updates: the volunteer pressure, the good dog, and more

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. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. My contact won’t stop pressuring me to volunteer while I’m on medical leave

I wrote you a couple years back about my crazy volunteering gig. I have some happy updates on this. First of all, my medical issue cleared up!

I ditched the volunteer gig and left it in the dust. I blocked the contact on all forms of media and I never hear from her. My friends from my cultural community heard me out and they understood the situation, and now we hang out separately at kids and family events. She hasn’t been much of an issue in my life, though I still hear about her antics through friends-of-friends and she once sent one of her employees to my class to give a presentation on her work, looking for more volunteers to join her at both the work she does (an NGO that works on integration in the country we live in) and the volunteer work we both did.

I think I mentioned in my last update that I was starting my Master’s degree and she had just accepted a position to head up the biggest organisation in my field. I was a little concerned about how the overlap would work out, but for my first year of my degree I just focused on my studies and figured I would work out the rest later. Well, I did, and in a really amazing way!

We had a career fair at my university and a museum I always loved in my city was supposed to be there, but they didn’t show up. I asked the event organiser what they were hiring for out of curiosity, assuming it wouldn’t be anything related to what I was studying for (I am studying social sciences, it’s a natural sciences museum). He wasn’t sure, but he passed along my contact information to the person who was supposed to show. That person contacted me right away and briefed me on the projects they were working on, and it turns out not only were they looking for someone in the social sciences, my volunteer work and organisational skills were exactly what they needed. I negotiated a six months internship, which I then based my master’s thesis on to continue working with them. The project has been delayed due to the pandemic, but they’ve told me they want me back on the project when it resumes and there’s also been talk about opening up a fellowship with my university so I can get my Ph.D. with them. The project field is a relatively new one and there’s a lot of interest in the work and the subject in the academic, governmental, and business worlds, so there’s a lot of opportunities ahead of me.

It’s really been an amazing couple of years. Thank you and your readers for talking some sense into me and helping me understand a toxic situation that was doing nothing but holding me back. I feel free, with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of me.

2. Employees want to throw me a baby shower but we just need money (#2 at the link)

I’d written to you back in November about staff members wanting to throw a baby shower for me (a supervisor) and my wife after we adopted a baby boy.

I expressed some discomfort to the organizers about accepting gifts from people that report to me, which didn’t do much to dissuade anyone, but I was able to stall things until the adoption finished winding its way through the courts. Of course, right now our courts are closed for non-emergency matters due to the pandemic, so we still haven’t been able to complete the last legal step of the adoption. On the very slim bright side of that, I’m guessing by the time the legal process starts back up and we can complete the adoption, folks at work will have likely moved on from wanting to give us stuff.

3. How do I break bad news about my dog? (#3 at the link, and first update here)

Not much has changed since my last update, but since I missed the WFH pets post, I thought I’d share a photo of the new cuddler I alluded to in my update last year. Here he shows that even without the open office, people will still stand too close to you when you’re trying to work. (This is the only photo I could find of him where he wasn’t belly-up receiving pets.) Since I wrote in last I’ve changed teams and found a lot of happiness in my new job; when going to the office is a thing, Crash Override gets to come with me almost every day. We’re looking forward to going back to the office someday so he can greet his long-lost friends from work!

{ 55 comments… read them below }

  1. Health Insurance Nerd*

    OMG, more pet pictures, please! That puppy is so cute (despite his clear lack of understanding of how social distancing works)!

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      OP3, I wholeheartedly applaud your doggie’s utter disregard for social distance! I’m sorry for your loss, but am so glad you have a furry angel to help you heal. Please give him a chin or ear scritch for me, whichever he prefers.

      1. Zero Cool (OP3)*

        Both, any, all scritches. He’s the kind of dog who melts as soon as one of his humans touches him, anywhere. :)

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          I would also like to have another post! I didn’t get a chance to share all my guys and I’d like to.

    2. BeesKneeReplacement*

      Such a cute doggo! Is there a way to post pictures in our comments so we could maybe have a post dedicated to our non-human coworkers? I get not having it on a regular basis, but it would be a nice break and I fear we’d overwhelm Allison if we just emailed pictures to her.

        1. BeesKneeReplacement*

          Awwwww! Thanks for the link. Sad I missed the opportunity to show off my coworker.

    3. SeluciaMD*

      Also, LW3, I think you should get another dog (or critter of your choosing) and name them Lord Nikon. (I was going to say Acid Burn but that doesn’t work as well for something so cuddly!)

      Adorable puppy! Looks as sweet as can be. :)

    4. Two Dog Night*

      AdAgencyChick and BeesKneeReplacement: Search the site for animal coworkers–there were a couple posts last month, and they were adorable.

  2. Jedi Squirrel*

    OP #3: I’m so sorry for the loss of your dog. I experienced the same a year ago, and it’s really hard. But I’m glad that you’ve got a great new fur-buddy! He looks awesome!

  3. TomorrowTheWorld*

    OP#3: My condolences!
    I have had to have repeated conversations with my cat about proper social distancing. I don’t think I’m getting through to him at all.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I’ve given up on getting my cats to practice proper social distancing. Most of the time, the smaller one is sitting on me. It’s ridiculous, and cute.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Junior Ambassador feels that the only acceptable social distance is ZERO, because SNUGGLES.

