I overheard a horrible fight on a web conference, the missing chocolate egg, and more

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

1. I overheard a horrible fight on a web conference

This morning I was in a web meeting and the moderator was late. Folks were just kind of milling around waiting, most muted, some not. A participant who was not muted was working out of her kitchen, and her husband came in asking about whether or not she’d gotten a specific item from the grocery store; she said she had, but she was in a meeting and couldn’t really talk.

It went quiet for a little bit, but then he started laying into her about how there was “too much f—–g food” and he couldn’t find anything or put anything away. They had a pretty nasty fight that mostly consisted of him berating her, calling her names, etc. Just before the moderator came on and muted her, I heard some thuds, but they sounded like “angry cabinet/grocery slamming” noises and not signs of a physical altercation. It was all pretty alarming (maybe made worse by memories of these kind of fights in my family of origin that usually spiraled out of control and got physical). There were several starts and stops, so he had lots of opportunities to walk away or de-escalate, but he kept coming back even though he knew she was working. I think that was the thing that made me most concerned.

I’m not sure if I should reach out? I don’t know her aside from us both being in this meeting, we’re in different departments and regions, and our jobs don’t overlap aside from this one project. I don’t think we’ve ever actually spoken; she probably doesn’t know who I am because this is one of those meetings where most people are just passively receiving information. And I don’t want to embarrass her if this is just a COVID-19 lockdown outburst and not indicative of their usual relationship. It seems like overstepping to email her, but ignoring it leaves me with this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I chatted with an advocate at TheHotline.org who said that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact her, but I’m kind of at a loss as to… how?

It might embarrass her, but the stakes are high enough that it’s still worth doing.

Berating someone and calling them names are forms of abuse themselves. And that he did this when he knew she was on a work call is an additional form of abuse and humiliation.

You could send your coworker a message and say, “I know we don’t know each other well, but I know you don’t deserve to be spoken to the way you were before our meeting yesterday. I don’t presume to know what’s going on and obviously this is a stressful time for all of us, but I want to make sure you have the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) and their website. If I’ve misunderstood or overstepped, I apologize; I figured it was better to reach out than not to. You don’t need to reply to this message if you don’t want to. I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

2. I’m working a risky job for less money than people are receiving on unemployment

I am working in an office that is almost completely empty with everyone working from home or laid off. My employers have deemed us “essential,” so we are required to still come to work every day. I completely understand why the government has recently boosted the unemployment payments, but I am really struggling with where that leaves “essential” workers. We continue to go to work for so much less per hour than our counterparts who have been laid off and are safe at home. Instead, we have to risk going out every day and we do it for less compensation.

I am not sure how to rectify this in my mind in a way that does not make me feel bitter and angry. I will admit that my own position has little interaction with the public, but there are so many people out there in grocery store and hospitals and doing deliveries that are risking their lives. How do we move forward knowing how undervalued we are?

It’s hugely problematic how much we undervalue an enormous number of workers.

Nothing makes that okay, but it might help to keep in mind that the people who are collecting higher unemployment payments than you’re earning by working will only be getting the boost to their benefits for four months, after which many of them will be unemployed in what will likely be the worst job market most of us have ever seen. Many of them will also need to put a huge portion of that money toward health insurance if they’ve been kicked off their employer’s plan (people may be eligible for COBRA, but that can be really expensive). Very few people will be living large on the boosted payments.

That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t sting; I get why it does. But the crux of the problem is the way we’ve undervalued certain types of work that we’re now seeing how very much we depend on. To the extent that you can, I’d urge you to channel your frustration into speaking out against that.

3. My boss laid me off but wants me to keep working

I was an office manager for a small company that shut down mid-March due to COVID-19. The other three employees and I were told to file for unemployment. However, the owner expects me to continue working to keep Accounts Receivable active, by making collection calls, going to the office once a week to collect mail, making deposits, and meeting with him, “for the good of the future of the company.” I’ve asked several times about what I’ll be paid to continue working but he wants to know what I get from unemployment first. Also, he wants to pay under the table and hourly, so he wants tasks done as quickly as possible to minimize the hours, which results in a lot of emails, texts, and pressure. Before this happened, I was paid well and I looked forward to going back to work, but now I feel taken advantage of and as though whether or not I’m hired back depends on how cooperative I am right now. Is this legal? Do I have any recourse if I’m not rehired when the company starts up again?

No, it’s not legal to (a) pay you under the table, (b) certify to unemployment that you were fully laid off when he’s still giving you work, or (c) not report additional income to unemployment while you’re collecting benefits.

You could say, “I’m happy to help out, but I want to make sure we do it legally so we don’t get in trouble. We’re required to run this kind of work through payroll, and I need to report the income to unemployment because it will affect my claim with them.” You should also run the numbers and see what the additional income will do to your unemployment benefits, to make sure you don’t end up in a worse financial situation overall.

And insist on settling the wage question before you do any more work: “Before I can do this work, we need to figure out how we’re paying for it. Does $X work?”

If he pressures you “for the good of the company,” tell him you share his concern about the good of the company and don’t want it to get in legal trouble.

4. The missing chocolate egg

My company (about 50 employees) has had everyone working from home since the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, our HR asked us for our current addresses so they could surprise us with chocolate eggs at home. My manager joked that I should be home on Friday to sign for the surprise Easter Bunny was bringing me.

Well, I didn’t get anything. Everyone else (at least everyone I talked to) has gotten theirs, so I’m wondering if I should say something to my boss. I feel petty complaining about this, but I also feel left out (I’m sure was not on purpose, but still). Plus, if this was a mistake from the delivery service, I think my company should know about it for reimbursement or something. So, should I just let it go or should I speak up? I’m not gonna lie, I was really looking forward to the chocolate.

P.S. I checked and I sent them my correct address, and my husband and I were home all day, every day.

It sounds like it was definitely a mistake, either on your company’s side or the delivery service. It’s okay to speak up; your company thinks you received a gift and would probably want to know that you didn’t. Obviously, don’t make a huge stink about it — while it’s chocolate, you still want to have a sense of proportion — but it would be fine to say, “Was I supposed to receive something on Friday? I haven’t received anything yet so wanted to check in case it got mis-delivered.”

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Carpooling during a pandemic

My friend works for a grocery store chain and has been giving a coworker a lift to work. She’s concerned about social distancing and having the coworker in her vehicle. I think she should let her coworker know she cannot help her out right now because of social distancing. She also has her family at home to consider.

Having to let the coworker down really bothers her, but I think the coworker would understand. She would gladly help her out once things clear up. What do you think? What would be an appropriate and kind way to tell her coworker this?

Yeah, she’s putting herself, her family, and everyone else either of them comes in contact with at risk. The public health guidelines could not be more clear on this. (And to reiterate since there’s been confusion on this point: You can be infected and spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not have any symptoms.)

All she needs to say is, “Because of the public health rules about staying at least six feet away from people we don’t live with right now, I can’t continue driving you to work — it’s putting us both at risk, and our families too. I’ll of course be happy to do it again once this is all over.”

{ 714 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I understand people are growing increasingly cranky right now, but you cannot take it out on other people here. There’s a lot of crankiness and bitterness here today, and I’m removing some of those below. You need to be kind and civil when commenting here. – Alison

      1. charo*

        It would be tempting to call out, if they could hear you, “Hey, is everything OK there? Or do we need to call for help?”
        When I lived in a very busy urban area and people would raise their voices aggressively on the street next to my house, I would call you in a “helpful” voice: “Excuse me, do I need to call the police?”
        It always worked. Because my tone was friendly and and I was just “asking” w/o blaming anyone. One couple stood outside their car to have a big argument, and that shut them down fast.
        That may not have been possible here but when you hear noises it’s OK to mention it.
        Being vague and not accusatory is key. “Just checking.” It’d be tempting to mention the noises when she got on the call, “We heard some thumps, Karen, everything OK? . . .”
        That lets her know this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If she’s the innocent victim and he’s abusive, she still has to be the one to be made aware that the world picks up on things. Denial can be too easy for someone who’s abused and she can feel isolated.
        Some marriages are toxic back and forth, for some reason some wives engage in hostile arguments and then get hit. Others totally try to avoid “antagonizing him.”
        Both need to be aware that the world doesn’t tolerate domestic abuse. It’s not up to that couple. We don’t want it. We don’t want women hitting men, either.
        And companies don’t want DV going on among its staff.

        1. charo*

          To clarify: Of course most often it’s a violent male and abused female, I just wanted to point out it can be mutually toxic at times, or female being violent.

    1. Arbynka*

      Thank you. Speaking of kind. We’ve had commenter on here, Marie, Maria ? She always had such helpful, insightful and kind comments about helping victims of DV. If I remember correctly helping/consulting with DV victims was her job. Anyone seen her around lately ? It’s been a while for me but I haven’t been able to come and participate as much as I used to.

      1. Myrin*

        That was Marie, who was indeed a treasure (although I do remember many years ago she posted something on Captain Awkward that was completely out of character for her, so much so that the Captain herself asked about it; I don’t know if I’ve seen her around since (like, not necessarily since that particular comment, but since that time in general) – I’ve always hoped she was okay and not maybe going through something nasty). We’ve had several commenters with that same username posting here since but that honestly could’ve been anyone since it is, of course, not a rare name.

        1. Arbynka*

          I got into a nasty FB fight few days ago. I said things I would normally not say ever. I don’t know, I was sick, tired, cranky, very homesick even before all the pandemic happened so I was, well still I am, horribly homesick and depressed, not knowing when I can go back again, being worriedly about my parents, knowing if they got sick I couldn’t make it there right now and even if I could I wouldn’t be allowed in the hospital. I’d never believe I could get so nasty yet there I was. I feel so bad about it and no, being an ass to complete strangers didn’t help me feel better.

          I hope Marie is well. Later I might try to go gather her DV posts and keep them together in one spot.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      Oh thank you so much for saying something in a pinned comment. I’ve seen so much crankiness in the commentariat here in the last few days and it makes me sad. Peeps on AAM are overall usually pretty low-key, kind, and have fabulous puns and this is one of the few places on the Internet where I read and actively engage in the comments for that reason.

      Only other place: Epbot.

    3. Pomona Sprout*

      Thanks so much, Alison. I really do appreciate the way you work to keep things civil and pleasant here, and the way AAM feels like such a safe place to me as a result. I’ve noticed the crankiness level here cranking up (pun intended) and didn’t realize how anxious it was making me until I read this post and felt a flood of relief.

      Thank you so much for being such a great moderator and for AAM in general. (Note: Stress is making me kind of extra emotional right now, which I guess is a lot better than cranky, lol!)

    1. Pickles*

      But please, make sure you get HER before sending that information, if you have a way to verify. Some abusers maintain control over phones.

      And thank you for doing this.

      1. LeahS*

        Thank you for mentioning this. It is important. And also, big thanks to OP for doing this.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Great point about control. The name-calling, door-slamming, and haranguing described by the OP sounds like someone is way too comfortable putting his wife ‘in her place’ over minor stuff. Controlling her access to her phone wouldn’t be out of character, nor would it surprise me.

        OP, thank you for caring for your colleague.

    2. SweetestCin*

      Absolutely. I’ve copied and pasted it into a file for “just in case I ever need to use it”. Thank you Alison!!

    3. Generic Name*

      Yes, I came here to say the same thing. As an abuse survivor myself, it really does help to hear people, even complete strangers, tell you that you don’t deserve to be spoken to in a demeaning or berating manner. It’s like a small kernel inside of you knows and remembers that, and having that small kernel validated by others gives you the strength to get out.

      1. OP 1*

        This is what I’m hoping – she called me afterwards and we chatted about it a little. She sounded fine (and calm, not like “fake calm”), but if anything she knows that it was alarming to the point a stranger reached out, and if there is something darker going on, it’s not something normal.

        1. Blueberry*

          I’m really, really glad you had this conversation. Thank you for caring, OP1 . I mean that utterly sincerely.

    4. DogTrainer*

      You are essentially describing my parents, and I agree with the idea of reaching out. My mother would not call it abuse, as it has never reached a level of physical abuse, but I certainly would. She would likely respond to someone reaching out by thanking the person for reaching out and immediately shutting that conversation down, because she doesn’t see it as abuse. But I would love it someone other than childhood me could flag it for her.

      1. OP 1*

        That’s pretty much how it went down when she called me. I couldn’t quite put into words how I felt after our conversation – happy that I flagged it for her, but still unsettled.

        1. DogTrainer*

          Well, thank you for flagging it with her. If it helps at all, my dad is like a 5-year old child – he’s really not emotionally intelligent enough to purposely abuse people, but he can’t see past his own self when he’s upset. If he’s angry, he just CANNOT LET IT GO and will follow you from room to room telling you how wrong and stupid you are. Talking back to him only pours gas on his anger and makes the interaction even worse. My mother has learned to keep quiet to make it go away more quickly (and she’s truly not emotionally upset by these interactions, which is boggling to me).

          He and I did not get along until long after I moved out of the house, when I didn’t have to allow him to talk to me that way anymore. My parents love each other and enjoy each others’ company, but sometimes I do feel sad that she’ll never know what it’s like to have a spouse who’s not an abusive child.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            Your dad is the male version of my mother. I always say she’s not happy until she’s made someone cry. But then she feels horrible when she makes someone cry, because she is so focused on I MUST BE RIGHT that she can’t even see what she is doing until it gets to that point. My step-dad is like your mom and I feel a lot of sadness for him, too. But they love each other and he sees it as an annoying tick you compromise on, like chewing with your mouth open.

            She and I did not speak for years and even now I don’t share much with her beyond surface and I definitely don’t ask her opinions on any choices, important or not.

            1. DogTrainer*

              “But they love each other and he sees it as an annoying tick you compromise on, like chewing with your mouth open.”


          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I also grew up with a verbally and emotionally abusive parent, and the thing I’ll probably never understand is how the other parent allowed them to treat me and my siblings like that. They came from a non-abusive home and had a family willing to take us in (and able to do so without hardship), if needed, to get away from the abuse. They stayed, and I don’t get it, particularly now that I have kids. Choosing to accept that treatment for yourself is one thing; choosing to subject your kids to it is another.

            1. Anonnington*

              Similar situation here. I hold both parents accountable for what they did as well as what they tolerated. In my case, it was a pattern of behavior spanning decades. No one ever sought any kind of help or stepped in to hold the other accountable. Everyone has their high and low points in life, but there comes a time when you have to draw the line and judge people for their choices. At least that was what I decided about my own life.

    5. SwitchingGenres*

      As someone who has survived two abusive relationships, please do send Alison’s script, DV hotline and all. In the midst of my experiences what I needed was someone to tell me I was being abused. I couldn’t see it. When I’d finally gotten out people would say, Oh yeah, he seemed abusive. And when I asked why they’d never said anything they had no answer. Thank you LW1 for being willing to contact this coworker.

  2. professor*

    LW5: wait, what? Thy both work at the same grocery store? They are both so exposed and to the same places/people…not car pooling just seems so silly in comparison in the HUGE risk of their actual (shared) job…..

    1. PollyQ*

      Not necessarily, if they’re truly keeping a 6-foot distance with everyone. Carpooling has them sharing a much smaller amount of air/space.

        1. Where’s MY bailout?*

          For most workers in a grocery store, it’s going to be impossible to stay 6 feet away from others at all times.

          Really, neither one should be working at all (aside from WFH jobs) during this pandemic. But since they’re doing it anyway, I truly don’t see the harm in continuing to carpool.

            1. Where’s MY bailout?*

              Agreed, and I’m not being critical of them. I’m merely saying that in an ideal world, everyone would do WFH only during this pandemic. Of course, as you point out, that isn’t possible.

              1. Huh?*

                Unfortunately many essential jobs aren’t WFH capable… Pharmacists, Amazon, gas station attendant… truck driver delivering food to grocery stores and technology so the rest of us can WFH… many essential healthcare services (like ER or or birthing centers)

              2. Massmatt*

                Why are you trying to make a point that someone should do what is impossible?

                Groceries and pharmacies are pretty much the most basic definition of “essential businesses”, and it is Impossible for them to operate with their employees at home.

                People need to take whatever measures are possible to protect their health and the health of others. Unless the other employee has absolutely no other way tot to work then suspending the carpool makes sense.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  (The name pretty clearly indicates they just came here to argue. Some people are not handling isolation well and it’s like being in middle school discovering forums for the first time.)

                2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                  “You completely missed the point.”

                  Is that point that we’d be using replicators to create food at home? And/or would it be all robots outside doing the food growing, processing, delivery plus maintaining power plants and infrastructure, taking out trash?

                  That’d be ideal! That’d be cool!

                3. Mookie*

                  I mean, the world is awash with examples of countries and regions who help make these conditions for essential workers better and safer, so I take that point. This is what happens when your national bird is a bootstrap.

                4. Arctic*

                  They obviously meant that the “ideal” isn’t possible and the car pooling is less of a risk than the job.

                5. CNW*

                  @Mookie, that is the greatest phrase I have heard in a while and I love it/hate it (you know what I mean). Thank you.

              3. LQ*

                Ok, so you never get to eat until the pandemic and everyone who doesn’t grow there own food starves. Power goes out and no one fixes it. No one picks up trash. No nurses or doctors work, people die in their homes and we let them rot where they lie. No one puts out fires if a building goes up in flames.

                You have to think it through a little.

                1. Jennifer*

                  I don’t think they meant it literally. They are just saying it would be nice if every job could be done from home. Everyone knows that isn’t possible. It sucks that some people get to stay home and safe and others have to risk their lives daily, sometimes for little money or appreciation.

            2. Phony Genius*

              Some countries actually went that far and closed everything, including grocery stores. They relaxed the rules only due to civil unrest.

              1. Librarian1*

                Really? Which countries? I’m shocked that government leaders thought that a) that was a completely fine and normal thing to do and b) that people not being able to get food would NOT someone lead to unrest.

                1. Allison Wonderland*

                  I can’t find any places that actually closed grocery stores, but I know in Wuhan, where lockdown measures were very strict, many apartment buildings were ordering large group orders of groceries so individuals did not have to go out. We aren’t really set up to do that in the U.S.

                2. Mayflower*

                  From the news I’ve personally seen, it’s island countries. They are used to hunkering down during hurricanes so they are able to completely shut things down for a week or two at a time.

              2. Parenthetically*

                Seconding the request for which countries? I have friends in Spain and several regions of France, which both have VERY tight lockdowns, but groceries are still open.

                1. Fish Microwaver*

                  @Miso, I believe in Wuhan everything was closed, including grocery stores. People received deliveries of rations from a government source. I also understand that beyond these staples, food was difficult to obtain.

          1. Upstater-ish*

            100% All grocery stores are struggling with this.
            When you shop please:
            Respect 6’ and any one way arrow markings
            Shop purposefully.
            Shop alone whenever possible
            Pack your own bags
            Wear a mask
            Stay home if you are ill.
            Use plastic not cash if you can
            Don’t criticize the staff. (Complaining to me about a cashier will get you no where)

            1. SweetestCin*

              Thank the staff
              Don’t be a jerk to anyone, staff or fellow shopper. Everyone is stressed.

            2. nep*

              It’s on all sides. The strict safety has to be everyone’s responsibility. At a major grocery store near me the other day: They had stopped spacing people at the self-checkout area (a couple of weeks ago they had the middle register closed, now it’s back open), and store workers were either wearing no masks or going around talking with the mask down at their chins. A worker with no mask was coming close to customers and talking/yelling to colleagues as if there was nothing going on. I’ll not be going back to that store for the duration.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                The Walmart here was doing restricted entry, etc. and now they’ve slacked off. It was very stressful. And so many people wearing masks wrong. Hoping I don’t need anything again for a while.

                The protocols do not work if they’re not strictly observed throughout the period. We haven’t even hit our projected peak here yet.

                1. The Rural Juror*

                  Right! I went to the grocery store yesterday and they had everyone spaced out waiting to enter the store, as they should. You would think it would highlight the spacing issue if you have to wait for about 15 minutes to enter the store, you’re given designated spacing while you’re in line, and they’re letting people know they must be wearing a mask to enter. But then once I entered the store, hardly anyone was practicing the distancing anymore and about a quarter of the employees weren’t wearing masks. I ended up buying a lot more frozen items than I had originally intended, mostly because I don’t want to have to go back for a while!

                2. Cactus*

                  The store I went to the other day had 6-foot markers by the registers, but didn’t have any limit on how many people could be in the store at once, and so aside from the register area there were people crowding into each other all over the place. The register markers felt highly performative.

                1. Wired Wolf*

                  If you’re allowed to. My state (and probably many others) have banned reusable bags, but also waived the store-bag fee. If the store is one that uses those ‘scan as you shop’ devices your own bags may be OK–you’re the only one touching anything.

                2. Temperance*

                  Stores near me aren’t allowing reusable bags. It’s another potential source of infection.

                3. LGC*

                  Depends. In my area, the main supermarket I go to won’t pack into reusable bags if you go through regular checkout. They also have self-checkout, though, and even scan as you shop (so the barcode readers). If you’re doing that, it’s probably best to do that so you’re taking up as little time as possible at checkout.

              1. schnauzerfan*

                The fewer people who handle things the better. You don’t want a bagger touching stuff that you’ve already touched if it’s not needed. Also, these folks have enough to do. My friend has been working 12 hour shifts at her little market. People who do their own bagging keep the line moving. If everyone would do it, she’d spare her hands and wrists. Actually running things across the scanner isn’t so bad, it’s the bagging the really gets the carpel tunnel issues going.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              Don’t complain to the staff about the store being open. Yes, this is happening. If you’re horrified that a store is still open, DON’T SHOP THERE.

              1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

                My mother works for an office in a courthouse and has some pretty good stories about people behaving in strange ways. They have a plexiglass barrier with small window at the bottom like you would see at a bank. There are small holes near the center of the barrier so sound can pass through and people can easily talk back and forth. However, she said a lot of people would come in, lean down towards the opening at the countertop, and have the entire conversation in a stooped over position, even after she would tell them they could stand up and she could hear them just fine.

                I made her watch the episode of Parks and Recreation where the people at city hall didn’t know how to use the water fountain without putting their mouths all over the water dispenser. She could not stop laughing! She said it mimicked the absurdity you see in public pretty well :) If you could use a smile, I recommend looking up that episode. It’s so funny!

            4. Parenthetically*

              And shop only when you need to! I went to Trader Joe’s week before last and had a lovely chat with the checkout clerk who said she was STILL having regular customers coming in DAILY. DAILY!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Some people do this because they have no one else to talk to, particularly older folks. But I agree, it’s problematic right now.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I mean, of course I understand WHY they do it, but “going to the store to socialize” is definitely not part of shelter-in-place.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  It’s not just to socialise. Older folks can’t manage big heavy bags so they buy little bits at a time.

              2. On a pale mouse*

                I have those customers too. I think a few may not be able to physically manage a week’s worth of shopping at once, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true for the majority. I have a few who come in multiple times a day to buy lottery tickets! and I’m just like seriously? You have to have lottery tickets right now? And if you really must, you couldn’t just buy a week’s worth at once? And I get that it’s some people’s only social outlet but the grocery store is the wrong place for it right now.

          2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

            If I don’t work people don’t get fed. That’s how it is right now. Ideally, I would love to be at home in isolation but this is real life.

        2. Caroline Bowman*

          it is obviously true that one is not 6 feet apart in a car. Of course ideally carpooling is not a great idea, but the thing is, the alternative is likely public transport (far riskier), so surely the solution would be, imperfect as it is, to have the passenger behind and opposite, with an open window and a mask / gloves and the driver also using a mask, gloves and not ”face” each other at any point. I appreciate this does not remove all risk, but given the work environment, it seems a decent way to reduce likelihood of transmission from either party to the other.

          1. TimeCat*

            But that’s her choice to make. She decided she doesn’t want to carpool anymore. Done.

          2. Feline*

            Every mention of masks I hear from a health authority includes the statement “Masks do not replace social distancing.” It’s totally understandable that even with masks, someone does not feel comfortable carpooling with someone else and all their family’s germs.

            1. Batgirl*

              Yes this is one of the reasons the UK is hesitant to recommend masks. In case people flout the other regulations with ‘but, mask!’

              1. Threeve*

                It’s like how drivers (at least in the US) have been proven to give bikes a bit less space when the bicyclists are wearing helmets. I think helmets (and masks) are still necessary, though.

          3. Annony*

            This is somewhat of a tangent, but please don’t wear gloves. They don’t help since the virus can live on the gloves and you aren’t washing/sanitizing your gloves the same way you do your hands. The virus does not enter though your skin. Instead, don’t touch your face and wash your hands often.

            1. Wired Wolf*

              Yes. I saw a video recently of a nurse using paint to illustrate how germs can spread even when you’re wearing gloves…to be most effective in that way, gloves have to be changed every time you touch something. Save them for the workers who actually need them, please.

            2. Liz*

              Agreed! Just read an article that said the same thing. I wore them once, to go to the laundromat. CHanged them 3 times and still didn’t feel like they did any good. I’d rather just not touch my face, use hand sanitizer until i cna get home, and THEN wash my hands really well.

              1. On a pale mouse*

                I work at the grocery store and I’ve quit wearing gloves. They just made my hands sweaty which was even harder on my skin. I do wear them for cleaning which we’re doing more often and with stronger cleaners, but otherwise I just wash my hands a lot.

                Back on topic: my store has posted distancing guidelines for employees and don’t carpool is one of the recommendations, for what that’s worth.

                1. Mahkara*

                  I’m against gloves for most of us as health care workers need them and you can sanitize/wash just fine if you’re only going out for a brief trip to the grocery store or pharmacy.

                  I feel completely differently about grocery store workers. You’re handling a lot! I’d totally be wearing them if I was on the front lines.

                2. On a pale mouse*

                  If it’s freaking you out because you’re worried about the workers, then it’s like Annony said: you don’t get the virus through your skin, so gloves aren’t better than hand washing (unless they help you remember not to touch your face). If you wear gloves and touch your face, the gloves did nothing for you.

                  If you’re concerned about other people handling your stuff without gloves, we’re doing hourly hand washing. Gloves aren’t going to protect you more than that unless they are changed after every customer, which is not happening. You could suggest it to your local store.

                  Also, if anyone is that worried about other people touching your stuff, maybe use the self checkout and bag your own stuff if that’s physically possible for you. At my store people are allowed to use their own bags but only if they bag their own stuff, and I think it’s running about 1/3 to 1/2 would rather we use plastic than have to bag their own stuff, which continues to surprise me. They must not shop at Aldi.

                  Oh, for the record, while I’m not wearing gloves, I do wear a mask because that does protect other people if I get sick.

            3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              Wearing gloves helps me remember not to touch my face, because my hands feel different than usual.

              I put clean gloves on before going out, touch as little as possible, and put the gloves in the laundry when I get home. That’s for going out for relatively short trips that begin and end at my home; I don’t think it would work for someone who had to work a full day outside the home.

              Also: these aren’t latex or nitrile, they’re cloth. I ordered a bunch of cheap cotton gloves via Amazon: someone else had to be working outside the home, and probably near their co-workers, to help me stay safe.

              1. The Rural Juror*

                That was one of the reasons I started wearing a banana or scarf around my neck when this all started. I’m so bad about touching my face! In fact, as I’ve been reading the comments I realized I was leaning my face on my hands without even thinking about it. Luckily I’m in my own home and recently washed my hands, but I know I did that a lot at the office, too. Wearing something around my neck made me more aware of the fact that my hands had to pass that object before reaching my face. Not completely fool-proof, but it helped! I can see gloves doing the same.

            4. boop the first*

              Yeah, also really sick of seeing pairs of gloves abandoned on sidewalks, in parking lots, etc. Everyone makes a ruckus at 7pm and pat themselves on the back for being so generously thoughtful of others with their ppe projects, but we all can plainly see that it’s a lie if everyone is forcing these same “celebrated” workers to pick up their steamy masks and abandoned gloves.

