company photoshopped makeup on our headshots, employee made an anti-Semitic joke, and more

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

1. Company photoshopped heavy makeup on all the women’s headshots

This is something that happened a few years ago but still confounds me when I think about it. I was working in finance for a small trading firm, and the managing partners hired two professional photographers to come in and take headshots that would be displayed on the company website. I was squeamish about it because I’m camera shy but went in when it was my turn. When we got the proofs back a few weeks later, makeup had been Photoshopped on all of the women, even my coworker who had hired a makeup artist to do her (very glamorous and noticeable but still professional) makeup before the shoot. And it was *really* obvious — think bright pink blush on our cheeks, blue eyeshadow, the works. It was so badly done that it would have been funny if I hadn’t felt such a strong sense of embarrassment/anger/WTF.

More information: there were three female employees, including me. I was in my mid 20s at the time, as was the coworker who hired the makeup artist on the day of the shoot. Our other coworker was in her 40s, and she and I had both come in that day wearing “no-makeup makeup.” The trading firm was in a large city in an otherwise conservative state.

I was so stunned at the time that I didn’t say anything, but what the heck does one do when something like this happens? This still bothers me years later because it seems so sexist and such an overstep of boundaries on behalf of the photographers.

Ugh, yes, an overstep and totally inappropriate for professional headshots. It’s one thing to even out blotchiness, remove shine, or clean up fly-aways — but adding obvious makeup without the explicit okay of the people being photoshopped is bizarre and not okay.

At the time, one option would have been to simply say, “There’s been obvious makeup photoshopped on this, which I didn’t want and wouldn’t have okayed. Can we please remove it before the photo is finalized?” If you wanted to make a broader point: “I’m assuming men didn’t have makeup photoshopped on their photos. Why are we doing this to the women’s photos, especially without their assent?” (Addressing this with your two coworkers also would have been good, in an amplify-the-message way.)

2. Employer’s website makes me think their culture is cringey

I applied for a job on LinkedIn and then looked at the employer’s website. It is very much not my style and now I’m worried about the company’s culture. They spend a lot of time talking about how their employees are rockstars and the site has a bio of every employee with a picture of them in a t-shirt of their favorite band. It all seems so forced and cheesy and yucky to me. (Not to mention the pressure to find a band t-shirt before your HR pic.) There’s no guarantee I’ll get an interview anyway, but is this red-flaggy enough for me to withdraw if asked for an interview?

Eh, I’d say it’s worth going to the interview to learn more — maybe their HR people or whoever’s responsible for that section of the website are known cheeseballs and the site doesn’t represent the way the rest of the company operates, or maybe their culture changed in the last year because of new leadership and the website hasn’t caught up, or maybe it’ll just end up feeling different when you know them better than it feels when you don’t. Or not — maybe you’ll get there and think, “Yep, definitely not for me.” But you might as well learn more; an interview doesn’t obligate you to proceed any further with them if you don’t want to.

3. My employee made an anti-Semitic joke in a meeting

Last summer I hired an employee who reports to me and is taking over a portion of the job duties that used to be mine — recruiting volunteers. He’s from a sales background and is extremely extroverted, which makes him incredibly well-suited for his job — but also extremely different from the rest of our team, who focus on working with volunteer mentors and college students. So to set the stage, he’s really trying to find a rhythm with the team and is often cracking jokes and whatnot.

Weeks ago, I was in a meeting with this employee and two of our colleagues from the marketing department. The director of marketing asked if we wanted to pursue advertising in a local Jewish paper, as they were always contacting her about possible packages and may cut us a deal. The employee immediately jumped in with a joke about how ironic it was that a Jewish paper would cut us a deal. I think we were all shocked — maybe even him, because he laughed really loud and then got quiet right away. I just ignored the comment and the meeting moved on. This has been bothering me since it happened. I know I should have addressed it immediately in the moment, but for a variety of reasons, I didn’t. (One reason is that the employee is black and I am white, and I was honestly so taken aback that he would say something offensive, it just blew my mind. Which is in and of itself racist of me, I know.) Has the ship completely sailed on this? What do I do now?

To my knowledge, he has never said anything like that before or since. We’ve now been working together for about eight months. And neither of my colleagues in Marketing has ever raised this. I just know I shouldn’t have let it go. (Also, we are now working remotely, so an added dimension of this is how to have this conversation while on video chat.)

Oooh, yes, you’ve got to bring it up. It’s not great that weeks have gone by, but it would be far worse to let it go longer.

If you talk regularly, do it the next time you talk. If you don’t, set up a call with him. Say this: “I should have addressed this right away when it happened, and I apologize for not doing that. You made a joke about Jews in our meeting with Marketing that stunned me, and I was negligent in letting it go at the time.” At this point he’ll hopefully acknowledge it and indicate he regrets it, and then you can emphasize, “You absolutely cannot make jokes about religion, race, gender, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, or any other demographic.” If he seems to get it, you can leave it there. If he tries to minimize it (even if only to save face) or defend it, then you have a bigger problem on your hands.

And you can do this over the phone or video chat just like any other work-related message you need to communicate. But do it ASAP; it becomes more of a problem the longer you wait.

You should also talk to the other people who were in the meeting, apologize for not handling it on the spot, and let them know you’ve spoken to the employee about it. If you don’t do that piece, you risk them thinking you were fine with it, and that can have a huge impact on their trust in you.

4. Should I include a temporary retail job on my resume?

Like many others, I’m in the unenviable position of having been laid off from my job because of coronavirus. I’d been working there for 13 years, and I had already been job-hunting for about a year when I got the call on April 2. Because it was retail and I’d never made much money, I’ve taken a temporary job at a big-box retailer in order to pay the bills (since unemployment benefits are delayed by a still-unclear number of weeks in my state) and in order to keep my brain from unraveling. The job is expected to last at least 90 days but has no guarantee of continuation after that, and I live in an at-will state in the middle of a pandemic so if we’re being honest, there’s no guarantee of anything at all.

As I continue to look for a new permanent job, should I edit my resume to include this temporary gig? Should I leave it off the resume but include it in online fill-in applications? I don’t necessarily want future employers to think I’ve been unemployed when I haven’t been, but I also wonder how much a temporary position really matters. On a semi-related note, I’m not sure anymore how to answer when online fill-ins ask whether I’ve ever been terminated or asked to resign from a job. I suppose technically I was terminated, but does that question mean layoffs as well as firings?

It’s fine to leave it off your resume. It’s not likely to strengthen your candidacy since it’s not your line of work, and having a period of unemployment now will not be surprising or concerning in the least. (Drop whatever worries you have about employers seeing you’re unemployed for a few months or having a resume gap — those are just not issues in this situation.) If an online application asks you to include every job in the last X years, you should include it, but otherwise you don’t need to put it there either.

And when applications ask if you’ve ever been terminated or asked to resign, they generally mean firings — not layoffs. So you should be fine answering “no” there.

5. How to support grocery workers

Would you consider asking readers about how to support grocery (and similar workers) now? I am high risk and have been gratefully relying on curbside pick-up the past month and foreseeable future. They aren’t allowed to accept tips but I know they are working in a very risky situation for crappy pay. Is there anything I can do for them?

I will happily throw this out to readers for ideas. Readers?

{ 643 comments… read them below }

  1. anony*

    #5 — honor all strikes, contact the companies to advocate for them, contact your legislators to advocate for them and for better worker protections across the board, and if your legislators aren’t supportive, vote in ones that are in November.

    1. AntiSocialite*

      All of this, plus take down their names and send emails/make calls about how great they are and how much you appreciate them. And, fill out whatever customer satisfaction survey you get. Both of those things are pretty important in the Customer Support/Service operations world and people don’t always take the time for it.

      1. LAMM*

        If you do choose to do a survey, keep in mind anything less than 5 stars (or 5/5 or whatever the highest for the system they use) is considered NOT. GOOD. While you’d think a 4/5 is equivalent to an 80%, the surveys at the places I’ve worked weigh it closer to 60%.

        So while surveys are great, especially if you can mention an employee by name, unless you feel comfortable giving them and the whole experience the highest score, I’d skip it. Send an email to customer service mentioning how great the employee was instead.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          This! I always give 5 stars unless something is pretty seriously messed up and I have a specific concern. The rating system isn’t what those of us on the outside think it should be.

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          Honestly I do 5 stars for anything other then REALLY horrible service and I’ve never had service that was so horrible. (and I’m sorry to anyone out there who wonders how their co-workers always gets 5 stars but I know how these things works and I never give less the 5.)

        3. Arctic*

          I did not know that!
          I would never give anything less than a five for a grocery store worker right now anyway. But, in general, this is good knowledge to have.

          1. Sally*

            My friend has driven for one of the ride share companies, and it’s just about the same there. Unless the ride was absolutely terrible (which I’ve never experienced, thank goodness), I give 5 stars. I think it it was terrible, I just wouldn’t rate the driver.

            1. pancakes*

              Same. It’s an unfair system, and seems like such a poor way to manage performance & customer satisfaction.

                1. Youngin*

                  I believe they have. My Lyft, Uber and even UberEats accounts have all removed the stars and you only have an option of Thumbs up or down. They said they knew the stars wasn’t a great system upon announcement.

        4. Meg*

          yeah when I worked at starbucks those satisfaction surveys were treated internally as a yes or no question (1-4, no. 5, yes).

        5. Midnight Mother*

          Wow! Thank you for this–I did not know that’s how it works. From now on, it will be 5 stars all the way!

        6. Atalanta0jess*

          OOh, I’ve been wondering about this. Kroger has a terribly long awful survey, and I often rate down the website portion of the survey (because their website sucks). Does that impact the associates, or only the sections about the groceries picked for me, the service, etc?

          1. Youngin*

            I would imagine it would affect the ones that created the website, assuming it wasn’t sent out to a 3rd party.

          2. Stefanie*

            I work in the auto industry and the surveys are important there. Fortunately I’ve moved to a manufacturer that has done away with surveys with specific questions…..but the standard at many dealers and manufacturer is that all the questions count for the person who’s name is on the survey….even questions that had nothing to do with me still counted against me and MY PAY.

            I.e. “how would you rate the amenities in the waiting area” “how would you rate the friendliness of the cashier” etc. were unrelated to my job as a service advisor and completely out of my control but routinely lost me pay because customers answered honestly.

            I treat any survey any where as if it is pass/fail for that reason. If I were you would assume the Kroger survey is the same unless someone tells you otherwise. The system is broken.

        7. Like raccoons*

          Yes! They’re really a pass/fail, with anything less than perfect is a fail. (And that is also why they are terrible and should be abolished.)

        8. Jojo*

          One comment i put on surveys is that i wish the employee wore name tags. How can we mention them by name if we do not know it.

      2. SaraC*

        They may not be able to accept tips individually, but you could send gifts cards, coffee and treats for the break room, etc. for the whole team to share.

        1. ZK*

          Even then, you have to be careful. Some places (say a certain big box retailer that may or may not start with a W) just flat out don’t allow any kind of outside compensation. When I worked at one, a co-worker received a prayer book from a fellow church member who just happened to drop it at work for her because it was convenient for both of them. She got called in to HR for it. If someone tells you they can’t accept a tip, please don’t push, it’s not modesty. It could mean losing their job over a few dollars.

        2. The Starsong Princess*

          I noticed that not all the workers at my local grocery had masks. I asked and apparently the company was trying to obtain them. I make fabric ones so I gave them a dozen that I had made up. I also leave them for delivery people when I get a delivery. Better than a bandana and a direct thing to help people. The masks are pretty easy – you just need a sewing machine and an old cotton sheet.

          1. COVIDmfgHR*

            I’ve been doing this too. The reactions have been about 80% negative (I ask if they have need of a mask, as I have some I made I’d be glad to give them if they did have a need – I try to ask as non-judgmentally as possible so that people who aren’t able to wear a mask (my husband can’t, for example) don’t feel pressured or shamed). The most common response I’ve gotten is a loud “I don’t have to wear a mask so no thank you”. Lately I’ve taken to just offering them to management at stores I frequent.

      3. Duck Duck Goose*

        +1 to this. I’m in a privileged enough position where I’ve bumped all of our grocery ordering over to Whole Foods (instead of a mix of WF/Walmart that I did when I could shop myself) because I’ve only had success in grocery pickup from WF. Every time I get groceries, on my drive home I make sure to call the customer service line with my store number to let them know how well everything went

        1. Kaitlyn*

          Whole Foods is owned by Amazon, and they have some spectacularly bad employee policies across the board. If you can afford to shop anywhere else, please do. (If your city is metro enough to have a Whole Foods, I would bet it has a few independent stores that might be doing pick up or delivery.) Not to shop-shame, and I’m sure your thank-you message is appreciated, but your dollars count as an approval of their policies, and those are real bad.

          1. PVR*

            Can we not? If Duck Duck Goose needs to do curbside pickup for any reason—such as having a comprised immune system or living with someone who has one or maybe working an essential job themselves and not having time to shop—and this is the option that works best for them, then we need to respect that and not lecture them about how to spend their money. We have no idea what other options are close by or how well stocked those stores are or what Duck Duck Goose’s personal situation is. Yes, Amazon’s employee policies are crap but these are extraordinary times where every person has their own set of variables we can’t begin to assess—and certainly not from one comment on a website.

          2. (insert name here)*

            This comment is a bit weird to me. Most areas don’t have just dozens of grocery chains for people to choose from.

            If you are choosing between Walmart and Whole Foods for better employee relations… I’d pick Whole Foods. If you throw in Kroger or Albertsons… I mean, they are “smaller” companies than the other two, but not exactly small and not known for stellar employee relations either.

            Most people don’t live in an area where they have access to 4 different grocery store chains and there are a lot of different reasons that someone might choose one over the other, many of them legitimate. I’m not driving an hour away to go to Trader Joes only to not find parking and end up at Kroger anyway.

          3. becca*

            I mean, if their choices are Whole Foods or Wal-Mart….neither of those is great in terms of employee practices.

      4. Salsa Your Face*

        On the flip side, if an employee does something for you that is extremely kind but against policy, DO NOT mention it in the survey, as this could get them in trouble. Praise them for their general helpfulness, their good attitude, and their hard work, but don’t mention the specific action they took.

        1. dawbs*

          ugh, my grandfather, when working for a power utility co, drove truck. He had already been told that he was NOT allowed to let anyone in his truck cab for any reason. He stumbled across a woman and her 2 kids whose car had gone off the road because of the blizzard they were all driving in.

          She wrote about how wonderful he was–that she was afraid the kids would freeze, so he put them in the cab while he made arrangements for the tow. (he told her not to share this, but, apparently she missed that)

          He got a write up. ANd told not to do it again. (He totally did it again, because it more or less happened again..)

    2. Sharikacat*

      This is the suggestion here. Surveys are temporary and store-specific. If you really want to prove that these workers are essential, reach out to find ways to get they paid more and get better benefits that demonstrate their importance. Help elect political candidates that will truly help out these workers.

      This goes for every “essential worker,” regardless of field. They don’t want your applause; they want to not worry about paying their bills. They want the PPE available so they don’t die over a gallon of milk.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        All of this is true, and the political activism on their behalf is necessary… but it’s also not likely to show significant results in the short term, because getting better people elected and legislation passed is a glacial process. So yes, by all means do it, but it doesn’t obviate the need to do what we can *right now* for the individual people who are out there putting themselves in danger so that we can stay fed.

        In this context, political action and personal action are two sides of the same coin; the former helps protect them against horrible situations in future and the latter helps make the one they’re in a little easier right now. Neither makes the other any less essential.

      2. Dragon_Dreamer*

        THIS. Besides, my experience proves that they can and WILL ignore a DECADE of 5 star surveys, and *fabricate* ONE that was 1 star (with a false claim that happens on a day they employee isn’t even THERE) if they wanna fire that employee. (But tell them they’re rehireable in an effort to make the employee grovel and be grateful!)

        1. Observer*

          yeah, but if that employee wants to prove that it was because of their organizing activities, that history is going to come in handy.

          So, do it.

          1. Dragon_Dreamer*

            If the the employee can get access to them. I was shown the positive surveys, and the paperwork that proved I was among the best in the company at sales. However, when I asked for copies, I was told it was “proprietary information.” >.<

    3. Hats Are Great*

      And if it’s an option where you live, shop union for groceries. And make it clear when you communicate with the store or corporate (to praise their employees) that you choose to patronize their stores because they are unionize and you will not buy groceries from a non-union store.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Some have little signs near the front door with the name of the relevant union. Stop and Shop, for one.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        How do you find out which stores are union? I never heard of this before. I’d like to do it!

        1. Jack be Nimble*

          One of the larger grocery store unions is the United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW). They have a website (ufcw.org) where you can enter your address or zip code to find out if there’s a local chapter. You can also check out activists on Twitter and find out about any strikes that way. Start with @GoodGroceryJobs and see if you can find anyone local to your area!

        2. Ezri Dax*

          We tip the delivery drivers and Instacart workers that are keeping us fed and protecting my vulnerable husband from exposure. We tip as much as we possibly can, at least 30% of the order, more if we can afford it. (I know not everyone is able to afford to do this. My family is very fortunate.) I figure that, as appreciative as I am of the service these workers provide, they dont need my thanks. They need and deserve a fair wage on top of hazard pay-neither of which they are likely to get. Since I can’t single handedly make those things a reality, we are tipping, tipping, and tipping. At least the workers allowed to accept tips. We are also trying to avoid ordering things off Amazon, at least stuff that would need to be shipped out of a warehouse.

  2. Sparky*

    We tip the delivery people or the people who load the groceries in the car. Tip them if possible, regardless of policy.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Please don’t force anyone to take a $5 tip that could get them fired. A real consequence if policies are in place. Instead, thank every worker you see genuinely and don’t go anymore often than truly necessary.

      1. Sparky*

        I don’t think our grocery stores have a no tip policy, but they’re in a dark parking garage, behind the hood of the trunk after dark. We offer cash, they thank us and take it.

        1. Me*

          Maybe check or ask if they’re allowed. All of the ones in our area do have a no tip policy and yes, they can absolutely be fired for violating company policy.

          1. Venus*

            I think it’s easier than checking a policy – offer the money, and if they accept then great, and if they respond “Sorry, we could get fired if we take tips” then respect that and don’t push it.

            1. Venus*

              Sorry, I missed the ‘regardless of policy’ in the initial comment. I’ll reiterate my comment about being respectful.

            2. Michaela T*

              It feels unkind to put people in the position of having to turn down money, though.

      2. JustHereToRead*

        Exactly! Our store has a strict no-tip policy and you can get in serious trouble for accepting one.

      3. Kathlynn (canada)*

        yeah, at new years my store got about $20 extra because I’m not allowed to accept tips. $20 isn’t/wasn’t worth getting fired for. (the extreme bullshit thing is that we have to keep the money in our tills, but can get disciplined if our tills are over.)

        So at least ask before tipping

        1. pancakes*

          These policies seem so unfair to me, though admittedly are very unfamiliar – I’m in NYC, and tipping is a big part of so many businesses & interactions.

        2. Jojo*

          If i want to give an employee money i put it in a birthday or graduation card. That way it is not a tip.

      4. Oxford Comma*

        I put an envelope with the money in the trunk which is where all my purchases go because frankly I don’t want a lot of discussion or contact. If the employee takes it, great. If they leave it, that’s fine too. So far they all have.

      5. A Poster Has No Name*

        Also, even if a place allows the tip, the person who puts the groceries in your trunk is likely not the person who picked your order or the person (people) who took the grocers off the truck and put them into to stock, etc. etc. so only a relatively small number of workers would benefit from that.

        Target, at least, that has drive up, discourages tips but people are allowed to accept them if the guest insists (and they have to report the tip), but the person who brings your order out to your car is not likely to be the person who ran around the store assembling the order or anything else.

        1. NobodyPostedThis*

          The Target I work at doesn’t allow tips at all, even if we report them.

    2. NoLongerStuckInRetailHell*

      Please do not do this! I was a manager for Giant Retailer for many years, and accepting tips is forbidden and a termination offense. You don’t want to reward somebody by getting them fired! Trying to force a tip on them after they’ve politely told you they can’t accept them just puts them in a bad position, and then they have to turn them into Management anyway, so all you’ve done is create an extra chore for them.

      1. theelephantintheroom*

        Yeah, back when I was a grocery store worker, someone attempted to tip me and threw a fit when I said I wasn’t allowed to accept tips. He finally grabbed (!) my hand, stuck the money in it, and left. Fortunately, my manager witnessed the customer’s behavior and didn’t penalize me. But if a grocery worker says they can’t accept a tip, don’t give them one!

      2. ...*

        But no one said to force them to take it after then refused, they just said to offer it.

    3. Sir Freelancelot*

      Former delivery worker here. Please, don’t force tips on people.
      If you find someone who works for a company that doesn’t object for them to be tipped, good. If you find someone ready to take the risks going against their company’s policies, okay. But OP5, before tipping ask them if it’s ok, and if it’s not, write them down their names and write to the corporate a shining review (if they deserve it). Thank you for your kind thoughts!

    4. Greasy turtle burger*

      Yeah, please dont force the tip. Offering it is a appreciated but dont be offended if folks dont (or cant) take it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is an email to the bossperson stating how happy you are with the service (name of service persons) provided.

    5. LGC*

      That’s…actually a bad idea. The clerks loading items into the car may get in trouble for accepting tips!

      I myself am a tipper. So’s my dad. I distinctly remember when we had to pick up catered food from Wegman’s for a family reunion a few months ago, and he tried to insist on tipping the clerk who helped us bring it out to the car. She politely, but firmly turned him down.

    6. Sydney Bristow*

      Is there a reason that the no-tipping policies are still in place? Would it help if customers called the stores/chains and asked them to change the tipping policy during the crisis? I definitely agree don’t force a tip on someone, but perhaps policies could be changed right now.

      1. snowglobe*

        Many stores consider carrying groceries to the car to be part of their standard service, and don’t want customers to feel that they need to tip. Some customers might decline the service if they think a tip is expected.

        In many industries tipped employees get low wages, because management argues that tips are part of the pay. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing, *if* the stores that don’t allow tips pay their employees better.

        1. Sydney Bristow*

          Oh I totally get that there are industries where tips allow employers to get away with paying less.

          I was just thinking temporarily changing the policy during this crisis could help some people. They wouldn’t need to announce it to the outside world, who then might think that a tip is expected. Just change the policy and if someone offers a tip the employee could accept it. Seems like it would be a faster way to help them get some cash since getting minimum wage increases legislated could take awhile. But it seems like it might have unanticipated consequences, so maybe it isn’t a good idea.

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          I worked at a bookstore. My store’s policy- I’m not sure if it was corporate or just the 1st store I worked in where it came up- was that you had to say no several time but if the customer kept insisting, you could accept the tip. The idea being eventually it was bad customer service to say no.

          Obviously in a bookstore, it did not come up a lot. However, we did get a lot of baked goods and such around the holidays.

      2. Formerphonegal*

        There’s also “its not fair element” and “its part of your job”. I worked in the mobile phone industry and often times we would be asked if we could accept tips. Sometimes we had a family who was nice, or a small business would come in a want 30 phones that day and would offer to tip the rep. We couldn’t accept. Once we did have someone give a rep an extremely generous tip. The managers found out about it (not sure if the rep told them or what),and had to take it. I remember HR was involved, bc whoever gave the tip wouldn’t take it back. Eventually it was settled to use the tip to buy the whole store lunch. Yes it was that large.

      3. GroceryHRHere*

        I worked in HR/payroll at a grocery store for five years and the big reason we didn’t allow for tips was the tax implications. We did not have the ability to have an employee report tips and then tax them. I understand $5 is silly to claim on taxes but if there was no policy, someone could collect $100 in one shift. Employees are paid a fair rate without tips.

        If a customer really pushed a tip on an employee (I’ve seen customers physically put a tip in someone’s pocket) then the employee just put it in a donation tin we had at the registers. We never wanted a customers to feel uncomfortable and the money went to a good cause.