      2. TomorrowTheWorld*

        Did not take kindly to my suggestions about mask wearing, either! Ridiculous animal.

        1. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          I’m going to have to make a mask for my cat now. She’s usually pretty game about wearing the weird things I put on her, but this might be beyond her limit. It’ll be cute though.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Hopefully she’ll at least keep it on long enough for a pic, which I’m sure would be really cute!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just got the beans to the face at midnight the other night. The cat be like “I’ll risk your diseases for the Treaty Treats and your general obedience. I am awake, be awake too!”

      1. TomorrowTheWorld*

        “No, I only got up to go to the bathroom. It is not treat time. No. No! OMG, FINE”

    3. Delta Delta*

      I work for 2 cats. Neither of them cares about social distancing. Except when they do. But you never know when that will be, because cats.

    4. Kate Daniels*

      My cat starts to drool when she is super content and purring. Her respiratory droplets get all over me! ;-)

      1. TomorrowTheWorld*

        Shoves his cold, wet nose right in my face. This is not practicing proper hygiene, little man! >:c

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

      My cat is the Queen of Social Distancing, except when she wants something. When that moment comes she will pester anyone nearby to get what she wants.

  4. Princess Deviant*

    2/ I’m so sorry the adoption has been delayed!

    3/ congrats on your new pupper, he’s absolutely gorgeous.

    1. Zero Cool (OP3)*

      Yes!!! Usually he takes his laptop up to the top of a skyscraper under construction (for some reason) to enact his revenge

    2. JezebelleJay*

      Came to the comment for the Hackers reference. Was not disappointed.

      Mess with the best, die like the rest!

  5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Thank you for fulfilling your duty to the AAM community and supplying puppy pics when updating *_*

      1. Noblepower*

        OP3, my condolences on the loss of the good dog – may your memories of him be filled with the best of your times together and congratulations/welcome to your new cuddle bug.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        He’s so cute, I can’t stand it. I know that look all too well. ha!
        Many happy years together!

  6. Kisses*

    LW1, I skipped the rest to come straight to the comments to say your news made me very, very happy. Its so great everything worked out like that for you.
    Somehow it’s really uplifting because it reminds me that good things can and do happen to people. Best of luck always.

    1. Agglutination (LW1)*

      Thanks so much!

      I tend to think of bad things that happen to me as turning points in my journey. It may be bad now, but if I keep going I’ll find something good eventually. I stay open to possibilities even when things seem rough. Let that moment be the lowest things go before they start to get better again. Sometimes a lot comes at once but I just try and remember it’s not the worst place I’ve been and there’s always a way forward.

      It was hard to give up something that I had put in so much time into building but Alison and the Commenters helped me put it all into perspective and I’m doing much bigger and better things with my time. I just needed the outside perspective to see where I was and what the situation was doing to me.

  7. Third or Nothing!*

    OP3: Your pup is a little cutie and I request that you pass along some pets and belly rubs from me.

  8. Venus*

    LW2: I would think that a way to kill any unwanted future initiatives would be to show up one day with a celebratory cake or something similar, and say “This is your chance to celebrate with me!” and not leave them any opportunity to get you gifts. It depends on the situation and culture of the company, but this might be a way to celebrate something positive, and if it is a surprise event then you have control over how it will take place.

    1. SeluciaMD*

      I think this is a GENIUS idea. Head them off at the pass while still being kind and inclusive!

  9. Adoptive Parent*

    LW2…I feel you! I adopted a baby born in January, and the costs of adopting are massive. My work place wanted to buy me a fancy crib or rocking chair (which I didn’t need and I was fine with $100 crib from Ikea), when I could have used flights or gift cards to restaurants or for groceries. Private adoption is just a completely different beast, and most people don’t know how expensive it is or how challenging it is until they go through it. I’m glad you little one is doing okay!

  10. The Beagle has Landed*

    LW#3,
    Huge condolences and a big virtual hug on your loss of Good Dog. Your new friend is gorgeous! So glad you found each other! We also lost our beloved Beagle in March, at exactly the same time as all heck broke loose with the pandemic. After taking time to grieve for her, we adopted a new pup recently. I’ll post her the next time there’s a post your pets update.

  11. Lizzo*

    OP3: We lost our pupper shortly before the pandemic began. I know your grief, and I am so glad you have a new friend to keep you company, especially during this lonely and challenging time. I was also so touched to go back and read through your initial post and your first update. Your last pup touched many hearts in a short period of time. It is a beautiful thing when our human friends love our canine friends as much as we do, and can celebrate and grieve alongside us. Thank god for that.
    May you all be well and be content and healed in each others’ company. Thank you for rescuing!

    1. Zero Cool (OP3)*

      I got a DNA panel done and he’s actually only an eighth cattle dog, somehow!!!! He’s sort of the perfect storm of herders – he’s also got some border collie and Manchester terrier, a little pit (shhh), and a full quarter “we don’t know what it is but it likes to herd stuff” :) And it shows. He’s snuggly but he loves to work hard, learns tricks fast, loves fetch, and is impossible to go for a run with (“the human sheep is getting away from the herd!”)

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