          4. boop the first*

            Yeah, these separation tactics are logical but not really practical. Our public transit has switched to back door only, and made it so only one seat per row should be used, which doesn’t make any damn sense because there’s less than two feet between you and the seat BEHIND you. The car is technically more distant.
            Not to mention that when you reduce the number of people who can board busses or enter stores, all of those people now have to gather in little spots outside. Like I said, logical, but impractical almost to the point of foolish.

          5. VI Guy*

            I was thinking the same. It’s all about a balance of risks. Going on public transit is often higher-risk, so carpooling makes it less likely that the coworker will get sick, and therefore less risk to the driver as they are less likely to be working with an asymptomatic carrier.

            I had to go in to work for a few hours, and a coworker drove me. They preferred that I not expose myself to public transit, although it helped that this was weeks ago and the risk of infection for both of us was low. I also get groceries with a pickup service, and I go with a friend because they can’t go themselves, and it is lower risk to both of us if we drive together yet stay out of stores (we also pick up food for a couple other people with disabilities and deliver to them). Yet the best solution is obviously based on a wide variety of factors that we don’t know, so OP5 should decide based on their individual circumstances. If I was carpooling with someone who had their own car… easy decision!

            I would add that, having thought about this myself, open windows likely aren’t a good idea. That would just move the air around more, I would think. I sit in the back-opposite seat, and wear a mask (for the other person’s benefit).

        3. Eukomos*

          It’s probably not possible at work, either, if we’re being honest with ourselves. Which I think it is important to be, in this situation, since we should at bare minimum be honest about the risk we’re asking grocery store workers to take on so that we can continue to eat. Pretending that not carpooling significantly diminishes their risk seems to me to underrate the level of risk they’re running at work.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        But several reports have indicated the virus can travel 14 feet. Presumably the load is less at that distance than 6 feet but still 6 feet isn’t a magical failsafe…Plus I’ve only been to the store twice since the first week of March and while most people seemed to be trying to adhere to the distancing rule (and they definitely did while in line with tape on the floor indicating distance), people walking up and down the aisles certainly were not. I tried, but every aisle SOMEONE came down and went right past me instead of trying to match pace and keep the distance. I haven’t heard anything that suggests any grocery store is well and truly managing to have all humans genuinely keep appropriate distance at all times. On the one hand…yeah a closed car is worse, but I’m quite a bit torn on whether these two aren’t functionally already just as exposed to the same stuff and each other whether the drive together or not.

          1. Prof*

            The thing is, plenty of people just don’t think it matters. And as someone explicitly trained in estimating distances…people who are trying are really really bad at determining 6 feet. Really bad.

            People working in stores are constantly exposed…the car pool is just such a minor possibility it seems pointless to make life harder over it.

              1. Triplestep*

                This is incorrect. They are in an enclosed vehicle during the carpool. Please read about aerosol transmission with respect to this virus.

                1. blackcat*

                  If it’s a 5 minute drive, it’s probably no additional risk. But 15? 20? 30? That extra time in a confined space matters. There are ways to mitigate this risk–such as rolling down the windows and having all people wear masks–but sitting in a car for a while is not the same thing as passing others in an aisle.
                  There’s a reason why the threshold for contact tracing is 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who had the virus. Proximity and duration both matter.

                  -Signed, someone who probably got coronavirus because of her husband sharing a cab with a sick person on a work trip (we’re all fine and healthy now)

                2. Harper the Other One*

                  This is exactly what I was thinking. There’s a big risk difference between “walking three feet away from someone in a store” and “sharing an enclosed space with someone for an extended period each day.” I’m assuming they’re carpooling back, too.

                  There’s no way to eliminate risk but I think the regular car sharing does represent a higher risk, and stopping that could mitigate risk for them.

              2. Mongrel*

                I think a problem is that people want a binary Yes this is safe or No, that’s unsafe and it’s never that easy.

                Being in a car with someone increases your exposure and therefore risk, both because of the distance & exposure time to the other person.
                Assisting a customer in a store probably has less chance of issues but when done numerous times a day raises the risk that way, being coughed on (which I’m sure happens, because inconsiderate idiots) raised the risk a lot.
                There are no easy answers to this, epidemiology is hard. So all people can, and should, do is take opportunities to assess & reduce their risk as much as possible according to information from reliable sources

                1. HoHumDrum*

                  ^^^^ Yup
                  Allison’s not an epidemiologist, nor is the LW, nor are most of us. And even the epidemiologists aren’t totally sure right now, since this is all new. Allison gave the answer she thought was most safe & reasonable, but she’s not your doctor and you’re free to disregard it if you don’t think it makes sense. We don’t really know right now, we’re all just doing the best we can with the facts we have.

              3. WellRed*

                It’s a risk the LW doesn’t want to take and I’m not sure I understand why people keep arguing that point. I don’t even want to get in a car with someone with a minor cold because it’s such a small enclosed space.

              4. Hills to Die on*

                My 2nd job is at a grocery store and I can assure you it is ZERO additional risk. Ever seen one of those videos where they open the bee box and show all the bees in the hive all working on top of each other?
                It is absolute pandemonium all the time and six feet apart is literally impossible. I am not one of those people who means figuratively but uses literally. It is literally impossible.
                Help the coworker.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  And even if it appears as though there is some structure in the aisles, in the back of the store, there is no room to move. We are at times climbing over things to get past one another – six feet or six inches.
                  And I work for a national chain everyone has heard of.

                2. Elitist Semicolon*

                  I am sorry that you are working in an unsafe environment, but “ZERO additional risk” is an inaccurate and, frankly, a dangerous claim to make. The conditions in your workplace have no relevance to the risk of driving with someone who may have been in contact with a different group of people or whose family member may have brought something home. Risk isn’t subtractive, it’s additive, and each new situation and group of people bring their own unique risks.

                3. Hills to Die on*

                  Not when you spend 8 hours a day with 20 people in a space the size of an average living room and everyone is 2 feet apart or less, and one of the people is the coworker in your car. There is ZERO extra risk because it is accurate. That’s how it goes.

                  You all just don’t know because you haven’t experienced it. Sorry, but you’re wrong. You are confusing what should happen with what does happen. And my situation is not unique I’ve confirmed it with employees at other grocery stores. SchmalMart and WholeSchmoods and Schmoger.
                  And if you think that’s something, please know that they only need to have a fever to be told not to come into work. Fatigue, tightness in your chest and a cough? Well, we are way behind so it’s your decision but we could really use the help. After all, you don’t have a fever.
                  That’s an actual conversation I had.

                4. On a pale mouse*

                  I work 40 hours a week in a grocery store (one of the big chains) and I don’t believe it would be zero additional risk for me, especially if the other person worked in a different department. I’m not always able to maintain 6 feet, no, but I’m usually not spending 5 minutes+ less than 6 feet from all my co-workers. It might be zero additional risk if it was one of the people who work behind the same desk I often do, but I stay separated from them when I can. And someone mentioned the break room upthread. I eat lunch in my car now because our break room is tiny. Without knowing the exact situation at LW’s work and the person’s other transportation options, I don’t think we can say. LW’s friend needs to make that decision for herself.

              5. Pommette!*


                The friend and the coworker are doing some of the most dangerous work out there right now. Carpooling is a risk, but it’s not the only, and far from the biggest, one that they face.

                Not carpooling also carries risks : the coworker may need to take the bus instead (risking infection by/of others), or may be unable to work entirely (risking poverty and increasing colleagues’ workload). This is on the friend and the coworker to manage in the way that seems best to them.

              6. Elitist Semicolon*

                They are also coming into contact with different people in the store – the driver may be working as a cashier and be interacting with, say, 20 people per hour, but the passenger may be working deli and only interact with 5. They bring those contacts back into the car with them. And if their family members are leaving the house, too, then they are also potentiallly bringing along anything their families come into contact with. Those diagrams from middle-school health class that are all, “when you sleep with one person, you’re sleeping with everyone they’ve slept with” is absolutely true here as well.

                And, as others have noted, if the driver is not comfortable giving rides, then the driver should not give rides. It’s their decision, regardless of actual calculable risk, and someone else’s convenience should not override their own concerns.

            1. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

              I’m from the county (Leon, in Florida) that coined the phrase “one large alligator apart”. Which I love, actually. That helps a great deal to stay apart, even more than 6 ft, because…. gators, you know.

            2. Dog Fosterer*

              I recently remembered that a dog leash is typically 6 feet. I know that it doesn’t work for most people, but it has been a very useful reference guide for me! It helps that my dog is tall and is often at the end of his leash, so my measurement is fairly accurate.

              1. Black Horse Dancing*

                Yes! My dog leashes are 6 feet as well. If you think lunge distance for you dog, I get six feet more or less.

            3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              I get the impression that their need to grab the item right next to you is so imperative everything else goes out the window. Other day one woman was looking for some fancy speciality product and couldn’t find it, turned to me and told me it’s like war time. Yeah, right.

              I saw a hilarious FB post of a woman wearing a cotton mask with a penis print, saying that anyone who remarks that her mask is covered in penises gets told “if you can tell it’s covered in penises you’re too close, back right up now” (well there were a couple of f words that I edited out).

          2. Seacalliope*

            But as other commenters have pointed out, the end result of not carpooling is either the coworker taking public transit (higher risk) or not working. The LW can make her own decision about the risk level she is comfortable with, but this decision is not without tradeoffs, especially if the coworker takes transit, is exposed more, and thus brings that to the workplace.

            1. JustaTech*

              Do we know that? The LW says the coworker will “understand” if the sister doesn’t want to carpool anymore, which sounds to me like the coworker does have a way to get to work.

        1. nonegiven*

          Our local store has put in arrows for the aisles, they are all one way only, now. The checkouts have plexi between customer and cashier.

            1. Syfygeek*

              My local Publix has aisle monitors. They regulate the number of shoppers on each aisle, and you have to follow the directional arrows. I didn’t realize aisles were one way until the very nice aisle monitor pointed out the arrow and sent me down the next aisle so I could come down the right way.

            2. Two Dog Night*

              I wasn’t following ours yesterday because I honestly didn’t notice them until I was almost finished. Oops.

            3. Admin in Arkansas*

              This. I was actually told I “didn’t need to be so f***ing rude” because I pointed out to the person that got RIGHT behind me that the ground was marked for a reason.

              The staff at the store stand next to each other in the aisles as they’re stocking, without masks, as though its any other day.

              If this person and their coworker work at such a store like my nearest grocery store, the damage is done. But ultimately, doesn’t matter what I think…

              1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                They deserve to be told that “I may be infectious so keep away from me”. Which is perfectly true and the very reason why we all need to keep away from each other.

          1. snowglobe*

            Our stores have done the same. It requires that you go up and down every aisle, even if you are only there for one item, but it ensures no one is walking towards someone else.

          2. Anon Anon*

            Our stores have done the same, but, the biggest offenders of not following the one way system or maintaining 6 feet away are the store managers. The cashiers and stockers have all been pretty great. The store managers don’t seem to give a crap, at least in the grocery store I’ve been to since this all kicked off.

          3. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Same in my store, with roped-off sections for the self-checkout and cashier stations. The attendants for those lines direct customers to the back of the line – no cutting! – and to stand at the 6′ marks on the floor.

            So far, the only rude person I encountered was a lady in line behind me wearing a mask and gloves, carrying a basket with a few items. She stood right behind me, literally bumping into me, and I asked her to give me space. Her response: ‘I’m wearing a mask so you don’t need to be such a baby, for Christ’s sake.’ There’s one in every crowd, right?

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              ‘I’m wearing a mask so you don’t need to be such a baby, for Christ’s sake.’

              Next time, you can tell her “Even with your mask, I can infect you”. It’s true. Wearing a mask means you’re less likely to infect others, you can still get infected.

          4. boop the first*

            Our grocery store has hired someone to herd people into one single well-spaced line for the whole batch of checkouts. Cool, I guess, except that to get into the line, you have to squeeze past each other to reach the end of it. So now it’s pointless.

      2. Language Lover*

        And even if it’s impossible to be six feet from people all the time in a store, there’s so much unknown about the disease that there could be a difference between being within two feet of an infected person who breathes in/out for a few seconds and spending a sustained amount of time in an enclosed space with someone who is infected and breathing/talking even if they aren’t sneezing or coughing.

    2. Al7la*

      I also wonder what the coworker’s other options are…if she would have to rely on public transportation to get to work, that would increase her possible exposure so much more. And then she would be bringing all those possible germs to the store where the friend works anyway and a whole community of people does their necessary shopping. Situations like these make it clear that there are often no perfect choices, especially for our essential workers :(

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        If the coworker is going to have to take the bus or something similar, that just spreads the risk. If Coworker doesn’t have another safe option, I’d think it would be better to give her a lift taking lots of precautions.

        1. Felix*

          I agree. The answer came off as incredibly judgemental without taking into consideration the fact that this person may not have alternatives. I think the busybody friend needs to let the two people asses their difficult situation and come to a conclusion on their own.

        2. Mookie*

          This. It’s the LW’s friend’s call to make and I wouldn’t blame her for making it, but she’ll probably end up working with a colleague whose exposure rate has multiplied as a result. There’s no One! Weird! Personal Responsibility! Trick! to unlock for people put in this position. They have to eat so they have to work so they have to get to work, one way or the other.

          1. Yorick*

            If the carpooling stops and the coworker gets COVID from riding the bus, can LW’s friend be sure the coworker won’t expose LW at the store? Is it less risky than continuing the carpool? I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think we can emphatically say the carpool is way more risky.

          2. Parenthetically*

            Ye gods, plus one million for “one weird personal responsibility trick.” I feel that SO MUCH. I’m just doing the best I can and other people are going to make slightly different calculations and that feels uncomfortable, but I have to live with that discomfort.

        3. Temperance*

          The risk is greater for the coworker, not LW’s friend. If I was LW’s friend, my primary concern would be my family at home, so I would end the carpooling arrangement.

      2. Jimming*

        I agree. I’d rather have my coworker be exposed to one person (me) than several people on public transit – especially if we’re working together in the same store! Maybe that’s just me, tho.

        1. DataSci*

          Public transit is all but shut down in many places, and that’s assuming it was available in the first place for OP’s co-worker. The alternative to carpooling may be that the co-worker has to quit their job.

        2. teclatrans*

          Yes, I was thinking that from a “stop the spread” standpoint, carpooling is preferable to daily public transit. It seems like it would raise the risk to the driver, but do more to flatten the curve. Which makes it a complicated choice for the driver to make.

      3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        I also think that the other alternative may be that this person isn’t able to go to their job. And this job is really the ultimate definition of essential! In an ideal world we would all be able to 100% stay away from other people and some kind of robots would bring food and other essentials to every home, but that’s not the world we live in. Some people have to take higher personal risks to help basic services function and people survive. In some situations, allowing another person in your car so that they can get to their essential job could be a sacrifice that you can do for the good of the community and nation.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I think that is important to consider. What other options does the friend have? If carpooling is a cost/environment saving measure but the coworker has their own vehicle they can take, stop carpooling. If coworker would now have to rely on public transportation, which I’ve been hearing is somewhat unreliable in certain areas right now, that will cause a significant increase in the likelihood of them being exposed and bring the virus to work. Is there even public transportation available right now? Will ending the carpooling essentially cause this person to lose their job?

          No matter what, OP’s friend is completely within their rights to say they aren’t comfortable carpooling right now. But it might be worth taking a look at that might end up increasing their exposure due to the public transport thing.

          1. Annony*

            Yep. If the coworker doesn’t have a car (which we don’t know for sure) it may be better to keep carpooling. However, it is important to keep in mind that by increasing her exposure, the driver is also increasing exposure for her entire household. If anyone in the house is at increased risk, it is reasonable to decide that it isn’t worth it.

        2. Temperance*

          I don’t love how mercenary this is – when you say that “some people” have to basically sacrifice their health and safety for the greater good, and you’re clearly not part of the “some people”. Grocery stores are one of the few workplaces that tend to have unions and be relatively well-paid while not requiring higher education for most roles. They’re not soldiers.

          I support LW’s friend in making whatever choice is safest, and best, for her and for her family.

          1. Shfree*

            I work grocery. We are NOT well paid, and we certainly aren’t getting any extra compensation beyond two weeks extra sick leave if you are out for covid reasons.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Echoing, grocery store employees are not well paid, at all. The one store I worked at demanded 24/7 availability even though they were closed over night. So getting a second job meant you were side-lined for people who could come to work at a moment’s notice. Most people were held at PT to save money on benefits. So a PT worker needed to have 24/7 availability or suffer the consequences of having even less hours.
              I don’t know of any stores in my area with unionized workers.

            2. boop the first*

              Yeah, union super does not equal well-paid. It usually means the company has actual like… policies and stuff, which is a nice change from hospitality and other retail.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yeah, and I don’t know about grocery but a lot of union workplaces have a two-tier system with some union workers and some non-union workers. I once had a manufacturing job where the permanent workers were unionized and paid decently, but the non-union temps like me were paid just above minimum wage with no benefits. Higher ed and hospitals in my region usually also have a similar setup.

            3. Temperance*

              In all fairness, I said “relatively well paid while not requiring higher education for most roles”.

              1. Dahlia*

                Hey, my mom works at our grocery store and makes over 20 dollars an hour. She’s also getting hazard pay and she got a large giftcard as a thank you.

          2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            There is one unionized grocery chain where I live, and several non-unionized.

            1. Temperance*

              I said “relatively well paid” considering that they have a union and don’t have any higher education requirements.

          3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            I actually do work outside my home in a somewhat essential job, and I definitely feel like a soldier. I didn’t think it was relevant for the post so I didn’t specify and English isn’t my native language.

        3. Pommette!*

          I agree that the friend and coworker should figure out what risks make sense in their situation. It may be that sharing a ride is worth it to them… but I think that it’s unfair to frame it in terms of a just sacrifice.

          The fact that the coworker needs to depend on car-sharing reflects the fact that, while the work they do is and has always been essential, grocery workers tend to be seriously underpaid. That never had to be the case. It isn’t fair to ask grocery workers to take what are essentially artificial risks. If companies are worried about continuing to sell goods during this pandemic, and if as a society we’re worried about access to food, we should make sure that front-line grocery workers can afford to travel to and from work safely.

      4. LGC*

        Yeah, that was my first thought about this – it’s better if the coworker can drive herself or otherwise transport herself, but what if the other option is public transportation? What if LW5 is in an area without public transit infrastructure (because America)? I don’t think it’s a black and white, “nope, can’t give you a ride, pandemic.”

        Although LW5 did say that the coworker would be understanding, so it’s probably not that dire. Hopefully, she’s able to find a way to get to work safely.

      5. 5 Leaf Clover*

        Exactly. If the other option is to for the coworker to take public transportation, it is really problematic to stop carpooling. If this were the case, stopping carpooling would reduce OP#5’s number of contacts by one, and increase their coworker’s number of contacts by…. 30 or 40 *per day*? So while I suppose it’s OP’s prerogative, I’d like to hope we are all considering the most good for the most people, rather than what’s best for us alone, in this situation.

        1. Annony*

          I don’t think that is fair. “The most good for the most people” can be hard to quantify. What if the driver has a child with an autoimmune disease and an elderly parent they are caring for? The risk is much higher for them and they wouldn’t be wrong do decide that a healthy coworker needs to figure something else out to mitigate that risk.

          I don’t think that we should tell other people how much risk they should be willing to take. We each need to evaluate our own situation and decide what risks we are willing and able to take and which we are not.

          1. Temperance*

            Thank you! I don’t think that LW’s friend should feel obligated to keep driving her colleague around if she’s not comfortable with it.

            I don’t have elderly people in my house, or children, and I still wouldn’t give someone a ride unless it was an actual emergency. I like my husband. I don’t want him to catch the ‘rona.

            I imagine that as a grocery store employee, LW’s friend is already really stressed and anxious about the virus. If she can do something to lower her personal risk, and the risk to her family, I think that’s fine and she’s not a douche for doing that.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I think it boils down to that OPs Friend is uncomfortable in the end.

      Many are thinking like you and it’s understandable to rationalize if you feel the need.

      But people are already scared enough. They don’t need more judgment over their stress of being unable to have control in their life right now.

      Every risk we take is just that. Another risk. They’re begging people to minimize your exposure. This is one of those times.

      1. Willis*

        I think your first sentence hits the nail on the head. OP’s friend is uncomfortable with it, there’s well-established reason behind not carpooling with someone you don’t live with, and OP’s friend should feel comfortable/not judged for taking the most steps she can to minimize her risk. She’s in the clear saying she can’t carpool.

        But of course OP’s friend making that decision doesn’t eliminate the risk for everyone in the situation, which is what I think some other commenters are getting at. The co-worker will still need to find a way to work, and assuming she doesn’t have an available car, that ultimately that may involve risk for her, whoever ends up driving her, or people on public transit. It’s sort of easy to say you absolutely shouldn’t ride with anyone or take transit when you’re not the one in the dire situation. But if you need your job and don’t have a car or live within bike/walking distance, you have only bad options to choose from. I know lots of people take rideshare to the grocery store in my neighborhood because they can’t afford cars, and I imagine are still having to when other, safer options aren’t available.

    4. Liz*

      Agreed. Car sharing would be considerably safer than taking public transport. Taxi services are continuing to operate for that precise reason, and to allow those on the buses and trains to spread out more. Guidelines state to try and limit to only one passenger and to sit in the back with all the windows down to protect both passenger(s) and driver. If you follow these same rules, the carpool situation seems like the best and safest scenario.

      If people are working in a grocery store, they will be in contact with one another anyway. The purpose of social distancing is to reduce the number of people we contact. By forcing a coworker onto a potentially crowded bus, she’ll be in contact with many more people, most likely strangers, in a setting where she doesn’t have a great deal of control. This puts everyone in that co-worker’s networks at greater risk, including colleagues.

      If the driver feels genuinely uncomfortable then by all means stop, but if the concern is more in terms of overall safety in relation to social distancing, it seems like a false economy to massively increase one person’s exposure in order to minimally decrease another’s, especially when they see one as other regularly anyway.

    5. Myrin*

      Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the strictness of this answer – it seems to, on some level, not be cognisant of the realities of working at the same grocery store.

      I was actually in basically the same situation last week (which is a new thing – no letter has ever been basically 100% about me, and this one is!).

      As some commenters may know, I’m a shelf stocker at a drugstore. There’s six of us stockers, one of them living in the same general direction as me; it’s weird to explain this in English, but he can take one of two ways to get to the store, one of which takes him by my house but is slightly longer. We were chatting and he found out that the train I usually take during the week doesn’t run at the moment so I have to go by the weekend schedule, meaning that for my shift’s start at 7 a.m. I have to take the train which arrives literally right next to the store at 6:08 a.m. This isn’t something that generally bothers me a lot – even if it’s impractical – but people tend to react very “aw you poor thing”-y to it.

      So my coworker offered to pick me up last week (I’m on vacation this week) and I gladly accepted. And the thing is – both he, his wife, and my mother are high-risk, both because of their ages and pre-existing health conditions. But whether any of us stockers carpool or not literally doesn’t matter.

      If it were just about inside the store, maaaaaybe it would – except for me and one other coworker, who are in the same department, we’re very spread out. But we also take breaks together where we literally touch thighs and eat right next to each other. We need to help each other out in the warehouse-y stockroom constantly. My same-department-coworker and I sweated on each other last Saturday when we were grappling with an enormous stack of toilet paper.

      And that’s just the other stockers. We stand right next to the regular workers in the bathroom all the time. We change clothes while standing about 30 cm apart. On Wednesday, a customer called with two questions – one coworker picked up the phone and handed it to someone else for the first question, who then called me for the second question; each one of us breathed onto that phone for several minutes. The aisles are narrow, and two of us need to be in one during the same time at least once every half hour.

      None of that is to say that OP’s friend must continue to give her coworker a lift. Absolutely not! OP says her friend is “concerned about social distancing and having the coworker in her vehicle” and if that’s the case, she’s 100% in her rights to not share a car with her coworker – there is absolutely no question about that.

      But I wrote this essay above because I feel like people not working at stores might have a distorted image of what all that entails and might not realise that it’s quite literally impossible to social distance in that situation unless you’re only, like, three people in a really big store (which is also a thing that exists but brings with itself a whole other set of problems). We do our best to keep an appropriate distance with customers at least (although many won’t let us, really) but all of us are resigned to the fact that if one of us catches it, everyone else will get infected, too.

      1. WS*

        Yes, I work in a pharmacy and while we’re keeping our distance as much as possible, it’s nothing even close to appropriate social distancing from each other. We are gloved, trained not to touch our faces, and are washing our hands about eleven billion times a day, plus there’s no community spread where I live, so odds are good…but if one of us gets it and is asymptomatic, we’re all at risk. And of course if both pharmacists have to quarantine, there’s no backup and the store closes, and we’re the only pharmacy within 50km.

      2. Liz*

        You’ve explained this so well!

        People who are still working, especially in jobs such as this, are often having to work in close proximity anyway. I work in an office, but in healthcare, and there was debate right up until Boris declared official lockdown as to whether we were to stay open or WFH. In that time, one of the first things we did among ourselves was arrange who was going to carpool with the bus commuters, partly for their safety, and partly because it was better for the whole team not to have people coming in having been sitting on a bus with a bunch of strangers. Our office is one small room, and we sit barely 2m apart, and often have to share phones. Sitting diagonally opposite in a well ventilated car is, as far we viewed it, a REDUCTION in risk, not an increase. As you say, it is ABSOLUTELY up to the individual if they feel at risk, but given the number of variables ultimately at work here, I don’t believe the carpool presents all that much of a definite risk compared to the indirect risk of exposure to colleagues who are coming to work on public transport.

      3. Caroline Bowman*

        what a great explanation of what is really an impossible situation. Other than regularly cleaning your hands/ faces/ wearing masks and cleaning the phones, card pads and the like, you cannot possibly maintain total social distance. It’s just not possible.

        My best to you at a very stressful time, doing work that is both necessary and not generally handsomely-rewarded.

      4. Tau*

        I absolutely understand this, but I wonder if this is actually the situation OP’s friend is in. After all, if they’re already in each other’s space all the time, why is she so uncomfortable with the carpooling?

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Because being in car with someone for an extended period of time is not the same as being in the same general area as them for an extended period of time. You’re closer together and in a tightly enclosed space. Just because they work together does not mean they are standing as near each other as they would be in a vehicle.

        2. Myrin*

          Totally possible that OP’s friend is in a different situation! Maybe they’re much fewer employees or have a setup which really does have them interacting only extremely minimally at work. (Although, und nur weil ich manchmal pingelig bin, it doesn’t seem to me like friend is “so uncomfortable” – OP just says that she’s “concerned about” the carpooling, which reads as pretty measured pondering to me, although I could of course be totally wrong.)
          However, I could totally see two of my coworkers being strongly against carpooling, too, even though they’re definitely also in the situations I describe above – I’d say that for them at least, it would probably be mostly psychological. Our breakroom, for example, isn’t actually much bigger than my coworker’s fancy, massive car, but it certainly feels less intimate.)

        3. Eukomos*

          This is 100% a guess, but she can control who gets into her car and she can’t control who she works with. A lot of the recommended actions to limit infection are based on what’s controllable or possible rather than what’s ideal, even from the top experts, and OP5’s coworker certainly isn’t in a position to do more than the CDC. They’re telling us to wear cloth masks because that’s all that’s possible (if even that), and she likely wants to keep a person who she’s moderately exposed to no matter what out of her car where they’re heavily exposed to each other because it’s all that’s possible. Which is totally reasonable and ultimately, what she feels most comfortable with should be the determining factor in her decision here, given that we are operating under these constraints on the possible.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        Remembering how it was in food service, this is correct. You just cannot stay that far away from everyone all the time. Most places aren’t that large. Maybe customers can, but not workers.

