because the hiring manager may need to get approval for something like that (or clarification as to whether it’s even a possibility) from someone higher up in the company, which could delay the process. If OP asks early on, that gives the company more time to get an answer.

  34. bassclefchick*

    I am rather excited! I work at a major university and just got selected to be on the search and screen committee for a new Associate Vice Chancellor of my division. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be doing. Anyone in academia have any advice for me? Thanks!

    1. Peacemaker*

      I just got off the dean search committee for another unit at my university, and have served on higher level search committees in the past. Are they using a search consultant? Good ones can really help guide the process and identify potential candidates. Bad ones can slow things down and really disrupt the process.

      As for what you can do, ask questions, get a clear understanding of goals, boundaries, and selection criteria, and if it seems like either are unclear, push for clarification. Independent of those things, you are probably part of the committee as a representative of some part of your area, so represent. You’ll likely need to keep specifics confidential for a time (and some things forever), but you can certainly ask around your unit for others’ insight about what they would like in the ideal candidate. Then bring those thoughts to the committee.

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Typically the committee will have a meeting with the hiring officer to give the committee the charge for the search. Take notes (even if the chair and/or assigned admin is already doing so).

      Get clarity on what you need to be looking for when reviewing applications. Use your notes from teh charge meeting plus the job posting plus anything the committee discusses about this. Sometimes such committees will have a rubric. Make sure you understand it and ask if you have questions — you may not know you have questions til you start reading applications! Ask = ask the search committee chair.

      You will likely get an info session or do an online lesson re fair and equitable searching and/or best practices.

      Keep everything confidential. If someone asks you about the progress of the search, refer them to the chair. If someone wants to put in a plug for a particular candidate, refer them to the chair. (If this is happening over email, forward it to the chair)

      Keep your notes. Be careful with your notes — don’t leave them lying around. Don’t put anything in them that’s not appropriate.

      Don’t be afraid to share your evaluation of the candidates.

      Find out from your home office / constituency what’s important to them re this position. Represent!

      It is going to take longer than you expect or think reasonable. Maybe a lot longer…

    3. Artemesia*

      Find out what the criteria are for top candidates; as a newbie you are in a good position to ask and if they don’t have a rubric or list, then encourage one if you will be screening applications. If a committee is doing that then everyone should have a checklist of the top requirements and what makes a good candidate.

  35. gradschoolanon*

    I’ve been toying with the idea of pursuing a master’s degree in analytics. Some things have gone down at my job that make it clear I’m not valued, no matter now much lip service is paid otherwise, and my potential is being wasted here. I’m angling to get a job at the university for free credits, but the cost is not as much as I thought, so I just might do it even if I don’t get an offer. I’ll take any good vibes!

    1. Inga*

      I’m in a weirdly parallel but opposite situation! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go to grad school for, but knew I didn’t want to pay for it, so I specifically job-searched with universities. I got a job at one that has an analytics program, which I’m halfway done with. Unfortunately, the job itself is a disaster. They also undervalue me despite telling me otherwise and all their professional standards are bizarre and frustrating. I’ve decided to quit and focus on completing the rest of my degree, even though I’m giving up my tuition benefits. So if you know what you’d like to go for and it seems feasible, just do it. You never know how things might end up

      1. gradschoolanon*

        Well that sounds frustrating! And like a nightmare! I’m always wary of changing jobs and ending up in an even worse situation, but at this point I am out of f**ks. The program I’m looking at is 2-3 semesters, so I think I can stick out anything for at least a decent portion of that time. Do you have to pay any of it back though, since you’re leaving? Or you just pay from here out?

        1. Inga*

          I would only have to pay for credits going forward. Or, if I decided to leave right now in the middle of the semester, the amount I would have to pay would be pro-rated based on how many weeks I was employed during the semester. If you do end up working for the school while you do your degree a couple things from my experience:
          – You might have to wait awhile before the benefit kicks in (in my case, it was a few months), which could affect when you apply to and start the program.
          – It might depend on the state or other factors, but in my case, they could only waive tuition completely up to a certain amount per year. The rest of it would be considered as part of your salary and taxed accordingly. Whether you decided to have that taken out of each paycheck or wait until it’s time to pay taxes would be up to you. (I’m in the US.)
          Whatever you end up doing, good luck!!

    2. Havarti*

      Hope you get that job for some sweet, sweet free credits. Or maybe look at other employers that offer reimbursement programs for education. That’s what I’m doing. Good luck!

      1. gradschoolanon*

        Thanks! I plan to discuss semi-candidly with my boss, although I’m sure there’s a less than 0 chance they would ever offer to reimburse me. Despite data being extremely relevant to what I do now. But you’re right, I can also look into other employers too.

    3. DG*

      You should definitely check out some edX courses – they’re all free (you only have to pay if you want the official certificate). And they might be worth looking into if you’re not totally sure you’d like analytics.

      I’m currently going through a set of courses there and I love that I can work at my own pace and that it lets me test the waters before I ask for tuition reimbursement from my employer.

    4. Snark no more!*

      Are you near Pittsburgh? Our university, named for the city, is hiring. If you’re close. Our benefit is paying 3% of tuition. You have to make it through your provisional, which is 6 months, before you can participate. There are different rules for bachelor and master

  36. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone ever had their own complaints about work, heard a friend complain about her work environment, and then think “Oh, God! My problems are so, so small”?

    1. Amber Rose*

      No, because I consistently work in the craziest places. But I have heard that from other people when I complain about my work lol.

      Though I do sometimes read about managers being violent/abusive/generally scary and feel super relieved that the one I had wasn’t as bad as he could have been, towards me anyway.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I had a coworker who complained about our manager All. The. Time. And don’t get me wrong – they clashed a fair amount and our manager is a bit of a control freak who hates to be wrong. But coworker got really dramatic about it sometimes, and seemed to have lost perspective — manager has her flaws, but she’s not a horrible or abusive person. It was just a little bit like, ok, you haven’t seen a truly toxic work environment, you just have a clash of personalities.

