my company is doing drive-bys to check that I’m in isolation, my awful old coworker is joining my new company, and more

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

1. My company is doing drive-bys to check that I’m in isolation

I live in a country where they’ve requested that all persons returning from an international trip self-isolate for two weeks. I returned home from a trip abroad a few days ago and went into self-isolation.

My home is close to one of the sites that my company consults for. Normally we go to this site once every two months or so. I’ve seen either one of my bosses or a coworker pass by several times in the past few days. The first time it happened (that I know of) I saw a company car parked in front so I stepped onto my porch to remind them they couldn’t come visit, but before I could say anything they left. Since then, it’s become obvious that they are slowing or stopping in front of the house as they pass to peer into my windows and verify that I’m there. If I open the front door, they drive off. I know an obvious solution is to keep my curtains closed, but I’m already cooped up and the thought of cutting off a lot of natural light isn’t appealing.

I’ve let another boss know that this is happening, but both of us are at a loss for how to address it. I don’t even know if there’s something to address besides that it feels invasive and creepy. But are they actually doing anything wrong and if so how do I handle it?

What on earth! That is indeed creepy and invasive. Are they suspicious you’ll break your quarantine and carry germs back to them? Do they not believe you need to be quarantined and think you’re doing this to get a two-week vacation? If they don’t see you in your front window, are they going to check around back?

You could quite reasonably call either of them and say, “I’ve seen you stopping outside my house several times but you’ve driven away by the time I walk out. Do you need something from me?” If they say no, then say, “I’m confused about why you’ve kept coming here. What’s going on?” And frankly, there’s no reason not to say, “You appear to be checking that I’m home. What am I missing?”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My coworkers gave me a shockingly careless condolence card

My mom died suddenly a few weeks ago. Everything’s been a blur. So it was a nice surprise when I returned to work and saw a sympathy card from my coworkers. As I opened it up, I remembered having signed such a card for another coworker a few months ago whose parent died. (We presented her with a card full of loving and encouraging notes, as well as cash and gift cards.)

When I opened my card, it was signed briefly by only three people. There was a $10 bill and a gift card that turned out to have *nothing on it at all*.

It’s not about the money or the cash value. I wasn’t even expecting a card. I am truly hurt that it was put together so carelessly by a team of coworkers with whom I thought I had good relationships. I would rather have received nothing at all rather than a few quick sign-offs and a *used* gift-card.

I tried to laugh it off, but it’s been a couple of weeks and it’s still eating me up. I feel so awkward around my coworkers, but am trying to push through it. What did I do? I feel like they must really hate me, but wanted to just do some small thing just for appearance’s sake. I obviously can’t say anything, right? I’m mentally rehashing all of our past interactions to try to understand why I’d be treated this way, so differently than our other coworker. I don’t know how to fix this feeling or this situation. Do I just swallow it?

I’m sorry, that must feel awful!

I would bet significant amounts of money that this isn’t a reflection of their feelings toward you at all. I get a ton of stories of this kind of thing happening, and it’s usually about disorganization more than anything else. It’s a week where bunch of people were out of the office, or the person who usually organizes this stuff was out, or the collection process got short-circuited by a crisis and no one quite realized they hadn’t finished, or so forth. The empty gift card is a good example of that; whoever put it in the envelope almost certainly assumed someone else had put money on it.

It still feels awful! You want to feel that people are being especially thoughtful at a time like this. But know that this almost definitely has nothing to do with you or with these relationships. It’s just … people not being on top of things even when they should.

And I’m sorry about your mom.

3. My awful old coworker is joining my new company

I was thrilled to accept a new job last week, as I have been trying to get out of a toxic workplace for a few months. At the time, my new team mentioned they were considering a second new hire who would be my peer. Yesterday, I got a text message from “Jane,” a former coworker, saying she was the second new hire. Jane was not fired (because my former company does not believe in firing employees…), but was placed on a PIP and strongly encouraged to find a new job, which she did about a year ago. She spent most of her time at work watching Netflix, surfing the Internet, and making repeated and costly mistakes. I’ve lost many hours on nights and weekends to fixing her errors.

Naturally, I’m now a bit apprehensive about the new position, since the team is small and I assume we’ll be working together frequently. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt that she has changed, but I’m afraid that if she hasn’t, it could affect perceptions of my own performance if we are working together on a project. I don’t want to come across as petty or cutthroat immediately to my new bosses if I need to address issues with her performance, nor do I want to continue fixing her mistakes on my off hours. How do I approach my new position, knowing what I know about her past work?

This will probably turn out to be far too Pollyanna-ish, but you might as well go into it with an open mind. Who knows, maybe there was something about Jane’s previous working environment that didn’t mesh well with her and she’ll be better at a new company. Probably not, but since there’s nothing you can do about the situation yet, let’s give her a chance for a fresh start and see what happens.

But don’t return to fixing her mistakes on your off hours. If you start seeing problems with her work, first attempt to address it directly with her and if that doesn’t work, talk to your manager. Frame it as, “I’m running into (specific problems) with Jane’s work (and explain how they’re impacting your work or any joint projects). What’s the best way for me to handle this?” That will flag the problems for your boss, and hopefully this new employer will manage better than your last one did. At a decent company, as long as you’re communicating with your boss about what’s going on, it shouldn’t affect how you’re perceived.

4. Is my company violating OSHA rules by making us work during coronavirus?

I’m a retail worker and have been freaking out about coronavirus. A few days ago I asked my manager (during one of our big coupon sales, no less) if there were any updates on what we’d do about coronavirus and its impact on our store. He said he couldn’t go into much detail but he had a discussion with the CEO and we’d be protected and if need be would close the store with administrative pay.

As the situation has changed almost every day and things have gotten worse, there had been no update as to what would happen with us. I made a phone call today hoping to talk with one of my supervisors but reached one of the higher ups in the company. He said there were no plans on closing the stores, and if I was freaked out or worried about coming into work I could take unpaid days off.

I’m in a city that has still left things up to businesses to decide how to handle closures, but there is a “no gathering of 250 people or more” ordinance and most of the government buildings, schools, and libraries have closed and will be closed for the next couple of weeks. We are very much a non-essential service as we buy used merchandise from the public, but may fill a gap since certain government buildings have closed.

I’m just so scared and worried for myself and my parents as we would all be considered “at-risk” we all have high blood pressure and my parents smoke and I have respiratory issues. I have no idea what to do, but need the money and health insurance. Is my company violating OSHA laws by making us work during coronavirus?

OSHA has issued guidance for employers (it’s here and a summary is here), but basically says to have a plan, implement basic infection prevention measures, isolate sick people, provide protective equipment if needed, and comply with reporting requirements. Their guidance doesn’t order closures or remote work.

I would try banding together with coworkers and pushing for a more serious response from your company. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

5. How do we re-contact rejected applicants with offers or interview invites?

I work in medical recruitment at a hospital. A few months ago, we went through a round of hiring and had a number of candidates who we rejected due to staffing limitations (they would otherwise have been excellent in their roles, but didn’t happen to make our top five/top ten) as our program is usually small and is quite competitive. The current Covid-19 situation has resulted in both additional funding for staff and a large number of vacancies, and I’ve been asked to contact some of these rejected applicants to ask if they’d consider coming in for an interview (if we didn’t interview them the first time around), or to ask if they’d be open to a job offer.

I’ve cleared this with our HR dept, but I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to communicate with the candidates. You’ve compared job searching to dating before, and I suppose I want to avoid them feeling like we only want to work with them because we’re desperate for anyone — rather that we would have loved to have had them come work with us the first time around because they genuinely impressed us, and the current situation means that we can now ask them. What would be the most tactful way to get this across? Should I call ahead of sending the interview invite? Is there anything I should avoid saying?

This is a way that job searching is not like dating. Candidates aren’t under the illusion that employers are only considering one person at a time or that they’re selecting life partners or “the one.”

So it’s fine to be straightforward! For example: “You applied several months ago for our X opening. At the time, we had more excellent candidates than we had open slots. Since then, we’ve had additional funding and more slots open up, and if you’re still available, we’d like to set a time for you to interview.”

For people you’ve already interviewed and where you’re reaching out with a job offer: “You interviewed several months ago for our X opening. We were really impressed with you but had limited open slots at the time. We’ve since had an additional slot open up and immediately thought of you. If you’re still interested, we’d like to put together an offer to bring you on board.”

{ 276 comments… read them below }

  1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #1 Call your boss or the co-workers that you see driving by and ask them to pick things up for you, food, other items, things from work. They can leave them on your porch or the sidewalk.

    1. MassMatt*

      What an infuriating situation, that these managers etc at this place think their job is to… enforce? Monitor? Police? Check up on? Their quarantined employees. Are they in any way qualified to do this? NO. Are they helping the situation in any way? NO. They are probably increasing possible contagion by being out an$ about while, uh, monitoring that someone ELSE is not out and about.

      I would just ignore them, but I suppose giving them errands to do for you is making lemonade ou5 of their lemons.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        I’m guessing they’re in an area that hasn’t started requiring people to stay home, because otherwise they’d know that it’s *not* an “unexpected vacation” or any similar goofing-off state that they may be imagining. There’s a reason solitary confinement is considered to be excessively cruel.

        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          What if they are taking a nap or at the back of the house and the spies see no movement? Do they creep around the house peering into windows? I believe that they need to call the office and get on top of this before she hears the windows rattling especially if living alone.

      2. Snuck*

        I’d just see it as time to get some serious Vit D and get out on the front porch full cabana style :P

        Set up a lounge, grab a couple of books, some awesome sunnies, and a little drink with parasol… and a bikini of course.

        THEN if they keep parking ring up and say “Hey… it’s really creepy that work keeps coming to watch me sunbathe” hahahahaha

    2. Avasarala*

      Yes. I would use a combo of Alison’s advice and this one to say, “Oh, have you been trying to leave groceries for me? I’m not sure why else you keep coming by my house.”

      If you can see who is in the car, literally call them/their boss. I don’t know why this situation is making people think voluntary self-isolation=cannot communicate with them/they don’t exist. Or that practicing social distancing=be socially incompetent.

      If you have capital to burn I would consider escalating this because those people are surely not working while they’re checking on you, and the behavior is stalkery and invasive. They’re lucky you recognize the company car and don’t call the police on them by mistake.

      1. Random IT person*

        After reporting it – and it continues – I may still be tempted to call the police.
        If they do not say anything, give no explanation – it would be unsettling at least.

        Gives a bit of a stalker vibe to be honest.

        But yes, a shopping list could be nice.. makes these ‘checks’ useful at least.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Also, how do they have your address..? My home address is on confidential employee files (for some companies) and on my invoices (to individuals at others). But other than that, only people I consciously choose to give it to know where I live (ie Close, Trusted Work Friends Only).

          Point being, if you didn’t give your address to them with an implied “swing by sometime”… wow, it just makes the whole thing EXTRA weird and stalker-ish.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            Actually is it even legal? If you didn’t give that specific coworker or boss your address would they legally be able to retrieve that information from your file and share it amongst the other employees..?

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              In the USA, many people own homes. Perfectly legal to look up property records and takes less than 30 seconds. It’s public record. Also, OP may have mentioned to any coworker where they live.

              1. Bee*

                Yeah, we used to have these things called phone books that literally mailed a listing of everyone’s phone number and address to everyone’s doorstep. Whitepages Dot Com serves the same function now, but even more easily. It’s the fact that they’re spying that’s creepy, not the fact that they know her address.

                1. valentine*

                  would they legally be able to retrieve that information from your file and share it amongst the other employees..?
                  Yes. It may (and should!) violate company security protocol, but they can argue they did have a business need to look up/share the address.

                  It’s not illegal to drive by a colleague’s home and to leave when they show they know you’re there. OP1 does not fear for their life. Calling the police is an escalation and crying wolf.

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

            Now that we’re on lockdown, my company asked their “proper” employees (i.e. not those hired via agencies) to update their addresses in their HR profile. I guess it’s for HR only reasons.

            1. nutella fitzgerald*

              We had to do this too. We were given the explanation that the company employs people all over the US and they want to make informed decisions about whose WFH setups need to be prioritized (my coworker lives in a town where they were ordered to shelter in place last week, compared to others for whom it went into effect Saturday).