      6. Hills to Die on*

        Thank you! I have been trying to explain this up thread and people are stuck on ‘yeah but 6 feet apart’ and folks really, really do not understand the nature of this work. Think of bees in a hive, or an ant colony.
        The most spread out I will be from my coworkers would be in a car. Otherwise we are on top of each other all day long and it is not just this one store. It is all of them.

      7. tinyhipsterboy*

        This comment is really great to show the realities of what our essential workers are dealing with! I appreciate it.

        I do want to point out, though, that it’s not necessarily just about being in the grocery store. While it would be good to have more details (can the coworker walk/bike to work? do they have their own vehicle and just carpool because they’re nearby? if they only have one car, can they have their significant other/parent/roommate drop them off early?), the grocery store isn’t the only place the coworker might go. While their destination is the same (which makes that vector of transmission shared), the coworker might also pick up the virus somewhere else, whether it’s family that does shopping or works elsewhere, friends (if they’re not actually sheltering in place), a secondary job, or going out for other essential goods.

        They work together, but if they don’t work *closely* together (that is, maybe the coworker is a stocker and the OP primarily cashiers, etc.), it’s entirely plausible that OP could catch the virus when they otherwise wouldn’t. Allison’s answer is imperfect, but without knowing more details……

    6. Anonymity*

      I agree. They both mingle at their shared job as it’s really impossible not to. I see no problem with carpooling if they both wear a mask inside the car and wash their hands.

      1. Triplestep*

        Masks available to the general public are pretty ineffective, and are not meant to take the place of social distancing – they are to be used in conjunction with social distancing. I am realizing that I corrected you above, too, and I swear I am not picking on you. But please educate yourself so you can be safe, help keep others safe, and stop giving out advice based on your current interpretation of the guidelines.

    7. Blue S*

      Essential workers in NYC (doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc…) are being forced to commute to work on packed standing room only trains due to service cuts from Covid. So there are a lot if “not ideal” situations for those forced to go to work.

      The coworker who gets rides in a carpool might have no alternative transport to work. I think if both car passengers are wearing masks, and one sits in the backseat, everyone is doing their best to mitigate risk (especially since realistically they probably face a higher risk exposure at their job).

    8. TimeCat*

      I am uncomfortable with strangers second guessing this person’s choice here. We don’t know her situation, but frankly, she could stop giving this person rides for any reason. It’s not a friend’s job to tell her what to do. I mean, would the answer change if the friend had her 80 year old grandma living with her and the coworker was known to still be going to large parties?

      For what it’s worth a car is significantly more exposure because of the closed environment. And yes, she gets other exposure, but this is something she can limit.

      She’s not comfortable doing it anymore. Done.

    9. Laney Boggs*

      Yeah I’m not… I guess a grocery store has more space that it’s easier for employees to keep distance?

      I’m thinking of the restaurant I work in- it’s simply impossible to keep 6 ft apart. Theres not even 6 “vertical” feet that we could safely pass each other going back and forth; and it takes 2 people to operate the sandwich bar so that isnt 6 feet either….

    10. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes they work in the same store. But unless they work in the same department in close proximity to each other, it’s very possible that one of them could be exposed and the other not. So getting into the same car every day is putting the potentially unexposed person at risk to carry it home to their family. And OP’s friend and the co-worker may not be taking the same precautions while working. It’s not silly, and I wouldn’t want to take the extra risk.

    11. anony*

      I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer here, without more specifics. It matters who each of the coworkers is connecting to outside of work (living alone vs. living with someone immunocompromised vs. living with another essential worker who interacts with the public). And it matters what other options there are for getting to work (higher-risk public transit, own vehicle, unable get to work at all). And it matters what level of risk EACH coworker is comfortable taking on, once these specific risk measures are clear to both. What’s best for public health may or may not be what’s best for either of them and their households. Ultimately the driver gets to decide whether or not to continue to offer the carpool, and the passenger gets to decide whether or not to accept.

    12. kittymommy*

      Yeah, I find it highly unlikely that the workers themselves are keeping/able to keep 6 feet apart. I had to go get medication yesterday and the very layout of the checkout and counter work didn’t have enough room for 6 feet.

      This isn’t to say I don’t think that the LW’s friend should continue to take their coworker to work, but I do feel bad for the coworker. They likely don’t have another way to get to work.

    13. Mel (Cow Whisperer)*

      As someone who does work as a clerk at an essential store, the number of people who think that cashiers can totally keep social distancing regulations at work is darkly humorous.

      Stores can try and space open lanes farther apart – but that also creates longer periods of time where people are standing in lines and potentially exposed by freeloaders who break social distancing. There are no registers that are located six feet away from pay points. Sneeze-guards and masks help a bit but air still moves around from one area of the store to another including from by the cashier’s face to the customer’s face.

      I’ve continued giving coworkers who need rides rides to and from work. It’s just basic math – the likelihood of my coworker being exposed on a bus or waiting at a stop is pretty high and all of my coworkers and customers are safer if we can reduce the total number of people are around. And yes, I’ve discussed this with the other five adults I live with or who watch my son so I can continue my job.

    14. Jennifer*

      I agree. The grocery stores where I live are packed and it’s next to impossible to stay six feet away at all times. The aisles aren’t one way. I’ve been trying to do delivery for that reason but it’s expensive and difficult to schedule.

      That being said, it’s the OP’s friend’s car so if she doesn’t want to drive her anymore that’s her prerogative, but it seems like a moot point and kind of a mean thing to do. Now the coworker will either have to take the bus or use Uber or Lyft which also exposes her, and in turn exposes everyone she interacts with at work.

      1. Chris too*

        This is my brother’s situation! He doesn’t have a vehicle and usually catches a ride with a neighbour who is also a coworker. They feel they can keep more distance between each other at work than they would in a vehicle. So he is now walking 90 minutes each way – and truly enjoying it. A walk that seems too long for normal life isn’t too long during a pandemic as long as the person has no physical problems.

  3. PollyQ*

    #4 — Unless this was a really expensive chocolate egg (say, over $25), I’d let it go. Given that there’s so much misery out there right now, I’d think a little less of an employee who raised this as a problem that needed to be somehow solved.

    1. bookartist*

      I understand your point, but the problem to be solved is how many orders did the vendor screw up, not is this employee severely griping over a piece of chocolate? If I were in charge of getting the gifts to staff, I would want to know how many went missing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, the company talked up the gift and told the OP to expect it. It’s not “where’s my chocolate, damn you” — it’s “uh oh, something went wrong with the shipment.” Any decent employer who was trying to do something nice for people would want to know it went missing.

        1. JM60*

          With so many people ordering essentials online, delivery issues due to high demands on carriers should be expected. Some people are relying on carriers for food and medications. While the employer may want to know that the item wasn’t received, I would hope that the employer wouldn’t hassle the carrier about this delivery if it was delayed.

          1. Triplestep*

            Exactly. So LW4, if you decide to let your employer know about this, do not simply use Alison’s script. Make sure you let them know you’d rather not have a replacement ordered given the burden on delivery drivers right now. You simply wanted them to know so they aren’t charged.

            1. Fish*

              She’s allowed to want her nice chocolate gift! So many of the responses to this LW are just bafflingly miserable.

              1. UKDancer*

                Well yes. I mean obviously don’t moan on about it for ages but it’s alright to say you’d like the egg. I mean it’s not as significant as a £5ooo bonus payment but if you’re promised something that doesn’t arrive, it’s perfectly in order to ask about how to get the thing you were promised. So being calm and polite about it as though it’s the most reasonable thing in the world to want, should be perfectly fine for most reasonable employers.

              2. Triplestep*

                No, you’re not baffled by the responses pointing out the inherent problems with an employer sending a frivolous gift right now, or an employee rightfully worried about how she’ll come across if she mentions not getting it. In order to be baffled by that, you can’t have read anything about the current burden on both the supply chain and the delivery stream. You can’t have heard anyone talking about the working conditions delivery drivers are facing, and you can’t have been exposed to any information about how vulnerable people who can’t go out are at the mercy of these overtaxed systems. And it’s just not possible a person wouldn’t have read, heard or been exposed to all that. LW4 certainly has, which is why she wrote in!

                OK, let’s agree that LW4 gets to want her nice chocolate gift. Until she snaps back into reality and realizes all the complicating factors that made it an ill-advised gesture in the first place. I would hazard a guess that many (most?) of the people on the receiving end of this nice chocolate gift felt weird about it; they know they are not the children of parents trying to create a nice Easter experience during a pandemic; they are adults. The only reason to mention anything to the employer is so that they don’t pay for an item not received.

                1. EPLawyer*

                  She’s not living in a fantasy land for wanting her gift. As Alison pointed out — it’s chocolate. Which has known, documented health benefits. Not the least of which are relieving stress. It’s a little thing.

                  Should she go on a rant about it. Of course not. Not even for chocolate. but right now the little things means a lot. No one is going to not get their medication in order for LW to also get her egg. It’s not an either or situation.

                2. Jim Bob*

                  Good grief. I haven’t read anything as self-righteous as this in a long time. LW isn’t taking medication or food from someone by asking for a replacement, and something small to look forward to is bigger than usual right now.

                  I don’t think people have a duty to stay at home, subsist on bread and water, and stare at a blank wall until this is over, even if systems are a little strained right now.

                3. CupcakeCounter*

                  Many of us are locked in our homes unable to do hardly anything and this company wanted to do something nice and relatively inexpensive to give their employees something to look forward to. Guarantee you absolutely no one felt weird about receiving it – it gave them something to look forward to, something to distract them from the monotony of staring at the same 4 walls for days on end trying to figure out what day it is. Little things like this can bring some joy and possibly relief to people right now – what if OP does have a child and their partner is off work and doesn’t qualify for UI and they couldn’t afford to get the kid an Easter basket? A lot of people are struggling with feelings of isolation and depression – getting a little gift like that can make a difference. Hell maybe OP is simply a chocoholic and an egg sounded awesome. Doesn’t matter – OP was told to expect a thing, thing didn’t come, company should know.
                  OP – let you boss know that something went wrong in the delivery and you didn’t receive your egg. They paid for the egg and for it to be delivered to you – that didn’t happen through no fault of yours so next time you talk to your boss just give a quick “Hey I wanted to let you know that nothing arrived for me on Friday from the company”

                4. MCL*

                  It’s also possible that the chocolatier is using its own in-house delivery and this isn’t straining a major carrier at all. Even if it was supposed to be delivered by a major carrier, she’s still allowed to be sad about her undelivered treat and wish she could get a replacement. I would definitely be sad about not getting one too.

                5. Joielle*

                  Jeez. Obviously we all know that delivery systems are burdened right now. Which is a reason to be understanding of delays, not a reason for the company to be charged for something the OP didn’t receive.

                  Also, I’m glad you got that lecture off your chest, but what’s your actual advice? The OP didn’t buy or send the gifts… should she, idk, berate her manager for sending them? Insinuate that her company leadership are unfeeling morons who don’t read the news? I’m not clear on what you think would be the appropriate (MORAL) course of action.

                6. ynotlot*

                  I agree with Triplestep. This is not a normal time and normal parameters don’t apply. We are in a serious crisis and lots of us have family members in dangerous situations who we are worrying about. Of course we each get to feel our feelings, but acting like a missing piece of candy is a problem is kind of tone deaf right now. People are missing PPE they need to do their jobs. LOTS of people. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the scale of this chocolate egg, but I just can’t imagine caring about this. Is there something about this employer sponsored chocolate that can’t be replicated by literally any other chocolate?

                7. ynotlot*

                  And pointing out reality is not “getting on a high horse” or “being self-righteous.” Seriously? Even if you personally aren’t enjoying the reality of this crisis, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening and I promise it is not about you. If you are able to stay at home right now, you’re lucky, even if you hate it or are bored or think it’s unfair. If you’re depressed, okay, lots of us are depressed all the time and we have to handle it in the parameters of reality. Talk to some ICU nurses and I guarantee a chocolate egg will not matter to you right now.

                8. biobotb*

                  Fish said they were baffled by how miserable many comments about the egg are, not by why the egg never showed up. Those are two totally different things.

                9. PB*

                  This is way overstated. I think we’re all aware of supply chain and delivery problems. However, you’re setting up a false dichotomy where either we can support people getting food and medication to live or people can enjoy a gift of chocolate. I’m pretty sure the delivery of one more chocolate egg is not going to lead to someone else not getting life-saving medicine.

                10. Tisiphone*

                  Is it really so wrong to speak up when something is amiss?

                  Is it really so wrong to want to enjoy nice things when they are offered?

                  If it were me, I’d politely mention it in the context of a shipping issue, and if a replacement is offered, I’d say “Yes, please.”

                  I have made use of delivery services for completely frivolous things during this pandemic and I will again. These businesses are often offering delivery services so they can stay in business. If you use them, tip well.

                11. Temperance*

                  Wow. Maybe someone should send you a chocolate egg, you sound like you need it.

                  I order groceries, takeout, and household essentials for delivery. For groceries and takeout, I tip well and basically avoid the delivery drivers. If I need to stay home, I’m going to order laundry detergent and paper towels from Target, and will throw a puzzle on, too, if I’m in the mood. I don’t ask for overnight shipping, I’m polite, whatever.

                12. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Whoa. This reaction is … a lot. Most managers who tried to do something nice for their teams would want to know if someone hadn’t received it. That’s it. I’m closing this thread because it’s so weird (and derailing).

                13. Risha*

                  Yeah, no. Just. No. Turns out it is possible for both the delivery systems to be overstressed AND for people to deserve to receive a small gift via it without feeling some sort of weird misplaced guilt as if a small company’s worth of chocolates will be the straw that crushes the system’s back.

                14. Koala dreams*

                  It’s funny you should say that. I was just reading about how to prepare for a crisis the other day, and chocolate was suggested as one of several shelf stable food options to keep at home in case you can’t get to the grocery store in the future. Chocolate eggs was a very thoughtful gift from the company.

              3. Diahann Carroll*

                Agreed, Fish. There’s no harm in the company sending OP another one if the first package truly was lost.

              4. SomebodyElse*

                Thank you!

                Yes, the OP should let someone at her company know. And should accept a replacement egg if that’s an offer or something else if the egg isn’t possible anymore. And there shouldn’t be any guilt at all!

                It really is ok to want and have nice things during this time. There is no prize at the end for self flagellation and misery.

                If I had sent something to my employees and it didn’t arrive, I would absolutely replace or ship an alternative.

              5. Third or Nothing!*

                I know right? She’s not being entitled for politely pointing out that she never got the thing she was promised. In fact, I’d consider it a courtesy if someone let me know the little treat I tried to send them never arrived – can’t try to get a replacement if I think everything’s hunky dory! And I would definitely want to try to fix it, even if that means seeking a refund and sending an apology to the intended recipient.

                There have been so many comments on various posts lately blasting people and calling them entitled. Let’s all extend a little grace for one another y’all. These are stressful times and we all react to stress in weird ways.

              6. JM60*

                She’s allowed to want this luxury item her employer intended her to have, but she should try to be socially responsible about getting during this time in which overworked carriers are needed for much more essential items. IMO, that means being tolerant of delays for non-essentials. One person wanting their one luxury item prioritized isn’t going to stop people from getting their medications, but enough people doing so for enough items will. I’ve been trying to do my part by selecting slower delivery options for online order I don’t need urgently.

                It’s reasonable to notify her employer that she didn’t yet get it. However, if I were in the OP’s shoes, I would at least let them know this isn’t urgent, and that you’re willing to accept a delay to avoid burdening carriers during this time.

            2. Sacred Ground*

              Ok, as a delivery driver can I just say your concern is misplaced. If I screw up a delivery, it’s a big deal. I’d want to know, my employer would want to know, so we can figure out what happened and how to avoid it again. If the delivery was made to the wrong address, I’d want to know if that was my mistake or did the shipper put the wrong address down. Misdeliveries are a big deal and need to be dealt with right away. It doesn’t matter what’s in the package, food, medicine, chocolate.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                This. It’s an issue for your company getting service they paid for. Doesn’t matter what the “thing” is.

          2. Oh No She Di'int*

            Burdens on delivery drivers and shipping systems are real. However, if the egg was being delivered by a private company then everyone involved in that transaction wants to know about the missing egg, including the company and the driver. Everyone has an interest in that delivery being successful.

            1. JM60*

              It’s one thing to merely mark “this item wasn’t received” on the carriers website, and another to re-order the item with express shipping or to call up the company to try to hurry up the order. IMO, the latter two would be irresponsible for luxury items during this time in which people need carriers for much more essential items. Of course, the OP can’t control how their employer reacts, but they can indicate that they’re willing to wait during this pandemic. We need to be tolerant of delays for non-essentials in the near future.

              I see a lot of comments in this thread along the longs of “This one delivery won’t cause people to miss their meds.” Sure, one person prioritizing one luxury item won’t cause people to miss their meds, but if enough people do for enough items it may. Grocery stores aren’t out of toilet paper because one person bought more than they needed; they happened because many people bought more than they needed.

        2. Annie*

          Postal services are overwhelmed right now. I mailed six parcels two weeks ago, two of them have arrived, parcels that I sent the same day or earlier have not yet arrived.

          Even Amazon Prime is taking a week.

          Could it be that it’s simply delayed?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yup, it’s probably delayed. I just had a package delayed by a few days because the items I ordered had to come directly from one of the stores instead of the distribution center like normal (didn’t figure that out until after the store sent me another replacement).

          2. KRM*

            But they should still be checking on it, because there’s a difference between “delayed but will be there by Friday” and “oh who knows where this went” or “oops, that didn’t get sent”. Because the second two involve people paying money for a service they didn’t get, and that needs to be addressed.

          3. Overeducated*

            Definitely. My mother in law sent us three Easter cards on the same date to the same address (one for each kid). We received two before Easter and the third yesterday. There are weird delays right now.

          4. Venus*

            Different locations have different restrictions. We have plenty of delivery services here, so it’s possible that it was a local store delivering to doorsteps with their staff, thus employing people and supporting local businesses.

        3. Sharikacat*

          The reason for raising concern over the missing egg isn’t the egg itself. If the company thinks that mailing gifts or other tokens to employees is a good idea, the next time they do this, they might be sending something of more importance (work-related documents or maybe gift cards to at least show an effort to help ease uncertainty).

    2. Drago Cucina*

      I’m going to disagree. As a manager I would want to know that something I ordered for someone wasn’t delivered. Add that #4 know others received a little gift. I’d phrase it as, “Hey, this was mentioned and I don’t want you charged for something I didn’t receive.” Since I often paid for staff gifts out of my personal pocket, I’d really want to know.

      1. Mama llama*

        At the VERY least I would want to confirm to the employee that yes, I did intend to send them the same gift their teammates got!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s icky to “think less” of anyone who is simply inquiring where their share is that they were notified about in the first place.

      If it’s $5 Starbucks gift cards or a sack of M&Ms, that’s their pick me up that everyone is getting. Nobody should feel like they should suck up being left out.

      We do gift bags every year for bonus season. If someone doesn’t get one (usually due to absense or being at a conference), there sure as heck ask about it. And it’s just a bag of chocolate and some random inexpensive gadgets everyone can easily live without. But it’s a token of appreciation everyone should be collecting.

      1. Oh So Anon*

        I’m removing your comments from this thread. You can’t be this cranky here; it’s making things really unpleasant for other people. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time, but you cannot vent it all over this comment section. – Alison

        1. UKDancer*

          I don’t know I’d say you never have to assume malice. I think I’d say I don’t tend to assume malice as the default if something goes wrong. If I was promised X benefit and didn’t get it I’d tend to follow up assuming it was an oversight or an error rather than a malicious and conscious decision to deprive me of the benefit. I tend to assume cockup rather than conspiracy. In my company it’s more likely to have been an IT glitch or someone forgetting to sign something.

          Obviously if it’s someone I don’t get on with then maybe it would be more likely to be malice. But in general terms I try to think the best of people until they show me they don’t merit my good opinion. It works for me reasonably well on the whole.

        2. biobotb*

          So what would the OP gain by assuming malice in this instance? Why is it Pollyanaish to assume the most likely thing, that there was a mixup, than that she was overlooked because of malicious intent?

        3. Annony*

          Why start by assuming malice? How is that productive? The best results are obtained by acting as if it were an honest mistake somewhere. I guarantee that politely mentioning that they didn’t receive the thing they were told to expect and asking about a shipping mix up is more likely to get a positive reaction than going on a rant about how the person ordering the eggs is a horrible person who intentionally left out the OP.

      2. Roscoe*

        In normal times I’d agree. But right now just seems bad to me. Like I like chocolate as much as the next guy. But, I really just couldn’t see bringing this up right now

        1. Philly Redhead*

          The employer paid for the gift, and paid for it to be shipped. You wouldn’t want to know that for that cost, the employee never received what they were supposed to? You wouldn’t want your money back for an item that was never received?

    4. JamieS*

      If I were the employer and paid X amount of dollars for something and expected it to be delivered to my employees I’d want to know if it wasn’t. I don’t care if the item that wasn’t delivered was 50 cents or $500.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly this! It’s not about “I didn’t get my chocolate,” it’s about, “Hey, you spent money on something and it didn’t arrive so you should take it up with the company or delivery service.” In fact, all of this talk about a target on the LW’s back for inquiring about her reward… I might actually think less of someone who knew the company was spending money at a time like this and just kind of threw up their hands and said, oh well, too bad, it’s only $50.

      2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Exactly, we had a problem years ago with low-value gifts being “lost” in the internal mail system. It turned out they were being pilfered along the way by someone because they were low value. The thought process was that no one would notice or care because of that.

    5. Gaia*

      I would want to know because I would want my employee to know they weren’t neglected! Also, I’d want to be sure it wasn’t a more widespread issue with the vendor.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Exactly. I’d want to be able to check whether there was an issue with delivery, and if the error was at my end I would want to know, both to ensure that the employee who raised it wasn’t left out, but also so I could double check and make sure I didn’t inadvertently leave out someone else as well

    6. AutolycusinExile*

      Given that there’s so much misery out there right now, I’d think that the delivery of a gift can make a much bigger difference in someone’s day than usual. I don’t mean to be rude, but c’mon – this argument goes both ways, and mentioning something to the organizer is hardly throwing a huge problem onto their plate. They call the chocolate vendor and arrange to send another one out or maybe send OP a gift card to pick something themselves on their own time, problem solved – it’ll probably take them fifteen minutes and they’ll feel better themselves for having made OP’s day a little better.

      Obviously don’t be confrontational about it, and definitely assume mistake rather than malice, OP – but don’t feel afraid of mentioning something! Any decent person would feel bad that a ball got dropped somewhere and this is NBD to rectify.

      1. KR*

        This is what I’m thinking. I have to ship items out frequently for work and if one of my team members just didn’t tell me they got a package they were due to receive…. Well I’d be frustrated! I need to track that down and see what happened. It’s my job to do so.
        OP even says herself in the question, “I feel petty complaining about this, but I also feel left out (I’m sure was not on purpose, but still). ” So she knows it’s not a vital delivery. She’s still allowed to feel upset about it and want the egg and ask what happened. Obviously she shouldn’t be rude and I’m puzzled by all the commenters who are acting like OP is hopelessly out of touch with current events to even ask the question.

      2. JM60*

        The receipt of luxury items may have a greater than usual impact right now due to what’s going on, but on the flip side, the delivery of such items during these times can have a disproportionate affect on carriers (who people are relying on for essentials). We need to be tolerant of delays for non-essentials during this time. One person wanting one item to be prioritized isn’t going to cause other people to not get their medications in time, but enough people doing so for enough items could.

        Chances are, the item is just delayed, and will eventually arrive. Last Friday wasn’t that long ago.

    7. Mookie*

      I think PollyQ has a point and there is some real tension between answers 4 and 2. If a softly worded Where Mah Egg? means that this “delivery service” (presumably a private company, not a national postal service that may need the business and for which maintaining and keeping occupied a fully operational staff is for the country’s greater good) has to make an excess trip that involves additional contact with people (choc egg distribution center and beyond), that strikes me as inessential, particularly given what’s being delivered. I don’t hold the LW responsible for that, but it’s a dilemma with tangible stakes. Sure, her employers should get some small measure of compensation for the flub, but I’m of the mind that responsible tokens of gratitude can be virtual and on-line now, like a gift voucher, and that something like that should be given as a replacement.

      If we’re going to advocate for mitigating risk for the good of people working outside of shelter right now, maybe we should be consistent and reasonable about it.

      1. KR*

        Most likely they will just stop by OPs house next time they’re doing that route. I work with major shipping carriers all the time. They won’t make special trips with a national contract with a major company, doubt they’re doing that for an egg

        1. kt*

          Agree. These folks are working anyway.

          I understand peoples’ concern about putting delivery workers at risk. A real risk coming up is that a lot of folks in the logistics industry will be out of jobs. Yes, the industry has seen a real surge in some sectors, but in others there’s been an incredible crash. I work for a major logistics company and keeping track of this fluctuation and what it’ll mean over the next year is my job.

          All of this is a devil’s bargain because putting all these folks out of work isn’t going to support their health all that well either. As often is the case, we’re trying to make this a case of personal responsibility when the reality this is just a detail in a societal play. We need testing, contact tracing, PPE, good pay and good working conditions for people who are working, health care for anyone who needs it, monetary support for people to stay home if they need to *not* be working near others. Trying to shift all this burden onto the carpooler or the employee who didn’t get their gift or the delivery driver or the manager may be cathartic but ultimately it gets us nowhere. We’re all interconnected and no progress can be made as long as we focus on each tree instead of the forest, each grain of wheat that went into the loaf of bread, each feather in the bed we made and now have to sleep on.

          I’ll try to put my money where my mouth is and 1) write a letter to an elected representative, using 2) stamps from the post office to send, and 3) I’m going to get off the internet and do something productive with my emotions!

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            You may be off the internet by now, but I’m so glad you said this. A lot of this quibbling over whether it’s good or right to make an issue of this one egg delivery reminds me of people who go ballistic when you fail to recycle that one coffee can. The individual is not the main player when it comes to environmental problems. And the rhetoric of “little actions add up” is all well and good except that it tends to displace onto the individual what is actually the responsibility of much larger and more powerful forces.

            Note that this is not a screed against doing one’s part; it’s simply about proportion. LW4’s egg is NOT what’s stressing the delivery system at the moment.

    8. Triplestep*

      I agree. I’d actually think less of an employer who decided it was OK to put more on the backs of delivery drivers right now. I isolate due to my own vulnerability and my mother’s, and I haven’t gotten a single essential on time. I am understanding about the extra long lead times now, and grateful for delivery drivers who are front line workers, risking their health every day. The missing egg is more than likely a delivery issue and not a vendor issue, and may still show up. But who the hell thinks adults working from home need chocolate eggs so badly that it’s OK to put more burden on a delivery system that’s overtaxed for things people actually need?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My dad is a Wal-Mart truck driver. You might be doing your part and only eating bologna sandwiches, but Wal-Mart is restocking all their grocery goods (and other goods in the areas where the full store is open). Do people need ice cream? Is it worth putting these drivers at risk for everyone’s junk food (including mine)? You might think this is a low exposure job, compared to a UPS driver or something, but it’s really not. If we want to complain about the OP’s egg, then everyone better be eating a minimalist diet now.

        My dad’s perspective is it’s good to be employed. He’s 68 and planned to retire by 70, and he’s happy to be out there working while his retirement is taking a bit of a hit. Some drivers might have a different perspective, but I think many of them need the work now and will take it even if the workload is up.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It also cripples our economy more so to remove whatever food items we want to debate about.