        1. 2 Cents*

          ^Maybe your store paid a fair rate, but not all stores do. Many don’t. (They also don’t consider Sunday a “day” so you can end up working 7 days straight for weeks on end, in part because you’re relying on the shift differential for a Sunday.

      4. Upstater-ish*

        It would be considered unfair if one group of people got tips while others did not.

        1. Swiper*

          I don’t think that’s it, that happens in restaurants all the time. Different jobs have different responsibilities and some are tipped, some aren’t. Some places have their waitstaff tip out BOH, others don’t, others it’s up to the server. If they really wanted to get around that issue, they could pool tips.

          I suspect the real reason is that it’s hard to track for payroll and taxes and I can see a store not wanting to deal with the hassle and potential payroll tax issues if they’re improperly reported, especially if they planned to only do it a temporary policy change. As an owner of a service industry business now, I know just what a pain in the ass it is and I was a server myself too long to be naive enough to think our employees properly report all cash tips. I would be genuinely shocked if I found out that amongst any of the scores of people I’ve met or worked with over my 20+ years of service industry work there was one single person who did.

          1. Anonapots*

            Almost all restaurants split tips between front of house and back of house. Because it’s a symbiotic relationship that can’t exist if the other side is gone. The ones who don’t are pretty well known by people in the industry. And even in places that don’t require it, a LOT of servers will tip out anyway because they recognize that relationship is important. You want to know why your food is taking so long? It might be because your server is an asshole to BOH.

            1. Swiper*

              Yeah the ones that don’t were both crappy to work at and eat in. There‘s only one decent place I know of that didn’t do this, but their BOH staff were actually paid pretty well and they had low turnover for the industry. I mostly worked BOH myself and can confirm, if your server was a crappy tipper they were always going to come last on my priority list if anyone else needed something.

          2. A Poster Has No Name*

            Yes, but in restaurants, back of house staff who don’t get tips generally/often get paid more than those that do because they don’t get tips.

            At your grocery store, the person bringing your groceries to your car isn’t going to make more than the person who assembles your order or unloads the truck or stocks the shelves because it’s assumed they’ll make more from tips. They might make more/less depending on a bunch of factors, but not because they’re expected to make up a significant part of their income in tips.

      5. Annony*

        Also, right now a lot of places are trying to go more “contactless.” By giving a cash tip you are increasing their exposure. It might be worth it if the tip is large enough, but probably not for a couple dollars. It would be nice if you could add a tip onto your credit card.

        1. NJ ANON*

          Our pizza delivery place does this. If ee go “contactless” we can add the tip to our bill.

      6. MoopySwarpet*

        I think one reason places that are not usually tipped are adamantly against them is that tips still have to be reported and taxed as part of the payroll process. If that’s not something that’s part of your business model, it’s going to be very difficult to process as a company.

    7. Threeve*

      Sometimes places that don’t allow tipping do allow people to accept small gifts, like the Post Office. And a $20 gift card qualifies as a “gift.”

    8. blackcat*

      Since lots of places have the “no extra tip” policy, I have a bin of cloth facemasks–including kids sizes–on my porch and in the trunk of my car with a big “take some” sign. I’m in a place where you have to wear them, but there’s been little support for helping people who can’t afford them to get them. “Wear a bandana or a scarf” is the default answer, but those are less comfortable particularly as it gets hotter.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I’ve given cloth masks to delivery drivers who didn’t have them. Our regular UPS guy didn’t have one, now he does.

    9. Dick Grayson*

      I left an envelope in my trunk that said, “Tip if you are allowed to take it.” FWIW, they took it – not sure if the store I was at allowed it, or if the person was doing it under the table, but I definitely wasn’t forcing it on them, and I do think it’s nice to offer.

      More important, I think is just being really nice. I have tried to thank every essential worker I interact with, and I do think that matters a lot.

      We also have been using a grocery store that we know has unionized workers – their pickup is more inconsistent than the other local store, but I feel better that they are getting taken care of.

      1. I Love Llamas*

        That’s how I do it too. When I pick up my groceries, I discreetly tuck $5 in a visible spot in my trunk. I leave the trunk open and sit back in the drivers seat for social distancing. When the associate brings my groceries, I always mention I left them a small tip. They can decide to take it or not.

    10. Ace in the Hole*

      OFFER to tip them regardless of policy. If they refuse, respect that and don’t push.

      I work at a government job where taking tips is not only not allowed, it’s considered a breach of professional ethics. It’s sweet when people offer, but gets awkward fast if they don’t take no for an answer. And I’ve had customers go so far as to throw money at me as they drive away… or in one case a man shoved a bill directly in my pants pocket. Which was borderline groping me plus I still had to report the tip and didn’t get any benefit whatsoever.

    11. Observer*

      If you actually want to help someone you don’t pressure them to do something that gets them in trouble. If what you are really interested in, is to feel good about how great you are or how you are “sticking it to the man” or something like that, well I can see that.

      But, still. Do NOT do that. Feeling good about yourself is not a good reason to put someone else in a position to get fired.

  3. Ping*

    #2 The person responsible for photos in company #1 transferred to to HR in company #2.

    1. Gen*

      In that case there’d be no worry about finding a band shirt as a corporate-image appropriate band would be chosen for the OP anyway. I’d have no problem finding a shirt, but it’d be a struggle to find on that was safe for work and that’s not a conversation I’d want to have with a line manager

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        Yeah. The first shirt that I still have that came to mind is a Dead Kennedys shirt that is NSFW. If you’re familiar with the band you might knew which one I’m referring to.

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          I own a few band t-shirts, but in this situation I would of course choose the Dimmu Borgir one because duh, they are asking for it! Although it’s actually SFW.

          But I think this is a cheesy attempt to relate to their customer base and show that the company is hip and modern, rather than a proof that everyone only talks about music all the time. At least I would wait for the interview before worrying.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        They would have to choose one for me. I don’t own any t-shirts, other than plain white undershirts, and classical music organizations don’t sell them (which actually is a little surprising, but I just looked at three, none of which have anything like this on their websites). And yes, this kind of stuff would definitely deter me from working for a company.

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          It would be epic though if you showed up in a Mozart t-shirt. (I’m pretty sure you can find one in Austria, if you’ll ever go.) Please do it and send the picture!!!

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes, I don’t have any with bands or similar on. I tend to pick either plain coloured ones or ones with designs that I find visually appealing. I don’t particularly like advertising bands, companies etc.

          I’d find this sort of thing rather a turn off and wonder if I was the sort of person they wanted to recruit as a result.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Advertising companies: Yeah, I never understood that. My response to a branded t-shirt is to ask how much they are offering to pay me to advertise them.

        3. Lizzo*

          @Richard this is a bit off-topic, but my local classical music station has an excellent t-shirt designed by David Lee Csicsko. You can stream the station online. Links in reply.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Oh, I know that there are shirts available with classical music themes. The real obstacle is that I don’t wear t-shirts. I am always interested in expanding my classical station lineup, though. My local one (WBJC in Baltimore) is excellent, but I like to mix things up occasionally. I often listen to WXXI in Rochester in the winter, as I have a good friend who lives there, and I enjoy hearing about the weather he is getting hit with. What is your station? I would be more than happy to look it up.

            1. Rick Tq*

              Try listening to KUSC.org over the Internet… Lots of good DJs, NO politics or NPR, and simulcasts or rebroadcasts of local groups.

        4. BethDH*

          I have some, and they aren’t necessarily work appropriate either!
          “Nights of passion, no regrets in the morning” (Portland Opera) – “mea mecum ludit virginitas” (from a Carmina Burana performance) – etc.

        5. ThatGirl*

          My dad had either a Mozart or Handel t-shirt when was a kid, I don’t remember for certain which. (He was and is a huge church and classical music nerd, we didn’t really have pop/rock music in our house.)

        6. Noshirtsally*

          At this point in my life, I don’t have many band shirts. I think I may have one that I would be surprised if I still fits. Personally as a mom of young kids, I don’t find myself at a lot of concerts anymore. If I did, spending $50 on a band t-shirt isn’t something I would do either. I wonder if this is a screening question they use. “What’s your favorite band?” ” Do you have a t-shirt?” “No?” “Sorry you’re not exactly the candidate we are looking for right now!”

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I did go to a lot of indie concerts in the early to mid-2010s, but only once did I splurge on a T-shirt. Money was tight and a T-shirt was an extra expense after spending money on the tickets, parking etc. If I wanted to buy merch to support the band, it usually ended up being their CDs.

        7. Pilcrow*

          Most of my t-shirts are solid colors and I don’t have any band ones. The decorated ones I have are travel souvenirs.

          Now that I think of it, one of my travel ones is made to look like a metal band concert shirt. I wonder if they would notice it says ‘South Dakota’ on it rather than ‘Iron Maiden?’

          1. Quill*

            “Oh, that must be an obscure band!”

            Someone once mistook my dad’s MC Escher shirt for a band logo.

        8. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

          I have a shirt that has MOZART in the Metallica logo font (oh, how I miss you, Glarkware/Television Without Pity!).

          1. Data Nerd*

            Off topic, but: me too! I had the Law and Order “Chung Chung” shirt, man was it comfortable. And the recaps were awesome!

          2. Arctic*

            OMG I miss Glarkware. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.
            I had a Not a Toaster and a Farscape one. I wonder if I could find them.

          3. Mily*

            I gave the glarkware classical composers in metal fonts fridge magnets to one of my favorite professors, and I wish I had gotten a set for myself.

          4. Mr. Tyzik*

            I’ve got ZOMBIE: Eat Flesh! and I Went Up to Skyland Mountain and All I Got Was This Lousy Chip (X-Files fans feel me here).

        9. Gazebo Slayer*

          I’ve definitely seen classical T-shirts. though usually for community or college choruses and orchestras.

        10. Eukomos*

          Opera house gift shops sometimes have cool shirts, if you’re in the market. I’ve got a few with old opera posters on them that are very fun. It’s definitely not as easy to find as picking up some merch at a rock concert though!

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Ha ha that was my first thought–I have a lot of band shirts but none that won’t make me look like a big gloomy weirdo on the company website.

        1. JustaTech*

          The only shirt I have that looks like a band shirt is actually a “Black Death World Tour” about the 1345 plague.
          It’s questionable for work at the best of times. I’m not wearing it at all now.

          1. caps22*

            I’m late for seeing this, but I now 100% want this Black Death World Tour shirt and would wear it now, at least on video calls with work if not out and about where it might bother people.

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Wonder what they’d think about my Band shirt collection – Mostly 70’s and 80’s bands. Would those even be “hip” enough for this place?

      5. Hillary*

        Yeah. My current favorite band t-shirt is from The Decemberists – it says “Everything is Awful” right across the front in a place I don’t want eyes drawn while I’m at work.

        On the other hand, t-shirts with our own company’s branding are barely acceptable at the office on Friday. And no, we don’t pay for them, they hand them out during volunteer events.

      6. Rainy*

        I would 100% borrow one of my husband’s band shirts. I don’t own any, and he listens to black metal and noisecore.

        Maybe a nice Throbbing Gristle shirt would make HR rethink this policy.

        1. MsMichelle*

          Heh, I have a Beatles shirt that is so old as to be almost completely threadbare, and one shirt with cartoon Dave Grohls dressed up in skimpy dresses and platform heels, with “Spice Grohls” witten on it.

          Take your pick, HR.

  4. LP*

    #5 – Fill out the survey in your receipt if there is one and include names if you have them. Working in retail (in Canada) I know they are still reviewing the responses.

    1. Sualah*

      If it’s a numerical survey, give the highest score, always. There are so many people behind the scenes who get screwed if someone gives less than “perfect” scores.

      If something bad or inappropriate happened, absolutely please do leave comments. Comments are read, absolutely. But the numerical score is how any incentive will be calculated.

      1. grlgoddess*

        Yes this! I know for some people, looking at a scale of 1-5, will consider a 3 average or ok, but for these kinds of surveys, anything less than a 5 (and maaaybe a 4) is considered bad and concerning. So if you had even an ok experience, or even if there were a couple of mild to moderate issues, give them a 5 and describe any problems in the description of you absolutely must.

        An issue in the discription will still be passed along/discussed with them, but even too many 3 ratings can put their job in jeopardy

        1. Aphrodite*

          I agree. Management doesn’t really want honest feedback. If they can’t value their employees who might be having a bad day and offer slightly less than great service (warranting maybe a 4 rather than a 5) then they need to get nothing but 5s. Protect the customer service people by always, always, always giving 5s. And add in kindness when writing any comments; remember, no one works at a a “5” all the time, even you or me.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            THIS EXACTLY.

            The surveys are about making sure employees are bending over backward far enough, not about fair ratings. If you have a specific complaint, address it to the manager. If the interaction was basically fine, give all 5 stars.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          This is why I loath those surveys. If a five means that the interaction was fine, what to do when the employee actually does go above and beyond? The one time an employee at my credit union did this, I wrote a letter to the home office. Not an email: an actual paper letter. She thanked me the next time I was in.

          1. Lynn*

            I detest them as well. I almost never fill out those surveys unless there is an incentive to me-and when I do fill them out, I lie. I don’t want to get someone in trouble when I give them a 3 of 5 (which means, to my way of thinking, mean that the person did a perfectly adequate job of taking care of me).

            Honestly, I don’t even WANT above and beyond from many service workers. I just want competency, a minimum level of politeness, and quick/efficient service. If I am getting above and beyond it means I have had an “above and beyond” type of problem-and who really wants that? Good, competent service on regular transactions is perfectly acceptable….except these surveys don’t allow for that to be a good answer.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              If 5 is acceptable and 1-4 not, why ask for a number? Why not radio buttons for yes/no to a question to the effect of “did Fergus meet your expectations today?”

              1. Rainy*

                Because a binary scale wouldn’t allow for management to sufficiently terrify front line staff.

        3. Humble Schoolmarm*

          I’m avoiding surveys a bit because I’m not sure how to give an honest (if rounded up) number and still express my gratitude to the workers. I can’t give 5s to things like selection and timeliness because they didn’t have everything I was hoping to buy and I had to book a week in advance and wait for an hour in a cold parking lot. But, I get that’s not the workers’ fault! It’s a pandemic and everyone else has hoarded the chocolate chips.

    2. SurveyWriter*

      Please give honest feedback in your surveys! My team manages a survey program for an organization that includes retail locations and survey feedback during COVID-19 has been invaluable as we look to make changes to our operating procedures. Yes, we have incentive tied to survey scores, but perfection is not expected and the goals reflect that.

  5. Exhausted grocery worker*

    5- I am a grocery worker and I’m so burnt out just the fact someone asks that is so kind and means so much.
    Kindness goes a long way. Wear gloves if you can, stand far enough back when communicating with us/try not to crowd us in the stores and honestly just smile if you can. We are dealing with so many angry customers right now and it’s such a breath of fresh air when people are nice.
    Thank you!

    1. Claritza*

      I am so sorry you have to deal with the anger! Why do people feel it is their right to shoot (yell at) the messenger? None of this is remotely your fault. Wishing you grateful customers.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        I offer, not an excuse, but maybe a partial explanation. People are scared. They’ve lost control over their lives. Customers cannot shout at a virus killing thousands. Customers cannot yell (in any meaningful way) at the government forcing them out of work or out of their safe routine (people in full employment now WFH for example). Retail workers, paradoxically right now, have more power, so customers do what any frightened, cornered animal does when confronted with someone with more agency than them – they lash out.
        I’m sorry this is happening and I’m sorry people like the ones OP are asking about are taking the brunt of it.

        Be kind. Take names and provide positive feedback to head office (or main store). This doesn’t have to be a survey – write an email. It’s more personal.
        Also, consider paying it forward. Without interrogating your personal finances, can you afford to buy a couple of extra tins with your groceries that can be donated to a food bank? This might not help the delivery driver you wave to each Saturday, but it could very well help out the family of his co-worker.

        1. BRR*

          It’s a possibility but people have always acted this way. That it’s the person who is stocking the shelves’ fault if the store is out of flour. It’s the cashier’s fault the line was long. It’s the support person on the phone’s saying fault the product didn’t work. People connect the employee and the situation even though the employee did nothing.

          1. Myrin*

            Yeah, I work at a store and I honestly don’t see more rudeness than normal, it’s just that a percentage of it is caused by vaguely corona-related things – like the lack of hand sanitiser – whereas in normal times it would be caused by something else. Arseholes be arseholin’, no matter what’s going on in the world.
            (Also, at least in my area, I don’t get the feeling that fear is particularly prominent. I mean, maybe people just like to talk a big talk and are extraordinarily good at putting on a brave face, but what I’m encountering much more is annoyance and an attitude of “ugh, you’re all exaggerating!”.)

          2. Liane*

            Yes there have always been Those Customers, and they just altered their rant scripts for the crisis. My daughter works Service Desk at Big Grocery. Yesterday was the first day some restrictions were eased in our state*. When Daughter got home she said it was a very rough day–because customers were complaining that,”The store is crowded!” “The lines are long!” & “You *still* won’t do returns? WTH!”
            My son, a very easygoing young man, who works in Produce there is on vacation this week because HE didn’t want to deal with customers right after things were opened up a little. Son suggested she do the same, but she wanted to save the PTO.

            *yes, a bad idea IMO

          3. Queer Earthling*

            This. My last retail job ended when a customer threatened to punch me in the face, because I committed an unforgivable sin. (I asked them to put their sodas on the belt so I could ring them up, so I had it comin’.) There was no manager handy, and I couldn’t get the attention of one*, so I just dealt with it as cheerfully as I could, and then quit the next day. This was in early 2016, with no pandemic or any other major crisis aside from the usual everyday crisis of existence.

            *my location of Big Grocery Chain was chronically understaffed. It also shut down two months after I quit. I shed no tears.

        2. LPUK*

          This is why I don’t leave feedback for call centre or retail staff unless its excellent – If i have a complaint with the company, I don’t want some poor customer service adviser to get it in the neck from their supervisor for stuff that is completely out of their control. Better to write a separate email if I’m that upset about it

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I recently fed back something along the lines of “your representative was personable, professional and helpful throughout but your system is absolute rubbish so she couldn’t do what I needed”.

            Good surveys make it very clear what aspect you’re reviewing at any point – website v product v packaging v delivery v customer service.

          2. King Friday XIII*

            Thank you for not being the person who downgraded my service score because they didn’t like how the parking lot was laid out.

        3. Hello Sweetie!*

          Still fill out the survey! If it’s anything like my customer support role (not grocery store or other essential business) then they get a report at the end of the month with their numbers. Flood the surveys with 10s! You can still send the email, but the survey numbers will help too.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Your 10/10 will dilute the effect of the people who score their delivery person 5/10 because the store didn’t have the right brand of ground coffee.

        4. Dust Bunny*

          Retail workers DO NOT have more power. They can’t control the supply chain. And most of them can’t afford to risk losing their jobs if they stand up for themselves. There was a thing going around FB that pointed out that they’re not so much heroes as hostages to a weak social safety net.

          Customers can be scared all they want but they’re no more scared than retail workers *who can’t stay home* and are in constant contact with other people. It’s not OK to punch down, folks.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            This, exactly. We like to call retail workers and healthcare providers and other frontline workers “heroes” because it means we get to pretend they made a choice.

            1. Windchime*

              Yes, this. My son works at a grocery store and, for the duration of this crisis, they are getting a $2/hour raise. He works his butt off on variable schedules and takes a lot of abuse from customers always, not just during this crisis. When it’s all over, they will take the $2/hour away and he’ll be back to his crappy wage.

              It’s all for show. He’s not a hero; he’s a guy who knows he had better get his butt into work despite the risks because otherwise he will not be able to pay rent or eat.

            2. Sacred Ground*

              Yep. And by lavishing praise and overstating their alleged heroism, people absolves themselves of caring about what working people actually need, better pay and health care (same as all of us, actually). There’s another more insidious effect though, I think, where having lavished that praise the same folks are likely to see demands for better pay as ingratitude for the heartfelt appreciation. Like, “we called you all heroic and stuff, now you want more money? Isn’t our thanks and praise enough?” Followed of course by, “hey, you should be grateful to be working at all, you know there’s a lot of people out of work now.”

              Same as it ever was. See also: teachers, paramedics, any public service employee really.

              Similar to how everyone worships veterans as if every one of us is a hero (trust me, we aren’t). Yet the VA healthcare system remains chronically underfunded and understaffed, and always has been.

          2. Blueberry*

            So true.

            “America’s Heroism Trap” at Slate.com is an excellent article on the subject.

          3. Observer*

            Customers can be scared all they want but they’re no more scared than retail workers *who can’t stay home* and are in constant contact with other people. It’s not OK to punch down, folks.

            So much this!

        5. Anon retail employee*

          They don’t have more power. They actually have less – they can lost their livelihood if this interaction goes poorly, whereas the customer can’t. Retail employees are surviving the exact same situation as the customers, yet they aren’t screaming at customers. Fear is a lazy excuse for this type of behavior.

          1. Batty Twerp*

            Ok – some clarification (since what actually posted is the second draft – I lost internet connection originally and it looks like what I ended up submitting wasn’t as clear as what I originally typed – mea culpa).
            I perhaps should have said that retail workers *appear* to have more power than the customer. The customer is not necessarily using logic and rational thinking and their perception and reality may not be on speaking terms. The retail worker has “power” in as much as they are the gatekeepers to the store where the essential supplies are kept.

            I should also point out that I am basing this on incidents I have witnessed or seen on local news here in the UK, where, for such incidents to be newsworthy, they are generally the exception, not the rule. I have also been a retail worker, although admittedly not since pre-2008, and only ever had *one* encounter with a customer that could be assigned to “some customers are just like that”.

        6. Fikly*

          Eh, people treat workers in retail/customer service like trash 365 days a year, regardless of crisis. They do not regard them as having any value, and thus deserving of any consideration.

        7. Observer*

          Retail workers, paradoxically right now, have more power

          Heaven help us!

          That’s a total mirage.

          Amazon has been firing any worker who dares to try to organize and force the company to take adequate measures to keep them safe. They are just the most visible ones. Many companies threaten or fire any worker who tries to push back on unsafe(r) work practices, and the workers by and large don’t have the ability to risk their jobs.

          The people working retail jobs, especially direct customer facing ones, often do NOT have a lot of power in this moment. They are working jobs that they consider unsafe because they have no choice!

        8. Observer*

          Separately, I want highlight something else.

          Even if what you said is true, which is questionable even if it’s just a matter of perception, it still doesn’t really explain much. Because since when do functional decent adults let out their anger and angst on the nearest person they can do it to?

          Dumping your issues on someone else is a garbage thing to do. Why do people think they have a right to do that?

          1. tangerineRose*

            “since when do functional decent adults let out their anger and angst on the nearest person they can do it to?” This!

          2. Sacred Ground*

            Yes this. And they dump their anger and fear on the nearest person they *can*, as you say. And they feel they *can* dump it on the retail/service worker precisely because that worker has no power to push back and they know it.

            As my dad would say, they do for the same reason dogs lick their genitals. Because they can.

      2. CatMintCat*

        Our local craft shop (Australian equivalent of Joanne’s, I guess) actually has signs up about please don’t abuse the staff. It horrified me that they would be necessary. The woman who served me said our store hasn’t actually had any problems, but others have, hence the nationwide signs. It made me sad. It’s a craft store!

    2. Artemesia*

      I am always gobsmacked to hear of people being mean to grocery store workers right now. I am so grateful they are working at such risk. And also grateful for the delivery service for which I tip high. This is a time for all of us to give a little grace.
      Quote from Tolkien for our times:
      “‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
      ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”
      Gandalf
      J.R.R. Tolkien, The Shadow of the Past, The Fellowship of the Ring

      1. Exhausted Grocery Worker*

        Thank you! It helps to remember everyone is going through stress and maybe some people don’t mean to be unkind. It’s just hard right now.