          3. ian*

            Huh, my work just has a big ol spreadsheet with everyone’s name and address. It wouldn’t even occur to me that it would be something to keep private, honestly. Obviously its creepy if someone’s showing up at your house unexpectedly or sending weird mail or something, but just knowing your address doesn’t strike me as particularly weird or stalkerish.

            1. James*

              Same here. Folks routinely hand out home addresses, because we often have equipment/supplies shipped to our homes (we travel a lot, and home is one place you know you’ll be back to relatively soon). Plus, the company uses it to calculate mileage for various reasons. And as someone else said, I own my home and my address is freely available on a number of websites, including the county and city official websites (dealing with property taxes).

              Knowing the address isn’t stalkerish. Driving by my home? Yeah, that’s crossing a line.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Is this an activity check?

      Under ordinary circumstances insurance companies can send people out to check on a claimant. Like you are saying here, they sit in a car and watch. Of course if the person knows the activity checker is there then there is no point to continue checking.

      My husband did this work and it’s one of the many reasons he quit insurance adjusting. Because this is gross.

      And we were on the receiving end of this when we had a motorcycle accident. Every day there was a man in a station wagon sitting across the (busy) street from our house. I guess he thought he blended in. But when you live in a neighbor for a while, outsiders stand out like sore thumbs.
      I wanted to wave at the guy every day as we sat on our front porch reading our books. But my husband said that was a bad idea. (Don’t tick the guy off, I guess is what he believed. His job sucks enough with out us making it worse was his thought.)

      In order to sort this, I would try to figure out where the company is paying you from- is it under some kind of insurance plan? I am guessing it is, because for the company to set this up on their own would probably be too costly. My husband made okay money as an adjuster (it’s work and it pays) but he found out he liked sleeping at night better.

      Going the opposite way you could just call the police and report the individual. Then I’d wonder if they would send someone else in a different car.

      1. JM in England*

        Here in the UK, there is (or used to be) a similar role in the Department of Work & Pensions. They essentially spy on disability benefit claimants to check whether they are faking their conditions….

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          The US has this as well–it’s there job to see if someone is committing fraud.

          1. valentine*

            insurance companies can send people out to check on a claimant.
            These are colleagues, though. Even if OP1 works for an insurer, surely, they’d send strangers to check.

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

        I had those back when I had a work related accident, but it was done by insurance employees and they were honest about it: “we’re from ACME Insurance calling you regarding your work related accident, these are our employee numbers if you want to double check, etc, etc…”

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        But the OP doesn’t say that they have symptoms or are otherwise unable to do normal stuff around the house. They are just isolating as a precaution. I’ve been isolating but I’ve been outside doing stuff in the garden, hanging out laundry, cleaning things in the house, etc. I’m not staying home because I’m sick, I’m staying home because I might have been exposed and could pass it on without knowing it. It’s a totally different situation to claiming a disability like being unable to move around properly due to an accident causing back pain, for instance, and then being seen digging up flower beds and hauling buckets of soil in your front yard. If the OP isn’t working from home and is just taking the time off, then there should be no expectation that they are lying in bed sick all day or anything like that.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      OK, well these are unusual times and I can maybe understand them checking maybe… ONCE just to ensure you’re home and following the quarantine policy. But continued stakeouts? You’re not a criminal.

      I would contact HR and ask why this is happening if they are not actually being useful, such as dropping off things (files, computer, etc.) from work that you need.

  2. Sue*

    #2) I wouldn’t assume that the empty gift card was an insult or carelessness. My daughter recently got married and several gift cards she received were empty. It was a fraud situation and in talking about it, it is a rampant issue. Some people who experienced this were told the thieves take the #s off the cards in stores but there is no way to tell that when you purchase the card. I think the way many of them are packaged makes this an easy crime.
    You do have recourse, it should be reported.
    And I’m sorry.

    1. valentine*

      I was thinking someone didn’t know how they work. (I sometimes forget.)

      Because it’s eating away at you, OP, I would say something to whoever you interact with best of the three. And do mention the card was empty and ask who can correct that. (I know it’s not the money that matters most to you, but proceed as though they did want you to have the money and see what happens.)

    2. MassMatt*

      I think the answer here was Pollyanna-ish. Someone doesn’t put a gift card in an envelope assuming someone else put money on it, that’s not how gift cards work, someone buys them.

      It’s possible the value could have been stolen, but really it’s unlikely IMO, the card needs to get activated when purchased—there’s a reason these very portable items are not closely guarded with security tags or kept behind locked displays or behind the counter.

      The likelier explanation is that someone grabbed a card lying around that had already been spent, unintentionally or no. At best it was careless.

      I would ask the organizer or supervisor if they intended to give me an empty gift card. Or, if I were sure it were intentional, thank them for the empty gift card, and give each of them an empty gift card when I left.

      1. Marmaduke*

        I know a lot of people and companies keep gift cards on hand for various occasions, including reloadable ones that they load up online before gifting them. This could absolutely be an honest mistake.

        1. Gen*

          When I was working for a loan department at a bank our manager had a drawer full of boxes of gift cards to give out as rewards for good performance. Someone complained in a meeting that they got an empty card, which then led to a number of other people saying they’d also received empty cards but didn’t want to look money-hungry by complaining about it. It’s awkward to go to someone and say ‘hey this gift is useless’. Turned out someone had gone through most of the cards, used them and put them back. I’m not sure if they ever found out who but we switched to emailed vouchers after that

          1. KRM*

            It’s terrible for someone to get a gift card as a reward and then not mention that it was empty because they don’t want to look “money-hungry”! I would be mortified if I gave someone a reward card that didn’t have money on it, and I would want to know!

        2. pentamom*

          This Christmas when I ordered some stuff from Walmart, in each box they sent me an empty gift card, to encourage me to go online and load it. I still have them, ready to load, in case I want to give a quick gift or help someone with a sudden need. So having empty cards lying around is definitely a thing, even for individuals. Someone could have easily forgotten to load it or assume it had been done previously.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I often get (loaded) promotional $5 or $10 gift cards from certain grocery stores for buying certain things. I usually give them to the homeless vets that are at the entrance to the store parking lots.

      2. JamieS*

        It’s far more likely that either this is fraud or the company has cards on hand for things like this and the person who added the card thought there was money on it. It’s highly unlikely this was intentional.

        Even if OP’s coworkers do dislike them, which this isn’t evidence of, no halfway decent person is going to take someone’s loved one dying as an opportunity to figuratively give them the middle finger.

        1. MK*

          While I don’t think anyone but a sociopath would do this as a deliberate slight, it’s not unreasonable to feel that the support your coworkers show you in a difficult moment is a metric of how much they actively like you. During the past few years we have had five coworkers passing away; the support to their families varied from overwhelming to minimal based on how well-known/liked they were (I am talking about the support from individual coworkers, not from the organization, that was uniform in all cases). It’s not that the coworker whose passing was least noticed was disliked in any way; he was a perfectly nice guy and everyone had good things to say about him; it’s that we are a big org and he for one reason or another hadn’t forged as strong bonds with many people at work.

          1. MOAS*

            I agree. Even if it wasn’t grief, if it was say a happy occasion, seeing one person have a card and money given to them, while you personally didn’t get anything…anyone would be hurt by it.

            That happened to me when my father passed. My coworkers came by and gave me condolences and emails but nothing else — nor did I expect anything more. A while later someone else’s parent passed and her team member started a card and money collection. I didn’t say anything but my boss saw the look on my face and apologized right away for not doing more at the time.

            1. King Friday XIII*

              I’m sorry that happened to you. It definitely happens with happy occasions too. When Queen Sara and I got married, she didn’t have PTO so we got married in a tiny ceremony on a day off and went back the next day. We’d been together for ages and just waiting for the chance to do so legally so I didn’t think about it too much. But my coworker got married a week later, took a full week off for the honeymoon, and came back to cake and a gift card. I don’t know what my face looked like but I said something to one of my workfriends about while I was sure it wasn’t intended to be discrimination in favor of the cis-het colleague, it sure didn’t make me feel great, and she must have said something on my behalf because the most awkward gift card to the Fancy Home Store across the street was on my desk within the hour with an apology.

            2. Cheesehead*

              Very blatant inequality hurts and I think it’s normal to start questioning the relationships and trying to find the reason for said inequality. The fact that it was during an emotionally devastating event just makes it feel worse. I remember at an old job when I had my birthday one year, nobody said a word. I didn’t get a card, I didn’t get any well wishes. We had a company bowling party shortly afterward, so I mistakenly thought that they might be surprising me at that. Nope. The next birthday was a few weeks after mine. It did NOT make me feel good to see a card circulated for that one, and for the subsequent ones, when mine had been completely ignored.

          2. JamieS*

            It’s not impossible it’s a reflection of their feelings towards OP but there are plenty of more likely explanations and I don’t think it’s helpful to frame “they like you less” as the most likely explanation.

            IDK when this letter was written but if it were fairly recent OP’s employer and/or coworkers could be experiencing upheaval from everything that’s going on that would explain their lack of proper planning. Now more than ever people are going to be a bit more scrambled.

            1. The pest, Ramona*

              In my office it was my job to organize collection of money, gift cards, getting the card signed. So when I returned after family leave (and would have received similar) nothing was done. Some offices are like this. I didn’t hold it against them, they were used to someone else dealing with that stuff.

      3. Pretzelgirl*

        You can also buy gift cards in bulk from companies or even go to the store and buy a massive pack. I am talking 50-100 gift cards at once. Its quite possible this is an honest mistake and something didn’t get activated, someone gave a gift card that been accidentally used already or fraud occurred.

    3. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      LW 2: I would mention to whoever gave you the card “just wanted to let you know, the gift card was empty, so whoever purchased it might want to go back to the store and get a refund.” Address it like of course it was something that went wrong at the store – if it was a legit mistake, it gives them the opportunity to make it right and if it was just carelessness, it should cause them to justifiably feel ashamed and mortified.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes. “I finally got around to using the gift card, and it turned out it was empty” kind of thing. Just like Lady Catherine says, it should cause them to feel ashamed of themselves (why, her daughter would never have done such a thing, if only her health wasn’t so poor).

        1. Philosophia*

          Fellow Austenite chortling here, but after a difficult day unable to muster the brainpower to build on the reference. Thank you, we need the laughs.

    4. Letter 2 Writer*

      Sue, thank you. I didn’t even think of that. It really is very possible that the data was stolen, or some other glitch caused it to not work. I guess with everything going on, that insecurity I had just spiraled. My mind went straight to assuming that I got tossed a used gift card intentionally. Really, I should be grateful that anyone thought of me at all, instead of comparing.

      1. Laure001*

        Letter writer, my first thought when reading your letter is that it all happened during the beginning of the corona virus crisis and people were too frightened /freaked out /unable to focus, and that’s why the signatures and the gifts were neglected. I bet your co-workers don’t even remember there was a card or that were supposed to sign it… Because they were panicking at the time.
        I am part of a non profit with a lot of elderly members. One of them was operated a week ago and received much less phone calls of “how are you, I’m thinking of you” that she was hoping for…. We are generally pretty good at this! She was offended, and hurt, and I tried to explain to her that people were so worried for their elderly parents, for their adult children stuck in foreign countries etc, that they didn’t even register her bad news at the time. Again, so sorry that happened to you. (virtual hug)

        1. EPLawyer*

          This is what I think happened too. Your co-workers wanted to remember you but right now, everyone is a bit anxious. It was not intentional at all, but kinda all part of the confusion right now.

          I’m sorry about your mother.

        2. Kes*

          Also, depending on timing and situation, most people may not have been in the office to sign the card

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OP, I feel so bad here, what a let down for you. And yeah, grief magnifies everything.

        I am really glad you posted about this, so you can see that this type of thing happens often enough, it’s not just you.

        You may want to consider going back to one of the three people and letting them know the card was empty.
        Pick the most approachable of the three. “I need to tell you something that is a bit awkward to say, but you might want to know. The gift card you guys put in my sympathy card was empty. I know there are problems with fraud going on, so I thought you’d want to be aware. I do appreciate the card and I appreciate that people thought of me. That is what matters the most.”

