my boss is showing off his new $900,000 house, my weakness is my temper, and more

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

1. My boss sent us the listing for his new $900,000 house

I have worked for a small company for over seven years. I have enjoyed most of my time here and love my work. Just over a year ago, the founder and owner passed away after a battle with cancer. The business passed to the founder’s wife but is being run by the founder’s son, Sam, who for the last 10 year, has been the (un-credentialed and un-certified) “IT guy” for the office, while the owner kept a qualified IT specialist on retainer for all those years in case something serious came up.

It has been quite the adjustment, to say the least. But something happened today that seemed in very poor taste. Sam and his wife bought a house over the weekend and this morning Sam sent out a blast email to the entire staff with the news. It included a link to a website with all the information on the home — including the price tag of $900,000!

Sharing this information seemed unnecessary and unprofessional, and felt like a brag. Am I being sensitive? Or was this an unprofessional overshare? We live in a luxury beach city and though I am paid fairly on paper, my income hardly keeps up with the rapidly rising housing costs. My partner and I personally do okay (again on paper) and are able to rent a modest yet comfortable apartment with extremely limited amenities. Most years our rent increases by 5% while we only ever receive 2-3% annual raises. Barring winning the lottery, we will never be able to afford a home here. Coming in to this email this morning was just another reminder of how unattainable the middle class life is for my partner and I. What say you?

Yes, an overshare and bad judgment. I’m sure Sam is excited about his new house and perhaps simply wanted to share with people who for the last 10 years have been coworkers — but people don’t need that level of detail about their new boss’s home purchase, let alone his finances. I doubt anyone seriously wanted to check out photos of every room of the house or read about when the furnace was replaced.

For what it’s worth, if you live in an expensive area, he might not even have processed that price as wildly out of reach for others (for example, in Santa Cruz that’s the median home price). He should, of course — he presumably sees the company’s payroll and knows what people are making. And if it did go right over his head, that sort of proves your point — that it was an out of touch move.

That said, this didn’t really give you a ton of info you didn’t have before. You knew Sam inherited a business (one it sounds like you’re not impressed by his ability to run) and perhaps some other forms of capital, and you knew home prices in your area are out of your reach. This is understandably salt in the wound, but I’d focus more on whether you’re happy in the location you live in and happy with your job despite the changes in management. If this is part of a pattern of Sam being out of touch, pay attention to the pattern — but don’t get too thrown off by this one thing, thoughtless as it was.

2. Should I tell interviewers my weakness is my temper?

I know a pretty typical interview question is to describe your weaknesses. My weakness is my temper. Not in any kind of extreme, fly off the handle, throw things and shout at people kind of way. More like a visibly frustrated at the stupid and lazy, some sarcasm, and some increased gesticulating in conversation kind of way. I know this is a weakness of mine, and I know that puts people off of wanting to work with me sometimes. It is something I am working on and have gotten better at, according to my managers, but it still needs work.

How do I say this in an interview in a way that isn’t totally a turn-off? I want to be honest about my weaknesses, and this is my big one. The other weakness I get from my managers is losing the forest for the trees on projects sometimes. Should I leave out the frustration bit and just focus on my other weakness during those questions?

Ooooh. I’d be very careful with this. I’m a proponent of people having an honest discussion of their weaknesses to ensure they don’t end up in a job that’s a bad fit for them — but if a candidate told me they were working to control their temper, I’d consider that a big red flag. Interviewers are likely to consider it prohibitive. Even just the sarcasm alone would give me serious pause.

You could maybe say something like, “In the past I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve more than I’d like, and people could sometimes tell if I was frustrated. I know how important it is to control that, and I’ve actively worked to master it.” … But it sounds like you haven’t really mastered it yet, and so that would be misleading. And it’s not really an honest discussion of weaknesses if you claim something is fixed that isn’t fixed … and this is one that’s going to be really alarming if it’s in the “isn’t fixed” category.

So honestly, I’d avoid it. Talk about the other one — losing the forest for the trees — and what you’ve done to combat it (that part is crucial) or something else entirely. And get the temper under control! (This post from earlier this week has more about why it matters.) But talking about in an interview is too likely to torpedo your chances.

3. Our HR department wants to track everyone’s illness symptoms

Our office’s HR department is looking at our HR policies and ways to mitigate any pandemic issues, particular because of coronavirus concerns and our open office set-up. One policy they are thinking about implementing is a policy where employees must document illness symptoms and submit those symptoms to HR in order to track a virus through the office. My first instinct is that as a manager we should not be asking any health-related information unless there is a need related to FMLA or ADA. What are your thoughts?

Noooo. Legally they shouldn’t do it — under the Americans with Disabilities Act, any inquiry about an employee’s heath or medical condition must be “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” So if they have any employees with conditions covered under the ADA (and they almost certainly do) and their questions in any way touched on the symptoms of those conditions, they’d be violating the law.

Legal issues aside, your HR department isn’t a public health agency. They’re not epidemiologists trained to track a virus. This plan, well-intentioned or not, is ripe for mistakes, privacy violations, and abuse.

4. How can I ask an interviewer what maternity leave they offer?

I am currently in a second round of interviewing for a really interesting job. A lot of things sound good, and they asked my salary requirements before securing the first interview so I am assuming they are prepared to offer at least close to that. However, my husband and I are ready to start a family. My current position offers a short paid family leave and then I am eligible for FMLA/STD for the rest. This new employer is a smaller organization so I can’t assume they would be the same. Can I ask that in the final interview/offer stage so I can compare apples to apples? The hiring manager has mentioned a few times wanting to make sure the person they hire is a good fit and the job a good fit for them so that this can be a long-term employment. That makes me worry that this would turn them off from me, but at the same time, if that’s the case, I know this may not be the job for me.

Wait until they’ve made you an offer and ask then. If you ask before that, you run the risk of them factoring it into their decision, consciously or unconsciously. Legally they’re not allowed to do that, but in practice it happens. In fact, you’re actually doing them a favor by not raising it until the offer stage, so that they’re not at risk of illegally factoring it in (and so that if they did reject you, you wouldn’t be wondering if that was why).

Once you have an offer, you can ask about it as part of an overall question about benefits. For example: “I see the information about PTO and health insurance, but can you tell me if you offer a retirement plan and what your maternity leave policies are?” If they’ve covered absolutely everything else and so you can’t credibly bury it in a question about benefits in general, go ahead and ask straight out: “I’d like to stay here for a long time, so I’m hoping you can tell me about your parental leave policies.”

5. I’m in an interim role, waiting to hear on the permanent one, and have another possible offer in the mix

I stepped into an interim role at a great organization (A). While I applied for the permanent posting, they needed an interim person to tackle urgent projects and give them time to hire. While I hope I am a strong contender for the permanent job, my offer letter states that my employment would be “for the duration of one to two months, subject to the needs of [organization].” I’m sure that this was deliberately vague for a reason.

Now that I’m in my fourth week, should I approach HR about whether or not they still need me or should I work as normal until they initiate the conversation? And not to throw a curveball, but I just had a very positive second-round full-day interview with another organization (B) that I would much prefer over A. If B were to make me an offer, I would 90% take it. In that instance, how do I approach it with A? Would I still have to give the standard two weeks’ notice? How should I handle things if B doesn’t end up making me an offer?

Yep, it’s reasonable to check in! Say something like, “We’d initially talked about the interim role lasting one to two months. Now that I’m nearing the end of the first month, do you have any update on the likely timeline?”

If you get an offer from B and decide to take it, you should still offer A two weeks notice. They might not take you up on it, but it’s professional courtesy to at least offer it. (And B shouldn’t be put off by you needing to do that.) If B doesn’t make you an offer, then you’d just continue with your job search, since a permanent offer from A may or may not materialize (and even if it does, it might not end up being an offer you want to take).

{ 442 comments… read them below }

  1. Tiger Snake*

    #1; Have the entire office, en-mass, each individually respond to the email with “That reminds me, I need to talk to you about my expected bonus and pay rise” >:D

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “Dear Boss,

      Thank you so much for sharing pics of your lovely new home. It really helped me to think about what I want in life and how I will get there. This is to let you know, that I will be accepting a job offer than has fallen into my lap. I am very excited to be moving toward my goals in life and pursue my version of a lovely new home. My last day of work here will be [month/day].I have very much enjoyed my years working here.

      Sincerely,

      OP”

      Do not actually write this, but it sure is fun to think about.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Perfect. I was thinking this would be the perfect time to ask for a raise, but Tiger Snake’s idea is even better.

    3. Lauren*

      I would do this! lol – also if there is a pool, totally thank him for offering to host a company pool party.

    4. irene adler*

      “So, boss, are any similar homes up for sale in the area? I’m thinking that my pay raise and bonus will allow me to get something just like this-yes?”

  2. AnotherSarah*

    For OP 2: I work with a lot of people who get visibly frustrated and are very sarcastic–and we work great together! Sometimes issues arise, but nothing big. However–if someone told me in an interview that they had an issue with their temper, I’d worry about who I was getting involved with. I think it’s one of those things where saying it sounds really bad, even though the reality might not be, especially when interviewers will not really know what you’re like to work with on the whole. With limited info, Candidate A whose weakness is that they can get too wrapped up in details would win out, generally, over Candidate B who has an issue with their temper.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, I think it’s better to talk about something that you have successfully overcome and what steps you used to work it through. Everyone has their own hurdles. Employers are interested in seeing how you successfully respond to a hurdle on the job.

      1. Working Mom*

        I wonder if you could express that you have high expectations – and admit that sometimes you can get frustrated when others don’t perform at a high level. Of course this only works if you honestly would NOT want the job if you were going to be managing recent grads fresh out of college where a lot of coaching is expected. If you are interviewing for a job where you’ll be managing higher level employees that generally perform well and coaching is more about their development – then it would make sense to convey that. It would also make sure that this particular role is a good fit for you and them – if they hear that and know that high expectations will not fly in this role; it sounds like you would be really irritated (as would I) in a role where people are NOT held to high standards and dumb mistakes/poor judgement is allowed in the sense that it’s not addressed properly.

        Just an idea – you’d have to word it carefully and be able to present ways that you’ve managed this tendency of yours (perhaps when working with a direct report with much less experience, a focus on compassion and empathy in how you approach coaching this EE). But, if you really want to make sure this job is a right fit for you – it could be worth a shot trying to word it well.

    2. foxinabox*

      This is a really thoughtful response and I agree with it! Most people are difficult sometimes, but advertising this kind of difficulty from the get-go is going to stick with your interviewers more strongly than a lot of the good stuff. Better I think to know your weaknesses and make a plan for how you’ll combat them in newjob than give yourself the label of Scary Person before you event get a shot.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Agree that everyone’s mind will go to the worst-case scenario and they will go with other candidates just to be safe. While everyone gets frustrated every now and then, I’ve worked with some pretty scary people – the kind that make you and your coworkers be afraid to come into work, the kind that make people quit – both ended up finally losing their jobs, but not before they instilled terror in everyone working in the same building. Anyone who came in to interview after them, had they mentioned their temper as a weakness, would’ve been met with “oh, so he’s like Fergus? Nope, one Fergus was enough. Next.” They don’t know you and don’t want to take that kind of a risk. I’d leave it out of my answer if I were OP2.

      1. boo bot*

        Yeah, when I think of someone’s temper being a problem, I think of the screaming and throwing things variety. If the OP’s issue is limited to visible frustration and emphatic gestures, as they say, I would honestly stop using the word “temper” to describe that, because it conjures a very different picture to a lot of people. “I wear my heart on my sleeve” or “I don’t have a poker face,” is definitely better language.

        Also, I feel like some scary people use the “I have a temper” thing as kind of a warning/preemptive justification for their actions? Then later, when they do fly off the handle and do something totally inappropriate, they can say, “You shouldn’t have made me angry, I told you I had a temper.”

        So, in an interview, it wouldn’t just be, “this person might have anger problems,” it would be, “this person made a red-flag statement about having anger problems in the interview.” IDK if that makes sense, though (and I don’t interview people).

        1. teclatrans*

          Good point! I think OP should reframe it internally. It sounds like impatience and frustration that leaks through. I still wouldn’t share these in the interview, but if it ever does come up, OP is less likely to be lumped in with “abusive angry” people.

    4. Jennifer*

      Agreed. A lot of people get visually frustrated and are sarcastic. But if it was such a serious issue for someone that they felt the need to mention it in a job interview, I’d probably mentally cross them off the list if I were the hiring manager.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Yes, plus there’s the fact that it’s pretty common for people to think they are merely conveying frustration when what they are actually conveying is “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard,” or “Oh, my God – will you shut up already?” You may not even be thinking “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard,” but sometimes that’s what your face says.

        We all feel these things at times, particularly if something is truly stupid, but you just cannot say or signal those things at work, unless you want to be considered a very unpleasant person to work with, and people don’t want to hire someone who will be unpleasant to work with.

        1. Jennifer*

          There are some situations that are just so outrageous you would need the patience of a saint to not convey frustration in your body language. Everyone has a breaking point. In general, yes, I agree, it’s important to work on your work poker face because you want to be easier to work with.

        2. bluephone*

          I’ve worked with a few people like that and omg, NEVER AGAIN if I can help it. Yeah it may not be “as bad” as the people who like, yell and throw things, but it’s still soul-crushing to go into work every day with socially-stunted malcontents who roll their eyes at you, ignore you to your face, and just generally kvetch about everything and anything all the time.

      2. michael*

        Seriously. The question is basically, “I have the temperament and self-control of a small child, do I tell the interviewer?” No, you grow up.

    5. Sarah Simpson*

      As a hiring manager, I’d really appreciate it if you told me you had problems with your temper, and I would absolutely not hire you. Grown adults need to learn to control their tempers at work – you can choose when you decide to respond sarcastically or show your disapproval or get angry about work issues, but if you can’t control it, you shouldn’t be working with other people.

      1. PSB*

        I think this is going too far. Your last sentence sounds like you’re saying that people who display frustration or any “negative” reaction should be all but locked out of employment. How many jobs don’t require working with other people?

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        So teenagers and twenty-somethings should never get jobs? Many men don’t learn to control their temper until their 30s. But I bet they get hired and worked around all the time. I’ve worked with some.

        Most “grown adults” that I knew that were under 30 were sarcastic, showed frustration and irritation, and were otherwise immature. Some of the guys were total douchebags. Most of them outgrew it with coaching from older people.

        IMO, there’s nothing wrong with a little basic sarcasm (sysadmins are by nature pessimistic and sarcastic, it comes with hte job.)

        Not everyone is able to don a “sales face” and be a happy extrovert. Everyone, even back office introverts, needs to work with other people somewhat. Younger people have to have the opportunity to learn professional control, and schools, even universities, don’t teach it.

        I never had any course work that even tried to model it, even in college. I had to learn it on the job. I have RBF, even now – it’s congenital. My parents didn’t teach temper control – before they divorced they argued, yelled and threw things. When we acted out even a little, we got yelled at and hit! This is not uncommon, but even people with crappy upbringing need jobs, and mentorship. I was lucky I got some.

        It must be nice to have the luxury of rejecting anyone who is young and human. But even at my age, I wouldn’t want to work for you with that kind of unrealistic expectation of younger people. It would indicate that you might have other unrealistic expectations of people.

        1. Starbuck*

          “Many men don’t learn to control their temper until their 30s.”

          What? No. We have GOT to set the bar higher than that.

        2. matcha123*

          I very much disagree. I started working at a young age and I was able to keep my emotions in check. If I hadn’t been able to, I would have been fired!
          The people I’ve worked with who have had the luxury of expressing emotions have all been members of the majority. I don’t think this is an age issue, more of never being told by parents, teachers, or peers that they need to check themselves.

        3. Amykins*

          This does not seem like an unrealistic expectation to me. Try re-framing the concept from “temper control” to “the ability to control whether you’re behaving like an asshole to the people you work with”. It’s smart for hiring managers to take into account how miserable someone is going to make other people just by working with them, and a difficult upbringing isn’t an excuse for the impact one’s actions have on other people.

          As a sidenote, my ex-husband could have written #2’s post. He was emotionally abusive to me, and also had a very difficult time hiding when he was frustrated or irritated at work. It took me a really long time to come to a point where I could say “his upbringing and trauma is a reason for his behavior, but doesn’t exempt him from the consequences of it.”

  3. HereKittyKitty*

    lol my former boss took us on a tour of his multi-million dollar house. All his lowest paid salaried employees were there including me. Everyone in the group left the company within a few months. If he can afford Italian marble, he could have afforded to pay us well.

    1. Nobody Here by That Name*

      I worked at a company where the C-suite people loved bringing us all over to their mansions for parties, supposedly as rewards for our work. Strangely it did not help morale, especially when everybody found out they only did it to get tax breaks on their home renovations.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        that is just toe-curlingly awful. It smacks of letting the poor serfs have a little Christmas party on the grounds of the manor in return for 20 hour days and living in hovels.

        Awful.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          And then getting a pile of money for doing so.

          I bet they’re expecting gratitude for it too.

          1. Working Mom*

            Wow. What poor taste!! I have been really lucky – in my experience I have worked directly for 2 founders. In both cases they had piles of money – but where also incredibly generous. Both founders would have maybe 1 annual event at their home; which were always gorgeous and super impressive. But, the flip side is that both of these men managed their companies in a way that employees were fairly and well-compensated for the work we did. In neither scenario did I walk into the house and think “you bastard you can pay me fairly!” because I already was paid well, respected, and treated fairly. In addition to fair and appropriate compensation, both founders were really generous with additional things. One would frequently treat everyone to starbucks, lunches, pizza on Fridays, hand out (good) gift cards frequently, etc.

            I wanted to share this b/c it’s not just about seeing the CEO’s fancy house that is upsetting -it’s the poor management, too low compensation, and all the other crap that happens that colors the fancy house as tone deaf and out of touch. (Which OP’s boss clearly is.)

            1. bluexmas*

              Yes totally! My boss the CEO had a few of us over to his beautiful summer home on the beach for a meeting and get together during the workday once, and it felt like a treat.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Ugh, just the fact that home renovations get you tax breaks shows how regressive our tax system really is beneath the surface.

        1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

          Home renovations don’t get you tax breaks. You can deduct the cost of improvements made to office spaces, which is why they’re bending over backward to pretend that their homes serve work functions.