        1. Idril Celebrindal*

          I just want to say that I am so thankful for you and all you and all your extended coworkers are doing. I had to go to the store today and I saw so many people stocking shelves with stuff that has been out of stock for weeks, and I had to ask several questions at checkout and the checker was really friendly and helpful and it made the experience so much better. I’m the kind of person who gets really twitchy in crowds, and she made the whole experience closer to tolerable. I did make sure to thank her, and I want to thank you too, because your hard work makes things less awful for all of the rest of us. Thank you

    3. allathian*

      I worked in a smallish grocery store as a student. I think it’s made me a better customer. I don’t make unreasonable demands, and even if I’m having a bad day, I’ll go out of my way to ensure I don’t take it out on innocent service workers.

      That was my first job, and I’m eternally grateful to my boss that she didn’t tolerate any nonsense from customers. This was in the early 90s and the store didn’t have any security cameras, but if a customer was nasty to her staff, she’d literally escort them off the premises if she was on shift at the time. She had a bit of a volatile personality, though, and if you wanted to change shifts with a coworker, you had to pick the right moment. She also though all Roma were by definition dishonest, and if any came into the store we had orders to watch them like a hawk to make sure they didn’t steal anything. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, but later, I’ve felt really ashamed about what we had to do.

      Everybody should work in the service industry at some point and maybe they’d be a bit more understanding.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I agree on your last point. It was really amazing to me how awful people can be to retail and food service workers. I really hope that this experience might change the views of a few people about how essential these jobs actually are, and therefore that they are worthy of respect and fair compensation and working conditions.

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        My mother always said she wanted us to have two types of jobs while we were in high school: one where we had to work with the public, and one where we came home dog tired every day. Because those experiences would be a valuable part of a well rounded education.

        I didn’t end up with those jobs in high school due to the great recession, but I did afterwards and I agree on their worth.

    4. PPMarigold*

      Re smiling: from behind a mask. We want the mask more than a smile.
      Please don’t make fun of the policies we’re trying to apply. If someone you know starts spouting off about “our lost freedoms” etc lay some shame down on them on our behalf. All we can do is blandly apologize, but being mocked about safety in an environment where we feel acute danger is the most demoralizing thing you can do to us.

      Personally, being told thank you isn’t as important as having customers who act appreciative. Follow the rules of the store, don’t complain to us, give us some slack if we seem less than corporately cheerful, wear a mask. That’s what we want.

      -From a retail worker.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I have begun my speaking up… yesterday I forced a lilt into my voice and quipped “You’ve got a nice chin-warmer there! The latest fashion!” I kept going past, just let it hang there was a wisecrack… and when we passed later, he was wearing it right. And he very obviously avoided eye contact so I think my one comment made him think.
        Thanks to all of you who are making sure we can continue to eat as usual.
        (And a huge shout-out to the trucker I saw wiping the fuel pump handle and ATM pad with a Lysol wipe!)

      2. Amity*

        Also mention that it’s not the state or federal government requiring the mask, it’s the PRIVATELY OWNED store. Nobody’s losing their freedoms over those policies. I work in a home improvement store and we’re dealing with a lot of the same issues (no, we haven’t had N95 masks in for months) so a thumbs up in solidarity to all of you!

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, my state (Illinois) is now requiring them anywhere inside that’s not your house, basically. Though it is up to individual stores to enforce that.

          2. Observer*

            True. but it also is a matter of store policy. What it DOES require the store to do, is to own it. Like “WE are choosing to do this, and will continue to do this until such time as WE consider to be safe.”

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Depends where you live. My county government has issued orders that mandate face coverings in any building other than your own home (with exceptions for infants and disability accommodation). Stores/businesses, even essential ones, are required by law to ensure customers and employees follow public health rules.

          So… yes. Is IS the government in many places. Whether mandatory face coverings is an infringement of rights is… um… a matter of personal perspective, I suppose. I don’t see how it’s any more unconstitutional than requiring people to cover their crotch, but I accept that others may feel differently.

    5. Arctic*

      I’m so sorry people are being rude. No matter what excuses I can’t imagine the thought process of taking it out on someone out there helping us all survive.

      The gloves thing is interesting. I intentionally don’t ever wear them grocery shopping. They make it safer for me since fewer germs touch my skin (as long as I don’t touch my face.) But they are more difficult to disinfect where as I’m constantly using hand sanitizer when shopping. So, it seems more dangerous for workers.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, whether you wear gloves or not, you’re touching all the same things, the only actual difference is when you remove your gloves it’s like you’ve washed your hands of everything you touched with them (assuming you remove them properly). If someone is wearing the same pair of gloves all day because they thinks it protects them, it’s actually worse for the grocery store workers than someone without gloves is washing and using hand sanitizer frequently! I usually prefer to wash and use hand sanitizer rather than use up medical gloves, even though we have gloves (we use them for actual medical purposes).

        1. blackcat*

          Yup. I use hand sanitizer about every 5 minutes when I’m in the store, including right before check out. I figure that’s far more effective than anything else.

          But I’m also the person who would impulse buy those little things of hand sanitizer near the front counter of stores, so I’ve got TONS of “fit in a pocket” hand sanitizer, which most people don’t.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            LOL, sounds familiar. Lots of healthcare-adjacent companies give out tiny bottles of hand sanitizer with their logos on them, and I have a huge handful of those from work conferences, along with a couple of industrial-sized bottles from which to refill them. I have always had a pocket-sized bottle in the jacket of every coat and pocket, and at least a couple in every vehicle.

            But I also used to work in jobs where medical PPE was required, so it’s an ingrained habit not to touch my face if I’m wearing gloves or even just need to wash my hands, so even without gloves or a mask, I know I will not touch my face until I’ve washed (properly)!

            1. blackcat*

              Oh, I’m a terrible face-toucher.
              But I also always want hand sanitizer on airplanes and always forget to pack it, so I’ve spent far too much money on those tiny things at airport shops…
              Even after chucking the expired stuff, I still have over a dozen little things…

            2. Rachel in NYC*

              I collected all of the little ones I got over the past 2 years- it’s a disturbing amount in a vast array of shapes and sizes- and I keep them all in one place so whenever I go out I have one on me, in addition to my gloves and mask (and most stores having hand sanitizer available.)

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Yeah, I’m actually against gloves in most cases for that exact reason. I had to argue my managers out of requiring them… it’s well established that people won’t wash hands as often when they use gloves, so they’re worse than useless outside of very specific settings.

    6. urban teacher*

      Can I also add please shop by yourself in smaller stores. I am volunteering as the door monitor at my local co op which is small . Most days it’s one person leaves and one comes in and the amount of people who get mad when I say only one person please is unbelievable. “But we’re together”
      I really don’t understand how people who are living in the house together can’t take a break from each other for a half an hour.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yeah, the only exception to that should be for people who have to bring their kids with them because they don’t have someone else to look after them while they shop.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          And if you *do* have someone else who could watch your kids, resist the urge to say “oh, they’re so bored, I’ll take them anyway.”

      2. A*

        Ya, I think a lot of households are using grocery trips as their ‘night out’ together etc. which I get, but it’s not the brightest idea. I do have several friends that have been going with their SO specifically so they can stock up on items with a max per person, but even that seems odd – like do you really truly NEED four lbs of flour despite never baking before? Probably not.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I went with my hubby to the home improvement store the other day – but in our defense we needed a few 4 x 4 x 8 pressure treated posts and sheets of plywood (winter damage to repair on animal coops). Those things are heavy so therefore safer to lift with two people.

      3. Erika with a K*

        Not gonna lie, I actually rejoice in being alone for however long it takes, despite missing the more ‘social’ aspect of shopping. And if it makes it easier, safer and more time effective for everyone else then that’s all the reason I need.

      4. CheeryO*

        Honestly, it’s quicker and easier for my boyfriend and I to go together. I’ve been having trouble pushing a cart with two weeks’ worth of groceries in it, and he’s obsessed with checking dates and will take ages picking stuff out if no one is there to hurry him along. We are always polite about giving people space, walking single file and such. Granted, this is a large grocery store and not a small co-op, but still, let’s try not to shame people for doing their best right now.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          It’s not shaming if it’s the policy (and in some places the LAW) to only let one person from each household in at a time. It’s safety.

        2. Fikly*

          You can explain this and let the store choose which it would rather have – someone take longer, or to let two people in at the same time. If you cannot push the cart, there is likely also the option of having an employee help you, as there would be if you lived alone and shopped alone and were in this situation.

          If your best isn’t complying with store policy, or safe, it’s not shaming to say, no, you can’t do this.

        3. urban teacher*

          I also want to say in a large grocery store feel free to bring him. The co op has a bigger store but it’s a little farther away. They don’t have the same limit. But more importantly don’t give attitude when I’m trying to support the workers by keeping the numbers down. It’s not shaming.

      5. Worked in IT forever*

        In my part of Canada, at least some of the grocery chains are now specifying that only one person per family may come into a store. Last time I was in my usual store, almost all customers were abiding by that guideline. At another chain, I saw the person manning the front doors actually turn away extra people from a family. I have sympathy (and they probably make exceptions for) someone who is really stuck and has a family member who cannot be left alone at home. I see no small kids in the stores any longer, which is probably a combo of the new store policy and the fact that there are lineups (outside, and it’s Canada). I’m sure no one would want to make a kid deal with that if they had a choice.

      6. filosofickle*

        In my city, we have a tiny market that is doing an amazing job. They hustled to get items when other shelves were bare, they enforce 5 at a time in the store, one per household, no entry without a mask, they are disinfecting everything all the time, and even free deliveries to older/compromised neighbors.

        Last week on Nextdoor, someone went on a tear about how rude it was that this market wouldn’t let her shop with her husband. She was outraged! Granted, the employee erred by saying it was the law rather than a store policy. (As well as pretty widespread guidance.) She was shut down pretty hard by the community, which has overall been highly highly supportive of the market.

        Once in a while this market does rub people the wrong way. For example, their current policy also requests that you shop for multiple days at a time and the owner will say something if you only stop in for bananas. Not everyone is a fan of that kind of attitude. But they are going to such lengths to keep shopping safe, lines short, and workers protected, so fewer bodies per week at the store makes sense to me. It’s the only store I’m going to.

    7. Gaia*

      Thank you for what you’re doing. Please know that the majority of us realize (and always have) that without you and your coworkers, we’d be screwed. I hope you stay healthy (physically and mentally) and well.

      And I hope your corporation now recognizes and properly rewards your work.

    8. Batgirl*

      Angry, seriously? At people who’ve decided to get up for a dangerous job so we all stay fed! I’d have to say something if another customer was being an arse. I’ve been so impressed by retail staff’s ability and willingness to carry on while introducing safety measures. My local shops are staying open later too so BHS staff and pensioners can shop in a less crowded store.

    9. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

      Please don’t tell people to wear gloves. They’re not wearing them correctly and the gloves are giving people a false sense of security and it will lead to more people getting sick than if they just sanitized/washed their hands after touching common areas.

  6. Retail Worker*

    For #5 – Say “thank you.” I make an especial point to say thank you for being open to all workers I interact with. I know they are putting up with a lot of cranky and stressed out people and they are stressed out, too. Can you write a note to the company/fill out an employee survey using their name and complimenting them on their positive attitude and how much you appreciate what they are doing? Before I got furloughed, I spent all dang day getting yelled at about things out of my control. The lab was running on a skeleton crew and it took longer than I wanted to get things done. I refrained several times from screaming that there’s a worldwide pandemic and can you stop making it my personal fault that you lost or broke your product and don’t have a backup, especially when I’m trying to help you get this taken care of? I truly appreciated the people who took five seconds out of their day to say thanks and acknowledge that I was doing what I could as fast as I could, even if it wasn’t as fast as I wanted.

    1. Greasy turtle burger*

      You know,I think alot of the gripin,fussin, and a-holery from customers would be shut down if the folks being griped and fussed at could hand it right back to them and tell them to GTFO.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Unfortunately too many jerks are just bullies looking for an excuse to fight. I have seen a *fellow customer* become the target for nastiness for saying “it’s not her choice, the cashiers are required to see ID or they could get fired.” (I don’t know the ending …I was the third in line and switched to a newly opened register. When I left, he was still there and the manager had been called.)

  7. Lilian*

    Removed. I will not host comments minimizing bigotry here, and yes, this is a very big deal in the U.S. – Alison

    1. Triplestep*

      I wonder if the employee who made the joke is Jewish. I’m Jewish (live in US) and I might make a joke about Jewish stereotypes but only in the company of other Jews. And I wouldn’t do it at work. Maybe this guy is Jewish and just slipped. That said, although it’s hypocritical, I wouldn’t find it funny if a non-Jew made the same kind of joke.

      1. Pleiades*

        It’s not hypocritical of you! There’s a huge difference between someone in a group making a joke from a place of understanding and genuine humor, and someone not part of the group making even the same joke (often involving stereotypes and derision)

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Poking fun at oneself is different. I commented to my mom the other day that I always noticed one particular actress because she always seemed to play the part of the late-middle aged Quaker (Birkenstocks, natural gray hair, flowy clothes, a certain manner of speech. Probably bakes a mean vegetarian casserole and definitely has Recipes For A Small Planet).

          So . . . my mom. She plays the Hollywood version of my mom. And me in 20 years.

          I would never say such a thing about anyone else’s group, though.

        2. Fikly*

          Unfortunately, someone in a minority making fun of their own group generally comes from a (often unconscious) place of needing to put their own group down because it makes their group seem like less of a threat, and thus become less of a target.

          It’s very problematic. Both doing it, and the reason it happens.

          1. LunaLena*

            I agree, it can be very problematic. Not just the reason that it happens, but the effect it causes – I’ve gotten into arguments with people who repeat jokes like that, and then defend it with “it’s not racist, my [minority] friend told me that one and his family tells jokes like that all the time!” I don’t have anything against self-deprecating humor and actually do it quite often myself, but I have an issue with being told I have to accept racist jokes because other people whom I happen to share an ethnicity with are okay with being thought of that way. For some reason people seem to think that all people of the same ethnicity think in a monolithic block and are required to agree with each other on everything…

            1. Blueberry*

              So flippin’ true. (Ugh, the “I have an X friend so you don’t get to have a different opinion than they do” argument needs to die a firey death.)

      2. professor*

        I made one in class this semester…I was writing on the right side of the board and filled it up and then went to the left side, so it was backwards, and I was like, “oh, sorry, I’m Jewish.” It’s not especially bad, being that it’s not based on a stereotype but rather a joke about Hebrew, but it’s still something I wish hadn’t come out of my mouth.

        1. BethDH*

          Yeah, it’s always better to avoid those (especially when you’re the teacher and in a relative position of power) but I also think jokes that are not based on a negative principle are different. Most jokes about ethnicities and races rely on the implication of something negative that everyone has to think in order to get the joke (like supposed money-grubbing in OP’s example). I don’t think yours requires that unless maybe there’s some implication that it’s “backwards”? I feel like I’m really reaching there though.

          1. professor*

            I actually stopped and explained it to be safe. I was like, “for anyone who missed it, Hebrew is written right to left and I spent MANY Sunday mornings in Hebrew school.”

        2. Rat Racer*

          For what it’s worth, as a fellow Jew who can read Hebrew – I think that is a very cute joke to make, and would not take any offense to it.

          1. professor*

            Yeah, my fear would be anyone who did NOT get the joke wondering why I brought up my religion, so I stopped and explained it.

        3. another professor*

          I totally get that joke, because I get the reference to Hebrew. I do wonder if your students would have gotten it? But in that case, it wasn’t a joke about a negative racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype, but rather a joke about the language and the direction you read it in. I had a Greek professor in college that absentmindedly started writing on the board in Arabic instead of Greek and said, “sorry, wrong font,” and your joke seems like its closer to that joke than one that would be offensive.

      3. PollyQ*

        LW#3 said the employee is black, which doesn’t mean it’s impossible for him to be Jewish, but it’s pretty long odds. I’m an American Jew, and I would NEVER make a joke like that one in a work environment, and probably not in any environment.

        1. allathian*

          Not out of the question, but unlikely. Ethiopia has a tiny Jewish minority (less than 1 percent of the population).
          Still, in a work environment, I don’t think it’s appropriate to make jokes about any of the protected classes (age, race, gender, disability, religion…). Or for that matter, to make a coworker a butt of your joke. At most, it’s perhaps possible to make a joke about yourself. For example, I’m a klutz, and when we were at the office and I twice in the same week dropped a big file folder on the floor scattering a bunch of papers around (I’m a subject matter specialist now and all our files are electronic these days, this was earlier in my career when files were on paper), I made a joke about it the second time. But I wouldn’t appreciate hearing a coworker say in the aisle “you know allathian, that’s the klutz”.

          1. Agnodike*

            Uh, there are plenty of American Black Jews. There are American Black Jewish celebrities! Being multiracial is a thing.

            1. Anononon*

              It’s not just being multiracial (as in part white, part black). My oldest friend growing up was Jewish, and her mom was Haitian and dad African American.

              1. Agnodike*

                Oh, for sure; besides traditional African Jewish populations, conversion and adoption also exist! There are also more ways to be Black and Jewish and multiracial than Jewish of European ancestry and Black, since there are Jews of all ethnicities all over the world.

                1. Blueberry*

                  There definitely are American Black Jews, but I would really hope if LW#3’s report were one he’d have twice the reason to understand why not to make jokes like that. I literally facepalmed when reading that letter. Augh.

          2. Searching for a New Name*

            The reason Ethiopia’s Jewish community is so small is that the vast majority of them were evacuated to Israel a few decades ago.

      4. Ellie*

        Yeah, I’m a blonde woman and I get annoyed when other blonde women crack dumb jokes around me. I don’t think you can ever assume that everyone’s going to be ok with it, even if you are a member of the target group.

        I feel for the OP though, I never know what to say when stuff like this happens in front of me. I usually say nothing and just feel terrible (although lately I’ve been getting the whole, ‘Oh, I know you don’t like that Ellie!’ so letting the horror show across your face can work ok I guess, but not enough to actually stop it).

        1. Triplestep*

          Without context, this means little. Are you Jewish? Your opinion is still valid if you’re not Jewish, of course, but I’m Jewish and while not true of every Jew, it means that I know a lot of other Jews intimately. I can also depend that they’ll “let down their hair” around me. This joke would provoke more of a “groan” reaction in my circle of Jewish friends.

      5. Anon for oversharing*

        It’s OK to make in-group jokes when you’re in-group. It’s not OK to do in mixed company. I agree that it’s not as bad if he’s a Jewish guy who had a slip of the tongue because it’s Passover and he’s spending all his time with Jewish people outside of work so he just kind of forgot to switch back into “rest of the world” mode, but it’s still harmful to other Jewish people and requires a public apology and correction.

        1. Smithy*

          I think that a key piece about “in-group” is that while that there are Jewish “in jokes” I feel comfortable saying around certain groups of friends – that’s not to say I’d feel similarly comfortable saying them to my Jewish family.

          Similarly, I know there are Jewish jokes that have broader acceptance among Israeli Jews than American Jews. Because like most things with humor context matters. And the work place is a context where this kind of humor isn’t appropriate. But in a way where I really appreciate Alison’s way of framing this. This isn’t about what someone’s Jewish self, partner, friends, family, etc do or don’t find offensive. It’s just not condoned speech in the workplace. Especially in the US.

      6. Sacred Ground*

        Read the letter.

        LW writes: “One reason is that the employee is black and I am white, and I was honestly so taken aback that he would say something offensive, it just blew my mind.”

    2. Zephyrine*

      I’m an American Jew and this “joke” would absolutely NOT be acceptable in the workplace (or anywhere else, really, except maaaaaaaaaybe when said by a self-deprecating Jewish person in the company of other like-minded Jews). Joking about about any ethnicity or culture is generally considered tone-deaf at best and flat-out racist at worst.

      That’s certainly not to say that there are no racist Americans, because of course there are plenty of jerks who think these “jokes” are hilarious and totally work-appropriate. But as a general rule, you really can’t go around making cracks about anyone’s race, religion, ethnicity, or culture here, and I’m kind of surprised to hear of a country where this is totally fine. I kind of have to wonder how minority groups in Europe feel about it.

      1. Julia*

        I’m German with a Jewish grandfather (who survived Auschwitz), and I would be appalled to hear a joke about Jews, especially at work. Antisemitism is still a huge issue in Europe (now everyone just pretends it’s only Muslim refugees who are the antisemites, which is a BS excuse and once again scapegoats religious minorities instead of examining social issues coming from within) and I feel extremely uncomfortable around people who think joking or perpeutating stereotypes about minorities is funny, especially when less than a century ago, those stereotypes led to their mass murder. I have ended friendships over comments like that, without even explaining my reasoning because it felt unsafe. I am not sure I would feel safe enough to speak up at work. A lot of Europeans think they are so much more modern and liberal than “those Americans”, but in my experience, a big modern US company takes equality much more seriously than any European workplace. Kinda like, it’s Europe, we all have equal rights, we never had slaves like those weird religious Americans, so stop complaining and make me a sandwich, woman!

        Between friends, I can maybe see it, but it has to be the right context and the right people. I once bragged about making a nice bargain, and my half-Chinese friend joked I must be Chinese. I said, nope, part Jewish (I had been watching a lot of The Nanny reruns, I don’t actually know anyone who follows Jewish culture in real life as I never met my grandfather), and she said, “ha, that explains it”. She made fun of her own culture’s stereotype first and included me in it, and I replied in kind. This was way back in college, too, and neither of us would say stuff like that at work.

      2. Zephyrine*

        That last sentence was poorly worded — it should say “*other* minority groups”.

    3. Emma*

      I’m not Jewish, but this also doesn’t sound like the kind of affectionate joke about being Jewish that I hear my Jewish friends make. I’ve heard jokes about, say, every other day being a minor Jewish feast day, or the role of food and hospitality in Jewish cultures, but… a joke about Jews being greedy money-grubbers…?

      That’s not something that’s rooted in Jewish culture – it’s rooted in Roman Catholic anti-semitism. And it’s not something that’s kind of nice and comforting and can be funny if you talk about it the right way, it’s something that’s been used to justify huge amounts of abuse and discrimination through history.

      That’s not to say Jewish people can’t or shouldn’t make jokes about it – I’m not the boss of anyone! – but it’s something I would be surprised to hear in that context.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ironically in this case I feel obligated to point out an oversimplification in your comment too. It’s not (just) a Catholic anti-semitism — there is quite a history from Protestants and Muslims and orthodox Catholics as well. :(

        1. Emma*

          Oh, absolutely – I was specifically referring to the culture around moneylending in Roman Catholic Europe, but sadly antisemitism doesn’t start or end there at all.

        2. another professor*

          Theology professor here who is also Catholic–the root of this stuff is originally in Catholicism, and the Catholic church took a very long time (until the mid-1950s) to make any changes.

          1. another professor*

            Eh, actually late 1950s really. I would count John XXIII as the first pope to do anything significant on this.

      2. Triplestep*

        Respectfully, you don’t know how your Jewish friends talk when you’re not around. As a Jew, I can tell you it’s kind of annoying hear things like “I know so many Jews and I know they would [fill in the blank]” Sure it’s possible for non-Jews to have intimate relationships with Jews and have a good sense of what they think, but it doesn’t necessarily translate that the way all the Jews you know behave when not in mixed company.

        1. Anonny*

          Yeah, I’ve heard some of my Jewish friends make ‘cheap Jew’ jokes – although they tend to be of different tone to gentile ‘jokes’ of the same genre. Like, it’ll come after a reference to a Jewish person/organisation being very generous, or talking about doing something thrifty that pretty much everyone does like saving the plastic boxes from takeaways.

    4. MK*

      Also in Europe, and I understand your point of view, but frankly all these jokes are offensive and I wish they died put. A joke that played on stereotypes, even not wholy negative ones, about Germans or French people would also be inappropriate and not relly harmless, although possibly not hurtful to the same degree that one about Jews or Muslims would be.