          Experts say that “comfort food” helps many through the stress of isolation as well. Eating like you’re on wartime rations isn’t the answer to emerging from this as adjusted as possible.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Right? There are already a lot of supply chain problems due to the restaurant and public school food demand being down and home demand being up.

          2. Zillah*

            yup. i’ve been avoiding comfort food, and i’ve been losing weight because it’s where i’ve gotten a lot of my calories from in the past – and for someone who started out underweight, that’s not a good thing.

        2. Syfygeek*

          AnotherAlison, please thank your dad for me! And with people supposed to be staying home, I hope he’s got clear roads in front of him.

      2. schnauzerfan*

        Our local chocolate truffle makers (we have several in town) are begging people to order from them. One has a drive thru window, two of the others are doing deliveries themselves. They are all small business that will surely go under if business dries up. They’d be delighted to have a big order to fill, and they’d definitely want to know who was supposed to get that orphaned egg that was left behind.

        1. Temperance*

          A Philly-based business is doing a truffle and beer pairing (virtually!), and I love how creative the small business community has been.

            1. Temperance*

              HomeBrewed Events is running it, and it’s Love City Brewing and I can’t remember the chocalatier! Check Home Brewed Events on FB or Love City and you’ll find it!

          1. schnauzerfan*

            Cool. Yes. One of the few good things to come out of this situation is all the new things that are getting tried. Some of them will stick I’m sure.

          2. Third or Nothing!*

            That sounds fun! If I were local I’d totally participate.

            I keep waiting on the virtual event announcement a local art teacher promised she’d put together – a bottle of wine from a local winery plus an art kit and a live video where she’ll show us how to do the planned project. I really want to do it and I hope she can get it put together soon!

            1. Joielle*

              That sounds amazing! My mom did a virtual wine and paint thing the other day – pre-order online, drive up to the art store, they put the package of paint/canvas/brushes in your trunk (BYO wine though). Then the actual painting class was the next day on Zoom. I haven’t seen anything like that in my area but would totally do it!

        2. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, my first assumption wasn’t FedEx, it was “local chocolate store doing their own deliveries so as to not go under,” especially given the assumption that they would all be delivered on the same day. Sooooooo many places near us are doing that, and almost entirely via unattended dropoff delivery, which minimizes risk. In many cases this isn’t just a way to keep the business afloat. Our local chocolatier has transitioned cashiers into delivery drivers to keep them on payroll.

          If I were a business in that circumstance, I’d want to know right away so I could rectify my mistake.

    9. Daisy*

      But it was the employer who decided that chocolate eggs were an important thing that needed to be sent. You’d have to be an enormous hypocrite to post everyone chocolate and then turn round and say ‘Why are you caring about chocolate AT A TIME LIKE THIS?’ I mean, lots of employers are enormous hypocrites, maybe you are too, who knows, but I think that’s an absurd position.

      1. Caliente*

        Oh I wrote that at the bottom but glad you wrote it here. I don’t know why that stuck in my craw but yeah, I have no patience for the type of people who judge others for raising WHATEVER it is they want to raise. Like who left you in charge or everyone else- sheesh. I would “think a little less of” should be used more judiciously if at all because you shouldn’t be judging people. Mind your own business and you’ll be happier in life. Learn to control YOUR self and you’ll be happier in life. And most of all stop judging other people because you don’t know anything about anyone else’s situation even if you think you do.

        1. Tisiphone*

          That same thing sticks in my craw, too. The idea that other people can have nice things, but if you speak up for yourself, you’re a selfish, uncaring, suboptimal specimen of barely-human sludge. And by “selfish” these judgmental types mean “putting yourself ahead of last”.

          This idea is likely why this is a common topic. It’s not about the chocolate, it’s about how to ask for something for yourself that others got without putting yourself ahead of last. It can’t be done. Judgers gonna judge, and let them be the ones agonizing over letter writers having nice things.

          LW#4 – It probably was a shipping mixup. I hope it gets sorted soon and may the egg be your favorite kind of chocolate.

      2. Joielle*

        This! The company clearly thought it was a gesture worth doing.

        TBH, if I was the manager and found out later that the OP didn’t get the egg and didn’t bring it up, I’d be a little concerned. Like, am I really so unapproachable that they couldn’t come to me with this little thing? Or are they so conflict-averse that they couldn’t bring themselves to mention it? It just seems less awkward to bring it up than not.

      3. Willis*

        This. And it kind of sounds like the company made a somewhat big deal about it…announcing the eggs, confirming addresses, telling people to stay home to get them. So someone there obviously cares about these eggs. It’s not outrageous that the OP let them know it never arrived.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. Agreed.

          This happens often enough here where we start out with a specific situation and try to come up with general approaches for every similar situation. I am not sure that helps the OPs.

          Each situation is unique because people are different. The company wanted her to have a chocolate egg, we know this part. We don’t know her boss’ personality or anything else. It sounds like OP could mention it to her boss. It could be that OP decides not to mention it. I think we forget about this second part and we react as if it’s a done deal.

          But somehow we jump to what everyone should do each time this type of thing occurs. That’s not the question. The question is about one person, one company and one egg.

          Eh, maybe someone stole it off the porch. I know my packages here can get blown down the driveway and I have to go running after them. We got a box to put parcels in because my husband received many packages for his work. The next hurdle was getting the delivery person to CLOSE the lid on the box. Packages would be put in willy-nilly so the lid could not possibly close and I still had to run down the driveway to catch them. Yeah, a simple thing like parcel delivery got pretty intense for a while there.
          The point is that all kinds of odd stuff happens, and there is no harm in checking to see what happened.

    10. Roscoe*

      Me too. I read this and was thinking of a nice way to say what you did. It just seems very minor. I started a new job right when this all went down (I’m very lucky I know). They sent all the new people company t-shirts. I couldn’t imagine complaining that I didn’t get my free t-shirt. Now if they brought it up, sure. But I just would feel weird about bringing that up considering everything else happenening

      1. Caliente*

        Such interesting points of view. If I told someone I sent them something and they never told me they didn’t get it, I would wonder what was up with the person. Like, dude I even gave you a heads up that I was sending it, why wouldn’t you say anything if you didn’t get it?
        Anyway, moving on…

        1. KR*

          Yes – this! If my boss told me, “make sure all team members get this item of clothing” and I sent it, and then later on he says, “Why doesn’t this person have a shirt? I thought you sent that.” It’s going to look bad on me! UPS tracking data only goes back so far and it’s a lot easier to fix the situation right as it happens than wait months and months until it’s a less pandemic-y time to bring it up.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep. (And it’s not *complaining* — it’s giving info about something the manager was obviously excited about making sure you had. If I found out my employee hadn’t felt comfortable telling me it hadn’t arrived, I’d be baffled.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The reason why an employee may not mention it is because not all managers handle the problem. Some managers can get pretty rough over very simple issues. Unless the employee is confident in knowing their boss, they may chose not to kick a potential hornet’s nest. Some managers just can’t handle this sort of question. I am kind of optimistic here because OP does not mention, “BTW, my boss is a jerk and can’t be trusted to respond in a civil manner.” That’s an important piece of info, I seriously doubt OP forgot to mention it if this were the case.

          2. Heather*

            In the middle of a pandemic, while people are worried about losing their jobs and managers are scrambling to find work and solve the millions of problems that arise from remote work etc., you’d be “baffled” why someone didn’t flag that a chocolate treat wasn’t delivered? I wouldn’t be afraid to tell my boss, but I definitely wouldn’t bug them about this since I know they have so many other things to deal with right now.

            1. Eukomos*

              The boss is trying to improve employee morale, this is at least mildly important to them and it’s well within their rights to have feedback on how the morale project is going. Not giving people information that they ought to have isn’t really a kindness to them. Telling them that there’s zero urgency on your end, you appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture and to please handle it when they really do have time is a kindness. Other people don’t need you managing their schedules for them, though, they’re usually going to be better at doing it themselves.

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              I’m sorry, but if I sent a thing I’d want to know if it wasn’t delivered. It doesn’t need to be a big thing, just I need to be know about it, then I can decide how to deal with it.

              Yes, I’d want to know even if I was busy. It would let me know there was a possible issue with my vendor or shipper. It would determine whether I could use that shipper for time sensitive or critical items if they can’t do on-time delivery of a piece of chocolate.

              I have had very few bosses who wouldn’t want to know that it never got there.

    11. Caliente*

      That’s interesting- I’d think a little less of someone who thinks a little less of someone for raising an issue that they don’t think is important.

    12. Granger*

      I’d let it go anyway – it was a nice thought and OP states they believe it was an honest error – ONWARD! (imo)

      1. Granger*

        I’ve been reading more of the responses to OP4 and I just realized something – my automatic first response of “eh – let it go” strongly reflects my “5 Love Languages”, where “gifts” are wayyy, way low at #5. Don’t care, don’t want them.

        So, it was genuinely surprising to me to read the passion and strong feelings in the comments here about really wanting the egg (I don’t mean that with judgment! Just that’s SO interesting at how wide the spectrum of caring about the idea of a company gift can be!). I’m wondering if anyone else who has strong feelings about the egg dilemma has taken the 5 love languages quiz and if the “gift” language score aligns to their feelings about OP and the missing egg – ?

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Gifts are dead last for me too and I’d send a polite note to my employer letting them know I never got it. Just because if I were trying to send a nice little treat to someone, I’d want to know so I could rectify the situation – whether that’s requesting a replacement or a refund and also sending an apology that it didn’t work out like we planned.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          I’ve taken that quiz, don’t know how much I believe it, and Receiving Gifts was #4 in order of importance for me. That said, I absolutely think OP needs to say something about the missing egg. We’re in the middle of a global crisis right now with no end in sight, everybody’s effing miserable right now, and there’s very little to look forward to. If receiving a chocolate egg makes OP feel a little less shitty about life, then dammit, she should have it!

        3. Koala dreams*

          I was told growing up that it’s polite to thank for the gift after it arrived, so the sender knows I got it, or politely point out that it didn’t get here in case the sender just forgot to send it. Good rules for social things, but workplace norms often differ from social norms.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Ooh, good point! I think that may be why I’m so mystified as to why several people are taking such issue with poor LW4. It just seems rude to me, as a Southern US woman, to not politely say something if I was told to expect a special surprise and it never arrived, because the sender would be hurt if I didn’t. In certain circles (i.e. my grandmother’s friend group) it would be a passive aggressive way to say you don’t care enough about their gesture to think it warrants a mention. (I mention the Southern-ness since I know culture will play into this significantly.)

        4. Lynn Whitehat*

          Gifts are a distant 5th for me on that quiz. I would probably let someone know I didn’t receive it, though. This seems like the kind of situation where everyone assumes someone else will speak up, and I try to be the person who speaks up in these situations. It could be the poke someone needs to send out a follow-up that “we have learned that the eggs will be delayed a week”, or figure out that none of the eggs got shipped, or whatever.

        5. Eukomos*

          Gifts are pretty high up for me. I find that people often don’t understand that it’s really the thought that counts in terms of gifts; it’s the person’s desire to do something kind, their willingness to spend some resource of their own to do the kindness, and their understanding of the giftee well enough to choose a genuinely appreciated gift. Quite similar to acts of service, which is also high up for me.

          That means it’s not the end of the world if the giftee doesn’t get a gift through no fault of the gifter, but if they did in fact correctly choose a gift that is right for the giftee then it’s disappointing not to get it, and if the gift isn’t actually handed over the social ritual isn’t complete which lessens the force of it, if that makes any sense. The boss is trying to do something nice here, so I would assume they’d be upset that the attempt has failed, you know? And hiding it from them doesn’t feel right, almost patronizing, like they couldn’t handle finding out.

    13. Artemesia*

      This is like not saying anything when the flower arrangement arrives limp and ugly. The giver paid for the delivery of something nice — and needs to know what they paid for was not delivered.

      You approach this as ‘you indicated we were getting a small chocolate surprise but mine was not delivered and you might want to see if your vendor missed others as well.’ I don’t want to be paying for gifts that are not delivered.

      1. Eukomos*

        Interesting, I wouldn’t mention anything if flowers showed up damaged, but I’d absolutely mention if they didn’t show at all. Not really sure why. I just want the circle completed, I guess.

  4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    As a manager who takes chocolate gifts extremely seriously ;) I would want to know if someone’s package went missing.

    It’s something you were told to look out for. Others confirmed they got treats. I would bet they got lost in transit. I’d be upset if I knew an employee felt they couldn’t say their goodies were MIA.

    Don’t send all caps like “WHERE MY CHOCY EGGS AT, BUTT MUNCH?!” but do say “I waited for that package you mentioned would be here on Friday and nothing showed. Just wanted to bring it to your attention!”

    Our first chocolate arrived smashed to hell. So I’m all sorts of still chirpy about it. There was an Easter miracle where the replacements arrived right in that final hour, phew.

    1. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      Genuinely going to laugh for a long, LONG time at “WHERE MY CHOCY EGGS AT, BUTT MUNCH?!” Oh man, thank you for that. ::wiping tears::

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know; drinking chocolate milk when I read that. I should know better than to drink while I’m here. :’D

    2. Princess Deviant*


      Omg this is so funny! Thanks for the gigglesnort.

    3. Grey Coder*

      And in the current Situation, delivery services may be overwhelmed, so it may just be a matter of chasing up tracking numbers. I had something sent via a 48 hour service which took over a week to get to me, but at least I could see it was still in transit.

    4. Roscoe*

      While I still think this is a relatively minor thing, assuming this was sent on Tuesday at the latest, I would probably wait a couple of days. Deliveries in general are taking longer than usual. If its necessary to contact someone, for something like this, I’d wait at least a week after it was supposed to be delivered. Hell, even Amazon says give something 48 hours after it says delivered before calling them. This isn’t an essential or time sensitive item. If she gets the egg this Friday instead of last friday, there is no difference

      1. Dust Bunny*

        The thing is . . . it’s food. It may not be that appetizing in a couple of days, depending on the conditions of storage or transit. We had a freak cool front here in SE Texas but otherwise, after a couple of days, this would be inedible due to the heat.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yeah, it’s chocolate too. Candy Warehose requires expedited shipping due to its vulnerability to temperature changes.

        2. CupcakeCounter*

          Meanwhile it is snowing here in Michigan where people are whining that garden centers are closed.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Except in this case it doesn’t sound like Amazon. I think a lot of people are assuming that this was purchased online from a retailer who uses FedEx or Amazon or whatever, but my assumption is that it’s a smaller setup, considering everyone else got their eggs on the same day. Like a local candy store or something. Regardless, I think the LW would be fine to say something today, I don’t think she has to wait a week.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If you aren’t the one who ordered them, you don’t know who shipped them or when that they are expected to actually arrive.

        If you wait too long to report the delivery missing, you can forfeit your ability to claim it on a vendor level in many situations.

        Waiting an extra day is one thing but don’t wait a week. That makes it messier and more annoying when you don’t speak up in a timely manner.

        Amazon is a broken ass company. Nobody else is struggling to keep up like they are. We’re still shipping, carriers are still on time. The issue is fulfillment side and inventory management not delivery agents. I know, we’re still fully operational and I’m the buyer.

        1. KR*

          Great last point. I ship things all over the south US using UPS and have not seen any delays. I think delivery workers may be backed up in some places, but what I’ve seen all of the delays are in getting items out of the warehouses and PPE, not actually getting the items to the door.

        2. schnauzerfan*

          That’s not correct. Chewy and Stitch Fix are both struggling to get things out. (not that I need new work clothing right now…) But the dogs are a little worried.

          1. Hillary*

            So this is what I do for a living. ;-)

            Our carriers are generally hitting their promises for pickup and delivery within North America. We’ve seen a few areas with delays while the local government sorted out what was and wasn’t essential, but that’s about it. Most of my carriers are actually doing better than normal because their volume is down.

            Warehouses and inbound materials from overseas, on the other hand, stink. Inventory (if it exists at all) is in the wrong place, staff and companies are quite reasonably making decisions to keep employees as safe as possible, and demand isn’t following any historical patterns. Everybody’s safety stock plans were completely wrong for this kind of crisis. On top of that China basically stopped shipping n late January. We didn’t feel the effects for a bit because we’d all stocked up before Chinese New Year, but at this point we mostly haven’t received inbound inventory for six-eight weeks.

            1. President Porpoise*

              Not to mention that for many items shipped via passenger aircraft – those planes ain’t flying, so those things ain’t moving. So far, not too bad in terms of booking issues as a result, but some delays. Hi, other logistics/customs/related areas person!

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            We’ve been getting our deliveries from Chewy in the time frame they promise, but it’s such a LONG time frame these days. What used to take 2-3 days is now taking a week. (Which is fine, except that we’re experimenting to find the cat food that all 3 half-grown kittens can eat without diarrhea, and with such a long lead time we have to buy a lot all at once just to learn that it’s no bueno. We have a LOT of canned food to donate to the local humane society.)

        3. HBJ*

          Agreed. I typically shop second hand, but I am having to order a bunch of clothes for one of my children online because I was holding out for spring consignment sales to roll around to move to the next size, and they are obviously all canceled, and the thrift stores are close. Carter’s is taking forever and a day to ship. ThredUp took a little longer than usual. But once they shipped, they came super fast. I’ve shipped stuff personally that arrived really fast. This is all USPS. No issues once it’s actually shipped.

        4. kt*

          Agree. Carriers are rolling and getting things done, but I’ve heard from numerous shippers that they’re having trouble on the warehouse and fulfillment side — and THAT’S OK if it’s keeping their fulfillment folks safe. When you have to move everyone apart in a warehouse, or people stay home because someone in the family is immunocompromised, those are *solutions* not problems (if you’re still financially supporting the folks staying home). If you’re staggering pickups so you don’t have drivers forced to sit together in a small room or forced to wait outside for hours while you load their trucks, that’s good. Mitigation measures and health and safety measures add time at this point, and we all need to be cool with that. The actual driving of a truck from one location to another is pretty much as safe as always, and drive times have even dropped with less traffic on the road.

        5. Aurion*

          It really depends on locale. Where I am there’s a shortage of drivers on UPS’s side by about half their usual numbers (confirmed by an interim UPS driver when ours didn’t show up), plus other logistical problems at their distribution centres. Shipments that should take two days take a week. Shipments that should take a week are taking 2 and a half. My suppliers’ warehouses are fulfilling on time, they’re just stuck in the delivery phase.

          None of that needs to be divined by OP. OP should bring it up gently to management, and let the buyer sort out what’s going on for all the reasons you said–could be a lot of things. The answer might be “sorry the delivery system is overwhelmed, hopefully it shows up soon, if not we can get you a replacement”. Could be “it missed the delivery truck, it’ll arrive today”. But the buyer is the one who has (or can get) the info, OP shouldn’t need to guess.

    5. Yorick*

      Another thing is the OP’s company could’ve missed one of the orders and not actually sent one to OP, and they could fix that by sending an e-gift card or something. They would absolutely want to know that something they tried to send wasn’t received.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Having dealt with logistics and buying all these years, there is a lot that could really have happened!

        I’m thinking it’s local because Fedex doesn’t collect signatures right now.

    6. Narise*

      I haven’t heard the phrase ‘butt munch’ in forever!! Thanks for giving me something to laugh about. I plan to find a way to use it at least twice a day for a week!

  5. Heidi*

    Re: Letter 3. I guess if you own a company and put a ton of work into making it a success, you can lose sight of the fact that other people are there because they are getting a paycheck and not just for the good of the company. It sounds like the boss is pretty stressed out, and the push back from OP might make him angry for sure. At the same time, it sounds like he REALLY needs the help. OP might have more power than they think they do here.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      I think it’s super important for LW3 to be aware that they might not be rehired after the pandemic and that’s not something they should count on. The business might not survive, especially based on how the boss appears to react to stressful situations and not having funds to cover expenses.

      If their boss is asking them to commit unemployment fraud, that is a really big deal, and if the response to having what he’s doing pointed out to him is anything other than “Oh shit you’re right, what was I thinking?” then that is an even bigger deal.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This x 1000. The Boss wants LW to commit fraud in order to keep HIS company running. It will be LW that pays the price if caught. LW will have to pay back any unemployment, not Boss.

        This has come up in a bunch of letters lately. And its the same as pre-Covid19, you owe your company good work in exchange for a paycheck. PERIOD. The company does not deserve more loyalty than it shows you. For “the good of the company” is just that — for the company. Not a whit of loyalty to you. If you ain’t getting paid, you don’t have to do anything.

        LW, you know exactly what your boss is like. You are worried about being rehired if you do not act illegally at this time “for the good of the company.” Your boss has shown you his loyalty to you — none. Do not do what he proposes. Use the time off to work on your resume so you can start a job hunt.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t count on being rehired. This guy’s business might not even be around after all this, given the direction it’s going. In fact, given how shady he is, there’s a non-zero chance that it won’t be around because he’ll be slapped with huge fines… or in jail.

      2. Gatomon*

        Yes, the penalties for UI fraud are severe, at least in my state, and when times are good they often shift focus back to fraud prosecution. In my state they can go back up to 3 years. That is why it’s really important to keep records of all your job searching when on UI. If they start auditing you you’ll need those records. Buried within the fine print they usually tell you what you’re responsible to track.

    2. MK*

      If you own a company, in times of need you put in double+ the amount of work to make it viable. You don’t ask your employees to put themselves at risk and commit fraud, so that you can sustain the illusion of yourself as a bussiness owner and #boss. Most of the tasks the OP describes are things the onwer could do themselves, and should do themselves, if they want the bussiness to survive, even of they have to work 20 hours a day, because he is the owner.

      1. KC without the sunshine band*

        Yes, this. Business owners are supposed to take on the responsibility of keeping the ship afloat and being a viable business after the storm is over. For this sacrifice, they receive the benefits of owning a successful business (aka the profits), which are not guaranteed. It is a sacrifice of not just time, but stress, and financial security.

        People want the owner to step up and take care of things in times like this (correct), and yet think the business owner doesn’t “deserve” the profits that come from the business. This is why I have no stomach for people whining about being underpaid and blaming the business owner for it. If someone is underpaid, they should be able to go elsewhere and get a better paying job. If the business owner is willing to tolerate high turnover to keep the payroll low, that is a business strategy decision. The profits of a business are earned but unlike a paycheck aren’t guaranteed. Let’s remember this in a few months when we once again have people complaining about their wages.

        That was a total tangent….

        1. Perpal*

          Meh, just because something is legal and viable, doesn’t make it distasteful. Treating people you are in a relationship with (Even a business relationship) like crap is gross.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          So if a business owner can’t run the business without the employees’ work, don’t they deserve a fair share of the profit they’ve made possible?

          If a company doesn’t pay enough for employees to be able to afford basic rent, food, and medical care, the employees have no right to complain?

          How are employees supposed to just ~go elsewhere and get a better paying job~ in the face of double-digit unemployment?

        3. biobotb*

          So owning a business makes it OK to mistreat and underpay the people who work for the business and make those profits possible? Wow. Just wow.

        4. MK*

          Nonsense. No one should have to support the owner’s dream of owning a business with their underpaid labor, and the people who accept such jobs usually have little choice, because they want to eat and pay rent. What I cannot stomach is the whining of business owners who want the labor necessary to keep their business running and growing but are unwilling to pay for it; if you want low payroll you hire fewer people and either work yourself to the bone or accept that your business will stay small.

      1. Clorinda*

        I think Heidi is suggesting that OP’s choices are not binary between (1) commit unemployment insurance fraud or (2) get fired for not caring about the company, but that there is a viable third option: do everything by the book and insist on getting paid a reasonable amount.

        1. Heidi*

          Yes, this exactly. I think that the OP has more power to bargain with the boss for fair working conditions (getting paid for work being the bare minimum) if OP has something the boss needs and cannot easily get somewhere else (he can’t hire and train someone new and also not pay them). Like a labor union, only it’s just the OP.

        2. Yvette*

          Agreed, but the third option may result in part time pay for part time work which may be less than the employee would receive than if they were getting unemployment benefits. In my state, you can work occasionally while collecting unemployment for having lost a full time job, the wages are deducted from the unemployment check. For example, my friend was laid off from her teaching job at a pres-chool, collected unemployment, but would occasionally put in and get paid on the books for a day’s work substituting. She would declare it when doing her weekly filing, and it would be deducted from the unemployment amount. I don’t know if all states do this however.

    3. Old Cynic*

      I was expecting LW3 to complete the story with the fact the boss was self-quarantining at their lake house.

      1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        Agreed. Picking up the mail, making phone calls and depositing checks aren’t exactly niche skills. Unless the boss is particularly vulnerable, like going through chemo, or already infected and must stay quarantined, he can do those himself.

  6. Avasarala*

    #2 Thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
    Honestly we should be treating you with the same respect we show to veterans… which isn’t that much either, and that says a lot.

    When people express their gratitude to you, if it’s someone in your company, ask them to remember this when they set employee salaries. Anyone else, ask them to remember this when they are voting to increase minimum wage and uncouple healthcare from employment.

    I know I will.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      Agreeing with all of this. Things need to change, especially the part where everyone who isn’t a billionaire is fixated on whether anyone else who isn’t a billionaire might be getting more than them instead of deciding that maybe the problem is actually the billionaires. (Weird idea, I know.)

      1. MK*

        It’s pretty sad that when people hear one person’s unemployment benefits are more than another person’s salary, they immediately think about how unfair it is the first one is getting paid for not working, not how unacceptable it is the second one’s salary is less than a benefit calculated to tide people over through rough times.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          . . . but I think it’s understandable in this circumstance since we’re all being told to stay home and stay safe, which you can do if you’re unemployed but can’t do if you’re being underpaid at the grocery store. If we weren’t all at risk of being exposed to a potentially-deadly virus it would be different, but it’s not just money and jobs at stake here.

          1. MK*

            It is understable, but it’s important to remember that it’s mostly the luck of the draw, not other people’s fault in many cases. My work has always been 80% wfh and essential, which means I still have a job and am not in danger of losing it, I can stay home and safe, I am set up to wfh and am used to it. The pandemic has affected me minimally and I am very lucky; the only drawback is the 20% that is curently accumulating and I will be completely swamped whenever the restrictions lift. I am incredibly lucky compared to almost everyone else, but sheer dumb luck, not an intentional injustice perpetrated against other people.

        2. KN*

          I am LW #2 and I wanted to clarify so that no one thinks I am blaming our furloughed workers for the situation we are all in.

          My company has furloughed thousands of people, meaning that they are eligible for unemployment and the company will continue to pay for their benefits while this is going on. When things pick up, they will bring them back. In the meantime, the workers that have been deemed essential must continue to report to work and pay for their own benefits. This has nothing to do with the people who are at home. But I do think it is important to highlight that people who are being asked to take a higher risk are also making less money, in some cases $1,000 + a month less.

          I am hoping that the next round of stimulus includes some sort of specific benefit for essential workers, particularly those that are customer facing. It is important to take care of each other in times of great chaos. But we also need to be sure that when we ask people to serve others, we compensate them for that risk. Anything less than that is a recipe for a disaster and an overwhelming sense of being taken advantage of.

          1. JustaTech*

            That puts a different spin on things. KN, you company should really be doing hazard pay or something like it for everyone who is still working. Do you have a union? Would they be willing to talk to the company on behalf of everyone who’s still working?

          2. Blueberry*

            You have to pay for your own benefits because you weren’t furloughed? That is deeply unfair. I have no advice but I had to say you have all my sympathies.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      YES. The way to show real gratitude here is to combine your kind words with political and financial support.

    3. Miss V*

      I have a friend in Britain who’s a nurse. Anytime someone thanks her for her sacrifice and her response is ‘if you want to thank me, vote Labour.’

      It apparently isn’t a popular response.

      1. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

        I work part time in the pharmacy and part time on the front end in a retail pharmacy chain. When people thank me for being there, especially if they’re buying a bunch of non-essential crap/browsing the store forever/coughing on things/there every single damn day/etc., I tell them they can thank me by using the drive thru to get their meds or staying home and following guidelines.

