update: my coworker is in quarantine with pay — and doing deliveries on the side

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker had been exposed to COVID-19, was in quarantine with pay, and made a pharmacy delivery to the letter-writer’s door? Here’s the update.

My uncle and I are both in self-quarantine. So is everyone else who works on my floor.

The pharmacy delivering is new. They only started offering it when the pandemic hit (believe me, my uncle is still spry but he would have definitely taken the delivery if it was an option before). Additionally, the delivery hours (8am to 5pm) conflict with our work schedule (9am to 5pm). There is no way Lisa could have been working there before she went on leave. Home delivery had barely begun before she went off work. Lisa wasn’t working any second job before she went off on leave. Our leave is paid at 100 per cent, she was not losing her salary. Our work is considered important and essential and our office is running at normal capacity with precautions taken, such as no/low physical contact between floors and areas and is not closed. I’m on paid leave now.

I had discreetly told my boss about Lisa, as well as the tip line my local public health unit had set up for things like this. A week and a half later a short company-wide email was sent out stating Lisa no longer works here. My boss hasn’t said anything and I didn’t ask but people were speculating about why Lisa was let go.

My uncle also received an email from the pharmacy saying that on one recent occasion the person who delivered his medication had been exposed to COVID-19 and ignored orders to quarantine. The date was the same one Lisa did the delivery. He was given a refund for that day, advised to take precautions since he was possibly exposed and there was an assurance the person was terminated and the pharmacy was fully co-operating with public health.

Lisa doesn’t have kids and lives alone but she exposed many others. Public health advised us to quarantine because we were possibly exposed. My co-workers know I was possibly exposed by a delivery person but I haven’t said anything about being Lisa. I’m angry at her but I don’t want to gossip. So far, my uncle and I are healthy and I hope it stays that way.

(I don’t know why commenters were saying it could have not been her or was a case of mistaken identity. I was clear that it was her, there was no doubt about it.)

{ 378 comments… read them below }

  1. LGC*

    …oh my God.

    That’s all I’m saying, LW.

    Actually, I might have more later, but holy mother of dragons.

    1. MusicWithRocksIn*

      It’s actually pretty satisfying seeing some actual justice. This was a balm to my soul.

      1. LGC*

        Man, I just don’t know, though. You’re right in that it’s…a relief to see Lisa face consequences, but also it sounds like they not only quarantined LW, they also quarantined her whole floor. It doesn’t feel like anyone wins here.

        1. Theo*

          Uh. All the people who now have a lot more information about their potential exposure win? Also, I believe the “whole floor” is referring to that her coworkers are also quarantined, unrelated to this particular exposure. Either way, an abundance of caution is a GOOD thing, not a bad one.

          1. LGC*

            Okay, no one directly involved in the situation wins. And yeah, that includes “all the people who now have a lot more information about their potential exposure.” I’m not arguing that an abundance of caution is a bad thing, but it is a bad thing that they got put in this situation by Lisa’s recklessness.

            1. MissM*

              Also, who knows if Lisa ended up infecting someone else during her deliveries/gadding about? I’m glad that LW and her uncle weren’t infected, and that it sounds like no one else from work was either. I am glad Lisa suffered consequence related to her poor judgement and not taking things seriously enough, as her recklessness could have killed people.

        2. Dahlia*

          Because they were all exposed. Quarantining people who were exposed is a win. What do you think a win would be, people running around possibly spreading the virus but being happy?

      2. Youngin*

        I may be a little extreme but I wont be soothed until I know she was fined or something. So reckless!!

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Eh, losing both her regular job and the side delivery gig sounds like a pretty stiff penalty to me. I’m satisfied with it.

    2. Aphrodite*

      The consequences are no doubt harsh ones for Lisa. She is going to pay a big price for her deceptions. But she was also very much in the wrong, and she made her choices deliberately. I have no sympathy for her. I would not have wished those consequences on her but then I didn’t. She went after them, cheated her primary employer, put the pharmacy customers at risk, endangered the pharmacy’s reputation, and shrugged off any health issues she was inflicting on co-workers.

    1. Rondo*

      Right? My mentor at work had a heart attack a few weeks ago and his wife worked with 2 people who tested positive and were instructed to isolate and all the other employees got tested and came up negative.

      Wife was out at the local Walmart getting groceries and who does she see shopping? Her sick coworker, not even wearing a mask. Wife wasn’t the only one who noticed her and knew she did indeed have Covid either.

  2. Hello*

    Thinking of you and your uncle. I am glad to hear you are both healthy, and wishing you both continued health. Thanks for the update

    1. TiffIf*

      I’ve always wondered what went through Mary Mallon’s head (“Typhoid Mary”) and all I can conclude is that she really truly could not comprehend that she was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid and by her actions was endangering, and killing, others. There are plenty of people right now who just simply don’t believe or refuse to understand that even if they are healthy they could still have the virus and spread it to others. I don’t know if it is a failure of education or a failure of empathy or both, but it is still mind boggling.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        If you listen to podcasts at all, the History Chicks has a podcast about Mary Mallon that talks about this quite a bit. It’s really interesting.

        1. SebbyGrrl*

          For a both slightly darker and slightly funnier take My Favorite Murder’s Karen Kilgariff is forever the voice of Typhoid Mary in my head, and her bit comes to mind almost every time I cook a pot of something.

          Thanks for this recommendations, I needed a new podcast to add to my roster of Murder, True Crime, Mental Health (Germs a medical health This Podcast Will Kill You is also high on my list) topics of podcasts…

          1. Mongrel*

            You can also try Anthony Bourdains take, just called Typhoid Mary.

            Thinking on it, as I read it a couple of years ago, there’s some parallels to todays situation; Mistrust of medical professionals and lack of a welfare safety net

        2. ap*

          Yes, second this recommendation! For the podcast in general and this episode in particular!

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        I guess this is better then being so mad upon being told your child can’t go into a store without a mask that you come back and shoot the person at the door.

        No- it’s just that that’s worse.

        I need a puppy or baby to hug. This whole pandemic is really hampering my self-soothing.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          I’m currently working around a cat who is insisting on lap time. It’s nice…but a bit…inconvenient!

          1. Former Computer Professional*

            My first, elderly cat couldn’t see well and was clingy. She would insist on sitting on my lap while I used the computer. If she decided I was moving around too much, she’d jump on the table and sit on my hands – on the keyboard. I solved this by putting a chair right next to mine, with a pillow just for her highness. It put her close enough that she could sit while keeping one paw on my thigh and that was enough for her to be comfortable and be sure I was still there.

          2. nonegiven*

            Every time DH sits in his recliner, he has cats waiting for him. I regularly see 2 or 3 draped on or around him when he watches TV. A few times there have been 4 at the same time.

            1. Pescadero*

              Sort of…

              It wasn’t a “child”. It was the woman’s daughter who is in her early 20’s.

              So the woman and her daughter left – then the womans husband and son came back, and her 23 year old son shot the security guard.

            2. I Serve at the Pleasure of My Cat*

              Oh, it’s happening right now in Indiana. And I’m good with it.

              1. I Serve at the Pleasure of My Cat*

                I am of course, referring to a special chair/pillow set up next to me for my cat, not an awful shooting incident.

        2. EPLawyer*

          BTW, child here is not someone under 18. It was a grown adult whose HUSBAND didn’t like being his wife being told she had to wear a mask. So he and his father came back and shot the security guard who had told her to wear a mask.

          It was ridiculous. It’s a mask people. YOu can take it off when you leave the store.

          Look at all the trouble Lisa here caused — even if no one got sick.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            You got it a little mixed up, if the reports I just found are correct, but they’re confusing too. I think this is what happened: Woman went to store with her daughter (probably late teens or early 20’s, but it’s not stated). Daughter wasn’t wearing mask, guard asked her to leave, woman harrassed guard and other store staff and was kicked out. Woman and daughter left. Not long later, the woman’s husband and the husband’s early 20’s son showed up to harangue the guard and then shoot him. Woman is in custody, men are “at large”, those 3 are all charged with first-degree premeditated murder. The young woman is not further mentioned.

            CNN was a little confused: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/04/us/michigan-security-guard-mask-killing-trnd/index.html
            ABC was a little better: https://www.abc12.com/content/news/3-charged-with-murder-of-Family-Dollar-security-guard-over-face-mask-dispute-570178991.html

        3. Nita*

          Virtual hugs to you from my toddler! She would absolutely hug you if she could. Before this mess started, she’d walk up to random people in the library with hugs, and then I’d catch her, apologize for interrupting their reading, and run off with her, wondering if they think I don’t hug my baby enough or something :)

          1. AKchic*

            As a parent of way too many children, I can assure you that some kids are just naturally exuberant hugging machines. Sometimes it’s a phase, sometimes they grow up to be very huggy adults.
            Most adults understand and are appreciative of affectionate (non-sticky) toddlers giving them hugs, or offering to give them hugs. It’s almost like playing telephone with a small child. It simply isn’t done to decline the “phone call” of a small child.

            1. GrumpyGnome*

              I admit, I’m not a fan of kids in general. However, if a random toddler comes up to me and wants to hold my hand or hug me, I hold that kiddo’s hand or let them give me a hug. Being a kiddo should mean being safe, and you bet I’m going to let them ‘be safe’ with me.

              1. Okay, great!*

                I just had a little girl and your response warmed my heart. Kids aren’t everyone’s bag, so when a random stranger respects your kids feelings, it’s very endearing(?). Not sure of the right word. Still a bit sleep deprived.

            2. Elemeno P.*

              I honestly love it when random children come up and hug me (during normal times, I mean). It happens a fair amount; I’m a volunteer princess for kids, and I think they can sense it the rest of the time.

            3. Dragon_Dreamer*

              I would love to get small child hugs! Unfortunately, the only ones I meet are the butt-patters. -.-

              1. CommanderBanana*

                Hahaha the toddler I nannied loved to come up behind me and rest her head on my butt while I was cooking or doing something at the counter. According to her it was “comfers.”

        4. Oklahomie*

          I live in a town that was recently in the news quite a bit for our mayor rescinding the “masks required to enter all businesses” order due to threats of violence (businesses can still require them themselves, but they’re not required to require them by the city). While part of me is upset at the government caving to bullies when we need to protect public health, a huge part of me is relieved because I hope the likelihood of something like this happening here is decreased.

          1. Amaranth*

            That really saddened me because if the Governor made it policy, then the police – or national guard – would be the enforcement arm and the blame wouldn’t be falling on the individual running the shop.

            1. nonegiven*

              Government making the masks mandatory and not providing for enforcement was just making retail employee’s jobs more dangerous. They are cashiers and stockers, not security.