      1. Zweisatz*

        German or French people don’t face oppression though so, as a German, I do see a big difference there and really don’t care about German jokes (if they are not minimizing what Nazi Germany did, people sure make a lot of horrible jokes).

        At work jokes about groups of people are insofar ill-advised that you really don’t know about the background of your colleagues and customers. And discriminating jokes (about oppressed groups) are not OK in any setting.

    5. Hollandaise*

      Yep, it’s different.
      Here in the Netherlands, there’s definitely no blanket rule against referring to demographics. It’s not usually a touchy subject, so no need to avoid it. Context matters, though. A joke referencing the ethnicity of a colleague whom I like and work with regularly is generally fine. A ‘joke’ about the ethnicity of the cleaning lady, or a colleague I seem to avoid, would be more of a racist remark and therefore not okay.

      As far as I’m concerned, the biggest question is whether the remark is meant to include the people in question, or exclude them. Intent isn’t the only thing that matters, but it’s a big one.

      1. M.P.*

        I lived in the Netherlands so this attitude doesn’t surprise me, sadly. You think it’s fine but I can guarantee your colleague doesn’t and is keeping their mouth shut because white Western Europeans will lose their minds if you dare try to tell them anything. It’s what I did because the fallout of saying “I don’t like that joke” led to a white Dutch man screaming at me with everyone else telling me I was too sensitive because he didn’t mean anything by it, blah blah. And yes, I was speaking Dutch and being respectful.

        Met lots of amazing people there as well and did have a great time, but Europeans like to think they’re superior to Americans regarding race and they’re really, really not.

        1. Julia*

          I’m European and white, and I totally agree that we have a LONG way to go when it comes to the inclusion of minorities and even gender equality, because we THINK we are so modern and woke that we get very offended when someone tells us we are not.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            A college friend of mine (we’re from the US) moved recently to a specific European country and tells us that she finds it pretty sexist: The school day, at least where she is, is scheduled on the premise that all kids have moms at home to feed them lunch, etc. She had some other examples that have slipped my mind now, but basically felt like she’d moved backwards in time. I don’t know what this country’s track record is on equal pay, etc., so perhaps they’ve got some gender equality bases covered but not others?

            1. Julia*

              The former West of Germany (so 30+ years ago) considered stay-at-home mothers the default, and some people still do. I imagine this goes doubly for the more religious parts of Europe (Bavaria comes to mind! My mother is from there and the way she raised my brothers is SO different from the way she raised me, and I’m only 30!), so it’s super ridiculous to me that some Europeans clutch their pearls about the “sexist” Muslim immigrants. German men can be sexist, French men and Italian men have harassed me when I was a young teen, but God beware the “brown” (ugh) man comes in and touches OUR women.

              1. DiscoCat*

                Speaking the truth, all that false indignation after what happened on New Year’s eve 2015/16 (?) in Cologne. German men are so plump and disgustingly sexist, the pin-up calendar is still a standard in a lot of work places, even if women work there.

        2. Koala dreams*

          Many Europeans do get touchy about being critized by Americans. There is the general idea that Americans act superior and think everything is better in the US/America, and so people get very defensive. There are whole categories of jokes about what to say to your relatives when they brag about all the amazing thing they saw on ther last visit to the US. I would think American/European jokes go over worse than British/French/German jokes generally, in a mixed nationality situation.

          That screaming man was rude, though. If you can’t accept that some people don’t like your “jokes”, don’t joke.

          1. MK*

            The U.S. is a huge country and Europe consists of many countries with different cultures and attitudes. My own, for example, is not particularly progressive (racial jokes such as the first commenter mentions are not uncommon, though not maliciously intented), but we have no history of official segregation nad organised racial vilence. Whether we are “superior” to U.S. Americans regarding race depends which part of the U.S. you compare with us, and even then there are nouances (there are nationalist extreme-right groups here just as I assume there are liberal ones in conservative U.S. states).

            1. Koala dreams*

              Yes, of course there are nuances. I just didn’t want to get into that, since it would be too long for a comment.

            2. Searching for a New Name*

              No history of organized racial violence? Hmm, every history book I’ve ever read begs to differ. Especially when Jews are the target.

              1. MK*

                I do not claim to have researched the topic in depth. And I did not mean it never ever happened, I can only say it does not seem to be part of our history as other places.

                1. BenAdminGeek*

                  I would recommend reading up on Europe’s treatment of Jews and Roma (often called gypsies). It’s enlightening. Not trying to bash you, MK, we all have blind spots- I know I do! But reading up on how various European countries have interacted with those two populations was eye-opening for me.

                2. Lynn*

                  When European Jews were fleeing the Nazis, the US refused to accept boats full of refugees. They sent them back, knowing they’d likely be slaughtered. The US military knew about the death camps and knew that trains took Jews there, but they declined to bomb the rail lines.

                3. Bark*

                  You don’t think Europe has a history of organized racial violence?! lol Europe practically invented organized racial violence.

                4. Observer*

                  If you are in Europe is most definitely IS part of your history. What it is not part of is the history they teach you – which is a problem all by itself.

              2. UKDancer*

                Depends on your country I think within Europe which I think is what MK is saying as attitudes and prejudices vary hugely within Europe and you can’t really view the continent as homogenous. To my knowledge Ireland has never had any organised violence against the Jewish community for example.

                I think there’s also a difference between organised violence which has been supported by the state and disorganised violence / mob attacks.

                It also depends how far back you look. The UK for example had a first pogrom in 1190 when the Jews of York were massacred and sporadic ones after that until the Jews were expelled. In 1656 Oliver Cromwell readmitted them and we’ve had no organised persecutions in the 350 plus years since to my knowledge (although that hasn’t stopped discrimination and Anti Semitic views). There have been mobs such as the British Union of Fascists who tried to attack the (mainly Jewish) East End in the 1930s but I wouldn’t call that particularly organised.

                Likewise the UK has never had legally mandated racial segregation of the Jim Crow type so some of the references and politics that emerged from the US civil rights struggle are not the same as those prevalent here. There have been civil rights struggles but they are different ones on a different basis.

                We have the same amount of bigotry, prejudice and racism as every other place but it’s not always shown the same way. I think the form it takes and the way it manifests in the UK differs from France as it differs from the US. These things are hugely affected by the place in which they are found and the history that they have had and the people who have lived there so it’s very difficult to draw direct comparisons.

                1. Observer*

                  True, the levels of officially organized violence may have been low. But “no organized persecution”? Do you realize that “blasphemy” was actually a crime in the UK till 2008? It was fairly toothless by then, but it was within living memory of the most recent *imprisonment* on the charge. The last case under the law was in 1996. That’s obviously not targeted just at Jews, but it certainly qualifies as religious persecution.

                  Jews only officially and legally got full civil right in 1858. That’s 150 years ago.

                  Even in the 20th century, there are plenty of smaller examples. Like in the 1930’s Jews were not allowed to be doctors, even though there was a shortage of doctors in the country.

                  As for non-official but very widespread and vocal? I won’t subject you to it.

                  My point here is not that the UK is a terrible place or a bunch of antisemites. However, it does show that the issue of antisemitism and religious persecution and discrimination is not something that’s long, long gone.

            3. Lepidoptera*

              As far as I’m aware, almost every country in Europe, and the ones that don’t exist anymore, had historical laws which prohibited Jewish people from owning land, specifically farm land. Thus relegating them to work as things like merchants, tax collectors, anything that wasn’t a farming job essentially, and leading to all those anti-semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.
              Not to mention that a lot of Jewish people were often rounded up during witch hunts because the mob mentality often grouped witches, with heretics and Jews.
              Also, a lot of European countries were involved in the slave trade. Americans were buying, but they weren’t the only ones selling.
              This sounds like organized racial/religious segregation and violence to me.

            4. schnauzerfan*

              “we have no history of official segregation nad organised racial vilence.” Now that’s a funny joke. European history is rife with racial violence. Ask the Romney people, the Jews, the Albanians, the Finns, the Slavs, the Bosnians, Hell ask the Scots and the Irish if they’ve experienced racial or ethnic violence. Ask the victims of any colonial regime ever. Ask my ancestors, ethnic Germans living in Russia.

              Then we could move on and talk about persecution of religious minorities and so called witches.

          2. Julia*

            I’m German, and what I hear about Americans in Europe is usually that they are uncultured, uneducated, and overly sensitive (as in, they sue everyone for anything). My mother, who barely speaks three sentences of English, HATES that my English sounds American, and despite me having worked as an interpreter (!) doesn’t think I actually know English well, because it’s only “American”. I have worked with other Europeans who will only consider British accents English.

            Considering the US population dumb (and blatantly ignoring the Mayo Clinic, MIT, and other prestigious US institutions) gives Europeans a nice chance to rebuff their efforts in advancing racial equality as “political correctness gone mad” or simply rectifying a problem that is unique to the US due to its history of slavery, while ignoring the atrocities that Europe has committed all over the world for centuries, and Germany especially. It is true that we learn a LOT about World War II in history class, and a lot more about our own awful history than Japan, for example, but I still don’t see a lot of effort in the general population to be more inclusive of whoever they consider to be “different”. If you come to Germany, you better become like the other Germans, or else. (Even if you literally can’t because your skin color is different, or you don’t want to give up your religion.) A lot of Germans also think that every obviously foreign person from a non-White country is a refugee, and I don’t want to get started on the attitudes I often see surrounding those. It’s simply awful. It’s not everyone, luckily, but it is way too many people especially considering our history.

            1. Anononon*

              I did a year abroad in Italy, and they paired us up with families to have dinner with once a week. One of the draws was that we could help the kids with English. Until relatively recently, it was much harder for the program to place the study abroad students because the families wanted their kids learning British English and not American English. Even when I was there, about ten years ago, I was still asked if I could understand British English.

              Also, while I was there, one of my thoughts as to racism in Europe vs the US is that it, in part, it seems like a bigger problem in the US because we’re having the conversations and the discussions. Broadly speaking, Europe hasn’t been forced to really address racism until recently, so it’s talked about less and seems like less of an issue.

            2. Texan In Exile*

              My former employer was a German company. I was putting together some internal communications and talking to a German co-worker about the difficulty of finding stock photos for the communications.

              “I want hands that aren’t white male hands!” I told her. (I was looking for hands of someone conducting an orchestra.)

              “You Americans sure do think about that sort of thing a lot,” she said. “We don’t think about that in Germany.”

              “Yeah,” I answered. “Based on the communications from corporate, that’s obvious.”

              1. Actual Vampire*

                Reminds me of a grad school classmate I had. She was Indian, from India. She was also the most racist person I’d ever met, but in a totally clueless way; someone who really “doesn’t see color.” One time she was creating renderings of a site near her home in India. All the people in her renderings were white. Multiple professors from the US and Europe asked her why she’d only used white people, like was it some kind of statement? She responded that it hadn’t occurred to her to use non-white people. So bizarre.

            3. Batgirl*

              I could not agree more with this. Whenever I meet anyone who is overtly sniffy about Americans, there’s usually a bunch of racism, classism and other junk underneath it. They just feel more able to say “I hate x people” when talking about a wealthy and powerful country. But ultimately you’re still just using culture and nationality to get a shallow sense of superiority.

          3. lazy intellectual*

            Ugh yes. What is annoying is that because Europeans do have better social policies than the U.S., they assume they are more progressive in all other respects when they really aren’t. A European classmate got upset at me for saying I found Islamophobia worse in Europe than the US. (I’m Muslim American of the South Asian variety). Same with Canada. Canadians are just as racist as Americans.

            1. Blueberry*

              I am so sorry your classmate got mad at you for your lived experience, instead of possibly getting mad at those who inflicted those experiences on you!

        3. DiscoCat*

          Hit the nail right on the head! As a mixed-race WoC with German roots I’ve had friends get offended and tell me that the “N-Word” is just something they used to say as kids and it’s not offensive. White Europeans have a long way to go, no matter how educated, cultured, well-travelled or “woke” they like to think they are. And they should start by not trying to redefine what is and isn’t offensive, they also love to claim that whatever issue it is doesn’t exist because it’s never happened to them…

          A few weeks ago a German drug store chain really put its foot in it by advertising hair products using a black model who had a well groomed, neat afro – with the heading “Bad hair day?” They took ages to understand why there was a shit storm, their apology was a not-pology, the commenters were oblivious, even those with “black” friends.

          At the workplace discrimination and racism comes out in the form of sceptisism, diminishment, marginalisation, scape-goating, intolerance and being unforgiving for even minor mistakes. There might be less outright racism, but there sure is a social expectation to just shut up and be a good sport. Unfortunately there are many who have internalised this attitude and always bend over backwards to come across as calm, well- adjusted, rational human beings worth every crumb thrown at them (I know there is a term for this in US culture, but I won’t misappropriate it by pretending its historical context doesn’t matter, because I’m a European WoC)

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I literally just gasped and inhaled coffee.

            I’m average-woke at best and I still can’t believe that a) somebody thinks up this stuff in the first place and b) it must go through the hands of several people at whatever product company and advertising agency and none of those people raise a protest?

            1. DiscoCat*

              *Willkommen in Deutschland* ;-/ Similar issues with gender, after a few weeks MeToo sunk like a lead ball, pulled down by women columnists in some case.

              1. Julia*

                Yeah, for some reason, a lot of German women are really blind to sexism. From fellow Europeans, at least. Many see no issue with suddenly becoming afraid of immigrants.

        4. Hollandaise*

          I appreciate what you are trying to say, but since some of the colleagues in question are equally white and Western European, I don’t think you can guarantee that.

          Can I be 100% sure? No. But either I have completely misjudged the relationship I have with these co-workers, or it really is fine *within the relationship we have*.

          I’m conscious of the fact that people who are uncomfortable with the joke might also be uncomfortable speaking up. I hope we all are, and adjust accordingly.

          Also, I’m sorry that happened to you.

    6. glitter crayon*

      As a European Jew I find this antisemitic and am stunned that anyone would argue otherwise.

      1. Hollandaise*

        Perhaps you can help me understand? I get that this is a reference to stereotypes, but does that automatically make it anti-[something]?

        For example, a friend of mine is very tall. When people tell him “I’m surprised you don’t play basketball!”, they’re not saying anything negative, are they? (Possibly ignorant and irritating, though.)

        1. Len F*

          That Jews are money-grubbing and always out for a good deal? That doesn’t strike you as antisemitic?

        2. Harper the Other One*

          With all due respect, being tall hasn’t led to centuries of persecution and a Holocaust.

          The “jokes“ about money-grubbing Jews come from the assumption is that they’re “taking” money from the people who “should” have it. That attitude has frequently led to all the ills of society being blamed on the Jewish community. There are STILL people who think that way. Being teased about being tall is annoying and shouldn’t happen but it’s simply not on a par with this kind of joke.

          1. DyneinWalking*

            Your penultimate sentence is how I tend to judge jokes like that:
            “Are there still people who believe this? Do they have some social power/ cause serious harm even if a minority?”

            That rule is probably also why people disagree so much about this – it depends a lot of what you experienced or witnessed yourself. If “HOLY F*CK this is STILL an issue and people suffer!” is your first association, it’s hard to see how that could be funny.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            This is where I fall on this issue, I think. Inside jokes between Jewish people about how wherever there are two Jews, there are three different opinions, or how we answer a question with another question, an overbearing Jewish mother joke etc, I would accept. But veering into the “greedy Jews” or “wealthy Jews” or “Jews running the world” territory is dangerous. Especially now that this way of thinking seems to be making a comeback where I live (US).

        3. Anononon*

          Honestly, I get that you’re looking to learn, but this is way more involved and deeper than any one-paragraph long response you’ll get in the comment section of an advice column. I urge you to google and read about why stereotypes about racial, ethnic, etc. characteristics are wrong and harmful.

        4. Mary Connell*

          People don’t really think being Jewish is equivalent to being tall. Asking questions like this complete with this pretense of politeness and wide-eyed wonder tends to be sealioning.

        5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Tall people were not systemically excluded from “good society.” Tall people were not banned by prestigious companies from being employees. Tall people did not have strict quotas placed upon them by universities. Tall people do not have their business and places of worship vandalized today. Tall people were not killed for their tallness—which happened massively in the past and still happens today (such as in the recent synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and San Diego).

          If an ethnic group says a comment is offensive, there’s good reason.

      2. DoctorDog*

        @glitter crayon American born Jew here. Appreciate the simplicity of this comment. Direct and accurate. I don’t care if the person is or isn’t Jewish or how they meant it. These are dangerous stereotypes.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I, also European, find there is a difference if it’s something mututal, for example Germans and French joking about how the other country has the best/worst bread, or jokes that are meant to make fun of minorities. Like the joke in the letter, it’s targeted very specifically against jewish people, and follows a history of persecution against jews. It feels more malicious than the typical friendly jokes about culture/ethnicity. I guess if you are used to these kind of jokes, they don’t stand out as much?

    8. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      As an American Jew, I disagree strongly. The trope that Jews are cheap has been very damaging over the centuries and is hugely offensive. There is also good sociological research that shows saying nothing sends a message that anti-Semitic comments are not as bad as other types of racist speech. OP3, please address this, even if it needs to be over Zoom.

      1. Saraquill*

        I have a friend who’s cracked this joke before, but she a) is Jewish, b) has a very limited income, and c) was referring to herself. It doesn’t sound like OP3’s coworker had that kind of context.

    9. Arctic*

      This particular joke goes to the heart of stereotypes that have fueled violent antisemitism.

      I don’t think any antisemitic jokes would be OK. But this kind of joke is particularly bad because it is so common and widely believed and the horrific results of that belief.

  8. BB*

    I’m also high risk and we have been relying on curbside for groceries. We put cash in a Ziploc bag in our trunk as a way to do contact-free tipping when the person loads our groceries. They usually protest but will accept when we insist. The grocery store has a policy against tipping in general but these are not normal times!

    1. Sparky*

      No one has protested or refused out tips; I’m in Denver CO, tipping at Safeway.

    2. Miso*

      Oh please, don’t tip someone if they don’t want to be tipped! Especially if there’s a policy against it.
      How would you feel if you found out they got fired because of you?

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Forced tips often end up being turned into the retailer. It’s one way I’ve seen clerks handle demands to take the money but follow their stores rules.

      Tipping is taxable income. Yes, many won’t claim it in service but stores tend to not want to setup the necessary processes to officially allow it.

      1. White Peonies*

        We do curbside pickup and the guy in front of me made the worker take the tip after the worker decline many times. After the worker immediately went to the coordinator and handed it over. Our worker said they can’t accept tips or they will be fired, so they hand them over to the store. Ask first, or your making their job harder.

    4. Betty*

      Why is it in a Ziploc bag? If you’ve touched the cash, it’s contaminated. If you’ve touched the bag, the bag is contaminated. Same deal, just you’ve wasted a plastic bag. Is it just to indicate that it’s definitely for the worker? Seems like you’re doing enough of that already. Also, +1 that I wouldn’t insist if there’s a policy against it. You’re putting them in a really awkward position and they probably won’t be allowed to keep it, so you’re actually tipping the big conglomeration.

      1. Agnodike*

        Presumably because its a bit weird to tell someone “oh, there are some loose bills scattered in the trunk; have a hunt for them and collect them, please, they’re for you.” Handing over the money directly is a contact risk, so you need some way to keep the cash affixed in one place. You can attach a bag to a fixed point without damaging the money.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          When we had groceries delivered, we left an envelope with cash under the windshield wiper of our car, wrote the name of the service and the person doing the delivery, and messaged them that we did so. Since the writing is either unnecessary or impossible, a clear plastic baggie seems better, since the money makes it more identifiable, although you could write “Grocery pickup tip” on a paper envelope. (They still don’t HAVE to take it; if I tried this, I’d ask them if they could take it, then if they said no, just tell them thanks and to leave it, I’ll donate that money to a food bank, unless they have a preferred charity.)

          Actually, what do you all think of that? Food banks are hugely needed right now, and if someone says they can’t accept tips, what about making a donation instead? Too complicated?

        2. Koala dreams*

          I thought the zip lock bag was the modern equivalent to the envelope. Easier to get track of things and you don’t need to open it to see what’s inside. Water proof, too.

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          When I go to get my groceries if I have coupons I have been putting them under a smallish rock in the trunk area of my vehicle. I could also see doing the same for tips (if permitted, my local store does not but has given for the duration raises to all employees on the floor/stocking/doing deliveries).

      2. Paulina*

        Tipping people who can’t keep it also means that they and whoever they turn it into are handling a potentially contaminated item unnecessarily. Sometimes the only gift you can give someone is to patiently respect their process and not add to their risks.

        For people who can accept tips, though, the ziploc bag enables them to wash the outside of the bag and then leave it closed for a few days. Add a piece of paper with the date on it for additional time-tracking.

      3. Betty*

        Thanks for the explanations! I guess I hadn’t thought all the logistics through.

    5. irene adler*

      Some grocery stores with the “no-tip” policy are allowing their employees to accept the tips. The tips are then pooled for a company pizza party or similar.

      I think that’s a nice way out for employees to heed the “no-tip” policy and to allow customers to show their appreciation.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Our local Kroger pickup has a no-tip policy but the tips are going into the employee relief fund. (How I feel about customers donating to the employee relief fund of a multibillion-dollar corporation is another kettle of fish, but at least employees can benefit from the money.)

        1. Iris Eyes*

          The employee relief fund might be something to help employees in circumstances above and beyond the normal patterns of life. I knew one where you could apply for help with a major car repair or if your kid was sick and you were facing medical bills, a house fire, or things of that nature that people might think about giving to a go fund me or something like that for. It helps employees and employers if done well and can help people avoid predatory lending situations.

          I’ve also seen companies use employee food banks and such which is nice in the most horrible way possible?

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Please don’t do this. I used to work at a grocery store and would help outside if needed and we were not allowed to accept tips. You could get someone fired.

  9. Dr. Anonymous*

    #1 – I have to wonder if this Photoshop adventure was just some bright idea on the part of the photographer and the partners didn’t even pay attention. I’d hate to think the partners sat down and looked through all the pictures and said, “Oh, let’s put some blusher on these girls, am I right?” I’d bet they only looked at their own pictures, which probably looked just fine.

    But I can totally see someone saying, “Oh, let’s get headshots done. My dad always used Out of Step with the Times Photography Service; let’s see if they’re still around,” and then handing them off to go on the website without even looking to see if all the women looked like a 1980s high school yearbook picture.

    Let’s hope that’s what happened.

    1. Eng*

      Rougue photoshopping honestly sounds 500 times more unlikely than explicit instructions to make the women look made up. The latter is gross but not surprising at all.

      1. MK*

        This is probably a cultural thing, but in my country professional women are supposed to wear discreet and understated makeup. A company might ask its female employees to use it, or even get it done professionally for a company photo, but they wouldn’t like visible eyeshadow and rouge.

        1. TechWorker*

          This sucks. I know you don’t have control over it and I do think times are changing in most places (I am 100% sure my fairly large company wouldn’t care whether women wore no make or visible make up). But the ‘rule’ being ‘you have to wear some make up because your bare face is unprofessional, but done in a way that makes it look like you’re not wearing make-up, because make-up itself is frivolous’…. it’s such bullshit. It just perpetuates the idea that women must magically have ‘pretty’ faces and men having puffy eyes or uneven skin are not forced to cover it up…,

          1. MK*

            Times are changing, but I am not at all sure it’s all going in the right direction; I see a trend towards pushing men to do extra grooming. And I think I phrased it badly, I don’t actually think many companies would really ask their female employees to wear makeup as much as that it is a professional standard that will affect others’ perception of you.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            “Paint another face on top of your face to look professional.” “No, no, not like that.” :(

          3. Pomona Sprout*

            “It just perpetuates the idea that women must magically have ‘pretty’ faces and men having puffy eyes or uneven skin are not forced to cover it up…”

            Good point. To me, the “women must wear makeup” rule also comes with the underlying assumption that women’s faces are not “good enough” unless they are artificially enhanced while men’s faces are fine just the way they are. Which, frankly, bugs the crap out of me, especially considering the extra time and money involved.