    3. Niniel*

      Nope, I usually have the opposite problem. I used to work in a house full of bees, so the problems I hear about at my current job feel like nothing. But for people who did NOT work in a house of bees, the problems I hear about would seem larger.

    4. Tau*

      I regularly feel like this when I read AAM. In fact, last summer I posted on the open thread to get a reality check that it was reasonable to be job searching when I was not working in a pit of toxic dysfunction, really liked my boss and coworkers, had good pay and benefits, and generally was not in one of the “RUN AWAY SCREAMING” situations we see so often on here. (Spoiler alert: it was totally reasonable, and in my new job I also like my boss and coworkers + my pay and benefits and don’t have to deal with the chaos and lack of direction that plagued my old team.)

      1. Bostonian*

        Ooooh I feel you, and you’re exactly where I want to be! I feel like it would be pretty evident from asking about the job and general observations, but do you have any special tips for determining during the interview process that the new job doesn’t have the chaos and lack of direction?

        1. Tau*

          Unfortunately, I feel I more or less stumbled into the current job. I tried to ask about processes and vision in the interview, and also said I was looking for a new job because I wanted something with more structure… but that actually made the hiring manager worry about whether I’d be able to cope with their still-getting-set-up processes or whether I was too rigid :/ they took me in the end but I was definitely going “oops” for a while there. Fact is that the level of chaos and disorganisation at last!job was really unusual, especially the degree to which it affected my role (like, at one point they basically ran out of work for me for two months, this should never happen to a software developer I swear), so I wasn’t actually likely to run into something as bad but asking about it made them think I was really concerned about more normal process problems.

          One thing I did do that worked fairly well was ask whether they had a product live on the market, because having one means:
          – they managed to get their shit together long enough to build something sellable and deliver it (not that I’m looking at my old company here at all)
          – there are now actual users involved, who tend to produce tasks and goals all on their own
          Maybe there’s something similar in your industry?

    5. Quill*

      Last friday my best friend and I spent 20 minutes screaming about the exact same work situation. (We work in sister companies both being affected by the same industry stuff.)

    6. Goldfinch*

      My husband spent over a decade teaching in a violent, impoverished high school. He was stabbed multiple times. I do not ever win “worst day at work”.

    7. Anon for this one*

      Heh, I’ve had the opposite experience… venting about complaints to people whose worst experience was that Jim in accounting mistakenly printed their internal reconciliation reports to the company letterhead tray and now they’ve used all the letterhead and Sue for whatever reason didn’t order any more, and so now we have to print the logo ourselves on the heavywight paper we took from legal when they weren’t looking…
      … meanwhile if we don’t figure out how to resolve this problem in the next 2 hours before the deadline, and no one has any idea how to fix it, we will lose the $2m revenue for that quarter, and the whole division will be in review as to whether it’s viable.

  37. Amber Rose*

    RANT: I’m doing my absolute best to be a neutral party at all times and in all ways but I’m having trouble not getting a little fed up with how oblivious and uncompromising the people around me can be.

    My coworker tried to encourage another coworker to not work through lunch by saying “it’s not like you’re getting paid for it” to which my boss became VERY offended, and then I ended up in a meeting with the two of them trying to be mediator, and both of them were being very frustrating.

    Like on the one hand, that comment was kind of crappy. Yeah, we don’t get paid for lunch. But we also don’t get docked for appointments, taking off early, needing to run out for quick errands, etc. We’re expected to use an honor system for work time that should roughly even out to 40 hours a week and sometimes that means working through lunch or staying late to get your work done.

    But on the other hand, that expectation was never made clear to anyone when we switched to salary last year, and most of us have no idea how salary differs from hourly (in Canada, almost not at all) or how management wanted to treat it, so I feel my boss did overreact a bit, and she was pretty quick to start throwing around threats of making people hourly and accountable for every minute which… really wasn’t helpful!

    And then back to the other coworker, I thought she was getting it that her comment was unhelpful and then she said, “I just didn’t realize we were supposed to take our whole lunch” which was not the friggin point.

    ARGH everyone is so frustrating. And then they all come crying to me, and I just quietly document all our conversations as HR but I have no power to change anything or help anyone and I’m equally sympathetic and frustrated with all of them but don’t want to step on any toes so I just stay… neutral.

    After that meeting I heard, “I thought we were supposed to talk it out with each other” which was, like, the point of the meeting. It’s like people are so used to not communicating they don’t even know what it looks like when it happens.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m not clear on why you needed to be involved in this (are you HR?), but I also don’t see why it turned into such a Big Thing that there needed to be mediation over a pretty innocuous comment. People shouldn’t have to work through lunch.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m the closest thing to HR we have, which is silly because I have zero training or experience. I pretty much said “we are growing we should have HR” and was told “cool, go for it.”

        My boss can be kind of a hard ass. She works most nights and weekends to get everything done and gets frustrated when other people seemingly take advantage of the perks of working here while not being willing to compromise. Which I get. If you took off two hours early for a doctor’s appointment, it’s really not unreasonable that you might need to take a short lunch to catch up on work.

        1. Havarti*

          Ah, that explains quite a lot. Sure, you balance out your hours but someone working on evenings and weekends has pretty much ruined any sense of boundaries between work and non-work so while I now understand why she’d be offended, she’s not necessarily in the right. It’s not healthy to sacrifice all for the sake of the work.

      1. Amber Rose*

        She was offended that coworker said “it’s not like you’re getting paid” since yeah, you don’t get paid for lunch, but you also don’t get docked pay for needing an hour or two for an appointment or a kid thing. It’s not really fair that people take it for granted that they get paid to be at the doctor but won’t cut their lunch down sometimes when work needs to get done.