          But given the amount of homes on the market that haven’t been upgraded since 1972 while still asking for the full original buying price (adjusted for inflation), I wouldn’t be mad if people were incentivized for keeping their electricity, plumbing, and appliances up to date. It’s one of the many reasons why millennials can’t become homeowners.

          1. Elizabeth Proctor*

            “First time on the market since 1980!” = everything needs to be replaced.

            1. Goliath Corp.*

              Hmm maybe it’s just my city, but most people renovate before selling so they can jack up the price. Or they’re bought by developers who will flip them for double the value. So usually the outdated houses are the only ones that are remotely affordable*.

              *concept of affordable is completely skewed

                1. Gumby*

                  My reaction was “$900k? What’s wrong with it?” which is basically my reaction to anything I see under a million. But I live in the Bay Area and my idea of reasonable housing prices is so so screwed up.

            2. Liz*

              This was my cousin with her parent’s house. She’s the oldest of three siblings so she was the executor, although the house was left to all three of them. . And while it had “good bones”, was on a nice piece of property in a lovely development in a highly desirable area, NOTHING had been updated since they moved in around 1980, so it needed to be priced accordingly.

              but my cousin was blinded by the fact other homes in the area sold for much more, and didn’t “get” it was because those had been renovated. so she turned down an offer, and it then sat for 5+ years, before finally selling for the same amount of the original offer.

              1. Quill*

                At the ten year mark in a new house, suddenly things start needing to be fixed. (A sink! The carpet! Defective wired-in fire alarms!)

                Ask me how I know this…

              2. Cog in the Machine*

                I saw a house like that the other day. It had the original owners of 50+ years and was selling for the area median. The listing didn’t have any pictures, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t look like a 50+ year old house inside.

                1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

                  Yep… My grandparents are (probably) selling their house and the carpet is older than I am… and I’m in my mid-30’s.

                  Luckily because they have a large lot, the best offer will probably be for an investor to come in, tear the house down and put in townhomes. This has happened to a number of their neighbors homes (and is why they want to move, so that they won’t be surrounded by so much construction and the increased traffic on streets that were never meant to be for this volume of residents.)

          2. Nobody Here by That Name*

            That’s it exactly. One example was an executive who tore down and built a brand new garage for his antique car collection. The garage held about twenty of the antique cars, was also two floors high, had a bedroom, bathroom, wet bar, and kitchen area. But a group of us underlings were allowed to stand in the center of the first floor with his fleet of antique cars around us while he gave us a rah rah speech about how great we were doing, so ta da! Office space.

            I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear about how many of the speeches included mention of there being no money for raises.

            1. TardyTardis*

              My husband worked (as a teen) for a place where the boss said no money for raises, and then brought around his fancy new car for the peons to admire. Some of them were either stupid enough or brown-nosing enough to do so, but my husband noticed a couple of the higher-ups not being happy at all (and one of them left the place a few months later).

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Ayup. Once got invited to a the home of a VP (son of a VP at the same company).
        My apartment could’ve fit in his garage.
        In the words of Luke Skywalker, it did not turn out the way he thought it would.

        1. Nobody Here by That Name*

          Ha! See my comment above about the exec who built himself a new garage using underling parties to make it a write-off.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This stuff makes me chuckle. I’d want to know why aren’t they showing their houses to their PEER group? This is because they know their peer group would not “oooo and awwww” in all the right places. Worse yet, their peers might say, “Some day you won’t have to live in this shack anymore you will be able to afford a 4 bizillion dollar house like I have.”

      Satisfaction in life comes from inside us. When we have to look for outsiders to gain some sense of satisfaction we will only find a fleeting sense of satisfaction. This is because there is always someone who has bigger, better and more expensive. Always.

      If you are content with how your life is going, OP, you have something this dude will never, ever have.

      1. Candy*

        I think you’re reading too much into it. He’s probably just excited about his new house any wants to share the news and just didn’t realize that some people would be bothered by it. I don’t think it has anything to do with how satisfied he is with his life.a

    3. Bree*

      One of my bosses often works from home, and he’ll make a point of telling my team it’s because his architect is coming over to discuss renovations to one of his two houses. The rest of us only work from home when we’re sick, or caring for sick kids, etc. and we live in a very expensive area, where home ownership is completely out of reach for a lot of people (including me). I don’t know why he wouldn’t just leave out the reason! Tacky, for sure.

    4. Jengs*

      To be fair, someone being able to afford Italian marble doesn’t correlate with the value of your contribution to the company. Maybe your former boss’ contributions to the company were valued more highly than yours and they were compensated accordingly. I don’t think it’s right to make the argument that “if my boss can afford nice things, I should be paid more.” Either you should be paid more or you shouldn’t, based on the market value of your work – it has nothing to do with what your manager can or can’t afford.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Ah yes, the “labor has no value” capitalist argument. Where would the company be if all the workers quit and left the boss by himself? Ah, but he has the biggest salary therefore he must bring the most value.

        1. Jengs*

          I’m just saying that the “the person I report to who presumably has more responsibility and visibility than I do can afford more than me” is not a strong argument for higher pay.

              1. Blueberry*

                Economics is not a system of ethics. It’s operated like a science but many of its variables are arbitrarily set.

                Income inequality is a massive issue in the US these days, and arguments such as the one you put forward here explain why as a country we put up with this. An increasingly small number of people owning an increasingly large proportion of everything ownable is going to become untenable.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Yes. It used to be that we had low, middle and high class. Now we have a wage slave and a rentier class, with a vanishing middle class. I’m middle class (barely) and feeling the squeeze.

              2. AKchic*

                You can’t really “agree to disagree” when paramedics are being paid $15/hr (or less) to presumably save lives and keep people alive during a high-speed race to the hospital and the owners of the companies they work for are making millions simply because they coordinated the contracts.
                You are expecting food service workers to be knowledgeable enough to know how to prepare your food safely, but not make enough money to survive.
                You are expecting cleaning crews to be knowledgeable enough not to poison themselves with the cleaning chemicals they are using, but not make enough money to afford personal vehicles.

                That’s not “agree to disagree”. That is, frankly, a poor attempt to end an argument that you can’t back up, wrapped up in a trite little phrase as if you’re being polite. Class warfare isn’t polite.

                1. Jengs*

                  I absolutely agree that paramedics are not paid enough for what they do. I didn’t mean to make it sound as if no one deserves to make more money than they are currently making. I was just pointing out that people in managerial positions tend to have much more responsibility, visibility and accountability than those that report to them. This is (ideally) reflected in the way they are compensated. Do I think Jane Doe should make $1 billion/year while everyone under her is on food stamps? Absolutely not. I am all for fair wages. I just think that saying “I deserve to make X because my boss makes Y” is not a good argument to make. You should deserve to make X because: 1) the market calls for it; 2) you consistently make measurable contributions to the company; 3) you were successful with a major project; 4) you recently took on more responsibility, etc.. In my opinion, not only are those reasons valid, but they make a much stronger argument for a salary increase.

              3. skunklet*

                To be able to afford a $900K house, the rule of thumb is 3x that for income – $2.7M would be their gross pay. If the average worker is making under 6 figures, then YEAH, I’d be ticked too.

                1. Just Jess*

                  I thought the recommended max mortgage was 5x your household’s gross income. So covering a $900K mortgage might match a household income of $180K. That’s a healthy annual gross income for most households, but it’s not $2.7 million dollars.

                2. fhqwhgads*

                  You’ve got it backwards. The old rule of thumb was 3x your annual salary = cost of the house, but it’s very common for people to have a totally different ratio than that. I don’t know anyone who has purchased a house in the past 10 years who actually stuck to that though. Partially because I live in a HCOL so there are almost no houses that cost only 3x what an average person makes.

                3. It's a No From Me*

                  If that were true, someone earning $100,000 per year could only afford a $33,000 home.

            1. Carlie*

              And especially when it’s a company owned by said boss, who takes the profits and sets their own salary. Then it’s a situation similar to that letter where the owner was arguing that it was right to lowball employee salaries because the money was either going to her or to them, and she wanted it herself.
              Although given that the son in this case inherited a lot, the OP shouldn’t be mad at the son but at his father. It was years of the dad underpaying the staff that built up that money, not the fault of the son who just received it.

              1. Jengs*

                But there is no indication that OP is being low-balled. They even said that, on paper, they look to be fairly compensated.

                1. Kate 2*

                  On Paper. The OP can’t afford to own a house at ALL, even with a paper. The boss’s son can afford a million dollar house. You don’t get why that’s so wrong? It would be one thing if boss had just bought a house, and his employees could afford houses too, but for things to be so ridiculously extremely unbalanced is clearly unfair. Sort of like the boss getting plastic surgery when the employees can’t afford basic health care.

                2. pope suburban*

                  To expand on Kate2’s point, the boss’s son can afford a million dollar house- without actually having the skillset that one might try to justify that kind of salary. He was, per the OP, paid to be “the IT guy” for years, while his father had an actual, certified IT person on retainer to actually do the job. The he inherited a company and may or may not actually be running it (The founder’s wife may have a larger role than OP know, there may be other senior staff handling key parts of operations), while having the skillset of “guy who can Google IT fixes.” Like…OP did not mention previous professional experience or education credentials; taking OP at their word, this guy was given a cushy on-paper job by his family and rode that out until the company fell into his lap. The picture here is not of someone who put in the work and went the extra mile to become the kind of person who might command such a salary for running and improving a company. So there’s that on top of the rest of it.

                3. Cobol*

                  Jengs isn’t arguing that income inequality isn’t a thing though. The owner’s son is now the owner, and before that had a token job.

                  Their larger point is people with more responsibility make more, and it can be deservedly.

                  If you don’t think that’s the way it should be, that’s okay too. There’s room for different people to look at the same situation and come away with different opinions.

                4. Cobol*

                  Also, it sounds like a million dollar home is just a nice home where they live, not necessarily extravagant.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Also, plenty of people live above their means–and I think there is probably a great deal of overlap between the people that feel the need to show off what they have and the people who are in a lot of debt to be able to look like they can afford really nice things.

      3. Goliath Corp.*

        The business passed to the founder’s wife but is being run by the founder’s son, Sam, who for the last 10 year, has been the (un-credentialed and un-certified) “IT guy” for the office, while the owner kept a qualified IT specialist on retainer for all those years in case something serious came up.

        Sam was an incompetent IT guy who lucked into inheriting a business. Doesn’t sound like he makes very valuable contributions, tbh.

        1. Jengs*

          I took that as he is running the entire company and is also wearing the IT hat “on the side.” I agree a full-time IT person is necessary, but I don’t think the fact that IT isn’t Sam’s strong suit negates the fact that he is also responsible for running the entire company.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          But the thread above is about HereKittyKitty’s boss and their Italian Marble. We don’t know much about Sam’s house other than that it cost $900k in an area where it sounds like that’s not an unusual price for a house.

      4. Mr. Shark*

        I agree, Jengs.
        You could say it was a poor decision by the son, simply because he got lucky and didn’t “earn” his position, and shouldn’t be flashing his good fortune around. I can agree with that.
        But it is nonsense about the founder who obviously had spent his time and money to build the company, and then to say that he doesn’t deserve what he has earned.
        When I was struggling in my life, and I was invited to the boss’s house, I respected that he had worked hard to earn his position and the money he was making. So I worked to get where I am in my life.
        Life isn’t always fair. If an owner/CEO is abusing his workers, that’s one thing. But if they are getting offered the market for that position, and fair pay for the work they are doing, the problem isn’t the job, but the housing market. That’s a totally separate issue.

        1. Jennifer*

          The problem is the job. If the company isn’t giving raises that are even in line with the cost of living, that’s like getting a pay decrease every year.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          More like the job market pay isn’t fair, and with only 2 – 3 % raises in an area where the local housing inflation has been over 5%, and other costs with it, they are losing ground. Which, BTW, American workers across the board have been doing at least since the 90s.

      5. HereKittyKitty*

        He was the owner and founder, I was being paid at least 10k under market value with a masters degree, I left and got a 15K raise doing 1 job instead of doing the job of 6 people. Without me they panicked and raised the salary of the only employee left at the job by 20k because she was about to leave too. So they had the money, they just didn’t want to give it.

        And yes, if you’re building 13,000 square foot houses, buying a tesla, and redoing your office every few months- I’m gonna assume there’s money in the bank to get me up to market value, especially when my work is bringing in a 1-million a month.

    5. Jennifer*

      My former boss has been featured in two local home design magazines featuring his home in town AND his vacation home. Meanwhile there were employees that qualified for public assistance.

    6. Argye*

      Things like this and the OP always remind me of the line from Douglas Adams, “Bastards who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.”

  4. Avery*

    I know that I lived in Palo Alto (home of Stanford and Silicon Valley) for far too long when I looked at the home price and went “Good deal!” But jokes aside, OP#1, Sam’s email was out-of-touch and oversharing. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt this one time, but if it’s part of a larger pattern of inconsiderate behavior, I’d take note.

    1. many bells down*

      I used to work for a real estate agent in Montecito, and once we listed a cute little cottage for “only” $750K and I was like “wow that’s so reasonable!”.
      It was definitely not anything I could afford on my $30K a year admin job.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I was priced out of the Bay Area housing market, so $900K does sound like a steal, but I’m going to take LW#1 at their word that that’s a bit of salt in the wound. Of course owners of companies will make more than their employees, but if their employees’ cost-of-living increases aren’t even keeping up with the increases in rent every year, bragging about the new house to everyone is probably not in the best of taste.

      Digression rant: I bristled at has been the (un-credentialed and un-certified) “IT guy” for the office. Maybe it’s just my imposter syndrome getting defensive, but for a very long time, I was uncertified (only recently got any kind of certification), and I’m still uncredentialed. Certifications and credentials mean nothing about your ability as an IT person. I promise you after I got my cert I didn’t suddenly become an amazing IT person. If your “IT guy” is incompetent in the ways of IT, that isn’t because he’s uncredentials and uncertified.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          But COL increases are not meant to keep pace with every single cost increase in your life. It is meant to increase/keep pace with the average national inflation rate. The last time the inflation rate was 3% was in 2011. In 2019-2.3%, 2018-1.9, 2017-2.1, 2016-2.1. So getting a 2-3% col increase is keeping pace with inflation. OP did say that they were paid at market rate for their work. As Alison has said if you want to ask for a raise, it should be based on the value you bring to the company, the work that you have produced, and if applicable the market rate for your position in the area, not based on what your personal expenses are. If the company is paying the market rate to OP, it is not the companies fault that they can’t afford a place to live. Honestly if the company gave everyone a big raise (20/30%) OP probably would still not be able to afford to buy the 900k house because now with more people with more money that house would be worth 1.17 million.

          I get where OP is coming from, I live in a high cost of living area as well. You can find modest houses that go for 700/900k easily in certain areas, but there are other areas that are more affordable. I live in a neighborhood farther away from the CBD where I work, I have about a 50/60 minute public transit commute each way. I could afford to live closer, but I would have to spend more in rent and have less income for other things. It is a trade off I decided to make to live in an area that is more affordable and allows for a bigger footprint. I have friends that live a lot closer to work but they pay more and have less space.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            The other thing that occurs to me is New Owner’s father just died. So he may have not only inherited the business but cash – or received something from the life insurance – or inherited other property he’s just sold. I’m not saying sending the listing with the price was in good taste, but if they’re in a HCOL, if that’s just what houses go for…that’s the market. I’m just an office peon, but as soon as I got out of college I saved and saved and saved and during the last time the bottom fell out of the market, I bought a tiny house in an OK neighborhood. Six years later when I sold it went for 33% more than I paid. The house I bought to replace it was more than double what I’d paid for the first. I have no wealth to flaunt, but the math works out if you live somewhere where houses appreciate like mad. If the new owner had a modest house for several years, he might’ve just sold it for huge profit, plus some inheritence – voila he can afford the 900k house. And it has nothing to do with how well the company pays its employees in general.
            Was it a good idea to send to the employees? No. But is it an indication that this dude is overpaid or underpaying the rest of the staff? If we know they live somewhere with super high real estate prices, nope.

            1. Kat in VA*

              Sometimes family money will allow you to get into a house with a hefty down payment, which then brings the monthly mortgage payments more in line with what your salary can handle.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          If OP means “untrained and haphazard” though…

          But that was my problem. Uncertified and and uncredentialed doesn’t at all mean untrained and haphazard.

          1. EmKay*

            The fact that the father kept an actual IT specialist on call in addition to employing his son as IT guy should give you a hint.

            1. Ray Palmer*

              Not necessarily. The key word here is “specialist”. He could be a network specialist, he could be a security specialist… Our network guy at head office knows his stuff, and they outsourced the redesign of our network to a third party company, and he will still ask for assistance on issues.

              I have the equivalent of a community college certification that essentially taught me nothing. My brother has the same certification about 10 years older and he knows far more than I do. My brother-in-law has none (I think he has a couple of things like Cisco certifications recently) and he is far more experienced and does far more advanced things than I will ever do – he even got passed over for a local council job for a guy that had a degree who someone in the know admitted knew nothing and had to be trained on the job.

              One of my best friends has a degree in IT, and is awesome at programming and has a lot of knowledge about different aspects, but still defers to me on real world stuff I’ve dealt with like sysadmin, networks, hardware, etc.

              Certifications mean squat in IT. They help and look good on paper, but they don’t indicate an actual skill.

      1. MK*

        When the un-credentialed and un-certified is also the boss’ son, I can understand the OP’s scepticism about whether he was really the best person for the job. And I may be prejudiced, but when a young person from an apparently quite wealthy family hasn’t any formal education/credentials, it raises some questions.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Weren’t Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Harvard dropouts? They came from rich families. I think college drop-out Steve Jobs was middle class at first. In the tech world, it’s the skills that matter, not the piece of paper. IT is exactly a profession where I wouldn’t pay attention to the absence of credentials; that particular complaint just seems ignorant and petty of the OP in this context. And quite frankly, I’d expect an IT guy who grew up rich to have done built computers and networks and such as a childhood hobby. It was something I did in my spare time as a teen, and I grew up lower middle class. If Sam with his financial advantages wasn’t self-taught, *that* would make me side-eye him. Forget the paper.