      2. Agnes*

        Not rogue, just the photographer says something like, “Should we touch up the photos so everyone looks better? It’s a standard service .” And the men in charge say sure and don’t really notice the makeup, or maybe just think makeup=formal without catching the nuances. There are definitely underlying sexist attitudes mixed in there, but it’s not a conscious thing.

        1. pod person*

          #1 literally happened to me. We got headshots from someone’s friend and they gave me makeup, NEW TEETH, WHITER SKIN and a NOSE JOB. They promised to send the original files but never did. I looked like a robot. My mother said she didn’t recognize me. It was horrifying.

        2. Batgirl*

          It’s not everyone though is it, it’s women. It honestly just smacks of the attitude that female looks are public property and it’s better to add frills saying so than let a women have control over her own look. Sure, men get photoshopped but it’s always to give them back their own look – removing shadows and red eye. Otherwise men too would be annoyed at being turned into Mr Potato Head.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was really (legitimately, not snarking!) hoping that someone would typo “rouge” for “rogue” somewhere in this comment thread, where it would actually be appropriate either way. Morning made, thank you :)

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Rogue photo-fixing has a long history — my father had a chipped front tooth ‘fixed’ by a yearbook photographer and he was angry decades later. That was his ‘trophy’ for finishing a tournament game even after getting hit in the face.

      5. Environmental Compliance*

        I definitely read this as “rogue” photoshopping and not “rougue” photoshopping and I’m really not sure which was intended.

        But rogue photoshopping is a thing, tbh. I think we’ve seen prior examples of it on this site with someone getting a Bright Idea (TM) and flying off the handle with it.

    2. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I think you’re right that the partners didn’t even notice. IME, men do not notice these things unless they are they are trained to do so or they are GLARINGLY obvious.

      All headshots need a light-touch edit. But there are plenty of shoddy photographers/editors out there who have no idea what that means, or how to make people look their natural, best selves taking the photo in the first place. Then they compensate by over relying on Photoshop – often to even more horrendous effect.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. Tons of photographers go ham on the photoshop – and especially in the first couple years of its availability, it was usually a shitshow. The tech wasn’t where it is now, and the photographers were compensating for lack of experience with enthusiasm, and the end results were hilarious.

    4. Finewithmyteeth*

      They made my teeth so incredibly white in my last company head shot that I actually emailed the coordinator and asked if they could tone it down a bit. Leave my off-white teeth alone!

  10. Heidi*

    I’m going to recommend that OP2 go for an interview then come back and tell us all about it. I’m very curious. And please ask them, “If the employees are supposed to be the rock stars, shouldn’t you be wearing shirts with the employees’ faces on them?” Bonus points for wearing a shirt with your own face on it.

    Seriously, though, if you’re interested in the actual work, it doesn’t hurt to check it out. Plus a lot of sites don’t necessarily represent what it’s really like to work at a place. And if the worst thing they ask you to do is wear a band t-shirt, that might be worth doing for an otherwise good job.

    1. ..Kat..*

      Ha ha. This reminds me of Halloween week where I work. I am a nurse in a hospital. A bunch of nurses decided that it would be team-building for the nurses to dress according to different themes for each day of Halloween week. Since I don’t read work email at home, I showed up in my usual nursing scrubs for the theme of “superheroes.” My manager teased me about not dressing up. I put my hands on hips (a superhero pose) and declared that “nurses are superheroes” and therefore I was in costume!

      1. Erstwhile Lurker*

        Nurses are the epitome of heroes in my book, it’s a shame that it’s taken a pandemic for this to be as widely recognised as it should be.

    2. Delta Delta*

      This. Imagine if a company website was able to adequately show toxicity. Photos of a boss pointing and yelling. Pictures of Lucinda from accounting crying at her desk. A quote from HR that says “we actually don’t care and aren’t going to fix the problem.” Meanwhile the actual website shows people smiling and working together collaboratively and a prospective employee thinks that’s how it’s going to be.

    3. LGC*

      Bonus points for wearing a shirt with your own face on it.

      Oh god, now I’m reminded of Iceland’s entry to Eurovision 2020 (RIP).

      That said, I’m on the fence, partly because AAM has made me virulently anti-“rockstar.” Although now that I think about it, I’ve calmed down a bit about it. You’re right in that it’s gimmicky, but not necessarily reflective of what it’s like to work there. It is reflective of the image they want to put forward to the public, though, which LW2 might not want to be associated with. But I don’t know if it would be disqualifying on its own for me (partly because I’ll admit that I will be as goofy as you ask me to on the Internet).

    4. Sara without an H*

      Yes, OP#2, please go and then send us an update. I really want to know if the employees wear band t-shirts at the office, or if that was just a stunt for the day they took the photographs.

      Personally, I’m thinking this was the private obsession of some executive who’s no longer with the firm, and they just haven’t updated the website yet.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Heh. I’m reminded of Brooklyn 99.

      Peralta, enthusiastically: “I would still like to introduce you to Mr. Gordon Lundt! Mr. Gordon Lundt! Gordon, you want to come in here?”

      Lundt: “Oh, I’m so sorry. I was just deciding whether I should just go home. The tone and tenor of your introduction make me worry that this is a ‘fun’ office, which I would not enjoy.”

      Holt: “Hello, I’m Captain Raymond Holt, and I can assure you, this is not a fun office.”

      Lundt: “Thank goodness. In that case, my interest is renewed.”

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’ve seen this in startups, where the bosses hired a “coordinator of coolness” person, because they thought they needed to do so to keep up with the Joneses in recruiting staff and investors.

      That person turned out to be an utter waste of time, space, and money.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I just remembered that I *do* have a shirt with my own face on it! Many years ago, on a group weekend outing, someone took a picture of me playing the guitar, put it on a T-shirt, and mailed the shirt to me as a surprise birthday gift a couple of months later. I still have it. Need to check to make sure I can fit into it still, but if yes, then I can apply for a job at that company too! I mean, I already meet their dress code, right?

    8. “Fun” office-worker*

      Op2 could be describing the company I work for. All the “we’re all rockstars!” “We’re not a regular company, we’re a cool company!” can be eye roll inducing when read on the website or heard during an all hands meetings or first pushed in an interview. But in everyday work life it’s pretty nice. Yes, I get called a rockstar when a project goes well. But it feels nice. Our dress code is focused on safety, not aesthetics. The biggest rule is no open toed shoes on the shop floor. No one has ever made me wear a band tee shirt.

  11. JustHereToRead*

    OP5– I’m a student who also works at a grocery store. What helps the most right now is being polite to employees (we have seen a surge of extra-rude customers). Most stores also have a website where you can write a positive review about an employee who helped you; those are great to get and, at least at my store, you get a gift card if someone writes a positive review about you!

    1. Kit*

      Yes, this is my number one request as well. It doesn’t really affect me if people try to tip the staff member delivering the groceries, because I’m inside on the phone taking orders and complaints and “constructive feedback”.

      I have been yelled at for sending Easter bunnies that were too small, scolded for sending sweet potatoes that were too large, and complained at for any number of inconveniences.

      I wish more people would just be polite. And if you’re already polite, then be cheerful, patient and understanding on top of that. When a stranger is picking your groceries, the result may not be exactly the same as if you’d done it yourself. And we cannot control supply chain issues like dairy or baking supplies shortages.

  12. Phil*

    I’m a 73 year old American West Coast Jew which means I’m old enough to have experienced clubs we couldn’t join, places we couldn’t live and anti-Semitic nicknames at the Wasp-y boarding school I went to. This stuff abated in the 70s through 2000s but it’s back with a vengeance.
    Call it out right as it happens. Period.

    1. Triplestep*

      I’m a 56 year old East Coast Jew and I agree with you that anti Semites are emboldened these days. I also said above that I might make a joke about Jewish stereotypes but only in the company of other Jews, and don’t like when they are made by non-jews. I guess I’d classify this as ignorance rather than aggression but I do see your point and it’s making me reevaluate.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I’ve made the comparison before that joking about your own group is like me jokingly calling my husband four eyes when I also wear glasses – you can’t realistically mean something unpleasant if you’re a member of the same group! And it’s definitely different than joking in a similar way with someone who has a different feature than you.

      2. Fikly*

        Coming from a place of ignorance doesn’t stop it from doing aggressive damage.

        Every time someone hears someone say something anti-semitic, and then hears/sees no consequences, it gets normalized.

    2. AnonWestCoaster*

      I’m now on the West Coast, having moved from another state because of anti-Semitic harassment. Yeah, it’s a big deal now, and getting worse and now is not the time to be promulgating stereotypes. Please shut it down when you observe it.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        I’m seeing a mentality of “We are now too politically correct, racism and antisemitism are things of the past and therefore anything racist/antisemitic is obviously just a joke and it’s fine”. No. No, it isn’t. Also, the bar for “too politically correct” is much higher than that.

        1. Paulina*

          Ugh, I hate that “of course it’s always a joke” argument. Especially since that would mean that certain words and phrases have gone straight from it being accepted to be said as a slur to being accepted to be said as a joke. How about just not using those words at all? With the bonus effect of not having those words in your working vocabulary so they wouldn’t come out “by accident” either.

          If these words aren’t meaningful to the person using them, then surely they could use different words.

          1. EH*

            My motto is, ironic racism is still racism. (ditto for sexism, antisemitism, etc)

            1. Paulina*

              Yep. IMHO some people just latch on to whatever excuse they find to do what they want, and the “jokes” reinforce dominance.

    3. Betty*

      I agree that this stuff needs to be called out and shut down HARD, but as someone who’s in their late twenties, honestly it’s really difficult to do it in the moment. I’ve only heard comments like that a handful of times which means I have very little experience of calling it out so I just don’t know what to say. Honestly, I was speechless just reading this blog post! In the moment I would have been thinking, “What? Did I even hear that? Surely he must have said something else. I just cant have heard what I thought I did. I did, though. He said that. I can’t believe it. That is so unacceptable. I must say something.” And by that time conversation has moved on.

      Comments like that shouldn’t be left unchallenged, but I absolutely would have ended up having to go back to the “joker” later. I’m sure if I heard them regularly I would have a store of shutdowns I could slam out with a second’s notice. I am so pleased that Alison mentioned to tell everyone else that you’d spoken to them, though – I don’t think I would necessarily think to do that but it’s crucial to let everyone know comments like that ate not OK.

      1. Anon for oversharing*

        It is really hard to do in the moment! Doing the right thing is often really hard. I promise you it’s 1000% harder for the Jewish people in the room to sit there and not only hear something anti-Semitic but also see what looks like tacit agreement from the other non-Jewish people there. You can say exactly what you’ve described as your inner monologue here: “Wait, did you just say [this unacceptable thing]? WTF?” I have also, many times, been in a situation where someone DID come back to something that was said, and the relief was huge.

        As an example: I was in a meeting not long ago where my boss, who is white, was talking about thinking of joining the police force, which are currently recruiting very hard in my city. A lot of people made remarks to the effect of “oh, you’re extremely qualified but you’d never get in because you’re not a member of a minority group, and they’re only making ‘diversity hires’ now.” She was sort of stunned in the moment and the conversation moved on. Then at the end of the meeting she said, “I feel I need to address what got said earlier. Anyone who has achieved a résumé that looks like mine while also facing racism or other forms of discrimination is more impressive than I am and deserves to be hired instead of me. Plenty of people who live with racism WOULD have had a résumé that looks like mine if they didn’t have to spend their energy on surviving racism instead.” I’ve also seen it done with an email sent out to all meeting attendees afterward explaining what the problem was with what was said and asking for an apology from the person responsible.

        It’s definitely uncomfortable to call out racism/anti-Semitism/ableism/etc. when we see it, because our society is built on discriminatory foundation. If you’re a member of a group that’s been given societal privilege, you always have the option of avoiding that discomfort at the expense of your colleagues and fellow citizens who aren’t. But it’s not the right thing to do.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Thank your boss for me… I’m mentally practicing that for future use!

        2. Blueberry*

          I am in delighted awe of your boss and I thank you so so much for this comment.

      2. mlem*

        It is hard! But reading about things like this gives us all the chance to come up with scripts and practice them mentally, which can help a ton. If nothing else, “Hang on, can you say that again?” (Along with a keyword reminder if the conversation has really moved on.) “I must have missed a word or something, and I’ve been trying to figure out what you really said, because the only things my brain can come up with are obviously completely wrong.” And then if they don’t apologize or pretend they said something more acceptable, if they actually lay claim to it or even double down, you can tell them you assumed you’d misheard because what they’re saying is not okay. And then you can let them have it.

        1. Betty*

          Thank you for this suggestion. A lot of the “Not cool, man” type scripts are not in my normal vocabulary so feel weird for me, but I can definitely see myself saying “Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch that. Could you repeat it?” And it’s pretty one size fits all, so I won’t have to think at all. Now I just need to practice!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In a former home, I had a racist neighbor. Unquestionably so, due to frequent comments I will not repeat here. My husband was able to think fast on his feet and let him know it was unwelcome, but I had to practice out loud like for a job interview. (Luckily I also prepared to walk off mid-rant, because that happened. I was never so glad to have a neighbor move.)

        1. kt*

          Yes, practice really helps. “Huh?” “That sounded not cool.” “Not cool!” “What did you say?” “Did you really say that?” “We don’t do that here!”

          It doesn’t have to be perfect or long.

      4. Washi*

        It is hard! I found that I was getting paralyzed by wanting to find the perfect response that was at once firm, indignant, educational, professional, patient, etc.

        I switched my focus to just: say SOMETHING. Anything. “Huh?” = win. I stopped making the goal to convince the other person they are wrong and made it purely just to register my disagreement. It’s a lot easier, and as a result I’ve gotten better at it in general because I actually have practice!

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          This is what I do. I don’t try and be perfect, I just go “c’mon, not cool,” or something.

      5. Batgirl*

        You get better with practice. It happens to me a lot as a teacher because kids just mindlessly repeat what they hear. My favourites are “How do you know I’m not Jewish/gay?” Because it’s always said with the expectation you’re not. The idea I could be gay caused quite the stir! Cured one kid of terrible homophobia tourretes though. Or a wince where you just mildly go “Oh can we not; that’s not suitable joking material. I feel quite strongly about x-ism”. You also need to be prepared for the come backs of “Oh I’m not racist” (Great! Glad you agree, moving on…) and “is that racist?” (Yep, thought you should know) and “Oh it’s just a joke, racism isn’t a thing any more” (Well we clearly still need the dusty old jokes to die. Thanks for understanding)

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not Jewish and I see/hear antisemitic stuff all the time. I call it out because it’s foul and I’m tired of bigots thinking that everyone they peg as “one of them” is thinking the same thing.

      My father gets mistaken for a right wing conservative for being “one of those like minded old white men”. Boy do they get an earful of his hippie wisdom and love of the idea of socialism.

      I didn’t fall far from the tree.

      I’m tired of minimizing bigotry. It’s literally ingrained in society. It’s a blood stain from all those killed due to this unfounded hate on the fabric of our existence.

      1. Oaktree*

        Right, your dad getting flack for being white and male and presumed conservative is exactly analogous to someone hearing a Jew joke for the millionth time. I appreciate that you’re full of hippie wisdom and a socialist or whatever, but it really just minimizes the seriousness of racialized bigotry (of any kind, not just antisemitism) to equate it to someone assuming your white dad has a political orientation he doesn’t.

        1. exhausted pigeon*

          Huh? I didn’t get that from Becky Lynch’s comment at all. Becky said, “I call it out because it’s foul and I’m tired of bigots thinking that everyone they peg as ‘one of them’ is thinking the same thing.” Then elaborated that bigots feel safe to sound off in front of her father due to pegging him as ‘one of them’ due to surface similarities and he quickly corrects them instead of just letting it pass. I saw Becky’s mention of her dad as an example of the behavior she is trying to emulate, not an example of enduring bigotry.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s not what I said.

          He doesn’t get flack for being a white man, he knows that it doesn’t pertain to him when people are rallying against the majority that he’s apart of. We all know that, we’re not dimwits, we get that racism is real. Bigotry is real.

          Again, the point is he gets targeted by white supremacists who think he’s “one of them”. Which is where he immediately shoots them down and says “No, I’m not one of you, I don’t share your ideology of hate.”

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I could write reams in reply to that, or just one name, but I believe politics are off-limits here.

  13. Alternative Person*

    For No5, do a little research and see what schemes the supermarket had. One UK supermarket back in the day would reward staff with a cash bonus, but the customer had to go to the service desk and tell the person there the names of the staff.

  14. Aphrodite*

    OP #5, I’d ask a store manager if you want to tip but my guess is the answer will be no. However, high praise to the manager can make a big difference. A few days ago I bought a freshly made deli sandwich at Gelson’s, a high end small chain of stores in southern California. The woman who made it for me handed it to me with a brilliant smile and said, “It’s made with love.” I thanked her profusely and then promptly hightailed to the manager and told her all about the extraordinary encounter I had. As I headed to the cashier, I could see her walking over toward the deli counter.

    During the holidays I tend to buy large bags of small candies, the individually. wrapped ones and hand them out to all cashiers and other front-line personnel I see everywhere with a big smile and a genuine wish for their holidays to be good. I also make a point of filling out those dreaded surveys now and giving all five points all the time even if the cashier wasn’t having a particularly good day and directed it toward me. I always giving them the benefit of the doubt (since many customers are just nasty to frontline people and why I don’t know) and give them five points anyway. It’s a minimal kindness and we can all certainly use more patience and kindness these days more than ever. That security guard getting shot was extreme but it does play up how awful some things truly are. Just being an individual contributor to kindness and goodness has far greater power than anger. We EACH can make a difference in every encounter in every way.

    1. On a Break*

      I don’t know anyone who would eat food given to them by a total stranger (even if it is individually wrapped).

  15. nerfherder*

    #3 – I’m Jewish and have had a couple of moments in my professional life where people have made these kinds of comments in earshot of me. It’s ALWAYS the “cheap” thing. I think it’s so embedded in people as “truth” that they don’t even process it as cruel.

    So, yes, talk to the employee about it. My experience is that people do apologize. Leaving it unsaid isn’t doing anyone any favors! As hard as it is to have these kinds of conversations with people, if they really aren’t aware that we find this offensive – well, now they know. Or if they’re just straight up jerks, well, now they at least know we’re paying attention and won’t let it slide.

    1. LunaLena*

      “I think it’s so embedded in people as “truth” that they don’t even process it as cruel.”

      Yes, this exactly. I think this is a big problem with jokes that “everyone knows it’s true.” I suspect this is also the reason people don’t see a problem with asking Asians “where are you REALLY from?” or saying “your English is really good!” Everyone KNOWS Asians only come from Asia and speak broken English, right? And that’s also probably why people get so offended when you call them out on it – it’s become such an essential truth to them that it makes them uncomfortable to think that they might’ve been making racist jokes this whole time. It’s much nicer to think that they’re good people who aren’t racist, and the person calling them out is simply too sensitive, doesn’t know how to take a joke/has no sense of humor, or the ultimate coup d’etat: virtue-signalling.

      1. EH*

        Yeah, I had to explain to a coworker once that jokes about Chinese people eating cats/dogs aren’t cool. His initial defense was, “but they DO!” Thankfully he’s a decent dude, just naive, and when I explained how it plays into dirty foreigner stereotypes (and why those are bad), he totally got it.

        It was SO STRESSFUL to call him out, but absolutely worth it.

  16. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    OP5 and others:

    I don’t know if you take delivery to your home as well, but if you use Instacart/Shipt, honor the strikes, tip well and a flat amount not based on a percent of the order (if you tip by percent and items are out of stock this can be a big loss to the person). Make any additions or changes to an order as soon as you think of them if you need to do so during their shopping. Don’t get mad about store item restrictions.

    And especially with hoarding and many people using Costco, please allow them to leave heavy items somewhere they won’t have to carry far if possible, borrow a cart or your kid’s wagon, and/or just please think carefully about how much your food WEIGHS.

    I only do this sometimes but after a few orders I feel like I’ve been beaten with a bat!

    1. Crazy Chicken Lady*

      Oooh thank you for saying that!

      I just placed an instacart order tonight for tomorrow. Of course I ordered a few heavy items (Soy milk from Costco…), so I’ll pull my cart out tomorrow and have them put those in there. They’ll be able to drive close to the house, but they don’t need to walk down to the porch with those items!

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Don’t feel bad! Honestly, milk is not a huge deal. It’s the bulk rice and cat litter and flour and multiple cases of water that are mostly the reason I get so sore.

        Not a fan of those Costco boxes with soy or almond milk though- hard to grip. So I‘m sure it will be appreciated!

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          If I place an order with cat litter it is an automatic extra $5 onto the tip.
          Also not sure if it is the app tracking my tip history or just the app developers helping out the shoppers but the suggested tip amounts have doubled and tripled in the last few weeks.

    2. alienor*

      I’m a lavish tipper anyway, but I’ve noticed my last couple of Instacart orders have included an additional “heavy item charge” because I had cases of water/soda, and I was wondering whether any of that actually goes to the delivery person. (It seems as if it should because they’re the ones carrying the heavy items, but employers are shady.)

    3. Parenthetically*

      Our delivery ordering system (through the grocery) doesn’t allow a flat tip, just a percentage! Argh, I didn’t think about it! Should I tip additionally in cash if out of stock items are going to impact the tip? I always tip generously — I think the last one worked out to be $25 or so.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve only used Instacart a few times, and while the suggested tip is based on a percent of the order, it’s always a flat amount (i.e., my tip is $5, not “5%.”) I’ve never gone back to check, but my flat amount tip doesn’t decrease if my total comes in lower because an item is out of stock, does it?

    5. Sapphire*

      Try to tip Instacart or Shipt delivery people in cash. The app-based services will skim electronic tips, so the employee isn’t actually getting the extra money if it’s tipped in the app.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t see how this is true (at least, for Instacart), because I’ve read of buyers using large tips to entice shoppers during busy times, and then reducing the tip afterward. Which is an awful thing to do.

        1. Silver Radicand*

          I imagine is a skimming of, say, 20% of the tips amount for “app infrastucture” or some such, where a larger still means more money for the driver, but the driver doesn’t get the entire amount.

    6. K*

      Yes, also if you are using Instacart, those workers are not employees of whatever grocery store they are shopping at and will definitely accept tips.

  17. Ewesername*

    #5 – our grocer also has a strict no tip policy. I leave bottled water, extra gloves (if I have them) in a zip lock bag and snacks in a box outside my door my delivery people. I have also made them non medical grade masks. They are welcome to take what they need / want and they seem to appreciate it.

    1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I occasionally deliver to homes, and a box like that is always appreciated! Also as it gets warmer- possibly some packets of individual lemonade/etc. to make water more appetizing in the heat. Most people will still eat packaged/not opened snacks so that’s super appreciated, along with sanitizer or access to a sink.

      I’ve taken a lot of products to people’s garages, and those with water hookups in it usually offer me the chance to wash up without going inside and maybe bringing germs.

  18. Zephyrine*

    LW #1 – my eyebrows disappeared into my hairline as I read your letter. What a strange, sexist thing to do.

    Also, blue eyeshadow? What is this, the 70s?

      1. Parenthetically*

        Photoshopped onto every woman’s picture to a degree that it’s noticeable screams “everything I know about makeup I learned in the 70s” though.

      2. Chili*

        Blue eyeshadow is definitely still a thing and can look very pretty and in-style, but it’s not really considered neutral or a common everyday color the way it was in the 70s. It’s a surprising default, imo.

      3. Ellie*

        Where do you live, how old are you? I literally can’t remember the last time I’ve seen some one with blue eye shadow. It’s mainly browns/beiges now. Weird!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s not where you live. It’s more where you frequent.