              1. Trachea Aurelia Belaroth*

                But now they can’t even say “it’s required by the state, and out of my hands”

      3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        IIRC, even after the scientific community came to accept the germ theory of disease transmission as correct, it took rather longer to recognize that a person could be an asymptomatic carrier. And when Mary was working as a cook, people outside the scientific community were still as likely to believe in miasma theory rather than germ theory.

        1. Dust Bunny*


          Also, being a cook was a comparatively prestigious job. She wouldn’t have been able to replace that level of pay easily, and life frankly sucked if you were a working-class woman trying to make it on your own in those days.

          1. Angry Professor*

            I was reading about her recently, and yeah, she had found other positions a few times (doing laundry, I believe?) but always went back to being a cook because it made a lot more money.

            1. Mama Bear*

              And apparently she was good at it (specifically ice cream). Unfortunately working with food was a great way to be a carrier.

              1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

                Particularly uncooked food. Like ice cream. (Apparently cooking to a certain temperature will kill the typhoid pathogen. Doesn’t help when you’re making nice frosty ice cream.)

                1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                  Apparently her specialty was peach melba. (Peaches, ice cream, and raspberry sauce.)

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          All medicine–even the most respectable–was woo before the germ theory of disease. Humours out of balance, anyone? (I have been known to tell my doctor that this was my problem, but you need the right doctor for that to go over well.) When the germ theory came along, it honestly looked like more woo: creatures living inside of you that are too small to see? That sounds pretty close to blaming demons. I’m not sure how long it took for the idea to gain widespread acceptance.

          1. Artemesia*

            Semmelweiss demonstrated that washing hands and sanitizing instruments could dramatically reduce the infection and death in women giving birth — and was ignored and hounded out of the medical profession. In the face of proof this was true, doctors still refused to wash their hands and went right on killing women.

            1. Amy the Rev*

              I was actually going to chime in about Semmelweiss; my dad was in a musical about him! It never really got off the ground but it was so poignant and stuck with me.

            2. Tidewater 4-1009*

              The medical establishment is still extremely stubborn about accepting new information. Doctors often seem to be more defending their territory than trying to help patients.

              1. Dragon_Dreamer*

                I’ve had a few doctors/nurses who get very annoyed when I’ve known more about my own conditions than they think I should. I’ve had lung issues since I was 4, my body is used to low oxygen intake. My pulse-ox tends to be normal range, even when I’m visibly working for it. The time I had pneumonia, one doc rolled his eyes when I asked for a chest x-ray. His face was pale after viewing it. He couldn’t believe I had a pulse-ox in the mid-90s while my lungs were that cloudy.

                Also, being a bio student who’s taken many classes with nursing students, some docs also get annoyed if you tell them they can use medical terms instead of layspeak. Some don’t believe me that I’ll understand them, and try to explain in as complicated terms as they can. Then they’re shocked when I ask intelligent questions to confirm.

                1. Law Office Anon*

                  I’ve learned never to use medical terms with doctors, it puts them off like nothing else. I have a rare, underdiagnosed genetic disease, and unless I’m talking to a geneticist, I know more about my condition than the doctor does, but if I use any technical language to discuss it, they refuse to deal with me. Unfortunately, I have to convey information about my condition, and it really makes appointments frustrating and longer than they have to be.

                2. Okay, great!*

                  That’s rude of them to do but that’s awesome you can keep up!
                  My field is starting to be considered part of the medical community(massage therapy), so every so often I have someone come in who prefers to use medical/anatomical terms. I’ve learned its either 1) they have a lot of information they would rather convey quickly. 2) they have a specific area that they have had diagnosed as a problem and want to identify the problem vs. the general area (example: my doctor says my piriformis (specific butt muscle) is tight and is “pinching” my sciatic nerve vs. my low back seems to hurt and I think its going down my leg). The first I know exactly what’s going on and the second I will have to ask more questions. 3) They know the names of muscles, are a friendly person, and are happy to have someone else who they can use them with.
                  I have never taken offense to any of these scenarios, nor am I embarrassed to ask a question if they mention something I am unfamiliar with. Only once in a blue moon will I have someone come in and act like they know more than I do, and usually they are just repeating what their regular massage therapist has told them. They are typically upset that they couldn’t get in with them, and since their regular therapist is the best and absolutely awesome (cool!), I must be unskilled and dumb until I prove otherwise (not so cool!).

              2. Tidewater 4-1009*

                I’ve had similar experiences with my allergies, several of which are non-IgE. Non-IgE food allergies were confirmed in Sweden in the early 90’s, and the medical establishment didn’t acknowledge it till 2009 and didn’t start addressing it until the mid-2010’s. This is why patients end up at alternative practitioners or treating themselves…
                One of the reasons I moved to a big city was for better doctors.
                I go to trouble to find doctors who are open to new information and respect my experience. I found a wonderful allergist who respects me and my intelligent questions. Thank God! :)

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            From 50 – 400 years, depending on the geography / starting point you take. The wikipedia entry on ‘Germ Theory of Disease’ has a nice breakdown in the second paragraph. It was proposed by “Arab physicians Ibn Khatima (c. 1369) and Ibn al-Khatib (1313–1374)” hundreds of years before Pasteur in 1850; Pasteur’s version was widely accepted in Europe / US by 1890. Mary Mallon started working as a cook around 1900; it’s quite likely she’d see it as ‘woo’.

          3. MM*

            “All medicine–even the most respectable–was woo before the germ theory of disease” is flatly untrue. Ten thousand years+ of trial and error does get you somewhere. While lots of ideas about health and medicine were indeed wrong, plenty of them were also right; plenty of medical applications of naturally-occurring substances have been tested based on “folk medicine” and found to be useful, then repackaged in the form we recognize as “real (scientific) medicine.” Techniques like trepanation and leeches are still used by doctors today in specific circumstances (and trepanation was practiced for basically all of human history across what seems like the entire world because, guess what: it worked). Inoculation was practiced in the Arab world and much of Africa centuries before Pasteur (whether this was widely understood as connected to germ theory, which was developed much earlier by Muslim thinkers, I do not know). Quarantining itself is older than germ theory, and it was and remains effective for its purpose.

            This obviously isn’t to say that all “natural,” “traditional,” or “folk” medicine is effective, or that “real” medicine isn’t. I’m not endorsing the goop-style woo that basically says to ignore all medical knowledge. I’m just saying it’s a really narrow view to suggest that no useful medical knowledge was developed anywhere, ever, until (European) germ theory.

              1. Biolab*

                It can be used to release excess pressure on the brain following a brain bleed. You make a hole in the skull to release the excess fluid and that prevents damage to the brain from too high pressures.

            1. Zillah*

              yep – smallpox vaccination started in the late 1700s. inoculation was widespread well before that, too – Washington didn’t intentionally infect his army with smallpox on a whim.

            2. BethDH*

              Also, a lot of people act like this is solely a lack of medical knowledge. A lot of the medical knowledge we have is only possible because of knowledge and expertise gained in other fields — everything from information sciences and data management to optics to fine manufacturing and materials science …
              There are also lots of cases where people did the right things for a long time and then that knowledge was supplanted by “better” information that turned out to be wrong — this is unfortunately especially common around women’s health.

          4. Wintermute*

            All western medicine sure.

            But it’s important to remember that while doctors in Europe and America were still bleeding patients and advising startlingly toxic drugs, indigenous peoples and the Islamic world were both practicing something quite close to evidence-based medicine to varying degrees of sophistication. While they still had some inaccurate theories and some of the drugs available wouldn’t meet modern safety or efficacy standards, the idea of trial-and-error and treating disease based on what was known to improve a given condition were alive and well.

          5. JSPA*

            Scientific method is not predicated on germ theory.

            You can see cause and effect of treatments without knowing the mechanism. That’s still true today. Quite a lot of modern medicine either involves a “black box” step, or the mechanism, when teased out, turns out to be quite different from the expected mode of action.

            Plenty of natural antihistamines, fungal- and phyto- hormone analogues, diuretics, febrifuges, anthelmintics have been recognized and used for centuries. Many of them are still used in purified form, or a synthesized form of the natural ingredient. Aspirin and its analogues, ephedra and pseudo-ephedrine, etc.

        3. Zillah*

          IIRC, in the radiolab about typhoid Mary, they also talked about asymptomatic male cooks who weren’t vilified or followed up on the way Mary was.

      4. Phony Genius*

        I think many people inherently believe that if their body is doing something wrong, then they are a bad person. It’s sometimes hard to wrap you head around the idea that there are parts of your body that you can’t control. A doctor once told me that the hardest thing he ever has to tell the parents of a young patient is that their condition is genetic. Their initial response is often something like “are you saying it’s our fault?” Most eventually calm down and eventually start thinking rationally, but it’s hard for some people to accept.

        1. so anonymous for this*

          I am a medical geneticist. I can confirm this. Genetics is the second most offensive referral after psychiatry/psychology in my experience.

        2. Amy Sly*

          See, I really don’t get that attitude. If I’m seeing a doctor for something, it means I know that something is wrong. If the problem is genetic, that means that the something wrong wasn’t my fault!

          Granted, that becomes more difficult when it’s your child, but I’ve heard parents of Down Syndrome children say that they were happy that the syndrome is chromosomal. It happened at the moment of conception, and there was nothing that the parents did or didn’t do (Too much wine! Too much fish! Not enough folic acid! etc.) that caused it.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I definitely went through a “My kid’s suffering is my fault for passing on my crap genes” phase. I blame that mindset on anxiety and depression, though. It’s ridiculously hard for humans to accept that sometimes there is no “fault,” and that there are simply things we have no control over. In a way, it was easier to blame myself/my genes than face that.

      5. Anonny*

        Part of it was that she was Irish in America at a time of mass discrimination against the Irish. She believed that she was being discriminated against again, rather than being an actual danger to peoples’ health.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          And in truth, she actually was, just not in the way she thought. I recall that another asymptomatic carrier got a stipend; not anything dramatic, but enough to ensure that said carrier wasn’t going to go out and work where they could continue spreading typhoid.

      6. Claire*

        To be fair to Mary Mallon, she probably genuinely didn’t understand that she was an asymptomatic carrier because the whole concept of asymptomatic carriers had just been discovered–she was told that she was transmitting typhoid even though she wasn’t sick and thought that concept was ridiculous, but once she got another household sick after being told that such a thing was possible, she lived in virtual isolation for the rest of her life. Lisa, however, doesn’t have the benefit of unavoidable ignorance–if she doesn’t believe that asymptomatic carriers are a thing, it’s because she chooses not to believe it.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          She was actually imprisoned for the rest of her life, because she infected multiple families and WOULD NOT stop working as a cook. Eventually, the government institutionalized her.