          And it says nothing about Sam that someone more experienced was kept on retainer for more serious problems. I’m used to working in places where semi-retired people stick around for exactly that purpose. Perhaps OP never heard the joke about the Retired Handyman who charges $1000 for knowing where to bang the hammer. The idea is that he hit a wall or something for $2, and charged $998 for knowing *where* to strike.

          1. Drag0nfly*

            To “have built” computers, not “have done built.” Sheesh, it’s getting late.

          2. Antilles*

            Of course, the obvious difference between the Gates/Zuckerberg/Jobs/etc is that all of them built their own companies. They certainly did have plenty of advantages by being in families wealthy enough to be early adopters, being born at the exact right time to take advantage of technology shifts, etc, but unlike Sam, they weren’t just handed a successful company because of the last name on the door.
            Is it possible that Sam is fully competent despite his lack of education/formal training and he could be successfully holding an equivalent position as head of IT even at a company where his name meant nothing? Sure, it’s possible…but if Vegas is placing odds on it, that scenario would be a huge underdog to “nepotism”.

          3. Colette*

            Yeah, I agree that credentials are not always required in IT. Yes, Sam got the job because it was a family business, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it well – the OP says nothing about his ability, just his credentials.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              And frankly having someone of moderate skill for IT with a more skilled person available for more complex issues (what the OP described) is a reasonable approach to IT for a small company.

              The comments about that seems like a superfluous diss to me.

            2. Jennifer*

              I sensed a little bit of shade in the description. I think she was saying it without saying it. If not, why mention he’s uncredentialed?

              Also, IT guy to company president isn’t the usual career path for most people.

              1. Bee*

                On the other hand, why bother mentioning the lack of credentials if you *know* he’s incompetent? To me it sounds like the LW never had to use him for IT stuff and doesn’t know one way or the other.

            3. kittymommy*

              This. Having the child take over the family business isn’t unusual and it doesn’t mean that they are incompetent. I mean Sam sounds a little (maybe more than a little) tone deaf with the email, but that has nothing to do with his ability to run the company (and I have no clue as to why his credentialed/uncredentialed IT status has any bearing in this).

          4. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            believe Gates dropped out of MIT. Hi very wealthy family supported him. This is why he is not a rags to riches story. Nor ‘genuises can make anything happen!’ Luck, skill, family support, family wealth helped build Gates–and being a white, hetersexual man is also a huge factor.

            1. Drag0nfly*

              You’re missing the point: They’re not the exception to the rule that not having credentials is a red flag in tech. They’re just the most famous examples that this is a silly concern in tech.. They’re the most famous examples that OP is being petty about an IT guy not having a degree. That’s the point.

              It’s very much a profession where the people who work in that field may do that stuff on their own time, for fun, and you can build experience in it years before you’re old enough to even go to college.

              1. MK*

                I think you are the one missing the point. I get that credentials aren’t necessary in this field. But while dropping out of college to start a company with family support is understandable, dropping out or not going through any kind of formal education to go work at your father’s company as an IT person is much less so. That job is still going to be there in a couple of years.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I mean, my brother has spent 10 years of a career in IT at a now very large company and is only just now getting a degree in it, so I feel you, but “un-credentialed and uncertified” + “boss’s son” + “IT pro on retainer throughout Son’s tenure” = this guy is not great at his job.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Doesn’t follow. You ask what a techie does on at home on the weekend, and “I built a new home media server” is something they might say. You don’t need a degree for that, a 15-year-old could do the same thing in her spare time. Fifteen-year-old me would do that; 42-year-old me is doing that. If Sam grew up with money, I’d be surprised he didn’t do similar, and I did not grow up with money. It’s a hobby that a kid can fund with baby-sitting jobs.

          But, having legacy equipment and software around you never need to use except on rare occasions, is a good reason to keep the semi-retired guy around on retainer. Especially if he happened to write any the code concerning it. An actor, Masi Oka from “Heroes,” said he still had to help out his old 9-5 job from time to time for a similar reason. Sounds legit. Surely your own brother has encountered this very scenario? I’d be astonished if he hasn’t. There’s no rational reason to assume Sam is incompetent in this context.

          To me, the “uncredentialed” snark suggests the OP doesn’t have the knowledge to gauge whether or not Sam is competent. I still remember the time my mother called me from work, laughing hysterically because the new “computer expert” in her office was having a meltdown over not being able to locate the A:\drive on her computer.

          My mother is not a techie, but even she knew the A:\drive was the 3.5 inch floppy drive, and was sitting there in plain sight. The B:\drive was outdated by then; it was for the 5.25 inch floppy, if you’re too young to have seen those in person. If Sam does things like that, that would be grounds for questioning whether he has mad tech skillz. Paper, boss man’s son, expert on retainer, none of that matters. The skills are first, last, and everything.

      3. Risha*

        My mother used to harass me about going back to school and getting a Masters. I had to explain to her multiple times that I had ended up a developer, so only having a BS (in business) had basically no effect on my career opportunities or pay. I can check the box about having a 4 year degree when applying for new jobs, and IT is otherwise still the bastion of what you’ve proved you can do mattering more than any certification you’ve been taught it.

        1. AnonAnon*

          Agree!! I have a 4 year IT and Business degree. By the time I graduated, some of the programming languages were so outdated or rarely used. It is up to you, as an IT person, to keep up with what is out there for the direction you want to go.

      4. Pippa K*

        And to your digression I’ll add that whether an IT person has credentials etc. is also in part a function of their age. Plenty of people still in the workforce (esp. over, say, 45) joined the field when it was fairly new and specific degrees didn’t always exist yet. I know a couple of people in this category, who began in the days when lots of things were basically self-taught, and they’ve built great careers on their ability to learn new languages and run new systems.
        (The ‘boss’s son’ issue is separate, of course.)

        1. TardyTardis*

          People who are over 45 in the tech industry are considered to be not up to snuff any more in most areas, though, so if they can make a job dealing with legacy software, good for them!

      5. Chinookwind*

        “I bristled at has been the (un-credentialed and un-certified) “IT guy” for the office. Maybe it’s just my imposter syndrome getting defensive, but for a very long time, I was uncertified (only recently got any kind of certification), and I’m still uncredentialed.”

        You are not alone. If the guy started ten years ago, how easy would it have been to get credentialed and certified and would it have made any difference? He wasn’t looking for a job, so the training and experience would be more important than the paperwork. And most IT stuff for day to day work is low level troubleshooting (from what I can see) and upkeep. The fact that they outsourced the more complicated stuff meant he knew what he didn’t know.

        I may be biased, though, as my favourite CTO started out doing the IT support there when his wife’s organization started using computers and his role grew as the technology requirements grew. I remember him saying that he lucked out starting out when you could learn on the job and now knows enough to hire people to do what he can’t.

        Basically, just because he doesn’t have the papers doesn’t mean he doesn’t know his stuff.

      6. Curmudgeon in California*

        Me too. I am IT professional, have been for 20 years, and I only ever took one certification exam that I don’t even list on my resume (cSAGE). I don’t have a college degree, fancy certificates, or any of that crap. But I can build hardware, install multiple OSes, install software, troubleshoot both servers and desktop, and have done it for a long time.

        Competence in IT has nothing to do with certs and credentials. Those just mean you are good at taking tests. (The only certs I put any stock in are the Cisco certs, because their tests are literally hands on, and include a troubleshooting section. And that’s more network management than IT.)

    3. Jen S. 2.0*

      This. It’s tacky to me to announce what you paid for your house (or pretty much your anything), and frankly most people aren’t super invested in your new house. Like, congratulations and all, but we don’t need to spend more than a couple minutes on it. I would bet Boss forwarded the listing / link with the photos without overthinking the fact that the price was on there, too; the price wasn’t the main focus of the forward.

      Also, note that Boss’s father just died and so Boss likely inherited some cash along with the business. A lot of people would rather have the person than the money.

      That said … $900K, while certainly a HEAP of money, is what nicer houses cost these days in a lot of areas. I live in DC and wouldn’t really think much about it; ~$1m for a house is out of my budget, but it definitely happens around here and isn’t always the high end of extravagance. Clearly that doesn’t matter to LW1’s feelings and financial situation, and Boss was very thoughtless, but spending ~$1m on a house doesn’t automatically make him a crazy spendthrift.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        My modest condo in Toronto is worth $900k, a 50% jump over what I paid for it 5 years ago. It’s befuddling to me that this is my home.

        It sounds like there are a lot of resentments here, OP. Credentials and oblivion aside, do you actually like your job?

        1. AGD*

          I also live in Toronto, and had a similar reaction. I moved here a decade ago and paid $969 per month to rent a well-positioned but bare-bones studio apartment. I would now need $1410 per month to rent the very same apartment, which hasn’t been upgraded or altered.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Most ordinary people in those areas still won’t be able to afford those houses, of course. $900k is common in the Boston area, where I live, but I make $30-some k and will probably never be able to buy even a modest condo.

        1. Quill*

          Meanwhile in the midwest where you might be able to afford an older house on that, I can’t find a salaried job at all, so… *gestures at the market* something about this is not working.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I would bet donuts to dollars that it is because you lack gumption, a go get em attitude, want silly things like fair pay, benefits, and a work life balance……

            /S

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                But, but, but … BOOTSTRAPS!! PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!! /S

                Yes, I get sick of hearing that self reliant nonsense. You can’t climb a ladder that is 1000 feet off the ground, no matter how much of a “go getter” you are.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I did this (with family, not definitely not work) when we moved last – I am lazy and everyone had been asking about the house, so I sent to the link to the realtor’s listing with 30+ pictures rather than download/send or take my own. It never even occurred to me that this would be a problem, but my husband was irritated that I sent it because the price of the house was in the listing. I didn’t even think about that, to be honest.

        We didn’t so much get the that’s-a-fancy-house (because it’s not, nor did it cost $900K), we got more oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-you-paid-that-for-a-modest-house-built-in-the-early-70s along with a lot of comparisons of what that house would have cost in the rural, economically depressed area where they live v. the DC metro where we do. I think my in-laws now think we make poor financial decisions to spend so much on a house when my BIL has a much bigger, nicer house for less 1/3 of what we paid. (His home would go for $1.3M+ in this area, $5M+, if you include the acreage; it went for maybe $200K out there.) The concept of location, location, location has seemed to escape them, and our jobs are location-based to high COLA areas.

        But, regardless of the home or the cost, I still think that the boss here was a bit tacky in sending it to his employees. Regardless of price, sharing your big house that is out of everyone else’s price range isn’t in good taste.

        1. Bear Shark*

          I’ve had a very similar discussion with some in my family. They think we overpaid because our house would cost so much less in their area…except their rural lower cost of living area literally does not have my job or spouse’s job there without adding 45+ minutes each way to each of our commutes to get to a more urban area.

          Still tacky of the boss to send it out I agree.

        2. Willis*

          Yeah, I’ve had friends send me real estate listings of places theyve bought and my guess would be they did that for convenience without particularly thinking the price was on there. I don’t think that is odd, but it’s weird to send to people that work for you, who (a) probably don’t care at all about your house no matter the price and (b) whose salaries you control and may have big differences in economic resources (whether salary, inheritance, whatever) from.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            I agree, it is odd to send it, and likely he didn’t think about the attached price. But this is a small company per the LW, so maybe he knows these people really well, and shares personal information with them all the time.

        3. TardyTardis*

          I live in a rural area, and sometimes I send the real estate pages to my daughter in the San Diego era just to be sadistic.

    4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I felt the same way. I live in a hot part of NYC and I thought – wow, in some places people can buy whole houses for what we paid for our apartment.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      Yeah, it is apparent that the LW’s idea of an area with high real estate costs is pretty narrow.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Maybe, but I think we can trust her assessment of COL in her own area. And it was insensitive of the boss to send the email regardless. Not mustache-twirling levels of evil, but I can see why OP was annoyed by it.

        1. boo bot*

          It’s also not necessarily about what the real estate cost is there versus anywhere else – it’s the real estate cost vs. the salaries the OP and their coworkers make. People with full-time jobs at this company can’t expect to be able to own homes in the area they have to live in to work for the company. That’s a problem all over the country, so I don’t think it’s surprising that it’s happening in lower cost-of-living areas as well as higher cost-of-living areas.

    6. CoveredInBees*

      Yup. I was working in a non-profit when I bought my house. This was possible because my husband works in tech. It was a small org and people asked to see pictures when they heard my good news. When they asked, I made sure to send pictures separately from the full listing to avoid $ issues. It was less convenient in the short run, but the right thing to do.

  5. My Dear Wormwood*

    #3: if they want to contribute to pandemic control, they can set up special leave provisions so everyone can take time off when they have the sniffles and not be financially penalized for it. Bonus points if they think ahead and set up work from home capabilities for anyone whose job could conceivably be done from home.

    1. Allonge*

      Yep. You know what my company is doing? Encouraging us to take our work laptops home every evening, so if there were a need for a shut-down, we can WFH. Telling us to discuss with line managers what projects we could still work on if we are all remote. Making extra effort for the restrooms to never run out of soap for handwashing.

      NOT taking our temperature or whatever. What’s it going to achieve anyway, even if it were legal? How does it help to know that James got it from Parvati and she got it from Lily as opposed to the other way around?

      1. Antilles*

        The only thing it’s going to achieve is a blame game to try to figure out who caused me to get sick and get mad at Lily for ‘starting it’
        And given all the vagaries that make it difficult for even trained epidemiologists to track things on a super small office-scale (incubation periods, different immune system strengths, interactions with people outside the office, etc), that blame game will almost immediately tip into “witch hunt”.

      2. Róisín*

        “I got it from Agnes, she got it from Jim. We all agree it must’ve been Louise who gave it to him.”

        Seriously, as entertaining as the song is.. if your work policies resemble Tom Lehrer lyrics, you’re doing it wrong. Very very wrong.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      EXACTLY. Any company that doesn’t offer sick leave right now is just offering useless, hypocritical lip service.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        And I should add: it needs to be abundant sick leave and it needs to be offered to *everyone*, including temps, part-timers, and employees who often aren’t deemed valuable enough.

    3. Medic*

      My company is also tracking our sick leave symptoms. I thought it was icky but never though it could be considered illegal. We may be considered exempt since we are a healthcare providers though?

      1. OtterB*

        Somebody else will have to speak to the legality, but it makes far more sense to me for a healthcare provider to be vigilant than for the average office.

      2. JustaTech*

        Like, just general symptoms, or super detailed?
        I could see asking folk to categorize: Upper GI, lower GI, total GI, upper respiratory, lower respiratory, sinus, other (where other covers anything that’s not contagious from morning sickness to mental health to injury).

        In a health care setting I could see doing that to keep an eye on the people you interacted with (like if you work in a nursing home). But really, anything else is a major overstep.

    4. Amethystmoon*

      Exactly. I wonder how many other companies are potentially going to violate laws due to this pandemic? You’d think they wouldn’t want to open themselves up to a lawsuit in this day and age.

  6. Observer*

    #3 – As Alison says, HR are not epidemiologists. Which is obvious from this suggestion. How do they think they are going to “track the spread of a virus through the office”? Are they going to track every interaction everyone has with anyone? How are they even going to know which virus caused which set of symptoms, to be able to track “a” virus?

    Here are the kinds of things that epidemiologists are ACTUALLY recommending:
    * Skip the hand shakes. If you MUST do something, fist bumps are MUCH better

    * Make it easy for people to wash their hands – non-freezing water in bathroom sinks, and soap and paper towels kept well stocked are two thing that help.

    * Encourage people to use hand sanitizer as appropriate. Strategically placed bottle of the stuff may be a good idea.

    * Make sure that shared surfaces are well cleaned reasonably frequently.

    * Make it easy for people to clean their own equipment. For instance, keyboard swabs and general disinfectant wipes for desks, phones and similar equipment might be made generally and easily available in the office.

    * Make it easy for people who might be sick to stay away! Don’t penalize people who stay home. Set yourself up for as much work from home as possible.

    1. Lilyp*

      Yeah it’s such a weird idea. What would that information prompt them to do anyway, and why not just do it preemptively and save yourself the work?

      1. Stormfeather*

        Right? I mean, if they’re tracking the spread of a virus that means they have a virus spreading through their office and have pretty much failed at any reasonable prevention or anything.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      Also, I worry this has serious implications for ostracizing people for “causing” a virus outbreak, when in reality the many viruses that cause colds are notoriously difficult to pin down.

      Many cold viruses are infectious before people experience symptoms (so people will have no idea they’re ill) and just because Jenny experienced a runny nose before Cameron, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Jenny gave Cameron a cold (could have been the other way around and maybe Jenny’s immune system isn’t putting up as much as a fight).

      That’s why we should all be handwashing, etc., even if no one appears to be ill!

      Also if the office is concerned about the outbreak, they should make sure their health coverage will cover testing for COVID-19.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Also who’s to say Cameron didn’t get it from someone outside the office like a family member? Jenny could be blamed for nothing here

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Plus, in the warmer parts of the US, it’s allergy season. I spent the better part of last week with a sore throat, a dry cough, and some mild sinus congestion. If I caught coronavirus, I’d have to be pretty sick before it even registered that something was off.

        1. ThatGirl*

          One of the main symptoms with coronavirus that wouldn’t be common with allergies is a fever, so hopefully that would register, but yeah – a dry cough and mild congestion could easily be either. (My allergies are starting to kick in too, but mine mainly cause sneezing and itchy eyes)

          1. Candi*

            Heck, half the time I don’t even register I AM sick!

            I take loratadine (generic Zantec) every day for allergy control. A side effect is it also suppresses cold symptoms before they get out the gate most of the time.

            Combined with finally getting my immune system properly online and functioning after being diagnosed with hypothyroidism about seven years ago, and starting both levothyroxine and Zantec at the same time, and I just don’t know feel that sick most of the time .

            Sometimes I’ll realize in hindsight that, oh yeah, being so tired was probably symptoms of cold/low-level flu. Others, everyone but me will be showing symptoms and I can only conclude mine’re being suppressed.

            (Another weird part of my thyroid diagnosis was finding my “default” wasn’t actually tired and depressed, but wired and kind of hyper.)

            1. Anon Y. Mouse*

              On the other side of the spectrum, there may be someone in the office who is so hyperaware of everything because of this that they’re already imagining the slightest symptoms and wondering if this is the beginning of the end for them and are deeply in touch with every last hypochondriac tendency they have.