        1. Mellow*

          Curious: are you saying there is no sick leave where you work? That’s what people usually use for medical appointments.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        It sounds like she overreacted but I can understand why she was upset – when you give leeway to your employees and don’t dock them when they leave early, etc, then you expect them not to nickel and dime their hours in return. It probably felt like a punch in the gut to hear what that obnoxious employee said.

  38. An Actual Fennec Fox*

    So, half venting, half asking for advice.

    I have this coworker who is driving me up the metaphoric wall. We work together in a lot of projects that require communication with customers, and this happens nearly every time.

    Coworker: Fennec, can you write the text for X communication and send it to me?
    F: Sure, on it.
    I write the text and send it along.
    Coworker: It’s great, send it along to be posted on (wherever it will be posted – blog, Facebook, main website, etc).

    A while later…

    F: CW, the text is already up.
    Coworker: Ah. See… so, there is this comma you put here, can you take it off? This sentence is too long, can you make it shorter? Can you add this or that?

    Does anyone have this coworker or has had them before? He’s not my boss, we’re in different chains of command, but he’s senior to me (and usually leading these projects) and boss is very hands-off, so going to the boss about it really won’t fix the issue.

    1. Veronica Mars*

      Ugh, that’s so annoying! I think I’d start building in a delay between when he approves and when you put it up since it seems like he’s not giving things a close enough look when he first approves them. Also, I’d just flat out refuse to change things if he’s already given you written permission to post it, and you’ve done so. Especially over comas and nonsense.

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        It is, it drives me crazy, because it happens all the freaking time. Most of the time we’re running late because I always do things when I get the request, but sometimes I get the request right on the day things need to go up or the day before. And yeah, I don’t always have the energy to fight him on that, especially when I’m super busy, so I tell him to email (the person who posted it) himself. Sometimes he will, sometimes he won’t.

    2. PX*

      Whenever they come back with nitpicking I’d just refer them to the earlier email where they said it was fine and say that as they signed off then you proceeded.

      Do you actually need to go back and change/fix what they want or can you just say “sorry, too late please provide this feedback earlier next time”?

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        When the communication falls solely on me (aka, if there is actually a mistake), it’s on me, I just tell him I’ll take whatever consequences (of which there are usually none because it’s not an actual mistake, it’s mostly nitpicky stuff). When it’s under his responsibility, 99% of the time I tell him to email the person himself. Sometimes he does, sometimes it’s suddenly not that important to have the change made.

    3. introverted af*

      I think I would try playing dumb in this situation if it was me. “What do you mean it’s too long? You told me to post it in your previous email.” “Oh, is that comma not what you wanted? But you gave me the green light yesterday.” And give that a couple tries to see how it works. You’re not saying you won’t or can’t make those changes, you’re just pushing back a little bit to try and get them to think about the situation and asking for a reason they want this change now. Once you do reach some kind of conclusion on each little incident (it does make sense to change the wording because… or whatever) then I would follow it with, “how can we make sure we get these edits in the first time?” and propose some ways to do that.

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        The worst is when they go over my head, ask for a change, see that it doesn’t work and then ask me to ask for it changed back. I try not to let the fact that I don’t like CW color my view, but sometimes I wonder if he’s either messing with me or involved in some kind of weird power battle I’m not even aware we’re fighting.

    4. CM*

      This coworker was my boss, when it was me. :( I explained as many ways as I could why I (and the rest of my team) needed to be able to trust that, when something was “final” and “approved,” it actually was final and approved and not a file we were going to re-open and change another 1800 times. She always said she understood, and then she did it anyway because she was a coward.

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        Yeah. When it’s the website or blog, is a minor inconvenience. When it’s an email that goes out to specific customers with the information and then he wants me to recall it and rewrite, ugh. He wasn’t happy when I commented I can’t unsend an email and ended up letting it go. But it’s exhausting to have to stop whatever I’m doing (it’s not a light workload) to write the texts just to then have this BS thrown my way.

    5. Emilitron*

      Hmm… they say “send it along to be posted”, maybe you reply “Great, will do. That should be live in about 45 minutes, so if you see any last minute edits, you’ve got until (time 40 minutes from now). After that we shouldn’t make changes.” And yes if the delay in going live is because you’re giving them a remorse timer, that’s fine too.

      1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

        The sad part is that I’m not the one who actually posts it, that’s our webmaster’s job. If I had it under my control (though it would be one more thing on my plate), this would be a much easier process. I’ll have to brainstorm what I can do to make this less of a hassle, as our webmaster is not too responsive to begin with. Thank you!

  39. PX*

    I’m so over my current job. I have a verbal offer but am waiting for the full set of details before being able to make a final decision but I’m leaning towards taking it anyway based on the info I have (salary and company culture are good enough).

    But the waiting is terrible. And I’m in Europe so my notice period is going to be quite long anyway so just frustrated that I’m going to be stuck here for longer than I want to be.

    Friday vent over!

      1. Darren*

        Typically measured in months. 1 month (4 weeks) for lower level positions often up to 3 or more months for relatively senior individual contributors.

        Australia is pretty similar I’ve got a 3 month notice period at my current place that I work.

  40. Veronica Mars*

    Amusing Story Time:

    I work at the same massive company as my husband, but on opposite sides of campus, and we don’t talk about it much.
    A few weeks back, I happened to be on his side of campus for lunchtime, so we met in his (I thought) very private break area for lunch. When I got up to leave, I kissed him.
    His coworker saw this, and started rumors that he was cheating on his wife with “some work hussie.”

      1. Veronica Mars*

        Luckily one of the first coworkers that received the gossip knew I worked there and put a stop to it, so yes, its just an amusingly delightful story and not something that truly affected his career. Hah

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Veronica Mars. Please change your user name to “some work hussie” since that is what you obviously are. LOL!!!