        I’m surprised I haven’t been reprimanded yet, but we’ve all been taking so much abuse from people that even our managers are pissed at this point.

        1. On a pale mouse*

          As a sometimes supervisor, I know that I should be saying that’s unprofessional (which I’m sure you don’t actually need me to tell you). As a fellow essential retail worker, I just want to say similar things all the time! I’ve avoided going quite that far, but tempers are fraying and I think it’s only a matter of time. There was a woman shopping today with 3 kids and the only thing stopping me from asking her why the heck she would bring kids with her was the thought that she might not have childcare available. But I think it’s going to come out the next time I see 3+ adults in the store together.

          1. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

            I think I would care more about how unprofessional it is if people weren’t treating us like absolute crap all the time. They were abusive before the pandemic, and they’re ten times worse now. I understand that people are stressed out and upset, but we are too and taking it out on us doesn’t make me want to actually help you :(

  7. Avasarala*

    #1 Thank you for looking out for your coworker. That fight sounded pretty one-sided to me. I think reaching out is the right thing to do.

    1. CastIrony*

      But if the husband sees this message and sees the words “domestic abuse hotline”, wouldn’t that endanger the humiliated worker even more?

      1. Amy*

        Yeah, I thought the first few lines should sound very professional/work-like, in case he happens to see her receiving a message.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        I had hoped Alison would have specified what form of communication to send, since I thought that was what LW1 was asking (I am pretty literal though).

        IM, email, something else? I’d probably say email with a subject line referencing the date of the meeting and nothing obvious in the first line or so just in case their email client pops a bit of preview. IM risks being seen right when it’s sent and having to deal with it immediately or panic-deleting it, but an email can be closed out of and dealt with later.

        All this assumes the spouse doesn’t read her emails or IMs or have her passwords. If he does, I have no solution. (Been there, it was scary and sucked a lot.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, email, so it doesn’t pop up on her screen and she has a longer-lasting record of it if she wants. (Plus, maybe this is just me, but I feel like with an IM, a reply feels more expected. And the coworker really doesn’t need to reply.)

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          In France, the government’s website for DV victims has a big exit button at the top of every page and somehow there’s never any trace of it in your browsing history. That’s the level of discretion that’s needed.

      3. Pennyworth*

        That’s an interesting question – true, it could enrage him, but it would also make him aware of how his behavior was perceived, that other people are aware of it, and if it is the only opportunity LW1 has to reach out, the imporant information about the existence of the DV hotline has been passed on. I think Alison’s script in its entirety should be used, but a DV expert might have a different view.

        1. Mary Connell*

          “it could enrage him, but it would also make him aware of how his behavior was perceived”

          That sounds so sensible. Unfortunately based on the literature there’s a lot about domestic violence that’s not sensible, and a lot about handling it that can be counterintuitive.

        2. Blue Anne*

          If my experience is anything to go by, it won’t really matter to him how he’s being perceived unless she believes it. I defended my abuser’s character for years before it really clicked that it was abuse.

        3. EPLawyer*

          One would think. Except abusers never see themselves as abusive. They would be FURIOUS that someone saw their actions as abusive. All it will do is make sure the abuser doesn’t do it where someone else can see. They will just do worse — in private. If the abuser finds out, there is a good chance he punishes the co-worker for giving her colleagues the impression she is abused. Yes I know how that sounds. But that’s what they think — it’s ALWAYS the victim’s fault if the abuser is abusive. “Look what you made me do.”

          1. Perpal*

            Yes and no… sometimes social pressure can be effective on abusers. But it takes a lot of social pressure from people they perceive as important to them, and those people may be the last ones to do it since in that scenario they are often the ones who enabled it in the first place (I’m thinking families / parents who turn a blind eye / minimize / excuse a child or sibling who is clearly abusive “that’s just how they are” “well [victim] should/shouldn’t have done X” etc)

            1. revueller*

              I’ve really never, ever found that to be the case. Like EPLawyer said, when pointed out, they tend to just hide it, obscure it, or turn their rage on the person who pointed it out.

              The fact that the husband was willing to do this (repeatedly) in front of an audience shows that this behavior has probably ramping up for a long time.

              Even if he is willing to change to social pressure, is a random coworker he’s never met going to be an important person that changes his behavior? Does he really have the resources to change right now?

              The answer is likely no. Helping her get out is far more important than reforming his behavior right now. You don’t rehabilitate the arsonist while the house is burning down.

              1. Perbie*

                Well of course. I am mostly drawing from books written by people running court-mandated abuser rehab programs there. LW should focus on her colleague, not her colleague’s husband.
                Now if a colleague was the abuser, i think it is appropriate to say sonething like “whoa, that was really mean and uncalled for” (or whatever makes sense); even hiding it more is better than nothing.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          It’s generous of you to think this of him, but since these guys are quite often narcissists he’s not gonna care.

        5. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

          Abusers can be VERY touchy about how they are viewed by others, and when their behavior causes them to be seen in a negative light, they often have ZERO self-reflection. Naturally, it will be her fault someone else formulated that impression of him! He will be thinking she shouldn’t have made him angry, and then the colleague wouldn’t have had to hear him shouting. Cue hours of him bullying her in private regarding how she’s going to have to fix the colleague’s mistaken impression of him, to the point where she could actually even write some strange message to you to that effect.

          Unfortunately, I speak from experience.

      4. BRR*

        Maybe it would also work to embed the hyperlink into some other text? I’m not sure what it would say or even if it’s a good idea so hopefully someone else with more knowledge could weigh in On that.

    2. MistOrMister*

      I was wondering if thr coworker left her mic on purposefully in the hopes that someone would hear what was happening so she could get some help. Sad situation, if so. But, maybe a little more impetus for OP to reach out.

    3. Kara*

      My impression is that the coworker did not realize that she wasn’t muted. In which case, it will be mortifying for her to find out that everyone heard the fight. I would probably just ignore it.

      1. revueller*

        If someone overheard a fight with my husband and thought I was in an abusive situation and I really wasn’t, I’d probably be shocked and angry at first, but then I’d really start thinking about how my marriage got to the point where my coworkers (!) thought my husband is violent (verbally or physically).

        However, this may be the wake-up for this coworker to (a) realize this is an abusive situation that’s (b) not livable and (c) escapable (hopefully). (I can’t imagine the stress of the DV hotline right now trying to coach people to escape their homes in a pandemic, but I bet they’ve got procedures by now to handle it.)

        Either way, the worst case scenario is not the OP getting chided by the coworker for not staying in their lane. The worst case scenario is, to be blunt, a dead coworker. (I’m not being a drama-llama, I’m speaking from personal experience.)

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          We’ve been giving our kid a simple rule of thumb: if people are calling each other names (or other ad hominem attacks) during arguments more than once a year, it’s abusive. (Mr. Jules and I have a hard, ‘no ad hominem, ever’, but it seems like we’re weird)

          For less obvious situations, we’ve been leaning hard on the difference between ‘fight to solve’ and ‘fight to win’. If the other side is fighting to win, and you can’t redirect them to solve, then you have to decide if that’s an issue you can live with losing / not resolving, or whether it’s one you need to break up over. And if they only ever fight to win, it’s time to walk away.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            For what it’s worth, my parents have that hard rule too. It seems weird to me that not all relationships have such a rule!

          2. Avasarala*

            I’ve never made a formal rule but no name calling, that’s just general guidelines of good fighting, or fighting you want to recover from.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Yep. If I forgot to mute, people heard me arguing with Mr. Gumption, and it sounded bad enough for a relative stranger to reach out, this would mean that Mr. Gumption and I were probably not in a good place and had some work to do. Embarrassing, of course, because who wants a bunch of coworkers seeing the nitty gritty of our relationship, but after I got over that I would probably look back and appreciate the heads up.

        3. Blueberry*

          Well said. I concur from unfortunate experience that you are absolutely not being a drama-llama — I was about to write a comment like the one you wrote, but yours is better than mine would have been.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As an update, the OP emailed me and said she had emailed the coworker yesterday (before my response). The coworker called her and seemed fine. She said she was glad the OP had reached out and it was good to know people were looking out for her, even if she didn’t need it. The OP said, “I do feel like I made the right choice in emailing her, but it was a little embarrassing.”

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Still, if that’s how he handles stress, dude needs to talk to a counselor because that is not remotely okay.

  8. CrazyEight*

    On #2 The thing I try to keep in mind about this is that a lot of unemployed right now are in industries that will be slow when they open back. I have two sons that are servers, when restaurants open back up they could have restrictions on capacity at first, restrictions on hours, or have people that will still be afraid to go out, etc. Less patrons means less tips so their earning potential may be less than it was before this started but they’ll likely lose any unemployment benefits once they start working again. I’m advising them to tuck that extra away to see them thru the transition back to working until they are back to earning what they were before all this. And there’s every indication that it will be a long while before things are “back to normal”. So I agree at face value it seems unfair that they are making more than I am (in theory anyway, they have to actually recieve the money to be making more than me, but that’s a different issue) when I’m going into work every day and they are sitting at home but #1 I’m thankful that they are home safe and not being subject to as much exposure as they were and #2 I know that the effects of this on them will last longer than they’ll receive those benefits. I have and will continue to have a steady income stream thru this and long after this, but the long term security of their income is questionable. Hopefully people getting those benefits will be smart about it and save what is more than they’d normally make. #3 I’m not sure what the situation is in other states but in Florida there are millions of unemployed who have yet to receive a penny (my sons are going on 3 weeks since filing and their applications haven’t even been processed yet. But they are lucky, at least they were able to apply), so that extra money could very well get eaten up paying late fees and paying off credit cards or loans that people had to take out to get buy. Issues that those of us that haven’t lost our income don’t have.

    1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


      Not to diminish how the OP feels in *any way*, and suffering is not a competition, but in my neck of the woods, unemployment $$ is theoretical, not cash in hand. People are hitting an entire month since filing with NO money and NO word on when they will get money. My son filed 3/15/20, and nothing, just his status as “filed” online.

      I thought his claim was somehow mislaid and found out to my horror that this is the norm. He is fine because he lives at home but I am horrified for the hundreds of thousands of people in my state (NJ) who are not fine. What on earth are they doing.

      Repeating: suffering is not a competition and I acknowledge and appreciate how the OP feels. You deserve all of our support! Thank you.

      1. Musereader*

        The new UK benefits are paid 1 calender month and 1 week after you apply, and will be reduced by anything you earn in the calender month. so over 5 weeks after you apply you get paid and it may be nothing if you got a redundancy payment after you applied

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


          Summary: Unemployed = not good

          (AND, while all evictions are halted here, it does not stop apartment rentals from charging late fees, like *high* late fees, so while you can’t be evicted immediately* because you can’t pay rent because you have no money, you can end up with a tremendous lump sum due that will have to be paid)

          * lost track is if that is per state or nationally, the non eviction part

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I believe it’s per state. My state has delayed eviction proceedings, but also advised that people need to still be paying their rent and mortgages – if you can’t, contact your landlord/lender and make payment arrangements so you pay something because you are still legally obligated to fulfill the contract you signed.

            1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

              A local (large) apartment complex, with rents in $1000 to $1500 range (lower end for NJ), is charging a $250 late fee for being just FIVE DAYS late on rent. 5 days! $250! and apparently it is legal. HORRIBLE.

              These are paycheck to paycheck working folks who are experiencing both parents suddenly out of work and what are they supposed to do? I don’t even know what happens after 5 days. It is good that they can’t be evicted right now but the bill comes due eventually. And where is food going, on the credit card? What is that interest rate? God forbid they get a pay day loan.

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                Five days at $250?! That’s gross. I get that landlords have mortgages they have to pay, but there has to be a better way. My building charges 10% of your rent cost for payments made after the 5th under normal circumstances – not sure what the policy is now since I’m, thankfully, still employed and getting a paycheck with no cuts – but even then, they have so many apartment communities they manage that if someone needed to pay late due to loss of income right now, I imagine they’d have a bit of a buffer to not need the funds immediately. Hopefully the landlord for this place doesn’t have said buffer in the form of other properties with people who are still employed because if they do, yikes. Talk about a lack of compassion.

              2. Mayflower*

                This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what late fees and grace periods are. Late fees are punitive charges, and the number of days is a grace period by which the late fee is delayed. In other words, your landlord is not charging you $250 for five days, they are charging you ONCE after 9 a.m. on the 6th of the month, and furthermore, they are not providing you with $250 worth of products or services, they are punishing you so you won’t do it again.

                You may feel that $250 is too much but there is no amount that is both “punitive” and “affordable”. And unfortunately, the only alternative to late fees is two or more months security deposit – which renters hate even more.

                1. Cactus*

                  So, under ordinary circumstances I would understand this. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances. Renters aren’t saying “you know what? I’m just not going to pay this month, hahaha!” They’re out of work or their partner or roommate is and they can’t make rent. And while I am very sympathetic for the small landlords who need to collect rent in order to pay their own mortgages, for giant corporate landlords, I don’t have anything to say other than that this kind of “punishment” isn’t necessary now. No one is going to start another pandemic just so they don’t need to pay rent in the future.

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              It’s per state. I would be shocked if our greedy, tightfisted, self-aggrandizing real estate tycoon in chief (or any of his minions) agreed to anything like that on a national scale.

            3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Our state Attorney General Office is being flooded because landlords are fighting the Governor’s order against eviction and late fees. It’s a disaster and comes down to the type of person your landlord is. We all know here people break laws they don’t agree with often :(

            4. Clisby*

              It is by state. What you’ve described is the same as here in SC; the state Supreme Court ordered a hold on evictions and foreclosures until further notice (Not sure how it works in other states – here the Supreme Court has authority over all judges/magistrates.)

      2. Anonymous Canadian*

        That makes me really happy with how Canada is handling things. They are approving everyone for now for a special COVID benefit if you are unemployed as a result of COVID and will sort out the rest later. Also apparently the money has been hitting people’s account within a couple of days. I’m essential and so is my partner so I can’t vouch for it firsthand but I think it’s appropriate under the circumstances.

        For anyone who it turns out did not qualify they will be checking into the claims and taking the money back at tax time if the person did not in fact qualify.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          In the US, it’s state by state, and no state was ready to deal with the volume they’ve gotten.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Your system is set up differently and is much more robust! Sadly the US is a shambles in most aspects of employment related government agencies.

          I appreciate everyone who works in the unemployment division, their job is hard and they deal with a lot of stress. This is not their fault, this is our systems fault for failing all of us. We don’t redo systems much around here. You think our medical system is ugly…it’s deeper than that. So much deeper.

      3. Wired Wolf*

        My unemployment was “On Hold” for almost a month–I filed 3/16/20. Suddenly this past Friday it got out of limbo. Mine was probably also mislaid in the system; I did talk to a reporter who was looking for UI horror stories. My company was probably contacted, and it would have been a PR nightmare for them if it got out that my claim was jammed up when all my coworkers were getting theirs (I suspect they screwed up with something).

    2. Granger*

      @crazyeight wrote, “… a lot of unemployed right now are in industries that will be slow when they open back”
      Yes!(!!) and many, many businesses were struggling before this happened and won’t be reopening at all!

      To be sure, I sometimes feel envious of other staff sitting home and being paid while we’re stressed, exposed, and toiling away in our essential jobs, but I run through all of the things I’m grateful for – most definitely including my job and being paid! – and the feelings of envy pale in comparison (but I’d still rather stay home with my family (paid) if given the option!).

    3. DryIdeal*

      This. My husband was furloughed and applied for unemployment 3/16, before the large waves of layoffs in our state. He is currently ‘approved’ for unemployment equating to about half of his usual paycheck, but we’ve yet to receive a penny and have heard nothing about that $600. In my mind none of it is real until it’s in the bank. I WFH with my own online store, so we do have some income but business has slowed to a crawl this month. We’re getting no breaks on rent or anything else. Our apt is owned by a massive company that houses tens of thousands of people in our city. They have shut down amenities and resident services but have not acknowledged the financial crisis that so many tenants are facing and continue to charge a 10% late fee on rent paid after the third. I’m grateful that we decided earlier this year to wait a few more months before buying a (badly needed!) new to us vehicle, but sad that we will probably see those $$ we saved for over a year go to other bills. Long story short, employers should value their workers a hell of a lot more, but ‘extra unemployment’ ain’t peaches and cream.

  9. Aphrodite*

    OP #2, believe me, I understand your feelings. I suspect more than a few of those continuing to work also do. It’s an easy trap of resentment to fall into but Alison is exactly right. What they are getting has very little value compared to what those of us who continue to work, whether from the office or home. Our financial and emotional lives will be stronger and longer and more stable the longer this crisis continues. We who are working are the ones who will be the eventual winners. Don’t let yourself succumb to the idea of temporary “riches” because they will evaporate and like most things that evaporate leave little behind.

    1. MAB*

      It totally sucks that we are already framing this as “winners and losers”. There should be empathy on both sides. We are going through a collective trauma, for God’s sake.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1

        What exactly are we even winning? The economy has tanked, you risk catching a potentially deadly virus if you go outside, and damn near everyone’s miserable right now – can we please go back to 2019 when shit made sense? *sigh*

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I don’t know if things made that much sense in 2019 – we already had the political situation that would cause this crisis to become far worse than it otherwise would be.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          We need to go back to 9 January 2016 for the world to get back to something resembling what it should be.

          I’m not saying that David Bowie held the fabric of the universe together but…

      2. Jennifer*

        +1 I agree. Pretty unkind to people out of work. It makes it seem like those getting unemployment are scammers and somehow plotted this. For a lot of people, that extra$600 doesn’t even make up their previous salary.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not entirely sure people are getting this supposed extra $600/week unemployment right now though?

      Or if they do, I’m sure it will come with extra stipulations about who gets that extra. So while it sounds like you could be sitting at home making more money on unemployment, I’m not sure this is really the case right now. I’d be curious if anyone on UI has received the extra payment?

      1. That'll happen*

        I’m part of a mutual aid group for my area and people are indeed starting to receive the extra $600/week. I know states had to wait to get the money from the feds and now they’re rolling it out. There are no restrictions on who gets it other than you have to be collecting unemployment, and it only goes until July 31.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I agree with those who disagreed with me. It was cruel of me to use the word “winners.” It absolutely smacks of nastiness. I am so sorry for what I said and how I said it, and I apologize to Alison and the community here, and especially to those who are out of work.

  10. Massmatt*

    #3 your boss is awful and I hope you can ditch him, soon, when the pandemic passes. Laying someone off and expecting them to keep working without pay (and treat your unemployment benefits as money he is paying you, which is what he’s doing) is terrible behavior. If he is so concerned about “the future of the company” (HIS company!) why isn’t HE doing all this work?

    It’s understandable for An owner/entrepreneur of a small business to make sacrifices and work long hours for their business, but that’s because it’s THEIR business, they benefit from its growth and health. Employees work for compensation, not for free to make someone else richer.

  11. Mystery Bookworm*

    I hope this doesn’t come off as though I’m downplaying the seriousness of #1, because I’m having a similar alarmed reaction. I definitely think a check-in message is warranted and I don’t disagree with the advice.

    However, I’d love to hear more about the logic for immediately including the info for the domestic abuse hotline, which would have seemed to me something that would be best to raise after a little back-and-forth? I’m not disagreeing that this is abusive, but my fear would be that this would invoke a defensive response, perhaps shutting down the conversation, or even prompt the reciever to reach out to HR.

    I did some googling, but the internet seems to have very mixed opinions on how to broach a topic like this, and most articles seem to presume an already close relationship. This is not my area of expertise though, so I’d love to hear from others who know more.

    And kudos to the OP for being a loving member of their work community.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think the logic is precisely *not* to force the coworker into a to-and-fro about her personal circumstances.

      The script effectively says “this situation caused me concern – I hope I am mistaken but in case it’s actually concerning, here’s a resource”.

      Supporting the agency and dignity of an abused person is very important.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Yeah, this. Trying to build a connection so you can give someone information that might help them isn’t a very good method, especially in a situation where potential DV is the issue. Expressing concern, giving them the information and giving them permission to not respond gives the person power and agency, which are things they may not have, and being given those options can mean a lot.

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        I hope I didn’t imply anyone should be forced into anything! I suppose I was imaging that once a conversation was open, then it would be the perogative of the employee to respond and get more info or not. But I do take the point about how you want to get the info over even if the colleague isn’t interested in a back-and-forth.

        1. Amanda*

          That’s the thing though. They don’t know each other, there’s no real reason for back-and-forth. So it’s important the information goes out to the coworker on the first interaction, since a second one might be unlikely. Plus, if there’s no attempt to show how serious the situation was perceived to be, it’s entirely possible OP would be thought of as just a nosy coworker trying to get gossip, as opposed to someone trying to help.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            For sure. I imagine so much of this is dependent on the individuals involved. From my own experience I know that a friendly gesture can absolutely open-up a back-and-forth, but on the other hand, I can imagine a scenario in which OP is totally shut down and there’s nowhere to go, so I definitely see what you’re saying.

            I guess I take people’s point — this is essentially a risk assessment where we’ve decided the risk of NOT saying anything is greater than the risk of saying something. I don’t know if I feel it’s as neat as ‘offering the victim agency and then letting the conversation drop’ because I think a conversation like this doesn’t…drop, per se. It hangs in the air. The reciever is now going to know that at least one colleague is speculating on this, which is a very vulnerable place to be.

            FWITW, I don’t know that there’s a scenario in which OP could never possibly be percieved as looking for gossip or drama, so I think that’s an inherent risk in any version where she reaches out. But I definitely understand the logic of why the risk is worth it.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              “The receiver is now going to know that at least one colleague is speculating on this, which is a very vulnerable place to be.”
              Which is why you show yourself not to be chatty and wanting a back and forth, just a quick message with the essential info and permission not to respond.

    2. MayLou*

      People are often very hesitant to put into words what they might be thinking about their own experience. So the colleague might respond in a way that dismisses the concept of domestic abuse or reassures the OP, and then the conversation is over. But the seed has been planted, or an existing seed is watered. If the number is there, that’s one barrier removed for the colleague to reach out for help some day. It can take months or even years for someone to be ready to speak out loud. OP may never know what effect their message has, but I do think it’s worth doing.

    3. KAG*

      1) Alison, I’m afraid I’m going to have to vehemently disagree with you on this one.

      Having been in a DV situation myself, I would have been freaked out to receive an email like that, even from a colleague I had an established relationship with (I’m actually not sure that anyone at my work knew until I left the guy and disclosed, but I imagine they must have – anyway, they handled it amazingly).

      For me, receiving an email that explicitly accused me of being a victim of DV (not that that’s the intent at all, but that’s how I would have interpreted it because Stigma) would have led to my being self conscious around everyone at work, wondering if they knew, what they thought of me.

      I’m usually not a fan of subtlety, but in a situation like this, I think it would be good to let her know without saying it explicitly that you’re a safe person to go to / confide in. So, no DV Hotline number! Perhaps just saying that you heard the convo and commiserating how stressed out everyone is, what with being in tight quarters, etc, and giving her the opportunity to open up if she wants.

      DV hotline numbers are not secrets, and a one-off email from a relative stranger is unlikely to be the catalyst for someone to realize that they’re in an abusive relationship. While sending the email as worded in rhe response may make the OP feel better about themselves, I’m having difficulty imagining a case where it would help the recipient. On the other hand, opening up a channel of communication could be a lifesaver.

      1. Mookie*

        Everyone already on the call heard it, which is why it had to be muted, and this colleague has to know this. Also, I don’t think the LW has given any indication she wants to extensively counsel this woman or personally be her “safe” friend, hence the number to the hotline where people who do want to do that and know how to do so are there to listen.

        Also, looking up the number on-line is a part of your search history that other people may have access to. There are ways to delete that search and its results, yes, but including it saves the person that step and is essentially boilerplate for any message like this; it’s totally remarkable and commonplace to remind people of remote help.

      2. Annie*

        I’ve also been in a DV situation and I completely agree with you. If I received the kind of message from a coworker that Alison is suggesting, I would be humiliated and self-conscious about interacting with all of my coworkers. Right now, work is probably the only time she can disconnect from her relationship and I worry that she would lose that if OP sends that kind of message.

          1. Avasarala*

            Genuine question, what kind of message could OP have sent that would have been more helpful?

            Would you be open to a back-and-forth about your relationship with a coworker you don’t really know?

            Personally I would feel weird about it and I’m in a very loving relationship…

      3. TimeCat*

        I did work with DV victims as an intern and what we learned is we had to be really cautious or we could end up alienating these particular victims fast. The office I interned for had dedicated DV victim/witness counselors for this reason. It’s a really hard needle to thread.

        I just don’t know if LW is a good person to send this email at all.

      4. Daisy*

        I think your solution is odd, given that OP doesn’t know this woman at all. It makes sense to reach out to a complete stranger if you believe it’s a very serious situation, but very weird to email to say ‘Oooh, working from home eh?! What a nightmare! Fancy a chat?’

        I also think that if by chance it’s not a domestic abuse situation, the woman should know how badly it came over to the others on the call.

        1. Batgirl*

          Yeah, while I agree with everyone’s points about being freaked out to receive this; OP’s position as a complete stranger makes her easy to ignore/dismiss if the co-worker wants to do that. It also makes her a powerful witness “I’m not your sister or friend, I have no stake in this, no bias and yet it’s obvious to me that he is way out of line and you did nothing wrong”. I have been she-who-could-do-nothing-right and my close people could do nowt about it. I was terrified of giving him poor PR to them or them pressuring me to do something. It took a bunch of strangers online to say “that’s fucked up” before I could believe it.

      5. EPLawyer*

        I’m kinda with you on this one. I think putting the DV number in there might cause the co-worker to hide more. Also it runs the risk of the husband finding it. I think the better approach is “if you need someone to talk to, I’m here.” That still might be ignored. But it lets the coworker know they are not alone, but it lets THEM decide how to move forward and asses their situation. Instead of “Hey, here’s the DV number, I totally decided for you that you are a victim who can’t help herself.”

        1. Dust Bunny*

          “If you need someone to talk to” from somebody who is basically a stranger, though, is not less weird and uncomfortable. Now you have somebody you’ve at best faintly worked with suggesting she’s there for you to open up to is no less personal and blindsiding than a hotline number. We’re not social friends; I don’t want to talk to you about your suspicions that my husband is abusive.

        2. Joielle*

          Offering the hotline number also lets the coworker decide how to move forward, though. It’s not like the OP called the number and handed the coworker the phone. I’m having a hard time with the idea that calling a DV hotline is being a “victim who can’t help herself.” And I don’t understand how “you can open up to me, a stranger from work” is any better than “you can open up to trained professionals.”

        3. revueller*

          I get what you’re saying, but OP may not be in a position to coach someone dealing with DV right now, which is what this script would open them up to. Coaching someone out of a DV situation is a long-term commitment. That’s why the coworker would likely be better off talking to a trained professional than a random coworker.

        4. Super Anon*

          I think the advantage of the OP not being friends with her co-worker, means that if this is a DV situation that the co-worker can easily dismiss the email.

          But, to be honest, I don’t think there is anyway to handle this in the perfect way. Everyone is different, and people react differently to things.

          1. Blueberry*

            “But, to be honest, I don’t think there is anyway to handle this in the perfect way. Everyone is different, and people react differently to things.”

            Very true. In my particular case when I was being abused I was very young and I actually did not know that there were resources, including domestic abuse hotlines. If someone had given me one it would have been a Godsend.

      6. biobotb*

        I’ve been in an emotionally abusive situation and I disagree. It would have meant the world to me for someone to acknowledge that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way, instead of being told that everyone fights, he’s just stressed, cut him some slack, gosh relationships are hard amiright? Have I thought about what I did to set him off? It would have made me feel even more hopeless to learn that behavior that was grinding me down was something a lot of colleagues had heard and just thought of as a normal reaction to stress. It would have made me feel even more uncertain of my emotional reaction to it and validated the messages I was receiving that I was overreacting to abuse and should just shrug if off and forgive.