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          Well, Georgia’s governor claimed he’d never heard people could have COVID 19 and not show symptoms…

          1. Tidewater 4-1009*

            I saw a FB post today from a restaurant owner in Georgia. It said the whole thing is calculated. If he’s allowed to open his restaurant, he can’t file an insurance claim for not being able to open. His workers are on furlough and getting unemployment. If he’s allowed to be open he has to either bring them back or fire them. Then it’s his taxes that take the hit for their unemployment comp even if there’s a second wave of pandemic. It’s all to put the financial burdens on the small business owners and not the state. And he gets to choose whether to risk his life and the lives of his staff and customers, or take these financial hits.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I forgot to mention, his landlord can also demand full rent even if he doesn’t want to reopen.

            2. JSPA*

              Oh, it’s absolutely an economic calculation. Not primarily as a way to normalize the economy, but as a way to boot a vast number of people off support. (Some are also seem way too comfortable with the secondary effects of “divide and conquer.” There’s predictable anger welling up in those who can’t WFH–and who in many cases already have someone designated ‘essential’ in the household–against those who can WFH.)

      7. Hi there*

        I read a haunting novel from her point of view a few years ago: Fever, by Mary Beth Keane. I’ll post a link to a review as a reply.

      8. Koala dreams*

        When you consider how long time it took for doctors in general to accept that washing hands was important, and treating patients without washing hands could be deadly, it suddenly doesn’t seem too weird to not accept the asymptomatic carrier idea. The doctors didn’t have to give up their profession, just spend some extra time on hand-washing.

        1. une autre Cassandra*

          Yeah, if you really want to ruin your day, the Wikipedia entry for Ignaz Semmelweis is a pretty sure bet.

        2. antigone_ks*

          How dare you suggest that a gentleman’s hands are unclean! *clutches pearls*

          1. Ice and Indigo*

            I think it’s more that they thought washing your hands was for wimps; a real manly doctor wasn’t afraid of blood and dirt.

            1. antigone_ks*

              The manliness issue was undoubtedly at play, but a 19th century physician quoted one of his colleagues as saying “did he carry it [disease] on his hands? But a gentleman’s hands are clean!”

      9. emmelemm*

        Yeah, it’s … fascinating? but also terrifying that people truly cannot seem to understand that they do not have to be “sick” right now to be dangerous.

        1. whingedrinking*

          Yup. For example, I’ve seen a lot of people worrying that their pets can get coronavirus or that they can get it from their pets. So far it looks like it may be transmissible to felines, but no evidence that it can jump to dogs.
          HOWEVER, some people seem to be baffled at the idea that if dogs can’t catch Covid, you still shouldn’t be petting strangers’ dogs or letting them pet yours on walks, even from two metres away. It’s for the same reason that you should try to avoid touching elevator buttons and door handles with your bare hands – dogs still have physical surface areas that you might be able to pick up virus particles from.

          1. JSPA*

            It’s been cultured from a few dogs. One in the US (Winston the pug, you can google)

            Not entirely clear if

            a) it’s at least minimally infectious / active in the dogs (though if so, with no great detriment to them, and with no known cases of transmission from dogs)

            b) it’s in the dog’s throat because all sorts of literal and figurative crap is lapped up by dogs, so if owner is sick, dog is licking up all sorts of nastiness, regularly

            and formally, even

            c) what they’re finding is actually a different coronavirus entirely (in creating and testing the tests, they make sure to avoid false positives due to sequence similarity or antibody cross-reactivity with other known human coronaviruses; presumably they didn’t make an equal effort to avoid overlap with every other species’ coronaviruses.)

            Winston had a cough and was off his food. The same was reported, some weeks ago, in China and Korea (and you’ve probably seen pictures of dogs in masks, from there).

            In general, though, once a disease has evolved to be highly infectuous and high virulent in humans, passage through another animal is more likely to select for a variant that’s better adapted to that other animal, and on average, less infectuous / less virulent in humans.

            100% not a reason to get rid of a pet, but perhaps a reason to not let your dog lick other dogs’ faces while out walking, especially if you also kiss your dog on the lips. I have seen people standing 8 feet apart, chatting, with their dogs slobbering on each other; that’s probably not ideal.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              I saw that – also the article said to try to social distance from your dogs if you are sick, and I’m like….has the author met a dog? My dogs like to sneeze directly into my face for some reason.

      10. Elitist Semicolon*

        There’s an excellent book on Mary Mallon called “Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health” that delves into both Mallon’s own assumptions/experience and the significance of essential/service work during public health crises. Highly, highly recommend it.

  3. WellRed*

    OP, I don’t know why comments on the original letter were so insistent on so many possible other explanations other than the most obvious one. Things are rarely as mysterious or unusual as they seem to some people.

    1. WellRed*

      IN fact, didn’t someone suggest it may have been a twin or some sort of lookalike? I think I stopped reading comments at that point.

        1. EverybodyHasOne*

          Yes, I’m waiting for some of those commenters ,that were so insisted that OP was incorrect, to pop up in this thread now.

          1. Old Med Tech*

            Letter writer did the right thing. Unfortunately this is how infectious diseases spread.

              1. Rebecca*

                Even Typhoid Mary didn’t try to exploit her situation by trying to get paid by two jobs at once as far as I’m aware.

              2. Searching for a New Name*

                At least the original Typhoid Mary had the excuse of genuine ignorance. Lisa hasn’t even got that thin shield for herself.

                1. Triumphant Fox*

                  Not only ignorance for her…just ignorance of asymptomatic transmission broadly speaking.

                2. Merci Dee*

                  Mary only had the excuse of ignorance for a while. She had been working as a cook in numerous households over the course of several years. Invariably, members of the household would get sick with typhoid fever, and she would leave as soon as the diagnoses were made. She was placed in quarantine on Brother Island for two years after she infected 6 of the 11 members of the Warren family staying in a summer house for vacation. After being confined for almost three years, Mary successfully sued the health department to end her quarantine. Part of the conditions of her release was that she agree to never cook for anyone else again. Within just a few months of her release, she changed her name from Mary Mallon to Mary Brown and started cooking again. She ended up taking a job at Sloane Maternity Hospital and managed to infect 25 people with typhoid within 3 months. So she ended up being placed back on Brother Island for the remainder of her life. So, yeah. At some point, she knew exactly what she was doing, but continued to do it anyway.

                3. Dust Bunny*

                  This is still way overestimating the level of general knowledge about diseases and transmission, though. We’ve had people eat aquarium cleaner in an effort to avoid COVID-19, despite 100+ more years of science education under our belts. We can’t really expect her to have fully grasped what was at the time a new concept *even for medical professionals*.

                4. Amy Sly*

                  We have someone who claims that her otherwise intelligent husband ate aquarium cleaner to prophylactically ward off Covid. She’s currently being investigated for murder.

                  Granted, in a world where teenagers eat Tide Pods because someone on Youtube said so, betting on scientific ignorance is usually the safe bet.

      1. Anne Elliot*

        The comments were astonishing, everything short of “maybe she was an evil clones cyborg sent from the future!”

        I think it’s a combination of people not wanting Lisa to be REALLY that awful, and certain other people just always wanting to be oppositional in the comments on the internet. Card-carrying members of the “Well MAYBE” club and/or the “Well ACTUALLY” club.

        1. Legally a Vacuum*

          But what if she *did* have a *twin* evil clone cyborg sent from the future?

          1. fposte*

            Well, you’d want to fire an evil clone cyborg sent from the future anyway, so right action by the pharmacy either way.

        2. Just Another Techie*

          Possibly also fear that delivery workers bringing us or our vulnerable loved ones vital medications or food. . .

          1. TootsNYC*

            Right now, grocery store clerks, delivery people, etc., are the ones coming down with the disease. So it’s actually sensible that we should worry about that.

        3. Merci Dee*

          I didn’t read any of the comments from that letter, so I missed all the speculation. But, even hearing about it now, it’s kind of weird. OP says in the original letter that as soon as Lisa saw her, Lisa left immediately. Maybe this is more speculation on my part, but that’s the sort of behavior that I would expect from someone who’s been caught in the middle of doing something that they know they’re not supposed to.

          1. TechWorker*

            That part I didnt find that weird in the current situation – most delivery drivers are backing away speedily from the door as soon as they’ve rung the bell :p

        4. Elizabeth West*

          I think over the last few years especially we’ve seen that yes, people can indeed be that awful.

        5. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          I’ve heard that called the Doctor’s Note. “Well maybe he’s actually got [medical condition] that makes him unable to not spit at people!” type reasoning.

        6. whingedrinking*

          In fairness, I once walked up to someone on a bus and greeted her by name – “Jane, hi! How are you?” – only to find out that my acquaintance had an identical twin sister she’d never mentioned. And when I was in high school, I was informed that there was another young woman at a different school who looked astonishingly like me. To the point that once when I was buying something at a street fair in my hometown, the vendor squinted at me for a bit and said, “Hey, do you have a sister named – ” “Joan? No. We’re not related.”
          So it’s not completely impossible that the delivery person was just someone who looked a lot like Lisa and the OP was mistaken. I can understand reaching for an explanation that allows you to go on thinking that people are basically good and no one, even a stranger two degrees removed from you on the Internet, has to get in trouble. But sadly, it’s more of a reach to say “maybe the delivery person has a doppelganger” than “maybe OP’s coworker pulled a jerk move”.

        7. Perpal*

          Seems pretty typical for the comments section on any advice blog; some people seem to try to bend over backwards to explain or rationalize some incredibly bad behavior. But there’s plenty of good advice and comments to be had too!

        8. Julia*

          It’s also, I think, the quite natural impulse to forestall the internet sub getting out their torches and pitchforks. People go online and get outraged about all sorts of stuff that turns out to be exaggerated or false. This is a third-hand story with no corroboration; it’s pretty natural that some commenters’ impulse would be “we don’t know all the facts, what if X is going on?”

        9. Deejay*

          Plot twist. Lisa was originally entirely innocent. Angry at losing her jobs about a false accusation, she invents time travel and goes back to seek revenge on OP, taking the delivery job as a cover. But when she comes face to face with OP, she can’t do it and flees. Thus causing the very situation she was unhappy about, because fate has a twisted sense of humour.

      2. Liz*

        Yeah, that was grasping at straws. big time. COULD that have been the case. Sure, but the likelihood of it was so small.

        1. Threeve*

          It’s the whole “if you hear hoofbeats, it’s probably a horse, not a zebra” thing. But it’s human nature to want a zebra. And when the alternative is a horse so scummy it’s depressing…we REALLY want it to be a zebra.

        2. TootsNYC*

          remember that in criminal court, it is “beyond a REASONABLE doubt.” It’s not reasonable to think that the OP was incorrect here.