    2. Wing Leader*

      Oh yeah, I actually remember an AAM letter like this. A woman worked pretty close to her husband and met up with him for lunch. When she got back to work, an intern chastised her for meeting up with a married man and said it wasn’t appropriate. Yeeaahhhh.

    3. Ama*

      My brother and sister in law work in a similar situation. Their last name is very common in the area where they live so when they got married and sis-in-law changed her name, a bunch of people didn’t connect it to brother-in-law. In fact one of their coworkers didn’t figure it out until they had their first kid and she started to see them alternating picking the same little boy up from the employee daycare.

  41. Ted Mosby*

    I am experiencing some heavy temp job burnout.

    I have a master’s degree and about 6 or 7 internships that I worked during grad school under my belt. It’s been about a year and a half now since I graduated and I have worked pretty solidly about 80-90% of my time, but it’s been temporary job after temporary job, most of which were supposed to go full time and fell through. In this year and a half all I’ve wanted more than ANYTHING is a full-time position where it won’t be up in the air after 3 or 4 or 6 months whether they decide to keep me or not. I’ve applied for upwards of 60 or 70 jobs. I hear that my resume is impressive (god knows I have enough positions listed on there to turn heads) and I know I’m a good interviewee because I get every temp job I interview for. But when it comes to the full-time positions, it’s always “we went with someone with more experience” or “we lost an account and aren’t filling the position” or a full-on ghost.

    I am BURNT OUT at this point. I’m applying to positions both in my city and all over the country and I’m baffled as to how my school friends can find these positions seemingly easily. I don’t know how many more cover letters I can write. I’ve gone through recruiters, I’ve talked with people on LinkedIn and my local professional chapter.

    I guess what I’m asking is how to keep hold of my sanity during this search. It’s gotten exhausting hoping that every “contract-to-hire” job I get will actually turn into a hire and I stopped getting my hopes up after one particularly heartbreaking end-of-contract. There has to be an end in sight, right? (Yes, I’m going to therapy throughout all of this)

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’ve written about this before: Celebrate milestones on your job search by throwing yourself a party. Make it a joke, but also genuinely celebrate. Also, consider backing off of the job search if you can afford to and spend some of your time/energy on activities that feed your soul and net you more energy than you put in.

      Also, ask your friends (and do some independent analysis) of why they seem to be getting jobs. Email previous supervisors and coworkers at your temp jobs for feedback: What can you improve? Maybe there’s something about how you were as a temp employee that didn’t mesh with these jobs (or maybe not).

      I’ve applied to over 90 jobs in the past year, with no offers, so you’re not alone.

    2. Cap. Marvel*

      I don’t have any advice for you, I just wanted to give you some internet hugs. I hope it gets better, I’m rooting for you!

    3. foolofgrace*

      No suggestions, just commiseration. But given the law of averages, things have to start turning your way soon.

    4. LabTechNoMore*

      Take whatever wins you can get. Anything. Feel proud of an especially well-done cover letter, even if they ghost on you? Doesn’t change that you wrote an awesome cover letter. Feel exhausted after a packed week of job-search related activities? You earned a long weekend (which likely won’t affect job prospects, since no one posts on weekends anyways.).

      When I was long-term unemployed, and had exhausted every single job posting I could conceivably apply at my (early career) level, the only marginally relevant job posting left was as a department head at a top employer in my field, in a position requiring advanced degrees and decades of experience that I didn’t possess. I decided, what the heck, and applied for my own amusement. It was actually a lot of fun writing a streeeeetch cover letter claiming my one year of experience and BS qualified me for a role at the very top of my field. The application was obviously rejected in an instant (and rightly so!), but sometimes you just need to keep your wheels rolling any way possible even after you’ve run out of gas, and your tires are all flat, and there’s fire billowing from the hood, and actually you’re on fire too. Gotta keep on truckin!

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        Oh, also lulls are natural. Constantly remind yourself of that! You didn’t suddenly become radioactive since the last time you heard back, it’s just the natural ebb and flow of job searching. Embracing the time off, or using the time to focus on something else isn’t something to feel bad about.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        > sometimes you just need to keep your wheels rolling any way possible even after you’ve run out of gas, and your tires are all flat, and there’s fire billowing from the hood, and actually you’re on fire too. Gotta keep on truckin!

        I hope you’ll see this–but even if not, I just had to tell the universe that your description of being a wreck in motion is wooonderfull> . Permission requested to quote you to my support group!

  42. KC Sunshine*

    There’s a big job fair at a school district I would REALLY like to work for tomorrow. I went last year and I don’t want to say it was a complete waste of time…but I didn’t get any jobs or formal interviews out of going. Really, I just met people and out a face with my name.

    This year, they’ve posted their job openings ahead of time, I’ve applied, and I’ve been in touch with administration at each school. So is there any point in going to the job fair?

    1. Colette*

      I’d say yes. One of the things I like to talk about at job fairs is what it’s like to actually work there – it’s a good chance to get a view of what the organization is like. But in your case, you can actually mention that you’ve applied.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Yes! Go! Our school send different administrators every year and we are all looking for different things and have different personalities. Do everything you can – you never know! Good luck! It sounds like you are on the path to success!

      1. KC Sunshine*

        Have you been on the interviewing end at a job fair? What kinds of things are you looking for from a candidate at these things?

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Yes! From a government perspective, some types of job fairs can serve for a couple of the steps in the hiring process, making the process shorter. E.g., there is a requirement that if you want to interview one candidate on your list you have to interview them all. Unless you interviewed your preferred candidate at the job fair. (Oversimplified, but you get the idea.)