        1. SwitchingGenres*

          Same as biobotb. I’ve been in two abusive relationships. I needed to hear that they were abusive. I didn’t know. Even when I thought of calling the cops I never thought of calling a dv hotline. After I’d left hearing people say they saw the abuse but chose to say nothing was incredibly painful. I NEEDED a friend like LW1 to send me Alison’s script. It would have saved me years of pain.

        2. Poppy*

          Fourthed. Getting the outside perspective was a wake-up call for me. It got me out of that relationship quickly.

    4. SAS*

      All my training in recognising DV red flags (that I may come across working in an unrelated field) suggests a very similar approach to dealing with suicide red flags (consistent with Alison’s approach here); be open and direct, provide support information straight up and be ready to back off if the person doesn’t wish to engage.

      I have always felt professionally comfortable with this approach; it treats a person as the expert in their own life, and allows them the agency to seek further support easily (via you or the support services provided) however if the worst case scenario occurs and a person dies, you know (as a professional!) you were clear and direct with your offer of support, not being politely indirect and potentially leaving a person unaware of a clear avenue for help.

      If it is DV, a concerned comment normalising her husband’s (abusive) behaviour as a response to the stress of the current situation is validating everything he’s already telling her. The best case scenario would be LW sending the email and being wrong, and everyone being a a bit embarrassed.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Yeah, that idea bothers me too. My partner and I are both stressed right now too, but neither of us would have an extended argument/one-sided fight period, let alone while one of us was on a work call. Making that sound like an ordinary stress response won’t help anyone.

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        I do have some professional training for suicidality and abuse disclosure, but the environment I work in such that sensitive conversations are expected. I realised I have no idea what the evidence / best practices are outside my setting.

        Your last paragraph in particular makes a lot of sense and (at least for me) helps solidify the rationale for the approach.

        Thanks for the thoughtful answer.

        1. SAS*

          It’s interesting to see other approaches! I feel really sorry that some women who have been victims of abuse are commenting that this approach would really upset them- I just want to clarify I’m coming from the perspective of a mandatory reporter and anyone else should respond in the way that their gut, or life experience tells them to.

          The way it was framed to me at training was that if there was a coronial inquest into the death of a person or child by domestic violence (or suicide) for example and they had come into contact with me in the context of accessing the service of my government department, I would be asked if I has recognised any signs and what my response had been. An email saying “hey things sounded really stressful at your place the other morning, I hope you’re okay, I’m here to talk if you need” would be a total dereliction of my duty. A version of Alison’s email would be okay.

          I am feeling so worried for those living in abusive households at the moment and would love to get any advice from people closer to that sphere about what people could do to help!

          1. Perpal*

            There is no one right answer, and one of the reasons DV can be so hard is many people don’t realize it is abuse, and there’s no magic script to make them realize it. Some people would be freaked out; I’ve seen other stories where just such a message “hey, what they did was not normal and not ok, you don’t deserve it” is what made them realize what was happening was NOT acceptable. Without knowing the person, I think the email is sound. Whether or not to include a hotline is debatable but the rest of it is as good as can be, I think. The hotline is nice in that it might stick in their mind and someday be what they look up if they aren’t ready right now, but come to a crisis in the future.

          2. Mystery Bookworm*

            Yes. I really feel for the woman in this letter, and I also really feel for OP. This is a tough weight to be baring when there’s so much else going on right now (or at any time) but of course you can’t unknow what you know.

            I used to read Dear Abby as a kid (advice columnists forever!) and I remember a woman who wrote in saying that every year on the birthday of her deceased child, friends and family would reach out with loving wishes….and she HATED it. She felt that it was rude and actively bringing her back to a time when she was at her lowest. Now that I’m older, I’m unfortunately in the position where I personally know people who have lost children. And all of them are vocal about the fact that they love and appreciate when people reach out on their children’s birthdays. But that letter sticks in my mind because it’s a reminder that there’s so much variety in how overtures are recieved, however well intentioned.

            With such weighty and emotionally fraught topics, there are no ‘right’ answers, so the best we can hope for is the one that most minimizes risk of pain and alienation. But man, is it a shitty juggling act.

      3. Joielle*

        This! There’s no magic combination of words that would make this coworker feel safe to open up to a stranger about her situation. And even if she did – the OP is (presumably) not trained in DV support, what would she do anyways? The OP should send a brief, compassionate message that offers competent resources and doesn’t downplay what she heard. It can take years for a victim of DV to get away from their abuser – the OP can’t solve this in one conversation, no matter how carefully-chosen the words are. All they can do is be one more voice saying “hey, this isn’t normal.”

      4. Nina*

        In my personal experience I’ve been surprised at how often people do respond to a message like
        this (about serious and less serious things), not judgemental or pushy, just providing the necessary information and then completely backing off.

  12. Foreign Octopus*

    Way back when, when I dipped my toe into the dating pool before I realized nun-uh, not for me, I was on the receinpving end of a similar experience to the coworker in #1. I was in my final year at university preparing for life afterwards during the recession, what fun, and was doing a Skype interview for a company based in Edinburgh. My boyfriend at the time was working nights as a musician and took umbrage to t he fact that I was talking in Skype at 10 in the morning in the living room where he could hear me in the bedroom – I wasn’t loud, he was an annoyingly light sleeper.

    He came storming down mid interview and was raging at me to be f-ing quiet and how I always do this. He eventually left and I tried to fix the interview. I’ll never forget my interviewer because he stopped me mid stream of apology, told me I had nothing to apologize for and asked if I was okay. He told me much the same as Alison’s script suggests and mentioned that there were domestic abuse hotlines I could call if I needed it. I didn’t get the job but I did get a wake up call to the fact that this relationship, my first proper one, wasn’t healthy and the excuses I’d been making for my boyfriend’s behavior was just papering over the deep cracks.

    It was having someone completely removed from the situation, someone I never spoke to again except to email a thank you once I was out of that relationship, witness the behaviour – never physical, always verbal – to open my eyes.

    This may just be a one off, lockdown-induced stress rant, however the fact it was done when she was working makes me terrified it wasn’t. Please reach out with Aliosn’s message, it might be just the thing this person needs right now.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry you were in a relationship like that, and glad that you’re out of it! *jedi hugs*

    2. Amanda*

      This resonates loudly with me. Abuse is often so gradual when it starts, the person living in it may not even realise they’re being abused. To have someone external, specially a stranger, see it and think it important enough to try to help, could make such a big difference.
      I had a cousin who was abused, and it took years to make her realise her situation wasn’t normal. She wasn’t making excuses for him, she was trained to genuinely believe everything was right in the relationship, even when light physical abuse began. It got serious enough she was hospitalized for a week.
      So, if it’s early enough that a stranger might make your coworker wake up, please OP, be that concerned stranger!
      Yes, it could be the coworker it too entrenched in the abuse cycle to be able to come out right off, and yes it might be humiliating for them if this was just a one-off lapse. But remember speaking up now may actually save a life down the road.

    3. biobotb*

      I agree that it could be really valuable for someone outside the relationship to point out that his behavior isn’t OK, it’s not normal, and she deserves better. She may not be receiving those messages from anyone, and in that case it can be really easy to doubt her own sense of what’s OK in a relationship.

  13. Princess Deviant*

    I’m so disturbed by reading LW1.

    And for all the great things that people pull together to do to help each other in this pandemic, three seems to be another person in the wings just waiting to take advantage (LW3).

    1. Pizzaboi*

      I don’t understand your comment. You think letter writer three is taking advantage of the system, or you think their boss is taking advantage of them? Because I feel very strongly it is the second one and wondering how anyone could think the LW is taking advantage.

      1. Mami21*

        Yeah, what? No one’s taking advantage of anyone in this situation. LW3 was promised a gift which has not been delivered. Completely normal to say ‘hey, haven’t received the thing’ so her manager knows that something has gone askew in the delivery process.

        1. Mami21*

          Omg, ignore me, I got mixed up with the Easter egg letter. Chocolate is clearly on my mind!

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Oh there are plenty of commenters who have that opinion, so you made a very understandable mix-up! I actually thought the same thing before I read further into the thread.

      2. Princess Deviant*

        It’s a typo! It should say *there*, not three! Apologies to 3. And yes, the boss is taking advantage of LW3, completely agree.

      3. LGC*

        I think she means LW3’s boss – she might have wrote a bit ambiguously, but I read her reference to LW3 as “LW3’s situation.”

  14. Princesa Zelda*

    LW2 — it’s an incredibly sucky situation with no perfect solution. I was just talking to my brother about this exact thing: my siblings are roommates. My brother works at a grocery, and my sister worked at a restaurant; he used to make several dollars more per hour than she did and paid accordingly more in rent, now she’s going to be getting that extra UI money once her claim is processed. She’s using this time to work on her art and do a lot of self-care, and he’s stressed out and working lots of extra hours with a boss that threatens to fire people every day. It’s hard for him not to feel resentful even though Sister getting extra UI is going to directly benefit him!

    It’s not a fair situation. It sucks.

    If you can, I second Alison’s suggestion that you find a way to channel that energy into something good or into activism. If you can’t, though, it’s okay to feel your feelings and then try to release them. I like to write them down and draw them and then rip them up; some people meditate; some people put the energy into rocks and do rituals. Whatever makes sense for you, do it.

    And in case the people who you’re serving and the people who are having you work aren’t saying it? Thank you.

    1. Blueberry*

      As a slight aside, there really should be some karmic justice for bosses who threaten every day to fire people (though I’m sure the business owners here will disagree with me). I’m including your brother in my inchoate hopes.

  15. anon obvi*

    From the perspective of someone who is in a similar situation, validation means the world. It’s hard for me to acknowledge if my partner’s behavior is “normal” or not, if it’s all in my head, and if I’m being sensitive. Years of gaslighting. It’s meaningful to hear from someone else. And while (as in my situation) leaving might be extremely difficult, to know I’m seen and I’m heard and I’m not wrong, that the behavior is unacceptable in the eyes on an outsider…well that makes a huge difference. I need to hear that as often as possible as a reminder that I’m worth more than the words I hear.

    (I am ok, and I have that number in my phone. Much of our issues stem from his constant alcohol abuse that have heightened during quarantine. I recently left him, abruptly, with our children, I have a strong support system, thankfully. Once I was away and safe, I called to tell him his behavior was unacceptable and needed to change dramatically before I could agree to return and work on things together. He was defensive and hurtful at first, but I stood strong, told him I won’t be spoken to like that anymore and we needed some time apart. He got sober throughout the week and sought counseling. We have a long way to go, but for the children, I’m willing to try if he is. If he’s not, I’ve proven to myself and to him that I have the strength to walk away. I have set some powerful boundaries and have no intention of flexing them.)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Children will be better off in the end away from abusers. Just know that there’s a limit to trying for their sake and it can mean taking that hard step to remove them from that toxic environment into another home where they are safe from seeing or hearing one parent abusing their other parent.

      Thank you for your story. You’re not alone. And with quarantine in place, DV and substance abuse is up something like 22% You deserve to be safe and you deserve someone who is good to you.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        > Children will be better off in the end away from abusers.
        I agree, because I was one of those children suffering for many years while my parents stayed together perpetuating that toxic environment.

    2. LunaLena*

      I had similar struggles with my husband and his alcohol abuse in the past, so I totally understand where you are right now. I hope it gets better for you too; we’re still in the process of repairing our relationships, but the light at the end of the tunnel definitely looks a lot closer, so I know things can get better.

    3. Blueberry*

      I am hoping for the best for you and your children, and cheering you on for taking these necessary steps!

    4. 'Tis Me*

      Good luck getting to a healthy place. Remember though that children with a safe, stable, loving home with one happy parent modelling healthy interpersonal relationships in their day to day lives are better off than children who are witnessing and mentally normalising abuse (even if it’s verbal/emotional only), living with one volatile and unpredictable parent and one parent tiptoeing around their behaviour. If he can’t or won’t change, you are not doing wrong by your children if you separate from him for good. Obviously if he can responsibly be part of their lives still that’s better than cutting him out – but if you are concerned about his ability to care for them (e.g. If he might drunk-drive with them in the car, or belittle them the way he does you) then looking into contact centres and supervised contact only may be necessary.

      You know your situation best, but please don’t feel you have to stay with him no matter what for their sake, or that you are responsible for his ability to be a reasonable person to be around in any way.

      I do appreciate things can be complicated – before having kids my husband went through a rough mental health patch and didn’t have the emotional capacity to be a reasonable person at home; I went through about a year where his behaviour was emotionally/verbally abusive, and another year or so where it was improving but slowly and it was tough and had quite a big impact on my mental health, but I knew it wasn’t “really” him… At the same time if it happened again like that I wouldn’t be able to stay with him while he got better because I refuse to let my kiddos think that treating a partner like that is normal/acceptable. As it was, it came close to the point where I would have had to call it a day to protect my own mental health without having children to worry about.

  16. SwingingAxeWolfie*

    Obviously LW5’s friend should try and get out of carpooling first and foremost, but a medical expert on the news in the UK recently advised that if carpooling is essential then the passenger should sit in the back seat on the opposite side. Not exactly 6 feet apart, but any distance helps.

  17. Anon for this*

    3 “Going to the office once/week to collect mail.”
    Is that really essential and not violating the current law ? Who send letters nowadays ? Can people email instead?
    And if these letters are really essential, the boss should go. Don’t take any non essential risks for yourself and others.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      My mom works for a life insurance company that still has paper policies for their legacy customers because their legacy systems don’t have functionality to do electronic documentation, so she has to go into work once every couple of weeks to get things printed and put into the mail for agents.

    2. Very anon for this*

      My org gets sent completed death certificates/forms for those who die in social care situations. This is…very topical right now.

      Facilities/specific people are going in daily to deal with this (while maintaining social distancing as much as they can).

    3. LGC*

      It would be – from my understanding, functions essential to the continued functioning of a business are allowed. (So, for example, Tesla’s administrative staff can still go in to check the mail on a minimal basis, they just can’t make Model 3s or Model Ys. Also, if there’s a power outage in Fremont, IT staff can travel there to make sure the equipment is okay.)

      Once a week might be a bit excessive, though! (Depending on how the business is structured.)

    4. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

      My company is asking me to do this. Accounting staff are going in on Monday and Friday to collect paper checks/invoices and the CEO is working there daily because “he prefers it” to WFH, but I still have to go in to water the plants, check for other time-sensitive mail, and “make sure the general office tasks get done.”

      I’m maybe a *little* salty about it, lol. (Our state hasn’t issued a full lockdown order, so there’s no risk I’m violating that, but I’m super Not Thrilled to be going out when it feels like others are already in the office who could handle these things if they chose to.)

      1. virago*

        I’ll be salty on your behalf!

        *All* states should be on lockdown. (I know that you are not responsible for the choices of your state officials). *And* whether or not the state has lockdown in place, your employer should be minimizing the number of people going into the office, so why send you in to do tasks that Fergus or Jane could easily take care of?

    5. Generic Name*

      I work for a company that does essential business, and our receptionist is still working in the office (legally, and getting paid), to collect mailed in checks and to accept deliveries. While you personally may never receive letters or have any physical item shipped to you, plenty of individuals and businesses do.

    6. Bunny Girl*

      Up until this week my office was having me do this. I work at a University and they opted not to stop the mail (and they still do get a ton of it) because they didn’t want that huge back log sitting in their processing center. I was only in the office for about 20 minutes a week, but yeah I did think it was crap. They officially closed all the buildings and removed access for everyone non-essential. But my department petitioned for one of the other support members (not me) to get building access so she could still go in and get the mail. I think it’s crazy but I guess they really think whatever mail they’re getting is important.

    7. Joielle*

      There are lots of essential reasons to use physical mail. For example, in my line of work – certain legal notices need to be physically mailed or delivered. So we do have a couple of people going in periodically to print, stamp, and mail that kind of thing. Plus, even if you’re not sending mail, you’re probably still receiving it. Someone has to clear out the mailbox.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      About 70% of our billed clients pay by check. Even some major companies you’d recognize still do.

      I’ve opted into every invoice by email as possible and still get plenty by mail.

      Many suppliers use postal services if it’s small enough. We deal with a lot of small parts. The things we get for R&D projects are often sent in the mail.

      On a business level some things have to be mailed. The government is one of the biggest culprits. They don’t just email me when someone claims unemployment or a workers comp issue.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Reminds me! I have some clients that refuse to do email invoices. We “went paper free” a few years ago and sent out notifications asking clients to opt in if they wanted to keep receiving paper invoices. Holy moly some of the response was all “OF COURSE I DO, R U STOOPID OR SOMETHING?!”

        I’ve had a very well known university refuse to take an invoice any way but mail…

        This is partly due to the fact that it’s illegal to use the mail to send false invoices and people rely too heavily on that tidbit, as if there’s not mail fraud still happening all the GD time, lol.

        1. Mail Please*

          I truly have tried to go paper free, but it is near impossible in a small business world. Between customers who insist on using 10 part carbonless paper for all their documentation (c’mon you remember pinfed green and white strip computer paper right? Still using it!) and a bevy of small suppliers who cannot use a scanner to save their soul, I actually prefer the mailed paperwork.

    9. Delta Delta*

      Lawyers. We send things by mail because in a lot of places that’s how to effect service. Not every jurisdiction permits electronic service. If I receive something via US Mail and I don’t pick it up for the entire pandemic period and I blow a response deadline I get in trouble. So, yeah, essential for some of us.

      1. Lynn*

        Lawyers in NYS were on edge for the first week or two of WFH because the governor hadn’t issued an executive order tolling deadlines even though courts were closed and we physically couldn’t file anything. We were all relieved when he finally did issue an order.

        1. Delta Delta*

          I don’t practice in NYS but had to contact a NY court early on in The Virus and was advised nobody could file anything until sometime in early May, and that they were accepting only serious emergency filings. That ended up being helpful in my situation, but I can see how someone needing to file before a SOL tolls might have freaked right out.

          1. Lynn*

            Currently, you have to file and order to show cause with the appellate division to see if they consider your matter essential. Only arraignments and bail applications are by default considered essential for criminal matters and those are all being conducted via skype.

      2. CTT*

        Yeah, and on the transactional side, I have promissory notes and mortgages to deal with, and the former has to be hard copy and on the latter it’s a crapshoot if the county e-records.

    10. HBJ*

      Lots of businesses get TONS of mail. Things we receive – checks (we are not currently set up to accept CC, but lots of smaller companies either charge an extra fee for using them or offer a discount for NOT using them so they don’t have to cover the processing fees. Using checks is essentially incentivized, and we will do the same when we start accepting CC), mailings related to staying in compliance with certain regulations, invoices from utilities, invoices from vendors, tax documents, samples, parts and supplies. Etc. The list goes on and on if I really sat and thought about it for awhile. And we are tiny!

  18. Oh So Anon*

    I’m removing this because it’s derailing and arguing way too strenuously (to the point of insulting other people) that serious toxicity is normal. – Alison

    1. Alan*

      I’m not saying its impossible that you are correct but the idea that asking politely about a promised gift would automatically put the sword of Damocles over your head is pretty absurd.

      1. Oh So Anon*

        People who ask, no matter how politely, are always at more risk than people who keep their heads down.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I’m sorry that’s been the case in your experience because it definitely hasn’t been in mine! The places I’ve worked would absolutely want to hear from an employee of a promised package/treat did not arrive and would never have held it against me.

        2. Astro Not*

          it Sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences that have made you react like this. I want you to know that this is not normal, and in the vast majority of cases no one is going to react like that to a perfectly normal and reasonable enquiry. I’m sorry you have been treated so badly by a toxic workplace, and I hope you have the opportunity to learn how a healthy, reasonable employer behaves one of these days. No one should ever have to feel that they need to “keep their head down” to be OK at work and I’m sorry that you have been made to feel that way. You deserved better!

          1. biobotb*

            You should care about what’s normal. If you do ever get hired somewhere functional, treating everyone as potential backstabbers with malicious intent will backfire something fierce.

        3. Oh So Anon*

          It shouldn’t, but that’s what you get when you have people who create a race to the bottom in terms of standing up for themselves. Those “oh no, it would be too demanding just to ask tee hee hee!” people are left untouched, while anyone who diverges from that in the slightest stands out.

    2. Lance*

      Right; unless it’s a toxic workplace/boss (which would be its own separate problem entirely), nobody decent is likely to react badly to an innocent little query like this.

  19. Lady Farquaad*

    LW1: I was in an emotionally abusive relationship when I was young. The abuse was so gradual and normalised that it didn’t occur to me that it was intolerable. Alison’s script is perfect. If someone had reached out to me like that it would at least flicker a light bulb to consider, hey…if even strangers find my partner’s behaviour alarming, maybe it’s not okay to be treated like this?

    Please do reach out to her.

    1. pamplemousse*

      I told a friend once who was confiding me about her relationship that her husband’s behavior was unacceptable, not her fault, and that she should leave. I don’t know that I would be that blunt about the last part today — but she left him not long afterward. A couple of years she thanked me and said that conversation was what made her realize she needed to leave. It floored me. It may be the best thing I’ve ever done, and it was something I just rambled out because we were both drunk and uninhibited and 25.

      Please reach out.

  20. Mookie*

    Thank you, Alison, for laying out who and what we ought to be blaming for the situation both LW2 and people like her find themselves in, through no fault of their own, and thank you for championing solidarity across the board for all workers, especially the very young, the very old, the ill, and the underemployed and undercompensated. None of them are getting out of this whole, no matter how they choose to navigate it (or how those choices are made for them and not in their best interest).

  21. MistOrMister*

    Re the carpool, I am picturing someone telling a coworker they can’t ride in,the car anymore, but not wanting to deprive them of a trip to work, so the coworker is wearing roller skates and hanging on to the side of the car for the drive! That would make for an interesting commute.

    I feel for both people in this situation. It would feel horrible and selfish to tell someone you work with that you don’t feel comfortable continuing to help them get to work because of the risks. It is understandable, but it has to feel bad. And then to need a ride but not have one anymore.. Ugh! Although, it isn’t clear from the letter if the coworker has a means to get to work. If s/he has a car and hasn’t been using it, or

    1. MistOrMister*

      Stoopid internets cutting off comments!!

      If the coworker has a car, or can bike or walk relatively easily, then this isn’t as bad for all concerned. But if s/he will now have to take 3 buses and be exposed to everyone in their city, that stinks for all. Hopefully they get something worked out.

      1. Lizzo*

        Yep, I commented something similar below. My husband is still giving his colleague a ride because the only alternative is public transit.

  22. Katiekaboom*

    LW#2: You’re going on the assumption that ppl don’t deserve that extra money. I had the same argument w a colleague who was mad “welfare ppl” were making more than we were while working. Most of the ppl who are getting this are people that the basic unemployment would not be replacing their regular income, and they would be experiencing a shortfall, NOT minimum wage people who are getting a windfall. The basic unemployment in my state is $504. I’m lucky enough to be WFH, but if I was on unemployment, $504 a week would not be enough to pay my basic bills.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      If most of them are restaurant/etc workers, $504 would be a lot more! That’s double my weekly pay. (My state pays like half that.)

    2. Amanda*

      It’s still a windfall. They’re not working, and they’re making considerably more than unemployment would usually be, and more than people who ARE working and putting themselves at risk. Plus, for many people, it’s a lot more money than they could make at their jobs.
      OP#2, it’s ok to be resentful that you’re being undervalued. It’s ok to think it’s unfair that you’re getting less and working more, would be ok even if the actual risk factor wasn’t so high.
      But a better mindset would be that these people are getting higher compensation now, when the money is still there, because it’s very likely it’ll take them a long while to get a new job, so that money will be necessary in many months to come. Plus, since health care is such a big problem in the US, you could see this as something to tide them over since most no longer have health insurance.
      But either way, it’ still ok to think your situation is unfair!

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Yes, it’s a windfall. So is the stimulus payment that I’m likely to be getting in a few days. People are going to use that money to buy groceries, pay rent, and get new clothes for children who have outgrown what they’re been wearing. I indulged myself slightly and bought an embroidered hoodie rather than a plain one, and the artist thanked me for helping her pay her rent this month, because mostly she sells at conventions that aren’t happening now.

        The alternative to letting people have that sort of windfall is to leave those wind-fallen apples on the ground to rot, while people are starving nearby.

        The economy is in bad shape already. They’re saying this is going to be the worst year since the Great Depression. The hope is that it won’t be even worse than the depression.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I think a lot of the newly unemployed people do need the extra bump for the reasons you say, but it is kind of weird from a lower income perspective. I’d be pissed off, too. I think she’s better off to stay employed (never trust the government and whatnot), but I think it’s kind of condescending to explain that because a lot of people with good jobs lost their employment, they need bigger government handouts now and some low wage unemployed are just benefiting by good fortune. OP doesn’t make much anyway, so she’s fine with her low wage job since she doesn’t have the big mortgage that better paid people have.

      Meanwhile, fully employed, well-paid WFH people with accountants who knew to hold their 2019 tax returns so they can get stimulus eligibility by the skin of their teeth and who can get business-ownership benefits may get $10-15k of “free” money.

  23. Sam I Am*

    Apologies if this is too political, Alison, of course feel free to delete it.
    At my hourly gig, years ago when I started working there, my position were all being worked loads of overtime during high season. One of my coworkers was 19 and a single dad at the time. When our checks came out one week, he said “the guy in the apartment next to me is on disability, and he’s only taking home $100 less than I am each month, and I’m working overtime. He’s being given too much money.” I replied “Well, let’s think about how much that means your neighbor gets each year.” We did the math, and I pointed out that his neighbor was living in poverty. “it’s not that he’s getting too much, ” I said, “it’s that you’re being paid too little.”
    Over the years he’s moved up in the organization and is in management. We talk about the Fight for Fifteen, we talk about protecting his reports from illegal behavior, and he’s a stickler about workers’ rights. He’s a hard, reliable, creative worker and because of this he has a little capital to protect his people as he makes his way in the world and raises his child. He can’t move, this is actually the best employer in the area, and I see him making changes as he can, which are slow and small.
    Why am I writing this? Because we aren’t, as a society, paying our workers enough. Especially those deemed “essential.” Shall we now all race to the bottom of the wage pool together? Shouldn’t someone working 50 hours each week be making a living? I don’t know, but we must do something for those who are putting their lives at risk so we may eat, ride the bus, have utilities, etc. All I’ve come up with so far is to call the grocery store options in my area and ask “what are you doing to protect your workers? Have they been given a raise at this time that they’re putting themselves at risk?” The answers are depressing. So my shopping is now limited to the tiny, expensive, mom & pop grocery nearby where all the workers have masks on and they’ve been given a small, temporary raise. And I said that to the major chain managers.
    What to do? I am open to suggestions. I’ve got plenty of time.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Agreed. And I love that you actually did the math. I wish more people would rely on facts and not opinions.

    2. White rabbit*

      This is spot on. The 1% wants us squabbling with each other over 100s of dollars instead of noticing they are taking billions.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I want to only shop where the CUSTOMERS have to wear masks in order to protect the WORKERS. They is only one place like that around here and it is on a military facility. Friends who work in groceries, etc. are scared of the customers. How can we fix that??

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Many corporations fought masks being worn by employees saying they’d “scare” the customers.

        They’re the same ones who didn’t want to limit store capacity as well because they’re so worried about frigging optics.

        1. Lynn*

          The major national grocery chain that originated in my city found this to backfire – lots of people are refusing to shop there based on lack of appropriate precautions put in place.