          1. Athena*

            This isn’t criminal court. And even if it was, LW literally saw her coworker with her own eyes. Would you be unable to recognize someone you work with if they were right in front of you?

            1. Searching for a New Name*

              I mean, I wouldn’t — but I’m face blind. I didn’t recognize my own former boss when I ran into her at my landlord’s office.

          2. tinybutfierce*

            This isn’t criminal court and Alison’s guidelines for commenting specifically ask people to take the letter writer at their word.

      3. AKchic*

        The evil triplet who escaped to another country to hide out while the good one took the fall for a murder-for-hire plot that went south. The third one of the trio got off with a decent alibi (who knew the queen had a vacation home out here?!).

        Yeah, some of the theories were far-fetched. I’m glad Lisa got her comeuppance. I’m saddened at the thought of her risking other people.

    2. That'll happen*

      Occam’s razor! I understand wanting to be charitable; however, that should be afforded to the OP, not this former coworker. As much as we want to believe that everyone is honest, there are some bad actors that will take advantage of any situation, including a pandemic.

      1. EPLawyer*

        People want a really really really really good reason for someone to be fired. Because its someone’s livelihood. No one wants to be responsible for someone being broke and homeless.

        Of course that ignores the fact that the person who gets fired usually had free will about their actions and CHOSE to do something that got them fired. It’s their actions that got them fired, not the person reporting it.

        We are facing a deadly disease that is killing not just the old and less healthy — but all kinds of people. Lisa should have faced the fullest consequences of her actions. Not been given the benefit of the doubt because it would suck to be fired right now. you know what really sucks? a loved one dying because someone put their own selfish desires over someone else’s life.*

        I hold this same position on wearing masks. Wear one dammit. You may save a life.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Except the vast majority of people who get fired don’t instantly become homeless. Especially the ones who are willing to lie, cheat and sneak around to make an extra buck.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      I think people are missing office gossip and it’s now taking place here in the comments section.

      1. TootsNYC*

        this kind of “invent reasons to doubt the OP” stuff has gone on for a long time here.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Seems to be getting worse. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more. I don’t know.

        2. Cave Cricket*

          Every once in a while I forget and post in an open thread anyway and get one of those baffling replies like “maybe your co-worker is suffering from dengue fever and also has a bad hangnail! That combination would certainly cause exactly the behavior you’re describing! You need to have a little more compassion for your co-worker’s OBVIOUS medical condition!”

          Then I go back in my cave for another year or two.

    4. Batgirl*

      Yes it was the most persistent whataboutery I’d ever seen. It was almost heartwarming; the refusal to believe someone could put others at risk for a bit of extra cash.

      1. emmelemm*

        It was persistent whataboutery on something FAR less logical for whataboutery than a lot of things we read about on AAM. It was highly perplexing.

    5. Temperance*

      Some people will do backflips to find an explanation that excuses the wrongdoer, out of a misplaced sense of “kindness”. So obviously Lisa couldn’t just have been taking an extra job for $$ on the side, she must have a twin and be struggling to feed her 8 children.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        And really, it’s this kind and forgiving nature that a lot of people (really, most of us) have that gets exploited all the time. Most of us wouldn’t do something so obviously irresponsible without a really, really good reason (feed our 8 starving children etc…) and find it hard to believe other people don’t have the same scruples. It’s how selfish jerks get away with being selfish jerks for so long in so many situations.

      2. A*

        I believe she was also deemed to be facing imminent homelessness, and possibly a grave invisible illness.

        1. An Actual Fennec Fox*

          What baffles me is that when people consider all of these (made up) reasons, they don’t consider that someone in that situation would do everything in their power not to screw up? My boyfriend (now ex) worked his way through a very aggressive cancer, because as he said “this is exactly why I can’t screw up and lose my job and insurance, so I need to be near-perfectly well behaved”. But not everyone thinks like this, and yes, they get taken advantage of.

          1. Amaranth*

            What troubled me the most were those that felt her behavior could be excused and maybe shouldn’t be reported because ‘she might need that extra job (on top of her full salary) and what if she gets fired and becomes homeless?’ When does one person’s need override their responsibility to everyone around them? Even in a world of bad and difficult choices, there are many better ones than ‘let me run around and risk other people.’

        2. Jemima Bond*

          I was half expecting “maybe Lisa’s autistic” for the full set of random unevidenced internet assumptions about strangers for fear of accepting someone is probably just doing a bad thing. Eyes down for a full house…

      3. Turtle Candle*

        Captain Awkward had IIRC a great post about this—specifically about how our desire to excuse the perpetrator of a bad thing via “but what if homelessness/autism/evil clone?” has the unintended side effect of undermining the victim of said bad thing (“but she probably couldn’t help it/didn’t mean it/late stage capitalism [so why are you being so mean]”). In attempting be kind to the third party we can be unintentionally unkind to the person in front of us.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          The times I’ve seen it, it always seemed unkind to the OP.
          I don’t read all the posts or all the comments, so YMMV.

    6. StrikingFalcon*

      I wonder if part of it was that people just wanted there to be a better explanation than “someone who knew they were exposed to COVID-19 deliberately chose to go around and deliver medication to vulnerable people even though they were still receiving their full pay while on leave.” Because, it’s pretty horrifying.

      OP, I’m sorry you felt you had to defend everything you described in your original letter. Also, I’m really impressed at your discretion at work – I’d be so angry I’m not sure I could resist telling other people (I’m severely immunocompromised myself, so it would feel very personal to me). It sounds your company handled everything extremely well, considering, and I’m glad the pharmacy is also taking it seriously.

      1. Temperance*

        I think some people genuinely want to always believe the best in everyone, which leads to things like assuming that Lisa had a good motive rather than simply greed or boredom.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Which is unfortunately why some employees get away with a lot of crappy behavior.

        2. Fancy Owl*

          I had a coworker once who would straight up gaslight me about situations I told her about where someone had been rude. She was super nice and a bit naive so she couldn’t believe someone would deliberately be mean. I would tell her about an incident and she would spend the entire conversation trying to convince me I misread or misremembered situations she wasn’t even present for! I stopped talking to her about those kinds of stories.

          1. Coffee Bean*

            Oh wow. . .that must have been annoying. I don blame you for refraining from talking in this situation.

        3. Lissa*

          The thing is, her motive doesn’t *matter*. it’s possible she didn’t have evil intentions. I think sometimes people want to make someone out to have zero redeemable qualities and be a cackling villain before they face consequences.

          1. fposte*

            Yes. It doesn’t have to be karmic retribution to be an appropriate negative action.

        4. Ice and Indigo*

          Also, I think, people don’t like to imagine someone coming to harm, especially if they feel partly responsible. Encouraging a writer to get someone fired comes under that heading.

          All the people Lisa might have infected are harder to picture, because they weren’t in the letter. It’s the empathy spotlight messing things around again.

        5. Mongrel*

          Although there is a little irony in making excuses for the people who were making excuses….

      2. Admin of Sys*

        I mean, I didn’t comment, but I’m face blind enough I always have a sort of subconscious disbelief about those sort of stories? I wouldn’t ever argue with someone because I know my brain is the weird one, but at the same time when I hear anyone saying something like ‘I recognized my coworker’ it sounds about as legit as ‘I could tell the paper was left by an englishman because the smudged ink was on the left’ or some other obviously made up thing. Like I said, I wouldn’t ever ask if someone is sure, because apparently the majority of people have this neat superpower that lets them recognize people, but it always /sounds/ fake.

        1. Fancy Owl*

          I think that subconscious disbelief is actually the root of it, although I think most of the commentors who doubted the LW subconsciously disbelieved anyone could be as willfully careless with other peoples health as Lisa rather than doubting the LW could recognize faces. I get you though, caffeine makes me nauseous and I have this secret disbelief that anyone actually likes coffee despite mountains of evidence that they actually do.

          1. Coffee Bean*

            I love coffee – hence the user name of Coffee Bean. But my husband doesn’t, so I get your perspective.

          2. Lancelottie*

            When I drink coffee I have hallucinations and powerful mood alterations and just general tripping symptoms. I always figured people were lying about their caffeine consumption because I couldn’t believe anybody could function if they drank it daily.
            Turns out I’m allergic to caffeine.

          3. allathian*

            There have been times in my life when I’ve drunk as much as 10 cups of coffee a day without serious ill effects (I was in my 20s then, working on my Master’s degree with the crazy hours that entailed). I once made the mistake of drinking one can of red bull, and I thought my heart would burst out of my chest, and my hands were shaking so hard that I couldn’t hold anything. I tried to drink a glass of water but spilled half of it on myself because my hands were shaking so much. Luckily it passed in about 30 minutes but it turns out I have a bad reaction to taurine.

            1. nonegiven*

              Wow, I only get about 3 hours out of a 5 hour energy, then just crash. My son will drink half of one before a 7 hour drive and save the other half for his drive back.

        2. Pj’s*

          You and me both re: facial recognition (& my mom was same way). However, I’ve gathered plenty of anecdotal evidence over the years that other people function just fine in this regard, including vaguely familiar strangers who recognize me and who (after a moment or two of conversation) turn out not to be strangers after all. So while I would have been leery of reporting “Lisa,” it never occurred to me to doubt OP.

        3. Searching for a New Name*

          Yep, same. The idea of recognizing someone beyond any reasonable doubt, especially if they’re a coworker as opposed to like… a close member of your family or something, I have no internal gauge for how accurate that is. I have my own notable face blindness and some vague understanding that things like police lineups are not considered highly accurate, so… I dunno. The suggestion of a misidentification seems reasonable to me, but I don’t know if it actually is.

          1. allathian*

            I would take the OP at her word on this. I often recognize people, even if I don’t always remember from where. My problem is that I just can’t remember names.
            I’m currently taking a professional certificate with 19 other professionals. Before sheltering-in-place went into effect, I met them a five times at about monthly intervals. I probably wouldn’t recognize any of them now if I passed them in the street, and I certainly couldn’t put a name to a face. If I did recognize some of them, I’m not sure if I could identify where I’d met them before.
            But yeah, I’d recognize a coworker if they’d turn up at my door with a delivery, at least if they worked on my floor. Others might be vaguely familiar.

      3. LGC*

        I wonder if part of it was that people just wanted there to be a better explanation than “someone who knew they were exposed to COVID-19 deliberately chose to go around and deliver medication to vulnerable people even though they were still receiving their full pay while on leave.” Because, it’s pretty horrifying.

        Yeah, to be honest…this is the most charitable, and probably the most accurate read of the comments section. Like, for me, I’ll admit – especially with all the new information, I think what Lisa did is evil, and I don’t say that lightly. The idea that she’d use her quarantine for profit is revolting. And although there are a lot of people that are that selfish – see all the protests across the country as examples – we don’t really want to believe that we know them or that we’ll come across them in any way other than mocking articles on the Internet.