        Grieve leaves us feeling like our power has been stolen from us. In turn we can feel like we lack words to deal with a situation. Feeling powerless and feeling wordless can cause a real downward spiral. I want you to know, OP, that if I gave you an empty card, I would want you to tell me. I meant for you to have a gift. It would be important to me that you had that gift.
        This is a variation on the birthday present that never arrives in the mail. It’s best to tell the sender.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Either someone at work stole the value of the card or the place they bought it failed to load it. By not mentioning one enables fraud. And this is a graceful way to put it — you are alerting them so they can get the money back from wherever they bought it — assuming it is a mistake and also expressing gratitude for the thought.

      3. Batgirl*

        It’s legitimately upsetting the way these mistakes have stacked up on you. First of all people didn’t sign the card so you must have thought “Oh at least there’s a gift card”. There’s no way the empty card didn’t sting after that.

        But there are at least three people who meant to do something for you (and more who simply missed the chance) and would probably want to know that there’s an issue with the card. I would just thank them for the thought and let them sort this out for you. I’d even say something like “I know it’s either you, Larry or Moe because those are the three signatures on the card” so that they know something got interrupted and not everyone paid their respects.

        But really, three people have paid their condolences and if you thank them for doing so as if they did so sincerely and would want to amend any mistakes, you may find out that that’s exactly the case.

    5. Amethystmoon*

      Yes, this has happened to a relative of mine. Literally, the card was sent from the actual company in response to buying something and when she tried it, it had been used. There are lists of gift card numbers all over the dark web, apparently.

      1. Wintermute*

        If a company uses an insufficiently secure hashing method to generate their numbers, it’s fairly easy to get hold of a few hundred expired numbers and work backwards to what method they use to generate them. There’s always a tension between “short enough for manual entry” and “long enough a reasonably powerful home computer with a 400-dollar graphics card can’t crack the algorithm in a few hours” and the companies usually come down on the side of shorter than longer especially for things you will be expected to key into a form (itunes, Steam, etc. cards). Even if you have access to an infinite number of keys, the chance of “collision” (I.e. picking one that’s in use and loaded) is fairly low but if companies leave a small enough pool it can be done reliably enough for fraudsters to profit.

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      With the exception of the fraud element, I as going to suggest this might have been a store error. I was behind a woman once at my grocery chain’s customer service desk because a couple of the 20+ gift cards she purchased weren’t activated. It was a HUGE hassle because after she was notified by one of the recipients, she had to go and collect all of the card she has distributed and bring them in and the store had to review them one by one while on the phone with the issuing card company to make sure there had been no activity. Probably spent an hour working through that as I was able to handle my return and shop and they were still dealing with it when I left the store..
      My sister (previous worked at said customer service desk) also told me that some cards expire within a certain time frame (6 months to a year) from activation so its possible that an admin or boss at your company bought several gift cards at one time for situations like this not realizing that they would expire before they would be gifted out.

      1. Chili*

        Yes! As someone who worked in retail, there are a lot of ways gift cards can go wrong. While it’s possible, I wouldn’t assume someone intentionally gave you an empty gift card. It’s way more likely it wasn’t loaded properly or some other sort of mistake.

        1. LJay*

          No but I believe that they are still allowed to charge a maintenance fee after a period of inactivity which could drain a small gift card dry after a couple years.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think it’s much more likely it was never loaded. A lot of places that have gift cards have two options: buy this pre-loaded card with $25, $50 or some other common amount of money on it–or buy this unloaded card with a custom amount that you choose loaded onto it at checkout. So I think the likely situation is that they thought they were purchasing a pre-loaded gift card but accidentally bought one that never had anything on it.

    8. MOAS*

      Gift cards are my default whenever I am invited to a wedding or birthday or to give a coworker – now I am SO WORRIED that any one of them may have been empty cards and I would never know and instead they’d think I did this intentionally.

    9. Auntie Social*

      Or it could be that the person charged with buying the gift card pocketed the $50. I think it’s just as easily that as an unloaded card. My regular cashier says that you always give the receipt with the gift card in case there are problems. Remember the board member who kept the baby shower gift card money?? If the office is the source of the gifts, then let them know.

    10. OwlEditor*

      Yes, LW#2, is there an admin you can speak to? I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, so I would just mention it. When I worked as an admin, I would have been mortified if something like that happened.
      I hope other people have reached out to you! I know on my team, some of us work remotely, so our manager sends out emails requesting messages and then prints them out and tapes them inside the card, but if everyone is out for various reasons, the card might not be signed by as many people, but I try to reach out other ways too.
      Sending you love and I’m sorry about your mom.

  3. staceyizme*

    LW2- Maybe you tried a little too hard with the card? What I mean is that your coworkers mucked it up badly and the pain was compounded by the enormity of your loss. I agree that it’s more likely carelessness than malice, but that doesn’t mean that you have to ignore your own sensibilities. You’re at a loss, understandably. You need to find a safe person to whom you can say something like “the shock of receiving a sympathy card with three signatures, ten dollars and an empty gift card has made a difficult season even worse… I simply haven’t been able to recover as yet.” Then, let the words hang. Don’t rush to fix the discomfiture. That’s it. Then, attend to your own feelings. And- if you’re in the habit of “fixing” things or minimizing your own sensibilities, now is a good time to stop. It’s unsustainable. I, too, am so sorry for your loss of your mother.

    1. valentine*

      has made a difficult season even worse
      I wouldn’t go here unless they reveal they did stuff whatever they had in the envelope and called it a day, and then only if OP2 thinks it’s worth it to let them see how hurt they are. If they start with the empty gift card, there’s room for mea culpas and a promise to fix it straightaway.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yes. The gift card is the easiest to fix.

        The card with only three signatures… well I don’t know where OP is and what the situation was there “a few weeks ago”, but is it possible they pulled this together during the crisis and only a few people were in the office that day? I have something on my desk that was supposed to be collected a while ago, but because many people are out of the office and everyone’s focus is on mission-critical tasks, it might have simply been a lower priority for the person whose job it was, even though it meant a lot to you.

        Even if this isn’t what happened, maybe it’s a sweet lie to tell yourself so that you’re not critically reexamining all your relationships to find out why coworkers you’ve gotten along with for years secretly hate you and chose this method to let you know. That sounds so painful, and I recognize the voice of the critic, the one that says everything is wrong and you are worthless. Don’t listen to the critic, and try not to focus too much on the card–what have your coworkers done and said to you besides that that was positive or encouraging? What if you approached those 3 coworkers who did sign it and tell them how much it meant to you to receive their note even though they’re so busy right now?

        I’m so sorry about your mom and wish you the best.

        1. Letter 2 Writer*

          I appreciate the comments and thoughtful discussion. Realizing that it’s not necessarily about me, and that I’m probably overreacting due to being in a sensitive place. Really I should be very appreciative that anyone thought of me at all, and be thankful for them rather than bean-counting. It’s really hard for me to not let worries spiral.

          1. TechWorker*

            I don’t think people are saying you ought to be grateful for anything at all – it’s understandably upsetting. More that it almost definitely wasn’t intended as any sort of slight, so it’s probably best not to dwell on it or assume the worst. I’m sorry for your loss.

            1. Reba*

              agreed — OP2, you don’t have to be *grateful* for this sub par condolence card. It stinks!

              We just want it to not be something you ruminate on too long, because that doesn’t help you. It was almost certainly a reflection of the chaotic times, not a reflection of your colleagues’ esteem for you.

              Sorry for your loss.

            2. Avasarala*

              Yes– it’s not “you shouldn’t feel hurt by this”, it’s absolutely a hurtful thing and you drew a very reasonable conclusion from it!–it’s “is this line of thought helpful? Is the critc always right? (answer: no) Do we know this to be true? What do I want to focus on here?”

          2. Caroline Bowman*

            You have no need to explain why you are deeply sad and anxious at the moment. When my own mother died, suddenly and with no warning, I was unhinged. I appeared somewhat normal to the casual glance, but my brain simply did not work properly for a long time.

            I would also have been annoyed and hurt about the three signatures, but the gift card thing could quite likely have been a question of theft or fraud, so it is an objectively reasonable thing to raise. Not a question of bean-counting or lack of gratitude, but so that possibly people who gave generously haven’t had their money stolen.

            My sincere condolences on your terrible loss. It does get easier to bear, but the sadness never ”goes away”. You get used to it in the end.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            You are human and having normal human emotions. I think most of us would be jarred by this.

            1. HarperC*

              I agree. I would be equally (if not more) upset by this. I do agree that it probably wasn’t intended to hurt, but it still does.

          4. It's mce*

            I’m sorry for your loss. It’s okay to be upset. If you’re comfortable, do mention about the gift card. If your colleagues have store receipts for them, you can go to the store where it was bought from and talk to the management if there is an error.

          5. Artemesia*

            Anyone would feel as you do. It feels awful to be slapped like that and on top of a grievous loss — even worse. I’d mention the gift card in the frame of ‘the store cheated you or made a mistake’ while thanking the 3 people who did reach out. We are all sorry for your loss; it is one of life’s more painful moments.

          6. Warm Weighty Wrists*

            LW, my mind would absolutely have gone to the same place as yours! However, I do think the most likely scenario is that this is a reflection of stressful times and not how anyone feels about you. It’s hurtful for sure, though, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling hurt by it. If I might suggest, maybe try to take it as a reminder of how easy it is to start letting human kindness slip during difficult times, and do your best to be as kind and considerate as possible in your interactions? Sometimes when someone’s actions are hurtful to me but for whatever reason it’s better to let it go than directly confront it, I find it helpful to apply the lesson from that instance to MY life (even if maybe I’m not the one who really needs the lesson). That makes me feel like I have some agency and helps me move on.

        2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          We had a birthday card this week for someone, between working out new protocols and the virus I missed signing it completely. It wasn’t deliberate, there just wasn’t time before the person flew back home. Usually, a card hangs around for a few days, this time it was literally minutes.

    1. MassMatt*

      I agree, or at the very least make sure not to spend your spare time fixing her errors for her. Did you get any recognition for that at all in your previous job?

      Major side-eye both to the old company that “doesn’t believe in firing people” and the current one that hired someone on a PIP without what, ever digging in enough to find that out?

      1. Marmaduke*

        Would they know she was on a PIP if nobody at her previous company revealed it? It sounds like their policy for bad hires is to hope they get hired elsewhere, so it seems like fake glowing references might be common.

      2. EPLawyer*

        Definitely do not spend time fixing her errors. That only covers for her and keeps the company from finding out the truth about her work. She was able to get away with it at the old company because old company had you to fix it.

        You are her peer, you are not responsible for her work. If it is affects your work, then raise it with your boss. Otherwise, you have the perfect right to just concentrate on doing your own job well.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          This. You’ve been presented with a clean slate, so no covering for her this time.

          As for giving your manager a heads up… you have no cred at this company yet. And if it does turn out that the previous place was just a bad match and she is completely different at this company, then that could shake out badly for you. At most, if there’s an opportunity you can hand her rope and see if she uses it.

          In the meantime. as EPLawyer says, try to stay focused on doing your job (just yours!) well. But also trust your experience to guide your wariness, ie: separate your tasks and responsibilities from hers as much as you can, document everything from day one, and get clear email trails that you can rely on later if you need to.

        2. Artemesia*

          And do this from the gitgo — don’t cover for her even once or you will be off to the races. I would not poison the well since she has already been hired BUT I would not EVER do her work or cover for her. If she begins to do as she has done before, THEN you might mention to the boss that this is an old pattern with her but they didn’t ask you before she was hired and apparently did not do due diligence so not your monkey till it is. The first time she flubs, give her feed back as in ‘I can’t get Y done till you have completed X, I needed that today when will I have it?’ Then if she drops the ball again, to your manager you go. Don’t give her the impression that she can lean on you doing her work again and never ever do it. And move immediately if necessary — she is probably on probation (as are you) and it is easy to undo the hiring mistake if needed.

        3. Snuck*


          You are in the great position now of a) knowing a LOT more about your future coworker than you might have been and b) being a new hire yourself in a hopefully professional workplace.

          Go into it, do your best, be so ultra professional and do the absolutely best YOU can with YOUR work.

          Let her sink or swim on her own dynamic.

          If she is leaving work undone, or making many errors treat it the same as you would if she was a raw new hire you’d never met. If she leaves work and it’s not being done you could a) Approach your manager and say “Hrm, I find that I’m getting a lot of extra requests from Bob and Bill to cover things that seem to be Jane’s work, how would you like me to handle that?” Or b) Tell Jane “Sorry Jane, I cannot cover your work as I need to do my own”.