              Not speaking from experience or anything *cough* OHGOD

            2. Medic*

              Lortanidine is the generic Claritin.
              Ceterizine is the generic Zyrtec.
              Claritin is a weaker allergy med though so if you are still sniffling try switching.

              1. Candi*

                Sorry, thank you. I really shouldn’t try to discuss generic vs brand names when I haven’t caffeine.

            3. Quill*

              I only know I’m getting a cold instead of depressed / not getting enough sleep / something else because I can usually taste the “I woke up with nasty upper respiratory symptoms starting” before anything else.

              And from there it’s zinc tablets and drowning myself in lemon tea for me.

        2. Oxford Comma*

          I get allergies too.

          The symptoms are: Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath (source: CDC)

          I have never had a fever or shortness of breath with allergies. The latter might be common with you, but I’m guessing a fever is definitely not.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            And hit too soon AGAIN. Should read the symptoms of covid-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath.

            As far as I know you don’t get a fever with allergies.

        3. Librarian1*

          I pretty much have constant low-level allergy symptoms because I’m allergic to dust, I’ve definitely been thinking about how they could be misconstrued by others….

    3. EPLawyer*

      Not have open office plans.

      I know horse, barn, etc. But this is just another reason that open office plans are a bad idea. You are exposed to every cough, sneeze, etc of everyone. You are around more common surfaces.

      The only thing worse: hot desking. You don’t know who had the desk before you and whether it is disinfected properly. EVERYTHING is common surface.

      For the love of Glod, people, let’s stop with the herding so we can be healthy.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Yeah, I’m so glad I no longer work in the building that had hot desking. Technically, if you got there early enough, you could have the same desk. But it wasn’t always guaranteed.

      2. Lora*

        As the person who does technical advising of how MegaCorp should spend their CAPEX – totally agree! We have the technology to have distributed teams working remotely, for just about all the support functions for companies. Have a representative on site for support functions (IT, HR, Senior Management, Engineering/Maintenance, Finance, tech transfers – we’re talking 10 or less people who get offices), but you don’t need a big central HQ building where the head honchos in their corner offices oversee an ocean of desks. For R&D, you can do that out of an incubator-type arrangement that has only lab benches, equipment, restrooms and storage on site.

        There are SOOOOO many functions that can be done remotely, it’s not even funny, but managers have this…THING…about being able to look over people’s shoulders, yet they *completely, wholeheartedly trust* the functions they’ve outsourced to Costa Rica / India / China. I don’t get it. I feel like this can only be rationalized as, “my employees who know me personally know what a jerk I am, so I must keep them in line by means of fear and intimidation, while the random person half a world away doesn’t know me from Joe Schmo therefore is less likely to try to treat me with anything other than professional boredom.”

      3. JustaTech*

        Given that several of the MegaTech companies in my area that are super into open offices (not just open but also very crowded) have started telling everyone to WFH (and have even closed whole buildings), yeah, not looking so smart now, eh?

        At least two have already had employees come down with COVID19, so it’ll be interesting to see if this nips it in the bud or what.

    4. hbc*

      Yeah, the only good thing about this is that they’re unlikely to do anything at all with the information. I’m not sure it would be possible for experts to do anything useful with self-reported data in such a small environment with tons of outside factors, nevermind the local HR team that will be trying to figure out if Jane’s sniffles are tied to Fergus’s cough between processing vacation requests.

    5. Róisín*

      At my job we’re doing elbow bumps instead of fist bumps or high fives (coffee shop; we don’t really shake hands).

    6. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I’m pretty amazed that a company big enough to have an actual HR department has has a department with such flawed thinking. I’m not even in HR, but if there were say two of me in that role, and one in a brainstormy way floated such an idea, the other version of me would shut if down after three minutes of thought.

      It’s not that hard to see why this is a bad idea for multiple reasons.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      Why are people so crazy about coronavirus? The bog-standard flu kills more people and has a higher transmission rate. Any policy you would put in place for coronavirus, you should already be doing for the flu.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        The coronavirus has a mortality rate about ten times higher for the people who do get it, though.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          The mortality rate of the coronavirus is poorly understood currently, and will most likely go down as it spreads to wealthier countries and detection improves. Right now it is not clear what percentage of people are asymptomatic. Given the stigma and response, it is highly likely that mildly affected individuals are not calling attention to themselves.

          1. Ethyl*

            Yup – I just read an article that said that it’s likely the coronavirus has been spreading in the PNW for about six weeks, with only a handful of confirmed cases. So it seems pretty probable that lots of people got it and didn’t even register that it was anything other than a cold or the seasonal flu.

            1. Lauren*

              That is only because the CDC doesn’t confirm unless THEY test, and tests are limited. Until today, you had to have travelled to or lived with someone from an infected country.

        2. Arctic*

          That is super misleading. We don’t really have data. And a lot of it is based on the fact that at first the cases being confirmed where people already in the hospital. So, the most severe cases make up a disproportionate number of the known cases, currently. We have no idea how many people just think they have the flu or a nasty. persistent bug and got over it.

          I DO think we should be vigilant in the normal ways. But I also worry that panic isn’t helping.

        3. James*

          According to the WHO, as of this morning about 97,000 people were confirmed to have the virus. 3,300 people have died, with nearly 3,000 being in China. 53,500 people have recovered.

          Death rates are hard to calculate, but the death rates aren’t “ten times higher for people who do get it”.

          The real issue for the USA is elderly and immunocompromised people. The 9 people who died in Seattle were in a nursing home. The WHO site I am using doesn’t break down the demographics, so this information is coming from alternate (reputable) news outlets. Following this virus is something of a hobby at my office–we’re nerds and geeks–and my friends–which include a number of microbiologists and biochemists.

          The symptoms also are not fun. What I’ve read is that this isn’t a flu, it’s pneumonia, and it includes congestion to the point where it feels like you’re drowning. Obviously there will be variance in the symptoms, however.

      2. MsSolo*

        Ultimately, regardless of how it stacks up against flu, we already /have/ flu – we don’t need flu-2-electric-boogaloo going around on top, with easily confused symptoms. If we can stop it, we should try!

      3. Oxford Comma*

        The flu has a vaccine associated with it. Coronavirus does not. We don’t know a lot about the coronavirus yet.

        I have a lot of older people in my life who will not do well with the lung issues associated with this thing.

        1. JustaTech*

          Also, the flu has been around a lot longer, so generally people have some pre-existing immunity to it, either from a previous year’s vaccine or just having had it before.

    8. Miss May*

      Some people are greeting each other by tapping their feet! Its like a high five, but instead of hands, you tap the side of your foot with the side of the foot of the other person. Kinda goofy, but less chance of transmission.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I would 100% fall over if I tried that. Or drop something, or find some way to make a fool of myself!

        Not saying we shouldn’t do it – it’s kind of an interesting alternative – just laughing at the idea of how completely inelegant I would be in that situation.

        1. Quill*

          You don’t notice being able to stand on one foot until you can’t stand on one foot. :)

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            I can stand on one foot no problem, as long as it’s just standing! But standing on one foot, and moving the other, and trying to coordinate this movement with someone else’s – that’s not going to end well for either of us. :)

            1. Quill*

              It took me two years of yoga to be able to do tree and I still can’t get my foot above my ankle, you and I are just going to end up on the floor together. :)

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My office actually put in a request last week to building facilities (we rent a whole floor in the building) asking them to please turn up the sink water temp about five degrees. The other things we’ve done are:
        1) the cleaning crew is coming through an additional time every day to restock soap and towels
        2) hand washing directions up at all sinks
        3) water temp did go up just a little bit in the sinks
        4) fist bumps instead of hand shakes/high fives
        5) reminder of the sick time options (including advanced sick time if necessary)

        I have to say I have been impressed with how things have gone (but I also have to admit I work with reasonable adults).

    9. epi*

      Actual epidemiologist here. You’re completely correct.

      This idea is so bad. This HR department is not qualified to do this, on so many levels, they don’t need the information, and they wouldn’t really know what to do with it if they had it. The fact that this person’s HR department even thinks this is a possibility for them raises serious questions about their competence more generally. What other processes do they have so little understanding of, or even imagination about, that they just assume any nosy rando could and should do it? I don’t walk around offering people legal advice.

    10. Lauren*

      Also, HR can just be open and say – if there is a need to close the office – we will do it. It helps a ton knowing that is an option. And don’t delay it, company wide email don’t tell one person who will deciminate the info. SVPs are busy and get hundreds of emails. HR needs to just email everyone and stop waiting for the boss to confirm the message once they get the OK. Create the messages now for an instant email – once you get the ok. Don’t wait and just send a “wash your hands email” and think that is doing anything at all.

      And be very explicit emailing about the pandemic / staying home.
      – If you are sick, use your sick days. We mean it, stay home. If you feel pressured by your manager to come in, speak to HR. We are taking this seriously.
      – Prepare to work from home for 2+ weeks. Is your internet reliable? Are you taking your laptop/chargers home with you everyday? Can you VPN? Access files? Do you need to get a 2nd monitor? Any issues, please work on fixing them now.
      – If you can’t work from home (non-laptop workers), each person will be allotted x sick days, which may be revised depending on the ongoing info.
      – If you don’t have a work laptop, but do have a personal one and would like to use that to not give up any PTO / sick time – work with your manager to define tasks that allow you to WFH.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Heh, this too. I would have known the information, but how I got it would be less tacky than his announcing it throughout the office.

    2. Stormy Weather*

      I’m betting you aren’t the only one, but that’s choice vs the boss showing off. Or like some others have said, he just cluelessly sent the listing. He might not know how to simply paste a picture into an email.

      Neither is classy behavior.

    3. Valprehension*

      I mean sure, but honestly who fires off a mass work email to announce they bought a home in the first place? With or without the listing, it’s tacky as all heck.

    4. Quill*

      I mean, I guess that’s the difference between eavesdropping on someone’s personal annoyingly trivial problems and having them announce it to the whole office, though…

    5. Michelle*

      In my job, I spend a lot of time looking at assessor/deed records, and I look up like everyone I know’s houses (and I know a lot of other people who do too!). I would maybe roll my eyes at getting an email like this from someone I don’t like, but I don’t really think it’s a big deal?

      I’ve also been over to my CEO’s house a bunch of times. The first time, my boss (not the CEO) invited me but wouldn’t give me the address and said if I was any good at my job I could figure it out. Btw his home is worth ~$870k, and not in an expensive coastal community.

  7. Observer*

    #1 – I agree that the email was tactless. But it’s pretty clear that you do not like the guy and I’m not sure that it’s all on him.

    It’s not clear why you brought up the fact that the new owner used to be the IT guy, but your scare quotes and parenthetical “un-credentialed and un-certified” clearly show your disdain for him. I don’t think you would find anything he does both professional and appropriately collegial.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I cut the letter a little for space and I cut the line that followed that, which said: “while the owner kept a qualified IT specialist on retainer for all those years in case something serious came up.” I think removing that might have removed context for the first statement and made it sound different than the OP intended, so I’ve put it back in.

      1. Colette*

        I don’t know that that makes a big difference – fixing desktop computers and installing software is a different skillset than designing networks or writing software or figuring out network security or many of the other things that fall under IT. There’s no indication that Sam didn’t do what he did well (even if he got the job due to his parents).

        1. Piva*

          Many small companies operate like this. Good all around untrained guy for day to day, a consultant for anything major.

          Husbands major corporation (Fortune 50) relies on outside consultants for specialized or important projects. The internal men are to Keep the virtual private network and the database going. Anything important is farmed out,

          This is both a BEC issue and that neither LW nor AAM understand this is a normal setup and one that’s considered the smartest option.

          It’s the smartest option bc the needs of a company change. You hire out when you have a specific need from a consulting company that is keeping up w new tech.

          This is not only normal today, it’s preferable and also how a lot of big companies are eyeing their future.

          Husband was just at a big IT exec conference prior to Coronavirus. Out of house IT was assumed to be the future by all there. In house IT is dying and already post-Mortem in many industries.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Of course it can be a normal set-up. But the OP is the one who worked in this particular office and knows whether Sam wasn’t especially competent, and that seems to be what they’re trying to get at by including that info, whether or not they worded it with sufficient evidence for readers here. It’s fine to question whether they’re at BEC with Sam or whether they realize this set-up can be fine and normal, but not without giving them the benefit of the doubt that they know better than we do what’s going on in their office.

            1. Drag0nfly*

              I dispute that OP does know if Sam is competent, because the OP isn’t citing Sam’s lack of knowledge. Or lack of skill. They’re citing credentials, which are simply not relevant. That’s a red flag regarding whether or not OP has the knowledge-base to understand Sam’s job and whether or not he can do it.

              They’re applying a standard to Sam that doesn’t make any sense in this context. It’s like saying the accountant must be incompetent because she uses Excel and a calculator instead of doing all the math in her head. The OP thinks it’s relevant that someone else is on retainer, when no one who has ever heard the words “legacy systems,” or seen them come into play, would blink twice at this.

              To give an example, a web dev in 2020 still has to account for Internet Explorer, because enough companies integrated IE into their software setup, and still access websites with it. Even though Microsoft itself has moved away from that browser. If Sam’s company is one of those that still depend on IE, his parents would be foolish if they didn’t have someone to deal with IE-related problems for that office. It would have zero bearing on whether Sam himself was good at the core job.

              If OP had cited Sam not knowing to back up their hard drives, so the company had to spend thousands of dollars on data recovery when the drives failed or were corrupted, I’d take him at his word when he said Sam isn’t good at his job. The OP’s complaints on their face just don’t bolster his credibility in this instance, sorry.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                In theory, I’d agree. But from reading years of letters here, I’ve seen that people often pick the wrong detail to illustrate something. They’re so caught up in the situation that they figure X is shorthand for Y that everyone will understand and don’t realize that it’s the wrong detail to capture that.

                I have no idea if that’s what happened here or not, and I can understand why people are responding the way they are, but I find it unsurprising when a ton of the time a LW writes back in and gives more details and people go, “Oooh, that thing you said that didn’t sound like such a big deal actually is.” Which was there in the letter originally if we’d given them some benefit of the doubt.

                Which is fine, but I don’t like seeing people taken to task hard for it.

              2. Casper Lives*

                I understand what you’re saying about IT and agree with it. I think the bigger issue is that being the sole IT guy in the office indicates a lack of training and experience to run a company, manage people, understand small business expenditures, and all of the other things you should know to run the company. The only thing the big boss had his son doing is IT? Giant red flag.

                1. Chinookwind*

                  Are you assuming that the old boss wasn’t talking to his son, the new boss, about this as a form of informal management training? As the IT guy, new boss would have seen a lot of different aspects of the company that most people in other departments don’t. As well, families can and do talk openly about their businesses around the kitchen table. Heck, I would know how to run my mother’s store based on our discussions even though a) I have no business training and b) have no desire to inherit it.

                  As well, since the older owner died, someone had to take over the company or shut it down – those are really the only two options. If the choice is between suddenly having an inept boss vs. suddenly being unemployed due to the boss’ death, I think I know which one most people would choose. The fact that the son has been around day-to-day and seen the inner workings of how things are run is a much better alternative to an unknown executor coming in and running things in the interim.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Regardless of OP’s feelings about Sam, it was in poor taste. I had a manager once who did the same thing. She would often brag about her new house and how much it cost, how much money she was getting back as a tax refund, etc… It’s just in poor taste to talk about how much things cost with your staff when you know they’re making significantly less than you. You don’t have to hide stuff, but bragging about all you can afford is not the way to go.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I always found/find it be happy for my bosses when they were excited about buying a new house, or a new luxury car, or kick-ass home theatre system – as long as they brag about how much it cost them. I mean, I was visibly giddy at work when I bought my townhouse ALL BY MYSELF, and there is nothing extravagant about it.

        OP, I don’t blame you for being irritated. Buying a house is one thing, but your boss sharing the listing with the sale price is just…well, it’s more than bad manners and bad taste, it makes me wonder what he’s trying to make for in his life…

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        But it sounds like the boss was not explicitly talking about the cost of the house, he just sent a link that had all of the information which includes the cost.

        It’s possible it was meant as an underhanded brag but I think it’s more likely he was just excited and wanted to share his excitement and didn’t think about the fact that the listing included a lot of information that did not need to be shared with his subordinates.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          Yeah, I think the worst intention we should ascribe to the boss is “clueless.” Sounds like OP has other reasons to be annoyed about the job in general, but I don’t think the boss did anything actively wrong.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Being clueless doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t matter if it was intentional, it was inappropriate.

        3. Rachael*

          It’s possible that the boss thinks they are closer friends with the workers than they are. When my friends buy houses I am excited and look at the listing and tell them how awesome it is. A house my boss bought? Not really interested. Especially if they are being cheapskates about hiring qualified people.

        4. Kate*

          Whenever a relative or friend has bought a new house, they have given us a link to the original ad in internet – because that’s by far the easiest way to show your new and important purchase (as a new home tends to be to people), especially as usually at that point, they still need to wait for previous owners to move out so they can’t exactly go around and take photos themselves. And yes, those ads do come with price, usually, there’s nothing to do about that.
          I don’t see it any different from people linking kennel pages of the puppy they just booked but who is too young to bring home just yet.

          1. Sue*

            But the price could be lower than the ad, since most people do some negotiating when they buy a house.

            1. Kate*

              Up to 20% off, someone told me? So there is even less reason to throw a fit over the price listed.

    3. Mel_05*

      Yeah, I don’t know how much the OP knows about IT, but it isn’t a job you necessarily have to be certified/credentialed in.

      I’ve known a number of successful IT guys who didn’t get training in that. It was just their hobby, originally. Some of them got credentialed later. One of them eventually left the company and they had to pay an enormous amount to get someone with the amount of knowledge/skill he had, even though he was self-taught.

      Buuuuut, I totally get being pissed that he shared the house listing. I would have been to. Qualified or not.

      1. Piva*

        But it’s still important to realize she’s got BEC lenses on.

        He didn’t write in. She did.

        Several of us picked up on a potential BEC bias. If that’s the case, it Harms her not to see it.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I laughed because most small companies don’t even have any IT and it falls on whoever knows how to basic troubleshoot. Then you call the big dogs in on a case by case when something crashes or needs anything fancy.