  43. Write My Script!*

    I have a conundrum! I’ve won an international trip for high performance at work (yay!) that includes a +1, with RSVP required in a week. When I asked the event planner to give me additional specifics, she said it’s defined as a romantic partner who has “supported [my] successes the past year” but that she “can assure [me I’ll] still have fun traveling solo.” For various reasons that are none of my work’s damn business, I am not interested in bringing my spouse, and I want to bring my best friend. Event planner says no. Am I right that this is both unfair (I’m not receiving the full value of the award that other recipients are) and potentially discriminatory (I have to have a romantic partner or else I must travel solo?)? Event planner told me to take it up with HR, which – sure! But – what do I say? Thank y’all in advance.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think that’s really strange. This is a reward trip, not a double date! Do bring it up to HR and say that your spouse cannot go (don’t give details) but you would like to bring your best friend and you were told no. Tell HR that this seems off because it means you’re not able to use the reward the way you want to. You would prefer not to travel solo, but more than that, the trip was offered with a +1 so you find it confusing that you get no option in who the other person is. Good luck.

    2. WellRed*

      Does the event planner work for your company? If not, not sure what taking it up with HR will accomplish? If they DO work for your company, I’d raise polite holy hell for all the reasons you state here.

    3. CTT*

      If you’re in the US it’s not discriminatory since marital status isn’t a protected class, but if it’s purely a social/no other work people there trip, it’s a dumb rule.

    4. Wing Leader*

      That’s…nuts. Why do you specifically have to bring a romantic partner? Are they you’ll get to have sex on this glorious vacation to? Geez. I see no reason why you can’t bring your best friend. Like others said, tell HR your husband is unavailable but you’d love to bring your friend.

      1. Wing Leader*

        My my, did I butcher that sentence. Change to: “Are they hoping you’ll get to have sex on this glorious vacation too?”

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Romantic partners (married or not, doesn’t really matter, but part of a long-term relationship) are seen by some as a “unit” in the sense that they each support each other, pool resources, etc… in the way that a bff (and casual date come to think of it) are not.

    5. foolofgrace*

      This is another example of stupid qualifiers, I hope it’s okay to post, I apologize if it isn’t: When I was pregnant, my hospital’s LaMaze classes touted that when we delivered, the new mom and her husband would get a surf-and-turf dinner. Fast-forward to the day after delivery, no surf-and-turf. When I asked about it, I was told that I didn’t qualify because I was a single mom. I went on a hunger strike that nobody noticed except for my new child’s pediatrician, who I didn’t know beforehand. He was floored and said I should write to the head of the hospital, and the newspapers. I did write to the head of the hospital and I was told the rule would be changed, but I don’t know if it ever was.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        That’s absolutely appalling. I wish I had known you then – I would have brought you a surf and turf myself.

    6. Massive Dynamic*

      I’ve run into something like this before at an old job that threw amazing christmas parties…. they gently asked (BUT did not strictly enforce) that the +1s be spouses or equivalent, because in their eyes, this person holding that level of significance in their employees’ lives is the one who deserves to be wined and dined along with the employee, because any celebration of the employees giving their all for the company is incomplete without acknowledging the role a supportive life partner plays.

      I definitely got where they were coming from, and was also glad that there was no super strict enforcement that would’ve denied coworkers from bringing a friend, a parent, etc. as ultimately it should be up to the employee to decide who “deserves” the honor to be treated along with them. Your work should be reminded that first and foremost, this is a reward to YOU for your hard work, and as such you should be able to choose your accomplice. Congratulations btw!

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I hate when work events restrict +1 invites to romantic partners. Heck, I hate it all the time, but it feels especially egregious when it’s work related. As a perpetually single person, I hate always having to be the odd person out at a table full of couples.

        1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

          Agreed! I brought my brother to my work’s fancy holiday party because he’s fun and was supportive during my job search, and my coworkers luckily were very nice about it and thought it was sweet. Until I read this blog it never occurred to me anyone would look askance at it!

      1. CM*

        I thought this might be it, too. Or maybe they have some kind of deal where they’re getting a discount on a single room and can’t turn it into a double for whatever reason.

        Even if that’s the case, though, the correct thing for the event planner to do is explain the limitations of what they can provide and let the OP make a choice about whether or not to bring someone / whom to bring in light of the limitations. As opposed to assuming that you can’t bring a friend because the trip is set up like X.

        As for what to say to HR, I think you just say that it doesn’t make any sense why you’d need to bring your partner as opposed to anyone else and then see what their explanation is.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Tell them they can’t tout it as a +1. Because that can be anyone and that is not what they mean, they mean, SO/LTR/spouse so they should say that.
      What if you wanted to bring your (hypothetical?) kid? Then what.

      I dunno maybe you can have some fun with it. “Well, I don’t want to go solo, so can I just have the equivalent in cash?”

      I did this to one of those spammers who call and tried to sell me windows for my house. “You won $1500 that you can apply to your purchase of new windows!!” So I said I just put in new windows but I would like the $1500 that I won. He blabbered on. I interrupted, “But can I have my $1500 in cash? I did win it!” Eventually he muttered something about having to check with his supervisor and he would have to call me back. The spammer hung up on me!
      You may or may not want to push this button, but it’s fun to think about.

    8. What the What*

      You could tell them that your friend is a romantic partner and to stop judging your unconventional love life.

  44. Ruth (UK)*

    I tried busking for the first time last Saturday, playing the violin (I live in a city that allows busking in specified areas without a license, with certain rules about timings, amplification, etc). I’ve performed before, but not busking, and not alone like that.

    I had a better time than I thought I would have – I was received very positively, with people stopping to listen, some people saying nice things about my playing, and thumbs up etc from people passing by who couldn’t/didn’t give me any money.

    I averaged £12 an hour (which is more than I am paid at my regular job).

    I’m definitely planning to do it again and wish I’d tried it sooner. It’s a great thing for me as I could use the extra money, but I’m not reliant on it as a source of income (not planning to quit the day-job over it), so it’s not a problem if I have a bad spot/day with it.

    I’ve even had another person I know [another fiddle player who already busks regularly] ask if I’ll busk together with her as a duo, which I’m excited to do.

    I’m feeling very positive about it this week!