        1. partingxshot*

          Ha, my less-charitable interpretation is that a few people in the comments section that day saw themselves in Lisa’s actions and didn’t want to think of themselves as immoral.

          1. emmelemm*

            Yeah, a lot of people were projecting, I think, like “I could see myself doing that but if *I* did it, it would be because otherwise my seven children would starve.”

          2. A*

            Yup, this was my take away as well. There was one commenter that took it all the way to the extreme of not only buying into the ‘she must have eight kids’ thing, but “I would ABSOLUTELY put others at risk to save my child! WOULD YOU SACRIFICE YOUR CHILD FOR THE GOOD OF STRANGERS?!?!? I think not!” and so on.

            Like whoa there…. way to use a falsified made-up version of an OP’s letter to justify your potential future behaviors. Defensive much?

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Yes, people don’t want to believe evil is that banal. And yet it is, and it’s around us every day. There are way more Lisas than Palpatines out there.

      4. Richard Hershberger*

        In fairness, she might have been lying about being exposed to the coronavirus. In this scenario she is merely cheating her employer, not endangering others.

        1. Nicotene*

          At the time the first letter was published, sure, but based on what OP says here I believe Lisa must really have been exposed, or I doubt the health department or the pharmacy would have been following up with OP after the fact.

          1. tangerineRose*

            If she hadn’t been exposed and lied about it so that she could be paid to stay home but instead got a second job, I’d still want to fire her. Not quite as bad because not exposing vulnerable people, but still a serious breech of ethics.

    7. Ping*

      It would also be easy to verify or disprove. The company or the Health Department could easily alert the pharmacy. They have names and SSNs for employment. Then match hours. It’s that easy.
      The Health Department would have the authority to investigate and verify.

      1. CL Cox*

        It sounds like that’s exactly what happened. The OP did the right thing in alerting work and the Health Department and letting them sort it all out.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I’ve tried to rein that in via this commenting rule:

      • Limit speculation on facts not presented by letter-writers to reasonable assumptions based on the information provided. If you’re speculating on facts or context not in the letter, explain how it’s actionable for the letter-writer. “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own” is not actionable (and quickly becomes derailing). “She might be stealing your lunch because she can’t afford her own, and so you could try X” is actionable.

      … but, while it’s helped somewhat, it hasn’t worked to the extent I wanted. If anyone has a suggestion for a better way to word that, I’m open to suggestions.

      1. kms1025*

        How about “Do not invent backstories to support facts not offered by OP”

        1. ambivalent*

          I think it’s more complicated. There have definitely been letters from OPs that come across as an ‘unreliable narrators’ and have been called out (and proved right by the OP responding aggressively in comments). Distinguishing these situations isn’t trivial. Alison’s point makes sense though – if you are speculating, offer some actionable behavior based on that. If the ‘action’ you are recommending is nonsensical or over-the-top conspiracy theory-ish, other commenters will point it out. So with the evil twin scenario the action would have been what… Do nothing? Ask the evil twin “if I were to ask you if you were an evil twin, would you say yes”?

          1. Lissa*

            I think there’s also something to be said for making an observation that hasn’t previously been made, vs piling on with yet another far-flung scenario when a bunch of commenters have already brought that up.
            I know there’ve been a few people here who have written in with pretty decent suspicions that a coworker is doing something like lying about a child having a serious illness, and when half the comments are essentially accusing the LW of being a monster for being suspicious it’s just…ok, the point has been made. But sometimes people really do lie about illness or other things.

            1. A*

              I agree, I don’t like the idea of nixing observations or other potential perspectives – but I do appreciate that the piling on is not beneficial to the LW which Alison has made clear is one of the primary intents of the comment section.

          2. Nicotene*

            Honestly I think “try not to speculate” is a better rule of thumb than “justify your speculation.”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Yes, I have noticed that since the world fell through the looking glass some of the speculating has gotten more extreme. I have been skimming I’ve that stuff and chalking it up to the lack of interaction with the outside world because, well, we’ve all fallen thru the looking glass.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            While it is possible that people are speculating more due to quarantine, I think we should also consider that it might be space aliens sending mind control waves.

            1. Pippa K*

              In keeping with Alison’s request that we only offer actionable speculation, I will add that a fetching anti-space-alien-mind-control cap can be made from kitchen foil at very low cost.

            2. AKchic*

              As the Duly Appointed Overruler to this Galactic Sector, I can assure you that your idea is not plausible at this time. I would have been notified. In writing. We are nothing if not… administratively minded.

              What is happening is merely what happens when Terrans are left to their own devices.

            3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              On the contrary, I believe it is because people are home more. Specifically, at home, many people have birdfeeders, and those birdfeeders attract squirrels. Squirrels are known to both have mind control powers and thrive on chaos, so they are using this increased exposure time to foment unrest in internet comment sections.

              Clearly, we all need to spend more time outside chasing squirrels to counteract this. Dogs know this, and have been trying to help, but can only do so much on their own.

              1. Ice and Indigo*

                More time outside, breaking quarantine? HA! You have exposed yourself, squirrel!

      2. Alan*

        I would say that unless that there is evidence to the contrary then accept the letter writer is being truthful. One of my pet hates in forums like these (to be fair your readers are much much better than most) is when commenters speculate on the facts when the OP has laid them out clearly.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Sometimes someone will comment on the letter, and the person seems to have added a bunch of things that they’re sure is correct. It’s confusing.

      3. Amity*

        Quit with the speculation already! It doesn’t help anyone.

        ….or maybe not. : )

      4. Jedi Squirrel*

        How about “Accept the letter writer’s description of the facts as they present them in the letter.” just before what you have above.

        One thing I have noticed is that a lot of commenters don’t seem to have read the entire post, and either comment questioning something or adding something which is quite clearly laid out either in the original letter or in your response. I don’t know if you might want to add something about reading the entire post to your “Before you comment:” notice.

        1. MassMatt*

          This is definitely a thing, I think some people post prematurely, and unfortunately some people’s reading comprehension or memory are just poor. Many posts ask questions that were answered in the letter, or assert things very much contrary to what the letter says. This is in addition to the many people making up backstories to fit a different narrative, of which the “maybe she has a twin!” comment is just a recent outlandish example.

          But overall the commenters here are smart, fair, and on topic. I don’t think adding more rules or guidelines would make much impact. Alison does add special comments when the subject matter–mental health, abuse, etc–is likely to be derailing, and those help.

        2. Deanna Troi*

          Yes, Jedi Squirrel, this seems to be rampant and drives me batty. Sometimes I don’t read the comments because it is so frustrating. I can’t believe how many people say things that contradict what was written in the letter or ask questions about things that were clearly stated there. I don’t get it – if you care enough about it to post a response, then why don’t you care enough to read the entire letter?

      5. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t know that it’s possible to limit speculation on these – i think it’s natural when as readers we’re usually only given a minimal amount of info. Also, didn’t the rules for not speculating used to have something to do with whether it would change the advice or not (not only if it’s actionable..)?

        Personally, I don’t mind speculation and derailment because sometimes those sidetracks are interesting..

      6. Yuan Zai*

        Could you add a line that says “please give the LW at least as much compassion as the coworker whom you’re inventing facts about?”

        Okay, that sounds a little snarky, I admit, but as someone who does genuinely enjoy seeing different perspectives and would therefore be otherwise completely supportive of “could it be possible that…” kind of comments, I am frustrated by how often I see comments from people who aren’t just offering potential alternate explanations but are convinced that the elaborate sympathetic backstory they’ve invented based on a couple of sentences or a handful of words are all the “evidence” they need to castigate the LW for being some sort of monster.

      7. Amaranth*

        “Fanfiction not allowed.” You can tell people not to speculate on motivations, but it would be a nightmare to police. I think you do an excellent job stepping in when it starts going off the rails.

    9. BRR*

      For some reason, there are certain letters that seem to draw in every *possible* scenario. It’s almost like malicious compliance with the classic letter of “my coworker leaves early every day” and the answer includes they might have worked out an alternate schedule.

    10. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

      And even if there were some other explanation, that doesn’t change the advice for the LW. If Lisa actually DOES have an evil cyborg-twin, then she can bring that up with HR after the incident is reported.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        I *really* want to read the HR person’s write-up of that particular meeting.

    11. Phony Genius*

      The ironic thing was that many people suggested (even though the letter clearly stated otherwise) that she might absolutely need the income and/or was desperate for money to live on. Now that she’s no longer working, that’s more likely to be true. Of course, she brought it upon herself.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        How likely is this going to come up in future reference checks? Cuz Lisa is not the only person who made this type of decision and I have to wonder if it will come out when they are job hunting in the future.

        1. PollyQ*

          If she worked for LW’s employer for any length of time, it’ll be tough to leave it off the resume entirely, and then there are those applications that insist people list every single job they ever had. She’ll have to answer “yes” to “have you ever been fired or asked to resign?”. And LW’s employer might be the kind of place that only verifies dates of employment, but there’s nothing stopping them from telling what happened.

          OTOH, if she’s remorseful and says “I made a big mistake, but I’ve learned from it”, or if the new employer is someone who thought the whole COVID thing was “such an overreaction! it’s just like the flu!” then they might not find her actions that horrible.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Lisa will probably lie about this and hope that no one does reference checking.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          I don’t know how likely it would be revealed, but if so, it would certainly put Lisa completely out of the running for any hiring decision of MINE.

      2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        This concept (short term gain, long term pain) totally baffled me about several restaurant industry coworkers. They would do something shady for immediate profit, like stealing from the register, forging excessive tip amounts (like turning a $5 tip into an $8 one), filching bottles of liquor from the bar etc… They would get caught in a manner of weeks to months after getting hired, get fired, and then have to job hunt all over again.

        It just never made sense. In the early days of being a server or bartender (in the US at least) you’re usually given the slower, less lucrative shifts in order to get comfortable, but soon enough you start getting the good shifts with the good money. Stealing $25 worth of cash/tips/booze in a week only to just keep getting fired really quickly, needing to find a new job being given the crappy shifts over and over again, likely with weeks of unemployment in the meantime… instead of just sticking it out and staying with a job and being honest? Made zero financial sense.

        1. Anon advisor*

          Petty criminals often are bad at making these types of decisions; small plus now (stolen food or $5) is something tangible, benefit later (having better job, career, income) is discounted. That the employee then bounces from job to job never accruing the later benefit reinforces the mindset.

          There was a really interesting child development study where kids were given a marshmallow and told that if they saved it for 15 minutes (or however long) they would get another marshmallow. The kids that ate the marshmallow immediately had a host of other problems. No doubt some of them wind up stealing $5 at the restaurant and so on.