    5. emmelemm*

      Oh, believe me, I work with a company (they’re a client) where it’s owned by Dad and his son is an “IT person” – and a blithering idiot who doesn’t know anything. This is a real thing that happens.

  8. matcha123*

    #2 should maybe try to get those behaviors in check before going into an interview.
    I love myself some sarcasm, but I am now working with someone who is always sarcastic, puts down everyone and thing, and is generally pretty negative and unpleasant. I have a very strong sense that those are some of the few reasons why other departments are reluctant to approach or even work with ours.
    I feel like people not wanting to work with you is a big deal, even if you were or are the best at that task.

    Losing the forest for the trees sounds to me like you are so tied up in details, that you get annoyed with other people’s work, which then presents itself in sarcasm.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      I think there’s also a big difference between being a generally jokey person who uses sarcasm as one of many forms of humor, versus being someone who’s proud of the fact that they are particularly sarcastic.

      Almost everyone I’ve met who would describe themselves that way is in reality not just sarcastic but mean and bullying in their dealings with other people, and use sarcasm to ward off sincere emotion. So while sarcasm in itself is a fine thing, people who self describe as sarcastic as one of their main character traits usually set off a loud alarm bells for me as “potential jerk”. Couple that with saying that your main weakness is your temper, and I would be extremely unlikely to hire someone like that.

      1. fposte*

        And this is specifically sarcasm when angry. I don’t know what the OP actually does, but as an interviewer I’d read it as possibly getting mean.

        1. MissMeghan*

          Yes, it sounds to me like the “oh don’t get up, I’ll do it, wouldn’t want you to strain yourself” kind of sarcasm that’s just really unpleasant to deal with. I’ve definitely closed my office door and screened calls from the people in the office who do this and absolutely haaate when I can’t avoid them. OP I agree it’s best to use your other examples, but really also think of the environment you’re creating for others with this behavior!

    2. blink14*

      I’m a very sarcastic person, but it’s really a form of humor for me and breaking tension. Someone that is sarcastic all the time and very negative can have the total opposite effect and make a situation go downhill quickly.

      Sarcastic people are often of high intelligence and creativity – I generally link heavy sarcasm at work to simply being bored and not mentally stimulated enough.

      1. Lurker*

        I’m very sarcastic too. I don’t see anything wrong with it; to me it’s a different sense of humor as well. (Like some people are pun makers, some people love a corny “dad joke.” I like dry wit and sarcasm.) I suppose if you don’t know me well it may come off as weird. I also like to think I know when to keep certain comments to myself. I’m surprised to see Alison say sarcasm would give her pause.

        1. fposte*

          Sarcasm is generally meant to cut; I think (especially post-Alanis) that people sometimes use “sarcastic” when they mean “ironic.”

          Speaking as a practitioner myself, though, I don’t see any reason to link it to high intelligence. It’s a common stage of rhetorical use popular in the teen years that some of us just never grow out of.

        2. Willis*

          Sarcastic sense of humor doesn’t seem like a red flag but if you combine it with a temper, getting frustrated with people, and being sarcastic AT them, it is definitely a red flag that someone would be hard to work with. Especially if the OP identifies it as a weakness. It doesn’t sound like something that happened once as big unusual outlier.

          1. Amykins*

            Yeah there’s “sarcastic in a jokey, witty way” and there’s “sarcastic in a mean, passive-aggressive way” and the former can be totally fine while the latter screams red flag to me.

    3. Quill*

      Target your sarcasm appropriately! Much like with all other humor, consistently using it against other people isn’t a good look, while sitting there in front of your work computer which has been updating for 2 hours and telling the tech people trying to get it unstuck in a deadpan voice “I’m such a tech genius that I manage to invent new problems for us to solve,” is much more likely to win friends. (It doesn’t have to be self deprecating but it does have to serve a function of defusing, rather than increasing, tension!)

  9. Kella*

    For OP#3, even if they tracked symptoms, that would tell them nothing about the *cause* of the symptoms. Runny nose– Do they have allergies? Certain chronic illnesses can cause random fevers. You could lose your voice after going to a super loud concert. Symptoms tell you nothing.

    1. Fikly*

      Bingo. I always flag on those screens you get at healthcare facilities when you walk in the door because of my allergies, not because I’m sick. Why yes, I have congestion, shortness of breath, and a rash! Welcome to every day of my life.

      1. SweetestCin*

        My kids always flag, too. And for the first couple of visits with a new doc (its happened three times in their existence thus far, the good ones tend to retire!), we get the side eye on us not them bringing them in for X, Y, or Z early. Well, if I brought them in for every sniffle or runny nose, you just need to keep a standing appointment at 7:30 a.m. for me on the daily, or understand that this is just existence in my house. Someone’s nose is running, someone has the sniffles, someone is sneezing, someone is coughing. 24-7-365.

      2. Ann Onny Muss*

        Yep, I have asthma and am allergic to damn near everything. A dry hacky cough is just part of my life. Doesn’t mean I’m a Typhoid Mary.

        1. Anon Y. Mouse*

          yeah, I’m 90% afraid of getting stoned because of my chronic cough during all this

          1. MayLou*

            Definitely misread this at first and thought “probably smoking weed when you have respiratory problems IS a bad idea, but why would coronavirus mean that weed smoking was compulsory?”…

      3. Pomona Sprout*

        Yep, I’ve been turned own as a blood donor on more than one occasion because I was sneezing or blowing my nose. This is…totally normal for me. Doesn’t matter how much medication I take, my nose and/or eyes are always running. Then we get phone calls trying to recruit blood donors. Sorry, I already TRIED to give you my damned blood and you didn’t want it, leave me alone. (Bitter? Who, me?)

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Yep. I have allergies and while I’m no longer sneezing constantly most days, I am often clearing my throat or coughing or sniffling. Also I have asthma, so some days the coughing is worse, especially if I’m around an allergy trigger or it’s spring or fall. Me sneezing would prove nothing to anyone.

    3. Amethystmoon*

      Exactly, and the weather is getting warmer now, which means that soon, pollen will be in the air.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I just saw a doc on Tuesday who mentioned that allergies were already starting here due to the extremely warm winter we’ve had (US South)

        1. Filosofickle*

          Here in CA, I had less than 1 week between my winter chest cold and spring pollen allergies. First week in February everything was already blooming. >.<

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Have heard the same where I am in Utah. First week of March, and all the flowers are starting to grow and bloom…I worry about my one co-worker with asthma because when the pollen hit last year they had a hacking cough for almost a month. I hope that they don’t get mistaken for coronavirus (or catch it for that matter).

      2. Fikly*

        Is it wrong that my favorite part of winter is that 75% of the things I’m allergic to die?

    4. Bunny Girl*

      I was actually just thinking about that the other day. I have really terrible allergies three quarters of the year. Yesterday I was coughing most of the morning. On one hand I know companies want to keep everyone safe and a lot of people are a little panicked, but I really hope I don’t get sent home for something that’s certainly not contagious. I don’t have a ton of sick leave anyway.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      And I’m usually 99.8º because of my autoimmune disorder. That’s legally a fever- doesn’t mean I’ve got coronavirus, it just means my body is a garbage fire.

  10. Autistic Farm Girl*

    Maybe it’s just me, but i would never class a $900,000 house as being “middle” class. It’s in bad taste of sam to do it but i’m not sure how this links to OP#1 “never being able to be middle class”. (Or maybe i misunderstood because i’m half asleep)

    1. Fikly*

      Totally depends on where you live. There are parts of the country where that’s a one bedroom one bath fixer upper.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It absolutely does. In my area, $900K will probably buy you a mansion on a million-acre lot with a separate house for the servants. But I’ve seen property listings for houses in that price range in hi-tech areas on the West Coast that were basically sheds with running water.

    2. Laure001*

      It’s middle class in this specific area, I guess! I live in a very expensive big European city where my apartment (in a blue collar neighbourhood) is worth 700 000… And that makes me, well, very lucky… But also middle class, even lower middle class compared to people around me.
      But with the same money, if I was to move on any medium town in the country, my “status” would be way higher… Which is absurd and underlines the limits of those classifications, I suppose.. :)

    3. Laure001*

      Or, to be clearer, the OP is worried she will never be able to afford a middle class “way of life” in this specific area.

      1. Overeducated*

        I think this is better phrasing. I live in a HCOL area and objectively my household income is middle class by any statistic (including the local median, but i suspect the distribution is not normal!), but $900k would buy you a nice townhome, not a single family. If you don’t already own property here, and consider home ownership part of a middle class life, then a middle class standard of living is not achievable on a middle class income.

    4. Drag0nfly*

      Where I’m from, a $900,000 dollar house would be a mansion that comes with its own name and estate. Throw in a coat-of-arms and a butler to boot. But if you ever watch Property Brothers or House Hunters, you see that $900,000 does *not* get you a mansion in places like New York or Toronto. You get a solidly middle class house, 1000 – 1800 sq.ft., that’s frequently run down enough to need fixing up. Those houses would go for $120,000, give or take, if they were in good condition where I’m from. It may be that Sam has bought the equivalent of J.R. Ewing’s digs. But chances are just as good that he’s just bought some average-Joe house.

      It’s likely the OP is just upset about not being able to afford the average-Joe house. I’d counsel forgetting about Sam, and focusing more on relocating someplace where money buys you more. There are some places I refuse to move to, because I just won’t pay Barbie Dream House money for Midge’s house.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, having done a quick conversion $900,000 would get you a very ordinary terraced 2/3 bedroom house in my part of London, if you were lucky. I rent a very small flat that’s worth about $450,000. But in the part of the country where my parents live, $900,000 would get you a large 5/6 bedroom house on its own plot with a large garden, maybe even a little bit of extra land, outbuildings, etc etc.

        1. Fieldpoppy*

          My 900sq ft, two bedroom one bath condo in Toronto is worth $900k. Not a mansion lol.

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, 900,000 to 1,000,000 (euros, not dollars, but I’m just going by numbers atm) is sadly the normal price for a completely regular, run-of-the-mill house in my hometown (although admittedly, a lot of that is the ground; we have at least moderately-sized gardens everywhere here). In my mum’s hometown in a completely different part of the country, you’d get a big, luxurious house for 200,000.

        3. Whoop*

          Yup. I’m very lucky in that my husband and I bought a house in the South East of England, but occasionally he looks up what we could have bought in Glasgow (where he’s from) for the same price. We could probably have bought three similar-sized houses up there, and had money left over.

        4. SarahKay*

          A couple of years ago my parents let out their 5-bed, 3-bath house, which is out in the countryside in a cheaper area of the UK – for exactly the same amount as I was paying to rent my 2-bed, 1-bath flat in a town that’s in commuting distance of London. And if I wanted/needed to live closer to, or in, London then I could expect to be doubling what I pay now.
          It really is all about location.

        5. Impy*

          Yes, London’s property prices are insane. However in 90% of Britain, a £1m house makes you upper class and probably part of the aristocracy. You could buy five 3 bedroom houses where I live for that money – houses with gardens and driveways.

      2. blackcat*

        Right. When I was on the academic job market, I checked what homes were worth the same as my existing home (~500k, lower cost inner suburb of a HCOL area, ~1500sqft). Something with a yard and around 2000 sqft runs right around 900k here.

        At one place, anything within a few miles of the institution, that 500k would be a studio condo.
        At another place, I couldn’t find any homes for the same price. By that I mean the market there tops out at like 450k for a 4000 sqft home on acreage.

        The amount that housing costs vary is huge.

      3. CupcakeCounter*

        Same – my husband can’t stand watching those shows because of that. We built a house in our area towards the end of the housing crisis (2011) when small houses were just starting to sell again. We picked up a piece of land for a song, building materials were pretty cheap, and we had lots of competitive bids for the jobs. We came in under budget and with a seriously low interest rate on our mortgage so the payment on our new house (about 3600sf) is only a hundred dollars more than the mortgage on our old 1000sf house. Since we built and the housing market changed, our home has nearly doubled in value. Not sure we could even afford to buy our house now.
        My BIL and his wife just bought a house in a suburb of a major mid-west US city that is less than half the size of our house and are paying more than 2X what we are.

    5. Amy*

      My in-laws, two retired public school teachers, own a $1.4M house that they bought for $80K in the 1970s. HCOL area

      But looking at the house, in a vacuum, no would work consider it a the home of a rich person. It’s pretty much the Brady Bunch house with its original 1970s kitchen and baths.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The sad part here is that probably with running some numbers they could show a loss on this purchase. Houses are such money pits. It’s one thing to buy and expensive property, the real trick is the upkeep and (in NY at least) the taxes.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Amen. Buying a house isn’t an investment. It’s just a way of losing less money than you would by renting.

        2. blackcat*

          If they are in CA, property taxes are mostly fixed at the time of purchase.

          This is how my parents pay far less in tax on their 2.5 million dollar home than I do on my 500k one in another state. They pay tax on it as though it is valued the same as in 1984, when they purchased it.

          1. blackcat*

            Also, said 2.5 million dollar home is nice, but not a mansion. It’s 3000 sqft, 3 bed, 3 bath, on an acre. A lot of that value is actually associated with the acre of land–it’s one of the largest lots in the neighborhood.

            A similar home (and amount of land) in my neighborhood would probably go for 1-1.5 million (also HCOL, but not the Bay Area). In contrast, my friend just bought a similar house in the midwest for 300k.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            [says to self… I will not be jealous, I will not be jealous….]

            Your folks have a nice, nice deal going on there. Very cool.

          3. Amy*

            It’s NY. Their property taxes are pretty high and even though the house was paid off at one time, they had to take out a new mortgage to help with the cash flow with the property taxes.

            They will eventually downsize but there aren’t many apartments in the area. But obviously, it’s a pretty great problem to have. We’re priced out of the area.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              NYC/LI the taxes are incredible. What people pay in taxes there is considered a decent income up by me. If my whole check went to property tax, I’d be done. Time to move far, far away.

          4. NotAnotherManager!*

            That’s unusual. I’m not aware of any other state that taxes on original purchase price – we live in Virginia, and our property taxes go up several hundred dollars a year, it seems.

            Also, where money is made in this set up around here is that you sell the land, and a builder clears the existing house, subdivides the lot, and builds three $1M+ homes on 1/3 or 1/4 acre lots of the subdivide.

          5. Red Tape Producer*

            Wow, I can’t believe this policy actually exists somewhere!

            I work in a government department dealing with property tax legislation and a tax payer wrote in a couple weeks ago asking why we don’t have a system that bases property tax off of sale price and not current value. My knee jerk reaction was “what municipality would be stupid enough to do that?? Can you imagine if you found out that you were paying 10 times more than your neighbours for municipal services just because they bought a couple decades earlier than you? People would riot! Never going to happen!”

            1. blackcat*

              Prop 13 causes a lot of problems. My parents have done MAJOR renovations. Costing more than the purchase price of the house! But because none of it qualified as an “addition,” it didn’t trigger re-assessment. So you get people like my parents who could afford to be taxed at a higher rate who aren’t.
              It contributes to school underfunding in CA. In the 70s, CA had some of the best schools in the nation. The quality of education plummeted along with the decrease in property tax revenue.

              Overall, it would be appropriate if there were some type of income exemption. I get that retirees need protection. But a lot of the people who benefit from Prop 13 taxes are in the position of my parents.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              So my friend went to the review board because he felt his assessment was too high. They said, “Look at what you paid for it.”
              He said, “Then I am going to sell it to my father for $1. He can rent it to me and he can pay the tax on $1.”

              1. emmelemm*

                Yeah, I doubt that’ll fly. They don’t tax you on what your house last sold for, they tax it on the current open-market appraised value (as determined by them, of course). Which is still gonna be $XXX.

    6. Impy*

      I’m sorry, what? Are you trying to say that being able to afford a house worth nearly $1million makes you working class? Because you are wrong.

      1. Anononon*

        I think they’re saying the opposite, that a $900k house = upper middle/upper class.

      2. Beehoppy*

        I think Farm Girl is going the other way-saying it would make you upper class, and therefore not something to factor into a middle-class lifestyle aspiration.

        1. Bumpjumper*

          Don’t get hung up on the number 900k. Some places cost more than others—NOT THE POINT. The point is that the boss sent out the listing to his staff who most likely could never afford a house at that price, while annual raises aren’t keeping up with annual raises in rent. It’s tone deaf.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes, this!! It’s not about the number, it’s about the fact that Bossman is rubbing his employees’ noses in the fact that he’s buying a house they’ll will never be able to afford while not even giving them COL increases.

    7. Amethystmoon*

      I’m technically smack-dab in the middle class and never could afford a house that expensive. But what is in the middle class varies per state.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s all about location. High cost areas are high cost because of the higher wages by a good portion of that area.

      All those tens of thousands booming tech folk with their Telas and Porches are still not close to the billionaires who built their empires.

      But I’m originally from nowhere when 100k buys a decent home and 200k is straight up luxurious.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people in booming areas who *aren’t* making big bucks – the baristas and janitors and office temps and and and.

  11. Mystery Bookworm*

    #2 – It seems a large part of the logic of raising weaknesses is looking for fit, particularly because it’s hard for job descriptions to cover all the nuances of role. So if you’re not good in front of groups, you won’t get slotted into a role where it turns out that training presentations are an important part (or whatever).

    But some weaknesses are a bit of a catch-22 (procrastination comes to mind, anger as well) because most people don’t want to select for places that will be comfortable with those weaknesses. A hiring manager who *isn’t* turned off by hearing that someone has a temper problem is sending a red flag up themselves.

    Rather than raising your temper as a weakness, it might be wise to think strategically about what makes you angry (not just like, lazy people, but what sort of work scenarios — waiting on a deliverable? negociating?) then ask relevant questions about the company culture….. like trying to get a sense of if hold low-performers accountable or reward difficult behaviour or if there’s one department that’s understood to be allowed to run roughshod over others.

    1. Smithy*

      I think this is really well put.

      I work in institutional fundraising, and there are a lot of job advertisements for roles that will include “strong writing” as a requirement. However, over the years it’s been clear that for the most part I am not actually writing reports or proposals but rather editing and bringing together different bits and pieces of previously written materials into one document. I’ve also learned that while I’m strong at the editing/complication work – I’m not all that strong at writing original institutional content. It either takes me a lot longer than good writers I’ve worked with, or it’s just not as compelling. In saying that my strength isn’t writing original content – it’s also partially cause that’s a job I don’t want! If a few months in, I’m being asked to lead on writing the organization’s annual report – then I’ve ended up in the wrong job.