          If Jane is making errors then leave it as none of your business. If Jane is making errors and they are impacting your work ask her to correct them, then after two polite requests verbally, send her an email asking her to correct them. ANd then after all of that if there is STILL errors, talk to your manager “Hi Manager Elaine, I’m just wanting to know how you want me to handle errors in Jane’s work that is then impacting mine – I’ve spoken a couple of times with her, but I’m still getting significant mistakes, and I thought you know how I can approach this?” And then if Manager Elaine says “Ah just fix it yourself” and it’s causing you considerable work time impacts say “Sure, I can do that, but I will need you to identify with me which priorities you are ok with me slipping in this situation….”

          If you are ever asked how Jane is to work with, asked “You worked with Jane before so you should know how to handle” etc just say “Hrm, that was under a different manager with different management techniques, I know that in the past things were tricky at times. How would you like me to handle this here?” And leave it at that.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Absolutely do not waste any more time fixing her errors. Let her fall on her face this time and hope your new company manages better than your old one did.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Especially since you will both be new, I don’t think anyone would expect you to be responsible for cleaning up her mess. Make sure her mistakes are their problem to deal with, not yours. Be willing to help if they ask of course but don’t stay late doing work she should be doing.

      5. Observer*

        From what the OP says, Jane didn’t get hired from the company with which she had a PIP, though. Also, just because someone is on a PIP at one company, it doesn’t mean they should never be hired at another company.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Yes! This. I quit a job right before I was going to be rightfully put on a PIP. It was a job that was not suited for me and that I did poorly in due to lack of fundamental understanding and support from my boss. There are so many reasons for poor performance that one bad job should not prevent you from ever getting hired again.

          No, all that being said I do think OP has the opportunity here to have a new approach. Don’t cover for/fix Jane’s mistakes. If they are directly tied to OPs work product, talk to the manager/supervisor when they start to affect OPs ability to do their own job.

      6. LW3*

        I did not get recognition for it at the previous job, no. One of the many reasons I decided to part ways :-)

    2. JamieS*

      If OP’s employers did their due diligence they would probably already know about Jane’s issues unless the former employer lied. It’s possible they lied but it’s still not OP’s responsibility to put themselves out.

      If OP had been there awhile and built up a solid reputation it might be different but since they’re new it’s too likely that going to their employer will come across as sour grapes and/or give the employer pause towards OP.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I don’t think there’s an easy way for the OP to do that as a new employee. If she were a proven employee, I agree that a head’s up would be appropriate, but right now the OP and Jane are coming in at the same level – the company won’t know whether to believe the OP, or whether she had a personal thing against Jane and was stirring up trouble.

      I wouldn’t warn, but I would be watching carefully so that I could address things in an appropriate way for the position I was in – being extra careful about any time my work interacted with Jane’s, and ready to bring up issues. At the same time, I wouldn’t be staying late to fix messes – I’d flag them to someone higher up, and let them deal with it.

      1. It's mce*

        Yes, remember this is a new place. If Jane suggests that you can help each other out, then privately explain to your boss why it might not be a good idea.

    4. Lynca*

      Unless Jane did something criminal or seriously ethics breaking, I think ‘warning’ the manager is not going to go over well for OP.

      OP came from a toxic workplace where it seems like they were expected to pick up Jane’s slack and they wouldn’t fire anyone. It would be better if OP realizes that their toxic experience is probably coloring how they think this will go. A functional workplace is not going to keep on an employee making multiple costly mistakes nor would they blame their co-worker for not preventing them from making these errors.

      Jane obviously had a resume and references to vouch for her suitability. It’s not OP’s job to prevent their company from ever making a bad hire.

      1. LW3*

        Thank you, I think this is really important for me to remember coming out of a toxic workplace! A more functional company is not going to allow these type of things to continue. The company we started at didn’t call references for me, I’m not certain about Jane. But at the end of the day you’re right, it’s Jane’s manager’s job to worry about a hire’s suitability, not mine!

    5. Person from the Resume*

      No. I think Allison is spot on. Both the LW and Jane are the same unknown quantity – brand new hire – to the new company. If LW was already working and had proven herself she could bring it up now but since she is not I think a warning on your first day that the other new hire is terrible is a way to get off on the wrong foot.

      Since the LW does know Jane’s history, what LW should do is give Jane no chances, benefits of the doubt, and do not fix her problems. Refuse to pick up Jane’s clack and bring it up to the new boss when it starts happening. That way jane’s issues are no unsubstantiated.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        LOL“Refuse to pick up Jane’s clack” is the BEST freudian typo I have seen in a long time… thank you!

      2. Person from the Resume*

        However do make every effort to distance yourself from being seen as close to Jane since you are expecting her to be a subpar employee. Hired at the same time will be hard, but don’t be extra friendly, don’t each lunch with her and join her at the watercooler and stuff.

    6. Observer*

      I would NOT do that. This is not the OP’s situation to fix. If they do see a pattern that needs reporting and fits the pattern that they had seen in their original company, then they could mention it as part of their conversation with their management.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      No, OP should not warn her new manager. She’s not yet a known quantity. The manager has no way of knowing the history with the coworker and OP will likely come off very oddly, which is going to affect her reputation and not in a good way. Especially if the coworker has turned over a new leaf and actually turns out to be a good hire.

      I’d wait a while and see how things go. If the coworker reverts to her old self and it affects OP’s work, that’s the time to say something.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Particularly if Jane’s issue were only at toxic workplace. If OP warns managers, then Jane turns out to be a rock star in a functional environment, it will not bode well. Agree to wait and let it play out.

        Not saying this can definitely happen, just saying sometimes the environment can affect production too.

    8. Cass*

      I wouldn’t say anything. As a new hire the OP is also too much of an unknown to have the capital built up to really say anything. If the OP’s coworker ends up performing the job without any problems it’s going to make the OP look bad. I would just focus on being a rock star at her new job and let her peer’s work speak for itself.

      1. Jane*

        But if LW3’s manager knows they used to work together, isn’t it likely they will ask about that experience? If I knew my two new hires knew and worked together previously, I would want to ask them how that experience was. Should OP lie and say it was fine if asked?

        1. Observer*

          That’s a straw man. No one is saying the OP should lie. What they are saying is that there is absolutely no reason for the OP to proactively bring it to their boss.

          If the boss wants to ask, then it’s the boss’ place to actually ask, not to expect the OP to read their mind and answer a question that was never asked.

      2. TardyTardis*

        It’s harder when you’re coming there together. I had a coworker at the library where I worked who continually slacked and spent lots of time chatting with the supervisor while I held down things out front. I left there for Old ExJob, established myself, and a year later, that coworker also migrated over to Old ExJob. Fortunately we didn’t work in the same department, so I merely greeted her brightly, wished her well, and snickered to myself. I later learned that she picked up that she couldn’t goof off, did well, and life went on.

        But Jane sounds like you have a different problem.

  4. Dan*


    I’m going to guess that anybody working in heath care, especially those who provide direct patient care wouldn’t be surprised that more funding for more positions are becoming available given the current health care climate.

    For candidates you’ve already interviewed and to whom you’d like to extend an offer, the exact phrasing you should use depends on what you said when the rejection was first given. When you reach back out, I would stay away from the phrase “really impressed” and similar such things. Why? That type of phrase is routinely used in boilerplate rejections, and is going to ring hollow to many people. One’s first thought upon reading it is going to be, “well, if you were really impressed, why didn’t you make me an offer [then]?” I’d definitely use the “more funding” line when reaching out with an offer, because without it, there’s a chance people could assume the slot opened up because the prior hire didn’t work out for one reason or another.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, I agree that anyone working in healthcare with patients is going to know exactly why you’re contacting them. And honestly, the wording of the email probably doesn’t matter that much…people are either going to be willing and available or not. (And thanks to those who are!)

    2. Lioness*

      Very true. One of my friends who is a nursing student just recently got an email to submit her resume this past week for a residency program. This application was originally set for an July/August deadline. We don’t even graduate until December if there aren’t any delays regarding graduation.

    3. Viette*

      Yes to all of this, especially the specifics about there being more funding now. Of course nobody is going to be confused about *why* there’s more funding all of a sudden. Especially in American healthcare hospitals are routinely understaffed or staffed as minimally as possible to get the work done, and everyone in healthcare knows this — we would all have more nurses, techs, staff of every kind if we could snap our fingers and make it happen. To not get a job because there’s limited funding and thus limited spots is a pretty familiar concept.

      Importantly, as the person in charge of hiring, I doubt anyone is going to look askance at you personally for there not having been enough money before. You can be honest and say what you’ve said here: you would have loved to have had them come interview/work with you the first time around, the money wasn’t there at the time, and (unfortunately) the current situation means that you can now offer them an interview/job.

      1. Fikly*

        Yes, as someone who works in healthcare, I would be more offended if you tried to pretend you were suddenly interested in me again for some other reason. We all know what’s going on, you don’t have to act like it isn’t.

        And people generally aren’t unhappy to be contacted about an opportunity to get a job if they are looking, especially by a place that they previously applied at, if you didn’t treat them horribly/ghost them.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Every health center is hiring for the same reason. Any health professional can have a job anywhere they want. Good luck on finding any of these folks you need still available. Be straightforward in ‘more positions have been funded’ and make offers asap.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Agree to all of this. Just be straight up with some variation of:
      We had many more excellent applicants than we had positions for, but now we have additional funding and more positions we can hire for. If you’re still interested/available we’d love to move forward with you.

      For what it’s worth, it might be worthwhile to mention that you’re reaching out to former candidates/applicants for consideration first–before posting the jobs. That’s something many companies SAY they’ll do, but seldom do. I’d have a more positive impression if a company did that.

    5. Anonymous this time*

      Not even just in health care. I am the letter writer from this post:, and I received an offer last week from a company that had rejected me when I was previously looking. Apparently, with everything going on, their chosen candidate decided to move back to their hometown to be closer to their family, and decided against working remotely.
      At the time I was rejected, it was no big deal, since it was only my second choice, and I was getting my first. Now, it seems like a godsend that I was their second choice too, and I start training remotely in a few weeks!

    6. Anonymous this Time*

      Not even just in health care. I am the letter writer whose new grandboss broke keyboards and punched walls, and I received an offer last week from a company that had rejected me when I was previously looking. Apparently, with everything going on, their chosen candidate decided to move back to their hometown to be closer to their family, and decided against working remotely.
      At the time I was rejected, it was no big deal, since it was only my second choice, and I was getting my first. Now, it seems like a godsend that I was their second choice too, and I start training remotely in a few weeks!

      *Sorry if this posts twice, I tried to link the post on my original comment, and it didn’t go through :)

  5. Observer*

    #3- Some thoughts.

    Firstly, do NOT fix her mistakes on your off hours. If you are non-exempt, it’s not even legal. But even if you are exempt and it’s 100% legal, there is no earthly reason you should be doing that in any minimally functional company. It is in now way, shape or form your job to protect her from her poor work or to shield her.

    Secondly, I don’t know why you are assuming that your work is going to be so closely linked that it’s going to be a reasonable thing for you to fix her work. And even if your work IS closely linked, do NOT step in to fix her work unless your boss asks you to do so. Again, there is no reason you should be fixing her mistakes. I don’t know if it made sense in your old company, but you say the place was toxic, so you really don’t want to carry their norms over to a new and presumably non-toxic workplace.

    Lastly, use Allison’s scripts. There is NOTHING “cut throat” or even petty in flagging someone’s poor work if it affects your job, the work you are providing to clients, or has significant ethical or legal ramifications for the company. If none of those things are true, don’t bother. Assuming your company is reasonably functional, no one is going to blame you for her bad work.

    1. Fikly*

      If she makes mistakes, and it causes you problems, make her mistakes your mutual manager’s problems.

      1. Oranges*

        This! I know it’s hard but the best way to make your boss see there’s a problem. Is…. letting there *be* a problem. And letting the blowback fall on the person who has the power to fix the problem. That person isn’t you.