          1. Eliza*

            Of course, in the marshmallow case the results are up for interpretation; the widely promulgated original interpretation was that the kids were unable to delay gratification because there was something wrong with *them*, but there’s been some followup research indicating that the test was basically measuring the ability to trust in the promises of authority figures. If you’re a kid growing up with parents whose word can’t be relied upon, then you’re likely to have a lot of problems in your life and you’re also likely to grab at the chance to get something for sure immediately rather than *maybe* getting something later on.

            1. Happy face*

              Yes! I always felt THIS was the real takeaway from that study. Particularly as a kid whose parents would routinely promise me stuff with largely terrible follow through.

            2. Amaranth*

              It also assumed that every child wants more and isn’t just happy to have a single marshmallow.

              1. allathian*

                This! Marshmallows are sickly sweet, almost like cotton candy. A large one would be more than enough for me. I do have a sweet tooth, but usually not for pure sugar. Chocolate, though…

    12. AngryAngryAlice*

      I didn’t read the comments on the original question, so I thought that maybe OP’s defensiveness at the end of the update was a tad unwarranted at first.

      …..nope!!! Just went back to read the comments and holy cow, I absolutely cannot believe how many people were defending her or trying to introduce wild scenarios in which What Lisa Did Was OK, Actually. Yikes. The commenters on AAM are usually wonderful, supportive, and level-headed, but occasionally we lose our collective minds and everything goes off the rails.

      I’m sorry LW and Alison had to deal with all those comments; that must have been so frustrating.

      1. Rob aka Mediancat*

        Yes. In general, AAM is one of the few places where I say that it’s not just okay to read the comments, it’s good to do so. The folks here as a whole make sense and don’t go off the rails.

        That post was a bizarre exception.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        I think a lot of it had to do with timing and so many people losing their jobs. You have half the population of this site who wanted OP to report it either because Lisa was exposing people to the virus or Lisa flat-out lied to her company in order to double dip. And the other half sympathetic to the plight of so many people out there who live paycheck to paycheck supporting families that couldn’t handle the thought of another person losing their job over what could have been a misunderstanding/meddling on the part of the OP (for the record I was on Team Report).
        I think if things were a little more “normal”, there wouldn’t have been so many “but maybe’s”

        1. New Normal*

          I think you’re right that timing didn’t help the response. The letter came right when people were losing jobs and retail/delivery companies were in the press for essentially forcing their employees to work while sick or exposed. Thus the scenario that Lisa needed and had a second job that was forcing her to choose between doing the wrong thing and being fired was a believable one, given everything we were seeing (excepting, of course, the LW’s own testimony) at that point.

          Now we’ve seen and likely encountered people who STILL think COVID-19 is no big deal, masks and one-way lanes in grocery stores are infringements on their freedom, and getting upset that they can’t stand 12” from the cashier and, well, we’ve learned again that some people are willfully ignorant about this disease and will be selfish and expose others for their own gain.

      3. emmelemm*

        If a commenter’s alternate scenario (“what if an evil twin?”) sounds straight out of a soap opera, maybe they should dial it back a bit.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          I lived in a big city since 1985. During my first year here and a few times since, I’ve been told about a woman who looks just like me. People think I’m her. “don’t you remember we met at Music Venue?” Um, no, I had never been there. “I saw you on the news last week about the art event! ” Nope, wasn’t me.
          A lookalike is possible – but not the go-to explanation.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I mean there are people who are so desperate for money to survive that they’ll do anything.
      So, even if Lisa were still getting paid, some people like Lisa may still be so desperate that, right or wrong, they’re willing to not care about or overlook the consequences of what they do–they see an opportunity to make some extra bucks and they take it. And, can you blame them when they see so many big corporations or even governments doing the same and there are no repercussions? It’s horrible, but this is the capitalist system we live in.

      1. partingxshot*

        Er…are you arguing that even though Lisa was getting paid her standard wage she was so “desperate for money to survive” that her decision to risk the lives of others was sympathetic? We really gonna go back to inventing those kinds of details?

        1. boo bot*

          I don’t think that’s the argument being made; I think it’s more, we live in a world that frequently puts people in dire straits, and it’s not all that surprising that sometimes people who are desperate resort to desperate measures. That’s not a defense of their actions, it’s an explanation (and I have no idea if it applies to Lisa).

          I think sometimes the speculation or “inventing details” some people find frustrating comes from posters saying, “here’s something I’ve experienced or witnessed that explained behavior similar to what’s happening in this post.” It’s not always a matching scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s never useful.

          Besides, most of us are here to read about the experiences of other people – it makes sense to want to stay on topic, but somebody’s story of, “one time I got really angry at someone doing something stupid, but it turned out to be her twin,” or whatever, is still interesting to me, personally. I realize others feel differently!

          1. partingxshot*

            Sure, strange things happen, and that informs how people comment. But in my experience, many of the comments that people take exception to are actually projecting their experience onto the letter rather than providing nuance. The person commenting about twins did have a weird run-in with a twin! This doesn’t mean twin run-ins are super likely; it means the commentator is now likely to overestimate the possibility that twins are at fault because they had an unusual experience.

            And…even if it was a twin, the advice doesn’t change! In that edge case scenario, LW’s ethical obligation to report remains the same. If Lisa has a twin she can explain that to the company. “But maybe she [x edge case]!” isn’t actually helpful when you’re deciding how to handle a potential safety/ethical breach you’ve witnessed. LW has to go on the evidence they have.

            For the comment I replied to: we now have even MORE context from the OP that the situation is not what people were speculating on. Lisa didn’t lose income, she doesn’t have kids, it was DEFINITELY her at the door, and she was meant to be self-quarantining. We have literally no reason to assume desperation, or assume she had good intentions. So I am going to consider “inventing details” an annoying derail in that scenario, yes.

            1. boo bot*

              “This doesn’t mean twin run-ins are super likely; it means the commentator is now likely to overestimate the possibility that twins are at fault because they had an unusual experience.”

              This is a good point! I think it’s interesting to read about the hypothetical twin run-in, so I don’t mind someone bringing that experience in even if it’s an outlier and not likely to be what’s happening in the letter. To me the purpose of reading is to see what people have to say about the topic, rather than to come to a definitive conclusion about the original letter, so I guess I don’t really think of those comments as derailing, or even inventing details, unless someone is insisting that X or Y *must* be the case. If they’re in the realm of “X happened to me,” or “Y could be the case,” I feel like those are kind of just expanding the universe of what’s possible.

              I think people have different things they want to get out of the comments, though, so I can definitely understand how someone might be annoyed by speculation if that’s not what they’re interested in doing!

              For the comment you replied to – I think that’s fair!

              1. partingxshot*

                Hmm, I can understand that point of view. I think I’m more likely to agree with you if a comment like that is framed as “Funny story!” or “This might not be as relevant to OP, but…” and less likely to agree if it’s framed as “You should be sure that [x] isn’t the case before you try anything” (which if I recall correctly what the twin comment proposed). But yeah, to some extent different comments provide value for different people.

                1. boo bot*

                  Yeah, I understand that – I think my brain glosses over the framing on all three of those, and wouldn’t stand out to me unless it’s to the level of “this is definitely [x], and you should act accordingly.” But I agree there is a clear difference between the first two framings and the last one (“You should be sure that [x] isn’t the case before you try anything”). That does come across more like the writer has decided they know what the situation is, so I can see why that would be annoying.

                2. Tidewater 4-1009*

                  ““You should be sure that [x] isn’t the case before you try anything” (which if I recall correctly what the twin comment proposed).”

                  This commenter was not assigning responsibility correctly. If the person OP saw had been Lisa’s twin, it didn’t change what she needed to do. Her HR dept. and the public health dept. would still be the ones to investigate and determine the person OP saw wasn’t Lisa, and that would have been the end of it.
                  The only reason for OP to do that instead would be if she was looking for something to do – and even then an ordinary person who’s not in law enforcement or public health probably wouldn’t have the resources to find out for sure what was happening.

          2. Searching for a New Name*

            I think sometimes the speculation or “inventing details” some people find frustrating comes from posters saying, “here’s something I’ve experienced or witnessed that explained behavior similar to what’s happening in this post.” It’s not always a matching scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s never useful.

            This! In the case of this particular post it got very out of hand, but as a general impulse I think it’s not enormously harmful, and can offer interesting alternative perspectives.

      2. Colette*

        Yes? Doing something wrong (such as exposing vulnerable people to a severe, contagious illness) is wrong, even if other people are also doing wrong things.

        The answer is to hold others to account, not to join them.

        1. Nicotene*

          Yeah wut even if Lisa inexplicably needed more money than her regular salary provided, she was morally wrong to choose a job that maximally exposed her contagious self to the immuno compromised.

      3. Anonymous at a University*

        So why is the sympathy here solely with poor “desperate” Lisa and not with the people she exposed, who might not be able to afford treatment, might be immunocompromised, might not have known she was exposed?

        If sympathy has to be limited, let’s not waste it on the woman who knowingly exposed people to an infectious disease because of “desperation” we don’t even know she had. Maybe it was just greed.

        1. fposte*

          Because that’s how storytelling works. Our sympathy lands first on the named and specific person, or the person whose experience most resembles ours. We don’t always manage to look beyond that. There’s a reason those charities have you sponsor a specific child rather than just sending your cash to help an effort to aid a million.

        2. Tidewater 4-1009*

          Since she was being paid her full salary, it was very unlikely to be desperation.

      4. Avasarala*

        I think people like Lisa, who are willing to overlook consequences (especially if they only affect others) in order to make a few bucks, are the ones leading those horrible companies and governments.

        The only difference is Lisa’s influence is contained to herself.

        The solution is fewer Lisas, not sympathy for Lisa.

    14. Koala dreams*

      Actually, I think most commenters with alternative explanations explained clearly why they come up with that explanation, especially those that suggested mistaken identity. They thought of it because it had happened to them. People write their own experience all the time in the comments, without it being relevant to the letter writer. I’m not quite sure how you could have missed this phenomenon?

      Now if you don’t know why people often are more charitable towards the people who they deemed to behave badly, and not the people who did the right thing, then I don’t have an answer.

    15. A*

      No kidding. That was a fun comment thread though, even if I did get ‘called out’ for not giving the benefit of the doubt / nOt BeInG fAiR tO pOoR lIsA whom some of the commenters had decided was apparently starving and facing imminent homelessness (or, ya know, evil twin). I did stop reading after shouts of privilege were being made, but still enjoyed a good laugh!

    16. Tidewater 4-1009*

      That is so common on this site. No matter what the subject, people go way out of their way to look for obscure explanations and justifications.
      There’s a middle ground between condemning too soon and enabling bad people, but we rarely achieve it. It’s usually way over the top enabling.