      In terms of temper or anger – what are the interactions that increase that? A meeting heavy culture? Decisions made by committee? Lack of a strong strategic vision? Needing to heavily interface with XYZ team? Because it can always be an opportunity to perhaps talk about how you work really strongly with a small team and clear deliverable, but have found greater challenges with a large team that has a flat management structure and vague KPI’s.

      Certainly work your temper at work – but it may be that there are just situations you know are more likely to get under your skin and perhaps it’s best to self select out of those jobs.

    2. Echo*

      Yes! This is what I was going to say too. LW #2, do you tend to view people as “stupid and lazy” if they have different expertise/skillsets from you, and if so would you prefer a work environment where you mostly work on a team with similar skills and roles to your own? Is the thing that sets you off when a manager makes business decision without a full understanding of the technical implications? I think you need to think more about what people do that makes you feel they are “stupid and lazy” and figure out if there are specific conditions in which you don’t do your best work.

      For example if I were interviewing you for a job and you told me “my biggest weakness is I’m not great at translating my technical expertise into lay terms when I work with other teams. I am hoping to shift to a role where I don’t need to do as much of this work, though at the same time, I’d like to work with my manager on strategies to get better”, that’s something I can think about and work with and determine if the team is a good fit.

      (Though, as a side note, I’d also encourage you to examine whether you are categorizing people as “stupid or lazy” because of the way they look or the way they talk, too. I’m saying this not to be like “LW 4 you are a racist sexist who should feel bad” but because I, too, have this problem. I grew up with a ton of privilege and I grew up being told I was smart constantly. It is an ongoing, painful, necessary process to un-learn, on a deep-down, gut-reaction level, the idea that people who are different from me aren’t stupid or lazy.)

    1. Threeve*

      Don’t be honest, but work seriously on getting this trait in check.

      Because the fact that you really can’t reveal your temper in an interview does mean you won’t learn if it would be a serious issue for them or not, and it might be. If your boss is particularly sensitive to this kind of behavior, and lots of people are, then you’ve landed yourself in a job where they sincerely dislike you, and that’s a miserable situation to be in.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, try to keep in mind this is not the police investigating a crime or not a doc trying to help someone out of a difficult life situation. These are the types of people that absolutely need this level of honesty.
      It’s okay to choose something else to talk about and privately keep working on your current concern. That is what most people do.
      I never told my boss that I was less than excellent with computers. She did not ask me about it when she interviewed me. I made a private commitment to myself to beef up my skills and I did. Now my boss is very happy with how I handle our computer issues and says so.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      You can be honest and still not tell them things like that. Most of us have plenty of flaws to choose from when talking about weaknesses in an interview, and they are not asking or expecting that you sit there and list off every one of your worst qualities!

      I also have noticed I’ve had temper problems at work recently and I have just started seeing a therapist where I hope I can work on it. But sticking with things like time management or organization, or the example of missing the forest for the trees are better flaws to discuss in an interview–and then keep working on the bigger personality issues privately.

    4. I Love Llamas*

      LOL – I had a boss tell me I was “too honest”. I began using that as my weakness in the context of always making sure that the client knew what was happening. Not in the context of inundating with information, but more about telling the truth when things weren’t going as expected.

      #2, I agree that perhaps figuring out the underlying reasons of what causes your anger (people not completing their assignments on time thus causing you a delay, people not having your high standards) and perhaps putting it in the context of “frustration or impatience” rather than anger. Anger is a loaded word contextually. Good luck!

    5. Small Biz Escapee*

      I’d say “don’t make this into a confession.” I recently started a new role and was asked this “what’s your greatest personal weakness” question as well, and my answer was that I am working on not taking it to heart when a project of mine did not go as planned. I did NOT say, “I am crippled by Imposter Syndrome and assume any failure is a sign that I don’t deserve the job I have.” But it’s KIND of the same thing…?

    6. JustaTech*

      I had an applicant for a student lab worker position respond to this question with “I’m not motivated”. Too honest, my dude, too honest.

      (He took himself the rest of the way out of the running by declaring that he knew he wouldn’t get the job because “those jobs only go to Asian students anyway”. Half our lab was Chinese.)

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Am I having deja vu, or have you told us about this guy before? He’s still an idiot, either way.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s more of “be selective about the information you give.”

      Just like don’t go in there saying “I’m chronically late and refuse to ever set an alarm.” “I lose interest in jobs quickly, that’s why I have so many jobs in a short span of time.” “I got fired for being found sleeping under my desk one too many times.” etc.

  12. Helvetica*

    #2 – I am also someone whose frustration manifests in similar ways as yours. Over the years I have more or less mastered the art of being very calm, easy-going and friendly in an everyday context, and it really would take a lot to frustrate me to a visible level. It has taken me years of conscious effort and now it only happens if multiple very frustrating things happen in a row, which is fortunately not common. Perhaps try to divide and conquer and really push most frustrations into the mental category of “not worth my time or energy” and/or accept that someone being stupid or lazy is not something you have the power to change, mostly. For what it’s worth, I haven’t brought it up in interviews as I know I am constantly working on it, among other behaviours I modify in the workplace to be appropriate. I wouldn’t describe it as “the situation hasn’t been fixed”, rather “the situation is under control and I am making a conscious effort to not let my personality affect my work” because that is what it comes down to. Best of luck to you!

    1. What Ever Happened To? .. Liver Boss*

      I was trying to find an update to that story! Did we ever get one? We need a were are they now – Liver Boss Edition.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        LW got their liver stolen just in case, and we’ll never find the body.

        (too much?)

  13. Delta Delta*

    #3 – So, I discovered a weird thing about myself. In some circumstances, if I bend over too sharply, it causes blood to rush to my face, which then sends me into a fit of sneezes. The sneezing makes my nose run and eyes water. For about 10 minutes I’m a mess.

    This to say if I worked at OP3’s workplace, I’d probably get sent home for 2 weeks for bending over to pick up something because the in-house epidemiologist would likely believe I have the virus.

  14. Madeleine Matilda*

    #1 – You wrote “We live in a luxury beach city and though I am paid fairly on paper, my income hardly keeps up with the rapidly rising housing costs.” I thought this was an important statement you made. Are you sure you are paid fairly on paper? I couldn’t tell from your letter if you have researched a fair market rate for your work. Alison has posts on AAM on how to do that. Perhaps you are paid a fair market rate for the work and that rate isn’t going to be enough for you to afford a home in your community. But if you aren’t paid a fair market rate, perhaps you should think about asking for a raise or look for another job.

  15. hbc*

    OP1: Yeah, it was gross, but I doubt it was much of a brag. He probably just thinks he’s sharing with all the people he’s close to and doesn’t realize that no one should be sending a company-wide email about their new home.

    It’s not surprising that he thinks the world revolves around him, though, if what you’re implying about his merits in the workplace are true. His father didn’t do him any favors by setting such a low bar–entitled second-generation family business owners don’t get that way all by themselves.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Just because he may not understand the effects of the email doesn’t make it right. If he thinks there’s nothing wrong with what he did, he’s seriously out of touch.

      1. hbc*

        I totally agree that it was a bad thing to do. I just like to put people in the right boxes, and “boor” seems to apply better than “braggart.”

  16. Impy*

    I’ve had a few bosses like this; it’s so gross and unprofessional. I don’t want to know how much your handbag, house or car cost. I don’t want to hear how you can afford £50 paint when I can barely afford my groceries. I even had a boss ask if I’d gotten X new console yet. I felt like laughing in his face. He paid me so little I qualified for food pantries, and he thought I could drop hundreds on an entertainment system??

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      When I was still a broke college student, my then-boss insisted Mr. S and I should have four bank accounts – my checking, my savings, his checking, and his savings. Sure. They each would have contained $5.

      This was the same boss who humblebragged about how high her taxes were, and complained about how much it cost to include her inlaws on a vacation. She had no control over what I was paid, but still, if you need to complain about sending thousands of dollars to the IRS, or about wasting thousands on your ingrate inlaws, find a better audience than the person who works full-time but takes home less than that in a year.

  17. Former Usher*

    #1: At my old job, on the day one co-worker’s job was eliminated and my salary was cut 30%, our director kicked off our department meeting with a discussion of his recent vacation to his second home in Arizona.

    1. I Love Llamas*

      #1, many years ago I worked at a small company (less than 25 employees). The owner had all of us over to her newly renovated home (lovely, expensive, etc.) Whatever. However, several months later the owner’s exec admin (single mom) asked for a minor raise. The owner denied it. One hour later the owner asked her to order some personal items (think home decor, picture frames) that exceeded the amount of the raise the admin requested. That was not a smart move. After I left the company a couple of months later, I found out the admin went to the IRS as a whistleblower…. it did not end well for the owner…..

  18. Employment Lawyer*

    3. Our HR department wants to track everyone’s illness symptoms
    This might be OK, and may be better than the alternatives. I don’t think I agree with AAM on this one.

    Look: Everyone hates it when businesses make major blunt-force decisions. People complain here all the time; “no trips to Asia!” or “all employees with a cold must stay home for 2 weeks without pay!” etc. And I agree: Even when a business has the RIGHT to use blunt force or zero-tolerance rules, it isn’t always a good thing.

    But… if you don’t want blunt force, then you know what you need if you want surgical precision? INFORMATION. And that information has to be collected and analyzed. And HR is the only group who could reasonably collect it and anonymize it.

    This is also a good context to remind you that HR already has access to the files/medical info; that HR already has the ability to find out these things directly, by asking all the managers to report on their staff and illnesses, etc. But if HR did that it would probably be more intrusive, not less. (And, I cynically suspect, the AAM commenters would be lining up asking “why doesn’t HR just collect this directly?”)

    Of course, HR may be idiots or this may cause problems and so on. Even if something is generally OK, a company can still do it wrong. But in the context of a growing pandemic this does not seem as extreme as you are making it sound.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      But they are still not epidemiologists, or anything close! They have no idea what they’re doing. And it’s still ripe for ADA violations.

      1. Employment Lawyer*

        You’re going down the slippery slope here.

        Obviously, they don’t have to be epidemiologists to decide on a workplace policy. That argument has no legs. If they want, they can just fire anyone who sneezes: would folks like that better?

        Nor is it especially “ripe for” ADA violations, and that’s not super relevant anyway. Gathering information is not an adverse workplace action in and of itself. It’s what you DO with it that matters.

        Besides: any company who is going to violate the ADA has about a gazillion ways to do it. If this company isn’t an ADA violator now, on what basis do you think they’re going to break the ADA in the future?

        This may be ineffective or not, depending on company size and who works in HR. But whether or not it ends up being effective, it doesn’t seem especially problematic.

        1. Candy*

          I think the point is that these HR people don’t understand enough about epidemiology to be able to do anything useful with the information they want to collect.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            Exactly. How many sneezes mean that an employee must be sent home? If 2 employees have diarrhea, and one has a runny nose, do you shut down the department?
            And here’s the thing, employees will not honestly report their symptoms if it is a personal matter. No one is going to report their constipation or PMS symptoms.

          1. Employment Lawyer*

            Actually, I was a scientist before I was a lawyer. I’ve taken grad school courses, done years of lab research, and analyzed plenty of stats. I have no idea what they’ll do with it but the general concept that you’re better off NOT collecting the information is simply incorrect, in my view.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              1. HR wants to collect data. Information is what you get when you interpret data, and they are likely not qualified to interpret this data correctly. Plus the data they’re gathering are oddly chosen. They’re not asking people to report actual illness, but rather symptoms. But there’s so many reasons to cough or sneeze that are unrelated to illness, so who is supposed to judge relevance? HR or the employee with the symptom? Plus, given that most illnesses are contagious before the person shows symptoms, this is a poor approach to preventing spread of illness: but encouraging a really strong hand-washing culture would be an excellent approach to preventing spread of all kinds of illness.

              2. I was reading an AAM column yesterday (that may have been an older one) where someone thought they were doing a pee test and it turned out to be a more thorough physical, including the question of whether anyone in their family had been diagnosed with “insanity”. Everyone was making the point that HR should *not* have that health information, that it was too easy for it to lead to misuse, that HR records are generally not kept as securely as medical records. SO: this just looks so similar to me.

            2. Librarian1*

              @Employment Lawyer – But . . . you have the knowledge, experience, and qualifications to analyze this. There’s no reason to assume that some random person in HR has that background. Honestly, there’s no reason to assume that you have that background because most lawyers don’t and if a company was like “we’re going to have our legal department collect health data and analyze it,” everyone would be annoyed and rightly so.

    2. Mystery Bookworm*

      Surgical precision isn’t useful if you don’t know the difference between a liver and a lung….without training and knowledge, HR could very well make things worse.

      What I see from comments (today and in the past) is arguments for good hygiene and supportive policies around sick leave.

    3. Lurking Tom*

      Here’s where I see the problems with this. The HR person gets this report and sees that John was blowing his nose at his desk fairly regularly for awhile today. Does John have:

      a) a cold
      b) the flu
      c) allergies
      d) coronavirus
      e) excess buildup from crying over his dog being critically ill

      No HR person I have ever worked with in 30 years would know this.

      The other issue is their stated goal of “tracking” the virus. If Bill, Jane & Wanda all report that they’ve been blowing their nose all day, who is patient zero here? I’m sure I sneezed a few times yesterday, but I couldn’t tell you when. The best info they’re going to get is “3 people blew their noses”, all of which could be for any reason above & probably more. It’s just invasive and unnecessarily panic-inducing. The organization would better be served by HR putting out prevention information from recognized authorities on the matter and reiterating any sick leave and work from home policies the organization has in place or is implementing in response to the virus.

      1. Mockingjay*

        Exactly this. In the warm, swampy Southeast, we have allergies year-round. HR would be tracking every employee we have. There’s no way for an HR Generalist to know what is causing the symptoms – allergies, flu, cold, COVID-19, dust, mold in the ac ducts, industrial pollution from the paper mill a quarter mile away?

        Also, our HR does NOT have access to any of our medical information. I don’t even use the company’s insurance, I am covered under my spouse’s.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          “Also, our HR does NOT have access to any of our medical information. ”

          Exactly. I’m actually kind of surprised that an “employment lawyer” would not be aware of that. Just sayin’!

      2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Right? The other day when I was visiting a few different departments, I was coughing like crazy — because I accidentally swallowed mouthwash that morning and my throat was in a state of outrage. I kept assuring everyone I visited that no, I wasn’t sick, just an idiot. But I definitely got nervous side-eyes from people who are all keyed up about the virus.

      3. Librarian1*

        Right. They can’t even track the virus because they (presumably) aren’t a medical lab and aren’t qualified to get, use, or analyze test kits!

    4. Colette*

      I have a cough. That tells HR nothing. (I always have a cough, due to a combination of chronic conditions.)

      And the thing is, HR is not my doctor and does not need to know my medical history. They are not trained to assess symptoms, and giving them information could end in them discriminating against people with disabilities or chronic conditions, or with them deciding that Bob is the cause of the virus that spread through the office (leading to Bob being shunned or forced out).

    5. WellRed*

      My HR has no health info on me. I also don’t think HR is qualified to analyze health data and even if they were? What’s the point? What can they do with that info?

    6. Sylvan*

      I can understand the impulse, but I think it’s way better to follow the recommendations of people in public health. HR doesn’t necessarily have any knowledge about public health or medicine. But they do have some ability to implement things recommended by the CDC (in the US) or other organizations.

      For businesses, from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html

      For a wider variety of places like schools and religious centers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

    7. Marthooh*

      “…know what you need if you want surgical precision?”

      Why would we want surgical precision though? The best way to slow the spread of the virus is for everyone to take preventive measures like hand-washing, and for people with symptoms to isolate themselves. This doesn’t require HR to be a central clearing house for INFORMATION, it just requires clear guidelines and strong incentives for everyone to follow them. Leave the virus-tracking to the professionals at the CDC.

      1. Tommy Beresford*

        Bingo. HR is not and should not be in the information gathering/ analyzing (or “surgical precision”) game in regards to public health issues. Its role is indeed more “blunt force” in terms of setting policies (that are ideally guided by reasonableness), i.e. advising to wash hands frequently & stay home if sick, ensuring adequate and equitable access to sick leave, etc.

    8. Grapey*

      “And that information has to be collected and analyzed. And HR is the only group who could reasonably collect it and anonymize it.”

      LOL at the idea of HR being the data analysts in my organization

      1. Quill*

        Lol at the idea of HR reasonably collecting and anonymizing health data, HR not having it and the legal reasons why were the subject of one of yesterday’s discussions.

    9. Interviewer*

      We have an office in Asia where building management has set up temperature checks for all workers entering the building. It’s a 50+ story multi-tenant office building. They don’t have HIPAA but they have some laws providing privacy for medical records, and yet, this is going on every morning with a team hired by building management.

      Trying to picture how patient or compliant our US colleagues would be with this practice.

    10. Observer*

      A bunch of context-less data points do NOT mean information, though. Even if you do have the background and training to make use of the data and information. And when you don’t have the first clue about epidemiology and statistics, it’s even LESS likely to be useful.

      In fact, if they try to do this, they are likely to do active harm – and that doesn’t even get to the issue of possibly violating the law.

      For one thing, you are actually wrong about what HR does or does not know. HR is only entitled to medical information that is directly relevant to work, a person’s ability to do the job and the need for accommodations. If Joe Smith has a disease commonly associated with alcohol abuse, HR doesn’t need to know about it. Even if he needs to see leave work an hour early once a week to see the doctor, Joe generally doesn’t need to disclose details of the condition. If Jane Jones is taking an anti-depressant that causes her to sneeze, HR doesn’t need to know about it at all, as there is no work impact. (and yes, allergic rhinitis is a side effect of a number or drugs.) etc.