    1. revueller*

      congrats! as a former violin player, it always delights me to see violin buskers, even if i don’t have cash to give them. best of luck going forward and especially with the duo!

    2. OperaArt*

      Interesting. Did you have your music selected in advance? Did you modify what you chose yo play based on people’s reactions?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I have played violin since I was a kid (I’m 30) but with a gap in my later teen years. I primarily play folk tunes these days, and I often attend folk sessions etc. So I made a bit of a mental list of some tunes I planned to play, but nothing very set. I mostly just played what I felt like.

        I definitely got more money for slower tunes and waltzes. I said this to a friend of mine who is a melodeon player and used to busk when he was younger (he’s a lot older than me) but doesn’t really anymore. He said, “it’s no good playing marching tunes – people will get in time with it as they walk and march right on past. Play waltzes. It gets them out of step and once they’ve stopped, they might pay you.”

        But mostly, I just played the first tune that came into my head each time I’d finished the previous one. Also, I tend to put/play certain tunes together into sets, so some naturally follow others for me.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I am completely untalented in any busking way but I LOVE it so much. I’m raising two kids to love and appreciate it (we have a few places around town with regular busking) so I love to hear that people enjoy doing it. Thank you!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        This was my first time properly busking by playing violin, and busking alone before, but I have been involved in the folk community and done other forms of street performance (but think more like at a festival/event, sometimes in/through a town, rather than being a lone busker) over the years. I know a lot of people who busk with various levels of frequency. Generally, I think when people choose to perform like that, it’s something they do because they enjoy it. It’s not really a stable income, so the people who do it tend to do it because they love it, not because it’s a great money-maker (though some London-based buskers can make a lot). Like, they wouldn’t do it if they made nothing, but the amount they’re making isn’t the key driver.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      That’s awesome!

      I have definitely seen buskers with a sign that included their venmo/other payment app info, and have heard that they do get real money that way from people who aren’t carrying cash. For what that’s worth.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Thank you. I probably would not get one at the moment because of the city I’m in – we’re still quite a cash carrying city. In London, I imagine people have to have them these days, but I’ve seen some comments from buskers online saying that in cities where they’re less common, they tend to receive a negative reception. One person commented they got a bit of a ‘how dare they!’ vibe.

        The main busking spots where I am are near the market, and you need cash for a lot of those stalls, so the people in the area tend to have cash on them – which makes it a great spot.

    5. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I’m so glad it went well for you! I love to encounter busking when walking around a city, and always try to give something.

    6. Emilitron*

      That’s awesome! I busked occasionally while I was in school, and while I wasn’t doing it specifically to earn money, it was a time in my life when that extra $40 was enough to be a real treat. I haven’t busked since I got a full-time job, but whenever I see buskers I think of that time in my life and how awesome it was to find the occasional $10 bill among the $1s.

  45. D.W.*

    I previously mentioned that my org laid off staff due to the loss of a large grant. My team was affected the most and our team is very small now and even more spread out geographically. We have members in at least 6 states.

    Yesterday, our director asked me and another team member to brainstorm ways that we can bring the team together and build-up morale while still remote. Given that we are operating under major financial loss, free activities or very cheap activities are the aim. Does anyone have ideas on how to team build remotely cheaply or for free?

    1. Veronica Mars*

      One of the things I love to do with my far-off friends is group chat while watching a show/movie. I don’t even like The Bachelor, at all, but I love it with their commentary. Translating that into a work thing, maybe having (obviously during work time, don’t make people stay late for this) a movie watching party could be fun. You could mail little packages of popcorn or something.
      Or, you could get some kind of general not-work-related message board set up.

      But, I mean, I gotta be honest. Sometimes the best team building is just to give people 4 hours extra off on a Friday to go do their own thing with their chosen friends. Because “stress reduction in my personal life / better work life balance” almost always translates to better working relationships.

    2. Moinmoin*

      There’s a name for it that I can’t think of, but taking a free online class together as a group. Or, in a very different direction, DnD sessions.

      1. Putting my nerd hat on*

        D&D and such are really great for team building. People take on different roles, learn to work together to bring out each other’s strengths and support their weaknesses. Common goals are great uniters and slaying monsters is fun.

  46. Anonymous Today*

    I just landed my first job as a manager! I will be starting in 2 weeks and will have 2 direct reports. I’m excited, but pretty nervous. Any advice for me going in?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Congrats! If it’s a sales manager role I highly recommend David Brock’s book, “The Sales Manager Survival Guide”

      1. Anonymous Today*

        I’m in marketing for professional services, so not a sales position, but I appreciate the recommendation!

    2. tab*

      I recommend that in the first few weeks let your reports know that you want to hear from them what they think the challenges aren and if they have ideas for improvements. Then set up a meeting with them to hear their ideas and discuss what you can do to make their jobs easier. It will help you learn about the group, and show them that you value their input.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      When I supervised carrying an attitude of service was key for me. “I am here to serve you.” This branches out in all different directions as time goes on. Serving can be telling a person they need to do X or Y. Keeping people informed of what is necessary so that they can continue being a good employee is critical. Other times serving can be watching/observing long enough to realize that your people need ABC to do their jobs. So you go and purchase each person an ABC.

      It’s also good to keep in mind how little we would get done if they were not there. There is a tendency in management to over look the mundane daily things that need to be done. If the boss had to do all those things PLUS their regular work the boss would never go home at night.

  47. Colette*

    I came in this morning to find 4 of the fluorescent lights above my desk flickering. Yikes! At least now facilities has removed the bulbs.

  48. Nacho*

    I was promoted to quality in the call center I work at at the beginning of the year, and I need a way to tell my boss I think the agents I perform quality checks on take longer than the agents my colleagues perform checks on without it seeming like I’m just making up excuses for missing my numbers.