    17. Wintermute*

      The reason is because when you make an accusation like that if you’re WRONG the consequences are ruinous to everyone involved. The level of proof required rises with the level of consequence.

      1. partingxshot*

        But that doesn’t change the advice to LW, who still had an ethical obligation to report something that is a huge ethical/safety breach, even if there’s room for reasonable doubt (which according to the LW, there really wasn’t). Their company and/or the CVS could pretty quickly sort out whether there was some odd edge-case scenario happening instead.

  4. Lance*

    I will certainly say, I’m glad the company and the pharmacy alike took action on this, because Lisa should really not have been doing what she did. Hopefully you and your uncle are still well, LW!

  5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Detective Columbo couldn’t have laid it out any better, OP. Hope your exposure doesn’t lead to anything!

      1. Amy*

        You mean Columbo? The TV detective? I’m pretty sure the show ran for 10 years with another decade or two of special episodes, so it’s assumed to be common pop culture knowledge. Though I suppose you have to be of a certain age or certain genre fan.

  6. Beth Jacobs*

    Ooof. Glad this was dealt with appropriately but sad it ever happened at all. Also sad about the commenters on the original post defending Lisa (eg. quarantine is unnecessary, what if she really needs the money, the quarantine just applied to her workplace, not a side job, it’s not of OP’s business – etc.)! Surely we’ve all learned by now how important initial containment is because of the exponential nature.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, for real. While I’m pretty sure no one was intending to say “well, it’s okay if she infects high-risk people, she’s more important,” it definitely felt like that’s what people were saying.

    2. That'll happen*

      I know in my state if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 you must self-quarantine for 14 days which means not leaving your house. Also, the department of health monitors people who have been exposed. Contact tracing is not very helpful if a person continues to interact with others.

    3. Anonymous Elephant*

      The situation is being so minimized in the US that it doesn’t surprise me that people think nothing of breaking quarantine.

  7. Mama Bear*

    I hope the OP and uncle stay well. I’m glad it was reported, and presumably investigated by both companies based on the reaction.

  8. Archaeopteryx*

    Sad but very much deserved consequences for her. Good food you for speaking up.

  9. RainyDay*

    Good for you for taking action here, OP. I’m sorry you’ve having to self-quarantine because of it, but your coworker put others in serious danger and you absolutely did the right thing. Bravo.

  10. Marny*

    LW: You handled this perfectly, and it’s quite impressive that you kept your knowledge about her behavior to yourself instead of telling your coworkers (I’d probably have a hard time keeping quiet about that, so I admire your restraint).

  11. virago*

    Thank you for the update.

    I hope you and your uncle both stay well.

    I’m sorry that Lisa made a choice that put so many other people at risk. What was she thinking?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Same reason why people ran out to buy up masks/gloves/sanitizer to try to flip on Amazon. Greed and disregard for human life.

      1. Liz*

        this 100%. I sell online. part time, and belong to a bunch of FB reseller groups. the entitlement, whining, crying and carrying on when both Amazon and ebay prohibited masks, etc. from being sold to avoid price gouging was amazing. the rationalization of some of them as to WHY THEY should be allowed to continue to sell them was mind boggling.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I just had to sit and cackle over the sheer ignorance over how people are shocked! shocked! shocked! and so utterly uneducated in business when they want to say price gouging is just “Capitalism”.

          Capitalism has rules. Otherwise we die. And nobody gets rich because if we could all do it…then it would fail.

          This is literally why Henry Heinz went to the Feds to regulate his “competition” out of the GD marketplace, y’all!

          1. Lady Jay*

            I’m removing this because it’s getting way off topic and into religion — let’s move on! – Alison

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Then you have people like a friend of mine, who has been endlessly making masks at home and GIVING THEM AWAY (she has a rather impressive fabric stash). She even mailed me one!

          1. KaciHall*

            My fabric stash went towards masks. Is have helped make them, but Mom is a much faster seamstress and I was still working full time and buying a house (which took up an obscene amount of time, but it’s worth it now that we’re here!) I now have a bunch of fleece and some Jersey knit that she couldn’t use and absolutely no quilting fabric left. It came in handy that she made our whole family masks, though – I didn’t plan on taking my toddler anywhere, but he broke his foot and had to go to the doctor and the Ortho, so his little tiny mask was perfect.

          2. blackcat*

            I’ve been stress sewing and giving masks away, mostly kids masks (since they’re harder to find, but required here). I did curbside pickup at a local, independent fabric store. I do not have time to do all this sewing, but it feels like doing something productive….

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          Yeah, no kidding. Beanie babies trending? Great, buy up all the beanie babies to sell for profit. But you don’t do that shit with actual health supplies.

        4. Ominous Adversary*

          You how how much whining and crying they would be doing if their SUPPLIERS were turning around and price-gouging THEM.

        5. tangerineRose*

          I couldn’t believe how the price gougers were saying “Capitalism” as if it excused everything. During a pandemic, they caused an artificial shortage (by buying up all the stuff) so that they could profit off of it. That’s just wrong.

  12. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I’m glad you spoke up, LW. You and your uncle are OK, but who knows how many people Lisa could have exposed and infected if she had been delivering for the pharmacy throughout her whole quarantine period?

  13. Delphine*

    I can’t see why a person would take a delivery job on the side while quarantined with pay unless they have a serious need for money. I’m certainly sad that whatever problems Lisa was having are now probably multiplied. Good that both companies took swift action.

    1. remizidae*

      OP said Lisa was getting 100% of her salary while quarantined. Whatever financial problems she had were not because of the pandemic.

    2. Temperance*

      Because she wants more money, and this is an easy way to get more money? It’s not that deep, and she doesn’t have to have “problems” in order to be a selfish, greedy jerk.

    3. Marny*

      It’s likely that she’s one of the many ignorant people who doesn’t think the virus is a big deal and saw it as a chance to make a little extra money on the side instead of sitting at home “for no reason”.

      1. New Normal*

        This is where I’d put my bet, in no small part because I’m STILL seeing people pull the “I feel fine so I can’t be a carrier and should be allowed to go wherever I like” mentality.

      2. thebobmaster*

        I wouldn’t be surprised. I have actively tried to not talk about this with one of my co-workers, because he is convinced that it’s not any more dangerous than the flu. Part of his reasoning: “I don’t know anyone who’s caught it. Do you?”

        And yes, I’m pretty sure he’s serious.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I got quite angry with an ex coworker of mine who has been sending messages to us all that it’s ‘just a cold virus’ and we shouldn’t worry because nobody they know has it. I’m sad to say I completely lost my temper and used a lot of words that are not repeatable in professional company.

          I’ll own up to it being from grief. There are holes in my life this pandemic has caused, people I’ll never see again. Maybe I shouldn’t read emails from ex coworkers for a while.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Do not underestimate how greedy and self absorbed some people are.

      And if we want to be nice to her for a minute [I struggle with this choice but I’ll try], she could still easily be in debt and 100% of her salary was never enough to begin with. I have personal debt as well [most of us do], I’ve worked multiple jobs before to pay that down! But I understand science and how viruses work, so I’m not going to pull this kind of stunt.

      It’s like all those people who moonlight during business hours honestly. But with an added “WTF you coulda killed people.” attached.

    5. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Some people are just greedy and don’t give a hoot about others. The letters to the site confirm that all of the time.

    6. Observer*

      Because some people are greedy.

      If there really are problems and they really are multiplied (both of which are totally conjecture), that’s totally on her and the choice she made.

    7. Mookie*

      The most obvious to me is that she had always needed to supplement that salary, and her pre-existing side work was also derailed by the pandemic, hence taking up a risky and unrewarding gig under what sounds like false pretenses.

  14. KoiFeeder*

    I’m glad that the pharmacy sent out a warning and fired Lisa, and I hope she didn’t manage to infect anyone.

      1. A*

        Ya this part surprised me and I wonder if it’s a delivery fee or something that was refunded. Refunding the cost of that specific medication seems strange and unlikely to me. But hey, I guess TIL!

        1. Dahlia*

          Could be other needed items on an order. I had to order gloves and allergy meds and things, and those aren’t prescription.

  15. Neon*

    “I don’t know why commenters were saying it could have not been her or was a case of mistaken identity. I was clear that it was her, there was no doubt about it.”

    Because unhelpful speculation regarding improbable scenarios is one of the favorite pastimes of the commenters around here?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Heck, my elderly aunties are like this and they can barely Facebook, lol.

      2. LunaLena*

        Yeah, go to any advice column anywhere and it’s rampant. I would actually say that there’s less of it here than other places, since Allison goes out of her way to remind people not to speculate. People have an instinct to fill in the details of a story to turn it into an understandable narrative, and will often do so using their own personal experiences and views. It’s just what we do.

        1. Phony Genius*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if Dear Abby got mailboxes full of similar letters back when you needed to use a stamp* to reply to an advice column.

          * – Half of my office is too young to have ever licked a stamp. I still can’t comprehend.

        2. une autre Cassandra*

          I suspect this kind of speculation/creative writing is why Captain Awkward has started disabling comments on a majority of her posts. Maybe not the only reason, but I remember a letter from a year or so ago that ended up with 300+ comments, many of which went into excruciating detail coming up with elaborate Reasons why some obnoxious guy might not be able to *help* being a low-grade ass to his girlfriend’s friend, the letter writer. Must have been exhausting to moderate, so I don’t blame the Captain for just removing the ability to comment from a lot of posts.

  16. Temperance*

    LW, thanks for the update! I also would struggle not to tell people what Lisa had done, but I get that since your workplace handled the issue, you don’t want to be seen as a gossip. I mean, what she did is so gross and reckless that she could have a body count at the end of the day.

    You did the right thing, and, for the record, I never assumed that it was Lisa’s twin or mistaken identity. Hope that you and your uncle are doing well.

    1. Anonny*

      Even if it was a case of mistaken identity, given the situation, wouldn’t it be better to call in and get everything checked just in case?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If it as mistaken identity, they would have flushed it out at the management level.

      Lisa would have denied it, would have had the pharmacy confirm she didn’t deliver for them, done. Most places don’t take termination lightly.

      1. Bostonian*

        Good point. Both parties (pharmacy and primary occupation) had an interest in getting to the truth of things, so I’m sure there was free information gathering on both sides.

  17. WantonSeedStitch*

    I won’t say this turned out well, because the situation, as it turns out, is a crappy one. But it turned out the way it should have, with both companies making the right call to terminate someone who clearly put others at risk and who did not have to do so! And you made the right call, OP, to bring it to the company’s and the state’s attention.

    1. Bostonian*

      Yeah. The outcome seems to indicate that Lisa actually did have the virus (instead of lying to get leave, which I think was suggested as a possibility when the original letter was published), so that means she was exposing many people, most of who were probably at-risk.