      Given that there is absolutely no way for HR to actually turn their tracking data into usable information, any action they take based on this stuff will be useless and possibly harmful. Here is an example of how this is likely to get messed up. Sue shows up to work with a sniffle. Then John and Chris, who passed near her desk get sick. Medical HR determines that Sue must be quarantined. So, Sue gets sent home. That’s bad for Sue. But what happens if Sue wasn’t the person from whom the others picked up their bug? You’ve sent someone home for no good reason. But it can get worse – Sue and Jan are the two people who do Function X. Now that Sue is being kept out of the office for 2 weeks, Jan is the one who needs to deal with ALL of it and every single person who would normally go to Sue is coming to Jan. Which is stressful enough as it is. But, what happens if *JAN* happens to be sick with something contagious, like the flue or coronavirus? It’s mild, Sue is out so SOMEONE has to do function X (and Jan may not realize that it’s Coronavirus) so Jan is now pressured to just pop some Tylenol and power through for the next two weeks. Essentially, by messing with stuff they don’t know about, HR has actually dramatically INCREASED the risk of the spread rather than the reverse.

    11. epi*

      I am an epidemiologist. The answer to all of this is no. They don’t need the information, and would absolutely not be qualified to collect or understand it at even the most basic level. They’d actually be risking the health and privacy of their employees to no particular benefit. The fact that they think they should do this, is strong evidence that they really have no idea what they are doing.

      Coronavirus is challenging for actual qualified professionals to track. Let alone for random office workers so ignorant, they apparently don’t realize that all of this is the responsibility of the public health and healthcare systems we already have. Or that epidemiology is, like, hard?

      This company’s responsibilities extend to offering meaningful sick leave and work from home opportunities to as many workers as possible, and making it easy for people to practice basic cold and flu prevention. They don’t need anyone’s medical information to do those things.

      1. Quill*

        Thanks, Epi, my response was going to be a lot less succinct. (It was going to be me barfing two semesters of my micro / cell and molec / immunology coursework and my scientific ethics course on our lawyer friend here.)

      2. Lora*

        +1000 to all of this.

        One of my colleagues, an electrical engineer (so, very good at math) was asking me about it and I was trying to remember my grad school virology courses and explaining it to him in terms of math: you have THIS differential equation for the minimal infectious dose and various transmission methods, you have THAT differential equation for how the hosts are interacting and population density, you have the OTHER differential equation for recombination events, the limit of available surge capacity for severe cases is based on population of…etc etc. and he was really, really surprised at how complex it was and how nonlinear stochastic processes work in real life. He promptly concluded that everyone should stay home, always, until the virus dies out, even if that means a bunch of infected people die of pneumonia. I explained that wasn’t super nice, and he shrugged and asked, are doctors obligated to kill themselves taking care of patients, like the whistleblower doctor in China?

        The only caveat I guess I would have is, we don’t have a very good public health system at all, and in some areas we don’t have any. There are a lot of parts of the world, not just the US, that effectively do not have any public health and people really do have to muddle through as best they can, and they’re often not places you’d think of as a developing country or very rural (Ohio department of public health, I’m looking at YOU, with your chronic vaccine shortages and laissez-faire attitude about hepatitis). I kinda feel like the UN should put together something for people who are in those under-resourced areas.

        1. Brett*

          And let’s not forget that the CDC’s surge capacity is just 400 specialists for the entire country.

    12. MoopySwarpet*

      I don’t think they should track symptoms, but if x people call out in a predetermined time period with the same excuse, maybe send out a memo or implement WFH, etc.

      I know schools in my area have to close if a certain percentage of kids are out with the same illness. (No school age kids, it has just come up in conversation from some school closings around the holidays.)

    13. Quill*

      It’s actually hugely counter to actual recommendations for countering epidemics. Panic and erosion of laws and human rights are major secondary fatality risks of global pandemics.

      It’s also functionally useless as a preventative, diagnostic, or after the fact data collecting measure: the reason upper respiratory infections like this are scary from a transmission standpoint is that the early symptoms could be caused by literally anything (allergies, other benign viruses, pre-existing non-communicable conditions such as asthma…) and enough coronavirus cases are suspected to be entirely asymptomatic that you’re not only swarmed with false positives, but false negatives as well.

      In short: no one is protected by this policy, because it’s not effective at 1) identifying what it seeks to combat or 2) actually preventing spread (infectious period starts before symptoms being tracked) and everyone is harmed by it due to the establishment of a precedent that people’s health information isn’t protected if people with no training in disease control are worried enough.

      More effective would be a policy on “these are the symptoms, if you have any of them we highly encourage you to stay home / work from home” but not trying to mandate reporting and tracking of every allergy sufferer, asthmatic, and stuffing a record of everyone’s health HR’s inbox.

    14. KoiFeeder*

      Under no circumstances am I telling HR that I run a minor fever, especially if they’re going to consider me “worth less” than Healthy™ Koi as per one of your previous posts.

  19. Lurking Tom*

    LW #5: If you were hired for the “duration of one to two months” and you’re now at one month, you definitely need to consider that you could be gone from there at a moment’s notice any day. A contract without an end date means any day could be the end date, and honestly would be a red flag for me about the organization.

    1. ProdMgr*

      Typically in this kind of interim role, if you don’t get the permanent role you go back to doing your previous job at the company, so it’s unlikely that you would be gone.

      1. Lurking Tom*

        Oh, it was unclear to me from the letter that he already worked there in another capacity. It sounded like this was a new job because he got and accepted an offer letter from the company, which I’ve never experienced when I was just stepping in to do work temporarily at the same company.

        1. OP #5*

          Yes, Lurking Tom is correct. This is a new job and I did not work at this organization in another role prior to accepting the interim position.

  20. Special Agent Michael Scarn*

    OP 1, I feel your pain. Once at a company-wide meeting, to give us an example of great customer service, our CFO talked about how amazing the car service is at his Infiniti dealership and how he’ll never buy another brand of car. The cheapest car Infiniti sells is more than my annual salary, so that was an upsetting “out of touch” moment for me.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Also the rich failing to remember Customer Service for Extraordinary Expensive Things is different than any other thing.

      Let’s all look at Pretty Woman for this reminder. You are treated differently when you’ve got 150k for a car verses the attention you get buying a Kia.

      I’m still annoyed by my last car experience. If I was buying a Bentley I would never have been disregarded as disposable though.

  21. Jedi Squirrel*

    #3 — Yeah, they’re not epidemiologists or data scientists, so they should not be doing this. Most people don’t even know how to interpret the weather report, so figuring this out is like that meme with a cat trying to do math and then falling off the dresser.

  22. Bluesboy*

    #OP4 While I completely get why you want to be careful about your timing in asking about parental leave, and unfortunately have to recognise that discrimination happens, there’s one point in your letter that I wanted to ask for clarification on.

    You said that the fact that they have said more than once that they want a long-term employee worries you, that you think asking about leave might make you not seem a good fit. I would have actually interpreted that in the opposite way – if an employer needs someone short term, I can see that they might logically prefer someone who won’t be missing for a period of time. But if they want someone for the long haul, wouldn’t that make them more understanding of the fact that you know, sometimes long term female employees are going to get pregnant?

    So I was wondering if there was something else that might have contributed to your feeling?

    Either way, Alison’s advice is spot on, and I hope they offer what they can to incentivise long term employees to stay!

    1. OP#4*

      #4 here! I had the same thoughts and went back and forth – if you want someone long term, then 12 weeks or so shouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s my first time having to really consider this so I couldn’t land on a way to think. I ultimately landed on it just being an overall part of the benefits discussion if it came to that. Unfortunately, that part is a little on hold. I was one of the candidates tied for #1, they almost hired us both, but for now went with the other due to having a little more experience in their industry. The way they handled the news and asking me about interest in the future if they decide that two people is the way to go tells me they would also be an employer supportive of needing the leave so I won’t hold my breath but I will keep my fingers crossed! This advice will be very useful either way since I am still looking around

      1. Bluesboy*

        Well, they do sound like a supportive employer based on your experience of them, so best of luck and hopefully they’ll decide to go with two.

        Either way, you obviously kicked arse through the process to get down to the last two, so remember to feel proud of yourself!

  23. Koala dreams*

    #1 Yes, posting the house listing was thoughtless. It’s common to share house hunting stories in expensive cities, but it’s weird to email the whole company, especially as the boss.

    I’m also surprised at your reaction. Buying a house in a luxury beach city is hardly typical of the middle class. It’s fine for you to strive for more, but it’s hardly a failure to never attain that kind of wealth. That email says a lot more about your boss than about you.

  24. Lily in NYC*

    OP1 – Your boss was crass and his bragging was in poor taste, but there’s nothing you can do except think “ugh” and move on with your day. Or start looking for a new job.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I take a bit of exception to the constant advice in this forum to start “looking for a new job” over relatively minor wrinkles and bumps in work life.

      Things happen in work places. People are sometimes gross. People are sometimes thoughtless or inconsiderate. Sometimes people just make honest mistakes. Not everything is worth quitting over.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Lily did say to just get over it though.

        The suggestion to move on is just an add on to “if you cannot get over your boss being who is is, think about leaving.” Because you shouldn’t be miserable and the boss (or anyone else) will rarely ever change!

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah, I think it’s actually not a bad thing for us all to keep it in mind that often (not always – but often) we do have options other than “get over it.”

          Looking at other jobs in response to something petty is a totally reasonable idea – either you’ll see that maybe you want a different job, or maybe you’ll get some perspective that makes you feel a lot better about your current job.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Obviously receiving one email from the boss about his new house is not a reason to quit. But the LW’s reaction to this one email makes it seem like they are pretty unhappy at their job, and they say that their annual raises are less than their cost of living increases. Those are two good reasons to consider looking for a new job.

      3. irene adler*

        Agreed. Sometimes ya just have to chalk such things up to poor parenting. Or complete lack of EQ.

        The way I look at it: at least I don’t have to clean the $900K home. Nor do I have to pay for it.

        1. Amy Sly*

          When I reviewed home appraisals, I was flabbergasted by the number of people who’d be doing refiances (presumably because they needed to either lower their payments or get cash back out) who’d have multiple rooms without a stick of furniture because they couldn’t afford to furnish all five bedrooms, plus living room, hearth room, game room, etc. Yes, they got their mansion. It was more impressive on the outside than the inside.

          1. Quill*

            Go to McMansion Hell’s tumblr for reasons why these houses rocket down in value… shoddy construction for size and mismatched architectural elements leads to structural problems, and cavernous two story spaces are expensive to heat…

  25. CupcakeCounter*

    #3 Oh dear…
    Not sure this is allowed either but can they request people with very specific symptoms report those and WFH/paid sick leave? As a temporary measure – not permanently.
    My son’s school has to report to the health department so they have a request on their attendance line that if kids are out due to illness to report general symptoms (specifically things such as fever, cough, vomit/diarrhea).
    Personally, I don’t have an issue letting my boss/coworkers know if I have the symptoms in line with the coronavirus or flu in a somewhat vague manner. “I feel like I’m coming down with something and am staying home as I’m concerned it could be the flu/contagious”. No necessarily specifics but general info along the lines of “yes could be the big bad get everyone sick” or “no symptoms that correlate to the flu/coronavirus”.

    1. londonedit*

      I think this is the sensible way to go – my employer has said that anyone returning from any foreign travel will need to self-isolate for 14 days and will be on full pay during that time as long as they’re working from home (which everyone can; we all have work laptops etc) and if anyone does happen to get coronavirus, they’ll be on full pay for the duration of their illness. We’ve also been told that if we have any symptoms that could be linked to coronavirus we should stay home immediately and follow the UK medical advice.

  26. AndersonDarling*

    #2 I’m not really seeing “temper” in the OP’s description. Temper indicates yelling uncontrollably and throwing tantrums. The way I am reading this is that the OP has honest reactions to workplace situations and conversations…and that can be turned into a positive. I’d say something like this, “I like to be honest with my colleges, but I am still navigating when it’s appropriate to voice my concerns. A lot of this is tied to the unique politics of the workplace. If someone voices an idea that I think would be detrimental, I want the opportunity to discuss it openly. If we discuss it and the group disagrees with me, then I can accept that and move forward with the decision. But in some environments, you’re supposed to not show your discomfort with an idea or speak about it, and that is where I have a difficult time.”
    It doesn’t exactly describe the OP, but it gets the point across, and the employer will understand exactly what training/guidance the OP would need.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Based on the OP’s description I feel like their issues are similar to mine and I don’t think “temper” is an inaccurate way to describe it–but I think that if you are talking to someone else and say you have temper issues there is a very good chance they will jump to imagining yelling and throwing things! Which is why I definitely think they should *not* bring it up in the interview. I think it will give a much worse impression of them than they are aiming for.

    2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Eh, I wouldn’t turn it into a positive. From the description the OP gave, I might use terms like “snarky” or “tactless” rather than “temper” to describe the issue, but those aren’t positives and trying to spin them as such would — in my opinion, at least — be almost as red-flaggy as a temper admission.

      But then, I’m highly skeptical of people who like to talk about their brutal honesty.

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, “manager/co-worker who will noticeably treat me like an idiot,” is an upgrade from “manager/co-worker who will yell at me” but not one I’m psyched to work with.

      2. Viette*

        I think snarky/tactless is more on the money than temper, and I agree with you: that’s not a positive. Especially because the OP identifies that they get… I would suggest the word “mean”, aka “sarcastic to convey their displeasure”, at people who are per them “stupid and lazy”.

        I don’t think saying you can’t tolerate stupid or lazy people and when you’re working with them you’re prone to be nasty is ever going to much of a positive. Nobody likes to work with objectively stupid or lazy people; that’s not a special complaint. That’s like saying you get road rage because you just hate traffic. Yes, everyone hates traffic. We all do our level best to avoid it. There is no contingent of people who love traffic. Most people don’t get road rage, though, and really good drivers certainly don’t!

        If I’m getting in a car I’m always going to pick to ride with a person who stays calm. If I’m hiring and OP tells me that they tend to get unusually unpleasant over what is unfortunately an intermittent reality of any workplace — people who don’t try very hard or are just bad at their jobs — I’m always going to prefer to hire someone who matches my requirements and *doesn’t* do that.

  27. Richard Hershberger*

    LW1: While the email blast was in poor taste, I think the real issue is the generational transfer of running the company. There is a typical pattern with family businesses. The founder scrimps and saves and through hard work and good business sense builds a successful business. The next generation is raised in the scrimping and saving era, and watches what Dad has to do to succeed. Things often go fine when this generation takes over. It tends to be the generation after that, that was raised in wealth and whose only interest in the company is as an ATM machine. These guys often either sell out for the quick cash, or run the company into the ground.

    Of course inheritance is not fate. How this plays depends on the character of the individuals. It may be that Sam is skipping ahead and acting like that third generation. But then again maybe not. $900K may be a perfectly reasonable price for someone in his financial condition. What strikes me is that he spent the last ten years as the IT guy. IT is an important role, but it isn’t the role you give the guy you are grooming to take over. It may be that Dad gave him that role to keep him out of trouble, with an outside contractor to make sure he didn’t do any serious damage. Or it may be that Sam has been up and ready to go for the past decade, and IT was him in a holding pattern, doing something useful while keeping his hand in the company but not jostling Dad’s elbow.

    The LW is in a position to have an opinion of Sam, and it seems not to be good. If this opinion is justified, the company may soon be spiraling downward. It would at the very least make sense to freshen up the resume, just in case, and perhaps start a low-key job search.

  28. Jocelyn*

    You should ask yourself is living in the expensive beach city really worth it if you are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to buy a modest home?

    1. Emmie*

      I imagine the writer has already made that assessment. There are lots of reasons why one may stay in a high COL area such as family ties, deep connections to the community, a favorable job market, etc…

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, this argument always frustrates me. I get it a lot – ‘Ugh, why don’t people in London stop complaining about the house prices and move somewhere else, there are other towns you know’. Yes, we know, and we don’t want to live in another town. I love where I live. I’ve spent two decades building up a career, a community, a group of friends, etc etc, and I’m meant to leave all of that behind because London is expensive and I can’t afford to buy a flat? No thanks.

          1. londonedit*

            Yes, there are basically no jobs in my chosen industry outside of a few (usually HCOL) cities in the UK. The vast majority of the industry is in London.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s literally why cities boom. Economy crashes and everyone chases for jobs wherever they are and they’re usually condensed within large areas… with those large busy populations where everyone seems to always be hiring. Creating higher wages and thus more appealing (even though costs are higher to live people feel better with a seemingly larger wage price tag)

            It’s a cycle. It’s been going on forever.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          No one is allowed to complain about living in London.

          – signed, jealous person who would love to live in London

        2. Joielle*

          Yup. I had to basically stop talking to my mom when I was buying a house in the city, because she always wanted to know how it was going, and the truth was that the houses I wanted in the location I wanted were more expensive than I could afford. It wasn’t a complaint, just an unfortunate fact! (I ended up buying a small house that needed cosmetic work, which was just fine, and the location is perfect.) But she would not stop trying to convince me to move an hour outside the city and buy a beige mansion from the early 80s. I KNOW it would be cheaper! I still do not want it! I like taking the train to work, and walking on sidewalks, and going to parks, and biking to restaurants. There are reasons to live somewhere besides dollars per square foot.

        3. Willis*

          Not to mention that most HCOL areas have plenty of restaurants, retail, services, office support workers, etc. whose pay rarely enables them to afford housing there or long commutes to more affordable areas. And ya know…it’s hard to WFH when you wait tables or ring up groceries.

        4. earg b*

          If someone is constantly bitching and moaning about how expensive things are, how their rent increases or property tax increases are always outpacing their raises, how they can’t afford to do X, Y or Z since they can barely pay for housing (rent or mortgage), yadda yadda yadda they are going to have to accept people telling them it’s cheaper elsewhere. If they love living in this area so much, why are you complaining so much? If they don’t want to hear they should stop talking about and instead talk about the good stuff, and people will stop making that suggestion.

        5. emmelemm*

          Same. I was born here, and back when I was growing up this was a f*cking backwater (aka no one cared). Then all these people moved here from everywhere else, drove the housing costs sky high and drove everything else into the ground, and I’M THE ONE who’s supposed to leave?

          My family is here, my friends are here, this is the climate I like and am used to, this is where I know my way around.

      2. The Original K.*

        Right – not everyone who lives in high COL areas just got there. One side of my family has lived in NYC for literally over 100 years – generations of my family grew up there.

        1. Emmie*

          It’s also the same for rural Americans too. “Why don’t you leave rural Eastern Kentucky?” I imagine it’s for the same reasons people stay in high COL areas too. It takes a lot to leave your home and family ties behind even when there are very persuasive economic reasons to do so.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They’re possibly “from” there and recall when it was affordable. Ask long term Portlanders and Seattleites about those good ol days. They built a life here, they’re not going to leave unless they absolutely have to. Most don’t just up and move to let the people who now decided to roll into town take over completely.