    Our company has 2 kinds of customers, A and B. Because I’m the only one with any experience with B, I’m the one who evaluates all English B facing agents, plus a few A agents as well. We’re expected to evaluate 10 calls/emails a day, either by sitting with the agent as they take the call/answer the email, or listening to the recorded call/reading the written email. All A calls are recorded and can be reviewed, but only a few B calls are due to different procedures, maybe 1/20 or so. That means a majority of my evaluations are in person, while most of my team mates’ evaluations are done on recorded calls and delivered after the fact.

    It takes longer to review a call in person than it does to pick and listen to a pre-recorded one, and A team leads also seem to ask for less phone evaluations and more emails, which obviously take less time. Also, I can’t prove this, but I feel like B calls are just naturally longer than A calls because they’re more complicated in my experience.

    I believe this is the reason why my numbers are lower than my colleagues: I’m taking longer cases than they are. Is there any way to bring this to my TL’s attention and maybe ask that my expected output be lowered accordingly without seeming lazy? He’s already told me not to worry if I’m not meeting my goal of 50 evaluations a week, but I’d feel a lot better if I had a meetable goal instead of an unmeetable one that people don’t expect me to consistently meet.

    1. Datalie*

      Can you do a time study for a week on the calls you evaluate? Have a paper template where you record the time anything changes– 1. Start of call 2. End of call 3. End of any sort of debrief with the person who took the call. You can also note the complexity of the call. Can one of the quality colleagues on team A do the same thing so you can compare?

      Having data always helps with these conversations!

      Good Luck!

    2. acmx*

      Do you or have any B emails you can evaluate? Can you use A calls/emails to help make your goal when needed?

      Also, since you have to wait for a B call, you will have more lag time than the A calls so maybe you can have your goal adjusted slightly lower and maybe only audit B calls?

    3. Moinmoin*

      Usually call centers keep stats on average handle time by call type, department, employee, etc, so I wouldn’t think it would be that hard to show something like that.

  49. RMNPgirl*

    Question about weekend package workers and PTO.

    How do others in industries with weekend package workers (I’m in healthcare) handle PTO for these employees? We have both full-time (Fri/Sat/Sun or Fri-Mon) and part time (Sat/Sun) weekend workers. They do accrue PTO and we do approve it and work on finding coverage. The issue we’re having is how much PTO is being requested, one weekend multiple months in a row. When one of them is on PTO we have to move around others schedules or pay overtime to cover. Many of them work weekends due to child care or schools so can’t trade shifts with other employees. I understand and am sympathetic that multiple activities happen on weekends, but these employees also agreed to work weekends; that’s the job they accepted with us. What’s a reasonable frequency of PTO? How do I get people to understand that this is what they signed up for?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’m confused by your question. If they earn the PTO, they should be able to take it all over the course of the year. Maybe you have to tell someone that someone else or multiple people already requested that weekend off so you can’t approve, but management needs to staff so that employees can take the PTO they earn. That might mean on the rare weekend no one requests off, you’re overstaffed.

      Are you saying that your Fri/Sat/Sun or Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon workers are only taking the weekend days?

    2. Hey There Friday*

      Healthcare here too. Our weekend only folks can only take PTO one weekend/quarter. They also don’t accrue it based on hours worked; they get a lump sum at the beginning of a quarter. They also work whatever holidays fall on the weekend.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yeah, I’m confused about what the actual problem is. Are they requesting more time off than they have earned? If so, it seems easy to say “sorry, can’t do that.” But if they’ve earned it, they’re going to take it. And if all or most of their work occurs over the weekend, obviously so will all or most of their requests for time off. Do you need to have a pool of substitutes?

      1. RMNPgirl*

        I work in healthcare and weekends are lower volume but still need staff here, so we have fewer staff members than we do during the week. These positions are specifically hired as weekend positions. If someone wants time off we adjust a week-day person’s schedule to cover or have others take on-call time.

        Yes, they have the PTO hours to cover what they’re requesting, but this isn’t an industry where you can just take whatever you want off. We have to be staffed and we’re a non-profit we can’t afford to have more people here just for PTO coverage. We wouldn’t have enough work for people to do, we’d be paying people to sit around and do nothing.

        The issue is that we have people who are asking to basically be gone 25% of the time multiple months in a row. They have the PTO to take it, but we don’t have the coverage to allow someone to be gone that often. So I’m just wondering what other places do that have this situation. How do you tell people that you understand they’re upset about their PTO getting denied, but they agreed to work weekends when they were hired?

        1. Person from the Resume*

          So it sounds like you’re giving them too much PTO if what they earn is allowing them to be off 25% of the time or simply too much of the time you need them to work for. I work a M-F schedule and I don’t have the option to take 1 week off out of every 4 weeks which is what 25% is equal to.

          The other thing to do is implement a policy that for example only a single person on a shift can take PTO at a time and enforce it. You’ll need also need a policy to manage how requests are made. First requested granted might be good for a normal week, but not busy holiday season.

          You can also have rules that a Fri/Sat/Sun worker cannot ONLY take Sat/Sun, and a Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon worker cannot only take only Sat/Sun. This will reduce the number only weekend days those employees take off. It sounds like you can get coverage a lot easier for a Friday or Monday than the weekend.

          1. Half-Caf Latte*

            I didn’t read it like that, I read it more like someone has accrued time and now wants to spend down their bank but OP hasn’t got any coverage options.

        2. Inga*

          I understand where you’re coming from, but I used to work on the other side of this as a weekend employee in a hospital and once weekend employees got denied their requests they just started calling out “sick” instead. If there was a weekend they absolutely knew they didn’t want to chance a denied request, they wouldn’t bother putting one in and instead called out and then it was an unplanned vacancy that everyone had to scramble around versus something where people could schedule over time. I don’t know that there’s a great solution to it other than having more staffing or having a pool of per diem employees you could call on.

        3. HBJ*

          Why are you giving them that much PTO? It’s not a benefit, and it’s incredibly misleading if you give them, say, 15 days of PTO in their offer, but then in practice, you only allow them to take 10.