  6. River Song*

    I’m so sorry for your loss, OP2. One thing I’ve learned from losing a close family member is that you are pulled so tight, that any slight seems like A Huge Deal. You say you tried to laugh it off, which I understand because that is my usual MO, also. But it’s like you are spending so much energy just surviving, that you have none left to deal with people who hurt you. (I, who never pick fights with anyone and avoid drama like the plague, picked a few HUGE fights with people like my in laws, who I would normally never, ever fight with.) They were wrong, and even if it was unintentional, it totally sucks. I’m sorry.

    1. Poppy*

      Seconded. On all counts. I still cringe at the memory of the fights I got into. It’s just – short on sleep, doing your absolute best while others don’t, pain and grief and jumble of emotions = not coping.

      OP, I’m sorry for your loss. Folks have got a lot on their minds right now; they’re bound to get things wrong.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        Only because my very best friend is a sensible and rational person was I prevented from having a screeching tantrum at my son’s paediatrician over (what turned out to be) something that was completely misdirected.

        I cringe when I remember how incensed with rage I was and what a great, long, trusted relationship I could have ruined completely.

        1. River Song*

          I had to leave to talk a walk around the block in the middle of my kid’s birthday party, just to keep from losing it. I wanted to physically fight someone. And what they did was wrong, and deserved to be called out, but it wasnt worth screaming or fighting, and those are definitely not my normal reactions!
          OP2, they were wrong and you are not wrong to be upset. But for me, seeing why I was so livid was like a life saver. I was still mad (I’m still mad 7 years later because who does that?!), they were still wrong, but I understood why and that made all the difference

    2. Not So NewReader*

      And, OP, you don’t have to laugh it off. It makes sense that laughing it off did not go that well for you and was not helpful for you. That really does make sense.

  7. mark132*

    @lw3, I would let her “hang herself” rather than sound the alarm. If she really has changed you look very petty. And if she hasn’t your managers should figure it out on their own pretty easily. And I do mean by hang herself to do what Alison suggested and not cover for her.

    1. WS*

      +1, if she has changed or even if she is simply better supervised at the new company and doesn’t get a chance to make expensive mistakes, you’re the one who is going to look petty. Keep the heads-up to yourself, and take this opportunity to document your work so that you have before-Jane and after-Jane to compare if necessary.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      The one caveat I would add to this advice would be that if directly asked, be honest without going into detail. “yes we worked together at X Corp but it wasn’t a positive working experience for me. Some time has passed and we are in a different environment so hopefully this time around things will be better.”

      1. hbc*

        I would probably go more vague than that, something like, “We’re both new here, I’d rather just let our work speak for itself.” Given that the natural thing would be to talk positively if there are positive things to say, someone could read between the lines. Or not, but it’s not like they really should be accepting OP’s assessment anyway.

        1. Kes*

          The only thing is that given the talk about OP fixing Jane’s mistakes and the assumption they’ll work closely together, I wonder if it’s a situation where their work is very intertwined – either OP’s work is dependent on Jane’s or they work together on the same project, in such a way that errors in the final project, even if caused by Jane, could reflect badly on both of them if it’s not clear who caused them or the bosses wonder why neither caught the issue earlier. In which case, while I think it’s important to stay professional and stick to the facts, I would go a bit further than what you suggested and indicate there were issues with her work while working with her before, especially if the boss specifically asks OP (and especially if the boss asks after issues start arising here).

          1. LW3*

            This was the situation in the last place we worked together (our work being intertwined so errors Jane made would reflect poorly on me if they weren’t corrected). Since we’re so new it’s unclear to me whether that will be the case here.

            1. Artemesia*

              If so then really important to go to the boss if the pattern repeats (but not before) You can tell them you hoped in a new setting it would be different but it is deja vu for you — once again she is failing to complete her part of the project and expecting you to do her work. Work with the manager to disentangle your stuff from hers. BUT only after it emerges as a problem. And project to her your expectation that she WILL get her part done —

          2. M. Albertine*

            Maybe LW can give boss a general heads up about what their working relationship was like in the past. In a “I want to let you know that there is a history that I’m going to do my best to make a fresh start on, but there is a possibility that’s going to color my interactions with her” sort of way. Just make it clear that you’re going to be conscious of it and hoping it will never become an issue. This is the kind of interpersonal thing a manager should be aware of between employees, in my opinion.

            1. Observer*

              No. It’s way too risky for the OP – they are just as much an unknown quantity as Jane on the one hand, their only experience with Jane was in a toxic situation which makes it far more possible that Jane will do better.

              The OP needs to pay attention to what is happening with their work vis a vis Jane. If problems come up, that’s the time to bring it up.

  8. Myrin*

    #1, I don’t have anything to add to Alison’s excellent scripts – which I would honestly write down and use exactly as they are during a call – but I do want to affirm your sense that this is invasive and downright bizarre. They are behaving strangely and you have every right to directly call them out about it!

  9. Liane*

    LW 1 says in the last paragraph that they have informed another manager who also doesn’t know how to deal with this. Alison, any scripts for that manager?

    1. Bagpuss*

      Not Alison, but I think that the manager should be explicitly telling those individuals that their behavior comes over as highly inappropriate and ordering on staking, and that she is explicitly instructing them not to continue. If she doesn’t have the authority to do that, wither because the stalkers are not her direct reports or because she is a peer rather than their manager (OP mentions one of the people doing this is one of her bosses) then I think the manager should be framing it as “This could cause us problems at it looks a lot like stalking, and it’s also really bad for morale as it implies o our staff that we don’t trust them”

      1. KoiFeeder*

        If I lived in LW1’s neighborhood, and I saw this occurring, I would not assume that this was their work checking in on them. I would assume that LW1 was being stalked, and I might call the police because, seriously, stalkers are dangerous to everyone.

        1. cautionary tale*

          I usually just lurk here but chiming in to agree…this is, simply, stalking. The behaviour is stalking. It doesn’t matter how [we infer] the stalkers have rationalised their behaviour, or how the LW is connected to them.

          If I saw someone sitting outside my house in their car, and then saw them drive away as soon as I opened the door, I would be alarmed and likely call the police. And I’d definitely also report a weird car sitting outside a neighbour’s place.

          Obviously the best case scenario here is sheer social incompetence and not malice, but I would take this very seriously and address it head on. Directly tell the people watching you that their behaviour is making you feel creeped out and unsafe, continue bringing it up with management, and communicate openly with others in your workplace about what is happening.

          Don’t assume you know the motive, or that it’s innocent. I have personally been stalked by someone from my workplace who devised lots of apparently-legitimate reasons for constantly crossing my path. Someone can receive cover for an initial stalking behaviour due to work activity that requires proximity to you, and then abuse that by stretching it to its limit. (“I mean, what’s the difference if I swing by her house one more time…or look in the back window this time since she wasn’t out front…really it’s a public street and I have the right to be out here whenever I want…”)

          I hope that all this is indeed some ill-conceived plan for confirming you’re keeping quarantine (which still wouldn’t be reasonable or normal), but it’s a terrible thing to put another person through the stress of feeling watched, and to leave them speculating about what the hell is going on. Your workplace shouldn’t be doing this to you.

  10. Words in Passing*

    #4, I’m so sorry that your job isn’t taking this seriously. If you have a regular doctor, I recommend getting in touch and asking them to write you a letter stating that you’re at high risk for covid 19 and need to stay home. My job didn’t want to let me work from home either even though I’m immune compromised and I ended up looping in my doctor and my union representative before they took me seriously. It doesn’t sound like you have a union but a doctors note might still help, plus talking to your doctor will help you put together a plan to keep yourself safe. And if you need to take unpaid leave, some states are offering unemployment for this exact situation. Best of luck, my thoughts will be with you.

    1. MK*

      The OP is a retail worker, so I would guess work from home isn’t a possibility. Getting a doctor’s note will likely result in their being told to say at home without pay, which they can do now anyway. I don’t see how that will help them.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Working from home isn’t really a thing in retail, though. I wish everyone one here would stop assuming that everybody can just work from home–you interact with people every day whose jobs cannot be done from home, so it’s not like you don’t know this.

      But since that seems to be the assumed solution: How, exactly, would you recommend the LW’s job be done from home?

    3. Observer*

      I’m going to echo the others who say that the OP really cannot do their job from home. Which means that if the store shuts, the OP is going to be out of a job, essentially. Which stinks.

      But that’s why Allison is right – there is no reason why the company is not taking better measures. I’ve obviously reduced my shopping to the minimum. But every store I’ve been in has taken measures to help protect staff. Things like gloves for all the check out personnel are the things we see. But also SIGNIFICANTLY more cleaning / sanitizing, and sanitizing supplies for staff to wipe down stuff that people are handling on a regular basis are the kinds of things that should absolutely be happening.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        It’s infuriating how many reports I have heard of places like grocery and delivery not allowing their employees to wear any kind of protective gear. Personally I would feel reasurred if the checkout people at my local supermarket were wearing gloves and face masks. They have hand sanitizer but I feel that they should be able to protect themselves better and in a much more visible way. It might help serve as an example to their customers to take this seriously, too.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My mum went to the store she favors this morning (our lockdown starts today). She said they had erected big Plexiglas shields around the cashiers, with a little hole at the bottom for transaction and they were wearing gloves.

          There are retailers who could do this with their vast amounts of cash. *coughWalmartcough*

        2. Old and Don’t Care*

          The last time I went to the grocery store about half the baggers were wearing gloves and half not. I will leave it to the readers to speculate as to whether this broke down by age at all.

          No masks that I saw, and I used self check out and didn’t see what the cashiers were doing.

        3. Gumby*

          Eh, if they were wearing face masks I would assume that they are sick and be much less reassured. That or they ignore advice from reputable authorities – like the World Health Organization – and are “wasting” masks that are in short supply for people who actually need them right now!

        4. fhqwhgads*

          There’s a massive shortage of protective gear, though. At this point it’s impossible to distinguish between “not allowing” and “cannot procure any”.

      2. MK*

        The OP mentions closing the store with “administrative pay” as a possibility, so I am guessing if the store closes because of the pandemic they will be receiving some pay, while if they choose to stay home they get nothing

        1. valentine*

          closing the store with “administrative pay”
          The manager was lying. And/or lied to.

          1. MK*

            I don’t think this is necessarily true. The manager said they would close the stores with pay “if need be”; the higher up said they had no plans to close the stores right now. Could be that closing with pay will only happen if they’re is a government order to close, and the manager didn’t communicate this properly to the OP, or the OP just assumed it would happen as soon as things got more serious.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          Sounds to me as though “administrative pay” would be for management personnel. Small solace to the front-line staff to know the higher-ups will get paid.

      3. nonegiven*

        If the store shuts, at least they can apply for unemployment and get paid a little. If they just stay home, they probably won’t be eligible at all.

    4. Mockingjay*

      #4, why don’t you and your fellow employees create your own plan and present it to your boss? Present it as preserving both employee and public safety. Things like:

      1) standard shifts with the same group to minimize cross-exposures. For example: You, Sue and Tim work on M, W, F; Bob, Mary, and Clovis work on T, Th, and Sat. (My daughter’s job is doing this.)
      2) Checklist for store cleaning. Wipe down registers, swipe machines, and counters hourly with disinfecting wipes. Twice a day, clean restrooms and dressing rooms (if you are in clothing retail). End of day, whatever else needs to be done.
      3) Limit number of customers in store at a time.
      4) Create register lanes to separate customers. Masking tape on the floor will work if you don’t have those rope dividers. Most customers are going to understand and comply.
      5) Have hand sanitizer available to customers.

      Even if boss isn’t on board with a complete plan, you can do a lot of these things yourselves. Good luck and stay healthy.

      1. Retail to Remote*

        @Mockingjay Letter Writer#4 here. Thank you so much for these tips. I’ll be sure to share them with management if we ever go back to the store. And I wanted to give an update: Unfortunately, I live in a state that’s been very slow and all over the place in terms of having any sort of plan as to what to do during this time. As of right now my county has issued a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order which issued tighter restrictions as to what stores should remain open and traveling throughout the city. The day I had written the letter, the store had been closed to the public. On Saturday in the middle of work, a judge had issued the closure of “non-essential” businesses and we had an hour to leave the store after that was issued.

        At the moment, we will be paid, but it can only go on so long. While I’m a bit relieved compared to when I had written in, I’m still in a state on constant worry. Our store hadn’t even closed to the public until 7pm of March 17th and we had just finished up a big week long sale that prior week.