    3. irene adler*

      Sometimes, the HCOL areas have the better school districts. So it’s a sacrifice for the kids education.

    4. Small City Living*

      We did this 2 years ago when we both went to work from home jobs. Our family thought we were crazy for leaving the big city with all our friends and support systems. The first 6 months were torture, but now we have a home where the kids have their own rooms with a yard, 2 newer nice vehicles and we have saved enough for an Disney trip this summer. In the large city we were in we were close to paycheck to paycheck in a 2 bedroom apartment, no vehicles and bringing in a little over $230K a year. Our quality of life has improved greatly we have things we could not have had living in the city and we have friends moving in to our city after coming for a visit and knowing we make less money than they do. We still miss the ease of big city living, and the amenities of there always being something to do close by but its give and take.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I have lived in big cities, small cities, and country villages. They all have their upsides and downsides. The trick is to strike a balance that combines, if not fully, the best aspects. A small college town, for example, may offer many of the cultural benefits of a large city, if only in miniature. Pro tip: avoid the second tier state schools with a party culture. Top tier state schools, or good liberal arts colleges, will give better results. Or find a place you like that is an hour or so from a big, or at least biggish, city. Face it: many of us think nothing of an hour commute. We can drive an hour to go to a concert or to take the kids to a museum. Of course the seriously big cities have sprawl reaching over an hour out from downtown, but somewhat less big cities often do not. When I lived in that tiny village I would drive into Pittsburgh for my culture fix.

  29. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Yeah it’s tacky to talk about your me home purchases on that level. I cringed since you cannot even buy a condo for less than twice that around here but back home 900k is a literal mansion.

    I worked for someone once who built a mansion and contracted out employees who did construction to actually work on projects there. Part if it was great because it gave his staff first dibs on extra cash but some weren’t that touched by seeing his extravagance up close.

    I much prefer my quiet unassuming 1÷ that’s for sure. Makes it much easier not to see wealth in your face day to day.

  30. velocipedestrienne*

    Re:#1 – Alison, I gotta disagree. I am (and my friends as well) verrrry interested in checking out real estate listings and seeing other people’s houses, especially if they’re newly purchased. Give my wide angle shots of every room so I can critique it, McMansion Hell style, please.

    1. Joielle*

      Yeah, I think it was tacky for the boss to email everyone the link, but I definitely would have searched out the Zillow listing immediately either way. I want to see every weird room in that house, the beige-er the better.

    2. Quill*

      Honestly if LW just needs to blow off this steam, they should just go through McMansion Hell for some laughs.

      I need to know if LW’s boss has a lawyer foyer and how many NUB!s are on the roof.

    3. Enginear*

      Same! I saw a picture of a school mate standing in front of their new home purchase and I google’d the real estate agent that was displayed on the for sale sign and found the house listing. Now I know how the inside looks like and how much they paid for it lol

  31. LJay*

    OP #2, I would really recommend using any other weakness.

    I do hiring and I absolutely would not hire someone who said that their weakness was their temper. To me that immediately brings up the idea of someone ready to snap into a fit of violence and screaming at any moment. And I’m not going to subject people to that at my workplace if I can help it. Even though your situation sounds much less extreme than that, the original gut-punch of hearing that in the interview would be hard to overcome. And honestly people with a low frustration threshold frustrate me anyway lol.

    Depending on your industry you might be able to get away with talking about something peripherally similar.

    My weakness I use is that I’m not great at navigating office politics. I can be very to-the-point at times and don’t always think to soften requests with small-talk. And I don’t necessarily always stop to consider who I’m speaking to before I open my mouth (not that I would reveal information to someone who shouldn’t have it or anything like that. But don’t necessarily think of showing extra deference to people above me, or considering who in management group are close friends or whatever). I’m never rude, just not polished. My boss is working some negotiations on salary increases and adding positions and I wouldn’t be able to navigate them with nearly as much savy as he is. (I tend to the overwhelm with data supporting my position and see how it works out strategy.) But I’m in sort of a blue collar environment so that isn’t as bad in my industry as it was when, say, I worked in a medical office and was dealing with providers and patients and their families on a regular basis.

    I, for example, wouldn’t flinch at hiring someone who said that they use a lot of sarcasm. Or that they can be louder than is desirable for an office environment (but I’m not really in an office environment. If I were that would be a consideration).

    But as soon as you mention temper it’s a red flag that’s hard to erase with clarification and mitigating.

    And also frustration and sarcasm directed at someone is a lot worse than sarcasm and frustration expressed in general or at a situation. The former I’m going to be a lot more concerned with than the latter.

    1. ynotlot*

      The flaws a candidate will be screened out over vary by workplace, and that is why interviews ask this question – a true and detailed answer helps them ACCURATELY screen you out or in. If someone said their flaw was that they are loud, I would be super grateful that they let me know so I don’t hire them and then have 15 complaints every day about how loud they are. Temper is probably not the best word to use, but a detailed and self aware description of what is essentially a temper might not throw me depending on the details. Sarcasm wouldn’t bother me. Sensitivity would concern me as a flaw (even though it’s my flaw, lol) because our owner can be blunt and I need employees who won’t crumble under her questioning. The flaw that would concern me most (although it’s very rare for someone to bring this up / even be aware they have this flaw) is curiosity/interest in coworkers’ non-work qualities – aka someone who needs to comment on everyone’s outfit, meal, car, arrival time, haircut, appearance, health, etc… even if it’s compliments. We currently have a workplace where people hardly ever make personal comments and I’m determined to keep it that way.

  32. anon4this*

    #3, I would feel the need to get very specific about the state of my reproductive tract, just to make things as thorough as possible for the symptom tracking, lol.
    “It feels like my left ovary has exploded!”

    1. Quill*

      “good news all, my appendix has been cleared of all charges, but my right ovary has been arrested for arson, skipped out on bail, and is now the subject of a bodywide manhunt.”

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I love your sense of humor so much. Please continue to grace us with things like this.

  33. Salty Caramel*

    And the reward for out of touch goes to…

    This boss reminds me of a woman I worked in a travel agency with many years ago. She complained of the high taxes on her vacation home. I pushed back on her because home ownership was completely out of reach for me and most of the staff.

    Still is for me, actually, but that’s now my choice because I live and work in a large, expensive city.

  34. Brett*

    #2
    Even if you do learn to control your temper and keep it in check, it is not a good weakness to discuss in an interview. Having been on the interview end of someone discussion overcoming their anger problems, it is topic that is difficult to discuss without sounding like you are a self-centered jerk who learned to just be self-centered and less jerky. (Lateness is another difficult one to discuss without seeming very self-centered.)
    Stick to behavioral weaknesses that impact how you do your work rather than ones that impact the people you work with. Or better yet, focus on your skill and ability weaknesses and your plan for improving those.

  35. Cartographical*

    OP#1: I know a couple Sams and I expect this was thoughtlessness, not bragging. Neither is great but the former can be reformed, the latter not so much. If nothing else, what I’m seeing is that Sam doesn’t have a division between his personal and professional lives. If he grew up around the company in general, he probably hasn’t transitioned to “this is not my actual family, not everyone being nice to me is my friend, also people who need their jobs have to be nice to me” and that’s a failure of parenting there.

    If anyone at work, in management, is actually friendly with Sam or any kind of mentor, it might be a kindness for someone to pull him aside and say “hey, we’re all glad you like your new house but it might have been a little insensitive to their financial situations to have the price tag out there like that.” If Sam wants to show off his new place to his “work friends”, he can host a party there. On him. Including the beer and wine.

    My partner’s manager, back when he was just starting out and we were pretty broke, threw a “reverse housewarming” — she bought a lovely new house, so she threw a party around holiday time for her department specifically (as opposed to inviting her own peers/manager as well, which would have made it feel a little more like it was just for her benefit?) and covered all the costs and included little gifts like chocolates and wine (which she also hand-delivered the next day to the staff who couldn’t make it). She was mostly very excited to have room to actually host more than a few people in her new house. I thought it was a great way to celebrate a new home without engendering resentment and it’s something I remember 20 years after the fact.

  36. Rusty Shackelford*

    Seems like a lot of people are getting hung up on the fact that LW#1 lives in a HCOL area and “that’s just how much houses cost around here.” But that’s irrelevant. It doesn’t really matter whether Sam could buy a mansion for his almost-$1 million, or if he bought a two-bedroom cottage. The point is that he’s basically saying “look, I spent almost a million dollars on a house!” to people who are nowhere near being able to do that, and it’s thoughtless.

    1. Colette*

      He may have spent much less than a million dollars on a house, and now may be up to his ears in debt. And I agree with those saying that he likely didn’t think about the fact that the link he shared likely contained the cost.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        A person who borrowed a million dollars to buy a house still bought a million dollar house, so I don’t understand the distinction.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If he mortgaged it, he just spent more than 900k because interest rates…

        And he was approved for that much money, which others will never be. So. It’s still not the point.

  37. Brett*

    #3
    Does your organization have an office for emergency management, occupational medical safety, environmental health and safety, or workplace safety?

    Any of those types offices are going to be much better suited for monitoring coronavirus outbreaks than HR. They will have training and possibly even experience with outbreak monitoring and know how to work with public health agencies to design appropriate surveillance and response plans. (Those plans do not involve asking workers about their symptoms, but will involve the public health agencies alerting about a possible workplace exposure.)

    In the 31 largest metros (Urban Area Security Initiative or UASI metros), there are specialized agencies called Business Emergency Operations Centers (BEOCs or BOCs) that can assist businesses with understanding, preparing for, and responding to public health threats. That’s not the primary purpose of BEOCs, but they can act as an interface with the public health emergency response group for small businesses and large businesses. (And if you are not in one of the large metros, but are in the US, there is a still a good chance your county has a response agency that can provide assistance instead of your HR department trying to do monitoring.)

  38. Jedi Squirrel*

    #2 — I once had an interview and was asked for my greatest weakness. I thought for a moment, and said “I guess I could be more patient at times” and left it at that.

    There was an awkward silence and then the interviewer (a high school principal two years from retirement) laughed and said “That’s a good answer. I’ve had people spend fifteen minutes explaining their greatest weakness and talk themselves right out of a job.”

    Lesson learned: make it mild, make it universal, make it quickly, and then move on…

  39. 1234*

    Is there any chance Sam didn’t realize the COST of the home was still included in the link he sent over? Maybe he thought “This listing has everything about the home so I don’t have to detail it out! I’ll just send people this when I tell them about the new home I bought.”

    I didn’t read the other comments, so sorry if someone else posted this already.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think Sam’s as horrible as the OP does, but I think sending out a link with specs to your new house is kind of a strange and awkward move even if it doesn’t include the price, and even if it’s only to people who earn roughly what you do. Don’t be waving your stuff in people’s faces if they didn’t ask.

  40. Lucette Kensack*

    Re: #2: As Alison said, definitely do not use this as an example of a weakness. I agree with her that the purpose of the question should be to ensure that folks end up in jobs that are truly a good fit — and avoid jobs where their weaknesses will be a significant problem. It can be a freeing conversation — your poor attention to detail may be a dealbreaker for a bookkeeping position, but the strength of your ability to connect with people will make it no big deal for a counseling role.

    The challenge for you is that your temper will be a significant problem nearly everywhere. It would have a very significant impact on my assessment of any candidate. Nobody deserves to work with someone who is rude and hurtful because they can’t manage their temper well.

    But here’s the bigger challenge for you: it’s not actually about controlling your outward reactions, which it sounds like you’re doing. The problem for you is how you look at and respond to people; that’s going to continue being a problem even if you get your visible reactions under control. Thinking of people as “the stupid and lazy” is the problem, way more so than being “visibly frustrated.”

  41. AnonAnon*

    #3 So illegal. It immediately reminded me of the episode from The Office where Michael made everyone tell him what diseases they had so he could only cover those with the medical plan.

  42. CoffeeAdict*

    Re: LW4 I have often thought that in the US a crowd sourced database of family leave policies would be extremely helpful. It’s so important to so many people, and so hard to ask about if you hope to need it.

    1. OP#4*

      I love this idea! In my 20s, I cared about salary. Now that I am in my mid 30s, I know how important the rest of the benefits are and being able to seek out companies that had some of what would mean most to me would really be an asset! I feel like I’ve seen that for salaries before – maybe even on this site?

  43. Donkey Hotey*

    OP2: For me, options include “I’m very passionate about my jobs. This can come across as being intense. I’m working on moderating the outward signs of that intensity.” and my personal favorite, “My wife has strictly forbidden me from pursuing a career in playing poker.” When done in a way that completely conveys that you are not a gambling addict, it breaks the tension and acknowledges you know about it and are working on it.

  44. clodia83*

    #3–honestly, there are actual, practical things this office could be doing that are way more effective than having HR play CDC. Encourage staff to work from home where possible if they have minor symptoms, offer generous sick leave, encourage supervisors to tell staff with obvious cough or fever to go home and stay home until the symptoms subside, and heavily encourage proper hand washing (signs and email blasts, but also small meetings and demos of proper technique to reinforce that it is truly important), postpone unnecessary large group functions (or use conference calls). Yet another problem with open floorplan offices!

  45. grey goose is my coffee*

    LW3: I am a little confused by your letter. Is your workplace tracking people with flu like symptoms? Are employees self reporting?

    I think it is wise for a company to track if someone takes a day off with flu like symptoms… esp. if they are testing negative for the flu. If employees take off for this they should tell their employer to try and help protect their coworkers.

    I think it is silly to have employees report every sneeze or cough.

    I have a feeling the former is what your workplace is trying to do.

    The corona virus for most will just be a bad flu like sickness. If you are elderly or immune system compromised, risks go way up. I think people need to consider that when complaining about preventive measures. Not everything in life is about you.

  46. James*

    LW#2: If you get visibly flustered, sarcastic, and move around a bit more when you talk when you get angry, you don’t have an anger problem. Anger problems are physical–throwing a pump at someone, breaking your hand because you punched a wall, intentionally hitting a car with heavy machinery (all of which I’ve witnessed; the joys of working construction). When you say “My biggest problem is my temper” THAT’S where a manager’s mind goes.

    It seems to me that you have a known COMMUNICATIONS problem. This is easier to address. “Some of my coworkers have stated that I’m a bit abrasive. I’m working on the issue, but not always successfully.” Something along those lines. Abrasive people are okay, sometimes even useful. I once had a particularly abrasive person working under me, and if I’d asked someone for something they were supposed to give me twice and still not gotten it, I sent her. Did it three or four times, and folks got the message. :D

  47. Grab the popcorn*

    Do we have the same boss?! My boss also sent colleagues the Zillow listing for a $1.4 million home that she bought. She even told everyone in the office that they offered $400k over asking and someone one countered, so they paid even more! I can’t get over how out of touch some people are. All while junior staff in our office made well below the cutoff for what’s considered a low income salary in our expensive city.

  48. we're basically gods*

    Something else regarding the house thing… the new boss has only been the new boss for about a year, so the lack of good raises isn’t actually his doing, right? He could’ve done more in the past year, sure, but he *just* took over the company.
    Also, IT jobs do pay really well on their own. If new!boss got a chunk of inheritance and had been saving for a bit and has a spouse who also works and has been saving, then it doesn’t seem unrealistic that he’d be able to buy a nice house in a high COL area.
    It was thoughtless, but I think there’s two issues here:
    1. New!boss did a thoughtless thing
    2. Neither LW nor their partner is getting raises that keep up with COL (does partner work at the same company?)
    And I don’t think they’re the same one.

  49. Elizabeth West*

    #1–

    “Gee, Sam that’s really nice; congratulations! I wish I could afford a house like that.”

    SORRY NOT SORRY ;)

    Speaking of Santa Cruz, it is insanely expensive now. I still dream about it sometimes (like when I’m asleep), but I can’t go back there even if I wanted to. It’s too small anyway; the job market is worse than LittleCity where I moved from. I checked, when I was looking out of state. L.A. would actually be a better choice than SC for me bc the market’s bigger, even though it’s industry-focused. I want to move there so bad I can’t stand it. *dying*

    Employers really need to be more transparent with their salary ranges. I expect a higher-up to make more than me, but if I have to live hand-to-mouth on the salary, I’m going to keep looking even if I take the job. Email blasts like Sam’s are demoralizing for lower-paid workers, especially if they’ve been there for a while and can’t seem to get ahead.

  50. Enginear*

    #1 900k for a home in a luxury beach city doesn’t sound bad at all! That actually sounds like a good deal! Let’s be honest. No one would be able to afford a home in a luxury beach city unless they’re the CEO of a company, own a company, win the lottery, etc. Ain’t no average Joe making 100k going to be able to buy a beach house. You want to be able to afford a home? Relocate to a more affordable city.

    1. Enginear*

      I’d also assume that Sam inherited a large sum of money from the passing of his dad which probably aided in him purchasing a $900k home.

  51. Nana*

    Fifty+ years ago, a friend got a job in LA. Sold his Long Island home and bought a house in Beverly Hills, for $65,000. A NY friend asked “how many acres?” Nope, those gorgeous mansions in the ‘flats’ of Beverly Hills … ten feet to the lot line and then ten feet to the next house. Recently sold for $4 million and probably a tear-down.

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

    OP #1: being sent a house listing.

    Oh dear! This guy sounds like quite the nepotism hire. I could be wrong, but it sounds like: he’s been given a sinecure ‘IT’ position (but with a real IT company on standby for any actual incidents) and now he’s been given a company to run!

    Sending around a house listing like that is insensitive at best, rubbing noses of the “masses” in it at worst.

    What’s the intended message? “Work hard enough and one day you may be able to inherit wealth like I have”? Ha.

    I would suggest you start job searching, not really just because of this incident but because it seems this guy may not be the world’s best at keeping a company running (and what that means for your job security in the long run). He has 0 experience at running a company for one thing. And you said it’s a small co so I doubt he has a board of trusted advisers and stuff like that.

    I’d love to advise you to send out a blast email to all the staff (once it happens) about a job offer you’ve received with a much higher salary and in a company with people who actually know how to run a business… but I’m responsible, so I won’t. ;-)

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