        2. Jennifer*

          It’s a real concern. Some people are being targeted as criminals for wearing masks and being asked to leave. I wouldn’t want my husband walking around with a scarf covering the bottom half of his face. That makes him a target.

          Then I saw a person dragged off a bus for not wearing a mask. We can’t win.

      2. Nina*

        Some stores around here aren’t letting customers in unless they’re wearing a mask or at least a bandanna or whatever around their face. Customers may also not all be able to get masks, and I would rather masks be reserved for essential workers

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        I was thrilled when my local Safeway started being strict about 5 feet and *had their people wearing masks and gloves*. I’ve been wearing a mask to go out since Mar 9th.

        I’m glad when grocery stores protect their employees! I keep thinking about putting spare cloth masks on my porch for delivery drivers.

        Yet the last time I went shopping about 1/5 of the customers didn’t have even as much as a bandana. I was surprised that the store even let them in. Another not insignificant number weren’t wearing their masks anywhere close to right (covering nose and mouth.)

    4. schnauzerfan*

      I’m at risk because of prex conditions. I shop curbside only. I don’t bring whatever I might be incubating into the store to add to the risk of those who have to be there. We have a small local market where I buy most of my groceries. The owner is thinking about going curbside only for everyone. He’d keep his workers safer and protect his customers. I know that’s not doable for everyone, but…

    5. Jennifer*

      “it’s not that he’s getting too much, ” I said, “it’s that you’re being paid too little.”

      thank you. i wish more people understood this.

      1. Sam I Am*

        Thanks. This particular job of mine is just a small part of my income, so I’m not running a big risk if I were to lose it. This gives the the wiggle room to speak up; I realize not everyone is in the same position.

  24. Turtles!*

    For LW1, you can also call a domestic violence hotline for advice about how to handle this. (I ‘ve called hotlines plenty of times for advice on how to help people I knew who were in a bad situation, not just for myself.)

    1. Generic Name*

      The OP said they chatted with a DV advocate online and the advocate suggested they say something to the coworker, and she wrote to Alison asking for a script.

  25. Bend & Snap*

    #1 I’ve been the wife here (not DV, just extreme and relentless verbal abuse) and I would have been mortified if a coworker brought it up. Let it lie.

    1. Gilty pleasures*

      Relentless and extreme verbal abuse IS domestic violence. You may not wish to label your experience as DV, but your description fits the definition. I’m sorry you went through that.

      But being mortified is better than being dead. The though that we should not do anything in case we make someone feel a little uncomfortable because we got it wrong, and instead risk someone being abused while we do nothing, is abhorrent.

    2. Amanda*

      I’m sorry you went through this abuse. But honestly, being mortified is not enough reason to not try to help.
      I have a cousin who was severely emotionally, and eventually physically, abused. She was a strong independent girl at first, but was trained so thoroughly that her situation was normal and that her family should stay out of it, that we couldn’t reach her for a long time. She’s still dealing with the trauma and trying to get rid of this brainwashing.
      If an outsider had reached out and said “no, this isn’t normal”, it might have woken her up before it got this bad, before she had to spend a full week in ICU. It might at least have planted seeds that there were other options.
      Letting it lie because it might be upsetting could very well cost this woman her life at some point.

    3. kms1025*

      I think its likely that this woman is already mortified by her husbands behavior. Pointing out resources, if they are ever needed, doesnt instigate the mortification, but might alleviate her likely feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

      1. Annie*

        Is pointing out the resource really necessary though? Its highly unlikely that she doesn’t know that these kind of hotlines exist. 

        As a victim of DV myself, a coworker sending me this kind of message would have actually make me feel more isolated because now I know that my coworkers know about my situation and are judging/gossiping/writing to internet strangers about it so I can no longer separate work from my relationship. 

        I know that people like to think they are doing good by handing out these phone numbers, but it really isn’t that simple. 

        1. revueller*

          But doesn’t the fact that the husband has berated the coworker verbally while the coworker was on a work call means that the coworker can’t separate her relationship from her work anymore?

          If I’m mistaken, please correct me. I don’t want to overstep on your lived experience.

          1. Annie*

            It sounds like none of the coworkers have acknowledge it yet, she doesn’t have confirmation about how much they heard. Also, there’s a difference between acknowledging it as a fight and acknowledging it as domestic violence. It can take a long time for a person to admit to themselves that they are in a DV situation and having that pointed out by a coworker could be harmful than helpful.

            1. biobotb*

              It could also be more helpful than harmful, which is why the OP is (was) in such a tricky position.

    4. MYOB Coworker*

      I have as well. I would be angry if a busybody coworker sent me a patronizing email like that. I would tell them to mind their own business and if they persisted I would take it to HR. Do you think I don’t know what my situation is? A random coworker doesn’t have a clue what all the variables are, and what I was doing to get out. There can be children, financial and other considerations that aren’t easily resolved by a phone call to some DV line.

      1. Amanda*

        Telling someone to mind their own business is your prerogative. But no, people don’t always know what their situation is, and it’s not patronizing to point it out. Sometimes they’ve been brainwashed into thinking it’s normal, or not that bad, and having a stranger chime in could help them realise it’s NOT normal.

      2. biobotb*

        I mean, abusers often wear the victims down so that they don’t have a reasonable perspective on their situation anymore. They may also be getting messages from others that they deserve to be treated that way and it’s actually their fault (I certainly was), so hearing from a disinterested third party that what your partner is doing is not normal or OK or excusable could be really valuable.

        And I don’t see where anyone is arguing that a single call to a DV hotline will magically solve the problem.

      3. Delphine*

        I don’t think that refusing to look the other way when it comes to potential abuse is being a busybody or being patronizing.

    5. Batgirl*

      Mortification and shock, realisation of the responses of strangers are really good responses though. Normalisation is the bad guy here. That day when you know you can’t own up to a mistake because he will dance on it like Fred Astaire, so you start managing and tip toeing on egg shells as a normal reaction.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I was in a dysfunctional marriage for 18 years, no DV either, but I can easily imagine the scene OP1 described playing out in my former marriage. My thoughts on this are that being in a bad marriage warps a person’s mind and one starts seeing this as normal, and a reality check sometimes helps. (Family friends, at least in my case, were not helpful at all. We used to go on camping trips and vacations together, so they saw a lot, and either kept quiet or told me how lucky I was to have a husband who cared so much, “he is afraid to lose you” etc. Then had the balls to be outraged at me when I finally left.) When everyone close to you, *and your own brain*, tells you that this is normal and that there’s got to be something wrong with you that you aren’t happy with the situation, it really helps to know that OMG, an outside observer was shocked to overhear what is a normal Tuesday morning at my house! Might help this wife make the right decisions when the time for them is right. She might have no support system otherwise.

      1. Anon 4 This*

        I wish more more people would speak out.

        My mom married someone who was extremely verbally abusive (as well as financially abusive and sometimes physically), except he always said he was joking. Yeah, he was a real funny guy.

        Everyone else told me that I should ignore it. It wasn’t my place to say anything, because “he really loved her.” But how can someone who loves you constantly tell you that you’re stupid or that you’d be living in the streets if it weren’t for him? I couldn’t bite my tongue, and my mom always brushed off my concerns. She assured me that she could handle her business.

        Then, one summer, she told me about the new neighbors next door. My mom invited them over for dinner and drinks. My mom grew close to one of the women. But that neighbor confided that her wife refused to visit my mom’s house because she was uncomfortable with the way my mother was treated.

        I had so many emotions! I was sad that my mom told me this story with a smile. I was elated that someone besides myself (a stranger!) recognized that toxic s@#! show she was in. And I was angry with everyone else…so many others…who kept their mouths shut or openly praised the horrific man she’d married.

        She passed away last year, and the thing that keeps me up at night is the fact that she thought what she had was love.

        I’m sorry your family and friends looked the other way. But I’m so glad that you got out.

    7. Bend & Snap*

      The consensus from people who have been in this situation is to not reach out.

      And for those downplaying mortification, please think of the impact this would have on an already stressed person in the workplace. I have PTSD from my marriage but it would have sent me into a tailspin to have a work acquaintance sending me DV resources.

      If there were a closer relationship, maybe. But the LW sounds like a stranger. That’s not going to help anyone.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You’ve got a very small pool to draw that summary from. You’re skipping all the comments that say they’d be okay with the email.

        It’s an extremely personal thing. In the end there’s no wrong or right way to respond on either direction. Any action or no-action can lead to completley different results. We’re human. It’s not that black and white.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        Bend & Snap*
        April 15, 2020 at 10:37 am
        Exactly, it’s an extremely personal thing, which is why a stranger shouldn’t go barging in.

        REPLY▼ Collapse 1 reply

        Bend & Snap*
        April 15, 2020 at 10:39 am
        Also: Most, if not all, of the comments saying it would be helpful were posted after my comment.


      3. violet04*

        Agree. I’ve been in a verbally abusive relationship and a co-worker that I only know by name reaching out is not going to help. Nor is it going to be the thing that would have made me take action to end the relationship.

      4. Nina*

        It’s actually a mix. Some people are saying don’t, some people are saying please do. And the DV hotline person, who has a much larger sample size, said they should

        1. Bend & Snap*

          As I said above, when I posted my comment, the people with experience were saying no.

          I don’t think this type of outreach is appropriate for work, appropriate for a stranger to do, or remotely helpful for someone who is balancing a troubled home life. My 2 cents.

      5. Blueberry*

        The consensus from people who have been in this situation is to not reach out.

        Okay, now you have made me angry. Are you saying that those of us who have been abused and agree that the coworker should reach out don’t actually count, or that we are lying about being abused?

        It is entirely possible for different people to have different reactions. And I think that’s all I’m going to let myself say.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          “Okay, now you have made me angry. Are you saying that those of us who have been abused and agree that the coworker should reach out don’t actually count, or that we are lying about being abused?”

          What the f are you talking about? No, I did not say that or even imply anything like that, and for the THIRD TIME, I posted that comment before anybody on this thread said that they would welcome that kind of action.

          You’re welcome to your opinion, but please don’t put words in my mouth.

          1. Blueberry*

            What else do you mean by “consensus”? that’s not just that all the current examples seem to agree but that no one’s likely to show up and disagree. That *discounts the very possibility* that people with equivalent experiences would show up to disagree. Did you really think no one could possibly have a different conclusion? Not least since your advice contravenes that of the Domestic Violence hotlines?

            I’m not “putting words in your mouth” I’m challenging your statement. And it isn’t my ‘opinion’, as if we were discussing ice cream flavors, but my conclusion, which I earned as painfully as you earned yours.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              I meant consensus by people commenting. Which has now been proven wrong. I’m not sure what else you’re getting at.

              And yes, when you make whackadoo statements like I’m saying abused people are lying, you’re putting words in my mouth. Get a grip.

            2. Annie*

              This comment is unnecessarily mean. There were several of us who made comments early today saying that we disagree with Alison’s advice based on our own experiences with DV. That’s the consensus that B&S is talking about. None of us said that our conclusion is the only conclusion. We just wanted to share a different perspective. There is no reason to challenge anyone’s statements, ffs.

  26. Retail not Retail*

    About bringing up pay after this is over – our big boss laid out a plan to raise full time year round workers’ pay to $11/hr, over like 4 years. We were thrilled by this news in December, you can imagine.

    I’m doing harder work now that our work release crew has been let go (living situation too dangerous) and no, I won’t see any increase for this, any true appreciation besides a gift certificate to one of our restaurants.

    And who knows if the pay increases will still happen? We won’t be reopening immediately after the stay at home orders are lifted – in the summer we get thousands of guests a day.

    Of course my state unemployment is $275/week so no one is living high off the hog.

  27. Retail not Retail*

    Re: carpooling… I’d ask my manager for a ride. Sure it’s not technically his fault I’m “essential” and low paid but ahem. Of course my retail days were off bus routes that just didn’t run on sundays or after 6 or 8, so I walked, rode my electric bike, or got a ride from my best friend.

  28. Dave*

    LW3 I would just like to say I understand the position you are facing! I am going through something extremely similar. We have been allowed to bill for hours worked after pushback but I do feel like this will impact my long term prospects at this company. Both them being punitive and me knowing I don’t want to work for a company that is trying to make me act unethical. It was recently suggested to start transitioning some positions beck to the office despite my department not meeting state guidelines for leaving the house so a whole new round of fighting is starting. Good luck as you deal with this!

  29. Batgirl*

    LW2 really reminds me of my family’s wartime experience as merchant seamen. No guns or defences, no uniforms or glory and if your ship was sunk (my dad’s uncle was sank four times) you were unpaid until you found another ship.
    I don’t really have advice on the pay front; just that people of sense and justice will know and remember what you do.

  30. CupcakeCounter*

    I know #3 is illegal and unethical but I know of a ton of people who would be thrilled to be making some under the table money to supplement their unemployment (or in many cases bridge the gap between last paycheck and they finally receive their first check).

    Again…not saying its right and the OP should do it.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Don’t risk going to jail because of something your boss asks of you, OP3. He is not worth it.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I admit I did this once, but it was just for a short time right after I got laid off. But it is still fraud.

      In my case the owner laid us off on X-day, and we had to all be moved out of the office space. But I was asked to finish up a couple of things for about two weeks post-layoff and was paid under the table for them.

      Because there was a waiting week for unemployment, the cash helped tide me over until the unemployment actually kicked in. But again, this wasn’t ongoing work, it was doing some odds and ends on a per-project basis, not even for a full weeks pay.

      Your boss seems to expect constant and continued work while you are in effect “laid off.” Don’t do it. You could both get into serious legal trouble.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Millions of people survive on that process, that’s for sure. I’ve seen it all my life in many ways.

      But when drawing unemployment as well, that’s where it gets me stressing that getting caught has more than just mostly tax consequences.

      But you’re not wrong. We teach children to work for straight cash and then as adults flip it on them. It’s such a mixed up and unfair world with all our flip flopping ways.

    4. Lynn*

      It’s a felony in many states. I wouldn’t be willing to risk prison time and massive fines for a little bit of cash.

  31. Blue Eagle*

    LW4 – Most packages that are delivered have some kind of tracking number so that you can tell where they are in the delivery process. Why not approach your manager about the missing chocolate in this manner (i.e. “my surprise hasn’t been delivered to my house yet, could you give me the tracking number so I can check to see where it is in the delivery process and its estimated ETA”).

    1. BadWolf*

      Good idea — “Just want to make sure I can grab it off the porch on the right day in case of rain/cold/heat.”

    2. MoopySwarpet*

      I was coming here to say exactly this. Whenever we have not received something we think we should have at work, we email the sender and ask for the tracking number. “Hey, my egg hasn’t delivered, yet. Can you send me tracking?”

      No apologizing behavior. Not defensively. Just the facts.

      We had a customer only receive 5 of something they should have received 6 of recently. He called:
      Him: there were only 5.
      Me: hmmm, let me check real quick. The paperwork I received says they sent 6. I’ll let them know.
      Him: let me count again just to make sure. . . . Nope 5.
      Me: I’ll get the 6th sent.
      Me to the warehouse: dude only got 5, can you send the 6th
      Warehouse: paperwork says we sent 6. We’ll do a count.
      Warehouse: we have 1 too many. Sending it today.

      If the warehouse had come back and said their counts were accurate, we would have sent an additional from our sample stock.

      1. Secret Squirrel*

        I like this script. It sounds like a business (and businesslike) transaction and rather than a whiny ‘where’s my chocolate eggggg?????’

        1. UKDancer*

          Absolutely. I think the key is not to be whiny about it. The OP should be as factual and pleasant as possible. Most reasonable employers will either send the tracking information or check with the vendor quickly and sort it. Apart from anything else if they’ve paid for x Easter Eggs and only x-1 have been sent then they’d probably like to know about it.

  32. Heidi*

    Re: the chocolate eggs. My inclination would be to leave it be. Unless you work for the type of bosses who expect you to be falling all over each other thanking them for these kinds of things. If they are in some way expecting a big show of gratitude from you and you don’t deliver (see how I did that?), that can be an unofficial black mark on your record (not the official record, but the record in their minds). I’d bring it up subtly if that were the situation.

    1. Anon for this*

      This is a really good point. Our employer sent us care packages in the past few weeks, and I was baffled by the number of newer coworkers sending thank-you emails specifically to our boss and grandboss and cc’ing the rest of us (even though the boss and the grandboss had nothing to do with at least one, if not both, of the packages). You’re right, the culture at their old jobs could’ve been that there has to be a thank-you note, and if you don’t send one, there’ll be consequences. I had not realized there were workplaces with this kind of culture, but it does make sense that there would be. Yes, if this is the case, I would definitely subtly bring it up.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Really? I’m genuinely surprised (in a totally non-accusatory, simply curious sort of way). I didn’t realize it would be such an outlier reaction to send a thank-you email for a care package. Putting aside for a moment that they may have been directed to the wrong people, my feeling is that a care package is somewhat “above and beyond” just normal workplace perks. I mean, this isn’t “help yourself to the leftover donuts in the conference room”. It seems to be a bit more intentional–and frankly thoughtful–than that. Or is just the fact of the cc’s that you find baffling (as opposed to a more private thank you)?

        1. Anon for this*

          1) the packages came on the heels of layoffs and benefit cuts (both of which happened before the pandemic, and were not caused by it) so nah I am not feeling overwhelmed by gratitude just yet.
          2) Why would I put aside that they were directed to the wrong people, if they were directed to the wrong people who the sender (or their supervisor) also happens to report to? And yeah the cc’s. I thought the thank-yous were a bit performative tbh. No judgement. Just was surprised in the same curious kind of way that you were, in a “why’d they do this” kind of way.

          1. Anon for this*

            Just to clarify – I thought it was a nice gesture. I just didn’t think it rose to the level where I’d want to send a “ohmygosh thank you thank you thank you you are the best!” note to the same people that had just laid off my teammates and cut my benefits and hinted at more of the same coming in the future. And it certainly never occurred to me to send one to my boss instead. I really think that was workplace culture-driven and that’s a work culture I’ve never been exposed to yet.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think it’s overkill and strange that someone would CC a bunch of people as well, even my “Pollyanna” POV is like “LOL Wut?” . Group messages are generally a “cringe” option IMO.

        Directly to your boss is one thing or whomever you think organized it. I always forward the praise to the right person when I get it out of place, “That was the other person who did that but I’ll let them know you appreciated it!”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m fascinated by the idea that people think that many managers have this kind of “list” of random regular enough interactions in their minds.

      How many people do you manage? How many axes can you grind at once?

      I’ve seen some petty ass shit over the years and this has never been one of them.

      1. Blueberry*

        I’ve had managers cite things such as the day I didn’t smile 3 months prior when describing my “bad attitude”. (Despite how contentious I can be here I’m a very smiling and soft person in person.) But then I was raised by someone who would cite things I’d done when I was 6 while yelling at me when I was 12 about my ongoing campaign to make his life miserable, so I can believe some people keep a stock of such little interactions to bring up later.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s not normal behavior and is very toxic!

          I understand COMPLETELY that it’s a thing on a level because a former boss of mine was actually the same way…literally he wrote me up in a fit of rage and included things that I had done [and had owned/apologized/fixed/lmfao that guy though]

          But seriously, as someone who has seen a lot of weird stuff and known a variety of persons, that kind of person is toxic and bad to the core. It’s not regular behavior and shouldn’t be expected from rationale, decent humans, let alone one in a management position.

          1. Blueberry*

            You know, I think I needed that reminder that that isn’t regular behavior, since, well, that’s what I was raised with. Thank you. :)

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              Came from a verbally abusive household – nope it’s not normal and it takes a long time to undo all the toxic things you took in. Good luck to you as you work those things out.

      2. Heidi*

        I agree that it’s not particularly likely, especially in a company of 50 people. At the same time, I also get the impression that a lot of the advice column letters I read are from people complaining that no one has thanked them for doing a bunch of stuff no one asked them to do in the first place. So they are out there.

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #2 I get what you’re saying, but Alison brings up many good points. We have a friend who owns food trucks and she’s been able to keep her employees working by offering carry out. When they heard about the extra money being provided with unemployment they told her they’d rather be laid off. She told them she would do that, but they’d probably be without pay for a month because that’s how long it’s taking to get unemployment benefits. It may seem unfair, but in the long run it’s only a temporary fix and those who were laid off may be worse off down the road.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      In my opinion, it’s better to be in the workforce than out of it. It’s easier to find a job when you have a job. I think the broad job market will understand anyone who was unemployed now when they go to look for jobs in the future, but if you have a job and are able to do that job safely, I would try to keep it. People who rather go on unemployment due to the break even are generally the ones whose idea of long term planning is next Friday. I also rather earn my living than have the government’s strings attached. As you say, could be a month before they get anything.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Agreed. I’ve been laid off twice in the past and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. And those times weren’t during a global pandemic. Things aren’t just magically going to go back to what we thought of as normal when we’re allowed to leave our houses again.

  34. Phony Genius*

    I was a little confused reading #4. How is it a “surprise” when they’re telling you that it’s coming?

    (I did have a co-worker once who threw herself a surprise party. And was somehow genuinely surprised when she showed up; she was not acting.)

    1. CTT*

      I feel like with perishables you have to pre-ruin the surprise a bit so it doesn’t get left on someone’s porch for days and ends up melting.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, because many people are leaving their packages to sit for days (coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours), and perishable items will expire if you don’t expect them. Mine definitely would since I leave boxes for up to a week in my building’s package delivery lockers and in my front hallway.

        1. CTT*

          Even in non-pandemic times, I would worry that I’m sending it to someone and it’ll show up right when they go out of town for a week.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s pretty much how things work when you have to coordinate these via delivery services.

      It sounds like someone needed to be there to sign for it [probably not an issue because most of us are you know, at home!]

      But I don’t answer my door if someone knocks on it if I’m not expecting something. I sure don’t let a “delivery driver” anywhere near me if I didn’t order something, that’s an old scam to break into homes…I’m paranoid from years of living in high crime areas.

      So you say “Hey Nance, I sent you a little something, be on the look out.” and then they have the heads up.

      The manager only said “Something from the Easter Bunny.” Then when double checking with colleagues when nothing showed up, the colleagues said “Oh yeah, we got chocolate eggs.” so it was a surprise of “not knowing what it is.”

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Well, who knows though? Maybe there was money or a gift card with the egg? Surprise!

      You’d want people to look for a package.

  35. Xarcady*

    #3. Please, please check the regulations for unemployment fraud in your state. In my state, not only do you have to pay back all the money you received, you can also be fined and jailed.

    Your employer should not be asking you to break the law for the sake of his company. He won’t be the one paying your legal bills, your fines, or sitting in jail for you.

    And if he can’t deal with you saying you won’t break the law for his business, then he is not a good employer to work for. I’d start job hinting now. Believe it or not, there are companies hiring.

  36. ynotlot*

    #2 is basically the argument against socialism in a nutshell. But Alison is right – the problem is how low pay is for essential workers. It needs to be WAY, WAY more profitable to work than to collect unemployment. But unemployment has to be enough to keep you afloat and out of poverty as intended. So a much higher minimum wage (I always see $15, but I think $12 federal minimum wage would be a huge step forward in the meantime) is really the only solution.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I’m not sure why for a lot of people “socialism = pay people not to work”. (Actually, I’m quite sure, but not going to get into that here.)

      I am a strong supporter of living wages and a strong safety net (because losing your job shouldn’t mean losing your home). But this will never happen, because the shareholders always hog the trough.

      1. Rebecca*

        And another reason to sever health insurance from employers. Losing your job, through no fault of your own, should not result in loss of affordable health insurance, either. COBRA follows the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. Personally, I don’t know anyone who could afford COBRA; the last time I looked into it, every dollar received on unemployment wouldn’t even cover the COBRA premium, let alone anything else.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Yes, exactly. I’m not even sure what the purpose of COBRA is, because it is completely unaffordable if you are on unemployment.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            It was useful back before the ACA, when losing your employer-based insurance could mean being locked out of insurance entirely (because of pre-existing conditions).

            1. Jedi Squirrel*

              The last time I was on on unemployment was well before ACA, and I could not afford COBRA. It was literally more per month than two and half weeks of unemployment. If I did not have to pay rent, I could have afforded it.

            2. Analyst Editor*

              You’re right; and I think decoupling health care from employment on its own, by not tax-advantaging, can on its own, without even full-scale nationalization of the entire industry, address a many of the distortions in the US healthcare market, make it easier to both start a business (i.e. create jobs) and leave one if you’re not treated well.

            3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

              This. I took COBRA when I was laid off in 2001. A friend who was also being laid off said, reasonably, that he couldn’t afford to take COBRA. But I couldn’t afford not to, because I was on an expensive medication and worried about the pre-existing condition thing.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            This. I was on COBRA several times – I had to liquidate other assets to pay for it, because unemployment didn’t even cover my bills. If I didn’t have stuff to liquidate, I was simply uninsured.

            In 2009 it was over $1500 a month for my wife and I. I sold almost all the stock I’d managed to get while working. (Sold at $150/share, well over 100 shares. It’s now worth $2300 per share.) All gone, at crappy prices, because I had to pay for health insurance. This was a huge loss just because we didn’t have national health insurance like most other first world countries.

            COBRA is barely adequate for people who absolutely need health care, not just the ER. It costs too much for anyone who is not a single, healthy twenty-something. It sounds great, but is a money sink.

        2. Avasarala*

          I would even argue that losing your job through your own fault should not result in you losing your home or health insurance.

          Even stupid and mean people shouldn’t die or be homeless. They’ll make their lives hard enough for themselves without taking up resources and hospital beds too.

      2. ynotlot*

        It’s not “socialism = pay people not to work.” It’s the argument that people are more motivated to work for their own betterment than for the betterment of others, particularly others whose choices they disagree with. That’s the argument for free market capitalism.
        I see a lot of support for a Universal Basic Income. That’s an example of where this comes up. A Universal Basic Income isn’t paying people not to work, but it is money you receive regardless of whether you work. Rhetorically, if it’s enough to live on, and you don’t have to work to get it, why would anyone work? That’s the argument.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I mean, I’ve seen people spin just about anything into an argument for their pet cause or against a cause they don’t like. Doesn’t make these arguments valid ones. Logically, it does not make sense for the answer to a problem of “people are being so underpaid that they’d have gotten paid more if they were on unemployment” to be “so let’s cut unemployment!”

        2. Blueberry*

          “Rhetorically, if it’s enough to live on, and you don’t have to work to get it, why would anyone work? That’s the argument.”

          Because you want the thing that happens to happen, so you work to make it happen.

          In my life I have seen people invest more hours per week in their churches, in their hobbies (especially collaborative ones such as science fiction conventions and community theater), and in their dreams (such as novel writing) than they did in their employment, because they wanted to make certain things happen enough to work at it. If I had UBI I would probably stay at my current job because it’s the first one I’ve had in over a decade I can say I love (even if I don’t love all of it, heh). I don’t want to do nothing, I want to survive, and in my experience I’ve seen that attitude be at least as common, if not more, than wanting to do nothing.

        3. Avasarala*

          Honestly… yeah, why would anyone work?
          To get more money than Basic offers (aka why people who make 100k a year still want 120k–people want money).
          Because they find their job rewarding and interesting.
          Because it’s something to do.
          Because it contributes to their community, and someone’s gotta do it.

          But yes, I think a lot of useless, unimportant jobs would disappear, and we would learn to function without them. And essential, dirty jobs would have to pay a lot more to get people to do them and that would be a good thing.

  37. Liz*

    “for the good of the future of the company.” (aaaaaaaahhhhh)
    “I’ve asked several times about what I’ll be paid to continue working but he wants to know what I get from unemployment first.” (AaaAAaHHhhh)
    “Also, he wants to pay under the table and hourly, so he wants tasks done as quickly as possible to minimize the hours, which results in a lot of emails, texts, and pressure.” (AAAAAHHHHH!!!)