        There been such a disregard of the safety of workers and customers from not only my management, but the government in the state that my store is located. And if more recent news is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ll try to get businesses to allow non-essential employees back to work sooner that health experts recommend.

  11. Batty Twerp*

    LW3 – if the workplace your are leaving was as toxic to Jane as it is to you, there’s no reason to think her work attitude wont have changed now she’s joining somewhere new. At the risk of coming off Pollyanna-ish (which is so into out of character territory for me, I’m not sure I’ll get it right), her mistakes and slacking off could have been the result of poorly thought out coping mechanisms, due to a lack of support. Been there, done that. Not proud of it, but having failed to change the situation from within, my response was to stop caring – in my defense, I didnt make costly errors; if no one fixed them, they self-resolved the following month. Then the C-suite changed – radically and dramatically – and the culture shift revitalised me. No more careless mistakes, productivity improved by two hours a day. Obviously, I could have job hunted on my own, rather than just wallow, but at the time, the company didn’t even care enough to PIP me, my other half was desperately job seeking (from unemployment) and we needed my stable salary. Like I said, not proud, but backed into a corner, a worried animal behaves unpredictably.
    Introducing Pollyanna – give Jane the benefit of the doubt. By all means, be aware of any mistakes – which could be the result of being new, dont forget! – but dont fix them – you’re new too. She will be your peer. Your new manager should be watching both of you through a probationary period at least, which will give you a chance to see a) if Jane has changed and b) your manager’s style if it turns out that Jane has not changed.

    1. MissMeghan*

      +1 I had a very, very hard time a few years back in a difficult work situation. I was not productive, I struggled just going into the office every day because I dreaded what it would be like when I got there. My biggest fear career-wise now is that this will follow me everywhere, or that former coworkers will drag this up any time I go somewhere new.

      Let Jane have a chance to succeed. If she doesn’t, you’re not the one who hired her, you’re not her manager, and you’re not responsible for her. Your company I’m sure has hired people who didn’t work out in the past, and they will again. They can handle it just fine. It’s not on you.

    2. LW3*

      This is truly what I’m hoping!! I like her as a person, I just found it exhausting and stressful to clean up after her and it made me resentful. Fingers crossed.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      They can and they do.
      I mentioned upthread about activity checks insurance adjusters do.

      In more recent years, TWO of my previous boss at two DIFFERENT companies, drove by my house to see how I keep my property. (It’s maintained but not anything extraordinary, no magazine photo shoots going on here.) I said to one boss, “If I knew you were coming I would have mowed sooner.” He shook his head and lowered his head as if embarrassed by the whole thing. He said, “There’s a difference between not mowing regularly and being a couple days behind schedule on the mowing.” He did go on to explain the trite belief that the way a person keeps their property is tied to their ethics. I did not even ask if I passed inspection because I did not want him to think what he was talking about was a credible in way, shape or form in my opinion. I could see he felt a bit guilty and I decided just letting him wrestle with his guilt was probably enough.

      1. Pretzelgirl*

        If you don’t mind sharing, what kind of industry do you work in? Are you in the US? I have never once heard of this!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, US and it was retail for both jobs.

          The way retail jobs work here is that all managers are to assume everyone is stealing and it’s just a matter of proving it.
          s/No, I’m not cynical… why do you ask? /s

          Yeah, I got out of that whole scene. I want to work with adults.

            1. Oranges*

              I had a purse check every time I went home when I worked at TJM. It’s amazing what they ask since they know they can get “another warm body” at anytime….

              1. Artemesia*

                A purse check while unpleasant is reasonable as theft in retail is enormous including theft by employees. I have worked as a consultant in secure defense related facilities and we got a thorough going over coming and going to make sure we were not carrying any sort of video material, data sticks, or when leaving any sort of papers that might be classified.
                But checking how you keep your lawn and garden as a way of judging your ethics to prevent theft? That is pretty over the top and it bears no logical relationship to what they are trying to prevent.

                1. Dr. Rebecca*

                  A purse check is still not reasonable. However, I don’t think I’ve had any boss, well, ever, who cared what I did off the clock, so long as I showed up, was relatively pleasant, and did my job to their specifications. If they’d followed me home or even intimated they were aware of where I lived, I’d’ve called the cops.

                2. Fikly*

                  No, no it is not. Treating your employees like criminals strongly increases the chances they will behave criminally, because why behave honestly if they’re already being treated like criminals?

                  It’s basic human behavior. Not only is it treating your employees abusively, but it’s not going to get the outcome (less theft) companies presumably want.

          1. Pretzelgirl*

            That’s nuts. I worked in retail for many years. I have never experienced that! I have so many questions about this. Maybe on open thread Friday, lol.

      2. Fieldpoppy*

        that is …. shocking. That is all I have to say about that. And here I thought it was invasive for my landlord to comment on how I was keeping up the garden one time!

  12. Candi*

    #2: I had a terrible relationship with my mother after/due to when she walked out on and divorced my father. [Long, not relevant, story.]

    I would still have felt TERRIBLE if anyone had done this to me after she died last year.

    Your feelings are entirely natural, normal, and deserved. Use Alison’s and other commentators guidance in your reactions, but your feelings are your own.

    If anyone near you gives you a stupid “you should forgive” line- you should release negativity for your own sake, but you don’t have to forgive. Negativity and stress can hurt _you_ and need to be released so they don’t harm *you* -but forgiveness lives in another zoo.

    #5: Eh, the county transit here does that all the time. They always have more people then they have seats for, so they have a list of people to call when they have openings. (You learn so friggin’ much being friendly with the bus drivers. Like the city buses they use weigh approximately 9 friggin’ tons, Imperial.)

    Part of why that is, the managements stands behind the employees against bad and evil customers, and the union’s pretty good. So think of the awesome things that says about your work place, that they have to and can call people back, and those people will say, “When can we schedule the interview?”

    (CT Management has other issues, like drivers that get in late still need a break, even if it’s not the state-mandated length, and understanding that getting in late usually isn’t their fault… I directed the drivers who mentioned this to AAM for advice.)

    1. Batgirl*

      People who tell you to forgive are almost always talking about their own comfort levels, not your happiness.

      1. Candi*


        I developed the “release negativity” concept after reading stories (so many stories) about people who felt freed and healthier after forgiving, reading about how stress and everything associated with it can cause physical damage, and reading up on psychology after taking a couple classes.

        It seemed to me it wasn’t the forgiving that felt so good and relieved health problems -it was the people allowing themselves to release the pain and anger and guilt and desire for revenge and everything else, bringing their stress down and allowing their bodies to recover.

        So releasing negativity -essential for your well-being.

        Forgiveness? When and if you choose. You do you.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I came here to say that I got nothing from my coworkers after my dad passed away, and was perfectly okay with it. I would NOT have been okay with getting what OP got. With that said, the more I think about it, the more I think that it would take a whole office full of spectacularly awful people to do this to someone on purpose. Since you hadn’t known your coworkers to be that way before, I’d say it really was carelessness – this is in answer to your “What did I do?” You did not do anything.

  13. cncx*

    I’m sympathetic to the awful coworker in op3- sometimes people are really bad fits for one company and do fine at another and we won’t know until they’re in that position. But i also think that sometimes a combination of circumstances make people poor performers. i had a coworker who nitpicked and micromanaged everything i did- not doing anything was easier psychologically and less of a threat to my job than taking any kind of initiative, but of course that meant my productivity was low and i came off as really passive and disengaged. so maybe let’s cross fingers that in a better company, awful coworker is not so awful.
    At the same time, i agree with a lot of the commentariat that it’s hard when both people are new to give a heads up in this kind of situation. And i would definitely be the type to freak out the first time the awful coworker makes a mistake at the new job, even if it turned out to be just a normal ramping up mistake. I’m so sorry op3 this is just sucky.

    1. LW3*

      Thank you!! I just want to be cognizant that everyone deserves a fresh start but also not get stuck in the same kind of toxic situation…it was disappointing for sure.

  14. AnotherTeacher*


    A friend was asked to (re)interview under similar circumstances – too many qualified candidates at the time of the first round of interviews. The company was straightforward about the reason, just as Alison advises. My friend was delighted to hear back from them. She saw it as a good thing that the company remembered her and took the initiative to contact her. She was offered the position, too, and never worried about not being hired in the first round.

    1. Doc in a Box*

      This is how I got my job (in academic medicine) too! I applied in August, never heard anything until late October when I got an email worded very similarly to Alison’s suggestion. Just be honest and upfront — even before the current crisis, everyone in healthcare knows funding is usually the limiting factor.

      Also, be aware that those candidates may have chosen a job elsewhere (particularly for new graduates, you should ideally have your ducks in a row by January as it takes 4-6 months just for credentialing in a new state; people switching jobs may have more flexible timelines)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I’d also feel more favorable if the company remembered me, and not at all offended that they actually went back to their candidate shortlist first.

        I think it is far more frustrating if you interviewed somewhere but you don’t make the cut and move forward in the process, and then they just post the same jobs again ignoring everyone they may have interviewed. Especially if you know you were a well-qualified candidate the first time around.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Everything in your second paragraph. It is frustrating, and it’s also incredibly demoralizing and makes you feel like crap.

          It also makes me wonder if I dodged a bullet. Long ago, I had an interview that went really well. The hiring manager liked me, and the HR person liked me, but they went with a higher-up’s relative. I asked for interview feedback from the HR person, and she sounded frustrated about it as well. Probably not as great a place as I figured, then.

  15. Rexish*

    #1 I think the worst part is how bad they are at this. Seriously, isn’t the Basic rule of stalking that you shouldn’t be seen and if you are you need to have a lame excuse. Just driving off makes is super creepy.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m just super confused about their agenda and their behaviour here. Like. OP probably wouldn’t have thought anything of this if, the first time she stepped out of her door, her boss had waved and said they wanted to see how OP is doing or something and if they had then stayed under the radar. But no, they keep slowing down, stopping (!), or parking (!!) in front of OP’s house – that’s not how you’re inconspicuously suspicious of someone!

        1. KoiFeeder*

          While I hesitate to say that this sounds like a deliberate intimidation tactic, the company stalkers are certainly acting as though they want LW1 to know that this is occurring.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Pffft. I bet they didn’t even wear a hoodie or fake moustache. Imagine trying to work with amateurs like that.

    2. Batgirl*

      This take on it reminds me of a friend whose mother used to go through her stuff. My friend, a zen master, couldn’t have cared less about the intrusion itself, but had zero tolerance for her mother bringing it up or failing to cover her tracks: “There’s nothing for her to find, but if she does see something that makes her uncomfortable she needs to smooth over the drawer and live with it, because it isn’t my problem”.
      Making themselves visible to OP is about making their issues her problem.

      1. Wintermute*

        I miss wheat, and wheat by-products but… you just can’t take a chance any more, not since the incident.

  16. Grace*

    #2 this cornovirus has brought out issues for everyone that I wouldn’t have thought possible 2 months ago. I’m so sorry you got the short end of the stick on this, and I am sorry about your mother. I want you to know that in my own life I have had to apologize profusely to a colleague who I do like very much, but overlooked her birthday 3 weeks ago and she ended up with a card much like yours with signatures due to the quick need and a Store cake with no personalization all bought during work hours the day of. When we usually order from a local bakery with a wide array of flavors, and have a card full of well wishes. I felt awful when she cried and asked if this was really her birthday stuff.

    I’m not an overly cautious person, and when this was hitting China I really didn’t think or plan for it to hit the US the same way. However for myself and many people in my age group/friend group we now have my parents and my husbands parents staying with us as well as several nieces and nephews whose parents are on the front line in the hospital. We are dealing with our toilet paper and food consumption need more than quadrupling and resources being scarce, Homeschooling our kids and nieces and nephews, and the niceties that I would normally be on top of have fallen through the cracks. I just wanted you to know its not you or their lack of concern for you its just the sky is falling and its harder to focus on anything else.