          Muted tones are for the day for many people. Bright colorful is for the evening.

        2. Goliath Corp.*

          I think blue eyeshadow has recently completed the fashion loop of being so dreadfully outdated that it’s now cool again. (I saw some in a Glossier ad and had to ask my younger coworker if this was actually in style again, lol)

      4. Batgirl*

        Obviously people still wear blue eyeshadow, but it looked so very strange and blocky.. just BLUE, in the 1970s prequel of Prime Suspect, I said to my mum how weird that every woman had the exact same strong eyeshadow. She said: “They’ve done it accurately. You could only buy blue or green and you put just the one colour one, in one block” There was no base colour, no shading no blending in this particular fashion. It’s the only make up look I can think of that can be mimicked in the way OP describes.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Blue eyeshadow is still very much a thing, LOL

      I promise. I wasn’t even alive in the 70s

      But photoshopped blue eyeshadow does make me think of Drew Carey show overdone AF style.

    2. Julia*

      my eyebrows disappeared into my hairline

      Not a problem, photoshop can fix those for you!

      1. Auntie Social*

        They could photoshop another bosom onto the lady who survived breast cancer but her co-workers were uncomfortable with her post–mastectomy appearance (one side had failed). Blue shadow and boobies!!

  19. duckduckgrocery*

    I used to work in a supermarket. I don’t care if you are nice to me, it just rolls of me, I’m tough. Most workers will prefer you to be nice. Tip if you have that option where you live.

    The best thing you can is VOTE. In America, England, Australia, NZ and Canada there are usually two parties and one is clearly more in favour of workers rights than the other.

    While it is nice you want to be polite and tip and help pack the bags or whatever it really doesn’t make up for things like a lack of legal rights. I’d rather someone be rude to me and have a higher wage and guaranteed hours and sick pay and so on.

    The best thing you can do is be politically active in favour of labor rights. This can be as simple as just voting when it is voting time. Vote for people who care about workers. If you want to go further and do things like go to rallies that’s great too. Social media posting and commenting and media engagement also helps create a discussion around labor rights. A lot of people say social media is pointless but working class people get left out of the conversation so much that if you post about labor rights it helps gets the issue on the agenda.

    You can come to my work and yell at me for all I care so long as you vote for labor rights at the ballot box.

    1. LPUK*

      Why not both? ( my gif game is very bad but you know the one I mean) And its so important to fight for better labor rights – I am in UK and what I see in US at the moment breaks my heart. UK isn’t perfect and I’m certainly worried about the impact trade treaties with UA and China will have on our labor rights in a post-Brexit world, but no one should ever have to make a choice between keeping a family safe and keeping that family fed/housed.

    2. SwitchingGenres*

      This. If you’re nice but you voted for the party that’s anti-union, you’re niceness doesn’t mean much.

      1. UKDancer*

        This so much. Being pleasant is of course good but it doesn’t mean a thing if you consistently vote for parties which cut workers’ rights, undermine access to benefits and refuse to increase the national minimum wage.

        Most people in the supermarket I know would rather have better pay and rations than be praised for their heroism. Otherwise it’s an empty gesture.

      2. New Normal*

        Truth. I’m seeing so many posts from local parents about how hard this teaching thing is and how teachers are superheroes and saints … mostly from the same group that vehemently opposed any sort of tax to literally keep the high school from falling apart. And I have very little faith they’ll change come next voting cycle.

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    For #5 all I’m going to add at this point is whatever you do, continue to do it for the rest of your life.

    We should be kind and thoughtful to all grocery store workers. They’ve had a hard thankless job before Corona and will afterwards. I’ve never worked a retail job in my life but I’ve seen so much nonsense just as a passerby. It’s obscene what they’re going though on the daily and now we’ve got this damn virus. As if they weren’t exposed to enough.

    I am familiar with most of our cashiers at our local store. They’re fantastic humans who deserve better treatment and recognition every time you go through their lines.

    Treat them like people. Understand they don’t have control over TP being out or limits on certain items, etc.

    Thank everyone who provides you a service. Always and forever.

    1. Parenthetically*

      Yes, seriously, this pandemic has revealed WHO exactly it is that keeps our society running. It ain’t billionaires.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It also really exposes how disrespectful and classist our society is :(

        I’ve been in business life for nearly 20 years and I knew labor keeps the place going. Billionaires just reap the rewards on the backs of others.

    2. Observer*

      Also, if you do vent about something, apologize and acknowledge that the person you are speaking to is not the person at fault. Of course, that assumes that venting etc. doesn’t include personal insults or the like. For that you need a flat out apology full stop. Because even if you are talking to the person who is at fault for whatever it is, calling them names, using slurs or anything like that is out of line anyway.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yes. It happens that we slip up and start complaining to the wrong person, the key is catching and correcting yourself.

        Remember these folks are a captive audience and the power dynamics. They can’t tell you point blank “You know, I don’t make the limits. I don’t put in the orders. I just ring this shht up all day! I too wish I could get some frigging TP!”

    3. tangerineRose*

      “We should be kind and thoughtful to all grocery store workers.” “Treat them like people” Yes!!! It makes me so angry that people don’t always do this. (I worked in fast food for a while; many people were nice; some were just jerks.)

      One thing I don’t get, since grocery store workers *are* people, and most if not all of them have no control over the shortages, why are people sometimes jerks to them? Because they can get away with it?

      People can also be real jerks to waiters/waitresses (never mess with someone who can mess with your food) and to people who work at airlines (if you need help getting a flight, don’t be mean to the person who’s trying to help you), so maybe there’s a big logic disconnect here.

  21. Princess Zelda*

    #5: I worked at a grocery store until August, and most of the people I know still work in essential customer service.

    * Don’t be rude. I don’t know why people are so rude to store clerks and I don’t want to, but it’s only gotten worse.
    * If you want to tip, offer *once* — if they decline, let it go! Lots of places will fire their workers for accepting tips. Don’t make it weird.
    * Wear a mask, social distance, and be hygienic. If you can be one less vector making people sick, you’re doing good.
    * It’s maybe more of a minor peccadillo than anything else, but please refrain from calling people “heroes.” They’re not heroes, and they didn’t ask to put their lives and their families on the line. They’re people doing a job, not Batman.

    Most of all though, please make sure to advocate for labor rights! Call your senator, write a letter to your representative, email your governor, donate to Fight for Fifteen. Vote for the labor rights candidate in your elections — not just the President, but all down the ballot, straight to City Council and County Commissioner. The most sure-fire way to enact lasting change is to enact legislation.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      > They’re people doing a job, not Batman.

      Picturing a grim Christian Bale bagging up someone’s groceries gave me the chuckle I needed this morning. Thank you.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I would add that if there is a union appropriate to your job, consider joining it. Even if you don’t get involved much having more members gives them more power for negotiation and makes them a bigger political force. Of course there are sometimes issues with unions so YMMV but historically unions have been a major force in improving rights and working conditions.

    3. Arctic*

      Thank you on the heroes thing! I know people mean well and are mostly powerless on an individual level. But the hero thing makes it seem like they do it for love of helping people. Therefore, they don’t need raises or better benefits or safer conditions. This is their honorable duty not just some job where they want a few extra dollars an hour, right?

      And I know that’s not what human people mean when they say it. But it’s how corporations co-opt it.

    4. ThatGirl*

      “Hero” is a great way to remove societal responsibility. I don’t really like it.

      (Side note: there’s a nursing home near us with a sign out front that says “Heroes live and work here!” and uh…. not only do I have a problem with calling the staff heroes because of the whole removing societal responsibility thing, but the people who live there are just…trying to live. Seniors deserve our care and respect but they’re not doing anything heroic.)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again here – we call them “heroes” because that lets us pretend they made a choice.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        There are veteran specific homes, which is where my mind went. And then it was just more disrespectful to lump the staff in as well if that were the case. Yikes!

        1. ThatGirl*

          There’s no indication that it’s a veteran-specific home, and the sign just went up in the past couple weeks. If that were the case, I might feel a little differently, but as far as I can tell it’s just covid-related.

      3. knead me seymour*

        Yeah, this seems reminiscent of people who say that being a mother is the most important job there is. It strikes me as being disingenuous, as well as patronizing. If society at large truly values a certain type of work, it’s obvious because that work is well-paid and high-status (and usually staffed by wealthy white guys). There’s no amount of heroism lip service that makes up for crappy pay, crappy working conditions and lack of respect for workers.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      A store near me has done something I think is good which is put up a sign saying that the unfortunately can’t accept tips because they’re not accepting cash at the moment (card payments only to minimise contact) but that they are very appreciative of people offering…

      …and just being kind, friendly and considerate to others is enough. Not just in the store but in general too.

  22. Mochafrap512*

    I’m an essential worker in a grocery store. We used to not be able to accept tips but are now allowed to. Honestly though, just thanking us is amazingly heartwarming. It also helps us greatly when people wear masks and stay home. Also want to add in, please respect our desire to stand back (we recently had an employee who got in trouble for that because an unmasked customer complained on a day when we had too many people in the store). Those are my tips for those who want to support grocery store workers.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My mind just screeched like s record. Some stores require masks and to stand back, yet yours is still pandering to these kinds of bogus complaints from the Karens. Ick.

      Our bank makes you drop your stuff at the window and step back 6 feet from the plexiglass even!

      Yikes. I’m sorry your management sucks the biggest suck.

      1. Mochafrap512*

        They just started having employees wear masks last week. The first set of masks that they provided for us they were optional were see through and not actually on the face. The person who reprimanded the employee was a manager with little actual knowledge of the laws and was filling in to help out. My major is in Human Resources (trying to find a job) and all I could think of were alarm bells. This entire experience has taught me so much, what not to do and how to navigate situations. They are still doing promotions to get people in the store, whereas most places are not running ads. It is definitely greed-based.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I presume they were face shields , which are coming in to use to extend the useful life span of a mask. Not intended to be used instead of a mask!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      My kid works retail and has people literally come behind the counter while she’s working. She steps back, they follow, and it ends up as a weird dance. STOP IT, PEOPLE. JUST STOP.

    3. Observer*

      >crying emoji<

      Allison can I dream of the day we get emoji? I'm not a big emoji person, but I don't have words for just how bad this is.

    4. knead me seymour*

      As a general rule, I thank anyone who helps me with something, and have been doing so extra warmly lately in appreciation for the increased stress and difficulty of working under pandemic conditions. I’ve noticed that a number of people seem a bit surprised to be thanked warmly (not in an over-the-top way, just with genuine gratitude), which is depressing, as it seems like the bare minimum to me.

  23. Auntie Social*

    My dad keeps stationery in his car. After every trip to the grocery store, Target or wherever he writes something good about a clerk who helped him, then mails it to the store manager. Writes it in the car right then, won’t leave without doing it. It costs him a few dollars in postage each month but you should see how he’s treated when he goes anywhere—it’s like traveling with Mr. Rogers. Free cookies? A gift card? Hotel upgrade? No problem! He posts reviews online too, but he’s a big believer in holding a letter in your hands. (And if the stores ever open again and someone’s straightening products on the shelf—“So YOU’RE the reason this looks so nice!”)

    1. EPLawyer*

      This is great. Even just a postcard would work. Because if you wait until you get home, you will forget to do it. Do it in the moment and its done.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your dad’s kindness is another level and a goal!

      But seriously kindness is remembered. I am also exceptionally patient. My response to “I’m sorry for the wait. Thank you for your patience.” Is “I’m never in a hurry. I see you working your butt off, I know you’ll get to me!” Everyone always noticeably relaxes and you can see their relief. Which reminds me to stop expecting so darn much.

  24. breamworthy*

    #5 – my husband buys a $25 gift card and then when they go to hand it to him tells them it’s for them. Kind of sucks that they have to spend it there, but they can’t accept cash or anything else that he hands them.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I always see store workers buying lunch or snacks on breaks. So at least their minimal discount and a $25 giftcard could really go a long way! That frees up $25 of their cash to go to something else :)

  25. Mystery Bookworm*

    #2

    Definitely go to the interview, especially if the team you’d be working on isn’t the same team that’s responsible for the website creation. I’m sure this depends on the size of the company, but everywhere I’ve worked the culture of the internal department was a lot more relevant than the culture of the company as a whole. And marketing / PR often tended to be more “peppy” while the operations and finance teams would be more reserved.

  26. Erstwhile Lurker*

    #2 Based on the language used, “Rockstar” etc, i’m assuming that this job is in the tech industry, if not please ignore the rest of this post.

    I also find this type of language a huge turnoff. It calls to mind the images companies promote of young developers running round the office shooting nerf guns at each other and calling themselves rockstars. Its embarrassing, and unfortunately has started to make its way into the UK as well. I have also turned interviews down before due to this type of culture.

    I have no interest in anything other than working with professionals who take the job seriously, yes there is room for camaraderie and banter of course, but no IT professional worth his/her salt is going to be happy to be referred to as a “Rockstar”, its patronising and immature.

    Id say don’t rule it out, but proceed with caution, considering this to be a “yellow card” for the company.

    1. Roscoe*

      So, while I fully think everyone should work in a fit for them, I find the idea that you can’t enjoy nerf fights and other “immature” stuff while also being professional. It seems you have a very narrow view of what professionalism looks like, and frankly it makes you sound a bit arrogant. I’ve been the guy in nerf fights, and snowball fights, and playing ping pong in the office. I also am a kick ass salesperson who crushes my goals. But I guess to you i’m immature and unprofessinal huh?

      1. Erstwhile Lurker*

        Maybe we are just at different stages in life, but there is a certain decorum that i’d expect in an office, I don’t think i’m alone in this as per the letter writers concerns.

        1. Roscoe*

          There is a certian level that you would be happy with. But that doesn’t mean your preferences or expectations are “right”, just that they are preferences. And that is fine. But just like I wouldn’t say you are a stick in the mud for NOT liking certain things, you shouldn’t say people are immature and unprofessional because they do.

          1. Erstwhile Lurker*

            The problem is that if a handful of people want to run around the office with nerf guns, no-one else can concentrate. Professionalism includes showing consideration for people who are trying to work.

            I should also point out that my immature comment was aimed at the calling of developers “Rockstars” which you seem to have agreed with on a post below.

      2. Bark*

        oh, c’mon. There’s nothing arrogant about expecting an office to follow basic professional norms and there is nothing professional about nerf fights.

        1. Roscoe*

          I believe professional norms have changed a lot, and its up to the company to decide what their version of professional is. 20 years ago, when I first started working “business casual” was considered progressive. Now, most jobs I’ve had recently have more or less said “wear what you want unless you will be in front of clients”.

          Even something like drinking in the office is different. In the 50s, an afternoon cocktail was normal, then it went away, now depending on who you ask, alcohol in the office is either a great perk or horribly unprofessional.

          My point is, there isn’t 1 definition of professionalism. There is your opinion, and my opinion, and other people’s opinion.

          1. Bark*

            You’re not going to find many people who include nerf fights in their definition of professionalism…

            1. Roscoe*

              Depends on your age and the type of company you are. My mom would hate it. Some of my friends would hate it, some would love it. I personally like it. We are all “professional” people who have been working and are accomplished in our fields , many with advanced degrees.

              Again, I’m in no way saying you won’t limit yourself in who wants to work there, but that is any culture. If I walked into a very “professional” office where no one seemed to talk to each other and you could hear a pin drop, it may be professional in your opinion, but its not my cup of tea.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                But when does your employer expect you to make up for the time that was lost having a nerf gun fight?

                On average, how many hours a week do you and your teammates spend in the office?

                1. Roscoe*

                  Personally, all of my jobs have had a great work life balance. But again, I’m in sales, which is a lot less “butts in seats” and more “hit your targets”. So maybe for me it wasn’t a big deal since I was exceeding my sales goals. I can’t really speak to other departments. However, I didn’t hear about it being an issue, because it wasn’t constant. I think people think its like this constnat thing. In my experience, people spent about as much time doing that stuff as they did taking walks, grabbing coffee down the street, or chatting at the water cooler. So it really wasn’t any more of a time waste than most office time wasting activites

                2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                  Well that’s good news then. We have a large employer in our area (a tech company) that one of my sons had interned for, that is infamous for hiring people straight out of college, underpaying them, having them work long hours, but there are slides (yes, two slides that both go from the second floor to the first!), ping-pong, fun team events and so on. They do have a reputation in the tech field in our area, but not the one I think they were going after.

              2. Bark*

                You’re misusing the word “professional.” It has nothing to do with how quiet or fun an office is. Its about business-related etiquette. If you want to work in an office full of dude bros who play games that exclude certain classes of people and compromise people’s safety, go for it, but don’t try to claim its professional.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Business related etiquitte is again going to vary from place to place. Some of you just have very rigid definitions of what it means to be professional. I’m just trying to say there isn’t 1 absolute right and wrong way to do things.

              3. Observer*

                The idea that it’s “professional” to essentially require people to be a part of something like a nerf gun battle is nonsensical. It’s the kind of thing that breeds toxicity and / or exclusionary culture. Because you simply CANNOT have a nerf gun battle in an office without affecting EVERYONE who sits there, and often in a bad way.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              … unless a sparkly HR person decides it’s a great team-building activity and her boss decides it has to be compulsory because only a handful of employees actually want to join in

          2. tangerineRose*

            My problem with nerf fights is that if I’m busy working (or walking to the kitchen to get more water or something), I don’t want to be hit by a flying projectile. So if there’s a room that’s only for nerf fights, I’m OK with that, but I can’t work well if I’m concerned that I might be hit at any random time. I know nerf is soft, but still…

      3. Colette*

        Nerf fights sound to me like it’s a young team, who probably doesn’t have much going on outside of the office and thus work ridiculous hours. Which means that, as someone who is no longer 22 and who has responsibilities outside of work, it’s not a good fit for me.

        It also seems unlikely that everyone in the company has downtime at the same time, which means that I might be trying to get something done while people are running around screaming. Having a nerf fight at a company picnic? Sounds fun. In the office? Sounds annoying if not downright hostile.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That’s roughly my take on “fun work environments”, too:
          1) it’s too far on the “mandatory fun” side (not everyone wants to have a nerf gun fight, but tough luck, it’s happening anyway)
          2) it seems that this kind of “work perks” are often being used to put employees in a position where they’d feel bad not staying ridiculously late, or not coming in on weekends – “what would you need to go home for? Food? we have a cafeteria. Drinks with friends? we have a bar and all your friends are here anyway. And look, we even have nerf guns! What kind of antisocial slacker would ever want to leave the office when everything you need is right here?”

          1. Erstwhile Lurker*

            Yes, Its co-opted from the Google model of subtly trying to keep people at work as long as possible.

          2. Creative Nerd*

            There are a lot of perks that work that way that aren’t fun, too. My friend’s much more “traditionally corporate” company has medical professionals, a salon, all sorts of things designed to keep you in the building more, no fun activities, though. As someone who has mostly been in small businesses (with one big exception), it blows me away how many errands she can get done right onsite, often even on very short breaks.

            Also, things that are fun outlets can be fantastic for spurring creativity, so if you are in a creative position, taking a few minutes to have some fun and stop thinking frequently leads to a much faster breakthrough and more productivity. I knew a place that had a Lego room just for that reason, but I prefer a more physically demanding activity to spark me, endorphins are like a jumpstart for my brain or something. Ping-pong is a great tool for that. Being creative for money, on a deadline, is… Really not conducive to being creative. Many tech roles are more creative than they look, too.

            I can’t handle working in the sort of office most people here seem to think is “professional” – but if I was an accountant, I might feel the opposite way about it. Or not.

            I hope we never hit a point where all companies have similar cultures, because then most people would find it much harder to find their own fit. My only measure of “professionalism” is being paid fairly and treated with respect for me and the work I do.

            (For the record, I am a woman on the line between creative and tech roles and I’m personally more comfortable in a bro-ey tech office than a more typical corporate one. But, that does turn off a lot of women in particular (and some men)! Even though I found more misogyny in practice when I worked for a major multinational than in small businesses where I have frequently been the only woman, I absolutely understand why a lot of women cannot stand that culture, and my experiences are personal, not data.)

            If a company is struggling to find people who are productive and content in their culture, it needs a hard look, but that is not only true when the culture includes nerf guns. Overworking your employees exists in every type of environment, IME, and it’s something we need to change in the US as an entire culture, because it is rampant in too many industries, if not all. I have many friends in the most conservative industries (space, defense, finance, etc.) who think of breakfast, lunch, AND dinner as mere brief breaks in the workday. Being paid well and working in a quiet office is not helping their burnout rates.

            Gosh, I would LOVE to work for a company that required band shirts for bio pics, I’d have to choose from bins and bags full of them (granted, all are from the 70s-90s… I am starting to really show my age). That would suggest I could possibly wear my “uniform” of jeans and Ts and not get chastized or mocked for not wearing makeup 99% of the time, and that would make me happier to work there alone.

            If the culture is otherwise toxic, no amount of ping-pong or onsite doctors can make up for it. Some of the best and worst companies to work for have the same perks, so it’s worth noticing if perks are making your glasses a little too rosy to see the red flags.

            1. Observer*

              All of this is true with one exception.

              That is *requiring* band tee shirts. Because that winds up being exclusionary. And is really going to limit your talent pool. There is a difference between “casual dress code that accepts band tee shirts without a blink” and *requires* one. Sure, not everyone is going to love the former, but most adaptable people will manage. The later, on the other hand, goes too far.

              As for the rest, you can accomplish everything you are talking about while still not allowing nerf gun battle in your offices. You want to give people access to more physical type of activities? That’s a great idea, but there are a lot of other ways to do it. Ping pong works, as long as it’s not in the same open office as the rest of the staff who are working. If you have a gum in the same building, that’s another way, or even a few jump ropes, balls and hula hoops in the break room.

              It’s just not tenable to claim that an activity that requires running around and throwing objects are fairly high velocity is or should be considered professional or even acceptable when done in an office where people are supposed to be doing other work. Not because every person needs to be concentrating on their work every second, but because it disturbs people on a schedule that is not theirs and subjects people to flying projectiles for someone else’s enjoyment.

      4. Observer*

        There is no ONE right way to run an office. But things like nerf guns in the office are an objectively problematic issue. You have foosball tables in the break room? Who cares? I don’t have to use them, and your use of them doesn’t really affect me. But people shooting nerf guns in the office most definitely DO affect others, and it’s not just about personal preferences.

        Failure to recognize that difference does not reflect well on the maturity, professionalism and judgement of a person, no matter how well they meet their sales goals.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      If your company culture involves a lot of Nerf fights, ping pong tournaments, and alcohol, that’s fine if you’re happy with that culture, as long as you don’t pretend you’re hiring only the best and don’t want to “lower the bar” to get diversity. Lots of very qualified and amazing people will have zero interest in working in that kind of company culture.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’d feel that they wouldn’t hire me, because as a disabled person I can’t join in with ping pong, nerf fights, etc. Unfortunately my whole career has been in software and I’ve had to learn how to avoid those kind of working environments because I’d probably never fit in.

    3. AJ*

      OP2 here. It is kind of a tech company. It is a mix between tech/engineering and bioscience which is where I fit in. The company is in a tech hub in the not west coast West that thinks of itself as a silicon valley type atmosphere. So I think they think they have to compete with the cool-kid firms recruiting in town. There’s no guarantee I’d be invited for an interview anyway, but it did give me pause about my application!

  27. Jennifer Juniper*

    Be as nice as possible to the grocery store worker. Don’t bother them with unnecessary requests. Be patient with them if there is a delay. Smile at the cashier and ask them how they’re doing. Thank them for their service.