    I’ve got nothin’ else except that this is a huge flashing sign to start looking elsewhere. Great answer, Alison.

  38. Blanche*

    RE: LW1
    20ish years ago, it would have changed my life to have someone say to me, “I saw how that person talked to you, you don’t deserve to be talked to that way.” Most abusers are highly skilled at hiding their behaviors in front of others, so the fact that he felt comfortable treating his partner like that in a situation where he knew others could see is very concerning. I hope that woman is OK.

    1. cncx*

      Same. I was married to someone who was a very good actor- if LW1’s person is acting this way in front of other people, that is really concerning.

    2. Batgirl*

      Ditto, though I have no doubt I would have first gone through the stages of “the bloody nerve” and “oh she meant well; how funny!”, then consigned it to the recycle bin.
      But it’s human nature to reach for stray flotsam when drowning and the next time I was made to feel it was my fault, or that I was the one being argumentative, the thought “Well that’s not the consensus, people are sending me DV hotlines FFS” would float up completely unbidden.

  39. Anon Unemployed*

    I’m the kind of person that LW 2 is bitter and angry about: my hours and pay were reduced, so I am collecting both regular unemployment for the reduction in hours and the extra $600/week (which isn’t pro-rated; even though I’m not fully unemployed, I still get the full $600). The result is that I’m earning more now than I was when I was working full time. On the face of that, that’s absurd.

    But here’s the thing: I’m working reduced hours through June. In July, I will (almost certainly) lose my job entirely. I work in a niche field in a very vulnerable sector. There are very few jobs in my line of work in the best of times, and there won’t be for the foreseeable future. I’ll be unemployed, with no employment prospects in the fields in which I’m qualified to work, and will be competing with the largest pool of unemployed people in American history for a much-reduced number of jobs. It doesn’t seem impossible that I will be unemployed for years, or that I will never earn the same salary that I earned last year.

    So I’m socking away my extra $600/week, and the $2000/month we’ll be saving from the student loan forbearance over the next several months. It’s going to need to float us for who knows how many weeks, months, or years.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yeah, when I was a sub, I always avoided telling on staff teachers what I made; they’d get shirty because I was making more and swanning home at three pm.
      They never made the calculation that the extra money was for the long stretches of unpaid holiday. Or long stretches of ‘everyone’s well, no work today!’ People who are securely employed aren’t given survival money because the job is supposed to cover that. In those times when it doesn’t, it doesn’t follow that the unemployed are better off.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      That’s interesting. I think you’re the first person I’ve heard say they’re getting the extra $600 now.

      I’m sorry about your job. Do you think you’ll be forced to change fields eventually?

      1. Anon Unemployed*

        My state was the first to begin distribution of the $600 payments (they started last week).

        I think I’ll be forced to change fields immediately.

  40. Bend & Snap*

    Exactly, it’s an extremely personal thing, which is why a stranger shouldn’t go barging in.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Also: Most, if not all, of the comments saying it would be helpful were posted after my comment.

  41. Delta Delta*

    #4 – I’m going to assume kindness all around here, and I am a gift giver. I like giving gifts. If I found out one of the gifts I sent wasn’t delivered I’d want to know so I could follow up. It could be an easy mistake – one didn’t make it into the delivery van, the delivery somehow got skipped, etc. I’d also want to know for the future if the product I sent was satisfactory and if the delivery service worked well. If things are good, I’d use them again. If not, I might opt for something else.

    I’m also very sensitive to people being left out, and I’d be mortified if I got gifts for a whole group, told them, and someone didn’t get theirs, thinking they’d been left out. Again, assuming kindness, I’d want to know so the employee was included.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      If I were the person organizing this for my company I would definitely like to know if somebody didn’t receive theirs and I’d try to find out what happened so they know they weren’t left out on purpose.

      But that being said, I don’t think it should become a big issue either.

  42. Mediamaven*

    This may be an unpopular opinion but I’m not sure I agree with the answer to number one. Her husband sounds like a massive jerk, but TBH, my husband and I have had some pretty nasty spats while having to spend far too much time together, but I would never categorize it as domestic violence! People are SERIOUSLY fragile and on edge right now. If she is really in danger, I would guess someone close to her knows it and I would be mortified if someone from my professional life that I didn’t know send me a message like that.

    1. Jennifer*

      Hmmm…not sure I 100% agree with that. We are all on edge but there are certain lines you don’t cross, no matter the circumstances. Losing your patience and being a bit short with someone is understandable, I’m assuming that’s what you’re referring to when you talk about the nasty spats you have with your husband. Calling someone names, screaming and being degrading is totally different.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. The man in OP #1’s letter is not reacting in a healthy way to stress at all. His behavior is toxic and abusive, and he needs to speak to a therapist because the fact that he felt emboldened enough to do what he did and say the things he said when he knew his wife was on a conference call lets me know he talks to her like that all the time and sees nothing wrong with it.

    2. Batgirl*

      Hmmm. People can have a bad fight without it being abusive, but I would hope they’d only characterise it as “nasty” because they dislike fighting with their partner or that they got overly upset and dramatic, or that they are upset about the issue.
      If the word nasty can actually be applied to the persons words….no, that’s not OK.
      Name calling, berating someone..uh uh, hard nope. Physically slamming stuff? Fuck no.
      Circumstances don’t make it ok to be verbally abusive. Never taking it to another level where she’s physically ‘in danger’ doesn’t make it ok to be gung ho with all the other types of abuse.
      In the past I’ve either given as good as I got or justified he’s only like that “sometimes” or rationalized the situation as stressful but a quarantine is no excuse for abuse.
      I’d be packing my bags in her shoes, he cant be trusted in a quarantine situation.

    3. Blue Eagle*

      But aren’t you already mortified that the people in your office heard your husband on the call? Or are you just fooling yourself that it really didn’t happen? By receiving the message from your co-worker, all that is really happening is your receiving confirmation that, yes, everyone did hear your husband – – – if you don’t receive a message, it doesn’t change what your co-workers are thinking about you and your husband.

    4. biobotb*

      “If she is really in danger, I would guess someone close to her knows it…”
      You have no foundation on which to base this huge assumption.

    5. Avasarala*

      You would be mortified… but would you reconsider your arguments, and if they really are just “nasty spats” that you’re totally OK with?

      I don’t know if the goal is to avoid embarrassing the victim–but to alert them that this is not normal and there is help.

  43. new kid*

    I feel like this is related to #5 re: enclosed spaces, but feel free to delete if it’s considered off topic.

    What’s the correct etiquette for elevators? I live in a high rise and if there’s already someone on the elevator I’ve taken to asking before I get on, but if they say it’s fine I still share because I don’t think it’s realistic given the size of our building that I’ll readily be able to get an elevator to myself. This answer has me wondering if I’m actually imposing myself on others in a way I shouldn’t?

    1. Batgirl*

      It’s a much shorter time period than a car journey and it doesn’t sound like there’s a better alternative. I think checking with people if they’re up to the risk too is good etiquette; I’d also make sure you’re positioned well, facing away, since face to face is the riskiest. Obvious hygiene stuff too.

    2. Bear Necessities*

      My company has implemented a policy of no more than two people in the elevator at once. With only essential workers coming in, that’s easier than usual to manage. Generally people have been standing on opposite sides of the elevator and facing slightly away from each other. It’s not perfect but it’s better than taking 8 flights of stairs I guess.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      I live in an apartment building with two elevators, and sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do but ride up or down with other people. One of our elevators serves as our freight elevator for when people move, so that thing can be stuck on any given floor at any given time and can only be operated by the person moving using a key. So if that’s in use, people have to wait for the one lone available elevator – I personally don’t mind waiting until I get it to myself (and I’ve been blessed to be timing my trips down to the lobby well enough so that I end up being the only person on at any given time), but if I got on and someone immediately slid in behind me, I can’t exactly tell them to get the hell off. I just stand as far away as I can, don’t face the person, and try not to speak (I also dress like the Unibomber when I go out, so have no issues with people avoiding me).

  44. Lizzo*

    LW5, I fully support Alison’s suggestions, however your friend should consider what sort of new risks the change to the carpooling situation may introduce.

    My husband is essential, though he does not have contact with the general public at his job. He gives a coworker (who lives alone and has isolated himself from everyone but his work colleagues) a ride every day, and has continued to do so during the pandemic. If they don’t carpool, that coworker is going to have to take public transportation.

    The risk of having someone in the car with my husband for 20 minutes twice a day is much lower than having that person take public transportation and bring a fresh, unknown batch of germs to work, where my husband is at risk of picking them up.

    I hope she can find a solution that minimizes risk for all involved!

    1. new kid*

      This makes a lot of sense to me. It’s unfortunately not as black and white as we might want it to be; we’re all having to make choices right now that are less than ideal. Sometimes there isn’t any one best solution, it’s just shades of different risk and trying to do the best you can to navigate through it.

  45. Clisby*

    I absolutely agree. I wouldn’t care enough about chocolate to mention it, because I couldn’t care less whether it arrived. If it were an Amazon gift card, though …

  46. Jennifer*

    “Nothing makes that okay, but it might help to keep in mind that the people who are collecting higher unemployment payments than you’re earning by working will only be getting the boost to their benefits for four months, after which many of them will be unemployed in what will likely be the worst job market most of us have ever seen.”

    As someone who is newly out of a job, this sent a chill down my spine, but Alison is absolutely right. No one is winning in this scenario. I know that probably doesn’t make your day any easier but maybe it will help to look at it from that perspective.

  47. Not LW#3, but in the Same Boat*

    I’m also on unemployment, but working several hours a week without pay. I’ve been working with the boss to submit, and re-submit our Payroll Protection application and have put in roughly 15 hours total. The boss has not mentioned paying me for this, nor have I asked because I feel there are enough fights going on now that I don’t want to add to it. I will address it when the Payroll Protection Money comes in.
    I know this is wrong, but I also feel I’m doing this for my fellow co-workers. It’s ensuring them at least 2 more months of regular paychecks. For some, the extra $600 + the $250/week unemployment is giving them more than they would normally get. For most of us though, it’s still less than a normal paycheck. Plus, I don’t doubt that our employer will ask, at some point, for the employee’s share of health insurance.
    Hubby thinks I’m being altruistic about this and feels I’m being used. At times I do feel used (boss could do this on their own but complains that a recent illness prevents them from having complete mobility). The last time I worked on this, I spent more time in the office than planned recalculating the figures and redoing the application and accompanying forms. The boss only reviewed my work. I could have shaved an easy hour off had I had some help from the higher up.
    On another note, the day before furlough, one of the other employees (who has a job that requires occasional interaction with clients throughout this ordeal) was instructed to keep working as needed, but just keep track of their hours. They have not been paid either.

    1. Temperance*

      Yeah, you are being used. You don’t need “complete mobility” to fill out paperwork. You should absolutely ask how you’re going to be paid for the time and effort you’re expending on this.

      If your boss is still working, and getting paid, he should be doing the work.

    2. Buttons*

      Submit a timesheet to your boss every week. Even if you are ok with not getting paid until the money comes in, submit a timesheet. this isn’t ok.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just hope that your boss has your back in the end, that’s all I care about is the end result. Sadly we don’t know that until we reach said end.

      There are bosses I’d do this for, I won’t lie and act like I haven’t. But they also prove to me that the loyalty isn’t directed only in their favor.

      If you put in that sweat equity right now, they better not just toss you the whatever they owe you for the specific hours in the end, is all I’m saying.

      1. Not LW#3, but in the Same Boat*

        I appreciate everyone’s concern. At the moment this is a bit self-serving, since the end result is a full paycheck (and I wouldn’t claim unemployment while getting a regular paycheck at the same time). Hopefully this all ends on a good note and I’m not back here complaining about the employer being rotten.

  48. OP 1*

    Hi everybody, OP 1 here! I haven’t gone through all the comments yet (I’m on the west coast so there were hundreds by the time I got up this morning) but I wanted to give an update, because I did send her the world’s most awkward email around lunchtime.

    She called me in response and we had a pretty good chat for two people who don’t actually know each other. At the end of it I felt like it was most likely a lockdown outburst, but in the event that it wasn’t (or if this becomes a repeated thing or escalates), she knows that kind of thing was alarming to overhear to the point a stranger reached out. I emailed Alison shortly after that call to let her know, but she had already written a response (!!) and since this unfortunately could be valuable for other people while we’re in lockdown for god knows how long, she thought it was best to post it even though strictly speaking, I didn’t need immediate advice.

    I actually composed most of my letter while in the chat queue for The Hotline, and it did strike me as a reflection on Alison’s abilities that she was my #2 source of advice behind an actual DV organization.

    1. Myrin*

      Thanks for updating as, OP! I’m glad this seems to have had a relatively positive outcome, even if a weird taste certainly lingers in situations like this.

    2. StudentofHermeneutics*

      I’m glad you reached out to her. It had occurred to me that she could have unconsciously left it unmuted as a cry for help. One thing she should do is delete the message from you, just in case the guy sees it and it causes things to escalate.

    3. Venus*

      My understanding is that many people in a DV situation will explain away the event, so you will likely never know what is true. The nice thing is that it really doesn’t matter! If she is fine, and it was an outburst based on this being their worst day of the pandemic, then all is good. Many people feel that such language must be abusive, but I also know some friends who weren’t taught good coping strategies by their families and they needed therapy to change that (which doesn’t exactly mean that it isn’t abusive behavior, but they behaved that way to themselves as well as others, and if we are debating hypotheticals then maybe he is working on it in therapy). If she isn’t fine, then she knows that someone cares and that she might want to get help. You weren’t ever likely to be the person she would ask for help (as you barely know each other), and no one can force her to get help, so acknowledging the situation is IMHO the best thing you could possibly do.

      1. Blueberry*

        This, so much this.

        And, OP#1 — as you’ll see if you do go through all the comments, there was a … difference of opinion as to whether you should have reached out. Please don’t feel scolded or daunted by that. You did the best you could in a difficult situation, whilst asking for advice from reliable sources.

        1. Venus*


          And I think you summed it up better than I did, thank you:
          There may be debate on whether there was an abusive situation, but there shouldn’t be debate on reaching out to say something. I think Alison’s wording is critical in doing this right, as the coworker should not be asked for details or for a response, and it shouldn’t put them at risk, but it should never ever be debatable about caring for someone else’s life.

  49. Anon for this one*

    I feel for the woman who had her husband yelling at her. I canceled a meeting 5 minutes before it was supposed to start because my sibling and their partner are living in my guest house right now and they started yelling at each other right outside my office window just as I was about to log in to my meeting. I would have been horrified if people had heard that. It is bad enough they hear the rooster and the donkey all the time!
    I worry so much about people who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect being isolated and cut off from anyone who could help them.

  50. Buttons*

    I have to disagree about giving the coworker a ride. If that person isn’t getting a ride, how are they going to get to work? Public transportation. That will be put them and everyone else at the job at more risk. I think this is a risk I would be willing to take, especially if both wear masks and wipe the car down after each car ride.

  51. boop the first*

    All of these stories are so sad in their own way :(

    Re: chocolate egg: aww, petty or not, if this happened to me I would probably not mention it out of embarrassment and just literally cry, because being the only person to not receive something is just so On Brand for me and I would not take it well, privately. And now you’ve got people shaming you about it, to boot.

    That’s the worst thing about this crisis is how it brings out the sh*tty reactions people have when it comes to personal shame. The only reason people are ragging on others about carpooling, ordering deliveries and what not is because we hate when others are comfortable with things we feel shame/judgement about, and we just spread it around in a self-righteous way. The people who are banging pots for essential workers are the same people who argued against raising minimum wage. There were so many people gathering outside a vancouver hospital to bang their solidarity pots that they had to lock down the hospital to protect the workers from sudden large gatherings outside. It’s less about support than it is about personal image.

    There are huge arguments about the carpooling coworker’s right to refuse carpooling, but I’d wager that they aren’t uncomfortable about illness at all (for reasons listed by people who ACTUALLY work in the industry), but rather about being judged by all of these outsiders who only see them as a reckless rule-breaker. People who have covid19 even get death threats on twitter for daring to be sick at home. Self image, not safety.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      My God. I don’t understand why people who get C19 are getting death threats on Twitter for being sick even at home. I’ve heard of the same happening on Facebook. It’s monstrous.

      The people who SHOULD be publicly shamed are the people who’d make those threats.

  52. Jeebus*

    Carpool: I am really dismayed that so many thoughtful and smart commenters here say that carpooling is acceptable since the people in question are already at great risk in the workplace. This reminds me of being a non-smoker in a workplace full of smokers in the 1980s. When I would ask people not to smoke they would say, “If you’re so concerned about clean air you should move out of New York City!”

    I can’t put it better than Alison so I’ll just emphasize it:

    ANY reduction in risk is a good idea. NOT reducing risk whenever possible is irresponsible. The help you are giving the person who needs a ride is outweighed by the damage you do to the many more people who can get infected just by a single avoidable encounter between two people. This is the basic nature of disease spread, as we have all (apparently not) learned.

    1. Lizzo*

      But ending the carpool situation may actually bring about greater risk if the person who is no longer getting a ride has to use public transportation, where they’ll be exposed to a LOT more people, and ultimately bring that exposure into the workplace. (See my comment above about my husband’s current situation.)

      1. Jeebus*

        Public transport is a problem if folks aren’t standing/sitting 6 feet apart; but that’s not a reason to carpool (where being 6 feet apart is impossible), that’s a reason to use public transport safely. Trading one unsafe behavior for another is not what I would propose.

        I suppose carpooling is better than a crowded bus with no distancing from a societal perspective but that doesn’t mean carpool risk is moot, it means it’s the lesser of two evils. My point is that carpooling risk is a real thing even if the people work in a supermarket and diminishing risk if at all possible is the right thing to do.

        1. Lurking Gardener*

          They could also diminish the risk by wearing masks when they’re in the car together. Like LW #5’s friend, I have an essential job that cannot be done from home (not grocery store clerk, though, we’re slightly lower risk) and work trucks are used in my job. Under normal circumstances, multiple people ride in the same truck every day. Under these circumstances, things are arrange so there are never more than two people in the same truck and usually only one–but when having two people in the same truck is unavoidable, we’re required to wear masks.

          Not a guarantee, perhaps, but if it’s a choice (for the coworker) between carpooling and only being exposed to one person or taking public transit and being exposed to many–or not being able to get to work at all (lots of areas don’t have public transportation, most areas that do have public transportation have shut much of it down, and not everyone in those areas has a car)–carpooling with precautions may be the safest.

  53. Tupac Coachella*

    You know LW2, I’ve been kind of struggling with this question too as I see the “I’m essential, where’s my $600?” comments float through social media, often not nearly as nicely as you’ve put it here. It’s tough because I really do understand both sides of it. I’m able to WFH, my husband is laid off and drawing unemployment. I start to get mad when I see those comments, because neither of those situations has been a walk in the park-our lives are full of fear, uncertainty, and mistrust of the initiatives that say they’ll help us hold on to the chance at a return to normal. Just because we aren’t stocking shelves doesn’t mean we’re sitting home doing yoga and learning Portuguese. But I can’t completely disagree either-$600 a week is much more than most people in my area typically make. I’ve sort of landed on that there’s not really any way to feel good about it. The Bad Situation Olympics is a fool’s errand.

    Essential workers put themselves in literal danger every day, which was never part of the job description for many of them. Their checks aren’t changing, and most of their jobs are getting harder.

    WFH people are adapting to an often less than ideal situation (I know it is for me) and trying to work like nothing is different, when it is VERY different. We try to be grateful that we’re getting the best of this bad situation in many ways. Some days it doesn’t work.

    Unemployed workers are navigating the unemployment system, which was no walk in the park before all this happened, trying to navigate issues with closed offices and 2+ hour wait times on the phone if you’re lucky (some people are just getting hung up on because of capacity issues with the phone lines). If those issues aren’t resolved, no money is coming. The bills keep coming. And then they get to see everyone talk about how unfair it is that they get those $600 checks…that none of the unemployed people I know have seen yet, and have received no confirmation on when or if it will happen for them personally. Some will have jobs to go back to when this is over, but no one knows when that will be. Some of them won’t have jobs anymore. Many of those people don’t know that yet, because as we speak their employers are figuring out what to cut to make up for the income loss, and employee cuts are a big cost savings. There won’t be enough jobs left for all of them, and the $600 a week checks will be back to $99, $161, $250, if they’re lucky enough to have UI eligibility left. The uncertainty of it all is devastating.

    I do think it’s fair that you’re feeling bitter about the fact that you’re bearing the brunt of so much of this and it looks like other people are getting free money. You get to be frustrated, because what’s happening to you is NOT FAIR. And it doesn’t help that their situation is bad too, and pointing out the ways their situation is worse won’t make you feel better. When you’re feeling bitter and angry, I encourage you to remember that we’re all in our own versions of Awful right now, and mentally separate other people’s Awful from yours. If theirs got worse it wouldn’t help you, and vice versa. I think for me acknowledging that none of those Awfuls is fair helps in a way, because it makes me believe we’re in this together, and makes me feel hopeful that I, as someone who didn’t get it nearly as bad as a lot of other people, might be able to recover and even help others whose Awfuls have deeper impacts than mine. When I acknowledge that everything stinks, I *can’t* disregard my Awful because others have it worse, and I can’t begrudge others the privileges that ease their suffering a little. For my own mental health, I have to take a potato potahto view when comparing my situation to others and focus on taking care of me and mine. I don’t know if that helps, but I’m with you, and I’m sorry for your Awful, and I appreciate what you do to keep all of this from completely falling apart.

    Thanks for the vent space.

  54. SDSmith82*

    OP#2- My husband is also an underpaid essential worker, and we have some family members bragging about how they are making extra off this perk, while we continue to struggle. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not that family member’s fault that the system is broken, but I also had to remind her that this crap isn’t fair, and that I don’t need to know that she is actually making more with the extra $600 than she was before it all happened. I just hope that people besides the first responders, medical professionals and grocery workers get some sort of recognition from someone that matters because there are other retail establishments deemed essential that are working and being exposed. We too are frustrated and angry that we’re told to be grateful he’s working (which we are) but also that people who were making less than he was, and chose to work part time, are now making 3 times what they were before unemployment perks gave them a boost.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I feel myself crumble a bit inside when I hear the weird bragging about this kind of thing that is indeed happening…

      They’re going to stop getting that extra pay within 4 months. And then they’re going to have possibly spent it recklessly and be in just as big of mess if not worse.

      I’m like “I prioritize long term stability over a small windfall at any given time.”

      I am still working and will use the stimulus check I’ll get to save. Which is not the point of the stimulus and I’m okay with flipping that system off.

  55. Elizabeth West*

    […]after which many of them will be unemployed in what will likely be the worst job market most of us have ever seen.

    *sigh* That made me feel like I will never work again. There is no provision for folks who were unemployed before the pandemic.

    OP, I don’t have any advice other than hang in there. You’re working right now, and that’s a good thing, even if it’s not much in terms of pay.

  56. fhqwhgads*

    “Hey Boss, you said I should expect a delivery on Friday but I didn’t receive one, should I still expect that?”
    Then boss probably has a tracking number and can go check what’s up.
    Doesn’t matter what the package is. The above is a reasonable exchange.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It was actually a nesting fail that was intended to be in response to someone who was saying it’d look bad to bring it up.

  57. rear mech*

    LW #2 – you are directing your (totally fair) outrage at the people who were laid off and are receiving the extra $600 unemployment check. But guess what? We had no choice in the matter! Our bosses chose to lay us off to preserve their businesses. Government officials chose add the extra $600 to unemployment to avoid massive upheavals that come with a surge in homelessness, hunger, and criminal activity in an effort to avoid the first two.

    Let me tell you where the $600 is going in my case. Despite the unemployment expansion, there are still a lot of people who lost their income and can’t get unemployment. My SO is one of these. My regular unemployment check is about 60% of my previous income. So our household would getting by on about 35-40% of it’s previous income. Just enough to pay rent and utilities and my obamacare, and put food on a credit card. That’s ALMOST ok for us, for a few months, since we have extremely low monthly bills compared to the average person – no cars, no kids, my (already low) student loans are deferred, he is uninsured and just doesn’t answer the phone since it’s always medical bill collections. It would have to be months and months of no work before we started to get desperate. People in our situation with more typical bills and no $600 checks would be staring down some really hard choices already or within couple months. Many of those choices are ones that leave people even less likely to be able to provide for themselves when the economy “starts back up.”

    All of us in the hospitality, travel and tourism industries will probably go back to work with reduced hours and/or wages/tips, and fewer options to change jobs. If we can save a little bit of these extra checks this will be less painful.

    $600 a week is an acknowledgement that really high unemployment rates are devastating to society, that regular unemployment benefits are not nearly enough to live on, and that people, especially low income people, are deeply interdependent. A lot of lower income essential workers are carrying someone else who is unemployed. The extra money reduces their burden. My mom works in long term care facility and now she doesn’t have to worry about me or trying to pinch pennies to support me, on top of worrying about her health and her patients.

    1. LW #2*

      LW#2 here- Thank you for you honesty and I am sorry that you are going through such a crappy situation. I want to be sure everyone understands that I do not hold ill will towards people that were let go, laid off or furloughed. They never make those decisions and are not accountable for them. I know that they extra money is very needed and will be used by a lot of people to just get by.

      What I do want to remind people who are in that situation of, though, is that there is a group of people that are keeping the economy going who also do not have a choice in going to work as they are “essential”. Those people may have gotten an extra $1 or $2 per hour raise, but they are making fundamentally less than some colleagues who are furloughed or temporarily laid off. While I understand that the extra money is temporary, it is a tangible thing that matters. Imagine how much harder your life would be if you were an essential worker and your SO was unable to work or get unemployment? You would be in the exact situation you are in now but with far less money.

      I hope everyone here understand just how little essential workers are holding grudges against unemployed people. But I also think it is lying to say that everyone that is essential is a willing “hero” who is doing this for the greater good. Many people don’t have an option and they are getting the short end of the stick.

      To speak to what Allison said, please reach out to your congressional representative and ask them to support funding for essential works as part of the next stimulus package. The people keeping the lights on and stores open and buses running will thank you.

      1. Anon Unemployed*

        I just want to push back gently on this: “Imagine how much harder your life would be if you were an essential worker and your SO was unable to work or get unemployment? You would be in the exact situation you are in now but with far less money.”

        That’s not true. They would (potentially, depending on their unemployment benefits) have less money now, but would have the ability to continue earning money into the future. Right now they may have more money, but face an indefinite period of unemployment, during which not only the additional $600/week will run out, but possible their entire unemployment payments will expire.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yes, or the people who are unemployed now could find work in the future, while the people who are working now might lose their jobs in the future. Many essential jobs are not very stable, sadly. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting a higher income now, because you never know if you will continue to have an income in the future, and that’s true no matter if you are employed or unemployed.

        2. LW #2**

          In the company I work at, all workers have been furloughed with the promise to bring them back as soon as everything reopens. While they are out, the company is paying for their benefits while those at work are still responsible for that cost. This is the case for many people in my local economy. Furloughed with that promise is decidedly different than laid off permanently. I think it is important to distinguish that there are different levels to this.

          And let me share that I feel no more safe now in my job then I did before just because I am essential. That may mean nothing if they decide to let me go in the future. I don’t think it is fair to expect people to work under the guise of “job security” when that is a rare thing these days across the board.

  58. Eugene Debs*

    LW2: A lot of people are in your same position, and they feel exactly the same as you do. Alison’s advice to speak up is great, but united voices resonate more. See if your industry has a union. If not, start following #GeneralStrike on Twitter.

  59. OolonColuphid*

    #2 – This is exactly what the .01% want us to do: distract ourselves by fighting with each other over crumbs while they enjoy a lavish feast. Don’t get angry and bitter at people receiving unemployment, get mad at the system that undervalues peoples’ labor.

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