    1. WellRed*

      I think your coworker was a little ridiculous in her response. Crying because her cake wasn’t personalized? Was she celebrating her 8th? She was ungracious at the very least.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I can see both sides.
        On one hand – its ridiculous. You still got something when people are wondering if they are going to have jobs for the next however long and the people who are having birthday’s now aren’t getting anything at all (my son’s best friend’s birthday was this past Friday and his entire party was cancelled and the bakery they pre-ordered his cake from shut down and all of the in-store bakeries are closed as well).
        However, if you are used to A and all of a sudden get Z when the whole world is blowing up and this is still a bright spot, I can see an emotional release. I’m also guessing that with the various flavors at the bakery they use, the birthday person probably gets to pick flavors and colors, etc…and its possible they went through that exercise a over month ago and were really looking forward to it. Plus, with everything going on she probably knows that is the only “birthday party” she is going to get (maybe her family is far away or immunocompromised and since she is still working can’t be around them). Usually when I cry over stuff that seems inconsequential like this, there are other factors at play and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      2. Grace*

        I’m sure her stress levels at the time were high as well, and she may not have overreacted if not for the stress on her end as well. She was preparing to go to work from home for the foreseeable future, and while she won’t be loosing her job she is going home with a kid to home school for probably the rest of the school year and a husband also transitioning to work from home. It’s a hard time on everyone right now, our normal is changing and I think we are all having moments.

  17. Bagpuss*

    OP #3 I think as you are so new, it’s not a good idea for you to proactively warn your manager about you ex-coworker. They have not had the opportunity yet to get to know you. Also, it sounds as though at least part of the problem with your former co-worker was a lack of effective management by your old employer – she may do better with effective management.

    However, if you are asked by your current employer then you could say something like “I worked with Jane until [a year ago when she left former employer) My understanding is that Jane was on a PIP at the time she left, and immediately prior to her leaving, my experience was that she seemed to make a lot of mistakes, I was one of those who often had to carry out extra work to fix those problems” You can then add “However, I last worked with her a year ago and have no knowledge of her since then, and I am aware that there were some issues with how she, I and the rest of the department were managed which may have added to her issues”

    If she left a year ago and has been working elsewhere, your mutual old employer should no longer have aby reason not to give an accurate reference, if they are asked.

    If you do find that there are issues once she starts work, then deal with them as they arise. Loop in your manager and ask how they would like you to deal with the extra work caused by fixing her mistakes (i.e fame it as ‘do you want me to do A, to fix the issue, which will mean a delay in my completing B [whatever you would otherwise have been doing] – that way, your manager knows about the extra work being created and they get to decide which things need to be prioritized rather than you trying to do it all and having to work into your own time. Plus, since you are putting the issue back on them to resolve, they are more likely both to see it as a genuine issue, and to take steps to resolve it. f you work extra unpaid time to fix it they are not going to have the same level of understanding either that it is a problem, or how much of a problem it is!

    1. Kes*

      I don’t know if I’d go into quite that much length. I’d probably say something like “Yes, I worked with Jane a year ago. To be honest there were some issues with her work at the time that I ended up fixing and I believe she was on a PIP. I haven’t worked with her in the past year so I can’t speak to her performance then.”
      And if issues arise, throw them back to Jane first – “Hey Jane, I noticed there’s [whatever issues], could you review and fix these” and if they don’t get fixed or issues keep arising, then you can go to the boss and say that you’ve been noticing these issues and you’ve talked to Jane but they’re still coming up

  18. nep*

    #4 Sorry you’re having to deal with this.
    Crowds of 250 or more? It’s alarming there are still states where that is the rule.

    1. virago*

      Yes, a state would have to be almost willfully ignorant of what’s going on not to have enacted a stricter limit.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The states in the middle of the country aren’t seeing the effects like NY and CA. Not saying it’s right, but until we saw it here in NY, many of us were questioning what was going on.

      I did not hear it myself, but people say our governor is now scolding us. That is probably justified.

      Because I do stuff at the municipal level, I picked up on the word ordinance that OP used. There maybe other things such as a governmental leaders orders that would over-ride that ordinance. Things are moving so fast (what happened to our slow moving government???) that it is really hard to keep up and there are things that supersede previous things. It’s probably best to tune into the websites of our own states to stay current.

      For my work, the state has issued so many order and in such encumbered language that no one is sure what to do. So my boss and I have settled on doing the most conservative action. We are both pretty happy/comfy with that choice. She basically told me that I could choose not to go to work, but if I did go in, lock the door and see NO ONE. I could sit there for years and catch up on backlog. However, I will just focus on current stuff.
      Eh, I may not even be able to go in next week.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        This. Places where people are naturally more spread out (more single family houses than apartments, individual drivers over public transport) haven’t seen the spread like the bigger cities. I still only have 4 cases in my county and all are from people who recently traveled.
        Now my state’s governor is being extremely proactive – cancelled all schools and closed government offices to the public when there were only 12 cases. I had a bit of an eyebrow raise at that but since my employer sent everyone to WFH a couple days before that, I figured they know more than I do. We now have over 1,000 cases, most in the 2 largest metro areas.

        1. virago*

          I’m glad to hear about the proactive governors — and a lot of them *are* in the middle of the country, despite what a lot of people in the coastal states (like mine) might think.

          Illinois closed schools and ordered shelter in place when it still had a relatively low per capita infection rate. Michigan ordered its schools closed before Washington state, whose governor is still dragging his feet on shelter in place.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          *only 4 cases that have been confirmed with testing

          It’s probably true that the more populous cities with more travel have more cases, but it’s also true that they will be allocated more of the extremely limited quantities of tests. Everyone should be operating under the assumption that their area has plenty of people who are sick but not able to be tested.

          1. Artemesia*

            My daughter just learned that her son’s daycare has a case; he has not been in daycare for 9 days since all day cares and schools are closed — but they are still quarantining for another 5 days. They are already WFH (and dang lucky they still have jobs — who knows for how long) and of course managing kids. She is lucky that her 10 year old is thrilled to be paid to babysit the toddler in the morning so she can do her conference calls etc. No doubt that even in the center of the country there are probably many more cases than we have tested for. Hope the more rural areas continue to be spared the worst.

        3. Kes*

          The thing is that with this disease, it takes time to actually see the effects and for people to show symptoms and get diagnosed, so to act soon enough you have to act before that happens. The sooner you act the better, because once you have cases, it starts going up exponentially, so ideally you need to act at the very beginning of that curve to be able to slow it – if you wait until the numbers really start going up, you’re really too late at that point.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, but remember, the states in the middle still have populous cities. St. Louis has a shelter-in-place mandate now, but the governor is not putting the entire state on lockdown. KC did their own; Springfield has yet to do it AFAIK, despite college students testing positive and a vehement plea by healthcare officials for the governor to grow some damn balls and order it.

  19. Amethystmoon*

    Maybe your gift card was hacked. It’s happened to a relative of mine and now all she ever wants for Christmas is cash, not gift cards. I would check with whomever was in charge of putting it together. There are web sites out there with gift card numbers, hackers now just pick one on the list until they get one that works.

  20. Suave Marv*

    … did Alison actually answer the question posed by OP2, which was ‘what do I do about this situation’?

    1. Narrator*

      Removed because you can’t make up additional user names here to agree with yourself (and what an odd thing to do it on). -Alison

    2. Batgirl*

      You’re quoting a question that wasn’t asked. The LW said ‘What did I do?’ and spoke about mentally rehashing relationships. Alison answered that angle, but there’s nothing stopping us suggesting us a particular action.

  21. Special Agent Michael Scarn*

    #5: I got my current job after being rejected the first time! I had made it through the whole interview process, and it was down to me and one other person. They went with the other person and sent me a kind rejection. A few weeks later, they had a current employee turn in their notice, and offered me the job I initially applied for. I was thrilled and didn’t at all feel like they were desperate or I was “second choice.” If your old candidates are truly interested in the job, they won’t care that they were initially rejected.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      I had that happen to me as well. I did well at the phone interview, but they went with someone else. Then that person bailed on them right before the start date, and I got the interview and the job.

  22. Moozipan*

    LW2 – some gift cards come empty and you have to activate them online to make the balance show, this is to stop someone using the card right away if it gets stolen / lost in the mail etc. Would be worth checking that the card doesn’t need to be made active to show a real balance.

  23. Quill*

    “Hi boss, if you’re going to drive by to gawk at the quarantine house on monday, could you bring a pack of toilet paper, some hand sanitizer, and a package of microwave popcorn?”

    1. Batgirl*

      I’d be asking him to bring me some new voile curtains because there are some creepers peering through windows and it’s too dark to keep the regular curtains drawn.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Perhaps also a smiling, waving shop mannequin that she can dress up in her work uniform and put out on the porch.

        1. Wintermute*

          I’d make myself some flags with the international maritime quarantine code and go for semaphore, myself.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            Really, while she’s at it she should just park a boat out there and set up the mannequin on the bow with a wonderfully cryptic semaphore message. Add some taxidermy and she could have an ark. Plus a whole lot of entertainment.

    2. nonegiven*

      I was thinking, call the neighbors or post on Facebook, NextDoor, etc. that you might have a stalker and if they see [description of car] on [street] between [cross streets] to call the police about a suspicious person

  24. Going undercover for this one*

    I can’t help wondering if #4 works at a fabric and craft store – the one with the green logo – which has declared themselves “essential” because people are buying materials to make masks. Masks that our local hospital won’t accept because they don’t meet minimum guidelines if you use that store’s freely distributed pattern. This chain claims they’re taking extra effort to sanitize their stores daily, and yet the supplies aren’t being provided. My local store has cleaners and hand gel because the employees went out and bought them. The chain emails me to tell me how their employees are their “top priority,” and corporate staff are able to work from home, but the people on the front end are still there (unless, of course, they want to quit their jobs).

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume so. Many, many, many retail stores that are in no way essential are doing the same thing–claiming they’re too important to close, and leaving employees with the choice between working and exposing themselves and their families to disease, or going without a paycheque.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      From the description of “buying used merchandise from the public” it does not sound like a fabric or craft store

    3. Shenandoah*

      I am almost positive OP4 works for a chain that sells used books (filling the hole now that libraries are closed) and other crap. In which case OP4, I am so sorry – I used to work for the sister chain and feel certain that they will not do anything that are not forced to do by the government. They suck. The suggestions by Mockingjay above are great and many of them you can put into place without the DM getting in your way.

      I hope you stay healthy and safe.

      1. virago*

        Yes, Mockingjay’s comment is excellent! You gain ownership of a situation when you can say, “I’ve identified a problem and I’ve developed a proposal for addressing it.”

        For other people who – like me – may have had a hard time finding it, here it is:

        (I love used-book stores, but a chain used-book store and its dozens of copies of “12 Rules of Life” and Harry Potter is NOT a substitute for a library. Sheesh.)

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Semi-related, I just got an email from StopGames advertising a sale that I would have to physically enter the store for, which seems tasteless at best. I know I don’t get to talk after buying a gameboy, but this doesn’t exactly strike me as an essential service.

  25. Generic Name*

    #1 Right before reading your question I had just read an article on CNN showing photos of crowded beaches and quoting the governor of CA pleading with people to stay home. People are at beaches in CA despite a “shelter in place” order. So, given that context, I can see why your company wants to ensure that you stay home. People don’t do what they are legally compelled to do, even if it means more people will die. I get that it feels invasive and creepy, and I don’t really have alternative advice for you. I’m sorry you’re in this situation. Everything kind of sucks right now.

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      That seems like such an employer overreach though. We have the same thing in Australia where Bondi Beach was officially closed at the weekend due to reckless overcrowding. But social distancing and self isolation are things for the relevant authorities to police, not employers.

      Besides, if everyone is under “shelter in place orders”, why are OP’s bosses and coworkers scoping out her house instead of staying put themselves..?

    2. Observer*

      Oh, please. People are idiots, sure. (And why has the governor not just closed the beaches?!) But to go from there to stalking your employees, who you should already know to be at least somewhat reasonable, is a HUGE and TERRIBLE leap.

      1. ArtK*

        Personally, I think that endangering others is far more huge and terrible than any company action (see my question below.) As for the governor closing the beaches, do you have any idea of how many miles of beach there are in CA? Keeping them closed would require taking resources away from more important things. They’d probably have to hire hundreds (if not thousands) of people to patrol.

          1. Kes*

            I mean, I could maybe see driving by once if it’s on the way, since it could reflect badly on them if their employees are not self-isolating. But regularly cruising by slowly or stopping in front of OP’s house is so weird and over the top.