      However, it turned out well in that the person involved in wrongdoing was caught and those who had power to put an end to it did.

  18. Ping*

    Short of the public health issue (which is horrific in itself), Lisa caused a severe loss of money to the company.

    Lisa cause an entire floor to be put on paid quarantine. She also falsified her paperwork and exhibited extremely bad judgement, putting her coworkers in harms way.

    Any of these alone would be enough for termination. Lisa created a trifecta that could only ever have one outcome.

      1. Ping*

        Claiming exposure to Covid-19. Either she falsely claimed sickness to the first company or she falsely claimed she was well to the Pharmacy.

      2. Ping*

        She also should have reported her secondary employment to the first company (most companies require this to avoid conflict of interest issues).

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Did Lisa cause the entire floor to be put on quarantine? I’m not sure about that.

      And I don’t think she falsified paperwork; it sounds like she really was exposed. (Why else would the pharmacy fire her and send out the notices to people who received her deliveries?)

      1. Ping*

        My uncle and I are both in self-quarantine. So is everyone else who works on my floor.

        And If Lisa was exposed then she would have to disclose to the Pharmacy.

        Either she lied about her exposure to the company or she lied about her health to the Pharmacy.

    1. Merci Dee*

      . . . and this comment right here is how you choke and die on your last bite of ham and swiss sandwich. x_x

    2. SweetestCin*

      Did you guys know that snorting water out your nose is PAINFUL?! Because I’m snort-laughing over here and can vouch for it!

      1. Merci Dee*

        I’m glad it wasn’t soda. Those carbonation bubbles coming out of your nose are just the worst!

      2. tangerineRose*

        Jeff Foxworthy said something about having to wipe up the milk that he had been drinking, which was on the other side of the room, which “is pretty good distance through your nose”. Ouch!

  19. MicroManagered*

    OP It doesn’t *sound* like you feel bad about this, but just in case you do: A reminder that Lisa did this to herself. You had an obligation to say something, and did the right thing.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Yes and possibly saved lives. Or kept others from getting infected by properly reporting. I raise my coffee cup to you! No snark, honestly glad you reported her.

      (I’m higher risk b/c of lung issues and 2 meds that lower my immunity)

      1. M. from P.*

        Yes, this so much.
        You might have saved someone’s life by reporting her.

  20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Thankfully it was minimal contact, so I’m holding out hope that you and your uncle are healthy after all this possible exposure.

    I’m relieved you told your boss, I’m relieved you told the pharmacy and mostly I’m relieved that they took swift action. I truly hope Lisa learned from this experience.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Me too.

      And hope all those Lisa came into contact with are healthy and won’t become sick. Hats off to the companies that took swift action also.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’ve known more people to learn from their errors than not, so I’ll side with hoping she learned. Yeah, lots of people don’t but lots of people actually do.

        The world already has enough shit going on, losing your faith in all humanity isn’t the answer.

        1. Dragon_Dreamer*

          True. I’m just jaded after 15 years of retail combined with 20 years in tech support/repair. Here’s hoping!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          She has to be an absolute dimwit to not figure it out. She knows she delivered to the OPs house when she was doing her side gig! She had enough sense to bolt when she saw the OP. She knew she was had!

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s nice when problems are dealth with swiftly by all involved.

  21. Arctic*

    It looks like you are mostly outside the incubation period (I know it’s not a perfect science) so thank Whomever for that!
    (Also, this question was a month ago? Where has the time gone? How is that possible? I could have sworn it was last week.)

  22. Triumphant Fox*

    Could Lisa be prosecuted for this? I suppose it depends on country/province/state/territory, but Lisa did so much damage. Even if she didn’t actually give anyone COVID, she cost her employers lots of money by forcing a floor to quarantine and all her deliveries to be compensated by the company (not to mention whatever intense sanitation regimen they had to do after). Could she be open to prosecution if she did infect someone? For the costs to the companies? Or is losing her job basically it?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know and I am not a llama (or a lawyer), but given the number of irresponsible people running around in defiance of public health directives, I predict a huge wave of lawsuits when this is finally all over.

    2. PollyQ*

      NAL, but I’m pretty sure she couldn’t be criminally prosecuted for the cost to the employers. Theoretically, she could be sued, but it’s highly unlikely that a business would bother with that, since the cost of the litigation would probably be larger than the original expense, and Lisa probably doesn’t have the money to pay them even if she lost.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        That being said, hypothetically if I had had medication delivered to me by her, could I then sue her for knowingly exposing me to COVID?

        1. PollyQ*

          Still NAL, but probably not, because you wouldn’t have suffered any actual damages. And even if you had come down with COVID, you’d have a hard time proving that she was the one who gave it to you.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I feel like the pharmacy providing the dates and confirming that she was exposed to COVID would make that easier, especially for someone like me who is too immunosuppressed to leave my apartment at all, but I also think that my questions have reached the point where I probably would need to be asking a lawyer about this hypothetical, so it’s probably best if I stop now.

    3. LGC*

      Wouldn’t it depend on who issued the guidance to self-isolate? LW said that the company told her to self-isolate, so I think it’d be limited at best. If the government had told her to self-isolate, though, she’s breaking the law and might well be subject to penalties.

  23. No Tribble At All*

    This deserves an OH DAMN. OP, you did the right thing 100%. I really hope you and your uncle are okay, and I want to thank you for notifiying public health. Lisa is a danger to everyone around her.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      OP said: “I had discreetly told my boss about Lisa, as well as the tip line my local public health unit had set up for things like this.”

      It isn’t clear to me whether OP notified the tip line OR their boss (or HR) did. It does look like OP made the call, and regardless: *someone* called, and it worked!

  24. Jedi Squirrel*

    LW, you absolutely did the right thing. Your company did the right thing, and the pharmacy did the right thing.

    Lisa put a lot of people at grave danger. She should feel simply awful about it, but probably doesn’t.

    Sleep well, and stay safe. I hope you and your uncle are fine.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      To paraphrase Rhett Butler, she’s probably not the least bit sorry she did it, but she’s terribly, terribly sorry to be feeling the consequences.

  25. ShwaMan*

    Oh OP, I hope you remain healthy. As for Lisa… well… Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  26. H. Regalis*

    I’m not sure how you would formulate this into a rule or something actionable, but this strongly reminds me of Occam’s Big Paisley Tie: http://www.shakesville.com/2013/08/occams-big-paisley-tie.html.

    All I can think of is “Ask yourself if you’re using Occam’s razor or his big paisley tie, and keep speculations to actionable items.” Assume the LW is telling the truth unless proven otherwise? Something I’ve seen even on a lot of the excellently moderated blogs I follow is that the letter writer is often immediately under fire from a bunch of people who have even less knowledge of the situation than they do to justify that their, the LW’s, version of events matches reality, which can be very frustrating when you’re looking for advice and people default to assuming that you’re lying or completely wrong in all your perceptions.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      THANK YOU! That was an excellent piece.

      Guess what I’m posting to Facebook tonight?

      (Also found a new blog to follow.)

      1. H. Regalis*

        You’re welcome! I meant this to be a reply to Alison’s comment, but it got unthreaded when I refreshed the page on accident. I need to go back to the original post and read the comments about it possibly being Lisa’s evil twin. Wowwwww.

    2. Tidewater 4-1009*

      Sorry this is late, but thanks! Occam’s Paisley Tie is brilliant, and used all the time around here.
      I still remember first hearing about Occam’s Razor from Commander Spock, and my brother tried to use it against me.

  27. BabyAnonDooDooDooDoo*

    Reminds me of this woman on a group I belong to on FB. She got bored at home and decided, for reasons that still baffle me, to go visit a friend whose job is to test people for CoVid-19. Then, she was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that her friend had to be tested for CoVid-19, (tested positive, IIRC) and this person was all “OMG, sh1t just got real!” She’d previously posted the city/state she lived in, so I found out where exactly she lived (since county records are public) and called the state’s health department to let them know she was running around all over the county refusing to self-quarantine. They must have either sent out someone from the local health department or sent the police to have a chat, because her next post was about using her vacation days to self-quarantine.

    I regret nothing.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Nor should you.

      Some people just refuse to accept that these are not normal times.

      1. BabyAnonDooDooDooDoo*

        These are so far past normal we can’t even see normal.

        I just don’t even get the logic of “I’m bored, so let me go see my friend that TESTS PEOPLE FOR COVID” as something you’d do.

    2. Tyche*

      I saw a YouTube video of a young woman who talks about the Covid situation on her country, about quarantine and restrictions across Europe etc. You can’t imagine how many comments about the “fake” virus, that’s a conspiracy, that doctors and nurses are actors, that no one has died etc.
      As an Italian I was devastated to see so much ignorance and willful and deliberate idiocy.

      1. BabyAnonDooDooDooDoo*

        It’s absolutely astounding how willfully blind people are being about this.

  28. 40 Years in the Hole*

    Silently Schadenfreuding @ Lisa. #sorrynotsorry. Wellness to you and your uncle, OP.

  29. learnedthehardway*

    Good for you! I’m glad that you had the courage to do the right thing – it must have been somewhat nerve-wracking for you. I’m sorry you were put in that position to have to make the decision to inform your manager, and I’m very glad that your company took it seriously. Also glad that the pharmacy was informed and took it seriously, too.

    I feel for you and all the other people (your colleagues, the pharmacy employees, the general public) who were unnecessarily exposed to someone who was so selfish. Given the transmissibility of this virus, odds are that Lisa infected someone. I’m just glad it wasn’t you or your uncle.

  30. No Name*

    Now we have more info from the OP, it is clear that Lisa was being extremely selfish. However, the plight of the casual, low income worker living pay to pay with no paid leave or savings is very real and widespread. It is perfectly reasonable to take this into consideration without the information in the update. I would rather people consider extenuating circumstances than immediately sharpening the pitchforks.

    1. Avasarala*

      Many of the people she worked with at the pharmacy, or delivered to, or worked with at her primary job, may have indeed been those poor souls living paycheck to paycheck. For them, getting sick could have meant loss of job, house, life. Are they not deserving of our sympathy?

      Lisa knowingly chose to disregard others’ safety in order to supplement her paid quarantine leave. I can’t imagine any extenuating circumstances that would mitigate Lisa’s guilt.

  31. Jennifer*

    If Lisa lied about being exposed to get time off with pay, now she’s lost two jobs because of greed.

    I also wish more people would allow for the benefit of the doubt when certain details are unclear.

  32. JM60*

    I hope Lisa is now being forced to quarantine, and will be charged with a crime for knowingly and recklessly exposing vulnerable people to COVID-19.

Comments are closed.