          I hope at the least you’re paying out what’s accrued when they leave and not allowing it to expire if you’re not going to let them take it!

        4. blaise zamboni*

          Yeah there may be a mismatch in how much PTO you’re offering these employees. I get that they are specifically hired to work weekend hours. But if they’re weekend-only, it’s not like they can use their PTO to take longer chunks of time off — all of their PTO will fall on weekends, and all of their PTO will be inconvenient for the other employees because of your staffing levels.

          It may be time for your org to reassess how much PTO they can realistically offer these employees, assuming that the employees will, in fact, use all of that PTO on days that they are normally scheduled to work. But if you do that, make sure you give advance notice for any looming important holidays and pay out any PTO that is banked. Also consider increasing base salary to offset the reduction of this benefit.

        5. Darren*

          It sounds like you need more weekend employees or to have them better structure their PTO.

          Basically if they get the kind of leave you indicate, you need to have it so you can handle X amount of weekend employees being off on any given day. You then make it clear that only X amount can be off on any given day, and make a system for them to request leave appropriately (maybe a month in advance typically, but for exceptional things they can book further out) such that you will never have more than X people scheduled off on any given day.

          If you could afford larger buffers you can be much more flexible with this, but it has to be legitimately possible for all your employees to use all of their leave per year. If they can’t (i.e. absolutely no slack and they have any leave at all) then you need extra people to cover it. You can run these calculations with the assumption that each day worked is close to equally likely to be taken off, but if your mostly weekend employees only ever want to take weekend days off your system is basically going to have to force them in that case to take on average each day of the week off.

        6. Half-Caf Latte*

          Also in non profit healthcare, but we still budget for nonproductive time for clinical staff, to allow for PTO. Say, 87% of their regular hours are expected to be spent in patient care, and 13% for pto/sick/training/etc.

          It sounds like you don’t budget at all for that 13%?

        7. Half-Caf Latte*

          Do you have a set staffing count per day, or do you flex in real-time to match demand? My inpatient unit regular schedules 7 RNs for predicted census levels, but low census means RNs get sent home and high census means phone calls for OT or borrowing from the float pool.

          Also, in my experience, the weekend program is used as a perk for the rest of the staff to reduce their weekend obligations. So not M-F people and weekend people, but “regular” full time, and weekend program people. Without the weekend program, all full time staff would have needed to cover 3-4 weekend shifts a month. With the weekend program, this could be reduced to 1-2, but it was never zero. Maybe your Monday to Friday staff need to be expected to cover a set number of weekends, and PTO requests need to be in advance of when the schedule is made?

    4. Fikly*

      You need to either have enough staffing in place to cover the PTO you offer, or cut the PTO.

      I worked in healthcare, and because my shift did not have coverage, I basically was not allowed to take my PTO. It made me really angry, because essentially my employer was stealing from me.

      Your employees did not sign up for not being allowed to take the PTO their employer told them they could have.

  50. INeedSomeoneToTellMeWhatToDo*

    My old job that I loved minus the c-suite just asked me what it would take to come back. I left 2.5 years because I felt my integrity was being threatened by some choices the leadership team made (nothing illegal but felt skeezy) but now 2/3 have since left. I like my current job but I’m not as busy nor doing as interesting work as I was before. The culture is great and it’s cushy but a few fiscal issues have risen. I responded with a high dollar, PTO, and title amount that I’m sure they won’t meet. But what if they come close? How do I determine my cutoff? Is it a terrible idea to go back and work for a place you left?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      See what they say. If they come back saying they’ll meet your number, that doesn’t mean you have to take the job. If they can meet your number, can you ask to go in and meet with someone to discuss?

      It’s not a terrible idea to go back to a place you left unless the reasons you left are still there. But it’s also not something you need to jump at.

    2. Bubbles*

      Is there someone you trust who would tell you honestly what the culture is like now that a few of those Cs have left? If so, that would be the starting point for me.

        1. Ama*

          One of my current coworkers basically did this. She left partly due to someone at C-level who she had to work with frequently and had a lot of run-ins with (all caused by C-level’s behavior) and partly to take a job at a higher level that wasn’t available at our org at the time. 18 months later, she really didn’t love the new job (it wasn’t quite what they had made it out to be), the problem C-level at our org had been fired, and our CEO reached out to her because we were creating the higher level position she had wanted. So she came back — and she seems to be very happy with her decision.

    3. SweetestCin*

      How likely is the situation that caused you to leave to recur?

      I’ve been in a similar situation and actually declined to give a “what would it take?” because I saw the situation (that caused me to leave) occur from scratch in less than 8 months of time. There was nothing that I could’ve done in my position to prevent the situation from happening as it did, short of leaving earlier.

      I wouldn’t go back because the cause of the situation was external and truly could happen again, in my case.

    4. Hillary*

      I know someone whose answer to this question was that certain leaders had to be gone for him to return, along with a substantial pay increase. That response (which came from lots of recently departed employees) led to investigations, people getting fired, and finally some of the people who’d left returning.

      If you know the culture has improved and pay etc are worth making a change, go for it.

    5. sparklejaffe*

      I would be hesitant. I have gone back to two jobs three times and another one twice and my sister also returned to a workplace twice (maybe thrice) and on every single one of those occasions we found that nothing had changed (or it had for the worst) and we were quickly reminded why we were so keen to leave previously. Annoying people, unsatisfying work, bad work environment… one example I have is, like you, I left because of terrible management. While I was away that management moved on. I heard who my new boss was and I was really excited, I thought she was terrific and would be great in the role and great as a manager. She was worse. It was a massive let down. Also, it turned out that previous boss wasn’t the only problem, all the other problems still existed and it turned out she actually protected us from a lot, so without her iron fist things really got out of control. I’m not telling you to not do it, just to really think about it.