        1. James*

          The issue isn’t “Which action is more terrible?” The question is “Does your employer have the right to police your movements?” It’s entirely reasonable to say that not engaging in social distancing at this time is a bad idea (it is) AND to think that what this employer is doing is creepy and wrong.

          We are currently setting a LOT of precedents for how our country will operate in the future. Some of these will certainly bleed over into our daily lives when this pandemic is over. I don’t think most people will accept “Employers spy on employees” as standard procedure moving forward.

        2. Observer*

          If someone is actually endangering others, something should be done about it. But the idea that you can just assume someone IS actually endangering others and therefore use this as an excuse to stalk them and invade their privacy is a huge, unsupportable and awful leap. If you want to know what kind of resources it would take, give a look at what China has done. They can do it, because they have been building a system to monitor every move of every citizen all of the time anyway. So, since they have the systems anyway, they are deploying it to make sure that people are maintaining quarantine.

          And if you are really going to do that in any way that is even remotely widespread, you are going to be spending MUCH more resources than closing the beaches would.

          Also, the claim that closing the beaches would take up resources is baloney. The governor doesn’t need to send out the national guard to close the beaches. It requires NOT having lifeguards or any other staff on duty, posting signage and closing any gates / roads to these places that exist. Will there still be some people who go to the beach anyway? That’s their problem. But SOME people will stay away. And by officially closing the beaches the resources that would normally be used for even the most basic maintenance, information etc. will be available elsewhere.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Yup, they’re explicitely telling us that going outside is still okay, and even a good idea for mental health, just keep your distance! So then people do the first part and ignore the 2nd part. Idjits.

  26. anon4this*

    #3: Oh my, this exact scenario happened to me! I was thrilled to accept a new job, and then they also hired my horribly disorganized coworker “Robyn” into a position like mine but managing a different team. I’d kept cleaning up her messes at our previous job together, and heard a huge amount of gossip about how difficult it was to work with her (I said nothing because I figured she was going to shoot herself in the foot).

    Here’s how it went, for the record. I ended up deciding not to say anything to our new boss, because I didn’t want to start out seeming antagonistic. But my team and I were responsible for the first few steps of everything, and then her team would deal with the next few and send things off at the end. I was so scared that she was going to make me look bad, but I decided to act as if I knew nothing about her at all. My steps of the project went well for the most part; I worked much harder than I needed to, because I wanted to make sure I had a reputation for doing solid, productive work at all times. Almost everything I did went well. Robyn immediately ran into a lot of problems, way beyond anything I’ve experienced, and a few of her team members complained that they wanted to work with me instead. The higher-ups called her in and told her to shape up. She called a meeting with her team, explained to them that clearly what she’d tried wasn’t working, and said she’d decided to try a different approach (I was not privy to the details). Things held together after that, and the higher-ups were so delighted that they gave Robyn a big award for it. Not only that, but they asked me to write a 2-page profile of her and why we’d given her the award for our corporate newsletter. I did it, and I did it well, but I am feeling distinctly unappreciated now, and am again looking for a new job.

    1. Casper Lives*

      Wow. Thanks for telling your story. It’s frustrating when people get rewarded for the growth and change of finally doing their job competently, after you’ve been doing yours well all along!

      I applaud your professionalism in writing a good profile of her. It would be hard to avoid pettiness in a profile praising someone for finally doing the job they should’ve done in the 1st place.

      1. anon4this*

        Thanks! I privately seethed a bit at having to do that, and wasn’t sure whether to tell my bosses to hand the job off to someone else. I considered, and flipped it around: if someone who secretly really, really disliked me had to do that for me, how would I want them to act? I’d want them to do their best and support me and keep their feelings to themselves. So I sucked it up. It makes sense to me that high-profile improvement up to average level is by default more salient than quietly consistently operating higher from the start, so I’m trying my best not to take it personally, but I’m ready to move on. Prospects are looking good, though, which is encouraging.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Bravo, anon. Well done.
          Those of us who have had foolish mess-ups on other jobs sincerely hope that we end up with you as our former cohort when we walk into a new job.

          Annnd I don’t blame you in the least for looking for another job. You’ve gone way above and beyond here. Now it’s your turn to have an employer who recognizes you.

    2. Reba*

      This is a total prodigal son situation! Good for you being the bigger person and good luck with your search.

      1. anon4this*

        Thanks for the support! I have lots of leads and connections at the moment, fortunately, so I’m feeling OK about finding something new.

  27. ArtK*

    For #1 I have a variation and I’d love to hear what the commentariat thinks would be appropriate.

    Company X has shut down during the duration. They are, however, paying workers while they’re off. So far, this is great. But some workers are treating this as a vacation. They’re posting pictures from spring break and partying. Would the company have the moral right to stop paying or even fire those employees? How about legalities? Firing is ok, because of at-will. Stopping the pay seems ok to me since the employees aren’t being paid to work, but to stay home and keep safe.

    1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Gosh. I would think that it’s fair for the employer to have a say in how their employees are spending their usual work hours, while they’re still being paid. But they can’t dictate how said employees should spend their evenings or weekends when they would usually be off the clock.

      There’s something separate in “posting pictures from spring break and partying” – ie: what policies the company has around appropriate social media use. Postings like this might be ok usually, but this is not a usual circumstance. If they’re giving the company a bad reputation through this behaviour it should be handled with the same seriousness as finding out they’re posting anything else wildly inappropriate while being connected to the company.

      What I don’t know is how health insurance factors into all this as I’m outside the US. But, if those employees are defying medical or government directives I would think that’s a risk to their employment and coverage also.

      I’d personally give a warning before going straight to firing. But only because they sound young and naive.

    2. Reba*

      I wouldn’t say to fire unless there was a stated expectation of staying at home while being paid. However, I think making people use PTO or even unpaid time off for the obvious vacations seems within bounds to me.

      Spring break and partying does make me think less of those people, as far as being responsible and civic-minded, though I don’t know how much that should affect employment decisions.

    3. Batgirl*

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with being paid while vacationing.. It’s what we all do if we get paid vacation time.
      The issue is what these employees were directed to do during the shutdown. If they were directed to do some home working, they should be doing that. If it’s time off, then it’s time off. If the company shut down in order to enable people to isolate, and they’re not, then that’s a directive they can probably enforce since it’s a task they’re paying them to do.
      In short, companies should follow whatever process they usually do when instructions are ignored; but they have to issue instructions and expectations first.

  28. Name Withheld*

    A friend from a previous job joined me at the next job I had. She was great.

    When the HR person from that previous job applied, HR came to us and asked how the candidate was. We both said we’d quit if she was hired. She had been utterly awful and contributed to both of us leaving.

  29. Luke*

    @AskAManager Just an FYI, there is a small typo in letter #5 – “At the time, we -have- more excellent candidates than we had open slots” should instead be “At the time, we -had- more excellent candidates than we had open slots”

  30. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I had a situation once that was similar to #3. I hadn’t w0rked directly with the person at my previous job, but had somehow befriended him there, because we were both in the same age group (younger than everyone else by 10-15 years) and had started there at the same time. And he proved to be just a terrible human. One example, my then-husband and I had him and his family over for the day after Thanksgiving. He challenged my husband to a vodka drinking contest. He won the contest (meaning my husband passed out). Did a happy dance around our living room because he’d won. Then it was time to leave (being that the host was passed out in the bedroom). This guy sat in the car and honked the horn while his wife was getting the three young children into their boots and coats for the drive home. Then (which I found out two weeks later) he drove the 40 miles home. His wife wanted to drive, but he did not let her. (!!!) As for his work record, there was a wild story surrounding the way he left. I was out that day, but apparently bad things went down, which I’ll leave out for brevity. Then five years later, I was at my next job and he walked in on his first day of his new contract. So what I did was 1) ignored all the hints he dropped that I should invite him over to my home again. 2) watched him for a while (we had to do some minor work together with him and another teammate) to see if he had changed. He hadn’t. I wouldn’t have said anything to anyone if I’d seen that he was now a changed person. 3) Went to my boss. Now I had a good relationship with my boss at that time, and what was more, I had a lot of respect for that boss and how he handled things and people. So I knew I could trust him to handle this correctly, whatever “correctly” meant. Here’s how I did it. The way my desk was set, I had to walk by his office on my way out at the end of the day. That day, on my walk out, I poked my head into his office and said “Good night – hey, I’m seeing a familiar face in the office!” Boss was “yeah Fergus did work at your OldJob. How was he?” I said “I don’t really know, I was not on his team” and then I added “But your brother was.” (which had indeed been the case.) That was all. I said nothing else. The next day, boss told me that he’d gotten the info on Fergus, that he would not act on it, but would keep an eye out. I assume Fergus kept being Fergus, because when his contract ran out, it was not renewed. And that is the story of the one and only time that I alerted a boss to a coworker.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    Re #5– Fantasy:

    Office where I really wanted to work but rejected me calls for this exact reason. But I’ve already found something amazing and I get to tell them, “Too bad, so sad!! Or, “The person we hired bailed due to the pandemic; we need someone NAOW, will you take [great salary that lets me move immediately into my own place]? Oh, and we’ll set you up to work from home for the duration.” *sigh*

    #3–There aren’t many people I’d quit over if they were hired. The Coworker from Hell is one of them. A sales person at a retail business where I worked for a month (it was that bad), she was very solicitous of customers but treated everyone else like garbage. She was a mean, vindictive bully whp drove away at least two other salespeople. The other one is BullyBoss from OldExjob. I would never work with him again, and I would absolutely tell HR exactly why. If they decided to hire him anyway in my department, I’d ask for an immediate transfer.

    I’ve worked with people I didn’t like before, but we still managed to get things done. Any clashes were dealt with. But these two are a definite exception.

  32. Kisses*

    #4 do you work for Winmark? That sounds like a very Winmark thing to do.
    And OUAC just had their big sale.
    Don’t miss looking through old clothes.

  33. Employment Lawyer*

    1. My company is doing drive-bys to check that I’m in isolation
    Your company is smart. Lots of potentially-infectious idiots are breaking isolation, and your company is trying to verify you aren’t one of said idiots. It’s a bit intrusive, but you should live with it as it’s good to be checking.

    2. My coworkers gave me a shockingly careless condolence card
    If you would be fine without a card, pretend you didn’t get a card. Or, you can take the view that “any effort is better than no effort”. Or you can think that right now what with CV pandemics, people are probably not super focused on condolence cards. Sorry about your loss.

    3. My awful old coworker is joining my new company
    You can always preemptively chat with your manager. You don’t owe anything to Jane, and you may want to lay the groundwork to avoid problems again. What with CV, they may decide to hire someone else. This has risk, because you may look whiny (or if Jane is connected, or more valuable in some way), but it also has merit if you’re relatively certain that Jane is a loser.

    4. Is my company violating OSHA rules by making us work during coronavirus?
    Keep on top of updates; ISHA rules are going to change frequently.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      What?! Noooo OP #1’s company is wayyy intrusive. Not okay and not something I’d want to live with…

        1. Lalaroo*

          Yeah, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this is not actually an employment lawyer, at least not in the US.

    2. Observer*

      #1 – Baloney. Seriously. They have not call to be doing this. It does nothing to make anyone more safe and it’s just creepy and invasive. It doesn’t even keep the OP from breaking quarantine or even knowing if they did or didn’t.

      #3- Nope. There is no way that the Op can really know what Jane’s behavior is going to look like. And there is an almost 100% chance that this will cause the OP to look really bad.

  34. Lindzo*

    The person in #1 isnt in the USA. If writer #1 is in Singapore, any violation of Stay Home Notice could result in the cancellation of the company’s rights to issue work permits/visas, indefinitely. (Which in a heavy foreign workforce dependent country, this is a MASSIVE bad guy). Enforcement & check-ins are being done by government officials. 89 + people & their companies have already been caught for violating. I’m not sure “drive bys by management” are the answer, but important to note that there are more serious consequences to violating quarantine in places outside the US.

  35. Pomona Sprout*

    O.P.2, ever heard of Hanlon’s razor? Hanlon’s razor is an aphorism that reads: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. In simpler words: some bad things happen not because of people having bad intentions, but because they did not think it through properly.

    Or in this case, because of one of the many things that can go wrong with gift cards, described in previous posts. Good luck with finding out what happened. I realize this must have felt like a kick in the gut when it happened, but as many have already pointed out, it’s much more likely someone goofed than that there was genuine malice involved.

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