    Most important of all: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and don’t be that jerk who touches everything and puts it back.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Sadly, you sometimes need to touch everything to be able to read the labels! Otherwise, I agree with you.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I always feel really bad about this now. But I have found that with only shopping once a week I have to be very careful about checking expiration dates. It depends on the food of course but it’s annoying to find that I have to scramble to find freezer space for things that I intended to eat fresh or that the bread is going out of date tomorrow instead of lasting all week. But half the time the date is printed somewhere that I can’t see it without picking up the package. I do my best to minimise this. The two stores I go into these days have cleaning stations as you go in the door including hand sanitizer at least, so I feel like I am doing what I can to reduce the risk that I’m spreading germs whenever I pick up a bag of salad.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “the bread is going out of date tomorrow”

          I mean, it doesn’t go bad the day after the date on the package. There’s absolutely nothing dangerous or problematic about eating bread that’s past date.

          1. tangerineRose*

            But what if this bread was supposed to be edible for the next 2 weeks?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        +100 to this! Anyone with food restrictions needs to read the label of a new brand, and right now we are having to substitute brands quite frequently. When stores have every label facing forward and my usual brand isn’t there, I must rotate one can of every brand to see which one(s) I can have in my house. Which of the ones left is the lowest sodium? Which of these does not contain my allergen?
        This isn’t idle curiosity.

        1. Parenthetically*

          For some people it’s just thoughtlessness, though. Obviously if you need to read labels you need to read labels, but there are STILL people out there who think it’s okay to squeeze in behind someone who’s looking at the shelves and then paw through everything.

    2. On a Break*

      What exactly is an unnecessary request? If the CUSTOMER (you know, the one ultimately responsible for the worker having the job) deems the request necessary, then it is necessary (which is not to say the request can’t be denied, just that the customer has the right to make it).

        1. On a Break*

          The idea that workers are employed to help customers is “gross” to you? Interesting.

          1. Observer*

            No. The idea that anything the customers requests is by definition necessary.

      1. Blueberry*

        Oh here we go.

        The bit about the customer being responsible for the employee being employed is very often cited by people who feel entitled to berate and scream at employees. “I PAY YOUR SALARY!” echoes when delivered at high volume.

        Assuming, with difficulty, that this is not the case here:

        An “unnecessary request” is one that is unnecessary. Is it really necessary to make the grocery worker make a separate trip to bring one of each brand from the storage area to you so you can evaluate every brand against every other brand then pick one item so all the others then have to be put back? Is it really necessary to say, “I KNOW you have some in the back you’re just HIDING it from us so go GET IT” when told an item is out of stock? Is it really necessary to stand one foot away from the cashier and scold them for “running away” when they back up?

        For just a few typical examples.

        1. On a Break*

          Yes, customers do ultimately pay the employees salary. Maybe not directly. They certainly don’t sign the paychecks. But without them, why would a grocery store even be open. And there is a myriad of reasons a customer might want to compare items before purchasing. Your other example is just the customer being rude which clearly is not the same as a customer making a legitimate business request. One would have to be willfully obtuse to compare the two.

          1. Blueberry*

            Everything I listed are things I’ve seen customers think they could legitimately request. Since you’ve nitpicked my examples, why don’t you give some examples of your idea of legitimate requests?

            To address the broader question, the customers as a whole support the store as a business. That doesn’t mean that any one customer is entitled to treat a store employee as their own personal servant, which ( since you seem to consider only the customers as valuable) deprives the other customers of assistance.

            Needless to say, you as a customer definitely don’t speak for those of us who are your fellow customers and yet also view store employees as human beings.

          2. Parenthetically*

            “without them, why would a grocery store even be open”

            Listen, unless you think we’re all going to decide collectively one day to go back to subsistence farming, our entire way of life requires grocery stores. There’s no alternate universe in which we all decide to stop grocery shopping, and — this is a radical notion — every grocery store employee is actually providing YOU with a benefit that you cannot do without. This isn’t the feudal system, you’re not a patron of the arts handing out your favors to the underlings you’ve commissioned, you are a customer who is receiving a critical, life-sustaining service from an essential worker. If you stopped grocery shopping tomorrow, you wouldn’t be missed.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Haha, well put! Unless you grow all your own food, you NEED grocery workers, and you can’t just decide you aren’t going to grocery shop because they don’t cater sufficiently to your whims.

            2. Blueberry*

              I just made a note of this, because it’s really the base of why the whole “BUT I PAY YOUR SALARY SO YOU WILL KNEEL TO ME” argument is wrong. Well and truly said.

              1. Parenthetically*

                I mean, it’s unfortunate that in our hyper-capitalist system, both customer and worker exist to create profit for the owners, but it’s at least a small step in the right direction for customers to recognize that they’re pretty expendable to the oligarchy. Middle classes can at the bare minimum stand in solidarity with low-wage workers instead of being shills and apologists for plutocrats.

          3. Observer*

            And there is a myriad of reasons a customer might want to compare items before purchasing

            You just said it yourself – the customer WANTS to compare items, not NEEDS to do so.

            Also, generally speaking there are ways to compare items without making the someone get one of each kind the store stocks from the stock room.

            Under normal circumstances, it’s ok to ask store staff to do something not strictly necessary for your convenience, as long as you’re not wildly out of line and you act reasonably and politely about it. Under current circumstances? No. No. You only ask for the things you NEED in order to be able to get in, get what you need, and get out.

      2. New Normal*

        I’m going to make a wild assumption that you’ve never worked retail because those of us who have each have our own multi-volume collection of unnecessary requests. Just a few that come to my mind:
        – that I model every piece of jewelry in the store and ignore two other customers and a ringing phone to do so.

        – keep back limited edition merchandise (not allowed) for long past our hold period (also not allowed)

        – give them a discount “because I (the customer) was so nice.” They weren’t and proved it when I politely said I couldn’t.

        – want me to be their personal shopper and spend 30+ minutes trailing behind them holding their shopping basket. Or, worse, running all over the store during holidays while they sit, bringing back multiples of each item for them to decide between.

        – bring out the tall ladder during a very crowded time because they’re sure that one item up in the waterline is so much better than the ones down where they can reach.

        – watch their children while they check out.

        – watch their children while they shop.

        – watch their children while they shop in a different store.

        – that I get a manager to bring out an item from the back because the ones on the floor have all been touched by (racial slurs).

        And those are just off the top of my head!

      3. JustaTech*

        Reasonable request: I’d like a 3 pound chuck roast, please.
        Unreasonable request: I want 3.8 pounds of chicken breasts, not one ounce more, not one ounce less. (This request is pretty much impossible, given that chicken breasts are whole items, rather than something that can be sliced like deli ham.)

        Also, there is a fallacy in your argument: the worker is not employed to meet the needs of *one* customer, they are employed to meet the needs of the customers as a group. The customer who monopolized an employee for 20 minutes looking over every single roast chicken to find the “perfect” one (seen it) is not as valuable to the store as the 15 customers who just want to grab a chicken and go.

        At a time when close physical interaction is unsafe, making requests/demands of employees that require them to stand right next to you is unreasonable and unnecesary.

  28. Corryne*

    #5 A huge help is to be sure to speak a little louder and enunciate clearly. Because you are (of course) wearing a mask and standing back, you need to adjust your voice accordingly. I have had to ask people to repeat themselves 5 or 6 times during a transaction, and that is just frustrating for everyone involved.

  29. Betty*

    #1 This kind of thing makes so little sense to me. If they want women to be made up, they could hire a makeup artist on shoot day, I guess. But then to my mind that would only make sense if they hired one every day because a major point of headshots is for you to be identifiable. Honestly, as a customer/client I’d spot the weird Photoshop from a mile off (especially as it’s all the same makeup), feel sorry for the employees, and think the company was hella weird.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m aghast and gobsmacked by sexist BS like that (and enraged, really; like, I hate that we live in a society where standards like these are applied to people based on their (perceived) gender, and I very much want to hit someone whenever I encounter this crap) but also, it sounds like they basically shopped somewhat milder clown faces onto these women, which is a befuddling extra layer of WTF.

    2. Jennifer Juniper*

      Makeup can set off allergic reactions in certain people. Some religious sects also forbid women to wear it. Hiring a makeup artist on the day of the photo shoot could get the company in boiling water on multiple fronts.

      1. Betty*

        LOL, as if a company that requested photoshopped clown makeup would be considerate enough to think that through!

  30. Bad Website*

    LW2: Listen to your heart. The company’s website–its public “face”–shows bad judgment, and you’d better believe that’s a company-wide problem. It’s not just HR or whoever they’re letting do web design.

    Having a bad website in 2020 is a deliberate decision by a company to look dumb online. If hired, you would be the next victim looking like a fool in a Poison t-shirt.

    I once interviewed at a company with a cringey website, figured, “It’s just the web designer,” got taken in by the interview, ignored the red flag when they announced during the interview that they were “family,” and discovered over the next few months that the organization, like its website, was poorly-organized, unprofessional, and an overall waste of time. Don’t be like me.

    1. Roscoe*

      It amazes me that you find wearing a rock band’s t-shirt to be “looking like a fool” . Are you being judmental about liking rock music, or about owning a shirt, or what exactly is foolish about this?

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah I’m kind of surprised at the overall reaction to this–I 100% get feeling like it is not an environment you personally would want to work in, but asking if this is a “red flag” and saying it’s “bad judgment” because they coordinated photos on their website seems like a weird reaction without a lot of other context.

        It sounds cute to me *shrug emoji*

        1. Bad Website*

          OP described it as “cringey” and thinks it’s weird, so I’m taking their word for it. There’s certainly not enough information in the letter to assume OP’s having a “weird reaction” to something “cute.”

      2. Parenthetically*

        My thoughts exactly. Huge shrug. It’s not my cup of tea but also: people are allowed to like things.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          At least they’re not wearing Pew de Pie shirts or something else offensive.

      3. Mockingjay*

        I’m a middle aged woman, edging toward senior. I would absolutely look like a fool in a rock band t-shirt.

        I love my company, but I look like a dork in the corporate polo they supply. Just not my style. Doesn’t mean that I don’t rock out – I listen to indie and progressive rock, as well as my beloved hard rock 70s stuff.

        1. pancakes*

          There’s no need to be ageist. Debbie Harry is 74, Iggy Pop is 73, neither of them look like fools in band t-shirts.

      4. Traffic_Spiral*

        The bit where the office is awkwardly trying to be “fun” and “hip.” I don’t want an office that makes me do dumb stuff to try and prove that they’re “fun,” I want everyone to do their jobs, be courteous, and pay me on time. I can have fun on my own.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          My last job actually had us all twerk for a team-building exercise. Even worse, it was a well-known credit card company.

          G-R-O-S-S!!!

        2. Roscoe*

          I didn’t know wearing a band t-shirt was awkwardly trying to be fun and hip. Its just a t-shirt. Heaven forbid everything isn’t just stoic and serious at all times, and you let people show a bit of personality

          1. JustaTech*

            I would say that some people just aren’t T-shirt people. I’ve had friends and coworkers of all ages who, by preference, would wear a collared shirt because it’s what they liked.

            I think wearing T-shirts for your official company pictures becomes awkward when people aren’t comfortable in them. T-shirts don’t flatter every body, and some people just aren’t comfortable in them, just like some people aren’t comfortable in a button-front shirt. If you’re not comfortable it tends to show, and then it does look awkward.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            No it’s not just a T-shirt if you’re made to wear it. I don’t like advertising my taste in music or the nature of my volunteer work, or the fact that I’m veggie, or that I’d vote for Bernie if I were in the US to anyone but like-minded people, so that’d be a big no-no. They’d have to swamp my face in make-up to make sure I’m not recognisable!

        3. tangerineRose*

          “I don’t want an office that makes me do dumb stuff to try and prove that they’re “fun,” This!

  31. terese hale*

    The grocery store where I get my orders filled does not allow the workers to accept tips, but I was thinking yesterday about how hard they work. They are always cheerful and willing, and I appreciate that. I’m a retired baker, and I’d like to make cookie/brownie trays to drop off along with a thank you note for them. I’m going to check with the store to see if this would be acceptable before I do it. And of course, I’d include a note indicating whether or not any possible allergy-aggravating ingredients were used in making the goodies. Another option would be to cater a nice lunch for them.

    1. remizidae*

      A lot of people would not eat food prepared by a stranger (even catered) in the circumstances.

      1. Bark*

        I’ve been hearing a lot of news stories about restaurants sending meals to essential workers. There seems to be a general consensus among the experts that food borne transmission of the virus is highly unlikely. The only risk is the food containers which just need to be wiped down. There are some people who are taking extra precautions and wouldn’t eat it, but I’m sure plenty of employees would eat and appreciate the food.

  32. J.B.*

    Another thing about grocery stores – if you have options where to shop, consider the one that pays best for the area. Even though I know it costs me a little more, I prefer knowing workers are paid more. They are working really hard! I always see a bunch of people restocking at my hour before closing shopping time.

    1. J.B.*

      The other thing I meant to say – this store has also empowered employees to correct customers who are going the wrong way down the one way aisles.

    2. Lizzo*

      +1 to this. Some grocery stores near me are treating the workers well and taking precautions to keep them safe, and are also taking precautions for customer safety (limit to #/people in the store, for example). Patronize the businesses that are making good choices right now.

  33. Alisu*

    For #5

    Apart from the more practical suggestions, filling positive surveys and such, make the workers feel you appreciate them. Thank them as is always polite and even if tips might be out of question, a greeting card might not be. Can even try your hand at crafting. Or drawing. No heartfelt picture is poor one. And if they can’t accept to receive anything from you for touch reasons make it one they can read and savour by looking.

  34. Bookworm*

    #5: I didn’t work in this capacity but as in an in-store, retail person: fill out those satisfaction surveys if you get them. If you don’t (or there’s no option for feedback)–write to the company and give your delivery people a shout out.

    People are far more likely to complain so management is more likely to notice if you compliment your delivery person (or people). It can go a long way for them, from making their day a little brighter to having management keep them in mind for advancement. (YMMV, not all companies are like this but it’s my understanding this is common).

    Also: DEMAND they “allow” tipping. It’s absurd that their delivery people aren’t allowed to accept tips, ESPECIALLY as many companies do all they can to deny paying a living wage to these employees. But don’t push it on the employees if they say they can’t accept it. Is it your “job” to pay these employees more? No, but it’s a way to show gratitude as you’re trying to do so it’s silly they’re “not allowed.”

    Good luck! Thank you for thinking about this and I hope you stay safe!

  35. LGC*

    I’ll try to be as nice as possible to you, LW3, but…I’m sorry that you got a crash course in the fact that black people are people and we can be just as flawed as anyone else. (I’ll just say that I am not shocked by the fact that he said something – to use the term of art my mom would use – ignorant.)

    But yes, you need to address this as soon as possible – and, to be honest, as another black guy who is also prone to bad jokes (although I’m not going to crack off about Jews being manipulative with money, especially in a work meeting), you want to address his joking around in general. It’s one of the most painful lessons I’ve had to learn, but there is a time and place for humor and it’s not “every place, every time.” It’s not that he needs to stop making jokes entirely – it sounds like that’s part of him. But it does mean that he needs to stop and think and read the room a lot more carefully in general, because he’s probably stepped over the line other times outside of this.

    (And it’s something I’ve actually had to employ in the comments section here. I’m a lot more earnest in the AAM comments than I am elsewhere on the internet.)

    Just to be clear, I can’t believe I have to say this, but…you’re not David Duke just because you were shocked that a minority said a bigoted thing and it didn’t compute. It does reflect a lapse in management, though. Don’t beat yourself up over not doing anything sooner, but if there’s a next time (hopefully there’s not) address it sooner!

    1. lazy intellectual*

      A lot of white liberals oversimplify the “white people vs POC” dynamic. I understand the intentions are good, but they sometimes end up sounding patronizing/infantilizing to minorities and I find myself getting annoyed. Basically, it gets into a modern-day “white savior noble savage” dynamic. The OP sounds a lot like one of those people.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. The whole “black people can’t be racist” thing was meant to make a point about how there’s a difference between institutional racism, and racism by a group in power against a group without power, and also that the whole “reverse racism” thing was dumb, but it badly veered into confusing territory and now no one knows what they’re talking about.

      For the record, being a minority in no way makes someone above prejudice, as everyone has their own sets of privileges and prejudices. You can be a racist gay person, a transphobic lesbian, an Islamaphobic Jew, an able-ist Hispanic, a classist transperson, a homophobic Asian, a fat-shaming asexual POC, or a poor disabled native american who also happens to be sexist. The varieties are infinite!

      Now, how much power a person has to make their prejudices someone else’s problem? That’s a totally different story, but yeah… never be surprised to find prejudice – anywhere.

      1. LGC*

        Yeah, I think that’s the issue – being “racist” has multiple meanings, and we use “racist” to mean “bigoted” or “prejudiced” a lot.

        Also, to be really charitable to LW3 (because I’ve made this mistake in the past myself), I think a lot of times we want to think allyship is intersectional, and…it can be genuinely shocking when you find out that’s not the case! It’s a huge adjustment to your mental picture of that person, and a painful one.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          The problem is that “bigoted” or “prejudiced” are umbrella words that include everything, and the idea of trying to make a point by insisting people say “prejudiced against other races” instead of “racist” when distinguishing between how much privilege the person in question has was a semantic circle-jerk that was doomed to failure.

      2. Amy Sly*

        “Be generous, Sir Samuel. Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards.” — Terry Pratchett, Jingo.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      One of the most facepalm-inducing things I recall seeing on the internet:

      Commenter A: *long sexist ramble*
      Commenter B: Wow, that’s really sexist.
      Commenter A: I can’t be sexist, I’m a black man.
      Commenter B, myself, and several others: That’s… not how it works.

    4. Blueberry*

      I was going to write this comment but your version is better than mine would have been, so I’ll simply heartily cosign.

    5. HannahS*

      Yeah, hearty co-sign. Talk the the guy, use Alison’s script. It’s hard to call things out in the moment, because these conversations tend to happen fast and then move on, but you have to circle back to them, and let everyone else know. The second part of that is really important, too. As a Jew, if I’m your employee, now I’m wondering how many stereotypes about me you endorse–unless I know that you spoke to the employee and you explicitly tell me that you know that what he said was antisemitic, how can I trust that you’ll treat me fairly? I wouldn’t be comfortable asking you for a raise, or time off at the High Holidays. I’d be worried that you’ll see any desire of mine for advancement or time off to be greedy and that your baseline impression of me is that I’m looking to cheat you.

    6. Matana*

      That in particular seemed unbelievable to me. A couple of anti-Semitic mass shootings and an attack on a Chanuka party earlier this year were ALL motivated by Black Separatism (which the SPLC recognizes as a hate ideology). There was a week in December with an anti-Semitic assault in Brooklyn every. single. day. and most of the perps were Black, presumably also due to Black Separatism? or possibly because Jews are being used as the scapegoats for gentrification. Even if you don’t live in the NY area, you’d have to be living under a rock to miss the Jersey City shooting. Black people can be anti-Semitic, Jews can be racist, women can be ableist, disabled people can be sexist.

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

    But…. What if you like classical music? The nearest to a band t-shirt is the Berlin Philharmonie fussball shirts, and I wouldn’t wore that for a pic (since yellow could be mistaken with political inclination). Also, being a minority in my field I’d feel uneasy knowing my face and my name are out there.

    1. Arctic*

      The practice is dumb but I own a Mozart and a Beethoven shirt picked up through the years. Other composers have shirts. I know it’s not the same as a “band” but I’m sure that would count for them.

      Having your name and bio on a website is pretty normal in some industries in the US where I assume this letter is.

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

      I had in mind Pagalingling and #LingLing40hs shirts, but I’m afraid people won’t get the inside joke and be acused of racism instead…

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I’ve been wondering what they would think if someone showed up for their photo in a Weird Al Yankovic shirt, with an aloha shirt as an overshirt of course. Which is absolutely what I’d do.

    4. Chili*

      Yeah, I agree. Based on past bad experiences, I don’t like having identifiable information about myself and where I work and what I look like floating around online. People (mostly men) also tend to make fun of/ judge me for my taste in music, so I wouldn’t really want to wear my favorite band tee for a work thing either. I don’t think it’s wrong that these people seem to enjoy this culture, I would just be worried that even if I liked the work, I wouldn’t fit in.

  37. Mel_05*

    #5 I found the contact information for my grocery store and wrote management to let them know how great their employees are, how much I appreciate everything they’ve doing to protect employees and customers, and that I hope they are giving their employees bonuses for working in these conditions.

    I also started shopping more at another local grocery once I heard that they were increasing wages during all this. I had planned on avoiding them because they’re more expensive, but I can afford to pay a little more at a store that treats people well.

    1. Kaitlyn*

      That’s awesome. I’m splitting my shopping dollars between the locally owned boutique grocery stores when I need a treat, and the big-chain stores that are doing hazard pay for their employees. In my town of 32,000 people, there are two independently owned stores, four national chains, and one international chain: lots of options! I know the trade-off is often bigger = cheaper, but I try to shop my values where I can; cheaper usually (but not universally) means abuses somewhere on the supply chain.

  38. Upstater-ish*

    I’m a FE manager in a smallish Co-op. We do an unofficial curb side pickup.
    Be thankful.
    Go on the stores social media and thank them especially if you know the name.
    Defend them on social media when a person complains about being made to follow new rules. Even better if you see someone give them a hard time say something then.
    Don’t just tell me how wonderful the cashiers are (I already know) tell my store manager.
    If you can donate masks, especially in small stores, washing them every night is a pain so having multiples is great.
    Don’t forget them when this is over.
    We love our customers and hate what the plexiglass, masks and rules are doing to customer service.

  39. It's Anon, Isn't It?*

    OP3, definitely say something.

    As someone who’s currently trapped on a team that makes Anti-Asian jokes/comments and fake Chinese accents all day, trust me that your coworkers (the decent ones) are mentally noting your response to stuff like this. (Bonus points for my team saying they take racism seriously lmao)

    Also, as a black nb with a dad who would make a joke like that, it happens more often than you think. Like that person said up thread, black folx aren’t a monolith and can be terrible lol

    1. lazy intellectual*

      A lot of Black Americans in my area are very anti-immigrant. I’ve been yelled at by a few to “go back to my country”. I’ve seen the same thing happen to Hispanics. I think it’s a sentiment exacerbated by gentrification – they see us as taking resources away from them. Also, many are very religious Christians and despise other religions.

      1. Blueberry*

        As someone who’s both a Black person in the US and an immigrant, it has horrified me when some other Black people have expected me to agree with their anti-immigrant sentiments. I’ve tried to point out the rich man’s cookies example*, with varying success.

        *: the little story where there 3 people, a rich man, a Black man, and an immigrant, and there are 12 cookies in front of them. The rich man takes 11 of them, and then turns to the Black man, points to the immigrant, and says, “he’s trying to steal your cookie.”

        1. lazy intellectual*

          That’s a good metaphor. The U.S. elite has succeeded in convincing Americans to blame each other for our problems.

      2. Matana*

        My neighborhood is more or less split between Black people and chasidic Jews (I’m the latter). The number and frequency of anti-Semitic attacks (not graffiti or street harassment, tho I’ve had things shouted at me) just since I moved here is a little scary.

  40. Jennifer*

    OP3 I understand why you were uncomfortable. Cultural sensitivity is a good thing. It seems a lot of people aren’t aware of this but there is a lot of discrimination among minority groups, not just from white people, and it also exists within minority groups. I have noticed some white people are reluctant to call out poor behavior on the behalf of a minority, whether it’s sexism or anti-semitism, but recognize when you do that it’s likely you’re harming another marginalized group with your silence.

    Since you recognize that this is a bit of a blind spot for you, it may do you some good to do some research about the topic. It might help you be an even more effective manager.

    1. Amy Sly*

      “Be generous, Sir Samuel. Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards.” — Terry Pratchett, Jingo.

    2. Jennifer Juniper*

      My biracial (half black and half white) wife feels no loyalty to either race. She has experienced racism from both.

      She told me she experiences more racism from black people than white people.

      One time, she tried to join an African-American women’s book club. Her parents, who both identify as black, were standing right by her. The book club’s organizer sneered at my wife, “Are you aware this book club is for African-Americans only?” (My wife is very fair-skinned with stereotypical Caucasian features, but still cannot pass for white.)

      My wife’s parents said “We’re her parents! We’re black!”

      The organizer still wouldn’t let her in.

      1. Blueberry*

        I am really sorry that the organizer of the book club was horrible and, yes, racist towards your wife.

        I thought about writing a broader essay about intra-group and inter-group racism, and the risks of racism and other malfeasance by Black people being used to justify racism against us by wider society, but I think I won’t for now. But I felt I ought to tell you that at least I am sorry fellow Black people have maltreated your wife for being mixed race.

      2. Harvey JobGetter*

        Maybe more racism of the kind that is easily seen, but on a daily basis she is likely being constantly disadvantaged as compared to white people because she is black.

      3. thebobmaster*

        That makes me think of the scene/episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where a fraternity allows Will to join, but rejects Carlton because the fraternity leader doesn’t think Carlton is “black enough”. Carlton finds out, with the leader calling him a “sell-out” and his reaction is glorious. One line that stands out: “I’m running the same race and jumping the same hurdles you are, so why are you tripping me up?”

  41. Roscoe*

    #2 First, I want to say work wherever you like. If you don’t like a company, don’t work there. That said, this seems super minor of a thing to get up in arms about. I’m definitely on of the people who gets annoyed by titles like “rockstar”, “wizard”, “ninja” etc. However, I don’t think that defines a company. And having a band shirt just seems like such a low stakes thing to be upset about. Frankly, most staff pages are pretty boring, so I give anyone who tries to jazz it up a bit a little bit of credit for creativity. Again, you may go in and hate it, and that is your right. But it just seems odd for those things to make you want to pull your application.

    1. Jennifer*

      It’s true that the company could end up being a great fit and it’s worth it to at least to to the interview and see for yourself, but I don’t think it’s out of line to make an initial judgment on a company based on its website either. This is the image they are are choosing to put out into the world. It’s possible it’s just a fluke, or maybe it’s an accurate representation of who they are as a company. I do agree it would be overreaching to pull the application over this.

      1. Roscoe*

        I think if the company had like a bunch of typos and just was badly put together, that is a fair judgment of the company more so that how they have decided to portray their staff page.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m completely with you. I don’t own any band shirts. I don’t really have a favorite band. But if I like the people and the job sounds interesting and the pay is good, I can fake it for one picture. Also, I think it’s kind of amusingly cheeky that the company “rockstars” are in favorite band t-shirts.

    3. Elsajeni*

      To me, what would bug me about this is less the specific details of “rockstar” and “band T-shirt” and more the consistency of those details — really, everyone at this company had a favorite band T-shirt that was suitable to wear on photo day? Maybe it’s a small company and it just happened to be the case that everyone did, or maybe the OP is exaggerating a little and it’s not actually every employee, or– who knows, but my impression would be that this is a company that doesn’t just have a fun, casual culture, it’s a company that is pushing real hard to present a fun, casual image, down to managing what T-shirts everyone is allowed to wear in their fun, casual photos.

      1. AJ*

        OP2 here.
        Elsajeni said “this is a company that doesn’t just have a fun, casual culture, it’s a company that is pushing real hard to present a fun, casual image, down to managing what T-shirts everyone is allowed to wear in their fun, casual photos.”
        This exactly! I like lots of kinds of music, and would be fine with discussing it with coworkers and great for you if music is your passion. It seems like a pretty small company, so as far as I can tell the 20 or so people pictured were it and had a wide variety of titles. I’m looking for a fairly casual company, its just that having this front and center on their website seemed weird to me. Wear your t-shirt, love the music you love, but maybe talk about some other important stuff on your company website?

  42. A like Astonished*

    I gave out face shields (not medical grade) to the family of three that runs the local produce store. We’re also relying more heavily on deliveries, so I set up a hand washing station (just like camp!) with soap outside our front gate.

  43. Amethystmoon*

    #1 — There are people for whom it is against their religious beliefs to wear makeup, and also some have allergies to it. Not to mention, makeup can be spendy and it just may be out of someone’s budget. Seems to me if the person isn’t in a public-facing role, it should not be required and certainly should not be Photoshopped in.

    #5 — I guess that depends on your situation. I work for a grocery store company but at the office level — hence technically an essential worker, even if I only go in a couple of times a week. Throughout this, I’ve been supporting our stores, even if that means grabbing a slot online and picking up my stuff curbside. Also there’s a lady in my apartment building who works at the store level for a competitor. She can’t do her work from home. I crocheted her a scarf so at least she had something. For the crocheted masks, they want you to have a fabric lining but I don’t do regular sewing, so I don’t have a bunch of spare fabric laying around.

  44. pod person*

    #1 literally happened to me. We got headshots from someone’s friend — intended to be professional staff headshots for our website — and they added makeup, NEW TEETH, WHITER SKIN and a NOSE JOB. They promised to send the original files but never did. I looked like a robot. My mother said she didn’t recognize me. My boss said he couldn’t see what I was talking about. It was horrifying.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      If they did that to any people of color, that opens them up to charges of racism. OOPS!

  45. WantonSeedStitch*

    I’ve been getting groceries delivered through InstaCart since lockdown started, partly because I don’t drive, my husband (who does drive) isn’t home, and I can’t really carry enough groceries home on foot to last me through an entire week. I’ve been giving five-star reviews to every shopper. I have been tipping 20% every time without fail, and I always send a “thank you” message to the shopper. When I heard about the May Day strike, I timed my shopping so it wouldn’t interfere with the strike, and made sure I alerted my social network to the fact that it was going on so they could avoid crossing virtual picket lines too. Longer-term, I give my vote to politicians who protect and value unions and the rights of workers in general, and who advocate for an increase in the minimum wage and protections for gig workers.

  46. Hiring Mgr*

    What is the logic behind grocery stores prohibiting tips, especially to the point of termination as some have said?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Many grocery stores are union shops where tips are not allowed. Other grocery stores do not allow it because not every person would be eligible for tips–i.e., the cashiers and those who assist with taking orders to cars would be receiving 98% of the tips, while the stock clerks, the meat cutters, the bakery workers, etc., would be receiving none. (I’m sure there are people who would say they’d happily tip all of those workers, but realistically, the last clerk someone sees would be getting the bulk of the tips.) Having everyone pool and redistribute tips would be a logistical nightmare for a place that isn’t set up for it. Allowing only certain people to accept tips would be a recipe for a job lot of frustration.

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        In addition to this is that tips are technically taxable income, and establishments that normally accept tips (restaurants, cafes, hair salons and spas, etc.) usually already have some kind of system in place where they account for that. Places that do not can be very strict about not allowing tips, because I believe the taxation hammer will fall on them.

  47. The Rafters*

    #5 – How sweet of you to think of Grocery workers. There is at least one museum giving free admission to doctors and nurses when they can reopen and are accepting donations so they can thank even more. Is there a group near you doing something similar for store employees?

  48. Lauren*

    I want to respond to LW #2. I think you’re right and Alison is also right. You can tell a lot about a company’s culture from their website, but you can never gather every bit of information necessary to make a decision. When I first began my career, I got a day-long interview with a company, but I really did not like the culture as seen on their website. I had been interviewing with a lot of younger, easier going tech companies, which I loved, but this company immediately read as stiff and buttoned up, the way a finance company would be. But I went into the interview anyway, trying very hard to have an open mind. It was a daylong interview talking to many groups of people, which was fine. They said they would give me lunch. I thought, wonderful, they’ll give me some nice food and I’ll meet other team members. By lunch time, it was abundantly clear that they meant, “we feel obligated to feed you because they interview is so long, not because it would be a nice thing.” The other coworkers sat at one small table with no additional seats eating delicious sushi that they bought themselves. I was provided a bland roast beef sandwich from a cheap deli and was not given any other options, either to bring my own food or to choose where to get lunch from. I had no one to sit with, but the HR lady sort of hung around me, looking guilty that I had no one to sit with. I was a 22 year old recent college grad and everything about this screamed high school. Also, my interview room had a door next to the ping pong table and during many of the interviews, two people would play ping pong and the ball kept hitting the door right behind me over and over and over again. No apologies. No, “oh, let’s move the ping pong table.” Just a ball hitting the door a lot. None of these things are truly egregious faults, but it is to say that a company’s website might or might not reflect its culture and you’ll know whether or not it is for you when you get there, but you have to be there in order to figure this out. Also, every person is different. I kind of liked the cheesy band culture you described and you might like the stiff tech company culture from my story. And that’s because every person is different and that’s ok. But go to the interview and then you’ll know for sure. Lastly, make a list of top priorities in a job for you that don’t have to do with a company’s outward appearance or culture. Do you get along better with certain types of bosses than others? Would you prefer a band t-shirt company if the commute is short and the other alternative is a more formal company with a long commute to the office? These are all important things to think about and every human being is different. Good luck!

  49. Lawyer*

    When lockdown first started, a teenage bagger at my local store was telling me that after his shift ended, he was going to run errands for high-risk people with a local nonprofit. I posted about it on Twitter, tagging the chain’s main account, and they let me know that they’d be contacting him and giving him a cash bonus as part of a program to recognize employees who give back to the community.

  50. Suda Nim*

    For store workers, I buy a gift card (usually $20), and give it to them after I’ve checked out.

  51. nora*

    #1 – I don’t wear makeup for philosophical and health reasons, and was definitely makeup-ed on my last professional headshot. Not to the extent of blue eye shadow (!), but the photographer bronzed up my skin tone, added blush, lip color, and added some “shine” and definition (gives the illusion of eyeliner and mascara) to my eyes.

    I’m responsible for maintaining the website and locations these photos are housed, so mine just isn’t updated with the new one. When asked why, I pointed out that it was because the photographer hired had altered my appearance in a way I did not appreciate, but that I was not upset by using a slightly older headshot until we get new ones done. No one fought me on it – I would have been more assertive with how sexist I thought it actually was if I had been pressed.

  52. MicroManagered*

    OP5 I’ve been telling grocery store workers “Thank you for being here for me!” and asking, if there is an opportunity “Is everyone being nice to you?” Almost every time I ask, they seem to get a kick out of sharing a horror story about someone freaking out about paper towels or whatever.

  53. Gorgonopsid*

    #2 I almost didn’t apply for the job I’ve now been at for over two years because the job posting listed “nerf fights” and “game nights” as benefits, but I was desperate. It turned out that my boss, who wrote the ad, really likes game nights and nerf fights but the overall company culture is professional, good work-life balance, good benefits. And I knew as soon as the first interview that I’d really like working with my boss, despite his penchant for bro-company activities, and I do (he’s never pressured me to participate in these activities or made me feel like I’d be at a professional disadvantage for opting out).

    There have also only been about 3 nerf gun fights in the time I’ve been working there, all pretty low-key and after 5pm when the office is emptier. I did get shot in the back of the head once but I turned around and gave the guy a Death Glare and it’s never happened again. That might bother some people still but I found I was okay with it. And the game nights turned out to be pretty fun and totally optional. So I’d say go forward with a little bit of caution and pay attention to the vibes you get in the interview process and from the other employees. Sometimes dumb stuff on the website or in the job posting is a red flag, sometimes it’s one or two people who think that their ideas are a lot cooler than other people think they are and nobody has the heart to tell them no.

  54. Paralegal Part Deux*

    LW 5, it’s so kind of you to remember the grocery workers. I will say that, as soon as grocery delivery was available in my area, I quit shopping in the store and haven’t been in one (except when this mess very first started) in well over a year. I’ve doubled my tipping, however, as a thank you to the delivery people for being willing to go into a grocery store these days. Before my cat passed away, I ordered a lot of cat food/cat litter from Amazon in case stuff became hard to find, and I heavily tipped my mail carrier since the packages were often very heavy. I told her I appreciated her hard work more than she’d ever know. I also made sure to tip my UPS and FedEx delivery people as well. I try to remember everyone that comes to my home to deliver anything. They’re working very hard to make sure everything runs smoothly, and I appreciate them more than they’ll ever know.

  55. Jedi Squirrel*

    I would love to work for the company in #2! I’d rock it out in my Ramones t-shirt, singing “Rock and Roll High School” under my breathe the entire time.

  56. Bananers*

    OP3, please please PLEASE take Allison’s advice, immediately. Anti-semitism is so often not taken seriously, which just allows it to fester and escalate. I totally get being too taken aback in the moment to say something then and there, but you’ve GOT to address it now.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      I’d go further and have a come-to-Jesus talk, namely, “If you say anything like that ever again, you’re gone.” Then I’d have documentation to that effect and have the offender sign it with today’s date.

  57. Angelinha*

    Does the advice change if OP#4’s 13-year job was also retail? That’s how I read it (“Because it was retail”). The answer says to leave the job off the resume because it’s outside her line of work, but a short-term retail gig after a long-term retail gig seems okay to me. Not disastrous if you leave it off, but fine to include.

    1. LGC*

      Wouldn’t it depend on the type of retail, though? There’s a difference between Neiman Marcus (or even Macy’s), Sephora, a local independent shop, and Walmart. If it’s more specialized – like, OP4 worked at a sporting goods store and got laid off – then it might work better to leave it off.

  58. State Moose*

    #5: At the very least, be polite and verbalize appreciation for the work they’re doing. Stress runs high the longer we go into this new normal, and unfortunately, cashiers are taking a lot of verbal abuse. There has been so much public outpouring of support for Nurses (like myself) and Doctors, but there are so many other people working despite the risks to themselves and their families to provide essential services, and not receiving that same level of appreciation.

  59. What’s with Today, today?*

    My BFF is an assistant manager at a large grocery store chain. She has worked at the store since we were 16 and has had practically every position in the store before being promoted to asst. manager last year. She wants people to remember this the next time the $15 per hour debate comes up for grocery store checkers. Her company is paying $100 on each employee’s check for 5 paychecks as hazard pay, but she says it’s just not enough.

  60. dragocucina*

    #5–I’ve been thinking about this for my family. My plan for this week is to contact the store manager and ask to order cookies from their bakery for the staff. If needed have a few different orders rotate through shifts. I know they don’t want to take cookies that I’ve baked at home.

  61. V.*

    #1 – I’m wondering if the makeup was requested by the company or just added on by the photographer? When I was 13 years old, my mom decided to go to a photographer for my passport picture, and, despite her obviously not having asked for it, he photoshopped me with perfect skin, blush, eyeliner, mascara, and pink lipgloss. At the time, I wasn’t complaining (all my acne was gone!), although in retrospect it feels very creepy! Especially if this was a while ago, maybe the photographers were just so used to doing it that it became standard to them? It’s also really easy to get desensitised to Photoshop on other people’s faces, even things that are glaringly obvious to the person in question who sees their face everyday. The whole thing would feel very different to me if it were the company who’d asked for it. But regardless of the cause, if it were at all possible I’d ask for the unphotoshopped version back…

  62. Lucette Kensack*

    Re: #4 — It sounds like the LW’s field IS retail. (“Because it is retail and I’ve never made much money…”) If that were the case, would it change your advice?

  63. A Poster Has No Name*

    Target worker here, #5.

    The fact that you’re doing curbside is really about the best thing you can do (realistically, right now). Surverys are good, as others have mentioned.

    If anyone can’t do the curbside pickup, for whatever reason, these are some things you can do to support us while you shop (and, really, most of these benefit you as much as us):
    1. Wear a mask.
    2. Wash your hands or sanitize or put on a fresh pair of gloves before you come in (per your preference)
    3. Limit what you touch, as much as you can
    4. As much as you can, have a plan for what you need and where to find it, to limit time spent in store
    5. Be prepared to wait in long, appropriately-distanced lines. My store has shut down every other checklane and sales are still up 30-40% (though payroll is not, ahem), so lines can get long. Have patience.
    6. Don’t get mad at workers if they’re out of stuff
    7. Don’t get mad at workers if the fitting rooms or other areas of the store are closed or some services are unavailable.
    8. Don’t get mad at the workers if the store requires you wear a mask.
    9. Don’t get mad at workers who are trying to do their jobs and who may need to do things like walk past you in an aisle and whatnot. We’re trying to keep our distance, but it’s not always possible in crowded stores that still need to be stocked, where orders need to be picked for shipping/curbside, etc.
    10. In general, don’t get mad at people in stores. We’re all trying to do our best.

  64. boop the first*

    5. Just be nice! Smile and use eye contact, back them up when you see they are being mistreated. That’s literally all you have to do if you want to stand out. Sad, but true.

    I can already tell you’re not one, but for the general public: don’t be those people who go outside and make a ruckus at 7pm, hang cute signs in your window, and gush about what wonderful heroes the lower working class are… only to come back months later to argue that min wage workers should ‘just get better jobs” and how unfair it is that someone working just as hard as them suddenly isn’t making way more than the lower caste just because they happen to sit at a desk instead of standing at one. We all remember what it was like before 2020 and we will all remember these few months where everyone randomly pretended we weren’t the societal trolls for a moment of their own self-interest.

  65. Ladylike*

    When I recently used a grocery pick-up service, I asked the young man who brought my groceries to the car if he was allowed to accept tips. He said yes, so I gave him a generous tip. Who knows what the store policy is, but we were one on one, he said he would accept it, so I gave it to him. Most of the apps used for grocery delivery allow you to give tips through the app.

    And I’m definitely in favor of contacting a manager to brag about anyone who goes above and beyond.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Instacart uses the tips to supplement how much they pay- if you tip $10 on a $10 delivery, the deliveryperson only gets your tip and nothing from Instacart.

      Which is really darn frustrating when Instacart is the only delivery service nearby and I can’t get cash (unless anyone knows of mail-order ATMs? I can’t leave the house, immunosuppressed.) to tip them with! I finally gave up and ordered a darn checkbook. It’s probably stupid to hand out tips by check, but whatever.

      1. ...*

        I would just ask the delivery driver for their Venmo and tip them on that. It won’t take away what they earn from instacart and is safe. Personally I wouldn’t mind being tipped with a check as you can just mobile despot it within seconds and throw it away. I don’t currently work in service but I did once get a $40 tip for helping people order some jewelry and it was awesome!

        1. KoiFeeder*

          That makes more sense than the checks, but for some reason it just feels really weird to ask people for that. I dunno, maybe I just have a hangup?

          1. Observer*

            Not only makes more sense, but more useful. If you can venmo, cahsApp or Zelle, you know they got the money without any extra work – and not needing to go to the bank.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              Oooh, yeah, you’re right. Gonna have to figure out how to get over that hangup. My heart says post-it note outside the door that they can write their preferred tip payment option on if they want, my brain says practice using my people words in the mirror.

      2. Princess Zelda*

        My understanding is that Instacart used to do that, but changed their policy in 2019 because of backlash; I haven’t seen anything saying they reinstated that. So hopefully, you can tip via app without worry.

      3. Observer*

        I know they were doing that, but I’m pretty sure they were forced to change it.

  66. km85*

    In response to the comments about gift cards, I’d like to suggest working with others to make it a community-wide appreciation campaign instead of just the individuals who happen to interact with you getting a “tip.” The way my area did it might suggest a way to mitigate the no tips issue at the stores with such policies, while acknowledging the hard work of more people.

    My whole county (18k people in 2 towns with 3 grocery stores) has banded together and organized gift card drives for our local grocery store workers. We have a county-wide facebook group, and have used that to coordinate thousands of dollars worth of gift cards gifted to the entire staffs of all of our stores. The organizers worked with the stores’ management, and also encouraged the gift cards to be for local restaurants that are doing delivery/curbside, so it became this big awesome circle of support and thoughtfulness.

  67. SaraV*

    I work as accounting for a grocery store, but spend decent enough time on the floor, not to mention been recruited to work out on the floor. I’m basically just reiterating what a lot of people have said.

    1) Be patient. Many grocery stores, including ours, require the conveyor belt and other areas of checkout be wiped down between every customer. That causes wait times to be longer. And, sometimes, we haven’t anticipated a rush at a weird moment during the week. (Wednesday from 2-4, for instance) Therefore, we don’t have enough checkers scheduled. Back-up checkers are usually our stockers and department heads. Sometimes, they’re not able to help when they can.
    2) Be kind. We’re all stressed. I try to show some grace to the customers, we just ask for the same in return.
    3) Abide by the rules/policies the store has laid out. One person per cart, wear gloves/mask if they require it. FOLLOW THE ONE WAY SIGNS FOR THE AISLES!! (Sorry, that’s my pet peeve of this craziness)
    4) Come with a list and a plan for your shopping, and then, have back-ups. Shop in a familiar store so you know where things are located. Come with a list, and attempt to write it in aisle order, or at least group them together. (All frozen, all produce, etc) Have a possible back-up if they happen to be out of your brand/size/flavor.

    TL;DR – Be Patient, Be Kind, Be Prepared, Follow Directions

  68. chickaletta*

    #5 – Hopefully this has already been mentioned, but the best thing you can do to support grocery workers and other essential workers is BE KIND! I have heard from my friends working in service industries that while tips and sympathy are up, so is customer rudeness. It’s important to remember that it’s not their fault if things are hard to find, if prices are higher, if lines are longer, if your order isn’t ready for pick up 30 seconds after you place your order from the parking lot, or if they cannot accommodate your special request to lean out the drive-through window to add whip cream to your venti mocha latte after you’ve already taken the beverage. So be nice!

  69. Harvey JobGetter*

    OP3 needs to take a PUBLIC action regarding the events she described. This is a statement that such bigoted jokes are not acceptable. (Alison’s script is insufficient and minimizes the misconduct.) She should ask the offending employee to make a public apology (email seems fine) and at least consider firing him if he is not willing to do that. If I worked at this company, I would be looking for another job if, at a bare minimum, nobody from the company management made a statement about this behavior My boss would also have heard from me about this right away because it is 1000% NOT OKAY to make bigoted jokes at work. It would be reasonable for other employees to feel somewhat unsafe working with this person.

  70. WonderWoman*

    OP3 – I don’t think you need to go to extreme measures to discipline your employee, but just wanted to weigh in on the situation.

    When these types of views are expressed at work and go unchallenged, they can have far reaching consequences. I’m Jewish, but I don’t “look Jewish,” and when I started my current job, a manager and a colleague made antisemitic and generally ignorant/inappropriate comments about religion to me. I was new, desperately needed the job, and painfully aware of the power dynamic, so I didn’t say anything for months until it got bad enough that I finally had a conversation with the big boss. The big boss shut it down immediately, but I kept my Jewishness a secret for as long as possible, and I actively avoid mentioning it around these two people (not that it comes up often in a work context, but I don’t normally try to hide it to this extent.) Even though I get along well with these two people, this is something that will always impact my view of them. When they finally figured out I was Jewish, I had to pay extra attention to our interactions for months to confirm that nothing had changed. I still have screenshots saved of a particular conversation in the event that I ever need to report it to HR. If one of them ever asks for a reference, I will really have to consider whether I can honestly recommend them to another employer who might not be as adept at shutting down antisemitism. If a Jewish friend is ever interested in a job at my current company, I’ll have to flag this for them to consider.

    I could go on and on, but at the end of the day, letting these comments slide is terrible for morale and could have a long-term impact on diversity if people at your company get the idea that certain minorities are not welcome.

    It’s worth noting that antisemitism in America is growing, and many Jews are hyper aware of the situation, even if the general population is not. Your employee very likely does not realize how his comment landed in this context. (Many people live under the delusion that the entire history of antisemitism is confined to the Holocaust.)

  71. itsmorethanjustbeingtired*

    #5 – Definitely write to the store and let them know how much you appreciate their workers’ service. Get people’s names if you can to include. My husband is a manager at an independent grocery store and the gestures of kindness by their customers mean a lot to them right now. The letters of thanks and donated masks and gloves do make a difference. The stores are incredibly busy and there’s more work than ever with all the cleaning, so the simple acknowledgment means a lot.